Brian Anderson graduated from Butler University in 2003,
having majored in both religion and psychology.
I've always been a religious person, but my
spiritual adventure (and journey) began at Butler University.
Dr. Valliere pulled me aside after class one day in my sophomore
year and asked why I wasn't a religion major even though I had
already taken several religion courses. In fact, I was once class
shy of a minor. I didn't have an answer to him or myself, so the
next day I found myself double-majoring with Religion quickly
becoming my primary major.
Two key moments defined this experience. The first was taking
Peoples and Faiths of Islamic Countries during our invasion of Iraq
in 2003. The course make-up was diverse with students coming from
multiple faith backgrounds. In the midst of history being made, our
professor helped to give reality to the texts we were reading and a
perspective to the war. The second was taking Modern Religious
Thought with Dr. Valliere. In this course, I was introduced to the
writings of Paul Tillich and Thich Nhat Hanh, two individuals who
would help shape my spiritual life for the next 10 years.
After Butler, I was accepted into the Jesuit Volunteer Program
where I worked amongst the poor and homeless in Anchorage, AK. This
led me to a job in higher education as a volunteer coordinator,
which then led me to my current position as a chaplain for Juniors,
Seniors, and Interfaith Programs. Throughout all my previous jobs,
but definitely in my current position, religion is made ever
present as part of our identity just as much as our political,
racial, and socioeconomic background. The classes I took at Butler
University gave me a foundation to explore that identity.
Looking back now, I know that I'm more confident in my life
because of my understanding of the diversity of religious
experiences around me. This is a direct result of the diversity
within the classroom. Because of that coursework, I know I'm more
competent when discussing issues of religion and spiritual life.
However, more importantly, because of the community of peers and
mentorship from faculty such as Drs. Valliere and McGrath, I have
some life-long relationships that I can turn to when I need to be
rejuvenated or to turn to when I need that kick in the butt to keep
working toward peace and social justice.