Annie Lockhart-Gilroy speaks on how we can nurture a “sanctified imagination.” In this episode, you will hear Shari Oosting talk with Annie about her book, Nurturing the Sanctified Imagination of Urban Youth. They discuss what it looks like to do ministry in an urban setting and how we might prepare urban youth for a future that is designed in partnership with God.Rev. Annie A. Lockhart-Gilroy, Ph.D. is a scholar in Christian education and practical theology with a focus on youth ministry and emancipatory pedagogy. She has taught students on many levels from middle school to doctoral students. She has worked with youth as a teacher, coach, youth minister, and Christian educator for almost two decades. She earned her PhD. in Christian Education and Congregational Studies from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and her M.Div. (’05) from Princeton Theological Seminary. Her teaching and research interests include: womanist approaches to working with Black girls, emancipatory pedagogy, faith and developmental theories, and ministry to, with, and for, youth and young adults. She is currently assistant professor of Christian education and practical theology at Phillips Theological Seminary, and author of Nurturing the Sanctified Imagination in Urban Youth (Urban Loft Publishing).Intro (00:01): How can we nurture the imagination of urban youth and prepare them for a future that is designed in partnership with God? In this episode, you'll hear from Dr. Annie Lockhart Gilroy, an assistant professor of Christian Education and Practical Theology at Phillips Theological Seminary. Shari Oosting talks with her about how we can spark hope and possibility in the future of urban youth and their communities by creating space for sanctified imagination. You're listening to The Distillery at Princeton Theological Seminary. Shari (00:39): Annie, thank you so much for talking with me today. Annie (00:42): It is my pleasure. Thank you for inviting me. Shari (00:45): Today, we are talking about your book, Nurturing the Sanctified Imagination of Urban Youth. And I would love if you would walk us into what sparked your interest in studying this. Annie (00:58): I did ministry for about a decade in a small city. So that was my context for a long period of time. I will say though, that although each chapter in this text starts with a story and although most of the stories start within a small city context, I also taught at an independent high school, which there is a story there that starts a chapter and my own childhood starts a chapter. And I am not from an urban upbringing at all. As I like to say, I am pretty country, as in, "I got a cow for my eighth birthday" kind of country. Shari (01:43): You did? Well, don't tell my children that because they will want a cow for their eighth birthday. Annie (01:48): I wanted one because one of my friends in my neighborhood had one and I wanted one, too. New Speaker (01:54): That's amazing. Annie (01:56): So, entering into this environment, there was a lot that I had to learn. It was not, it was not clear for me. It was like I said, it did not, for me as a child was not part of my upbringing. So it was a lot of information that I had to gather and to learn. So I had the opportunity of looking in my, looking at my ministry with a different set of eyes. Of course being an insider because I was a part of the congregation, but being an outsider because... understandings, language, all of those things were different from my own upbringing. Not only not being in necessarily an urban setting, but I was also raised on an island. I'm from St. Croix, US Virgin Islands. So the culture is different. So you're also looking at West Indian culture versus US American continental culture. So, so going into those experiences always tends to open one's eyes in a particular way, and they tend to see things that others who have been swimming in the culture their entire life don't necessarily see. Shari (03:09): Yeah. So you entered into urban ministry in a small city, so can you describe what you started observing as kind of this outsider coming in, so to speak. Annie (03:24): Yeah. So it was interesting the conversation about what I would describe as how great this city used to be. And again, this conversation does not only apply to cities, but it takes on a different feel. So there are a lot of empty factories in the city, right? So it used to be a great factory city that would produce a lot of things. And we hear this story from, right, across the country of these empty factories, empty spaces that used to employ a lot of people. One could work at these factories and achieve a middle-class lifestyle, not necessarily with a college education, right? But that was no longer the case. And one of the things that was the most striking to me is that there were a lot of "revitalize" conversations. And those conversations tended to be about going back to the way the city used to be. There was some conversation about how to move forward and what are some new things that are happening, what are new things other cities were doing, how could we imagine some changes, and those conversations will go forth a little bit and then it would get knocked back to, "We need to bring factories back, we need to bring this back. Remember when this particular space was booming. We need to do that again." Shari (05:01): Yeah. So it was kind of like this, this longing to bring back the economy, which was manufacturing. And then the [inaudible] came along with that. Annie (05:10): Yeah. And I call that in the text a crippling nostalgia. It's the idea that you are looking back so much, that you are unable to move forward. What you want to do is go backwards, and that is the actual desire to go back. Right? And like I said before, this is not unique, right. Even on the island that I grew up in, there is one major employer, an oil refinery, that closed for a couple of years and sent the island into economic chaos. Right? And employed a majority of people. And we see this in small towns, when factories go out of business, we have the conversations about coal mines, right? And I think what makes the small city a little different is that it doesn't have the same cultural myth as the small towns. Right. And it doesn't have the great, the cultural myth of the small towns being quaint, right? Salt of the earth people, hardworking folk, right? Folks who are worthy of help because they will help themselves. Shari (06:30): This bootstrap mentality. Annie (06:33): Yeah, that they don't need a hand out, but they, but, you know, but -- stop discrediting them in some ways, by taking away these jobs, right. What they need is just jobs, and all of these factories leaving -- they'll take away these jobs. And then there's the myth of the big cities where it's bright eyed, bushy tail. Right. I keep imagining that movie scene of someone from Kansas getting off the bus in New York City. Shari (07:00): The clouds part, and they're on a musical or something. Annie (07:03): Right. You know, it's beautiful. It's fabulous. You know, they're going to Broadway, they may get robbed on the way, but you know, they're dealing with it. Shari (07:12): Yeah. Hardship, but it's worth it for the glamour. Annie (07:17): Right. So we have our myths for Middle America, and we have the myth of the big city -- the New York, the Chicago, the LA, right. It's beautiful and glamorous. And we don't have those equal myths about small cities. Right. There's no... There's no great, like, "I just can't wait until I can move to a Baltimore or a Newark, Camden, Trenton, Tulsa." Right? And so those, so then what you have is this ongoing story of even though it's the same underlying problem as small towns, they're crime infested -- that's what you focus on -- they're drug infested. And it's not that they need jobs as a mythical, beautiful small town does. It's -- there's something wrong with the people. And what I had to walk very carefully on is: I don't think it's about the people, right? So I think even though "urban" is very clearly in the title, I think there's a lot to be gleaned from those don't do urban ministry. Because I don't think it's in the people. Like, I don't think that's where all the problem lies. There's lots of systemic racism and classism and all of these different issues that people have to deal with. And at the same time, as we push for government and many other things to do their jobs and help these people, we do that realizing that that's what they should do, but I'm not holding my breath that help is coming because I see enough of the coded language that is used, that when help goes to these small city areas, it's automatically a handout. It won't help them. When help goes to farmers or, you know, former coal miners, then it's aid. Shari (09:18): Or an investment. Annie (09:20): Right. So I'm not blaming them for their own oppression, but I don't... I'm not going to hold my breath that help is on the way. Shari (09:30): Can you talk a bit about your decision to use the word "urban"? You point out in the book that there's some tension in even making that choice, because the word "urban" can be coded. Can you talk about your decision about whether or not to use the word "urban"? Annie (09:45): Yeah. I mean, I went back and forth. You know, titling is not my strong suit and, as many of your readers should know, titling is also not always the decision of the author. But, so it's published through Urban Loft Ministries, and that is their focus. And this is part of the Urban Youth Series. And a lot of their titles have either "urban" or "in the city." And I chose "urban" specifically because "in the city" also gives a different connotation. Most of the people that I'm speaking about are Black and Brown people. So that is often what we think of when we think of the term "urban." And my goal in using that term is to say, you know, here are the various ways that these people are just like other folks and other types of folks that we mythically think wonderfully of. But this word is seen as synonymous often with "Black." Because even if we... I'm sorry, I think the first time I saw the term urban music and how confused I was, because the person, I can't really remember who the artist was, but I knew that the artist was not born or raised in a city. Shari (11:18): So you're like, how is this an urban artist? Annie (11:22): Right. And then I learned that I was synonymous with Black. And while I don't necessarily think the term should be synonymous with Black, right, the city is complex and diverse and has a variety of race ethnicities, you know, socioeconomic classes. And I do recognize a need for speaking about this term in a positive light -- look at the power that urban youth can have. Shari (11:51): So talk to me a little bit about what you... You were working in two really different contexts, this private school and a congregational ministry context, and you observed some pretty sharp differences in what you call the imagination of young people or the way that they envision their future. Can you break that down? Annie (12:15): Yeah. What they saw their future to be. The youth in the independent school where I taught is a college prep school. It is expected that everyone go to college, not even just to college, but to a *good* college that, you know, that adjective is often thrown in there. You know, every student has a college counselor that walks with them, that, you know, gets to know them talks about the types of college that works. There's a, you know, a growing list of colleges these days that are seen as the *right* college. And then college is meant to provide, you know, give them, provide them for their future wonderful, successful life. And the *right* college, the *good* college is important because it's not just about an education that ones gets, but it's about the connections that one makes. Annie (13:19): So when speaking about, one's future in that context, it is this like bright rosy (in some senses) future of -- I'm going to do, I'm going to go to college, I'm gonna have this career, I'm going to do this. I'm going to do that. In the urban ministry setting that I was in, and this particular program, which, was designed for "at-risk" youth, which I put in quotation marks -- let's define what "at-risk" means -- that they were taught to be more realistic, so to speak. So I talk about different language jargon. Shari (14:10): What does it mean to be "realistic" about your future? Annie (14:13): Right. Well, there's a particular rung that one should reach for. So the difference in language jargon for example, is, you know, the independent school kids talked about careers, urban kids talked about jobs. Right? In the summer the independent school kids talked about experiences that they would have and the camps that they go to, and the conversation for urban kids is about like, what, what do they do to spend their time and get out of trouble, stay out of trouble. Right? It could be doing very similar things, but what related to what you were doing, was seen as different, right? On one hand, you're either -- Shari (14:52): You're building a résumé or you're avoiding trouble. That's a very different framework. Annie (14:57): Right. And you could be at the same camp. Right? And also I talk about, you know, like, what were some of the -- what was the difference here? And the easy answer is socioeconomic class and how my independent school kids talked about these bright futures almost as a birthright. And if that is the case within was the birthright for the kids I was working with in the urban context. And what I saw was simply a perpetuation of the current class structure. Shari (15:38): Can you tell the story you wrote about Maya Angelou's experience at graduation? And I thought it was a really concrete example of this. Can you tell that story? Annie (15:49): Yeah. So in her autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, she writes about her eighth grade graduation, and she talks about how her town was all abuzz. And she lived with her grandmother and her grandmother sewed the dress, and the dress was gorgeous, and everyone was excited, and she was top of her class, and I think she was sitting up front or on the stage or something. And people were just fabulous. This wonderful thing was happening, right -- graduation of their students. And there was a speaker that came, I think he was an elected government official, and Maya Angelou, growing up in the forties, right? So this is segregated schooling. And this elected official comes to talk about, you know, the great changes they are making in the education systems, in this particular place. And he talks about how the school, the Black school, had just paved over their playing areas. And they had a new gym and, you know, and he talks about their heroes, like, Joe Lewis and such. And when he talked about the white school, he talked about their new labs, their new learning facilities. Right? And when Maya Angelou describes that, she talks about how the joy was just taken away from that space... that this is a group of people that when people talk, there are "amens" and "yes," and "lovely" -- responses. And when the elected official starts to speak, there's some of that, but then that quiets down. And as Angelou reflects, she talks about how that official had just placed a bar on them, right? That he made it very clear that the white students got to be scientists and doctors and all these other things. And the black students got to be athletes. You know... as she states, you know, there are certainly athletes in our community that are heroes, but we should get to decide that. He shouldn't get to decide that's all we can be. So she talks about how low, how just dull this place felt and how they felt so depleted. And then the valedictorian gets up to give his speech and he starts quoting Hamlet to be, or not to be, and she's sitting there going, why is he doing this? You know, it has just been made very clear to us that we are not to be. And he talks about, she talks about how the valedictorian -- I don't know if it's, I don't remember if it's in the middle of the speech or towards the end that he starts to quietly sing the song "Lift Every Voice and Sing, also known as the Black National Anthem, which would have been known then as the Negro National Anthem. And he starts to quietly sing. And, you know, this is a song that they all know. And the, one of the teachers who was overseeing music gets her group to sing along. And by the end of the song, everybody is singing. Their joy is back. Their feeling that they can indeed overcome is back. And I talk about that as an example of [indecipherable] education that does look back, not in a crippling nostalgic kind of way. I talk about the idea of Sankofa, which is a Western African idea of looking back, but moving forward... That you have this historical imagination as [indecipherable] would call it, that you remember that people have been here before and have overcome these obstacles that's been placed in their way. And yes, there are people, stories, myths, coded language, all sorts of things that are meant to put you in your place or keep you in a particular place or lane. And there are also resources, strength, right? Spirituals, ancestors, great power from one's own history and history of their people that reminds them that they don't have to listen to those people putting limitations on them. And in fact, what they are saying is a lie, right? Because you have no God-given limitations on you in that way. We have limitations, of course, right? Like we can't fly and things like that, but we can achieve things that other humans can achieve. So we know that one's zip code can often tell us a variety of things of where they will end up 20, 30 years from now. We also know that it does not have to be that way. Shari (21:07): Yeah. The Sankofa is helpful, right. It's our relationship with the past, but not one that's defined by nostalgia as you put it. The one that is future oriented. Annie (21:21): Right. And it's a critical look at history and using different thoughts and processes that were used and not simply looking at products. Right. So I think that a crippling nostalgia looked at products. This is what we had, but it doesn't necessarily look at the process of how you got there. I mean, factories were new at one point, right. So it was imagination that got us there. But Sankofa asks us to say, okay, so what exactly are we trying to bring forward? Shari (21:55): People also talk about imagination about the future as though imagination is fantasy. How do you think about that in-the-future orientation as not being fantasy, but something that's less abstract? Annie (22:07): Yeah. I do separate a little bit, imagination from wishful thinking. You know, wishful thinking can give us some sort of relief for a few minutes, right. So I could talk about how great my life will be when I win the lottery, even though I don't play, but you know, how great it could be if I struck oil and what I would do with, you know, a couple of million dollars, right. That is wishful thinking. That's not gonna happen. Even if I did start playing the lottery, that's leaving it up to chance. There is no plan, right? Imagination is different because imagination is the beginning of... The beginning of something that can come into fruition. So, every thing that we see starts with an idea, right? And along with nurturing this imagination is also nurturing ways to make our ideas come into fruition, which goes along with learning ways in which other people have made their ideas come into fruition in the past, how they make their ideas come into fruition now, providing folks with a variety of resources, you becoming a resource in and of yourself. And one of the reasons that I picked imagination is because I do believe that is a natural gift. I think it's something that is often inate in young people, right? So we don't have to give young people that imagination. They have an imagination. In fact, young people tend to have an imagination much more so than older adults because they haven't had, you know, "real life" (in quotation marks), you know, pressed down upon them, right, killing hopes and dreams. But they still see the possibilities of what could be, so it doesn't need to be given to them, but it does need to be nurtured. And more often than not, I think that it's not nurtured. It's kind of pushed out of young people. So imagination is a possibility of what life could be, with ideas of -- how do we get there. Now, for some, they could say, well, there really isn't a difference, right? Annie (24:47): Because you're talking about, you know, breaking down socioeconomic class systems -- like, that is not going to happen. Right. Is it, is it unrealistic? Are you just, is this wishful thinking, is this, like, you know, what is this? And I would say that it is as unrealistic as, you know, a group of people under monarchs, deciding that they were going to free themselves from that and govern themselves. It is that it's unrealistic as the slave, knowing that one day they will be free and their children will be free. It is as unrealistic as any historical story, person, representation, we have that said this way that we exist is wrong. There is another way. And we have seen the world change. So we know that it can happen. And it will happen. The thing is how involved will you be in the change? Shari (26:04): I'd love to return to the particularity of the small city, because you talk a little bit about the biblical character Hagar to really explore some of the particularities of the small city, and you use the imagery of wilderness, and how that's significant because the wilderness isn't just one thing. Can you talk us through that? Annie (26:33): Like you said, I, I focused on Hagar and Dolores Williams' treatment of Hagar and what she learns in the wilderness, but we also know from different biblical literature and all different types of literature through all the ages, the wilderness is a popular motif, right? Shari (26:52): Yeah, we're doing this interview during Lent. So for anybody on the liturgical calendar, we're in the wilderness, right? Annie (26:58): Indeed. Yeah. And there are several sides to the wilderness. One is that the wilderness is dangerous. There's unknown things out there, creatures, um, a variety of things that, that just basically is out to get you. This is particularly true in, like, fairy tales, when they, you know, go into the woods. The wilderness doesn't have always the necessary things that we need to survive. So in the Hagar story, when she is banished and sent out to the wilderness, she runs out of water and there was no food. She is afraid that her child will die, so she puts the child down and goes a distance so she doesn't hear her child wailing. There's nothing that she can do to provide for her child Ishmael. The wilderness is a dangerous place. The wilderness, though, is also a space for growth. The wilderness is a space for miracles happening where we see, for Hagar, God appearing to her, providing for her and her child. Twice, right? Because Hagar has two wilderness stories. We see the theophanies as the people of Israel is in the wilderness for 40 years, right? For that long period of time, we see the different ways that God shows up in miraculous ways. There is no food -- manna rains down from heaven. The wilderness is also a space where one comes into their own being. So I think of many stories in literature, that coming of age happens in that wilderness hiking, right -- thinking "Into the Wild" -- spaces, you get to know yourself in a particular way. There's something to having come through this wilderness experience, right? I'm also thinking of the second part of Little Red Riding Hood. So wilderness is all over literature. And using the Hagar story in particular helped me to talk about, in many ways, either growing up in these small cities, how it is wilderness experience for them in both the positive and the negative ways. And, you know, small cities can be dangerous, right? Crime, drugs, gang-related activities, there's often not enough resources to protect, provide education, right? There's a lot of danger there. Shari (29:53): And those dangers can be very real. Annie (29:55): Absolutely. And there is also a lot of hope there. There's a lot of people working to make these spaces better. So it is not just a horrible experience, right? Like, you know, I would tell people the work that I do, which was on mostly on the weekends at this particular city, and they'd be like, "Oh wow. You know, like, aren't you awesome." And I'm like, there's some really good things also happening in a small city that you are afraid of. And this is not to say that, you know, that the danger isn't real, but the wilderness experience is both. That is how that story helps me and, of course at the end, realizing that that God gives Hagar a new vision, right. She sees a well, and from this well, she is able to provide for her child. It is a beautiful, but still yet a simple provision, right. This water provision and the child is, you know, as the story goes and goes off and becomes a father to a large group of people. So there's something about planning, a particular seed that allows someone to say, okay, now I can, I have what I need and I can move on to care for myself and for my kids and for my community and I can move on to be great. So I think those are a couple of ways that the Hagar story helps me think about ways in which we can foster this type of imagination with this population. Shari (31:34): That's a great segue. When you get really practical, you, you talk about mentoring as one of the most significant aspects. It kind of creates this rich soil where the imagination that you're dreaming of can be cultivated. And I'm curious if you can talk a little bit about the kind of mentoring and maybe share a story, a mentoring story that's been really impactful. Annie (31:59): I think one of the things to recognize is the importance of community. And one of the factors for community would be different mentoring experiences. Shari (32:12): And you're not thinking of like this top-down -- I tell you things cause I'm old and wise, right? Annie (32:18): Right. I talk about bi-directional mentoring. So in bi-directional mentoring, you would have an adult and a young person working together, whether the goal is to plan a particular thing about their congregation, their community at large, but working to get together to imagine something differently. And I think that once you do whatever that something is, young people can see how we imagine this one thing differently and enact change. We can imagine this other thing differently and enact change. And then imagine this other thing differently and enact change. We don't have to be stuck in the reality that we are in. And I think about my own youth ministry upbringing, where there were different generations in the same room, you know, it was kind of happenstance of how that happened. You know, there, there wasn't like a young adult ministry, so people tend not to kind of age out. Shari (33:22): So there was like an intergenerational accident that happened? Annie (33:26): An intergenerational accident. And in this room where, you know, people like me who like grew up in the church, right -- I don't remember a time that I did not go to church multiple times a week -- and others who were new to the faith. So there were many times when me as a 14 or 15 year old, not only growing up in the church and it was a Roman Catholic congregation, but going to Catholic school (like I, you know, I was very Catholic girl) so that I could, you know, answer particular questions about Catholic doctrine, that someone who was new to the faith, even though they were 10, 15 years older than me. And I talk about how that happens by accident and imagine the possibilities if that was done on purpose. Shari (34:15): It feels like... It feels counter-cultural in a number of ways, both this idea of almost a shared authority or the reciprocity that can be present in something like that. But also in your suggestion of corporate imagination, they both seem counterintuitive, especially in churches where things can be pretty hierarchical. Annie (34:38): Yes. Some of the pushback that I get on this because it's so counter-cultural -- shared power with young people, right? And I recognize that... That certainly the power authority, it lies with the adults. This is not an equal relationship, and in some ways that makes it tricky. But interestingly enough, for me, there's a lot of conversation about intergenerational friendship. And in my particular understandings, I find that harder than intergenerational mentoring, bi-directional mentoring. Shari (35:14): Is that because friendship has less structure or intentionality to it, or... Annie (35:20): Yeah. That there isn't... This isn't necessarily a friendship. I mean, I've had great mentors in my life that it was a great relationship for that period. And we achieved a particular goal. They don't pop into my mind first when I think about throwing dinner parties, right? That we can have working relationships with clear boundaries and understandings with people of different authority and power, a little easier than we can have friendships. We do it all the time. Right? Our supervisors and our boss have different power and authority than we do. We have those working relationships all the time. Another pushback is people saying, you know, young people can teach. I don't think they can mentor because... a mentor requires a particular type of wisdom. Right. Another thing I hear a lot. And I agree with that. However, I would, I tend to redefine and talk about the definition of wisdom. I think that young people have wisdom, right? It's not the same, it's not backed by, you know, the amount of dead scholars that, you know, we academics like to quote... Shari (36:50): They are, perhaps, freed of that burden. Annie (36:52): Yes, indeed. It's interesting to me to hear from young people, their ideas, and sometimes it's their ideas that already exist. Right. But they're these ideas that I've had conversations with young people and I'm like, well, that's Plato, right? That's Aristotle. You don't yet know that it exists, but how awesome is it that you had the same idea as Plato, right? (If you hold Plato in high regard, right.) So they don't yet know what exists. But then there may be some other idea that tweaks it because Plato doesn't know anything about living in a small city. Well, I mean, I don't know, I don't really know much about Plato. But certainly not within the 21st century. Right. So it's... They can have that same idea that's an old theory, but they're not thinking about it in that old theory way. They are already placing it in a modern perspective. So we have this project together and we guide each other and we share wisdom with each other. And the other aspect of mentoring that I talk about when I go into the etymology of "mentor" coming from the Odyssey, and how Athena takes on the body and persona of mentor and talk about where is the divine within this? Shari (38:29): Okay, so, I was not well versed enough in mythology. And I forgot to check with my 12 year old, who is very well versed in, but to catch people up who might be rusty on this, like I am -- you're talking about the myth where the word mentor comes from. Can you get us on the same page for anyone else who's as rusty as I am? Annie (38:48): All right. So "mentor" comes from the book the Odyssey, um, which I taught as a high school teacher for a number of years. I am not a big fan of the book, but I thought, "Oh, here's the purpose of me having to teach this book for so many years; now it's useful to me. Shari (39:08): You used a small piece of it nonetheless, Annie (39:12): Yeah. So I was actually kind of surprised that that is where the word comes from. But, so it was the name of a character that... Odysseus goes off to fight the Trojan war. And he has a newborn son, Te-LEM-achus, or Tele-MAH-chus, depending on how it's translated. And he leaves Telemachus and his wife, Penelope, under the guise of his friend Mentor, right? Just as anybody else who would leave and say, please look after my family, right? You're one of my best friends care for my family. He goes off, he fights the war. Everyone comes back or does he has this and come back or they see his wanders for a really, really long time. Telemachus grows up into a young man, but Mentor is always his go-to, right? Mentor has upheld his promise. He has cared for Odysseus' family. Telemachus decides that he wants to go find his... he's going out adventuring to try to find his father, I think, and Mentor accompanies him. Right? So we have the accompanying... we have the caring for, the accompanying in one's journey, right? The advice-giving -- you see some dialogue between the two of them. And, Athena, who is the goddess of war and some other things, who is also looking out for this family -- when she comes to earth, she can take on different bodily formations. And she takes on the formation of Mentor. And at one point towards the end, it's the scene that all my ninth grade boys liked, there's this big fight battle, right? Like, this big fight scene, where Odysseus, Telemachus, Mentor take on these suitors that have invaded Odysseus' house and they're trying to get his wife Penelope, and they fight them off. Annie (41:12): So, then for me -- I look at Mentor. Part of being a mentor is not only journeying with, but also fighting besides. So I do a lot of critical analysis with this character as a way of throwing on some flesh of this word, because I find the etymology interesting. And, when I first read that, that was the etymology of it, I found that hard to believe. And did some more digging. I don't quite know why I resisted it. I'm like, words come from what you name a character in your story? But, you know, but I just, I find that intriguing. Shari (41:53): I'm curious if there's an example of somebody whose mentoring has been really inspiring to you, as you think about the possibilities for this with young people. Annie (42:05): There's a few. I have been lucky. Just, I have been graced with lots of mentors throughout my life. There is a woman when I was in college, Dr. Blake, who, you know, who walked me through the first three years of college or the director of the multicultural program and, you know, left the institution before my last year. But her guidance through kind of, like, Allowed me to, to, to make it that fourth year, without it, without her in college was a very difficult time for me, for many reasons. You know, I mean, I spoke to her recently and just said, I would not... I said, I would not have made it through that experience without you, at least not this way. So I may have graduated, but in far more of a broken way, so to survive in a somewhat healthy way, right, comes from mentoring guidance, you know, her fighting on my behalf, fighting next to me. And through different jobs and careers I've had, there's usually always been at least one person and many times more who reaches out to me in some ways and says, okay, let's get some, you know, let's get some understanding of what we want to achieve here. Right? So, I have been graced with some fabulous mentors, and what I've seen that is common between them, at least, you know, the good ones that I claim, it is a give-and-take relationship. At no point, is it a matter of -- I have the knowledge, let me pour it into you. It also is not -- let me turn you into a mini-me. It's -- let me get to know you. What do you want? What are your desires and goals? Well, what do you think about this? Can we stretch it this way? Can we do it that way? If you go along with me and then we'll keep going, if you pull back and say, absolutely not, then we'll go a different direction. What kind of student do you want to be? What kind of teacher do you want to be? What kind of scholar do you want to be? Those are the questions that have started my different mentoring relationships. And then, how can we broaden that? So, one of the benefits of a mentor is someone who has a broader idea, which is once again, why I think bi-directional mentoring can work because while adults have a broader idea because of their experience, youth have a broader idea, in many ways, because they haven't had, you know, that imagination kind of knocked out of them. They have not... they can come up with an idea and not automatically have 10 reasons why it won't. Shari (45:02): Yeah. When you talk about possibilities for young people, there were so many words connected with freedom, liberation, emancipation. So I think as we come toward the end of our interview, I'd love for you to talk about -- why those words? You mentioned liberation theology earlier, but it seems like there's a particular resonance with young people. And I'm wondering if it's connected to that sense of possibility. I mean, at the very beginning of our conversation, you talked about how sometimes language choice even about the future is limiting. But it sounds like, pushing beyond that, you use a lot of this emancipation language. Can you talk about that? Annie (45:43): Yeah. I think a lot of the ways that we use the language to talk about this population, a lot of the ways that we educate this population, the types of education that are in the schools and the offerings for them and all of those things, this is where I get really sad. And, I think it's oppressive. I think it's de-humanizing. I think that a lot of the shaping is made to put people within this particular race, socioeconomic class and geography in their place. And it's wrong, right? So all of this language of emancipatory liberation, that is what is needed when people are being oppressed and dehumanized. And understanding that you can be freed of this, that no one gets to tell you where your place is. And you can see things, as a friend of mine would say, through God-given glasses, right... that there is, there, there is, there can be divine vision of your place being greater than what society says your place is. And I'm very careful to use terms like greater, right? Because I am not suggesting that one career is better than another. It makes you a better human being or anything like that, right? When I say greater, bigger, I mean, being able to live into your vocation and calling without barriers, right? Realizing the human place to barriers in your way of your divine calling. Like I said before, in the sense of seeing that, like, you know, in many ways, many of the students that I worked with, whether they were in the independent school or the urban atmosphere, they were trapped, right? So you can be stopped of your divine calling by a family, the things that your job, that job is beneath you. But whatever your trappings are, we need to help each other be liberated from that. And I think that's the... that's the benefit of bi-directional mentoring is that tapping into some of that youthful imagination, right? Tapping into that annoyance and anger you used to have that made you cry, "That's not fair!" before every adult in your life told you, "Well, life's not fair." But tapping into that, like "Grr, it's not fair, and it should be, and how do we make it so?" Shari (48:48): I have an eight year old you can borrow for some of that. Annie (48:50): Right. And that's not something that I don't really think that we should beat out of them now. Yes. We want to prepare them that life is not fair, but at the same time, recognize that it should be. Right? And we don't want to live in, you know, la-la land -- Shari (49:05): No, but we need to have the ability to cry out when things are unjust... Annie (49:07): Exactly. Shari (49:07): ...and be genuinely appalled when they're unjust. Annie (49:10): Exactly. Shari (49:10): I'm so grateful for your time today and for this conversation. Thank you. New Speaker (49:18): Thank you. This has been great. Dayle (49:20): You've been listening to The Distillery. Interviews are conducted by me, Dayle Rounds... Sushama (49:25): ...and me, Sushama Austin-Connor, Shari (49:27): ...and I'm Shari Oosting. Amar (49:29): I'm Amar Peterman, and I am in charge of production. New Speaker (49:32): Like what you're hearing? Subscribe at Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast app. The Distillery is a production of Princeton Theological Seminary's Office of Continuing Education. You can find out more at thedistillery.ptsem.edu. Thanks for listening.