Reflections after Museum Visit

Honestly, I don’t really have much experience with designing curriculum or lessons, so I feel a bit out of my depth at this stage. I’m not really sure what’s possible or desirable. On the other hand, it’s also exciting to be part of such a project, and to be getting some of this experience. I look forward to seeing what we can do.

At the museum, I really appreciated the information on Portland’s Jewish community, and the effort to tie the Holocaust to the personal stories and experience of people in that community, and to the broader context of Oregon’s history and various experiences of dehumanization and discrimination within it. This is, after all, specifically Portland’s Holocaust memorial; it seems it should reflect Portland and the people here. I especially thought it was helpful to see the video about the construction of the memorial and the interviews with the people involved with that, what they were thinking and feeling, etc. I also appreciated the map of the camps—I think it would really help contextualize what to students might just be obscure-sounding names like “Treblinka” or “Chelmno.” I found myself wishing more information like this had been available at the memorial site; I think that would be a good place to start.

 

Featured Image credit: link

Christianity in Asia

The history of the Church of the East, historically often known as the Nestorian Church, is a fascinating and often overlooked element of both the history of Christianity, and of religion in Asia.

 

Nestorian Stele. Image credit: link

The “Nestorian Stele” in Xi’an, erected in AD 781, records Christian missionary efforts, monasteries, bishops, and other figures in Tang dynasty China.1

 

 

The Church of the East in the Middle Ages. Image credit: link

This map illustrates the extent of the Church of the East during the Middle Ages. For a time, it was geographically the largest branch of Christianity.

 

 

Mar Gewargis III. Image credit: link

Mar Gewargis III was enthroned as Catholicos-Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East in 2015.3

 

1 Wilhelm Baum and Dietmar W. Winkler, The Church of the East: A Concise History, trans. Miranda G. Henry (New York, NY: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003), 47–48.

2Baum and Winkler, The Church of the East, 1.

3Christoph Baumer, The Church of the East: An Illustrated History of Assyrian Christianity, new ed. (New York, NY: I.B. Tauris, 2016), 288.

Featured Image credit: Adobe Spark (Original image: Anuradhapura cross)

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I’m Working On It

I am from a constant question and a too-honest answer.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” “Nothing.”

 

 

I am from “you could do anything you want.”

Could I?

I could do anything, as long as it’s pointless. Anything I want, except I’ve never wanted.

 

 

I am from encouragement and expectation to do well in school, easily met.

Why?

To go to college.

Why?

To get a good job.

Why?

To support a family and live comfortably.

Why?

To have a happy life.

Why?

I need a better reason. A real reason. Why does no one seem to have one, or even to ask? What makes anyone else think living is worthwhile, and why can’t they tell me about it?

 

 

I am from stories of far-away places and people that have long turned to dust and been forgotten. Some were real, some were imagined. None of them were relevant. All of them were more interesting and more true than what I saw around me: this world, these people, myself.

Are there even any stories worth telling, here? Does anyone even remember what truth is?

 

 

I am from old libraries and older books, written long before the world was as it is.

Maybe not everything is dust; maybe someone remembers.

There are no references to the American dream here; there are no references to America. These are far older than that. They speak about important things.

For once.

 

 

I am from academia.

I could write you a thesis on the relational ontology of human persons. “ποιήσωμεν ἄνθρωπον κατ᾽ εἰκόνα ἡμετέραν καὶ καθ᾽ ὁμοίωσιν.”1

It would include sections on marriage, friendship, community. It would have hundreds of footnotes, all meticulously done by hand, Chicago style.

None of them would reference personal experience.

 

 

I am from emptiness: empty world, empty life, empty self. But I have to change.

θέωσις.

“αὐτὸς γὰρ ἐνηνθρώπησεν, ἵνα ἡμεῖς θεοποιηθῶμεν.”2

I was reminded. Theology is in the end something you have to live, with others. That’s what God did.

Κύριε, ἐλέησον.

περιχώρησις
Rublev’s Trinity

1Gen. 1:26 LXX

2Athanasius, Contra Gentes and De Incarnatione, ed. and trans. Robert W. Thompson (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971), 268.

Featured Image: Leuven University Library, by JeroenCorthout at Wikimedia Commons

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