28 October 2009

Empathy across neighborhood lines

My latest op-ed, "Love Thy Neighbor: In the wake of an attack on the Men’s Cross Country team, it’s time to rethink University-community relations," appeared in the Chicago Weekly today.

You can find the op-ed and add your comments here, and I've also pasted it below. Thanks, as always, for reading.

Love Thy Neighbor: In the wake of an attack on the Men’s Cross Country team, it’s time to rethink University-community relations

Ryan McCarl

The University of Chicago is a bastion of resources and privilege in a largely underserved and segregated South Side. The University and many of its students regularly engage in outreach and volunteer programs aimed at bridging the gap between the University community and the broader South Side, and Hyde Park is often hailed as one of the most integrated neighborhoods in the United States. But there is an undeniable separation—an invisible wall—between the University and its surroundings.

20 October 2009

Readings from Solomon's "Judaism: A Very Short Introduction"

Martin Buber and Emanuel Levinas put their faith in the God of relationships. Alles Leben ist Begegnung ('all life is encounter'), declared Buber, and the important thing is to get your relationship with God and with people right (I-Thou, rather than I-It); from that relationship, which is the essence of Revelation, ethical action flows; laws and rules are feeble attempts to capture revelation, and doomed to inadequacy.
Genesis 1:27 states clearly enough: 'So God created humankind in his own image; in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.' This implies that in using our concept of God to model human behavior we should not distinguish between male and female.
Emil Fackenheim grounds his theology in the actual resistance of Shoah [Holocaust] victims to whom no realistic hope remained: 'A philosophical Tikkun ['repair', 'restoration'] is possible after the Holocaust because a philosophical Tikkun already took place, however fragmentarily, during the Holocaust itself'; the rebirth of Israel, and a new constructive dialogue with a self-critical Christianity, are essential to this process. Fackenheim is also noted for his statement that there should be a 614th commandment, surplus to the 613 of tradition - to survive as Jews, to remember, never to despair of God, lest we hand Hitler a posthumous victory.

12 October 2009

Readings from the stories of John Cheever

It was after four then, and I lay in the dark, listening to the rain and to the morning trains coming through. They come from Buffalo and Chicago and the Far West, through Albany and down along the river in the early morning, and at one time or another I've traveled on most of them, and I lay in the dark thinking about the polar air in the Pullman cars and the smell of nightclothes and the taste of dining-car water and the way it feels to end a day in Cleveland or Chicago and begin another in New York, particularly after you've been away for a couple of years, and particularly in the summer.
I took the eight-ten train into town in the morning and returned on the six-thirty. I knew enough to avoid the empty house in the summer dusk, and I drove directly from the station parking lot to a good restaurant called Orpheo's.

--"The Cure"

"The sun is in your hair."
"The sun is in your hair. It's a beautiful color."

--"The Chaste Clarissa"