Introducing “Conjugal Friendship”

by Lauren Naus on March 20, 2017

Written by guest blogger, Giacomo Sanfilippo.


 

Wendy VanderWal-Gritter’s Generous Spaciousness: Responding to Gay Christians in the Church, which I was asked to review for the upcoming issue of the Toronto Journal of Theology (Volume 33, Issue 1), serves an important “pre-theological” purpose. She has written not a work of theology per se—as she herself acknowledges—but the raw material from real human lives out of which a living theology can take shape over against a lifeless casuistry.

She frames her book as an appeal to the leadership and laity of traditional and conservative churches to open their hearts to the testimony of Christian men, women, youths, and children who experience their attraction to their own gender as a natural, inalienable aspect of their God-given selves.

It comes as a surprise to my colleagues when I mention that the modern world’s first Christian theology of same-sex love appeared in Moscow in 1914.

Pavel Florensky, a young married priest, father of his first child, and now widely acclaimed as one of the 20th century’s foremost Orthodox theologians, dedicated The Pillar and Ground of the Truth: An Essay in Orthodox Theodicy in Twelve Letters to the memory of his beloved Sergei Troitsky, his fellow seminarian and roommate at the Moscow Theological Academy. The two had planned to spend the rest of their life united in a “friendship” analogous to marriage in nearly every respect but procreation, including the natural need to actualize their spiritual union through some form of bodily expression.

The unusual emblem selected by Florensky himself for the frontispiece, his achingly reminiscent dedication in “Letter One: Two Worlds,” and the oft reiterated terms of endearment with which he addresses Sergei through the successive topics of his book all culminate in an explicit theological exposition of their love in “Letter Eleven: Friendship.” For this chapter Florensky chose an emblem that depicts two naked male cupids playfully shooting at each other with their bows and arrows, one throwing his arms up in a gesture of laughing surrender to the other. (Boris Jakim’s translation preserves the original artwork.)

Here I introduce publicly, for the first time, a term of my own invention: conjugal friendship as a theological substitute for “same-sex union.”

Here I introduce publicly, for the first time, a term of my own invention: conjugal friendship as a theological substitute for “same-sex union.” It follows Florensky’s lead in foregrounding the subsumption of eros in philia—for philein means not only to love, but to kiss—and the close analogy between monogamous marriage and exclusive friendship. Etymologically, the Latin conjugalis and its Greek equivalent syzygos have less to do with the sexual or procreative nature of a relationship and more with its foundation in a spiritual “co-yoking” (see Phil 4:3).

An Orthodox theology and spirituality of same-sex love, consistent with our ascetical vision of ecclesial life as a process of deification through the synergistic action of divine grace and human effort, can only begin to emerge when we shift our focus from a near voyeuristic obsession with the possible range of techniques of sexual performance to the spiritually and emotionally unitive nature of love between two men or two women. A full century before VanderWal-Gritter’s appeal, Father Florensky showed the way forward for churches that self-identify as traditional.


Giacomo Sanfilippo is a member of the Orthodox Church and a PhD student in Theological Studies at Trinity College. He has a primary research interest in questions of sexual and gender diversity in human and ecclesial life.
His review of Wendy VanderWal-Gritter’s Generous Spaciousness: Responding to Gay Christians in the Church will appear in the upcoming Spring 2017 issue (Volume 33, Issue 1) of the Toronto Journal of Theology!

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An interview with Nicole St-Onge, author of “He was neither a soldier nor a slave: he was under the control of no man” : Kahnawake Mohawks in the Northwest Fur Trade, 1790-1850, on the importance of oral history and what can happen if you study material you find interesting. To read St-Onge’s article from 2016 in the Canadian Journal of History/Annales Canadiennes D’Histoire, under open access for a limited time, click here. To read about the work St-Onge did for that article, as well as what sparked her interest in studying Mohawks’ role in the fur trade, click here.

Nicole St-Onge is no stranger to oral history, having done a lot of work with it in the past. However, at times she has been aware that her oral history work was not regarded with the same legitimacy as written sources.

“I think we are the products of a western culture where the written is paramount. I agree that oral history tells us as much about the present – the moment the interview is conducted – as it does of the past, but all sources have their shortcomings. One has to maintain a sense of critical analysis towards a source whether oral, written, or archeological,” St-Onge said.

With that in mind, St-Onge has some key guidelines she follows when working with oral history. First, she emphasized that signed consent granting permission from the interviewee is crucial, but secondly, she notes the importance of distributing oral sources.

“I always made sure copies of my life histories interviews were deposited in the archives, for others to use. I never believed in hording. All my oral tapes are deposited at the Provincial Archives of Manitoba. This way, the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those interviewed can listen to their ancestors’ life histories. I also do not believe in anonymous interviews – it is important to know who is speaking and ‘who are their people,’” she said.

She also mentioned, rather comically, that her work with oral history has gotten her out of some not-so-glamourous work responsibilities.

“When I was hired at the University of Ottawa in 1990 I was a young historian with a dubious pedigree – two degrees in anthropology – that used Marxist theory to analyze oral sources. My colleagues found this intriguing enough to hire me, but for years were not convinced I actually did ‘real’ history,” St-Onge said. “So – for example – I was never asked to teach the second year undergraduate methodology courses or sit on the BA Committee. But – I did not consider this too great a hardship.”

St-Onge said that one of her favorite things about history is when she can recount and explain a historical event that provokes thought and reflection in the modern world. Although she hasn’t always been a historian, and initially studied anthropology, St-Onge said that she has always followed a path of studying what is interesting to her.

“My father is a geologist and gave me some advice – to study whatever interested me. There were few jobs in history in the 1980s and even fewer in anthropology. But I think even if I had not landed an academic job at the end of my PhD I would not have regretted the years of university study. They were a fun intellectually stimulating time of my life,” she said. “I gave the same advice to my daughter who pursued a BA and MA in religious studies, followed by a master’s in law from the University of Ireland. She is now working for an NGO in London, England… Who’d have thought it?”

From St-Onge’s scholarly work, it is clear that working with oral sources is something that can greatly aid historians in their work. Following what you’re passionate about, just might not be the worst thing either.


St-Onge’s work, “He was neither a soldier nor a slave: he was under the control of no man”: Kahnawake Mohawks in the Northwest Fur Trade, 1790–1850” is free to read for a limited time. Click here to read the article on CJH Online – http://bit.ly/CJH511a

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There’s More to Resilience than a Thick Skin

by Lauren Naus on March 14, 2017

Written by guest blogger, Jenny Moffett.


 

“It was in my head as a really, really thick wall and
no matter how many times you ram something against it, you would chip away and chip away but it would always fill itself back up.”

This is the voice of a first year veterinary student describing her mental image of resilience, prior to training in the subject. She is not alone in her analogy of a wall. Some of us use words such as ‘strong’ and ‘resolute’ to explain resilience, whilst others create pictures of barriers or armour. We talk about ‘growing a thick skin’ or ‘just blocking it all out’.

However, this style of mental image risks confusing the concept of resilience with that of endurance.

The topic of resilience, i.e. the ability to ‘bounce back’ or even thrive in the face of adversity, has received much attention recently, both within the scientific and popular press. The most up-to-date model of psychological resilience states that it is not a personality trait, but rather a capability linked to numerous factors which relate to us either as individuals, or the environment in which we operate. So, although endurance – or its closely related cousin persistence – does play a role in demonstrating resilience, it is not the defining factor.

Clinical veterinary staff are well-versed in the art of endurance. Spend time in their company, and you will hear tales of days without food and nights without sleep. Long hours, emergency cases and client-facing work can push staff to their limits. And yes, endurance can help us to achieve many things and to pile the stakes high; but the problem is, it allows us to carry heavy loads until the very moment that we cannot. In the blink of an eye, we go from overachieving to overwhelmed.

A core aim for veterinary resilience training is to create awareness and understanding, including highlighting the difference between endurance and resilience. The veterinary student in the opening quote, along with her year cohort, took part in a study which evaluated the impact of a resilience training workshop in a UK veterinary school (Moffett and Bartram, 2017). It is thought that this group of students was the first in the UK to experience resilience training as part of their formal curriculum.

The workshop centred on the impact of occupational stress, and how disciplines such as positive psychology can help veterinary professionals to extend their range of effective coping skills. In addition, drawing on the positive psychology evidence base also allows a focus on the benefits of working in a veterinary role over the hardships.

When evaluating the workshop, students described how they moved from believing resilience was “just being able to take [the stress]” to understanding that there were many different, and practical, pathways open to them. The students appreciated the opportunity to experiment with strategies such as gratitude practice, mindfulness, and cognitive restructuring, in a safe environment.

Overall, the research suggested that the workshop helped the students to grow their resilience skills, and, on that basis, the workshop has since been rolled out to groups of qualified veterinarians. In running the sessions, it’s fascinating to hear the language of endurance emerge once again. Even long-qualified veterinarians report coping with work stress by “picking up my game” or “trying to let it all just not get in on me.”

The more that we perceive we are ‘enduring’ a veterinary career, the less likely it is that we have found a state of resilience. With resilience comes optimism, hope and a recognition that we can find ways to dance around hardship rather than struggle stubbornly through it.

*****

This resilience training described in this post will be brought to yet a wider audience in May 2017. “The veterinary rollercoaster: Learn how to build resilience in 30 days” is a unique interactive online course which is open to veterinarians, veterinary technicians and support staff. For more information, go to http://skillstree.teachable.com/p/resilience or email hello@skillstree.co.uk

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog post do not necessarily reflect those of the Journal of Veterinary Medical Education or the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges


Jenny E. Moffett, BVetMed, MSc, DipMC, PGCert, SFHEA, MRCVS, is Managing Director of SkillsTree Ltd. in Tullyallen, Co. Louth, Ireland. Her article, “Veterinary Students’ Perspectives on Resilience and Resilience-Building Strategies,” is featured in the latest issue of the Journal of Veterinary Medical Education (Volume 44, Issue 1), available to read here!
You can also follow Jenny on Twitter @SkillsTreeHQ!

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LOOK AFTER YOUR PET . . . . . LOOK AFTER YOUR VET

by Lauren Naus on March 9, 2017

Written by guest blogger, Briony Dawson.


 

BRID
Briony Dawson

For those of us that have pets, we all love them greatly. They bring us fun and joy, and make our days happier!

Unfortunately, from time to time they become unwell and they must see a vet. We could not be without these skilled individuals, as they are invaluable to both us and our pets. But what if I told you that we not only need to look out for our pet’s health, but our veterinarian’s well-being too; as they have one of the highest suicide rates amongst all professions.

I became aware of this some time ago and was surprised that this professional group should be at great risk. It led me to explore the reasons as to why this was. Naturally, as a trained psychologist, I wanted to assess what influence the individual has over their well-being, compared to the environment. Most research to date has focused on environmental factors that affect stress, burnout and depression in vets (which subsequently if not treated can result in suicide), therefore my research examined how personality and its different components influence the relationship with stress.

Over 300 UK accredited (the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons) veterinary surgeons took part in the research and found that personality is a better predictor of stress in vets than the environment. Specifically the personality components of depression and anger hostility, which reside within the construct of neuroticism, account for most of this relationship.

Additionally, it was revealed that vets who are newly qualified are at a greater risk of succumbing to extreme stress and burnout, than their more experienced counterparts. This is potentially due to the resilience that vets develop over the course of their careers.

So what does this mean? The findings of this research are highly valuable in understanding how we can overcome such issues in the profession. Now that we are aware that personality has a greater impact on a veterinarian’s well-being than the environment, selection professionals and veterinary HR can better understand the types of personalities that the profession attracts and develop interventions and support mechanisms that are best suited to these individuals.

Additionally, universities can identify susceptible candidates early on in their training and monitor them throughout. Practice managers and occupational psychologists should consider implementing mentoring schemes whereby vets can be monitored closely and any issues dealt with immediately before they develop further.

Although this research is powerful, it is what we do now with the knowledge and findings gained to have a real positive impact on the world that is important. After all, this is the true essence of research.

So to conclude, your veterinarian may look after the health of your animal, but you need to look out for the health of your vet!

To read the whole article and to find out more:
“The Effect of Personality on Occupational Stress in Veterinary Surgeons.”
Briony Dawson & Neill J. Thompson, JVME 44.1 (2017): 72-83

Briony Dawson MSc OccPsych BSc (Hons) Psych
Northumbria University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England
b.dawson@live.co.uk
linkedin.com/in/brionydawson

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog post do not necessarily reflect those of the Journal of Veterinary Medical Education or the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges


Briony Dawson’s article, “The Effect of Personality on Occupational Stress in Veterinary Surgeons,” is featured in the latest issue of the Journal of Veterinary Medical Education (Volume 44, Issue 1), available to read here!

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An interview with Nicole St-Onge, author of “He was neither a soldier nor a slave: he was under the control of no man” : Kahnawake Mohawks in the Northwest Fur Trade, 1790-1850, on the work that she did for her article, as well as what sparked her interest in studying Mohawks men’s role in the fur trade. St-Onge’s article appeared in the Canadian Journal of History/Annales Canadiennes D’Histoire in 2016, and is available here to read for free, for a limited time.

Originally completing her undergraduate and master’s degrees in anthropology, Nicole St-Onge made the switch to history when she decided she wanted to do her PhD on Metis ethno-history – specifically looking at how the village of Ste-Agathe in Manitoba experienced the transition from being a Metis community to becoming a French-Canadian one.

“The department [at the University of Manitoba] took a gamble on me, since prior to the PhD I had taken a total of one undergraduate history courses during the course of my studies – it was a first year Canadian history survey course! The first year [of my PhD] was a bit rough,” St-Onge said.

From her work on the Metis, St-Onge’s interest in the fur trade and Indigenous voyageurs was born. She became interested in the background to the Plains Metis, and as a francophone, was able to easily access a variety of sources – including Montreal Voyageur Contracts.

St-Onge discusses these contracts in her 2016 article published with the Canadian Journal of History/ Annales Canadiennes D’Histoire. In this article, St-Onge looks at Mohawk men who signed fur trading contracts between 1714 and 1821. Mohawk men were exceptionally skilled in trapping, and being canoe men, and voyageurs. As a result, they were able to negotiate highly specific and profitable contracts with their European employers.

“What always struck me with the Mohawk contracts was their level of sophistication,” St-Onge said. “They knew their worth and bargained hard to get better salaries, better working conditions and unheard of concessions, like getting the company to pay for a man to help with harvest if the Mohawk voyageur had not returned in time from a summer journey. This is unheard of in French-Canadian contracts.”

With their variety of skills, Mohawk men were considered “warriors” in their communities, for their abilities and fierce character. On the other hand, however, in some cases European employers regarded Mohawk men to be of a stereotypical savage nature, which influenced the business of fur trading in the Montreal area.

“I think Mohawks, especially in the St. Lawrence valley, were viewed with a degree of unease. Though Mohawks and French-Canadians were both Catholics communities in the nineteenth century, there was conflict – over lands, work, hunting and fishing rights,” St-Onge said. “The Mohawks have a history of being much more forceful in their fights to protect what they consider their rights.”

As St-Onge demonstrates in her research, the way Mohawks fought to protect their rights was notable: they received generous employment doing warrior-like work.


St-Onge’s work, “He was neither a soldier nor a slave: he was under the control of no man”: Kahnawake Mohawks in the Northwest Fur Trade, 1790–1850” is free to read for a limited time. Click here to read the article on CJH Online – http://bit.ly/CJH511a

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Professor Abrahim H. Khan conferred honorary doctorate by Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra

March 6, 2017

Abrahim H. Khan Congratulations Professor Abrahim H. Khan! We at UTP Journals would like to congratulate Professor and Toronto Journal of Theology Editor, Abrahim H. Khan, who just last week received an honourary doctorate from Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra.   Last week, Professor Abrahim H. Khan was conferred an honourary degree of Doctor honoris […]

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Celebrating Freedom to Read Week 2017! (Part 2)

March 1, 2017

The Freedom to Read Week celebration continues! Here are 5 more must-read articles—all from the Journal of Canadian Studies—on books that have at one time been deemed too controversial for schools and libraries across Canada (and in some cases all across North America). FREE-TO-READ this week! 6. MOURNING BECOMES MARGARET: LAURENCE’S FAREWELL TO FICTION by […]

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Celebrating Freedom to Read Week 2017! (Part 1)

February 27, 2017

Freedom to Read Week is here! This week, Canadians are encouraged to think about and reaffirm their commitment to intellectual freedom, which is a fundamental right that is guaranteed to all Canadians under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We at UTP Journals know full well the importance of intellectual freedom. Facilitating critical thought and […]

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A Decade with Under the Volcano

February 23, 2017

Written by guest blogger, Jonathan Butler.   Jonathan Butler Before writing the article, “Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano and the Drunken Discourse of Literary Solipsism,” I’d been thinking about the novel Under the Volcano—and reading and re-reading it—for about ten years. It is for me one of the richest and most elaborate of 20th Century […]

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On the Research Process Behind “‘Courage to Do What Is Right’ on Cold War Broadway: Leonard Spigelgass’ A Majority of One.”

February 21, 2017

Written by guest blogger, Seunghyun Hwang.   Seunghyun Hwang In retrospect, while I was struggling in searching for a dissertation research topic, I had many good opportunities to have productive conversations on post-world war America with my academic adviser and my life mentor, a baby-boomer who remembers the era. These conversations intrigued me and led […]

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