‘What is an idea or tradition or body of thought or book that has especially shaped your thinking and that helps you engage the world?’The assignment was in response to a New York Times piece encouraging students to back their passionate feelings up with bodies of thought, not just a passing feeling.
One of my residents asked me via email and I thought I'd share my response publicly as well in hopes that the three readers of this blog might also ask themselves this question.
- The Book of Common Prayer. My wife and I started going to an Episcopal Church a few years back (before moving to PA) and were greatly influenced by the liturgical and communal style of worship. The BCP was used as the framework of much of the service and it helped me recognize the connectedness of the wider church body, tying us to something larger than our temporary experience. There’s some type of reassurance knowing that not only is there a stable God, but a group of people that are also seeking that God alongside you.
- East of Eden – by John Steinbeck. This epic gem of a book has pretty easily maintained its spot as favorite of mine. It tells a “modern” (late nineteenth century – early twentieth) tale of Cain and Abel, driving home the point that we are all given different traits, life circumstances, etc. but we are responsible for our actions. So much wisdom.
- Garden State – The Zach Braff movie from a few years back. I view this movie as defining of my generation. As Braff (the protagonist) is faced with tragedy, romance, and awkward interactions with old friends, he’s forced to decide between distancing himself from others or choosing the hard road to deep relationships. This more or less typifies my hope in this generation; we may be sloppy and inappropriate at times, but we’re trying to be authentic.
I didn't include the Bible (although the BCP is a direct tie). The assignment was given on a Christian college campus, I'm assuming the Bible is a given. I also probably forgot some other major work that's been highly influential in my life but I did like the mix of ancient-ish, classic lit, and a modern work that all touch on major themes in my life.
Anything come to your mind for your life?