Dear Stanford student,
As the Humanist Chaplain at Stanford, I want you to know that if you are reading this, I would be delighted to meet you. It doesn’t matter what you do or don’t believe about God, or what ethnicity, gender, sexuality, or cultural/religious background you come from. I love meeting with undergraduate and graduate students in my role as Chaplain, and I look forward to getting to know you.
I am available to meet with students, faculty, and staff on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, by appointment, between 11 am and 7pm and am available to speak with folks from throughout the bay area, no Stanford affiliation necessary, on Fridays during my coffee hour from 5-6 pm in Tressider or by appointment on Fridays from 11am to 5pm. Please feel free to make an appointment to talk about whatever strikes your fancy! And please, don’t be intimidated.
I’m also available to meet with undergraduate and graduate students for lunch during the week. I like to meet with students at the Treehouse, or Coho, or at the closer restaurants on University Ave. To give you some sense of what students come to talk to me about, some typical conversations I have with students include illness or death in one’s family (or one’s own illness); concerns about dating and relationships, particularly relationships in academia; work/life balance issues, philosophical questions including whether God exists, questions about the positive meaning and purpose of life, and the existence of free will; what Atheist, Humanist, Agnostic, etc. organizations are available locally and nationally, and how one can get involved with them; coming out as an Atheist, Humanist, or Agnostic, and how talk about it with your family and friends; interests in Christian Humanism, Secular Humanistic Judaism, Muslim Humanism, Transhumanism, hUUmanism, etc.
When I used to work at Harvard’s Humanist Chaplaincy, we used to refer to this quote from neurophilosopher Patricia Churchland, and here at Stanford, it feels no less appropriate. She said, “In my thirty-five years of experience, I have found that often students with no religious affiliation feel rather short-changed by the lack of someone sympathetic to talk to about real life problems, especially when they feel disinclined to go to a religious chaplain, or to a psychological counselor. I myself was in such a position as an undergraduate. And sometime the faculty are happy to talk on a purely academic level but do not wish to engage undergraduates about private dilemmas, and vice versa… I do not know whose idea it was to have a Humanist Chaplain at Harvard (or in our case, Stanford), but it is clearly a brilliant idea.”
So please, I encourage you to drop by my office hours or email me to set up a conversation. I’m really looking forward to meeting all of you Stanford Humanists.
Jonathan P. Figdor
Humanist Chaplain at Stanford