The University of Chicago

The University of Chicago

I see that Mr Brown has had an inevitable thrashing at the polls – I hope it causes a wake up in some sort of shape. From this distance and looking at the newspapers here I have come to see that there is some poverty to the quality of politcal debate in the UK. And these levels of government are not clear. Has anybody any idea of what a local council does? How does our vote there change the price of fuel or food? And who is the local councillor for B93? And what is the alternative? Sorry – I had better shut up before I get myself iinto deep water. All I can say from this side of the water is that I think political debate is of a better quality!



This rather significant institution has been my focus today. This picture gives you a fair representation of the campus which lies due south of the city. The weather is rather strange – warm and very heavy rain. A rather dramatic storm with cracks of thunder seems to follow me to Swift Hall – the home of the Divinity School. I meet the Dean Professor Rosengarten who is warm and open.

We discuss politics and England and (as I do with most Americans) the War in Iraq.Then I have the opportunity to relflect with him on my project. The area of work is story and the part it plays in how we understand a person, their culture and what is important to them. Here is my working title 

 The Stories we Tell: Narrative, Spirituality and Personhood.   

I am intrigued at how we write the narrative of the self – what shape and texture we give to our experience. The process by which we understand our lives is a very important one both for us and the nature of religion. I want to try and understand how best we access an individual’s values and beliefs and how these convictions shape us as people. It is a complex area – and many serious scholars are engaged in this area. 

My time at VTS gave me some opportunity to dig into the literature and begin to generate the core questions that I want to address. Alas – the questions add up to about 56 at the moment so there is some narrowing down to be done. I thing that I love about research is the way that it opens up and then narrows – a constant dynamic of finding a lead and then losing it which is very energising. I love being stretched to my limits – it is always good to be reminded of how much we do not know! Everyone should know how to do a literature search on obscure books and then find it amongst 10 miles of shelves. Keep posted you ll be hearing more of this – the study not the shelves!

Dr Rosenagarten offers some useful suggestions for contacts and we discuss a presentation that I am to give to some of the faculty later in the month. With a very distinguished lot I shall have to be on my best form. He kindly offers me a letter which I take to the privileges office (great place to work in dishing out privileges all day) in the library giving me free access to several million books over six floors. I have my photograph taken for the library card which makes me look like a criminal – wanted – but for what?? The library is open between 8am and 1am just in case I cannot sleep!

  So here is the angel offering untold promise in those books and questions – I wonder if I shall ever manage to find my way around. Back to the catalogue.

PS Boris Johnson as London Mayor – what next??? He looks very drunk on CNN news – well he has just won! I dont know what’s happening in the old home land…

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