Epistemology: How We Know with Dr. Esther Lightcap Meek

This week’s bonus episode was recorded with philosopher, professor, and author, Dr. Esther Lightcap Meek, as she was entering into her role as the inaugural Senior Scholar at The Seattle School in late 2022.

Joined by hosts Dr. Dan Allender and Dr. Chelle Stearns, this discussion centers around the importance of valuing and delighting in the real. 

Epistemology is “the theory of knowledge,” or how we know what we know. Esther argues that knowing is not about acquiring power or control over things but rather about engaging in a loving relationship with reality.

If you have a passion for philosophy, theology, or are simply seeking a fresh perspective, this episode is for you. In fact, you may find yourself listening more than once to extract all the nuggets of wisdom contained within.

About Our Guest:

Esther Lightcap Meek (BA Cedarville College, MA Western Kentucky University, PhD Temple University) is Professor of Philosophy emeritus at Geneva College, in Western Pennsylvania. She is also Senior Scholar with The Seattle School for Theology and Psychology, a Fujimura Institute Scholar, an Associate Fellow with the Kirby Laing Center for Public Theology, and a member of the Polanyi Society.

Her books include Longing to Know: The Philosophy of Knowledge for Ordinary People (Brazos, 2003); Loving to Know: Introducing Covenant Epistemology (Cascade, 2011); A Little Manual for Knowing (Cascade, 2014); and Contact With Reality: Michael Polanyi’s Realism and Why It Matters (Cascade, 2017). Her forthcoming book is Doorway to Artistry: Attuning Your Philosophy to Enhance Your Creativity (Cascade, 2023).

You can click here to watch Dr. Meek’s lecture on “Loving Reality” as part of the Stanley Grenz Lecture Series at The Seattle School in 2018. Her lecture is followed by a joint panel with Dr. Dan Allender and Dr. Chelle Stearns.

Episode Transcript:

Dan: I hope you as an audience know that every opportunity we have to be with you is a good gift, but there are some gifts that sometimes are better than others. And this just for me, happens to be one of those moments where I have been looking so forward to this conversation with two of my most favorite theologians on the earth. So first of all, Chelle Sterns, you’ve been with us before, but you are always an intriguing presence for our audience, who is this violinist, theologian, art, trauma. So welcome, Chelle. What do you want to add to that, Chelle?

Chelle: It’s just a pleasure to be here this morning.

Dan: Anything about your breakfast?

Chelle: Nothing about my breakfast. Though I do recommend muesli.

Dan: Yeah. All right. Well, I told you that it would come up, but I will not linger there at all. But we have the pleasure of being able to interact with Esther Lightcap Meek, who I’ll just shout from the rooftops as been brought into our world as a senior scholar at the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology. And that is a gift beyond all words. Esther, welcome and I’ll tell folks in a moment about some of your work, but just welcome. So good to have you here.

Esther: Thank you. Thank you. We’ve had a long relationship, several years between one thing and another.

Dan: Oh my gosh, more than that.

Esther: This is Derek McNeil’s latest scheme.

Dan: Yeah. Thank goodness for Derek. And not that it means much to the audience at this point, but you and I shared a platform where you began to move me toward the category of mortality, retirement, death, the loss of my virility and life, and it was a really fabulous, sweet conversation. Do you not remember that?

Esther: Well, I think I know which one you’re referring to, but I can’t at all remember what we talked about. Oh, I do remember exhorting you. But now what was that about? Yes, that was a long time ago. It was scandalous. I told you, you were going to die?

Dan: Yeah. I just told you about my death… It was really really helpful. And that I needed to actually live into the death to begin to evaluate how much longer I wanted to be in certain worlds and doing certain things. All to say I have been oh, such a beneficiary of your life. But let me just say to the audience that you are a professor of philosophy emeritus from Geneva College. You are an epistemologist, and if that terrifies the audience, and they’re like, what? This isn’t about trauma? And the answer is, oh my gosh, you will learn so much more about engaging life and trauma as we have this conversation. So I so strongly recommend that you become acquainted with our guest and her writings. And just to ask you, where would you invite people to begin to get a sense of the richness, depth, vitality of your life and writing? From my standpoint, Longing to Know is a great beginning, but a Little Manual of Knowledge is also one of the most brilliant, brief, theoretically complex volumes. How would you put it? How would you want people to be introduced to you?

Esther: Well, I’d agree with both of those. So Longing to Know was my first book and everything since then seems to be kind of contained in there in some way or another. And Longing to Know is coming up on its 20th birthday next year, so I’m having my own kind of personal relaunch, so that’s good. But Longing to Know is a book for people considering Christianity. You have questions about knowing and Little Manual for Knowing is I call that a how to for knowing ventures in any field. So those, they both have something to recommend them Longing to Know. It’s a very odd book, but one of the things it has is short chapters for busy people and more analogies and stories per page than most books. So starting with knowing God is like knowing your auto mechanic.

Dan: Well, let’s start with this lovely word epistemology, and it would be silly for me to define it. I’d love for you just to say, when I say you’re an epistemologist, like what in the name of God does that mean?

Esther: Well, Dan, I don’t know if I ever related this to you, but one time an 18-year-old asked me that and before I answered, she said, oh, is that the study of anger management?

Dan: Oh, that is good.

Esther: So it’s a big scary word, but it has to do with knowing. And my questions have always had to do with how we know whatever it is, we know which, and that’s epistemology. So don’t hold it against philosophy that has this big hairy term. You’re doing it, you’re doing knowing whether you think about it or not. So my shtick is always to collar everybody and say, look, this is for you. And I think everybody’s philosophical. I spend usually my opening moments arguing you into that, but it isn’t hard because you’re a tissue of a fabric of interweaving knowings. So I try to make sense of that for people because I think you can have hidden presumptions about knowing that actually gum up your knowing.

Dan: You do such a brilliant job of contrasting in some sense a Cartesian approach versus a Covenantal approach. And already many people might be going, but the difference between knowledge as power versus knowing as a relationship of love, you say in the little manual that love is the beginning of knowledge. And so take us through that and then shell, we’ve talked about Esther and about your work and the relationship between knowing and a Trinitarian understanding of reality. I’d love for both of you to talk about that.

Esther: Yeah, one of the things I like to say is that we don’t know in order to love, we love in order to know and love isn’t in that context isn’t exactly an emotion so much as it is an orientation of willing openness to the real that just is kind of the vector that coming to know would traverse toward trying to figure out something about reality. So to say we love in order to know picks up on the covenantal idea that you kind of have to promise to love, honor and obey before you can expect a person like real to self-disclose. So knowing’s a little bit like a marriage, and that means if you’re going to be a great knower, you really want to be a great lover. And so my job as far as being a professor is concerned, I thought of think of my job as helping cultivate students as lovers of the real. So we’re called to communion with the real that that’s what I think we exist for. So prompt me, Dan, what else would you like me to say at this point?

Dan: Well, at this point, Chelle, just again, you and I have talked about a theologian by the name of, Grunton…

Chelle: Gunton.

Dan: Ah. Yeah, thank you. Just an unnecessary syllable on that. How does this fit within a Trinitarian understanding?

Chelle: Well, I think Esther… one thing I’ve always been interested in Esther’s work is how she does start with love. She does start with relationality and having that be a huge part of what it means to even negotiate knowing. So I think that’s probably where I would start. I think my favorite example from Esther is her talking about her garden. And I remember, Esther, you talking about having a particular plant that wasn’t doing well and the question of loving and knowing your yard well enough, knowing where the sun is, knowing how the soil is, and knowing eventually where to put a particular plant. But I don’t know if you want to talk about that at all, but…

Esther: Yeah, I remember which one you’re referring to too, even though I don’t live at that house anymore. But that’s what a gardener does is attend and listen and try to figure out what’s going on. And you want, if it’s a blooming plant, which that was a hydrangea, French hydrangea, I kept moving around, you know, want to get it to the place where it says, oh, thank you so much, this is just what I needed. So my approach to philosophizing is always to get down to the near and the stuff that we do in every moment. And gardening’s just one of a ton of examples where we’ve got, if you’re a Colin Gunton fan, you like the idea of reciprocity of this kind of overture response where you respond to bring things along or it responds to your efforts, that kind of thing. And so that relational dynamic is, it, if I could just point out, I’m talking about ordinary knowing. I’m not talking about some kind of spiritual or religious baptism of that somehow makes it heightens, its it’s spirituality or something like that. I’m just plain old gardening, this is what you do. And to anticipate where you might go is if reality is God’s and the most real thing that we confess is the Trinity while we’re doing the dance too. So that might be where you were going to go.

Chelle: Yeah, I think there’s something in that. I mean, I think most people don’t really think about knowing as something that actually you have particular ways of doing it or that you’ve been given certain tools in order to know just really basic things. And I find in my own work, you’re like this kind of idea, of the dance with reality, it brings us out of maybe an overly subjective way of approaching the world. What makes sense to me, it pushes kind of outside of the self. So it’s not just reciprocity for the sake of me getting what I need or want. It’s more of I have to take stock of what’s really happening in the world and get away. Not just from my own opinion though. I was just listening to, I just was at a conference last week and at Baylor and Makoto Fujimura was there and he was talking about that the act of creativity is often that you’ve moving beyond the self, you’re getting past the self in some sense, so that you might encounter the real, that you might actually know what the color green is, if you will, so that you can attend, well, both in your own kind of creativity, but also in making something that is honoring to the world, honoring to what it means to be an artist or honoring what it means to be a human being in the world. So there’s something more than me just making sense of the world and our knowing, but coming to terms with that, there’s something beyond myself to actually know,

Esther: To go back and pick up the word Descartes, if I may, there’s something kind of arrogant about the presumption that really sets up the modern age, which is this kind of me in here and the world out there, and I’m cut off from the world. And as we move into the 19th and 20th and 21st century, I form it as opposed to a more humble listening sort of a stance, which if you’re going to garden, it’s so not about you, but a lovely thing is it’s about encounter. So that means that both you and the garden change each other and there’s this mutuality, but because it’s this encounter, you are both in a different and a healthier place as a result of that. And if I can go on, maybe anticipating something you might say or think, ask about the word true. We tend to think of the word true meaning correct. This statement is true, but if you’re gardening or you’re doing some other kind of relationship, you want to be true in a different sense, which is kind of, if you thought jazz ensemble or something like that, there would be this kind of dancing accord. True. I like the idea of true, well obviously in the idea of covenant or faithfulness, you know, want to be true to something. But also I love the idea of true as kind of coming into line with something. So a carpenter wants something to be true. So there’s a falling into line with that I think is better at getting at the idea of true.

Dan: Well, Esther, a lot of your work, at least in Longing to Know, begins with a conversation or interaction with an auto mechanic. Could you tell us a bit about that story?

Esther: Yeah, so the thing that I needed to address for myself, I needed to, I say I had adolescent onset skepticism and I had questions about how I know that God exists and also questions how I knew anything existed outside my mind. So I was that Cartesian, but so Longing to Know, it was kind of grew out of me trying to justify my own Christianity to myself. And in particular, it seemed important to me to try to show that knowing God was an ordinary act of knowing, just like every other act of knowing. And it involved things that get called faith in a religious context, but faith wouldn’t be the word you would use when you entrust yourself to a bicycle, for example. But the same components are there. And so I took a kind of driving metaphor to make the case that knowing God is an ordinary act of knowing. So what I argued was that knowing God is knowing your auto mechanic. And so in one chapter I talk about everything I know about Jeff Dare, who was my auto mechanic and St. Louis, and still is my St. Louis daughter and son-in-law’s mechanic. So then when I tell a little, and what I say is the problem isn’t knowing what I’m supposed to know about God, the is what I should know about knowing. And I had found an approach to knowing that made sense of everything to me from the kitchen to knowing God. And so that’s what I unpack in that book. And with each chapter I tell a little bit more about that, apply it to knowing my auto mechanic and then apply it to knowing God.

Dan: So back to in what sense, what some people might call practicality, the fact is you’ve talked about it far more as an engagement with the real, that there is the phenomena of reality that in some senses always inviting and alluring and pointing toward something of the character and the goodness of God. I see that in Romans 1:21 where Paul speaks about that which is seen, reveals that which is unseen. So when you think about how you have in one sense invited us to the real, I’d love to have a better sense of how the real has shaped you.

Esther: Oh wow. Well, I, being a skeptic went on for decades and I’ve been moving toward a stance of trust and openness to the real for a while. And I’m in a better place with regard to reality now, so I can look back and see that the real has been inviting me. But now I’m starting to talk about the real as being the initiator, the one and my upcoming book. The thesis is that the real hospitably welcomes. So in Loving to Know, which I don’t think you’ve mentioned yet, but that’s okay, I say that look, no, the real is person-like, which means we ought to practice what I call epistemological etiquette. I love to make up creative terms. Anyway. That means that we best practices of knowing would be those that invite the real as if it’s a person as opposed to, dictate or tell it, or something like that. So now see, I’ve moved on to say, well, if we’re inviting the real, it’s reciprocating because the real has invited us first. So if you think of the moment of notice when something catches your attention, it’s like reality says, here I am. And I would like to link that with the idea of beauty. So beauty is the real self-disclosing, and then we respond to it in goodness and truth. So that’s where I am on that. But it’s taken me a while to talk about what the real is, and I’m actually trying to do that now, and I hope to talk about it more in connection with the Seattle School. There’s something I’m forgetting that I wanted to say, but if I think of it, I’ll interrupt you.

Dan: Well you are a senior scholar, so as a senior we have much ground for the patience of finding words, nonetheless, Chelle, any direction I can see you’re about to move in a direction.

Chelle: No, I love the bringing up of beauty there. And there’s, there’s a couple of different things that kind of come to my mind. Again, I love this idea of the invitation of the encountering with the real, the mutuality, the reciprocity. And some ways I kind of wonder how people hear that because it feels maybe a little abstract in a lot of ways. But at the same time, I hear scholars talk about things like this. So I have a favorite scholar, John Webster, who talks about our relationship with scripture as being much more of an encounter with God’s self revealing presence rather than we’re getting knowledge that we can control. And again, I just came back from a conference with a bunch of academics from lots of different, it was an arts conference, but sometimes it feels like knowledge is what I have and I have more of it. So there as opposed to knowledge that is about love that is kind of sets us free or gets us into a place where we have deeper relationships with one another, we come to see God’s face more clearly because we are together. And there there’s something about the attitude or the posture of starting with love, starting with beauty, that there’s something that I resonate with rather than a truth that I can consume and take for myself that then gives me a sort of power. But instead, beauty invites us into the relationship.

Esther: Yeah. And that thank you prompts me to remember what I was forgetting to say. And that is it. Okay, I’m going to talk about the modern age, and what I am referring to is an outlook that began in the 16 hundreds and only grows more strident. And it’s an idea of knowledge as correctness that gives us power and control. And actually what has happened in order to pull that off, what the milieu had to do was de-personalize the real and actually disavow the real. So that one of the reasons this sounds so, can sound so, either abstract or too touchy feely is that we in modernity have lost any sort of reverence for the real. Like the plain old real. I’m not talking okay, God is God, but I’m talking plain old things everyday things that somehow we reductivistically discount. So we might say, oh, well that’s just some clay. That piece of China is just some clay that came out of some rock somewhere, or something like that. So we tend in modernity to reduce things to meaningless bits or even to be suspicious about whether the real even needs to be there. So we can’t even talk about reality without people maybe saying, well, my reality or your reality. And so we’ve got kind of this fight going on about what reality is because somehow we’ve disavowed the real, and I would say that it’s not just modernity, but there’s something, there can be something goofy going on in a Christian or in a spiritual, an attempt to be spiritual too, where you can’t honor things and have that sound like you’re a good Christian. But it sounds like materialism or idolatries, those are the only categories that we have. But I would like to propose that to be a good Christian, you actually have to have a regard for things. And there’s something, as Michael Hanby says, the idea of the realist things is distinctively at home in the Christian vision in a way that it’s not in the Greek or in the modernist. So we have to recover things and do that because we can, because of our pretty sophisticated theology where God’s having his own Trinitarian party and leaves us to have ours.

Dan: Well, and lemme go back to that question, how the real has shaped you. What, as you look around your room, what intrigues you? Or at least at the moment, what intrigues you and how is it shaping you? When we talk about the real, what are we talking about again, at least in your room?

Esther: Okay, that’s so fun that you’re asking me that because this whole next book is about my house. It’s set in my house. So I’ve been thinking a lot about my new old house here in Steubenville, Ohio. Everything about it just makes me really, really happy. I love the views out my window. Out my window that way I can look almost down to where my grandchildren live and out the window that way I can see West Virginia across the Ohio River, and I’m surrounded by little things on my desk that just are just little doodads that are fraught with meaning, including, you’ll appreciate this, Chelle because you saw Fujimura last week. So this is a piece of Kintsugi that’s a broken pot. I’m sorry, I was looking for it in your thing rather than mine. That came from a communion service I was involved with him, and this is malachite, which is something that he pulverizes to make the green in his painting. So I have all these little doodads that around me that are meaningful to me, but that’s not because I think I need somehow an extra dose of meaningfulness. I just, I’m surrounded by that. I’m surrounded by it. And I would say about this house, I’m not the first artist to live here. I’ve found out, and there’s just some whimsical charm about this little old craftsman house that makes me something about the light, the way the light comes in the window, and it’s just a delightful place to be. I also think I’ve gotten over my skepticism, so now I can splash around in the real, and the whole thing has become, if I wasn’t already excitable and childlike, I certainly am in my senior role, I’ve kind of been allowed to just become more playful in my philosophizing. So how am I doing? Does that at all address what you were thinking about?

Dan: I think we all know that there are things around us that we wouldn’t have likely in our presence unless they had meaning. And yet how quickly, just even this conversation, I’m looking literally at what’s in front of me, photos, a particular vase that my wife made on my behalf, but things that actually I do love and more it takes me to love. And the idea that knowledge is power. We have all grown up in the shadow of that kind of Cartesian versus the idea that knowing that this is a day of knowing and that the trees around me, that conversation with the mail person, all of that is revelation and that I can receive it as a gift, dwell in it, and it’s another category that is so rich in your work. The idea of what we do to dwell in attending to reality and allowing it to, as you have said, to wash over us, to be lavish in its gift to us, it’s such a radical different view of knowledge that in some sense, I hope our audience is hearing, we have all been trained as knowledge is power, which in and of itself sets us up for polarization, for disinformation rather than learning how to read reality, receive reality, and in some sense be in this mutual conversation with reality. The real really is the life of God. And to not be engaged in that, a knowledge of how we have knowledge is to lose so much of the fabric of glory and goodness that really is a deprived life. So that to me is where you, you’re unique.

Esther: Well, I hope I won’t be unique because I want to scatter the joy. I mean, that’s part of it. I want to tell you a couple of things that I’m talking about. One is I like to concoct these terms. So I’m talking these days about a metaphysics of childhood. So metaphysics has to do with the real, right? So we’re talking about the real. So I want to talk about the way reality comes to a newborn and see that there’s just these fundamental things that are naturally given to us as children. And one of course is the enraptured gaze of the mother, that to which we were respond, respond with our baby smile. And that kind of sets the interpersonal dance going. And then what does baby see next? It’s the near thing. So it’s mother and me and father and sister and all of that and the dog and all that. But then there’s these little other things, like in my case, it was a stuffed elephant I called Ellie or I fell in love with all sorts of things. That’s why actually I’ve revised my self description from childhood skeptic to adolescent skeptic because I think as a child I was enraptured with things. Dan, I grew up in Philadelphia, I love Billy Penn. He was a thing. So getting at that kind of, not only things, but just like this orientation of delight. So I keep recurring to a phrase I’ve gotten from Hans Urs von Balthasar who talks about our fundamental relation to the real as being affirmation and joy in being. Affirmation and joy in being, that’s the posture into which we’re born and we’re meant to have. So modernity skews all that and poo-poos it, and it’s like right at the core of who we are that modernity has put its toxicity so that we distance ourselves and don’t even trust the real delight is so not one what one should comport oneself.

Dan: Even though this theologian has been appropriately disparaged. Woody Allen once said, we are not fond of the real, but it is the only place to get a good steak. And that rather prescient, that’s great awareness. Talking about the real, I got a piece of mail yesterday, and I often do have a sense of I anticipate mail for whatever, I’m old. But when I took the mail out of the mailbox yesterday, there was a letter that I was not, shall we say, joyous to receive. There is this sense of the real creates both this compelling sense of allure and yet the reel’s the context where most of us have known incredible heartache. Again, when you engage the reel, there is a price, one that is a gift, and yet one that does not seem like a gift, but actually an assault. How do you put words to Woody as he names that we’re not fond of reality?

Esther: Well, I would like to argue philosophically that if you’re going to have an account of the real handing you a rum deal, you’ve got to have a sense of the real is good. So suffering in all its forms only makes sense in terms of some sort of previous notion of the good. And it would be tempting to give up in despair and say, no, this evil is original. And one of the scholars that I would cite is a man named Dan Allender in a book called The Healing Path. There’s two wrong things you could do…

Dan: I wouldn’t put in with Woody, but yes.

Esther: One is denial and the other is despair. And if there’s going to be a healing path, you got to get over that, right? And so our process, however long and hard it is really has got to be one to that says this in healing path to open yourself to, and that it starts to be again, the posture of affirmation and joy and being there’s the good is a real thing. It’s a real thing. And without it, we couldn’t make sense of evil. Not to mention healing.

Dan: Like a baked potato is real, a baked potato is real and it is good. And that simple sense of being able to say, I would’ve despaired if I did not believe that I would see the goodness of God in the land of the living. But we often think of the goodness of God apart from a potato or apart from the vase that’s right in front of me. So what you’re inviting us back to is a kind of attention around us to open our very hearts and dwell in the goodness that we have created around us and actually letting that beauty reshape us to reengage knowledge in a theoretical, but also in a deeply practical sense from a very, very different taste. And that again, I would wish there were several hundred million of you, but there aren’t. And that redefinition knowledge is not merely power, but actually the power that hopefully opens the heart to humility and to a epistemic well capacity for complexity, for nuance. I mean, we live in an era where the demand for truth actually is a commitment to avoid the labor of taking in attending responsibility, hearing, receiving, dwelling, and loving. So that feels like, again, one of the great gifts that you give to us all, but particularly to the Seattle School as a senior scholar. Chelle?

Chelle: Well, it occurs to me that when you start with love, when you start with delight, when you start with playfulness in the ways that you know. It invites, it’s not just a non-hierarchical understanding of knowledge or with relationality, but I’ve seen this especially in scholarship or in kind of churches, that if someone needs to be in control, there tends to be the people who are more important. And that set of people tends to be smaller. I see it in scholarship too, that my friends who are much more, they start with delight. They start with love, attending to what is around them. They tend to kind of gather and connect people. And in that you might say an economy that is not of scarcity, but of abundance. Yeah. And again, power makes you think as if that kind of grasping after power or knowledge is something that gets you someplace. It seems as if only a few people can have that. And instead the, what you suggest is much more of when we attend to the real, when we see the world like this, much more about delight play, it means that there’s space for a greater number of people and there’s an extreme beauty in allowing people to be who they are, but also kind of lifting them up, freeing them to be more fully themselves. I mean, this is very much a Colin Gunton thing. There’s a strange kind of freedom in mediated by the other. Yeah, that gets lost sometimes as we talk about.

Esther: Along the way I reflected on this was an context of Lesslie Newbigin and missiology, but I followed Colin Gunton in arguing that the one many tension is kind of a fight. So the one tries to triumph over the many tries to triumph over the one. And that I argued is the dynamic of modernity. He quotes from Stanley Jackie to say, the specter at the banquet of modernity is homogeneity. And so you’ve got this fight that reduces everything to nothing meaningful. And by contrast, I follow Gunton in arguing that the dynamic of the real is perichoresis. That what you want to balance is not the one and the many, but relationality and particularity. So as in a dance, the relatedness of us makes the individual particular people involved more themselves and the particular people involved make the relatedness more what it should be. And if you need an idea of what that looks like, what you want to see is whoever wins the World Series or a football team or a jazz ensemble or just anything, or a church where we say the Spirit is there, it’s going to be one in which you’ve got this dynamic of relationality and particularity. And so that obviously what you’re getting at. I wonder too, if you’re familiar with this book called The Gift by Louis Hyde, which argues/opposes a market economy and a gift economy, I would oppose, I would talk about a gift as metaphysic, but he wants to place art in a gift economy. I’d like to place it all in a gift economy to go with what you were saying because that really, which is more objective, we think of the objective is that which doesn’t involve us. But oh no, if you’re caught up in encounter and you’re making things that are beyond what you could have imagined in this encounter, that’s far more objective. So it’s just scandalously, wonderfully so

Dan: And that is the scandal, not only of the cross, but of reality itself that it gives and also invites to something more. Well, two things before we end. One is what a delight to have you both and we have much more conversations ahead, particularly that you are now a senior scholar at the Seattle School.

Esther: Senior means that you don’t have to give tests or give grades.

Dan: Then I’d like to become a senior too, but I’m just a little too young for that. So what will you do?

Esther: You’re older than I am, young man!

Dan: So what will you do? Give a sentence on what you will do as the senior scholar?

Esther: Because I’m inaugurating it, I’m the inauguration of the position. It’s being created as we go. And so I do have a sense…

Chelle: This sounds like your epistemology, Esther.

Esther: Yeah, right. Where I think there’s something from you guy’s aside. I know kind of the personality of the Seattle School and you’re probably listening to this and saying, yeah, yeah, that’s what we do. We kind of create as we go. So all that to say, I don’t know. I mean, you’re inviting me to be on this podcast is a piece of it, and I thank you for that. I’m involved in an introductory class right now that’s reading some of my work, which is something that y’all have done over the years, is you’ve read some Meek as part of your introduction to the Seattle School, which I deeply appreciate. That means so much. But I think there’s more to come to, and I’m looking forward to showing up there.

Dan: Well, we’ll trust that there will be more conversations, but also an invitation again to the audience to begin the process of thinking about how the real is shaping you and how you are in an actual mutual relationship with the beauty that you have physically put around you, the baked potatoes in your garden or in your world. And that invitation to actually ponder what is the difference between muesli and oatmeal. So all that to say thank you both, look forward to more conversations.

Esther: Thank you, Dan.

Chelle: Yeah, thank you. It’s been fun to be here.