Food for Thought Module VI: Silence and Community

Concern and fear about technology’s omnipresent role in modern life is not new. The number of people trying to find ways to “unplug” and “escape the noise” seems to have been on the rise for years. Now, a global pandemic forcing people to isolate themselves indoors has thrust technology into an even more central role in the lives of many students and workers, and questions of its value are more relevant than ever. Is it a socially destructive force that breeds anxiety and isolation? Or is it a lifeline that preserves relationships and community in times when they would otherwise be torn apart? Does it enrich our education or undermine it? 

Join us as we gather over a series of three Zoom webinars(!) to explore nuanced issues of technology, personal relationships, education, intellectual community, and the value of silence in a technological world. We will kick off this series this Wednesday with distinguished guest facilitator Justin McDaniel, Professor and Undergraduate Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Professor McDaniel is known to the academy for his remarkable scholarship on Buddhism, Southeast Asian Literature, and Manuscript Studies, and known to Penn students for his popular courses like “the monk class” and the seven-hour-long course on “Existential Despair.” Waiting lists for his classes are hundreds strong, but we have the privilege of Professor McDaniel leading this Wednesday’s live session on silence, community and the monastic tradition. Please see below for more details!

The two recommended readings for the Prof. McDaniel’s session on April 15 are excerpts from the Rule of St. Benedict (attached below), and the introduction to the Buddhist Monastic Code (which can be found on pages 11-26 attached below) . Both readings for the first session are completely optional; you will be able and encouraged to participate in the conversation even if you do not complete them. Stay tuned for more information about the following weeks’ readings.


Wednesdays | 4/15, 4/22, 4/29 | 7:30 – 8:30 PM 

Online Zoom meeting

* Just pages 11-26 for reading 1