compassion

In ‘I am Cait,’ Caitlyn Jenner Drags a Taboo Subject into the Light

ABC / Image Group LA / Flickr

Photo via ABC / Image Group LA / Flickr

Caitlyn Jenner, Olympic athlete turned world-class glamour girl, took the planet by storm in June when she sat down for an interview with Diane Sawyer and announced her ongoing transition from male to female.

Now she’s back with an eight-episode miniseries, I Am Cait, that debuted July 26 on E!. The show, which airs in 154 countries and in 24 languages, serves as both classic reality TV lookie-loo entertainment and a spiritual exercise. Even the most Kardashian-resistant viewer can get something out of it.

Philosopher Martin Buber said, “All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware,” and it’s clear from the very first moments of I Am Cait, when we see Jenner lying awake strafed by insomnia at 4:32 a.m., that she’s not sure where this whole thing is headed.

“What a responsibility I have,” she says to her camera bare-faced and bleary eyed.

“I just hope I get it right. I hope I get it right.”

A Place in the Commons

Ralf Maassen (DTEurope)/Shutterstock

Can we build something new every day? Ralf Maassen (DTEurope)/Shutterstock

Abba Moses asked abba Sylvanus, “Can a person lay a new foundation every day?” The old man said, “If they work hard, they can lay a new foundation at every moment.”

What then of skill? Virtuosity?

(I’m thinking a lot about skill, virtuosity, and the problems it presents. What good is it?)

I often wonder what it would be like to take pride in something rather than simply being prideful. It’s a trick, to say the least, to sort out the difference. To recognize skill, to possess the intention to do something well for the sake of doing something well treads that line. I wonder about the virtue of being good at something — of recognizing one’s skill and then situating that skill in some way that serves not one’s own agenda, one’s own ego, but that benefits the common good.

How do we know our own place in the commons? Is this even possible?

A Whale of a Lesson

TsuneoMP / Shutterstock

Blue whale's can have hearts as big as Volkswagen Beetles. TsuneoMP / Shutterstock

I created my SOLE space by providing one desktop computer per four students, a whiteboard to write questions on, and paper and pens for students to take notes for their sharing at the end of SOLE.

Then I asked a big question — “Why does a blue whale have such an enormous heart?” — and I let the adventure begin. My students began their investigations.

After 40 minutes, they shared their discoveries.

“Blue whales swim all over the world,” said Ki’ara, “So they need a gargantuan heart to be their motor.”

“Blue whales can call to each other over almost a thousand miles,” said Heavenly. “They need a big heart to talk to each other.”

“They swim together in pairs,” said Amare, “So they need huge hearts to care for each other.”

“Yeah,” said Isaac, “That’s true … it takes a huge heart to care for somebody.”

“Kids who are nice to me on the playground must have a big heart like a blue whale,” added Aydan. “And people who are mean must have small hearts.”

“Hmmm,” I said. “How can we have big hearts for each other instead of small hearts?”

No Girls Allowed

Children camping under the stars. Image courtesy Ron and Joe/shutterstock.com

What kind of tentmakers are we? Are we more like Martha, so preoccupied with busywork that we neglect our neighbors, the guests of honor? Do we stand by and rejoice in the misfortune of others suffer the consequences of their own doing, rather than inviting them in and making room for them at the table, under the protection of our shade? When we see a stranger come by, do we drop everything, bring out the best of what we have and sit at their feet in humble service?

When Robbers and Innkeepers Profit from Good Samaritans

Pollution dirties the holy Hoogly river in Calcutta. Photo courtesy Hung Chung Chih/shutterstock.com

The Parable of the Good Samaritan is one of the most well-known, beloved, and influential portions of the New Testament. As a striking narrative about care and compassion for others, the content of Luke 10:29-37 has reverberated throughout the centuries as a clear and profound call to public love through personal action. All together, the radical hospitality of the Samaritan has sparked various charitable acts and organizations around the world. Thus, one can argue that no other parable has offered a more profound impact on the course of human history. 

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