guest contribution

guest contribution

The social psychologist Jonathan Haidt touched on something that I’ve been thinking a lot about recently — our increasing political and cultural polarization in the United States, and how we rarely encounter the “other” any longer. I reflect on this with an agricultural metaphor — that we are becoming monocultures. Just as that isn’t the best thing for ecosystems, it’s not great for communities of people either.

On November 29, 1981, a story in the Chicago Tribune proclaimed: “Hans Küng, one of the world’s most important religious figures, is hero for some and heretic to others.” Mr. Küng received coverage in the Trib because he had been invited to guest-teach at the University of Chicago Divinity School, two years after the Vatican has stripped him of his missio canonica, the license necessary to teach as a Roman Catholic theologian.

I wish I’d had a conversation about the universe with my dad, but that wasn’t the kind of relationship we had.

Our connection was rooted in the physical, in the doing not in the saying. My dad had that same kind of link with the natural world. He didn’t much talk about the beauty in things, didn’t call out the colors of a fiery sunset or the way the dew sparkled on a downy rhododendron bud, though I know he enjoyed these things. Instead, he’d gaze out at the world with a look not unlike a smile simply soaking up the moment.

+ Read » Part I: Arrival | Part II: Absence | Part III: Navigation

I've been taking walks out into trackless space, leaving point A without a point B to find.

+ Read » Part I: Arrival | Part II: Absence

Look at the map. Don't look at the coast, don't look at the text. Just look at the white mass that is the Antarctic. Look at the nothing that fills the map.

Beyond the penguins and icebergs, far behind the stony coast, larger than the United States and deprived of life, is the East Antarctic ice cap. This blank space is the vast bulk of the southern continent, a world of ice inconceivable to anyone who has not traveled over its emptiness.

apples