Graduations

GTU Commencement 7 May 2022
GTU Commencement 7 May 2022

Spring is graduation season and this year, I joyfully walked the stage in-person for my Graduate Theological Union – Master’sTheology degree, as well as graduating three of my own student-mentees from the University of the South – School of Theology – Education for Ministry (EfM) extension program.

My GTU – MA and Master’s hood were officially presented online last year* but GTU offered the 2020 and 2021 pandemic-years graduates an opportunity to walk in-person this year. I was hooded by Associate Dean of Students, Dr. Wendy Arce in a ceremony at the First Congregational Church of Berkeley. I was also awarded the Interreligious Chaplaincy Certificate, as only the second person to complete the new GTU – ICP program. Part of ICP is completing a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), which for me meant working part-time as a Chaplain Intern for five months at Stanford Hospital during a pandemic surge. Several of us from Stanford Hospital – Spiritual Care Services graduated from GTU together this year. I was happy that my family which lovingly supported me during my long educational journey was present for my graduation.

Co-Mentor Karen LeBlanc, with whom I have led EfM seminars together for over twelve years, celebrated with me the graduations of Joel Martinez (graduated 2020, diploma presented 2022) and Beth Hopf at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church (Saratoga, CA), and Mark LeBlanc (Karen’s husband) at St. Jude’s Episcopal Church (Cupertino, CA). Joel, Beth, and Mark faithfully completed four years of EfM study and theological reflection on the Bible, church history, theology, and ethics.

*Read my thesis here: “Range of Chaplain Engagement with Prisoners”

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Measure for Measure, Double-Effect, and Cooperation with Evil

Shakespeare's _Measure for Measure_ and Aquinas Treatise on Law
Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure and Aquinas’ Treatise on Law

Associate Professor of Philosophy Justin Gable, OP, Dominican School of Philosophy & Theology, taught our Spring class called “Biomedical Ethics.” My final paper was “Measure for Measure, Double-Effect, and Cooperation with Evil.” The paper starts:

This ethics paper is structured around William Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure in the context of cooperation with evil and the principle of double-effect as a way of understanding both the principles and the play’s ethical circumstances. The first example of the principal of double-effect was given by St. Thomas Aquinas in his 1485 Summa Theologica. He writes about the lawfulness of killing in self-defense, “Nothing hinders one act from having two effects, only one of which is intended, while the other is beside the intention.” Wellesley College Professor of Philosophy, Alison McIntyre summarizes current understanding of double-effect as, “the distinction between causing a morally grave harm as a side effect of pursuing a good end and causing a morally grave harm as a means of pursuing a good end.” I will analyze five instances of double-effect, considering whether harm is a side effect or a means to the end.

Recently, while reading the part of Angelo in Measure for Measure with my Shakespeare group, I noticed instances of the double-effect morality. I was intrigued that Shakespeare’s last comedy, Measure for Measure, was written in 1603, just 115 years after St. Thomas describes double-effect (although I found no indication that Shakespeare read St. Thomas). The moral principles of cooperation with evil and double-effect do not seem to have been extensively examined in analyses of Measure for Measure. In addition to considering morality, this paper asserts that great storytelling can more effectively support ethical understanding and teaching.

For more, read the entire paper

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Short Family Visit with Headhunter’s Bowl

Transferring 2021 Christmas presents, 1 May 2022
Transferring 2021 Christmas presents, 1 May 2022

My brother Peter Dickinson visited briefly this afternoon. We enjoyed lunch with friends and family and transferred 2021 Christmas presents that have been waiting for the opportunity. Pete and I also made our every-ten-year swap of the Headhunter‘s Bowl our mother gave us. I think every family has its odd traditions and this is one of ours.

When Pete and I were little kids, our mother (Eleanor Creekmore Dickinson) bought special Christmas present for our father (Wade Dickinson). We were so curious that she said if we could guess what it was without unwrapping the package, we could have it. Because it was such an odd thing, she was sure we could not guess and gave us unlimited questions. Eventually, we did guess that it was a very old wooden headhunter‘s serving bowl from the Solomon Islands. (I remember we had to get out a global atlas and narrow down the location by global quadrants and then ask many questions about what the Solomon Islands were historically famous for.) Ever since we were old enough to have our own homes, Pete and I have been trading our strange bowl back and forth. It is now Pete’s turn to play host.

Note: The San Francisco store where my mother bought the bowl said it was from the Solomon Islands. Its design looks similar to the Kava bowl of Samoa or Fiji.

Transferring Solomon Islands Headhunter's bowl, 1 May 2022
Transferring Solomon Islands Headhunter’s bowl, 1 May 2022

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Pandemic-motivated Weight Loss

Weight loss was a decision that came out of my experience as a Chaplain Intern at Stanford Hospital (September 2021 – February 2022). I worked there during a COVID-19 pandemic surge and as part of my duties, provided family support and decedent care for a number of patients whose comorbidities (including obesity, diabetes, and asthma) seemed to contribute to their early death. I decided to act on my doctor’s long-standing advice and do what I could to reduce my own potential for a similar end.

The most I have ever weighed was 212 pounds, in 2007. Starting in October 2021, I followed my son Paul‘s good example and started using the Noom program for weight loss and wellness. Paul and John are also losing weight and we find that doing so as a family is easier. So far, I have lost over fifty pounds. I have about fifteen to go before I reach the weight that my doctor recommends. I feel better and am enjoying getting new clothes (and having more choices in the smaller sizes). Attending a deathbed may seem like an extreme reason to lose weight but it made a big impression on me.

Read the update posted on 17 July 2022.

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TechWomen in Yosemite

TechWomen at Yosemite Falls, CA, 27 Mar 2022

I am proud of my daughter Jessica whose annual Yosemite camping trip for her Palestinian mentees has evolved into a TechWomen tradition. This year, there were enough mentors and mentees for two weekends. I was a driver last weekend, joining about thirty others – many of them camping for the first time. We stopped over in Columbia for lunch on the way to our campsite at Tuttletown. We had a lovely time getting to know each other, figuring out how to raise a tent, singing pop songs, and eating s’mores – and Safa of Libya got to touch a river for the first time ever!

TechWomen brings emerging women leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) from Africa, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East together with their professional counterparts in the United States for a mentorship and exchange program. I have been working with TechWomen since I helped to design it in 2010. Launched in 2011, TechWomen is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and is managed by the Institute of International Education (IIE).

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Side Garden Upgrade

Katy Dickinson garden, San Jose CA, 23 March 2022

It’s time in the San Francisco Bay Area to start planting our summer vegetables. Since I have some time during GTU‘s Reading Week, I cleared out winter weeds, dug in compost, and added tomatoes, basil, and borage to my planting beds. I left the rhubarb in its wheelbarrow since it seems happy. This year, from Yamagami’s nursery I bought three cherry tomato plants for salads and snacks (Yellow Pear, Sun Sugar Hybrid, and Super Sweet 100), plus three Ace tomatoes for soup. I also upgraded the Guadalupe River bank area next to the planting bed. The big yuccas, huge prickly pear cactus, and an elderberry tree dominate that space. There are also three lavenders (French and English) and two California Sagebrush (Artemisia Californica – from Jessica) continuing from two years ago. I just added four gloriosus “Heart’s Desire” prostrate ceanothus to fill in under and around the cactus. Another ceanothus “Centennial” plus some yarrow (Achillea Little Moonshine, and Red Velvet) will go in the front yard. I mostly add California Native Plants for long-term plantings. I am looking forward to everything growing happily all summer!

Update 24 March: I decided to go camping with Jessica and the TechWomen in Yosemite this weekend, so I planted the ceanothus Centennial in the side yard, supervised by guardian cats Princess and Ketchup. I am also moving some of garden stones into the side yard where they will be more visible.

Update 28 March: My neighbor Russell gave away some of his extra heirloom tomato starts today – so I added a seventh (and final!) plant to my bed. The little plants are enjoying today’s rain.

Ceanothus Centennial, Katy Dickinson garden, San Jose CA, 24 March 2022
Marvel stripe heirloom tomato, 28 March 2022

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TechWomen Team Kenya Outings

TechWomen Team Kenya brunch, 19 March 2022

TechWomen Team Kenya has enjoyed two outings during which we worked on the team project pitch. We went to NightLife at San Francisco’s California Academy of Sciences, and we had brunch together in Oakland, hosted by my Co-Mentor Ella Morgulis. Co-Mentor Samantha Raniere made ugali and spinach and an apple pie for brunch. Ella and her husband David made chicken, hamburgers, and salad. I brought Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies! We mentors have taken turns driving the mentees to our outings around the Bay Area. Pitch Day will be on Friday, 25 March 2022.

Launched in 2011, TechWomen is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and is managed by the Institute of International Education (IIE).

TechWomen Team Kenya, California Academy of Sciences, 17 March 2022

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