steven garber

steven farber bw

intro’d to Steven through his book, the fabric of faithfulness..

Steven is founder/principal of the washington institute:

steven garber on site

Steven Garber is the principal of The Washington Institute for Faith, Vocation & Culture, which is focused on reframing the way people understand life, especially the meaning of vocation and the common good. A consultant to foundations, corporations and schools, he is a teacher of many people in many places. The author of The Fabric of Faithfulness, 

Read more:

Washington Institute Welcome


fabric of faithfulness

book links to amazon


notes from book:

p. 19: the truest learning is incarnational; we learn the deepest lessons looking – over the shoulder – and – through the heart –  seeing that a worldview can become a way of life.

p. 21: worldviews are not abstractions; they become ideas with legs that have metaphysical and moral muscle, enabling real people to make the hardest choices possible. mentors are not an interesting idea; rather they become the primary means by which beliefs are interpreted and understood, especially when what one believes is a matter of life and death, when what one believes has consequences for he way the world is and out to be. community then becomes the laboratory in which our hopes and dreams become real; we do not keep on keeping on without people of kindred heart and mind pledging their ow lives toward the same end, ..

p. 22: do i have the telos that is sufficient to meaningfully orient my praxis over the course of life? or in the language of the street, and therefore a little more playful:

why do i get up

p. 29 it (this question) gets at the relationship between what one believes about the world and how one lives in the world. ..

p. 33: …poster band for dysfunctional america, their lyrics are in fact a sad reflection of the – disorder, dysfunction, disintegration, anomie – which erickson argued shaped our experience in the modern world

yeah.. so what if we have that all wrong because our research was on humans that had been injected with the compulsion of public ed. what if public ed is the main cause of those years we’ve termed adolescence..


p. 35:  Augustine: for when there is a question as to whether a man is good, one does not ask what he believes, or what he hopes, but what he loves. 

if we could hear him asking laurentius a question in return, it would be this: what do you love? it is in that question and the spiritual dynamics implicit in its answer that belief and behavior are woven together.

p. 39: how does someone decide which cares and commitments will give shape and substance to life, for life?

uri barbash’s beyond the walls, film, a microscopic view of the centuries-old tension between palestinian and jew. called the most honored film ever made in israel. it tells tits story from the perspective of a group of prisoners in a maximum security prison… it’s not a happy film the hardships of prisons and prisoners the world over – the injustices in the name of justice, the abuse of prisoners by each other and their keepers, are poignantly portrayed.

p. 40: connect what he believes about life and the world with how he lives in the world.


p. 42: for the first time i saw that ideas have legs , that there was always a connection between worldviews and ways of life, that in fact there was an integral connection between education and life.

p. 44: Paulo Freire‘s critical consciousness. what is it i believe about the world. why do i believe it. what difference does it make, to me and the world around. the critical consciousness influenced what i read, whom i talked to and where i traveled. i wanted to understand the world and my place in it.

p. 46: for me it was a time to see my question as a public question, with institutional implications to the world of higher education.

p. 51: radical commitment to justice and love and.. selfless passion for a transformed world.

p. 55:  a young asian american woman born in hong kong, now living in the us, … the whole society is wrong.. whether it’s this reform or that reform.. it’s not going to change anything..

the next yr – another student… how are we to mend the cracks in capitalism which allow for some of the most powerful people on earth to live and work and have their being literally within blocks of some of the most powerless people in our society.. capitol hill…

p. 57: walker percy’s warning about the modern person’s – getting all a’s but flunking life – is a possibility lurking around the corner of everyone’s life.

p. 58: frank & ernest: school is mostly true/false, kid, but real life is all essay questions.

p. 82: in particular we will argue that higher education, under the impact of modern consciousness, more often than not excludes the deepest human questions – those of meaning and morality – from the curriculum.

p. 89: whether the young canadian drama students, the newly graduated rice students or my own young friend, each in their own ways felt betrayed by their university experience. how is it that we have strayed so far from education al visions that saw the formation of moral meaning as at the heart of learning? what happened to the integral connection between – veritas et virtus – as the university of pittsburgh’s motto still read?

the shriveled visions of universities under the impact of modernity – particularly the effects of bureaucracy and technology – seem more concernred to produce people who are technically competent but who have little interest in the whys and wherefores of their competencies.

education must be oriented to preparation for a calling and not just training for a career. the difference is one of substance, not semantics.

p. 90: acknowledging that – in the united states, as lawrence cremin once remarked, whenever we need a revolution, we get a new curriculum.

in other words, a technocrat’s ideal – a person with no commitment and no point of view but with plenty of marketable skills.

p. 92″ willmon & naylor (duke – book: the abandoned generation: rethinking higher education) maintain that universities desperately need to recover their sense of calling as setting in which students can pursue questions that matter. in a chapter eerily titled  – meaninglessness – they quote edward long jr, whose book higher education as a moral enterprise contends: higher education dares not become merely the adventure to success; it must be the gateway for responsibility . it should not be concerned with competence alone, but with commitment to civic responsibility.

interesting this is unquestioned assumption.. when the book seems to be about questioning. what if telos and praxis – fittingness – isn’t happening because we’re time-lining it .. and expecting it to come from some uni experience.. or from somewhere where teaching happens. what if we lived telos/praxis.. what if Steven and all of us – are begging for more of a singularity/oneness of life/learning.. rather than some place we go at a certain time in our life to ask rich questions. can’t that just happen as it does naturally from age 5? what if we just not squelch that? what might happen then…?


p. 94: what is it that really matters? and how is that sense of what really matters – moral meaning – formed during the critical years between adolescence and adulthood? for those whose pathway leads them in to the world of the university, decisions are made during that time that are determinative for the rest of life. in the modern world, the years between eighteen and twenty-five are a time for settling of one’s convictions about meaning and morality. why do i get up in the morning?…

what if it starts way before that.. and can go on way after… no?

this notion is not new, in fact it is as old as our knowledge of education. the time span of these critical years has varied over the centuries, as our civilization has moved from a primarily agrarian culture to a primarily industrial culture. but the movement from childhood to adulthood has been worthy of every culture’s greatest attention and perhaps its finest education.

.. ?? – imagine city as school/uni..

p. 98: schools are of course only one institution among many which affect the formation foa society’s young people, but they are – the institution of preference – in our culture, as parks has reminded us. with characteristic insight, peter berger sees the dilemma in this way:

modern man almost inevitably, it seems, is ever in search of himself. if this is understood, it will also be clear why both the sense of alieanation and the concomitant identity crisis are most vehement among the young today. indeed, youth itself, which is a matter of social definition rather than biological fact, will be seen as an interstitial area vacated or left over by the largest institutional structure of modern society. for this reason it is, simultaneously, the locale of the most acute experiences of self-estrangement and the most intensive quest for reliable identities

p. 107: the freedom of our day is the freedom to devote ourselves to any values we please, on the mere condition that we do not believe them to be true.  (via grad student at a harvard graduation)

p. 108: from disparate backgrounds ethnically and academically they came to us wanting to learn how to connect learning with life.

p. 110: stanley hauerwas: to speak of a man – having character – is not to attribute to him any specific traits; rather the point is that, whatever activity he takes part in or trait he exhibits, there will be some sort of control and consistency in the manner in which he exhibits them.

it is, of course, precisely at that point that his writing is relevant for students struggling to connect the personal and the public realms of their lives. integrity and consistency are what they long for, as an expression of their humanness; and yet modernity seems to exact the price of integrity and consistency for those who want to participate in the public world.

hmmm. (above) sounds much like mate saying that when we give up authentic attachment (ie: sending our 5 yr old off to school to seek unnatural bonding/attachment the rest of their lives with peers in a school environment), we then indeed spend the rest of our lives trumping authenticity in the seeking of that attachment

p. 117: robert wuthnow: modernity engenders very real discontents for those who are part of it. the aggregate effects of these discontents is summarized by the notion of a metaphysical sense of homelessness. modernity erodes precisely that which man’s psychological and organismic constitution requires.

that something more which my student desired was precisely that which man’s psychological and organismic constitution requires – nothing less than the quest for integrity, personal and public, individual and institutional.

there is something in our humanness which recoils at the schizophrenia seemingly forced on us by the modern world. to settle for a split in one’s consciousness – the dichotomy between the private and the public – is to settle for two realities, a private world with no meaningful connection to the public world.

p. 118: but easily the most persistent discussion we had was about the meaning of it all. here in the midst of a veritable technological wonderland (carnegie melon), where it seemed that all things were possible, this question was raised again and again: but does it really matter..

p. 123: at evening’s end, i was pleased with the willingness of these little ones to think, aloud and together, about ideas that matter.

willingness? or a craving..? case in point perhaps.. that maybe we have the passage into adulthood and uni experience all wrong.. what might happen if we trusted children/everyone.. and just called the whole package deal life..

p. 124: and what is the clearest of issues? to – only connect – what he says he believes about the world with how he lives in the world.


p. 126: via john john: i summarize it into 3 aspects: the private, personal; the public, relational; and the lived life, which is distinctive because i think it is in our actions that we communicate the first tow. so it si wholly related, but very often the first and the second are not related, and therefore we live disintegrated lives.

p. 132: the difference of truth and the difference it makes. … what he (she) believed in the world and how he (she) lived in the world produced a profound tension in _______ (any of us, no?) – and it broke him (her).

p. 135: i came to a time when i needed to take my faith apart and start from the beginning – because i was profoundly struck by the need to be authentic. i didn’t want to just go along with the christian thing i had always known; i wanted to be convinced that it was in fact true. i was willing at that point to give the whole thing up if it turned out to be a charade.

what if – and is there not a way – for us to be more authentic from the get go…

what if we trusted people more .. to fall in love with him. what if we trusted him more.. to be that loveable.. accessible. imagine growing up without coercion/shame/blind-expected acceptance…

if we follow what scripture says.. they’ll know by our love.. it sounds just like the same story we deal with in Ed (and everything) praxis trump theory. be. model fittingness. seems all our manmade traditions/institutions/politics are because we can’t seem to trust in this. and like Ed, because we don’t trust, our manmade safety guards push away the very thing we were seeking (not trusting)

p. 137: against forces both overt and covert, those who continue to strive for coherence, years after their days of early idealism, are those who have worked through the difference of truth and the difference it makes.

p. 138: …. form a worldview that will be coherent across the whole of life because it addresses the whole of life…

p 140: sadly, the situation in american higher education is too close to the cartoon caricature in – non sequitur – where two older men are studying a graduation diploma which is situated behind a parrot on his stand. one man says to the other, he earned it fair and square. and as long as he’s able to repeat what he hears, he can earn a degree from any college in the country.

is it possible to teach values w/o indoctrinating students?..

one learns best the value required for good scholarship – patience, tolerance, rigor, fairness, precision – by seeing them in action.. teacher as model/mentor

p. 142: i discovered that you wanted me to be responsible for my own learning, that you didn’t want met to just hand it back to you. instead you wanted me to think it through for myself. how could i have gone to school all these years and never learned what learning was all about…?  (3rd yr uni student_

people… who served as older friends whose cares and commitments incarnated the substance of the worldview which the student was learning to embrace

p. 149: macintyre in after virtue offers a brief etymology of the word moral: in latin, as in ancient greek, there is no word until our word moral is translated back into latin. certainly moral is the etymological descendant of moralis. but moralis, like its greek predecessor ethikos – cicero invented – moralis – to translate the greek word i the de fato – means – pertaining to character – where a man’s character is nothing other than his set dispositions to behave systematically in one way rather than another to lead on e particular kind of life.

p. 150: moving beyond cicero, who had emphasized that the mere study of rules is insufficient for the education of the orator, augustine goes further, maintaining that the rules are not necessary at all. 

for boys do not need the art of grammar which teaches correct speech if they have the opportunity to grow up and live among men who speak correctly.

augustine asks,.. 

tell me, what good has the reading of all these dialogues done if it hasn’t helped you define and attain the goal of all your actions..?

how are your studies in cicero contributing to your end as a human being…

it’s ridiculous if, after you’ve learned a lot of unnecessary things in order to prepare people to listen to you tell them what is indispensable, you yourself don’t possess it; and if, while you are busy learning how to get their attention, you refuse to learn what to teach them when you’ve gained it.

attract them by your way of life…what learning is all about.. teachers opening their lives to students, allowing an apprenticeship in what is supremely important. it is nothing less that the formation of moral meaning.

p. 159: for individuals to flourish the need to be part of a community of character, one which has a reason for being that can provide meaning and coherence between the personal and the public worlds.

we discover who we are, face to face and side by side. community is the context for the growth of convictions and character. what we believe about life and the world becomes plausible as we see it lived out all around us.

p. 172: one thing i have learned is that it is the people you surround yourself with that is one of the most important choices you make.

Berger puts it very plainly: to have a conversion experience is nothing much. the real thing is to be able to keep taking it seriously; to retain a sense of its plausibility.,,