In Their Robes

By Emily Howland

What brought you together as roommates?

AG: Megan and Sara lived in the Hebrew house together. JF: I was a free radical after living in the veggie co-op.

MM: I knew Jessica through my first year course.

AG: Megan and Sara and I we were all in LOC together.

What are some house traditions?

MM: No bake cookies.

No bake cookies?

SS: You make them on the stove. It’s chocolate and peanut butter, oats, sugar and butter. We make two or three batches a week I would say.

AG: It’s like fudge but with oats in it. It’s the chapel cookie recipe for the month. I work at the chapel.

How does your spirituality come through in the house?

MM: We get up at 5 every morning to do bible study. Just kidding we don’t do that.

SS: That is not the case.

AG: Megan and Sara and I looked at seminaries together over fall break. Jess’s dad and sister are both ministers.

AG: We all spend significant time in the chapel.

SS: But we come from different traditions. Annie’s Unitarian Universalist and the three of us are protestant.

Did this become a bigger deal in college?

JF: I would say it was something I was born into.

MM: I think before college I was really searching for a way to integrate my spiritual practices and my political beliefs because there isn’t much of a religious left in Portland where I’m from. I got to explore justice-based spirituality and express my faith in ways I was not able to.

How have your parents responded?

MM: Macalester has pushed me to become more radical. Sometimes there’s some eye rolling around that. Like social constructs isn’t really a topic around our dinner table. But they are supportive of the search.

SS: I would say that I have found a cool progressive spiritual community at Mac and I had grown up in a progressive church at home but I didn’t have many friends who shared that with me. All of my friends were either Jewish or Muslim. Coming here I was like oh there are other lefty, socialist Christians out there that’s awesome!

What’s a Unitarian Universalist?

AG: It’s a religion that’s an offshoot of Christianity but it developed into a really liberal faith in which our main goal is to live an ethical life and search for your own truth and meaning, not basing it off of any one religion but you search for your own truth about the world. It was cool to come here and meet a lot of other UUs.

How does spirituality come out in the house?

SS: We have a calendar with sexy priests.

AG: We have religious flags with different symbols.

MM: I think that part of ourselves is manifested in our conversations and our openness to use faith vocabulary. We do end up talking about it a lot.

Are you religious studies majors?

AG: Sara and I are.

Are your choices in classes dictated by your religious orientation?

AG: As a religious studies major I am interested in studying religion and how it impacts people. Because I want to be a minister I am interested in how religion and people interact. But it’s also interesting because there are no classes that actually examine my faith because it’s so small and so new so I’m always studying someone else’s faith.

MM: Sometimes I can bring my faith vocabulary to my academics. I’m really drawn to the idea of place in Geography [her major] and I think there’s a spiritual element to that. There is a geographer named Yi Fu Tuan and he talks about topophilia, which is that intangible connection with place that you can’t really explain but your enchantment with the place. Our spirituality helps us to connect with place in ways we can’t always explain.

AG: Megan is doing an honors project on the bus system in the Twin Cities.

Are you interested in going into transit work?

MM: I thought I was. I’m going into Teach for America next year so who knows.

What are the rest of you doing after graduation?

AG: I’m going to seminary or divinity school but I haven’t heard back from them. I’ve gotten into one so far and there are three more.

How long is that?

AG: It’s three years to get a Master of Divinity, the degree needed to become a minister.

JF: I am applying for an internship in New York City. I’d be an assistant to the Presbyterian Church’s Representative to the United Nations. The Presbyterian Church is very democratic in the way it’s set up. We have a General Assembly like the UN. If I’m not hired, then I’ll go teach English abroad.

SS: I’m looking for jobs here or home in the Bay Area to do music and play more before I go to divinity school.

Have you ever felt that being religious isolates you or the opposite?

JF: everyone always wants to talk about religion whether they’re religious or spiritual or not. In many of my classes there have been discussions about Christianity and imperialism. I don’t dispute that connection, but I don’t always agree with the strength to which people oppose Christianity because there are different types of Christianity and more progressive ways of thinking.

MM: Even if we’re not practicing a certain faith we’re asking similar questions to the ones we are but we might be coming at them from a different angle.

SS: We don’t have ownership over those questions and neither do people who aren’t necessarily people of faith or in a certain church.

AG: Whenever I say I want to be a Unitarian Universalist minister people ask me “what’s that?” and get to explain it to them and they might come to our org meeting for Mac UUs.

Do you have trouble expressing the religious part of your identity?

AG: I think people make assumptions about what it means to be a minister and they definitely assume that means I’m Christian. Sometimes it would be awkward to say, “By the way, I’m not Christian.”

What are the questions you are asking as a religious person?

MM: How can I find work with purpose and meaning in my life? Where does my great gladness meet the world’s greatest hunger or need, which is a famous quote about vocation.

Have you gotten close to the Mac Chaplains?

SS: They’re pretty cool. Big Luce is coming over in a few weeks.

SS: There’s a Facebook group called “There ain’t nothin’ abstruse about my home-girl Big Luce. She’s coming over for dinner.