A new series of videos available through Youtube offers a helpful resource for thinking about the question, “What Makes a Life Worth Living?”
One of the things the Living Well Center for Vocation and Purpose at Lenoir-Rhyne has done in response to Covid-19 is to re-create our most popular, in-person event as a virtual one. Two years ago we began a speaker series called “Lives Worth Living.” We invited four speakers a year to come to campus and respond to the question “What makes for a life worth living?” This event was held in our campus chapel and attracted not only students but a considerable number of community members. After the speaker’s lecture we had a Q&A or discussion time and on the following morning we offered students an opportunity to have coffee and follow-up conversation with the speaker. This quickly became a community-building, transformational “third space” for us, from which I have received numerous accounts of vocational “a-ha” moments.
Each of the speakers in this series has pointed beyond themselves. Living a life worth living, the pursuit of happiness, cannot be a solo venture. These speakers, who come from diverse backgrounds and perspectives, all point us to the reality that a life worth living is one lived in community. [See Mindy’s previous post, “The Pursuit of Happiness and the Common Good” for more on these themes].
And though much has been lost by not sharing space and time with the speakers on our campus, virtual space is also real space, one in which we can began to discover our common telos. With no travel or lodging costs our budget has allowed us to greatly expand the number of speakers we have this year. They include the popular pastor and writer John Pavlovitz; Tuhina Verma Rasche, ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America who currently serves as pastor in an African Methodist Episcopal Zion congregation in California; and Jim Wallis, founding editor of Sojourners magazine. Our “Lives Worth Living” series has now found a home in the virtual third place of YouTube. These videos are available for all and can be used in classes (embedded for asynchronous online instruction) or with small groups to stimulate discussion.
And just added this week, Aneelah Afzali, founder and Executive Director of the American Muslim Empowerment Network (AMEN), a new initiative of the Muslim Association of Puget Sound:
There are also contributions from people you might recognize from NetVUE schools: Jacqueline Bussie of Concordia College (mentioned in this blog post, “Ten Things That Make Life Worth Living”) and Guy Nave of Luther College.
Here is a link to the Living Well Center for Vocation and Purpose channel on Youtube, with links to all of the “Lives Worth Living” videos.
Mindy Makant is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Director of the Living Well Center for Vocation and Purpose at Lenoir-Rhyne University in North Carolina. She is the author of two books, The Practice of Story: Suffering and the Possibilities of Redemption (Baylor, 2015) and Holy Mischief: in Honor and Celebration of Women in Ministry (Cascade, 2019).