I have a new book (well OK – the book is a couple of years old, but it is new to me) I am reading in preparation for a Veritas Forum event to be held this fall, Finding Calcutta: What Mother Teresa Taught Me About Meaningful Work and Service by Mary Poplin. This is not a science and faith book – and it a welcome respite from the non-ending questions of scripture, creation, and Adam and Eve. This book is relevant to the Chrisitan life – and to Christian life in the academy in particular. Mary Poplin is a Professor of Education at Claremont Graduate University, one of the Claremont Colleges, and an institution dedicated entirely to graduate education. She writes from the perspective of one at home in the academy, and aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the environment.
The publisher’s description (InterVarsity Press):
“Find the sick, the suffering and the lonely right there where you are. . . . You can find Calcutta all over the world, if you have the eyes to see.” –Mother Teresa
Lifelong educator Mary Poplin, after experiencing a newfound awakening to faith, sent a letter to Calcutta asking if she could visit Mother Teresa and volunteer with the Missionaries of Charity. She received a response saying, “You are welcome to share in our works of love for the poorest of the poor.” So in the spring of 1996, Poplin spent two months in Calcutta as a volunteer. There she observed Mother Teresa’s life of work and service to the poor, participating in the community’s commitments to simplicity and mercy. Mother Teresa’s unabashedly religious work stands in countercultural contrast to the limitations of our secular age.
Poplin’s journey gives us an inside glimpse into one of the most influential lives of the twentieth century and the lessons Mother Teresa continues to offer. Upon Poplin’s return, she soon discovered that God was calling her to serve the university world with the same kind of holistic service with which Mother Teresa served Calcutta.
Not everyone can go to Calcutta. But all of us can find our own meaningful work and service. Come and answer the call to find your Calcutta!
Quite a challenge – and one not limited to Dr. Poplin, Mother Teresa, or a select few specially chosen individuals. This is for all of us … A call to serve our communities with the same kind of holistic service with which Mother Teresa served Calcutta.
What does it mean to serve our communities with holistic service?
Is this really our calling?
I am going to put up some posts on this book over the next few weeks. To get us started, here are a few links to brief video excerpts, a couple of minutes each, from presentations by Mary Poplin.
And about secular humanism:
You can also find a couple of complete talks on YouTube, including this one held at Pepperdine University last fall, Oct. 5 2010 (This one is almost 90 minutes and I have not watched it in its entirety yet):
Like Dr. Poplin, my community is the university world, but more particularly it includes the scientific community, students, faculty, scholars, within that university world. How to best serve this community, and the people in this community, is a question that has driven much of my thinking and studying over the last several years. In fact in my case, although it may annoy some of Scot’s readers, addressing and wrestling with the science and faith questions is a part of that call.
If interested, get the book or watch the videos, or both and join in.
Where do you find your Calcutta? What does this mean to you?
If you wish to contact me directly you may do so at rjs4mail[at]att.net.