Thanks to a last-minute move by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York's low-income households won't be affected by the 2014 U.S. Farm Bill food stamp cuts.
During Sunday chapel, in his response to the Gospel reading, it is not uncommon for our Episcopal chaplain,Father Sloan, to include his particular area of interest: historical accounts from one of the World Wars. Interpreting Scripture through one's own intellect and experience constitutes a pillar of the Anglican faith and, we believe, better permits its adherents to experience the inspired Word of God. As a member of the Columbia Canterbury Club, the Episcopal student congregation on campus, I am proud to help contribute to Columbia's Anglican tradition of progressivism and intellectual engagement. I was first drawn to the Episcopal Church because, to me, it represents an institution committed both to the work of God and to the needs of humankind. In my opinion, though the church may have a divine mission, it is still a human institution and must be reasonably expected to accommodate the needs of the laity. The policies of the Episcopal Church, specifically in allowing the ordination of female priests and bishops and in performing same-sex marriages, seem to be most closely aligned with Jesus's message of inclusion when he uttered, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:10). At home, I was raised in a highly secular environment where my notion of God was unfixed and mixed-up in my idea of the certainty of particular outcomes of "fate." Organized religion was simply not relevant to my life. During this period, I most closely associated the Christian Divinity with the gold leaf in a Fra Angelico fresco or the high notes of a baroque motet. It was at Columbia, in the fall of my junior year, that I first decided to align myself with a specific denomination. Recently, the petty problems of a college first-year gradually became replaced by much deeper questions of existence, questions that I alone could not answer but knew everyone must face to a certain degree. I had been praying to God for a resolution to my troubles. The "resolution," when it came, rarely took the form I thought it might. Sometimes I felt emboldened to take action when I hadn't had the strength before—sometimes the problem ceased to matter or was replaced by something else. My decision to go to church was motivated in part by a desire to give thanks, but also by a curiosity as to how He operates. I felt no stigma attached to exploring this side of myself. On the part of the student body, the relative indifference means that those who wish to may practice their faith freely and undisturbed. As an ambitious student, the future can seem so much bigger than the present. It can be tempting to sublimate most of our energy into what we perceive will make us more marketable, useful, or otherwise valuable to others, not only in the context of a career. This attitude assumes that we are on a sliding scale of "goodness" or of value. It also assumes that if we prepare ourselves properly, we will accordingly increase in value. One thing that I have learned at church and in my discussions with our chaplain is that, because of God's love, everything and everyone has an intrinsic value. This was in no small part a revelation to me, as I found that, at Columbia and elsewhere, I had focused so much of my energies on things that would give me extrinsic value, such as my grades or image. Of course, this is not to say that I no longer concern myself with such things. They have merely ceased to be critical components in any self-assessment to which I may submit myself. Without this knowledge, I personally found it difficult to live with the expectations—academic and otherwise—of such a rigorous environment as Columbia's. It is ultimately knowledge of our sense of value that sustains our sense of self as we are probing our identities in college. Though I am sure that, sooner or later, I would have learned to appreciate the significance of God's role in my life, I believe that the intense atmosphere at this school may have precipitated this realization. Even the issues raised in classes such as Contemporary Civilization serve as an introduction to these questions with which we must grapple. These classes challenge us to face how we relate to our society and, ultimately, how we are able to relate to ourselves. The author is a Columbia College junior majoring in French and romance philology. To respond to this op-ed, or to submit an op-ed, contact email@example.com....