"As you can see, he had a strange, idiosyncratic way of looking at things. I suspect he got it from the Gospel."
—Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

The Ethics and Early Christianity blog began in 2013 and is hosted by me, Cassandra Farrin. I've worked for the Westar Institute and Polebridge Press since 2010 in more roles than I can count: copyeditor, developmental editor, marketing director, regional program coordinator, national meeting coordinator, and so on and so forth. My work life revolves around cross-cultural and interfaith issues, the subject of my 2008 US-UK Fulbright scholarship. I have an M.A. in Religious Studies from Lancaster University (England) and a B.A. in Religious Studies from Willamette University. For many years I lived and worked with Japanese people, whose lessons in hospitality still guide me today.

Farrin family 2015I now live in rural Idaho, where I am raising—and homeschooling—two beautiful kids I adopted with my identical twin sister in 2012. For better or worse, my sister has put me in charge of religious education, which means I spend a lot of time trying to explain the history of Western culture, Christianity, and meaning of God in elementary school-speak. (Basically, we read a lot of stories together and talk about them.) Our learning extends far beyond Christianity, though. We've read (and re-read) the Gilgamesh epic, the Descent of Inanna, and many Buddhist and Pacific Islander stories, among others. We strongly believe kids should understand religion, not avoid it.

My two favorite novels—Les Misérables by Victor Hugo and The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich—give a pretty good idea of how I understand religion. For one thing, there is no "pure" way to belong to a religious tradition. You can't just mark a hard line between this religion and that one. For another, our religious traditions don't matter if they don't somehow resonate with how we live our lives. Father Damien in Last Report and Monsieur Bienvenue in Les Misérables both embrace the life and sayings of Jesus. They carry out acts of incredible, awe-inspiring compassion that make sense only in context. Both characters are confronted by other religious and spiritual traditions and by political and social outcasts who actually change them. What I'm trying to say is this: When Damien and Bienvenue take great risks for the sake of hospitality, they undergo profound change. That resonates deeply with me as a foster and now adoptive parent. That happened to me.

Because of this, and more, the Ethics & Early Christianity blog isn't interested in a "neutral" history of early Christianity or "neutral" discussion of theology so much as a moral history, a moral discussion. There cannot be neutrality in ethics. We're lying to ourselves if we think there is such a thing as a neutral or pure history to be told, a stable theology that can be completed and closed. What matters is that we welcome other people into conversation. We don't use ourselves as the sole reference point of our lives. We don't get to choose who we grieve, to echo another of my heroes, Judith Butler.

Thank you for visiting this blog, and thank you for your interest in Westar's mission of advancing religious literacy. I always welcome (respectful) comments, questions, and feedback.

Cassandra FarrinCassandra Farrin joined Westar in 2010. A US-UK Fulbright Scholar, she has an M.A. in Religious Studies from Lancaster University (England) and a B.A. in Religious Studies from Willamette University. She is passionate about books and projects that in some way address the intersection of ethics and early Christian history.