30 September 2012

Summer '12

So ... I was looking at my blog and thinking about the past few months. Since choir tour was really an event post, it looks like the last time I posted about my life was May 7, 2012. That means that everything that has happened since May 8, 2012 has been untold as of yet.

A lot has happened in that time, btw.

Therefore, I decided to post. Of course, when thinking about what to post to cover nearly 5 months of my life, the most obvious course of action is to look through my pictures and see what I have photographed, then make a post based off pictures (hint: it is easier to do this than come up with solid text, which is why I do it). What I discovered, though, was that my pictures are not a very complete documentary. However, better some than none in the way of updates, so here goes. As the Roman poet Juvenal wrote regarding his fellow citizens, "Give them bread and circuses and they will never revolt". I am assuming/hoping that the same holds true for mediocre blog updates ;)

In the past 5 months, I ...

...went to Letchworth with some pretty awesome people... 

...goofed off during Senior week...

...packed to go home...

...worked all summer at a ritzy hotel...

...observed my birthday with my family...

...saw a little bit of my siblings (not nearly enough)...

...celebrated my little sister's high school graduation...

...wished this sign meant free massages...

...went on a steamboat trip on the lake and saw some super fancy houses...

...successfully wore high heels (this is, sadly, an accomplishment)...

...saw some pretty amazing sunrises...

...and more sunrises on the lake...

...attended a Straight No Chaser concert...

...found this on a professor's door...
...and that's all I have for pictures!

This doesn't really convey the insanity of my work schedule over the summer, how much fun I have with some pretty awesome people, or the amount of schoolwork I do. It also does not mention college choir, Student Government, papers, leaves turning colors, making food for friends/with friends, or any other of the ways my life has changed so much in the last (almost)-5 months. However, I hope this gives at least an idea of some of the stuff I have been up to lately!

I could summarize my life, though, without too much difficulty: it is amazing. I am happy. I wake up in the morning looking forward to the day ahead. I am so blessed.

That pretty much says it all =)

15 May 2012

College Choir Tour 2012

As I prepared to go on tour, I knew that I would want to remember it. So, I decided to keep a journal as we went, since there would inevitably be things that I would forget otherwise. I have added some clarifications, since I wasn't always writing this to explain everything, but instead so I would remember the trip myself. Also, I have taken out most names for internet privacy reasons. Without further ado:

   1. 3/29/12, West Genessee High School, Fairmount, NY
Heard recital choir and chorale, both of which were quite unusually good for High School choirs (vowels, cutoffs, group discipline). Worked mostly on dynamics and phrasing.
   2. 3/29/12, Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, Fayetteville, NY
Small chapel, priest was super nice and said it was the best choir they had ever had, and we connected very strongly spiritually. Standing-room only, and very enthusiastic audience with a large Sacred Honor Choir. {Sacred Honor Choir was when we had high school students come up and sing with us on the last two pieces of the program; we did this at most of our concerts.} 1st time run-through of the Bach {Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied} in concert - and they gave us an excellent potluck dinner! {Most of the churches gave us dinner; we would come, set up, have dinner, then give a concert.} :)
   3. 3/29/12, Homestay
Truly lovely couple and a beautiful home. Stayed with 5 other girls. They gave us lemon cookies and tea, and we stayed up talking about a range of topics. He is a psych prof in Syracuse [taught a Houghton professor!], and she was an elementary music teacher. Their house looked more than a little like something out of a magazine - all so perfect, but so tastefully done and we felt very put at ease.
   4. 3/30/12, Troy Music Hall, Troy, NY
Stunning acoustics, full floor and two balconies, and side balconies (reminding me of the Royal Opera in London!) So easy to be too loud; Dr. J {Dr. Johnson, our conductor} kept telling us to be quiet! Had pizza for dinner with a very nice group of SHC kids (one girl had the craziest laugh, like a dying duck, which made the rest of us laugh and we had a good time). The audience was small, but seemed to enjoy the concert and we just had a lot of fun glorifying God in a place where it was so easy to make a good sound! Sometimes we would finish a piece (the dramatic/loud endings) and the sound would hang, shimmering, in the air. Awesome!
   5. 3/30/12, Stay Inn [Hotel], Troy, NY
Pretty nice hotel, and the beds were comfortable, (most important thing!). We got in around 9:45, and I finished off my paper, submitted it, and went to bed. Slept in, then continental breakfast,  quick nature walk on a path another girl and I found, and we were back on the bus!
   6. 3/31/12, King of Grace Church, Haverhill, MA
Diner was potluck again, delicious as usual, and they made a nice cake that said "Welcome Houghton Choir", so that was nice. We had devos and the guy doing them was sharing about how much music meant to him and how the concert pieces were so deeply moving. We were all sitting around very quietly when a little kid came running in, rather loudly (and graphically) proclaiming his success in the lav. It made everybody laugh. The concert went very well, with the audience clapping the whole time we were filing in and out. The space was nice, too, with a wide open stage although the piano was back behind the choir so we had to fool a bit with sight lines for the songs we do with piano. They were super appreciative, with whistles, yells, and standing at intermission as well as at the end :) The only nightmares: 1 ladies toilet in the whole building, and taking the robe boxes up narrow, twisty stairs to the attic that was the ladies' dressing room.
   7. 3/31/12, Homestay
Stayed in New Hampshire, since it was so close to the boarder. Along the way we passed the  church that sent out the first missionaries from America. That was neat! They gave us tea and popcorn and banana bread, and we saw their pellet stove, which was cool. The not-cool (well, cold) part was that as a result when we shut our door at night it was so cold! I woke up freezing, and my throat was so cold. I had some tea and toast for breakfast, and one of the girls loaned me her scarf and I took a shower. But regardless, after going to bed at midnight, getting up at 6 feeling miserable was not so fun. Chugging tea and cough drops, and off again.
   8. 4/1/12, Greater Framingham Community Church, Framingham, MA
We arrived at 9:30 or so, unloaded quickly, robed, and met the pastor. He informed us that we would be up front the entire service, and would follow his directions. Dr. J nodded, and it was so. We filed up in formation, (never having seen the sanctuary!), and went into rows of chairs on the stage (aka "choir loft" - it was most emphatically not a choir loft!). From the music playing we confirmed that it was a black Pentecostal church (or something along those lines). There was an electronic organ (think rollerskating sound, the man playing it was quite good!), an electric bass, and drum set. There was also a men's choir that was pretty much getting right into the music, and the pastor directed us to sing along, clap, sway back and forth (what we call the "choral shuffle"), etc. The service was an interesting mix of what I would call Baptist preaching, Pentecostal singing, and High Church (Anglican or Catholic communion and liturgy (confession of faith, Lord's prayer, Apostle's Creed, Gloria Patri). The did have a "welcome" like I hadn't seen before; all first-time visitors they asked to stand up and give name, where you're from, and religious affiliation (if any). Up on the stage, all 70 of us stood up, along with random people in the congregation (Houghton PR crew, some parents of choir people, etc.) They passed a microphone around and it took quite a long time. Then the pastor turned around and saw the choir standing there and just kind of laughed and skipped us. We sang a couple spirituals as a part of the service and even while we were singing the audience was standing up, singing along, clapping to the music, etc. It was good practice focusing on the conductor and staying together ^_^ After we finished, though, the pastor said 'Amen' a dozen or so times, then laughed and said "we saw those purple robes [our choir robes] and were wondering if you could actually sing. But you can sing!!!" That was nice =)
   9. 4/1/12, Concert at GFCC
We had lunch (bean chili, spaghetti, meatball sandwiches, over-sized sub sandwiches, cookies, cake, etc). It was quite good, and afterwards we had a few minutes of free time, then some quick formations/testing out the space, devos, (where the guy doing devos made some good Palm Sunday points on praise), and we were on! The concert went well; on account of the audience we only did the first section of the Bach, but all our spirituals, etc. The liked us a lot, and we got rave reviews after the concert.
   10. 4/1/12, Homestay
Stayed with a very nice lady and her just-16-year-old son; her husband was in Arizona with 17 other guys from the church, golfing for 4 days. Their house was jaw-droppingly posh, but they were super nice. We went out to dinner at a place called Legal's, where I ate (on recommendation) a cup of clam chowder and also grilled salmon. I'm quite certain it is the best fish I've ever had! But it's Boston; that is to be expected! :) Went to bed early, since we were exhausted. She is actually from the deep South, so for breakfast we had grits, eggs, bacon, and sausage - along with Greek yogurt, fruit, coffee, orange juice, etc. We dropped the boy off at his school, then were dropped off at the church. We were early, but just hung out at the church.
   11. 4/2/12, Boston Trinity Academy, Boston, MA
Day of utmost insanity! My voice was quite tired, so I talked as little as possible. Worked on my Arabic on the bus, and we stopped at a school along the way to sing. We got stuck in traffic getting into Boston and were running late, so Dr. J had us do our warm-ups on the bus. When we stopped, we were instructed to leave everything on the bus and run in. So we jogged/ran across the grass and into the school, where there was a 'relay' of teachers who took our coats/waterbottles and directed us. We kept running right into the auditorium with Dr. J telling us as we went what formation to get into on stage. It was apparent that instead of the usual masterclass, we would just be doing some singing. We filed right up onto the stage; the room was already full of students and as we started in, they started cheering and clapping. We sang Witness (one of our spirituals), then Ehre Sei Gott (in German), the latter half of Idumea (early American, and the stomps were lots of fun on the hollow wooden stage - plus, all the girls were wearing our flats, not slippers!), and Give Me Jesus. For the last, Dr. J invited the students who sang with us in Haverhill as a part of the SHC to come up, so they did and that was fun. Then the bell rang, the students all left quickly, and we were directed to the bathrooms and handed bottled water, then hustled back out onto the bus. Turnaround time? About half an hour :O
   12. 4/2/12, Calvary Baptist Church, Easton, PA
Lunch was a half-hour stop at some mall, the food court of which consisted of 7 options - one of which was closed, and three of which were Asian (and all were basically the same). I really just wanted tea, but couldn't find any, so got gingerale instead. Arrived at the church around 4 pm, so it had been a 7-hour or so drive that day. We were all pretty tired, but unloaded, and did some warmups/our standard figuring out of formations and testing the space. They fed us chicken, beans, boiled potatoes, salad, and amazing rolls! There also was a huge dessert table. Between prep and dinner we had a little time off: Quote of the day goes to Dr. J - "Okay, you can go now. For the next 7 minutes I won't manage every detail of your life." :D I thought the concert went decently, although the audience felt kind of meh. Coming after churches that so warmly welcomed and loved us it was a reminder that we need to always do our best, and that we're singing for God's glory, not so we can get appreciation from the audience. The awkward part was driving back with our hosts (who actually were perfectly nice, don't misunderstand!) and he went on a 5-minute exposition of the virtues of the auditorium, how it was specially built for music/sound, the floating clouds adjusted just so, etc. My roommate and I just kept mum, because it was by a long shot the worst place we have sung in to date for sound - kind of like shouting into a black hole. We couldn't hear anything, and the whole space felt dead. But like I said, our hosts were very friendly and we chatted for a bit, then headed off for some sleep.
   13. 4/3/12, Philadelphia, PA
Had my 21st birthday in Philly! Got back to the church early, so we hung out in the choir room, looked at their music, practiced the Bach melismas, told stories, and generally hung out in a very choir-ish fashion while waiting for everyone else to show up. Voice-being-tired is now more like I-have-a-cold; my voice doesn't hurt so much, but the whole coughing/sneezing/continually blowing my nose is not so fun! Anyway, we got to Philly, and the buses dropped us off for a few hours of free time. We walked around and looked at the Liberty Bell (from the outside), and wandered down South street. We had heard that a good place to get cheesesteaks down there was a place called "Jim's", so we found it and 16  of us crowded in line (it's a small place!). The guys working there were super friendly, and asked if we were on a field trip ... um .. haha? We told them we were with a college choir, at which they told us to sing something! We had a good mix of people, so we sang Witness, and they loved it. Then we got our cheesesteaks and went upstairs to eat. While we were eating my choir friends sang Happy Birthday, which was sweet of them :) Then we went exploring, bought ice cream, funnel cakes, and fresh-squeezed orangeade (not all of us buying each thing!), saw the tomb of the unknown soldier, posed for crazy pictures, and sat in the sun in a park. it was all rather fun, and we met up again with the buses and drove to the church.
   14. 4/3/12, Church of the Holy Trinity, Rittenhouse Square
The trick with the church was unloading; there was no parking and the buses had to simply stop on the street. We had been given orders on the way over, and when we stopped the crews jumped off, we yanked everything (luggage and concert equipment) off both buses, and they were off again within a minute or two. It was quite impressive, and we hustled everything inside so it would be off the street. Then we had the standard formations, set-up, dinner, robing, concert call, etc. By now I was blowing my nose a couple times a minute, and seriously considering sitting out of the concert. But I really didn't want to; it was one of those gorgeous old churches, and I had really been looking forward to that concert. So I just prayed that I wouldn't have to cough/sneeze/blow nose during that time and for the next hour and 35 minutes - the time from when we lined up for the concert until I got back to the dressing room - I was fine. Praise God! :)
   15. 4/3/12, Hampton Inn, Philadelphia, PA
I did crash. After pushing all day, I finally had to admit how absolutely awful I felt. Took some cold meds, had some tea, and tried not to focus on being miserable (which I think I failed at). To be truthful, I pulled the blankets over my head and cried. The girls I was staying with are wonderful and came to the rescue; hugs and kind words make a world of difference and I fell asleep. Woke up and fever had broken; I felt utterly wiped out, but on the mend and my head was clearer. had a shower and quick breakfast, then shoved everything back on the bus (the situation was the same as at the church, except the street was bigger!) and we were off again.
   16. 4/4/12, Hilltown Baptist Church, Chalfont, PA
Well, the "Hill" part makes perfect sense; I don't know where the "town" came from! We drove out of the city, down a highway, into a small town, then out of the town, into the country, then very rural country ... then pastures, woods, farms, a lake, one-lane roads, big hills, etc. until we were wondering if maybe we were lost (and by we I mean choir people, not the bus driver). however, we finally pulled up at a church which was actually pretty good-sized, and we unloaded with plenty of room (and grass!) all around. It was still morning, and we had a rehearsal to learn the music we'll be singing for a special Easter service. Then we went across the road to a arm/country store/sandwich place and got lunch, then more rehearsal. We ended up with some free time and were pretty much told not to talk, but to take a nap. I was really dragging, and did go outside in the grass for a nap. The concert was a bit sentimental; the last full concert of the trip [by which I mean Dr. J told us that we wouldn't be singing the Bach again] =( But it went well, and the acoustics were pretty good.
   17. 4/4/12, Homestay
We stayed with a retired couple who had been missionaries in the Philippines for 35 years. We heard a lot about their kids and grandkids, and they had us sign their guestbook. She was also a Houghton grad, and we talked about the changes that have taken place in the last 40-some years. They also asked us how they could pray for us. It was a wonderful homestay, and she dropped us off with time to spare at the church.
   18. 4/5/12, Hawthorne Christian Academy, NJ
We headed out for NYC, and on the way stopped at another school. Here we met with their choir, plus a homeschooled choir. After we sang and Dr. J did some masterclass work we had a quick snack, then did some more singing.
   19. 4/5/12, NYC
As we drove into NYC, Dr. J did some tour-guide/info talking. We arrived at Calvary Baptist Church/the Salisbury Hotel on 57th Street, Manhattan, and did another super fast unload onto the street and into the hotel. When we were settled in, one of my roommates and I headed off to Central Park. We wandered around and had snacks, then back to the hotel. We dressed up, then headed off for the Metropolitan Opera to see Verdi's "Macbeth". Afterwards, several of us walked down to see Times Square at night. It was quite stunning, and on the way back we stopped at a street vendor and got falafel. We also got stopped by a guy who declared how much he loved each of us and the whole world, and proceeded to rather awkwardly hug us before walking on. We got back and collapsed tiredly. :)
   20. 4/6/12, Day in NYC
We had call at 9:30 the next morning, to work on the Masagcali. While we were there we did our formation work, too, and Dr. J pushed our call time back so that we had pretty much all day off! By the time I got out of rehearsal it was a little after 11. Had lunch with two choir friends (pizza at a little Italian shop!), and we decided to wander up to the Metropolitan Museum of Art through Central Park with others. We looked around, and after awhile everyone except one other girl had gone back. We agreed to split up, since she wanted to see some Dutch masters and I was more interested in British and French. Ended up seeing somevery wonderful paintings and having a lovely time.
   21. 4/6/12, Calvery Baptist Church, NYC
I was on for helping with lights, so got back to the church around 4:15. We did set-up until dinner at 5:30, then dinner and a quick change, devos, and we were on! We hadn't really known what the Good Friday service would be like as far as structure, but it turns out that they pretty much wanted us to sing our concert and the pastor gave a pretty short, direct message that was very good. They loved us, and I found it to be a deeply meaningful service. Partly getting over my sickness and feeling human again, partly the significance of Good Friday, partly just knowing the material well and working well as a choir, partly a full house and engaged audience, but it rated as my favorite concert. (I can say that since it's our last concert, so I know for all of tour now.) The only real downside of the evening was having only me and one other guy on robe crew come to haul the robe boxes to the storage room. Plus, there were only two elevators for the entire hotel, and they were finicky and wouldn't come. So we and two other [nice, helpful, wonderful, kind] guys [who volunteered] from the choir carried all six boxes down 3 flights of stairs. It was very tiring!
   22. 4/7/12, St. Joseph's Cathedral, Hartford, CT
The next morning we were up early and off again! Heading out of Manhattan we hit 2 red lights just as we were leaving the hotel, but other than that we didn't get a singe one the whole way off the island! We made it from central Manhattan to the highway in about 5 minutes. I feel like that might be some kind of record! We arrived at the church without difficulty, and quickly hauled equipment in and were handed programs for Holy Saturday service, Easter concert, and Easter service - plus a packet of music, which were were informed we would be singing! *Blink* ... well, so in the next few hours we [kind of] learned everything we needed to sing for the 2-hour mass that night, an hour concert the next day, and another hour mass. [Note that we do not sing that whole time, that's just how long the services were.] We had a quick lunch somewhere in there, but otherwise rehearsal until 2 pm.
   23. 4/7/12, Hotel, Hilton/Garden Inn
We went to our hotel under quite strict orders to be quiet! Take a nap, read a book, etc. I took advantage of the free wifi to check emails, then watched youtube clips of college students doing standup comedy and tried not to laugh too loudly :)
   24. 4/7/12, Holy Saturday Mass, St. Joseph's
New experience as a part of college choir: sightreading music at a performance/having music during a performance! Since we sing all our concerts memorized, it was very strange to not be very familiar with all the music! As far as the service itself, it was at 8 pm although it was the service I would think of as being the midnight service - starting in darkness, reading the story of the crucifixion, then lighting candles, lights, bells, and finally "alleluia". [For anyone not familiar with non-protestant tradition, it should be noted that during the season of Lent {40 days before Easter} the word 'alleluia' is withheld from the service as a part of the anticipation for and rejoicing of Easter.]
  25. 4/7/12, back at the hotel
We left the church around 10:15 pm, and 4 of us decided to get pizza, since we hadn't had dinner. We ordered some to be delivered to the hotel, and it came around 11:45. In the meantime and while we were eating someone turned the TV on, so we were watching the cooking channel and commenting on the good or negative things we thought about the food people were making. Around 12:30 we wrapped it up, having had a couple more people come and help with the pizzas/comment on the cooking channel. The next morning breakfast was not included with the hotel stay, so I had the leftover piece of pizza for breakfast out on the patio and enjoyed the sunrise/early morning since it was a lovely one. Made coffee to go, and it was back on the bus again!
   26. 4/8/12, St. Joseph's, Easter morning
We had a concert at 10, then mass at 11. [And by 'we', I mean us as college choir, the cathedral choir and cathedral brass, Soli Deo Gloria orchestra, and the church organist. A note about the organist: he is from Argentina, and has his PhD or something in organ playing, basically his expression looked like 'let me have some fun improvising on a ~ 3,000 pipe organ for an Easter service - BANG!' He was phenomenal, and a treat both to watch and to listen to! :D] The mass was considerably shorter (only about an hour) since there weren't any baptisms or confirmations like there were Saturday. We packed up quickly, and a few of our organ people from HC who are in choir got to play the organ! The organist was also very nice, and after the service thanked us for coming and told us that it was the best Easter service he'd had in his 15 years as organist there!
   27. 4/8/12, Bus ride/home
So, we all got on the bus for the long drive from Hartford, CT, to Houghton, NY. The good part was being with friends, and we did have a lot of fun. However, when we saw the sign welcoming us to Houghton, there may or may not have been - okay, there was - some very excited cheering! We thanked Dave, our awesome bus driver, did a pretty much record-breaking unload (although not because we were holding up traffic, this time!) and headed of to crash after our adventure. Since the dorms don't open until Monday, I'm staying with one of my friends/fellow choir alto since she lives off campus and can get into her apartment.

Fine. SDG 


---------------


Well, there you have it! If you really did read the whole thing, I a) am very impressed with your fortitude, and b) hope you enjoyed it!

Here are a few things that didn't really fit anywhere else:

- "Your zeal to close the consonant borders on the humorous" - Dr. J
- Telling someone that 'you're the sparkle in my champaigne' is way funnier than it should be when everyone is overtired
- Cold meds + exhaustion + coffee = everything is much funnier than it actually is
- "Veggies prefer a short commute" - on the side of a truck, advertising local produce
- (regarding a cemetery) - "People are just dying to get in there" - anonymous
- "Oh, look. It's a big bell with a crack in it" - unnamed choir man, sounding like Riley on National Treasure and referring to the Liberty Bell
- "I could go for some Ecstasy right now. Quiet bus become the high bus" - choir man (also, this is totally in context!)
- "The penultimate bar, on beat 9, you get to go baaaahhhhh!!!" Dr. J
- For general information, the Bach motet we sang (memorized, of course) was 92 pages long :)
- choir tour was awesome and I would totally do it again and am so looking forward to next year!!!!!!!!!

07 May 2012

Black-Eyed Susan

Today I went out for lunch with three of my friends. We went to a place in Angelica called the Black-Eyed Susan Acoustic Cafe. It was quite fun, and the food was quite good. 

I got a sandwich called Muffaletta, and asparagus

Buffalo chicken sandwich and skillet potatoes. Also, hungry ;)

Brownie sundae!

I got raspberry-chocolate-whipped cream pie. Tasty!

happy eating

Waiting for creme brulee

oh-so-happy!

we enjoy our food!

delicious chocolate mints came complimentary (1,000 times better than fortune cookies) :p
Well, that's what I did today! Then I had a meeting, then take home final, and time with friends ... good day so far! It's raining, but in a happy, spring kind of way! :-)

05 May 2012

Praising God

I was thinking, just now: you know how people say 'oh, it's easy to praise God in the good times, but it's when times get tough that you really have to work at it'? Well, I'm not so sure that is a good way to think of it.

My life is amazing right now. It is easy to praise God. He is blessing me beyond what I could think or imagine, and yet my automatic reaction is, sadly, 'well, these are the good times ... will I still be able to praise Him when everything isn't falling into place quite so wonderfully?'

No! Why am I focusing on the times that it feels like the sky is so far away, instead of living in the moment and overflowing with thankfulness and praise to God? Must every moment in which God blesses me be tinged with the negative counter: just wait and see if it lasts. Absolutely not.

Should I be focused on the praise? Yes. Intentional? Certainly! But instead of thinking of it as a temporary state of gratefulness which I will soon remember only dimly from a black hole of separation, can I not instead just be thankful for how amazing God is? Wouldn't a better reaction, when overwhelmed with blessing, be to store up inside memories of thinking how wonderful God is, and what it feels like to not be able to stop thanking Him for being so wonderful?

This is pretty much something that I thought of less than 5 minutes ago, and decided to post. Thoughts?

02 May 2012

Nearer, My God, To Thee

So ... this basically made me cry. So much emotion from such a beautiful instrument ...

01 May 2012

St. Francis in 13th Century Culture


             In The Major Legend of St. Francis, Saint Bonaventure shows that St. Francis of Assisi led by example and that this example presented some solutions to the difficulties faced by 13th Century culture. He does this through relating incidents in St. Francis’ life and the way he interacted with the culture surrounding him, allowing the stories to be the example. The solution to the difficulties comes from the example itself – Bonaventure is not too subtle in saying that St. Francis’ example needed only to be followed in order for positive change to be effected. There are several themes prominent in Bonaventure’s work under which St. Francis’ life can be organized.
The first thing that Bonaventure had to do was make sure his readers understood that St. Francis had a special calling from God and thus deserved attention. Bonaventure shows Francis as having a good heart even before his perfect conversion; a man with which God has something to work. His life before his conversion was relayed by Bonaventure as a time in which he “was ignorant of God’s counsel for him” (531). Since God wanted him for His work, though, He got Francis’ attention through affliction: “Because affliction can enlighten spiritual awareness, the hand of the Lord was upon him, and a change of the right hand of the Most High, afflicting his body with prolonged illness in order to prepare his soul for the anointing of the Holy Spirit” (531/2). This special calling from God was used by Bonaventure to show that Francis had a unique place in culture and that he was to be an example. Francis’ importance, Bonaventure was careful to show, was great enough that God used a special calling to get his attention and make sure that Francis would follow the path he had been called to follow.
Bonaventure was careful to show as well that Francis was a clear benefit to society. He did this through showing his compassion for others and willingness to help. His awareness of the needs of others was shown in his clothing of a knight - a double action of giving more dignity to a human as well as giving a noble man honor (532). In this action Francis showed both that he was compassionate and trying to do the will of God – which made him a good example. These were qualities that Bonaventure wanted to emphasize in writing his book. The economic structure was that of an emerging capitalist society – merchants were making money on trade, and the old-fashioned money gain from land and rents was harder for the nobility to maintain since people were moving to urban locations. The nobility were gradually impoverished, becoming men such as the knight Francis helped – men who were nobles and had lost both their money and their social status. Francis’ gift was not only one of clothing, but also of compassion to a man who was insecure in his current social status. This example showed a solution to the problem of social instability in uncertain times – show respect instead of disregard to others, even if they are not currently as fortunate as you.
The capitalist culture that faced Francis presented unique challenges. One of these was that there was a market focus, which did not much lend itself to ideas of a life of poverty such as Francis lived. Demanding poverty would have been detrimental to Francis’ success; a major asset to his work was Francis’ flexibility in his rule and allowance of people to live lives other than the one he lived without condemning them. While he felt that what he was doing was right for him, he never insisted that everyone else or even anyone else live exactly the way he lived – instead, he set the example of living according to his convictions (533), and was concerned only that everyone else lived according to their own convictions as well. The freedom this gave those who were attracted to his lifestyle allowed many people to become his followers while still maintaining their capitalist way of life. This was critical to the success of Francis’ influence. Had he been asking everyone to give up their way of life, his example would have been less palatable and he would have greatly diminished his effect. The result of his flexibility and insistence on personal relationship with God served the purpose of allowing others to feel free to follow his example, thus providing a solution to the difficulty of how to live a committed Christian life in an increasingly capitalist society.
Furthermore, in an increasingly individualistic society, Francis’ example was more than possible to follow – it was appealing. The idea of a personal relationship with God was one that was for the time – the urbanizing culture felt itself more and more independent of the others around them, and the people who were out of their rural communities for the first time were experiencing a new sense of identity as a very personal thing. As a ‘spiritual merchant’, Francis’ first step in ‘selling’ his example was making his life and actions results of personal decisions. He achieved this, and passed it on to those who listened to him and followed his example. In this way also, Bonaventure shows Francis as a solution difficulties arising in 13th Century culture. The problem was the individualization of the urban society, the solution was a personal relationship with Christ to match the personal focus and keep the church centered in people’s lives. Francis is taking the way the merchants viewed the world and showing them how to hold this in a spiritual sense – telling them that they did not need to change everything about themselves in order to be acceptable to God. Instead of telling them to change everything about their lives, he told them that who they were as people was fine and only needed to be converted in order to be totally right. This again allowed many people to follow his example without asking that they follow his actions, and it was appealing enough that many people took him up on it.
His example in humility was particularly helpful in giving solutions to the difficulties faced by the culture. With so many people coming so recently from being poor and now in a position of power on level with or even above the noble classes, a lack of humility could be detrimental to social peace. Francis’ teaching to be humble was a solution to the problem of new class structure in society. He was not afraid to be honest and admit himself as the greatest of sinners (573) which showed great humility and was an example to those around him. This very humility would have kept Francis from bragging on his accomplishments as leader of a new order and trend in society. His success was that people adopted his ways of life – not that he became a popular leader (although that was certainly the way his ministry ended up, whether he was looking for it or not). He also did not fear rebuke and spoke freely to all, regardless of their station. He got away with all this since he was not a parish priest with the regular restrictions, and the pope saw that what he was doing was working as solutions to the problems faced by the church. His social position was vastly different from that of the established clergy, and one of the reasons is that he was not tied to the old traditions. Instead, he was able to move freely and set an example of a new kind of Christianity.
Francis’ piety gave him a great love for humanity and the created world, and set an example of how to treat others and the world. He felt a passion for humanity, as well as things non-human and created. He also felt particular compassion for urban people who were trying to live with authenticity, and spoke words of gentle critique for those who were trying to live his kind of life and were failing at it. However, his piety also helped him to see problems among other people, and gave him a great desire to fix those problems (588). He was deeply saddened by scandal and bad examples, seeing that bad examples caused people to be led astray. Bonaventure also shows that God reminded Francis that it was not his duty to make sure that the whole world was all in place, and Francis’ lesson from that was that piety is also knowing your own limits. Francis was set on fire by the perfect love that drives out fear, and taught by example that others should go assist people who need help since Christ loves them. This presented a solution to insensitivity in a culture that was disconnected from the normal ways of caring for others.
Bonaventure is careful to point out to his readers that they do not have to do exactly as Francis did in order to be in line spiritually. Instead, he portrays Francis’ example as notable on account of his fidelity to his beliefs, and makes the lesson about having a personal calling and following that calling wholeheartedly. From this, then, the example of Francis is clear and the solution to the instability in 13th century culture is simply to follow God and to do what one knows to be the right thing to do. He was not giving a way to get out of responsibilities – that would not be a life of integrity and responsibility. Francis is advocating a life of connectedness and living fully within the life he has chosen. After deciding on a life, he taught, one should live it and live it with integrity. He did not approve of anyone who “did not put on a heart of piety and was not seasoned with the salt of discernment” (564). Living differently than Francis did was fine – being too austere and missing the point, or being too carefree and not holding to convictions, were both to be avoided.
Therefore, the example of Francis is shown as a solution by showing a way of life that others could follow. Bonaventure encourages his readers to take Francis’ life seriously as an example, but not to venerate Francis’ personal life as the only way to live. The point of Bonaventure’s writing was that Francis had a calling from God and fulfilled it to the best of his ability – that is the example Bonaventure wants to make sure his readers don’t miss. The solution that St. Francis presented to the problems faced by the culture was typically Franciscan: not a book, a rule, or a sermon, but a life lived; an example of humility, poverty, piety, and great love for the created world. The personal engagement with Christian faith and the natural world allowed the people of a new urban culture to find a place and establish a new society, one based on individualism and devotion. 

15 April 2012

Misty Edwards

Have to say, this is one of my favorite songs ever - I may have posted it before, I don't remember, but if I did it was a couple years ago and so I'll post it again!


01 April 2012

Music!

As some of you likely know, I am currently on college choir tour. [Should you be interested in listening to the music we're singing, here are some good recordings: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL3EF909B92D030E6C&feature=g-all-a {it's our playlist}.] However, the piece I want to share tonight is not choral music at all, but Canadian Brass. This rather amazing group came to Houghton just a couple weeks ago, and I love this recording so much!
I have been keeping records of the different places we're going and plan to post a bit about the trip when it's over, but for right now I won't spoil the adventure :p Enjoy the music!

30 March 2012

Dietrich Bonhoeffer!


What can we glean from the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, especially his The Cost of Discipleship, about his political and social outlook? Can we say any more than the mere fact that he opposed Nazism?

Introduction


Dietrich Bonhoeffer did not only oppose Nazism; his political and social outlook was far more detailed. Far from a blanket resistance to the Nazi regime, Bonhoeffer struggled with questions such as the role of government, the duty of a believer to obey authority, nonviolence and nonresistance, and how to settle actions with conscience in times when there were conflicts between loyalties. What Bonhoeffer is known for is a (failed) assassination attempt on Hitler’s life, his arrest and imprisonment, and eventual execution. However, behind the man who decided that the best solution was murder was a man who was deeply religious and believed strongly that the duty of a Christian was to be peaceful, as he writes in his book The Cost of Discipleship: “‘‘Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.’’ The followers of Jesus have been called to peace. When he called them they found their peace, for he is their peace. But now they are told that they must not only have peace but make it. And to that end they renounce all violence and tumult.”[1] With this worldview in mind, then, it is worthwhile to look not only at what Bonhoeffer did, but also what he thought, in order to better understand the reasoning behind his actions.

On nonresistance


For a pacifist, an assassination attempt was a big step: one that required much thought, prayer, and a firm conviction that there was no better option and that something had to be done to stop Hitler. That Bonhoeffer judged the Nazi government guilty of being exceptionally bad is evident, since the theme of nonresistance is clearly present in his theology and writing. His book The Cost of Discipleship has long sections on the topic, stating his position in terms of morality and even of Christian obligation:

“The Christians are to know that if they would perceive and do the will of God, they must be content with the subordinate place accorded to them by the powers. They are bidden to be of good cheer: God himself will use the powers to work for their good, and his sovereignty extends even over the powers. …To resist the power is to resist the ordinance of God (διαταγᾔ τοῦ Θεοῦ), who has so ordered life that the world exercises dominion by force and Christ and Christians conquer by service. Failure to realize this distinction will bring a heavy judgment on the Christian … it will mean a lapse into the standards of the world.”[2]

The duty of the Christian is not to resist the government for his own purposes, but instead to obey the authorities and allow God to take care of the rest. He was committed “to renew the church in self-sacrificing service and to challenge it to relevance, even at the risk of its suppression by the civil authorities”,[3] and further encourages his readers through his reassurance that “By willing endurance we cause suffering to pass. Evil becomes a spent force when we put up no resistance. By refusing to pay back the enemy in his own coin, and by preferring to suffer without resistance, the Christian exhibits the sinfulness of contumely and insult. Violence stands condemned by its failure to evoke counter-violence.”[4] Thus far, it would seem that there was no room for the believer to resist the authorities.

Additionally, while realizing the importance of nonresistance in keeping peace, Bonhoeffer was also realistic enough to see that “Because the world is evil … the precept of no-resistance must be put into practice.… If we took the precept of non-resistance as an ethical blueprint for general application, we should indeed be indulging in idealistic dreams: we should be dreaming of a utopia with laws which the world would never obey. To make non-resistance a principle for secular life is to deny God, by undermining his gracious ordinance for the preservation of the world.”[5] To pretend that non-Christians should be following the same guidelines as Christians was nothing short of ludicrous – and so while not excusing his own readers from their responsibilities as Christians to be peaceful, he also made clear that they could not in turn expect the secular authorities to follow the same guidelines. This lifestyle is not without its benefits, though: “The cross is the only power in the world which proves that suffering love can avenge and vanquish evil. But it was just this participation in the cross which the disciples were granted when Jesus called them to him. They are called blessed because of their visible participation in his cross.”[6] In most situations, Bonhoeffer’s counsel was to not resist and to live in peace. He saw great benefits coming from such a lifestyle, and wanted to encourage others to follow it as well.

On obedience


Living in this state of nonresistance did not allow for rebellion; on the contrary, without obedience the point of not resisting would be missed. Bonhoeffer felt that the claim of a government on its citizens was very strong, which again shows that even though he ultimately worked against his government, the circumstances had to be truly extenuating in order to justify such an action. Instead, he believed that “The Christian is not obliged and not able to prove in every single case the right of the governmental demand. The duty of Christians to obey binds them up to the point where the government forces them into direct violation of the divine commandment, thus until government overtly acts contrary to its divine task and thereby forfeits its divine claim. When in doubt, obedience is demanded, for the Christian does not break the governmental responsibility.”[7]

The question of obedience to a secular government did not change the situation. “In exactly the same way in which obedience is called the consequence of faith, it must also be called the presupposition of faith”,[8] and without obedience the proper faith is therefore lacking. The problem, Bonhoeffer was telling his readers, was not that they needed a different government, but more faith that God would get them through the situation. To show this point he uses Scripture, noting that “[In Romans 13:4], St. Paul is talking to the Christians, not to the State. His concern is that the Christians should persevere in repentance and obedience wherever they may be and whatever conflict should threaten them. He is not concerned to excuse or condemn any secular power. … St. Paul certainly does not speak to the Christians in this way because the governments of this world are so good, but because the Church must obey the will of God, whether the State be bad or good.”[9] The point for obedience, then, is very strongly made that a Christian has an ethical obligation to obey the authorities.

On conscience


This position of obedience, however, proved to be difficult to maintain. Bonhoeffer found it impossible to reconcile his conscience with doing nothing to oppose the Nazis. While he did have these strong convictions about government and authority, he also felt the pull of morals and ethics, and the ideology of the Nazis he saw as being not only dangerous, but wrong. His political outlook was shaped by his conscience, and in this case, he found himself in a situation that could not be won by one man against so many, but also unable to let his conscience rest until he did something about the situation.

“For Bonhoeffer nothing less than the truth of the gospel was at stake in the confrontation with Hitler. Bethge observes that Bonhoeffer’s famous radio address in 1933, which criticized the Führer concept, was not based on liberal democratic ideas, but rather reflected Bonhoeffer’s concern with authority. According to Bonhoeffer, in the past, leadership was expressed through the office of the teacher, the statesman, and the father, but now the “Leader” has become an end in himself. When leadership was based on office, leadership required commitment to standards that were public and therefore capable of some rational justification. But the new leadership is based on choice, answering to nothing other than its own self-justification.”[10]

The mission he felt as a Christian to do something to oppose the Nazi regime was stronger than the beliefs of nonviolence and obedience to government that he held. Those convictions were the rules by which he lived, but the place he got those convictions was his Christian faith. Since his allegiance was primarily to God and that informed the rest of his beliefs, when he felt God’s call to do something rather different there was no question of if he should do it or not. Normal scruples aside, his primary task was to follow God’s direction and he felt clearly led to resist the Nazis – so he did.

On the role of government


Bonhoeffer had a lot to say about government, its structure, and the duty of a Christian to obey the government. He believed strongly that “Through an ethical failure [government] does not … lose eo ipso its divine dignity”.[11] Therefore, even though he believed that what the Nazis were doing was wrong (particularly in reference to their anti-Semitism), that belief did not justify an outright rebellion against the government. Instead, “Bonhoeffer’s belief in Christ’s centrality to brotherhood and sisterhood in a world community freed to transcend racial, religious, and national divisions led him into the anti-Hitler conspiracy”.[12] His actions did not come from a personal belief that he could get something out of overthrowing Nazism, but from Christian conviction in what was right to do as a member of the Church. That is one thing that caused him to work against the Nazis, even though he did have this belief that it was wrong to oppose authority. His actions arose from a belief that it would be more wrong to not oppose the government.

The decision to defy the Nazi German authorities was not an easy one for him to make, and he realized full well that it would be a dangerous decision – and indeed it was, as he “became part of the Holocaust, not, to be sure, in the same sense as did the six million innocent Jews, but as one who shared their fate because he resisted their oppressors and did so with the awareness that no non-Jew in Germany could dissociate himself from the guilt of the Nazi terror.”[13] However, he also realized that there was much more to the situation than a simple dislike of a governmental policy; this was an issue of making a historical statement in order to show protest for a particular regime that he felt was violating Christian principles. That he did not see this to be an easy decision, though, can be seen by his writing: “The refusal to obey within a specific historical political decision of the government, as well as this decision itself, can only be a venture of one’s own responsibility. A historical decision cannot be completely incorporated into ethical concepts. There is one thing left: the venture of action.”[14] This action in Bonhoeffer’s case was an assassination attempt, but the decision was neither impulsive nor irrational. Instead, it was the result of a moral and ethical conviction that it would be more wrong to not oppose Hitler than to continue in peace with the Nazi state. Even so, Bonhoeffer specifically noted that the church “must not condemn wars in general. It must condemn this war.”[15] The principles behind his belief had not changed, and he was very clear that what he was doing was an exception instead of a new theology. He remained a pacifist and worked to restore peace instead of calling himself a pacifist and doing nothing to bring peace.

One way in which he saw ethical justice could be achieved was through Christian intervention, but he also saw this as being acceptable only in very extreme cases. “Put[ing] a spoke in the wheel, the direct political action of the church’, was left for that last and extreme case when the church in fact saw the state unrestrainedly bring about too much or too little law and order. Bonhoeffer was convinced that this instance in which the church had to abandon its own task and take on that of another was ... unique.”[16] The situation in 1943 fit his criteria of an extreme case, allowing him to act in a way otherwise not in accordance with his pacifist principles. He certainly did not believe that there was anything wrong with having a state that was not specifically Christian, in fact he believed that “the concept of the Christian state is … untenable, for the governmental character of the state is independent of the Christian character of persons in government.”[17] Furthermore, he saw government as being “established and ordained by God alone”.[18] For this reason, the idea of rebelling against a government was akin to rebelling against God, which is self-evidently not desirable. “Government is not itself world, but of God”[19] he wrote, showing just how strongly he felt on nonresistance toward the government. To rebel against a government is to rebel against God’s chosen agent here on earth, which to the believer ought not to be an option. For this reason he was very careful in his approach, so that no one would mistake his actions or motives but understand clearly that they stemmed from his religious convictions. His belief in the duty of the believer to uphold government was not being undermined by his decision to join the resistance, but instead he used his actions to show just how important he thought the situation was. By working counter to the government, he was making clear that he thought the case was exceptionally bad and that added weight to the situation that would not have been felt had he only spoken words of resistance.

Conclusion


Bonhoeffer’s political and social views are apparent not only in his writings, but also in what others have written about him. Far above a simple opposition to Nazism, Bonhoeffer struggled with the balance between obedience to authority and following his Christian convictions regarding social justice. In this sense, the two oppose each other – his political views of non-resistance and pacifism collide with his Christian beliefs. There are many facets to his convictions, some of the strongest being nonresistance and obedience to authority – countered with conscience and Christian belief.

In writing of this difficulty, Bonhoeffer gives his conclusion on how to settle the question of how to live: be “the man whose final standard is not his reason, his principles, his conscience, his freedom, or his virtue, but who is ready to sacrifice all this when he is called to obedience and responsible action in faith and in exclusive allegiance to God – the responsible man, who tries to make his whole life an answer to the question and call of God”[20] He is not making the claim that this path will be easy, but that it is the only way to live. That is the way even a man who was so conflicted about the way to live as both a pacifist and a Christian in a world of injustice was able to decide to partake in an assassination plot: he felt the call of God to do something, and acted upon it. The consequences were not an obstacle: he believed that “To endure the cross is not a tragedy; it is the suffering which is the fruit of an exclusive allegiance to Jesus Christ. When it comes, it is not an accident, but a necessity. It is not the sort of suffering which is inseparable from this mortal life, but the suffering which is an essential part of the specifically Christian life.”[21] Although he felt called to go against the government and as a result suffered in this world, he did not see this as something unusual but instead gladly suffered for Christ, knowing that what he was doing was the right thing.

If there was one motto through which these many parts of theology all come together, it would be found in The Cost of Discipleship, written to show believers exactly that the Christian life should not be expected to be easy or painless, but must be pursued with absolute devotion. “If the world refuses justice,” Bonhoeffer writes, “the Christian will pursue mercy”[22] What he saw in Germany in 1943 was the world refusing justice, and as a Christian, he saw no other option but to show that his ultimate allegiance was to God and pursue mercy in the best way he knew how.


Bibliography:


D. Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (New York: SCM Press Ltd, 1959).

D. Bonhoeffer, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Volume 16, Conspiracy and Imprisonment: 1940-1945, (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2006).

D. Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1953).

S. Hauerwas, Performing the Faith Bonhoeffer and the Practice of Nonviolence (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2004).

G.B. Kelley, Liberating Faith: Bonhoeffer’s Message for Today (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1984).

A.J. Klassen, A Bonhoeffer Legacy (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company 1981).

K. Scholder, The Churches and the Third Reich, Volume One: 1918-1934 (London: SCM Press Ltd, 1977).


[1] D. Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, p. 112.
[2] D. Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, p. 261.
[3] G.B. Kelley, Liberating Faith, p. 20.
[4] D. Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, p. 142.
[5] ibid., p. 144.
[6] ibid., pp. 144-145.
[7] D. Bonhoeffer, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Volume 16, Conspiracy and Imprisonment: 1940-1945, pp. 516-517.
[8] D. Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, p. 64.
[9] ibid., p. 262.
[10] S. Hauerwas, Performing the Faith, pp. 60-61.
[11] D. Bonhoeffer, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Volume 16, Conspiracy and Imprisonment: 1940-1945, p. 513.
[12] G.B. Kelley, p. 15.
[13] A.J. Klassen, A Bonhoeffer Legacy, p. 161.
[14] D. Bonhoeffer, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Volume 16, Conspiracy and Imprisonment: 1940-1945, p. 518.
[15] G.B. Kelley, p. 22.
[16] D. Bonhoeffer, No Rusty Swords, London and New York: 1970, 217-25: qtd. K. Scholder, The Churches and the Third Reich, Volume One: 1918-1934 pp. 276-277.
[17] D. Bonhoeffer, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Volume 16, Conspiracy and Imprisonment: 1940-1945, p. 510.
[18] ibid., p. 510.
[19] ibid..
[20] D. Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison, p. 5.
[21] D. Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, p. 88.
[22] ibid., p. 258.

25 March 2012

Some Basic German

This came from the link Erika put on my blog comment for my last post - but just in case you didn't look it up, I thought it was absolutely hilarious and so am re-posting it here for laughs. :D


Dog: Barkenpantensniffer


Dog Catcher: Barkenpantensniffersnatcher


Dog Catcher's Truck: Barkenpantensniffersnatcherwagen


Garage for Truck: Barkenpantensniffensnatcherwagenhaus


Truck Repairman: Barkenpantensniffensnatcherwagenmechanikerwerker


Mechanic's Union: Barkenpantensniffensnatcherwagenmechanikerwerkerfeatherbeddengefixengruppe


Doctor: Chestergethumpenpulsentooker


Nurse: Chestergethumpenpulsentookerhelper


Hypodermic Needle: Chestergethumpenpulsentookerhelperhurtensticken


Backside: Chestergethumpenpulsentookerhelperhurtenstickerstabbenplatz


Piano: Plinkenplankenplunkenbox


Pianist: Plinkenplankenplunkenboxgepounder


Piano Stool: Plinkenplankenplunkenboxgepounderspinnenseat


Piano Recital: Plinkenplankenplunkenboxgepounderoffengeshowenspelle


Fathers at the Recital: Plinkenplankenplunkenboxgepounderoffengeshowenspellensnoozengruppe


Mothers at the Recital: Plinkenplankenplunkenboxgepounderoffengeshowentellensnoozengruppenuppenwakers


Automobile: Honkenbrakenscreecher


Gasoline: Honkenbrakenscreecherzoomerjuicen


Driver: Honkenbrakenscreecherguidenschtunker


Auto Mechanic: Honkenbrakenscreecherknockengepingersputtergefixer


Repair Bill: Bankenrollergebustenuptottenliste

24 March 2012

Random Papering Info

Below are a few things I learned tonight while researching for my paper on Bonhoeffer:

- Indexes are the most awesome thing ever when writing a topical research paper

- You know you will probably get something out of the book when the index is over 50 pages long

- It is even better when the whole first page is an index of Greek words used in the text

- When half or more of your sources were originally written in German (last paper it was Russian; at least my life is not boring!)

- Scanning the index brings up: Garnisonsverwendungsfähig (fit for limited military duty)Roosevelt's New Year's address, Othello, pneumonia, Egyptian priests, skiing and swimming, Red Army, reverence, Sabellianism, Synod of Carthage, Tegel prison, Vistula River, and the YMCA

- I'm pretty sure German words are actually phrases with all the spaces taken out and the words smashed together. I can find no other explanation for why any word would be so long

- For general information, the longest non-technical word in the English language commonly in dictionaries is supposedly floccinaucinihilipilification. However, in English, such words are the exception, whereas in German it seems that you get them every page or so ...


21 March 2012

Spring at Houghton!

I think this post might actually be a life update! I wrote a paper last night, but I haven't decided if it's of general interest/if I should post it or not, so for now I'm going with what has gone on of late.

It has been absolutely gorgeous here. And at Houghton in the spring, that means going for walks, playing frisbee, sitting on the chapel steps and eating ice cream, (and if you're me) taking pictures of it. Here are a couple:


In case you couldn't tell, it's pretty much the same view (chapel and the quad), except one is at night (I hope you could tell that).



Overlooking one of the waterfalls

Do not ever overestimate the maturity of honors students in college :p


We were playing kung fu ... 
These were from Letchworth last year, but we're planning to go there this Saturday and I don't have pictures from anything lately. 

Other items of interest: 

- While in canoeing class today, I fell in the lake. [It was ... moderately warm ... I mean cool ...]

- I was re-elected Commissioner of Communications for Student Government. I made up a powerpoint slide as a part of my campaign, and it was a whole lot of fun. 
Yeah ... it's cheesy ... I know ... but I had fun making it, and it might make more sense if you know that our school mascot is highlander. =) And lest you think I have no gravity whatsoever, I did in fact add a rather long email beneath it, saying 'anyone unconvinced can read this' and gave my serious reasons for why I should be re-elected. Oh, so much fun :D

Oh, and this is our erstwhile student senate ... well, it was the goofy picture, they can be serious ... sometimes ... :)

On a different note:

This morning's chapel was very good. The speaker, Mr. Gordon MacDonald, spoke not on continuing education, which we hear about all the time, or higher education (the uppity way of saying college), but 'deeper education'. He said that he learned 4 things about this deeper education that helped him to become a better person:

- Be a good listener (don't just say 'how are you' and keep walking - really care about people and take time to listen)

- Be thankful (notice good in others and encourage them; it gives a much more positive outlook on life both for you and for the other person)

- Be reliable (don't be late to things, if you say you'll be somewhere, be there)

- Be a real friend (this kind of summarizes the others, but remember that the way you treat your friends and those around you defines the way you treat relationships in life, so if you know that you have to work on patience, kindness, etc, friends are great experience)

Hope y'all got something out of that ... it was definitely one of the better chapel talks I have heard! 

---

And now, I feel totally successful and accomplished and can't believe I really am just blogging and that this didn't take me an hour to write! Maybe I should do it more often :) Senate in half an hour ... it's a good life =)

18 March 2012

News story (of sorts)


I have no idea if this is true or not, but my roommate emailed it to me from her mom etc, and I thought it was quite funny!


Gun Collector

You may have heard on the news about a southern California man put under 72-hour psychiatric observation when it was found he owned 100 guns and allegedly had (by rough estimate) 100,000 rounds of ammunition stored in his home.

My favorite quote from the dimwit television reporter: "Wow! He has about a quarter million machine gun bullets." The headline referred to it as a "massive weapons cache!"

By southern California standards someone owning 100,000 rounds would be called "mentally unstable." Just imagine if he lived elsewhere:

In Arizona, he'd be called "an avid gun collector."

In Arkansas, he'd be called "a novice gun collector."

In Utah, he'd be called "moderately well prepared," but they'd probably reserve judgment until they made sure that he had a corresponding quantity of stored food.

In Colorado and Montana, he'd be called "The neighborhood 'Go-To' guy."

In Idaho, he'd be called "a likely gubernatorial candidate."

In Louisiana and Mississippi he would be called "a deer hunting buddy."

In Texas, he’d be called “destitute.”

In Alabama, he's just "Bubba" who's short on ammo.

And in Wyoming, he'd be called "an eligible bachelor."

12 March 2012

27 February 2012

Socialization

I did not write this: I saw it on facebook; Michael Farris wrote it. But it was very thought-provoking, so I decided to repost. Since you can share things on facebook and I'm 'citing' it, I hope there isn't any infringement.

"A new homeschooling mom asked me about facts about socialization and homeschooling. Here is my best short answer. OK, OK, it is a short answer for me--not short the way FB measures shortness.

Some time back I met a sociologist who worked for 30 years-plus for the Smithsonian Institute. He studied cultures where there were no formal schools. Socialization, in a formal sense, is how one generation teaches the rules of society to the next generation.

Once you understand this, the key concept of socialization is apparent. Children need to learn the rules of society from the older generations and not from other children. In fact, we are reaping the havoc in our society where 13 year-olds are learning the rules of society from other 13 year-olds. If you want to understand why today's 16 year olds are so much less mature than 16 year olds of my parents' and grandparents' generations it is pretty simple--my parents and grandparents were socialized by adults while today's 16 year olds have been largely socialized by other children.

This sociologist had been studying these cultures for so many years that he had been able to do before and after studies--cultures that had no formal educational programs when he was first starting, now had adopted compulsory school attendance. He said that his studies demonstrated a clear drop in social competence after the introduction of formal education. Moreover, socially undesirable behaviors including alcoholism and crime levels had gone up dramatically after the introduction of formal education.

This is the reason that Vickie and I started homeschooling--we didn't like the way our daughter, Christy, was being socialized by other six year olds at a Christian school. We just had the audacity to believe that we had better ideas than six year olds. Children get their values from the people they interact with the most. Spend time with kids, get your values from kids. Spend time with parents, get your value from parents.

When Christy was 14, she accompanied Vickie and I at a human rights conference in Paris. One day Vickie and I went for a walk just before lunch and we got back late to the luncheon. Christy was already there seated between a priest from Portugal and a barrister from London. She was engaged in an animated conversation with two adults from different cultures. When we got home, I saw her on the floor playing games with her younger siblings and then soon after, I saw her interacting perfectly normally with girls on her softball who were her age.

My favorite socialization story of all came from a softball team. I coached girls softball for over 20 years. I was a very good coach, winning lots of championships. Parents always seemed happy when their daughter ended up on my team.

One year I called a mom to tell her that her daughter was going to be on my team. She said, "Who are the other girls on the team?" I read her the names. She said, "Oh my, those are almost all 8th graders--my daughter is a 7th grader--I don't think she can get along with those older girls." I wanted to scream "What about socialization?!!!!"

A public school girl was unable to get along with girls from her own school who just 12 months older than her. Talk about narrow socialization.

God's ways work. Parents are the best to teach their children the rules of society. We have always had our children involved with other kids and with other adults. We do not live narrow lives. We do not raise our children in age-segregated herds. Our kids are now grown for the most part, and they are all quite capable people in every sphere of life--including socialization.

One sobering thought: You want to know why the younger generation supports same-sex marriage so much more often than older generations? They have been socialized by their peers, by public schools, and by Hollywood.

If you want your children to share your values then teach them yourself."

Thoughts, anyone? =)