PACIFIC SOUTHWEST INSTITUTE OF RELIGIOUS LIBERALS
Theme Information for August 17-22, 2008
Rabbi Abraham Heschel has reminded us that we can be without being human. The struggle to become human is to actualize our potential. Our humanity will be enriched as we deal with our expectations, recognize the extraordinary in the ordinary, and take the risks involved to achieve our potential.
“It is indeed conceivable that people may continue to be without being human.” (Rabbi Abraham Heschel)
Rabbi Abraham Heschel, a Reformed Rabbi, was active in the Civil Rights movement with Martin Luther King, Jr. Among his many books is What is Man. (Heschel is using the generic “man.” I believe if he were living today he would entitle this book, “What is Human?”) Google Rabbi Abraham Heschel to learn more.
First Lecture: “To discover how to be human now…”
(W. H. Auden)
“To discover how to be truthful now…
To discover how to be living now…
To discover how to be loving now…
To discover how to be human now…”
The theme of this lecture will be becoming human. Quotations and an exposition of “For the Time Being” by the English poet, W.H. Auden as well as from Rabbi Abraham Heschel will be the basis of this lecture.
Second Lecture: “This Registers the Amount of Your Purchase”
“The corpse of the Swede, alone in the saloon, had its eyes
fixed upon a dreadful legend that dwelt atop the cash machine,
‘This registers the amount of your purchase.’ “
The theme of this lecture will be how our expectations shape our humanity.
Stephen Crane’s short story, “The Blue Hotel” will be one basis of this lecture.
Third Lecture: “Finding Value in the Smallest Events of our Lives”
“ ‘Our Town’ is an attempt to find a value above all
price for the smallest events in our daily life.”
“One of the more ominous signs of the spiritual impoverishment
of our time is that (we) have lost much of the sensitivity
needed to perceive the symbolic within the literal.”
The theme of this lecture will be how our humanity may be gained and enriched as we pay attention to the ordinary. This lecture will be based on some material from Marilynn Robinson’s Gilead and Housekeeping and other works.
Fourth Lecture: “Enriching our Humanity by Taking Risks”
“…when you tire on the long thrash to your island, lie up,
And survive. …remember when fear crams your heart
What I told you: lie gently and wide to the light-year
Stars, lie back, and the sea will hold you.”
“Spring is the mischief in me…”
The theme of this lecture will be how accepting vulnerability will enrich our humanity. Among sources for this lecture will be the story of the Cellist of Sarajevo, poetry by Philip Booth, Robert Frost and probably Leigh Hunt’s familiar, ”Abou Ben Adam.”
This page last modified on March 16, 2008
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