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At the Tufts Humanist Chaplaincy, we hope to foster a comfortable environment for people to engage in honest discussions around the challenges in their lives, and to explore how people outside traditional religion approach questions that many faith traditions engage regularly. Our day to day lives, on campus and off, can be challenging just as they are exciting, but we don’t always have a structured hour in the week to sit down and reflect on the way we’ve grown, and the lessons we can learn from the experiences of others.

At small group reflections, the Humanist in Residence facilitates an open, respectful, and confidential conversation around a theme that concerns and informs many of our choices and experiences in our life journey. The conversation begins rooted in a text (or other piece of culture) written from a Humanist perspective that engages the theme, and from there will be open to the perspectives and experiences of everyone present in the group. Those present are encouraged to bring pieces of culture that inspire their own values on the theme, including and especially those from other faith traditions.

The upcoming small group reflection will begin with a passage from author Rebecca Goldstein. It will be on Friday, September 23rd, at 5:30pm in the Interfaith Center downstairs meeting room. Small group reflections are open to all members of the Tufts community, irrespective of anyone’s belief background. Light refreshments will be served!


140204writers0082Rebecca Goldstein is an acclaimed American philosopher and writer of both fiction and non-fiction. After dedicated work exploring the question of God and moral human living for modern nonreligious people, she was awarded the 2011 Humanist of the Year award by the American Humanist Association. She is also a MacArthur genius grant recipient and earned the National Humanities Medal in 2014 from President Barack Obama.

We’ll open this week’s reflection meeting with a passage of hers drawn from her recent work, Plato at the Googleplex, that draws on Plato in a question concerning love. She writes,

The contrast between the two, the sweetness and the badness, wrenches the heart of the lover as such sweetness on its own would not, and the lover shudders all the more at dread of the beloved’s recklessness, for the sake of the sweetness that is there, and the shudder only makes more violent the shuddering that announces love. I do not think, but for that sweetness, the friend of whom I spoke would have become impassioned as he did and he would have recognized that such a one, entirely wanting in the desire to become better than what he knows himself to be, was not worthy of his love. She who signs herself “I Don’t Know How (Or If) to Love Him” repeated the word “exciting” three times. A [very bad boy] (and let us remember that there are also, though perhaps they are rarer,[very bad girls]) creates around himself or herself a separate world in which all that happens is exciting, for exciting it must be. Excitement is the air they breathe, and they cannot exist without it. And when they pull others into their world, then these others leave the world of common air and now they breathe the rare air of excitement, which they are not accustomed to, and in their confused state they are more apt to think that the excitement they breathe is the excitement of love. She asks whether she should continue to love her [very bad boy], but I do not think she really loves him, just as he, and this for a certainty, does not love her. For I think even the best man of his day of whom I just wrote did not love that boy as he thought he did…Last, let her think on this, that though love is a profound disturbance, not all profound disturbances are love.