How does a person take a complex socio-cultural code of ethics and beliefs and distill it into content for two hours?
Sheer force of will.
I can’t include every item about a faith in an hour’s worth of class. That is impossible. This kind of writing is categorically different than the work I do for novels, or even a memoir. It’s more like an exercise I did during a two week writing-intensive orientation required of all incoming Bard students.
We wrote a poem. First we wrote it however long we wanted. Then we were supposed to make it into a five page poem. Then we trimmed it to 100 words. Then we trimmed it down to 50. The final incarnation was a scant 20 words.
I remember struggling to add length until I relished in the development and enrichment of the ideas. Then I remember cringing as I struggled to find words to cut out. When I got to the smallest number, it felt like I was butchering the thing, removing content to the point where it felt like an entirely different creature.
We talked about the experience, about how different poems would be more successful at different points. I think mine was the most successful at 100 words. This was the sweet spot, where the writing communicated the concepts with the greatest emotional weight and the words worked in perfect concert.
This is how I remember it, though my classmates may recall it differently.
I’m realizing how this exercise prepared me for the efforts of SIX DEGREES. Every believer who participates in such a class will wonder about why some things were included and some were not in the section of their own faith.
With such limits, I can only emphasize this one simple truth: religion is complex. There are so many things I can’t say in 2 hours worth of content. As it is, I wonder if it wouldn’t do better in 3 sessions. Ultimately, every teacher and community will have to decide how much time they are willing and able to devote to learning about these different faiths. I can’t control this aspect. I can only give a solid beginning. And ultimately, it is the responsibility of the community to reach out to those around them to learn and grow.
The experience of faith is so different from faith to faith, from person to person, town to town. And still there are threads that tie us together – which is what SIX DEGREES is all about. It’s so good to see these ties that connect us, no matter how different our individual expression.
This week is all about finishing touches. I’ll send out some last minute bits and pieces to those who have connected with me over this project. There are some final tweaks, articles, and research that need doing. I’m pretty excited about it and a little anxious to get going, so with that, off to work!
In pre-launch excitement,
- Between Chaos and Order: The Need For A Middle Way - June 18, 2018
- Spiritual Mamas: Intuition, Spirituality, and Motherhood - June 4, 2018
- Neither Selfish or Selfless – Only Loving! - April 30, 2018