“Would You Like to Clarify a Salad?”

At the beginning of our first session—which just so happened to be with Dr. Reynolds AND my mentor, Professor Vincent—Dr. Reynolds asked us to go around and say one sentence that describes what God is doing in our hearts right now. Most of the sentences were, needless to say, eloquent. Profound. Heart-felt.


I said, “I’m confused.”


And then Dr. Reynolds felt like he had to “dialogue” with me. He asked how it felt to be confused. I said something incoherent about a bunch of mis-matched stuff being mixed haphazardly around. And then he said:


“Would you like to clarify a salad?”


For a moment, I looked at him, with surprise surely swept across my face. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Seth plop his head into his hands, his shoulders shaking. Then everyone started laughing.


But Dr. Reynolds was totally serious. “Would you really?” he said. “A salad is composed of many different things scattered about. It’s a salad because of its different, scattered parts. And each part, ultimately, is where it is for a purpose.”


Then he stared more intently at me. “What are you thinking about right now?”


I decided to be totally honest: there’s no other way to deal with someone like Dr. Reynolds. “I’m thinking about my mom and her home-grown tomatoes, and wondering why the tomatoes in the Caf are so crummy.”


And then we talked about tomatoes for the next ten minutes.


I still find myself apologizing for that bunny trail, although we went down many that day: We talked about Paris Hilton, The Lord of the Rings, Orlando Bloom, and so on. And since we spent much of our time dealing with Aphrodite, Paris, and Helen, we spent much our time discussing erotic love. How much time did we have? Three hours. Then all of dinner afterwards…then lunch the next day…then dinner…then after dinner…


Yes. This is school. There is nothing like it.


Here are the major questions that arose during our discussion:


  1. What is the central conflict of The Iliad? (our initial discussion point)
  2. To what extent does Achilleus destroy pity?
  3. Why is Achilleus introduced as the son of Peleus (his father), but thereafter known as the son of Thetis (his mother)?
  4. What is with Patroklos and Achilleus’ relationship?
  5. Why doesn’t the sisterhood take Helen out?  Why doesn’t the brotherhood take Paris out? Why haven’t the women of our own culture expelled the Monicas and Paris Hiltons? Is there an overriding principle?


And our infamous pull question (PQ):


  1. How can Athena and Aphrodite be two different goddesses???




So we all decided to get together at meals over the next several days to figure out HOW ON EARTH we were going to answer that impossible question. As we discussed it, many bunny trails occurred: most notably, perfume. We couldn’t decide whether floral or fruity scents are better. But since smell improves memory, we decided to buy scratch-and-sniff stickers to put all over the pages of The Odyssey to help us remember the main points.


Yes, much laughter. For me, surrounded by hard-working thinkers and artists my age, there was much joy. And in the midst of all the general craziness, anxiety, and excitement, Bethany exclaimed, “I’m so confused!”


And Amy (our philosophy major) turned to Bethany in all seriousness and said:


“Would you like to clarify a salad?”


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Filed under Randomness, Torrey Honors Institute

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