Father's Day Featured Articles


Sharing His Mind with Me

There was nothing we could not figure out together

By Danielle Bean

It was sharing time. My first-grade teacher gathered the children in my class and we sat, cross-legged, on small mats, in the sharing circle.

“We’ll go around the room,” she told us, “And talk about what our parents’ jobs are.”

The other children shared about parents who were nurses and engineers, waitresses and bus drivers, construction workers and business managers. When it was my turn, I proudly announced that my mom was a mother at home, and my dad? Well, my dad was a “philosopher.”

My teacher’s amused expression told me that I had shared something unusual, but I did not understand what. Only later did I realize that the word I should have used to describe my father’s profession was “professor.”

Even today, though, I would argue that “philosopher” is a better fit.

My dad is a college philosophy professor. He began teaching in his current position, in the philosophy department at St. Anselm College, shortly before I was born, a little over 39 years ago.

I remember attending sleepovers in grade school and marveling at my friends’ fathers who went bowling, watched television, or read the newspaper in the evenings. My dad read books. Constantly and voraciously. Tall bookcases around our house were stacked to the ceiling with his books. Not just philosophy books, but every kind of teaching book you could imagine – about art, religion, astronomy, history, language, anatomy, entomology, auto mechanics, physics, bread baking, botany, and psychology.

His current reads, lovingly covered with brown paper for protection, sat in stacks next to his bed and next to his chair in the living room. He came to my softball games and shouted loudly from the sidelines, but he brought those books along. He spent hours with us at the public pool where we had a family membership during the summer, and he brought his books there, too. Wearing sunglasses and a bucket hat, he would sit in a lawn chair and read his books, penciling furiously in the margins.

In later years, as a teenager and a college student, I would seek out my father’s copies of the books I was studying in class. Whether it was a Shakespeare play or a classic novel, my father’s red-pencil notes in the margins guided me through the process of discovering what was truly great about anything I read. I heard his voice in those notes. They taught me background, insight, and— most importantly — an enthusiasm for learning new things.

The example my father set with his love of learning and his relentless pursuit of the truth has been one of his greatest gifts to me. An even greater gift he and my mother gave to all of their children, however, was the gift of faith.

As a young boy working on his religion badge in the Boy Scouts, my father read his way into the Catholic Church. He brought his parents along with him and never looked back. Today, my dad — philosopher, scientist, and intellectual — is a daily communicant, a weekly regular at late-night adoration, and one of Mother Mary’s most devoted sons. He who never rests in his dogged pursuit of truth and reason finds peace at last in his Catholic faith. He loves Jesus, Mary, and the Catholic Church.

He believes.

Even during my tumultuous teen years and life’s most trying moments, my own faith has never truly faltered. The strength of my own belief is a gift of my father’s faithfulness. His unwavering example has always been enough to convince me that the truth is worth clinging to and building your world around when you have the good fortune of finding it.

Thanks to my father, I do have real faith. I hope to be as good at sharing it with my own children as he has been at sharing it with me.

Danielle Bean, editor of Faith & Family magazine, blogs at DanielleBean.com.