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rambler the

Veritas Ensis Noster.

I Do, I Won’t,

I Will

February 19, 2013- Vol. 10, No. IV


In This Issue... Rambler: Pronunciation: \ram-blər\ Function: noun Date: c. 2002 1. A student organization determined to present truth and withhold nothing, discussing a variety of subjects such as administration, morality, literature, politics, and faith.

the rambler

An Independent Student Journal Christendom College Veritas Ensis Noster

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Matthew F. Naham BUSINESS MANAGEMENT Charles J. Rollino; Peter J. Spiering LAYOUT EDITOR Theresa R. Lamirande NEWS & POLITICS EDITOR Colleen A. Harmon SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY EDITOR Thomas A. Ferrara FAITH & REASON EDITOR Katie E. Brizek ARTS & CULTURE EDITOR Theresa R. Lamirande

News & Politics 5 IS YOUR DEGREE ENOUGH? by Christopher Roberts

Science & Technology 6 THE BIG BANG by Thomas Ferrara

Feature 10 I DO, I WON’T, I WILL by Katie Brizek

The Last Word 15 SILENCE IS GOLDEN by The Editorial Staff

8 TOP TEN SCIENTIFIC MYTHS by Thomas Ferrara

Faith & Reason

FRONT COVER I Do, I Won’t, I Will

9 GIVING WORK A NEW MEANING by Peter Deucher

Arts & Culture 12 PRACTICAL PURSUITS by John Connolly

FACULTY ADVISOR Dr. Patrick Keats COPY EDITOR Katie R. Wunderlich CONTRIBUTORS Gloria Connolly John Connolly Peter Deucher Christopher Roberts

13 UPCOMING ROME SEMESTER by Gloria Connolly

Reflection 14 WRITING FOR THE RAMBLER by Matthew Naham

The opinions expressed by contributing writers in The Rambler are not necessarily the views of the Editors or The Rambler as a whole.

Our Mission Statement

The Rambler and its staff are dedicated to training the next generation of Catholic journalists and intellectuals. We prize the liberal arts education received from Christendom College and write about the news, arts, culture, faith, and reason from this gained perspective. We believe we will play an essential part in a renaissance of new leaders, journalists, and communicators for the 21st century. 2 | two

Cover photo by Theresa Lamirande

To Contact The Rambler:

134 Christendom Drive Front Royal, VA 22630 E-mail: rambler.editor@gmail.com Web: www.therambleronline.org Follow The Rambler on Facebook!

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An eight issue subscription to The Rambler may be obtained through a donation of $25 or more. All contributions go to support The Rambler.


Editor’s Corner

Dear Readers, Greetings and salutations from The Rambler team! We are proud to present to you this edition, which we have dedicated in large part to providing you food for thought on extra- curricular activities on campus. The fact is, these activities, and the potential benefits you may reap from them, are right before your eyes. I hope that you will find this informative and interesting rather than a quasi-parental lecture, for the latter is certainly not our intent. See us as sincere colleagues, not petty judges, and as friends, not foes. We’re all in this together. In other news, as a matter of Rambler housekeeping, I wish to announce that Katie Brizek will be taking over the Editor-in-Chief reins upon my graduation. And so, I congratulate her here, wishing her the best of luck in that endeavor. I’m sure she will represent The Rambler proudly and enthusiastically, ever striving for its improvement. On a final note, always feel free to freelance! If you have a piece that you have written that you want the whole world to see, please—I repeat—please, submit it to my email address rambler.editor@gmail.com. We would be happy to give it a read.

In Jesu et Maria,

Matthew F. Naham Editor-in-Chief

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News Briefs

On January 25th the school once more cancelled classes and bused the whole student body, as well as some faculty and staff, to Washington D.C. to attend the 40th annual March for Life. Over 400 people from the college participated. We were thrilled to join the ever-growing crowd of young people in the pro-life movement in this very special event.

Catholics everywhere were heartbroken when His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation, effective the end of February. He is the first pope to resign since Pope Gregory XII in 1415. Benedict’s humility and self-sacrifice is evident, as he explained he was voluntarily stepping down so that a younger, stronger man could guide the Church. Viva il papa!

In Hopewell, Virginia the children’s book The Well: David’s Story has been banned from the public schools for racism. By award-winning author Mildred D. Taylor, the book was originally chosen to be a part of Black History Month for Carter G. Woodson Middle School. After complaints were registered, the school board reviewed the book and it has been pulled from the curriculum. However, some parents are pushing for the school officials, who had the book put on the reading list, to be removed from their positions.

On February 12th Obama delivered his first State of the Union Address for his second term. It focused on the economy and cited a plan for a tax reform that would balance the budget by making sure the wealthy and well-connected aren’t finding loopholes to evade taxes and pay lower rates than their middle class counterparts. He also asked Congress to pass the remainder of the bills in his American Jobs Act. Whether or not they’ll comply remains to be seen.

Under the leadership of Kim Jung Un, North Korea just concluded their third underground nuclear test. It is anticipated that the UN Security Council will discuss harsher sanctions, but the big quetions is, what will China do? The world awaits their next move.

The Chester-Belloc Debate Society is stronger than ever with the newly elected Troika: Brendan Vieira as Chairman, Matthew Camp as Secretary, and Max Hess as Prefect of Secret Rites. On Sunday, the Society debated the resolution: “Christians and Jews worship the same God.”

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News & Politics

Is Your Degree

Enough for an Employer?

D

by

Christopher Roberts, ‘13

o you want a job when you graduate? Unless you plan on entering the seminary or religious life, the answer is obviously “yes.” Yet despite the fact that everyone universally assents to this fact, far too often– in my opinion– do students fall short of adequately preparing themselves to enter the workforce after Christendom. Many fail to realize the need to prepare for the workforce until it is too late: the unemployment guillotine hits home with nannying jobs, commercial business, and a career that seems to be going nowhere fast. This is, I think, in some part due to a rare illusion that a college degree alone is enough to gain employment. When all is said and done, however, a B.A. degree is little more than a necessity. College is the new high school, at least in the sense that it is the generally-accepted bare minimum of education expected for the average adult. Hence, in and of itself, your degree is only a qualification, not a recommendation. To put it plainly, merely having a Bachelor’s degree from Christendom says maybe you can do the job, but it says nothing about whether you should do the job. This should be a wake-up call to many. In today’s fast-paced work environment, the premium is set at experience. You need a job to get a job, and nothing says that you can do a job more than a past record of success. For students, that means you need a job in college to get a job outside of college. It’s simple. “Experience” is typically defined as a prior job or internship. In a forthcoming article I will focus more on what jobs and internships are available to students at Christendom and what the benefits are of each. After experience, employers will care most about your grades, extracurricular activities, and volunteer work. First and foremost, employers want to see a record of leadership—that you took the initiative and got things done. This could take the form of leading a student group, participating in SAC, or being a sports captain. In addition to leadership, employers look for a record of service. Most employers like to hire decent human beings, and so having volunteer

experience helps convince them you are a possibly generous person and also builds on your leadership (if you had a leadership role in volunteer work). When you graduate, you want to have more than a transcript. Even stellar grades, while they may help, will not most of the time grant you entry to a career. Again, the most important thing is experience. Even at a small college like Christendom, there are a myriad of opportunities that will prepare you for a job after college. At first blush, it may seem like there are not that many positions at Christendom. In reality, however, although there are numerically fewer opportunities, the opportunities that do exist are far more accessible to the average student. Overall, there is less competition and more opportunity to advance to an important position—one that will afford you valuable experience and fatten your resume. In what does this consist? The best kind of job is the one that challenges you and makes you think, molding you into an all-around good worker with marketable skills that every organization needs. A clear indicator that a job is probably not career-building is that it does not require much sweat or investment, or that it is easy. One of the biggest obstacles Christendom students face in overcoming this challenge is lack of motivation. College is the ideal time to transition to adulthood, but it is also the easiest way to waste one’s youth. Despite the fact that youth is filled with idealism, it is also frequently full of laziness and tepidity. Moreover, there is a prevalent trend in our society that college is the time to “have fun” and enjoy freedom from the restraints of being an adult. Rather than being a period where the person matures in knowledge and wisdom, it is a time to prolong adolescence by immature behavior. All of this goes against the difficulties of holding a worthwhile job. In the end, it is up to you to decide whether your degree alone is enough. And aside from the spiritual and moral, there is a very material reason to make mature choices in college: it may get you a job.

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Science & Technology

The Big Bang by

Thomas Ferrara, ‘13

O

nly the universe itself predates the debate on the universe’s duration. Thinkers and writers have always been answering the question of the world’s duration, with everything from mythical creation stories to novel iterations of string theory. The interaction between science and philosophy on this topic is a virtuous cycle, with each supporting and strengthening the other. Certain empirical truths are available only to science, and certain deductive truths are available only to philosophy. Philosophy has not yet yielded a certain or at least more overtly probable answer to the question of the world’s duration. Science and empirical observation, especially the Big Bang theory, can provide us with a credible argument for the universe’s beginning in time and provide support for a Catholic creation account. Science by definition cannot produce hypotheses or theories on existence before empirical reality. What it can produce is the basis of argument for a finitely old universe. This limitation of science to empirical reality is precisely the dynamic that enables it to produce this basis. Simply finding the un-preceded edge, empirical history is finding the creation of the world in time, without the problem of trying to decipher what came before that creation. Science need not peer over the edge in order to determine that the edge actually exists. The Big Bang is called the standard model of cosmology, widely accepted by astronomers and physicists everywhere. While it is called the “Big Bang theory,” a scientific theory is not an educated guess. Guesses or conjectures are hypotheses, while theories reflect careful observation and experimentation. The standard theory holds that about 13 to 15 billion years ago, all matter was intensely compact until it exploded, expanding immensely in a fraction of a second. This was not like a bomb going off, for what was expanding was not the paths of cosmic shrapnel, but space itself. Matter did not go flying in all directions; space-time itself expanded. It was like drops of paint on an inflating balloon: the paint drops are not traveling away from each other, but the space between each drop still increases. Reality hurled itself in all directions, growing larger and larger, carrying with it all matter. The distinction between expanding space-time and expanding distance from matter to matter is important, for if the Big Bang really was just an explosion, it would not explain the origin of the environment in which it was exploding. The standard Big Bang model, taken on its own terms, lends firm support to a created universe. In the standard model, there is a finite amount of time from the present to the Big Bang, and before the Bang there was nothing. This means the universe has a finite age, lending support to the idea of divine creation instead of an uncreated reality. Given that the Big Bang is widely accepted as a scientific, historical fact, the only recourse for someone seeking an uncreated universe is

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a hypothesis about events prior to the Bang. There are two general schools of thought about what might have happened before the Big Bang: a cyclical “bouncing” universe, or some interaction with parallel universes. A bouncing universe theory involves the corollary of a Big Bang: a Big Crunch. Theoretically, after the initial violent expansion of the universe, gravity will slow the rate of expansion by drawing all matter back together, until the universe stops expanding and begins contracting faster and faster. The universe will implode into a single, entropy-free mass, and the process that began the Big Bang will restart. The process is similar to bouncing on a trampoline: after leaping upward, you ascend slower and slower as gravity acts constantly on you, until it overcomes your upward momentum and you plummet downward, until you meet the trampoline again and bounce upward again. If the universe bounces like this, then it could have been repeating this cycle forever, with the entire universe reborn anew each time. Thus, the Big Bang, though a real event, could have been merely the latest iteration in a series of bangs and crunches in an uncreated universe that has been cycling forever.

This cyclical theory has a critical problem at the very start. The universe’s expansion was indeed slowing down for billions of years, but then the rate of expansion began to increase over the last few billion years. Imagine if, at the top of your bounce from the trampoline, you suddenly began to accelerate upwards instead of falling back down. This counter-intuitive expansion is probably the effect of “dark energy,” which generates a field in which gravity functions differently than normal. This contradicts the fundamental premise of the crunch theory: what goes up must come down. Even assuming that this growth will slow, stop, and reverse, there are other problems with a cyclical theory. The second important problem is the increase in cosmic background radiation (CBR) that would be inevitable in a bouncing universe. Over time, starlight gradually fades into CBR as the electromagnetic energy of ordinary light diffuses into achromatic radiation. Each bounce would create new stars and starlight that would fade into CBR, so each bounce would add to the net total of CBR. But radiation increases the rate of any expansion, which would include the expansion in a Big Bang. Each bang-crunch cycle would be fueled by more radiation than the last, since the amount of CBR would increase, and would last longer before contracting, since the rate of expansion would be greater than each previous cycle. An infinite chain of crunches would mean that the cycles would be infinitely long, and paradoxically that each infinite cycle would be longer than the last. The idea that some interaction between another universe and ours caused the Big Bang is fraught with theoretical problems.


Science & Technology It violates the principle of parsimony by positing a plenitude of unobservable universes. By theoretical definition these universes are empirically unobservable, for if they were not they would be part of our own universe. The very idea of multiple universes is not scientifically verifiable, and rests on faith, not knowledge. The idea of sympathetic universes relies on the existence of an actual infinity of universes creating their successors, unless we imagined that, for an unknown reason, a parallel universe had a different origin event than our own or didn’t have one at all.

In any event, the idea of an infinite material causal chain of any kind would violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The universe is constantly increasing in entropy; that is, more and more of the universe’s energy is gradually converting into forms that cannot enable any mechanical process, such as deterioration of starlight, which can support life, into background radiation, which cannot. An infinitely old universe would have to have no entropy in order to support life and star systems: a perfect perpetual motion machine. Such a design contradicts all observable matter, and requires a special explanation that

An actual infinity of real objects would be rife with paradoxes. An infinite succession of universes would require that each universe create another, but also that the created universe does not increase the multitude of universes. William Craig writes that a potential infinity can easily exist in mathematics, where new numbers are created to accommodate more members of a set; however, in a real infinite series, the series uses all natural numbers and there would no more possible numbers to assign to a new member. Picture an infinitely long chain, with “1” engraved on the first link, “2” on the second, and so on. If we want to attach another link, we cannot give it a new number not already assigned to another link.

is not yet forthcoming. Given that the pre-Big Bang theories of the bouncing universe and parallel universes are scientifically inconsistent and logically untenable, the standard model of the Big Bang remains unscathed. Likewise, the idea that the universe has had a finite existence remains as credible Catholic dogma and most scientifically probable. Science can only proceed inductively, but considering the findings of modern physicists, combined with the philosophical reasoning given above, it seems most likely from natural reason and scientific evidence that the universe has indeed had a finite term of existence proceeding from a divine creative act. 7 | seven


Feature

I Do, I Won’t, by

I Will

Katie Brizek, ‘15

O

n January 6th, 2013 the New York Times printed an article called ‘Unmarried Spouses Have a Way With Words.’ The story appeared on the front page of the Sunday Styles section, and declared that since America has won the battle of legalizing samesex marriage, the next challenge is pinning down terminology for people who are married but actually aren’t. If that’s confusing, don’t worry; the rest of us are right there with you. There’s a modern phenomenon where two people are in an exclusive relationship, live, act and care for one another as if they were married, and even have children together, but legally are bound by neither church nor state. Attempts to tally the percentages are clumsy at best because of the difficulty of even putting words to such an arrangement. The current estimate is that about 7 million American adults are living permanently with their ‘significant other.’ The numbers could be greater, even if the couples themselves don’t declare their situation as settled, since forty four percent of adults in the United States are unmarried. The article points to the rising median age of those marrying, as well as the number of children who are born to unmarried parents, as proof that this trend is increasing and will continue to do so. But the real surprise is that the journalist treats this like a shocking, newage development. After all, couples in today’s world see moving in with their boyfriend or girlfriend as a significant, real and concrete milestone in any relationship. It would seem more shocking that a greater number of people haven’t figured out that they can stay that way forever and never bother with all the fuss of a wedding. These situations really don’t seem that different. But let’s back up a little. The average age of the American bride and groom has been steadily increasing for decades. In 1960 they were 20 and 23, respectively. In 2013 they have risen to 26 and 29. It isn’t so much that 26 or 29 is terribly old as that it’s numerical evidence of the feverish desire adults now have for an extended adolescence. It’s crucial to be clear on this point. It seems obvious that kids of 18 or 19 nowadays are not at all what people of the same age were 100 or even 50 years ago. For whatever reason, whether it be that life is easier, they have less responsibility or they’re incredibly spoiled, this is the truth. There are very few 20 year olds in 2013 who would say they are willing, or ready, to get married, whereas in 1960 nearly half of the people getting married were 20 or younger. There’s nothing wrong with getting married when you’re 25. The problem is that it can be for the

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wrong reasons. A good reason would be because you haven’t met the right person, you aren’t in a position to get married because of finances or other responsibilities, etc. Young people nowadays seem to put off marriage not because they want to do something productive with extra time for growth and preparation, but because they want to continue the party lifestyle that has become the norm for the college years. It’s commonplace to hook up with random strangers at parties, go out every weekend to get drunk and make a succession of bad choices which end with a hangover and brushing away regrets with that horrific new phrase: YOLO.

Somehow the fact that you do only live once should be a carte blanche for making as many mistakes as possible before you die, rather than trying to actually make something of yourself and lead a good life.

The trend of unmarried spouses is a part of this. Couples who were interviewed said they chose the lifestyle because it’s a remnant from their rebellious stage that makes them feel good. It’s a psychological thing; they like the idea that they aren’t married. A psychology professor from the University of California claims that it’s because happiness decreases as one adapts to his situation. As true as that may or may not be, it seems awfully close to the adolescent mindset. If it isn’t exciting, passionate and new then it doesn’t constitute happiness. This would imply that people in stable, living environments with traditional family structures are markedly less happy then those who live in constantly fluctuating situations. This is historically untrue. Yet, despite the evidence that people from good families with regular, average lives tend to be contented and peaceful, more and more young people seek uncertain ways of attaining this same result. It’s obvious when you look at the dating scene today. A few decades ago it was fine to have a ‘boring’ love life, where you did normal, boring, pleasant things like go to the movies and out for dinner. But the culture of chick flicks and Taylor Swift songs has drastically altered this, so now a relationship devoid of grand, romantic gestures and passionate love-making after the first date has no ‘chemistry.’ The shallow passion of infatuation, felt during the first few years of a relationship, is taken for true love. If a relationship is built entirely upon such a feeling, when it inevitably fades both people are left feeling empty, cheated and frustrated


Feature that true love doesn’t exist anymore. They’re encouraged to leave the person, who has become suddenly odious to them for an unknown reason, and seek love. Having a mid-life crisis during which you divorce your spouse, run off with a showgirl and blow your lifesavings on a Ferrari is considered a completely normal outlet, whereas doing such a thing 50 years ago would have been shocking and perceived as grossly immature and irresponsible. What people don’t seem to realize is that they are searching for traditional stability down paradoxical avenues. People who advocate moving in together, and even this new trend of permanent cohabitation, are clearly seeking stability in all the wrong places.

Their desire is a contradiction in itself: they wish for a constant, dependable partner and lifestyle yet refuse to make the commitment which would solidify them.

They’re scared the warm and fuzzy feeling will go away, like it has so many times before. To end the extended adolescence it’s imperative that they wake up and smell the coffee. Love is a choice, not a feeling. It’s only once the choice is made that the security everyone seeks is possible.

But the astonishing part of the article is the casual air with which the author suggests that it’s high time we had a term for unmarried spouses. After all, words are one of the key marks of distinction between us and animals. Perhaps without even realizing it, the author touched upon the battle where conservatives are losing ground quickly: the battle of language. Things that are horrifying, obscene and unnatural strike us speechless. The extreme of repulsion and fear is being utterly dumbfounded. So the best way to neatly slide these things into the subconscious of the masses is to have perfectly normal terms to express them. It’s not adultery; it’s an affair. It’s not sodomy; it’s same-sex attraction. It’s not murder; it’s abortion. Once we can put words to it, it’s not as scary or unnatural because we can talk about it in a civilized conversation. And that’s the truly terrifying part. The human mind can be so easily manipulated by rhetoric. Eloquence can sway opinion and strike at the foundation of belief. Yet, even after recognizing this, there isn’t an obvious counterattack. It’s impossible to remove the words from common usage once they’ve been installed. The only protection is diligence and awareness, and to attempt to reform the culture. If we can slow the downward spiral then perhaps there is still a fighting chance.

Photos by Theresa Lamirande

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Science & Technology

TOP TEN SCIENTIFIC MYTHS by

Thomas Ferrara, ‘13

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3

Goldfish have three second memory spans. The slack jaw and wide-eyed expression on your goldfish might not be just a fishy face, but lingering PTSD. Goldfish actually have memory spans closer to three months, not seconds. They can be trained to do tricks and correctly navigate mazes, impossible feats for perpetual amnesiacs. So be careful what you do in front of your floaty little friend, he sees more than you think. Your hair and nails grow for a few days after death. Luckily, you won't need to schedule a post-mortem pedicure. The biological processes that create new hair and nails stop at death. The emergence of this myth is probably due to the drying and thinning of the skin after death, which causes the skin to draw back from your roots and fingernails, making them appear longer.

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The Great Wall of China is the only man-made structure visible from the Moon. We don't know who started this myth (we absolutely know), but any claims of the building reaching the sky are babble. The Great Wall is enormous at over 13,000 miles long, but it simply isn't wide or tall enough to be seen from the Moon. Astronauts repeatedly confirm that no man-made structure is apparent on the Earth's surface.

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Albert Einstein flunked math as a child. Whether people repeat this out of jealousy or encouragment is all relative; it's not true. Einstein conquered calculus before he was old enough to drive, and found this myth amusing. We'll simply have to start imitating Einstein in other, more productive ways.

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Blood is blue until it contacts oxygen. Hopeful egalatarianism aside, we're not all blue-bloods. Blood is always pretty much blood-colored, getting a little lighter in arteries and a little darker in veins. The color is not due to oxygen, but the presence of hemoglobin. Animals that don't have hemoglobin actually have blue blood, like horseshoe crabs. The apparent blue color of blood vessels under your skin is due to the way light is distorted when passing through your skin.

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Your fingers get pruny in water because they soak up water. There are a few wrinkles in this myth. Interestingly enough, your fingers will not get pruny if you have nerve damage in that area, meaning the "pruning" is neurologically commanded. It is an involuntary reflex to increase grip traction in wet environments. It sounds bizarre, but it is actually easier to hold onto things with wrinkled fingertips than simply wet ones.

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You will hurt yourself if you don't stretch before working out. This myth can have some really weighty consequences. When you stretch your muscles, say, by touching your toes, your body feels the pulling on your muscles and reacts. It does this by tightening the stretched muscle to compensate for the strain, constricting, not loosening it. This extra tightness can restrict your range of movement, and make you more likely to hurt yourself in a workout. Instead, stretch after you work out, or warm up before a workout with aerobics. Alcohol kills brain cells. It sounds like a good reason to discourage drinking, until you do a little research to understand what all the buzz is about. Alcohol actually has no direct interaction with your brain cells' health. Even an ill-advised binge won't kill off your neurons. The only situation alcohol itself can burn out your brain is in heavy, chronic alcoholics who go into withdrawal when they haven't had a drink.

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You lose most of your body heat from your head. This myth is nothing but a lot of hot air. Without any clothing, your head doesn't radiate any more heat than the rest of your body. Your arms and legs act like radiator fins, however, and you should worry about keeping them warm first. It's true that when you're bundled up with no hat that your head is your greatest source of heat loss, but you don't need to wear a Stetson in spring for fear of hypothermia.

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You only use ten percent of your brain. This is the grand-daddy of all pseudo-scientific myths, but this percentage is only a fraction of the truth. Think about what part of your brain you don't use. If you actually have an answer you might be the kind of person who'd believe this whopper. While not all of our brain is used for voluntary activities, like walking or talking, all of it has a role to play, and even if we aren't actively firing 100% of our neurons at any given time, we aren't running around at one-tenth mental capacity. (Except for freshmen.)


Faith & Reason

Giving Work A New Meaning by

Peter Deucher, ‘15

Photo by Theresa Lamirande

A

s the Spring semester commences, it seems only fitting to give some thought to the topic of work. Although the Christendom experience is by and large a joyous and enjoyable one, there are times when leading the life of a student grows wearisome. In general, the reason why studying, socializing, and even praying can be burdensome is because they all entail some amount of work, which always takes time and effort. Because basic needs must be satisfied, work is a part of life, and undergraduate life is no exception. Nevertheless, rather than being merely a hard fact that can only be overcome by an even harder resolution, work is an opportunity man has to deepen his relationship with others through giving, an act in which man finds true peace. This conception of work, more than all the willpower in the world, can help one get through those miserable moments of tedium that plague even the best of students. To see work as an opportunity, not an oppression, it is essential to understand not only how it enables man to give, but also how giving brings happiness.

Work done well provides man with something to give.

Common sense tells us that the harder and more efficiently we work, the more time and resources we have at our personal disposal. This principle applies to all forms of labor, including those found in the classroom. Much like the farmer who reaps a cash crop after diligently tending his fields, the student who pays attention and takes time to take notes is the one who has a study guide when the final exam rolls around. Of course, whether that study guide is kept private or dispersed far and wide across campus is still up to the student who wrote it. But thanks to his previous effort, that student now has something he may choose to give to others. Similarly, if that student not only works, but works efficiently and well he will have, in addition to his 4.0, extra time for other activities. Again, what that student does with his extra time is still his decision. The point is that he never would really have the choice to play a game of pool, talk to a friend, or go for a hike if he had been a slacker. In short, a rigorous and efficient work ethic brings more than success because by producing things of value and saving precious time, it places giving among the options open to man. As an aside, it must be noted that giving raises work to a higher level of dignity. If a person chooses to selflessly give away the extra time and money he has earned, his hard work has been elevated. Although work enables man to give, giving returns work the favor by ennobling it with a worthy goal. Furthermore, if a person chooses to give a portion of his possessions to God, his labor has indeed been sanctified. In this way, the daily grind of jobs and responsibilities can become a sacred ground that has been restored in Christ. Man finds deep peace and happiness when he gives. This fulfillment found in selfless generosity is something nearly inexpressible.

But while the joy it brings is truly known only to those brave enough to abandon themselves, everyone can see that giving brings happiness because it leads to understanding, which man is constantly seeking. Think, for example, of a typical scenario found when someone is struggling to find an appropriate Christmas gift to give his sister. Such a person has to consider who his sister is in order to find her a fitting gift. In this case, the person’s desire to give leads him to a deeper understanding of others. But even if the giver does not care enough to put much thought into his gift, the mere reality of parting forces him to realize the value of what it is that he is giving. Like electricity or plumbing, people don’t know the worth of what they have until they go without it. Unlike the previous, this second understanding comes only after the act of giving itself, for in this case it is the gift, not the recipient, that becomes better understood. Since a man’s possessions are in a way an extension of himself, insofar as he has put time and effort into earning them, every charitable donation and every minute dedicated to serving others teaches man something about himself. This is one reason why students at Christendom are so persistently encouraged to go on one of the annual mission trips or to get involved in the college’s Outreach program. Through these and other forms of charity, the hope is that participants will not only bring comfort and relief to others, but also grow and mature by coming to a more complete self-knowledge. The knowledge that comes through the very act of giving takes on a whole new level of importance when it is the giver himself that is the gift. The total self-giving of marriage, whether it be to a human or to a divine being, results in a profound self-knowing for the exact same reason why parting with anything helps a person understand it. It seems contradictory, but the married person, the priest, and the consecrated religious have all parted with themselves. And just as a car’s air conditioning system is never praised until it breaks, no man ever knows his worth until he loses himself. Thus we can say right along with the Second Vatican Council that “man finds himself only by making himself a sincere gift to others.” In summary, hard work brings man one step closer to happiness because it provides him with something to give. And, to add one word to a well-known prayer by St. Francis, it is in giving that we receive ourselves. With this conception of work in mind, it should become a little easier to deal with the doldrums of this spring semester, when the end of the week or the beginning of break masquerade as man’s greatest good. Indeed, hard work is hardly noticeable if you have a goal fixed in mind. So even if life is a labor, it can be a fulfilling one if its goal is giving. Every student would do well to remember that no matter what he gives, whether it be his attention to the teacher, his ear to a friend, or his presence to Christ in the Eucharist, giving is a God-like thing to do. 11 | eleven


Arts & Culture

Practical Pursuits

Or: How the Chester-Belloc Debate Society Helped Me to Stop Worrying and Change the World by

John Connolly, ‘08

I

’m standing in the very center of a dim room packed with people. All eyes are on me. I am about to speak to a point raised earlier in the evening, a fallacious one, and doubtless a minor one. But the room is enthralled, waiting for me to step into the overpowering silence. It's time to speak, and my pulse is racing. So much depends upon me. What if I make a mistake? What if it's all a mistake? I wish I were at home, preferably in the "under my bed" vicinity thereof. My most common public-speaking thought seizes me: What kind of moron willingly signs up for this sort of thing? Whenever I have spoken in public, I have been terrified deep down. It's partly because I could never bring myself to memorize what I would say beforehand. Another part is the common fear that I think most people have about going out on a limb about important issues before a crowd. It's a lot of pressure. But that pressure needs to be overcome. There are many reasons why I could argue that overcoming a loathing of public speaking is worthwhile. I will here only stress the most important. The most important reason to get beyond the fear (even if it never goes away completely) is that we're called to it. If you truly believe in the mission of Christendom College, you will be called to change the world. Changing the world doesn't happen through writing philosophical treatises or producing reams of historical essays. Change occurs in society, a man-made construct comprised of individuals who think ideas. Engaging, challenging and learning from those ideas is the main functional application of everything we learn within the confines of our alma mater. There has been tension at Christendom College in the past about the metaphysical and ontological properties of the college's educational structure. There has always been discomfort with getting too chummy with perceived worldliness that can sometimes spill over into conflict with the college's motto. It was during a particularly contentious bout of such conflict that a group of about 15 students (myself included) founded the Chester-Belloc Debate Society (CBDS). CBDS, now in its sixth year, is more than a forum where people get dressed up and talk about a subject for a few hours. At its heart, it is a tool to overcome the difficulty of public speaking. The focus is on extemporaneous speaking, which is a critical component for being able to give Christian witness. I'm not talking about oneon-one with a Protestant looking to know more about our faith, I'm 12 | twelve

talking about speaking truth to power in the open, with nothing to hide behind. In that context, the most courageous thing any Christendom graduate has ever done or will ever do is open their mouth and speak the truth as best as they know how. My anxiety when I speak publicly has been tempered over the years through my involvement with the CBDS. I can testify that public speaking outside of the realm of Christendom College is much more difficult than anything I ever did when I was a student. I am now active in my local politics, a contentious and sometimes hostile environment. The ability to cut through the fog of fear is not so easy in that atmosphere as it is at CBDS, where I know that I'm among friends. In the political morass of rules, regulations, committees, petty egos, and flaring tempers, I have been pleasantly surprised with how well my CBDS experience has served me. Even if I feel like going to pieces inside, I have only had rave reviews from people who consider me calm and clear in presenting my points. Being a leader is difficult. Public speaking in an exercise in leadership abilities. We must exercise those abilities if we ever want to fulfill our mission to lead others out of darkness and into the light. I urge every student to at least consider attending a CBDS debate this semester and speaking extemporaneously -- no notes, no rote memorization. By all means, submit to the playfulness of the evening, have some f i n e refreshments, and enjoy the show -- but speak. You won't be good at first, and it takes lots of practice to get comfortable enough that anxiety is reduced. If you're afraid of speaking before a few dozen of your classmates, how do you ever hope to enact change in the world beyond college? Christendom College has produced graduates who have worked in all walks of life and in all environments. We must be able to stand up and defend what is right, even when it's unpopular or difficult to do so. And in my experience, the CBDS is an excellent place to begin honing ourselves for the true tests that face our selves, our nation and our Church over the next generation. John Connolly is a graduate of Christendom College ('08) and of the University of Alabama's graduate program in Library and Information Studies. He is a former Rambler Assistant Editor, a founding member of the Chester-Belloc Debate Society and serves on the CBDS Executive Committee. He lives in Front Royal with his wife, Sheila (also a Christendom graduate of '08) and his two sons, neither of whom have graduated yet from anything, including diapers.


Arts & Culture

Your Upcoming Rome Semester t c e p x E What to

by

Gloria Connolly, ‘14

T

houghts on Europe. Well, I got there, and the dress of the fashionable Italians was, well, after a fashion. Oh, the sight of matrons in miniskirts and sires in skinny jeans. And let us not forget the youth: the swains of Rome fix their hair in a style that I like to call the Lazy Mohawk.* This style require a grown-out crew cut; rather than comb it to the side like a right proper snazzy-man, the son of Caesar(s) instead gels the topmost inch-wide** swath of hair such that it turns him to a Chanticleer. Hence, he has a quasi-Mohawk, a Mohawk that requires not the razor blade to kiss the scalp in any wise. In a way, the hairstyle embodies the Italian mindset. A true Mohawk is both too much work and too much commitment. This lock arrangement [or “lock-look”] is found even in the Vatican ushers, those nimble folks who nigh hop up and down the pews, o’er purse o’er borse, and fannypacks, too. Ah, the Vatican. The best place in Rome to make one’s parish, particularly if you are a young woman not wholly hideous. Be but polite, and you will be welcomed to Mass with open arms— quite literally. Those dark smiles seek out the pious girl and there rest. After all, where is a better place to find a wife than at church? They also take great pleasure in the maiden’s mite, a young man’s spin on the Gospel story. It makes their tripping o’er kneelers worth it to see eleven Euro cents given to the Church by pretty broke damsels, even if they are americane. Not only will the young men love you in Italy, however, but the old men, too. The bent and married man sees no reason why he should not gaze upon the young maiden. After all, if his son and his grandson do it, why can’t he? As Americans, we feel the need to take our coffee with us everywhere, walking it the way a devoted human walks his dog and abandons it not. We cannot drink our coffee and leave the cafe promptly. Heavens, no! The coffee is a friend to be lingered o’er, till the heat has abated and the chemicals broken down. Or maybe we just slip into child mode: the blankie is our bosom companion. I cannot leave my blankie. Blankie must come with me, even to the ends of the earth. Coffee fills the hole in our heart that has been left when we have put away the blankie some time in grammar school. After some hours, we then finish the cold coffee anyway, showing our unconditional devotion to the elixir/nectar. We use the paper, which actually makes it taste less goodly, since we bring the coffee down to our level rather than rising up to meet it. The Italian worships his coffee, but more like a high god rather than a penate of the ancient Roman hearth. The coffee is to be

Photo by Theresa Lamirande

drunk in a ritualistic manner: only from ceramic vessels, in certain ways at certain times. Never, ever beg for the boon of a cappuccino after 10 am. ‘Twere a sacrilege, a very slap in the face of the god of the bean. Whilst on the subject of comestibles and victuals, there is the matter of restaurants. He who wishes for the romantic Italian restaurant witch has candlelit-tables outdoors must first pass through a veritable gauntlet of idle waiters plying their trade. “Come! Eat this food! You want to eat at this restaurant! Yes, you do!” It is thus in Paris as well as in Rome. These kind men just want to feed the whole world. It is monstrously charitable of them. Let us not forget the lines in the sunny Italic peninsula! Those fine expressions of unbridled geometry, such avaunt-garde creations! The idea of a straight line simply won’t do. ‘Tis far too rigid, far too restrictive. Thus, we have the living mob instead, harkening back to the days before the Social Contract, when every man did what was best for himself. Traffic lanes are much the same: if three Vespas can fit in a single lane, they will fit in a single lane. Pranzo, the Italian siesta. Many a food person here in the States will tell you that ‘tis best for one to have the biggest meal at midday,; after all, it’s what the warm-weather cultures do, and ‘tis healthiest for the body, they argue. These people overlook one important detail—the cultures who eat enormous meals at noon are the people who must nap for a few hours in order to digest this food. They go not right back to work after supping, but take up to a sixth of the day recovering from their hearty meal. Those who watch movies about Italian mafia and Italian food will see a theme of family. The family is important. And the mamma. Everything is for the mamma. You, too, will get a human-family-like experience if you choose to take public transportation in the cities. Personal space? Quid est? Why ever would you need it? You need only as much room as your body has volume, and even that might be begrudged you.

By the way, there’s a reason why there are so many profumerie on Via Candia. Showering takes too long. Use perfume, that’ll do the trick.

The Italians have long been known for their art. So many paintings and sculptures! Everyone is an artist in Italy, from da Vinci to the humble highschooler who works hard to beautify the city with his words, bedecking stairs, walls, and subway cars alike. * Do I owe this term to Andrew Golden?

** more like 1-2” depending on the guy

13 | thirteen


Reflection

WRITING FOR: The Rambler by

N

Matthew Naham, ‘13

ow in the twilight of my senior year, I have begun to ponder more and more about what I might have done differently in my time at Christendom. What I’ve realized is that, much to my dismay, during my freshman and sophomore years I wasted an inordinate amount of time. Understandably, having been a wide-eyed freshman myself, the transition into college life is at once exciting and overwhelming. I understand that one’s first instinct is to find a group of friends, have fun, and adjust to the demands of six college level courses. Athletics may also factor in as a commitment to reckon with. All of this is exhausting

Being

Unemployment? Don’t

leave

Christendom

your horizons!

The

a part of The Rambler

means you are instantly connected to the

with a blank

resume or something close to it.

enough. Why would you even consider adding more to your schedule? It is important to remember that time flies at Christendom— whether or not you’re having fun. The fact is, at some point in time you must prepare yourself to enter the working world, and there are legitimate, enjoyable, and rewarding opportunities right in front of you. The Rambler is one of these opportunities. I assure you it is nothing other than my genuine interest in your well-being that has motivated me to write about what The Rambler can do for you, especially if you are interested in writing. Here are five practical reasons to write for The Rambler:

collegiate network and isi, both pathways to a bevy

Expand

of internship and networking opportunities.

simple fact of writing

one article gives you the option of writing

“Rambler contributor” on your resume. But it doesn’t stop there; keep reading.

Represent Your School!

Write

If you participate in The Rambler:

to an audience of

peers who respect you and

the odds are that you’ll find it fulfilling and you’ll desire to do

The prospect for promotion “contributor” to “staff and constructive criticism. writer,” or “staff writer” to, say, efine your skills “News and Politics Editor,” or Sappy? Slightly. even “News and Politics Editor” Problematic? Nope. by writing on a variety of topics that to “Editor-in-Chief” makes your you care about! This is a unique outlet experience even more attractive. And for your creative instincts and ingenuity, while it does require a certain dedication and it does not measure up to the strain to your craft, the work pays off with a of a mere 3-4 page academic paper. It’s just portfolio you can brag about 850-1000 words (or more if you’d like)! to potential employers.

R

14 | fourteen

will happily give you feedback

more. from


The Last Word

Thumbs

Another opportunity for presenting our opinions on campus occurences. Agree? Disagree? Have an opinion of your own? Let us know!

SILENCE IS GOLDEN by

Despite the Pope’s resignation, Benedict XVI continues to provide the Church with hope and consolation through his Lenten message. Copies can be found in the library or online. It’s the Spring Semester and Dorm Wars are well underway! The competitions, events, and festivities have kept the campus busy, and the revised, spreadout nature of this year’s Dorm Wars has been much appreciated by the participants.

The Editorial Staff

Silence is golden—or so they say. Humans, and lower animals for that matter, tend to have a predilection for shiny things, including, but not limited to, gold. Yet with silence—though golden—this is not so. If silence is as precious as “they” say—that nameless “they” who have so much to say but never faces—then where is it in the world? Silence is precious. Rather than a precious metal, silence is a precious petal fallen far from a withering rose. Silence is often perceived as an awkward lack of sound where sound ought to be, but rightly understood silence is peace and contentment personified. One who is silent and nary bombastic must be sheltered, anti-social, or disturbed. A break in idle conversation at dinner is awkward and a hero must break the ice with small talk to restore balance and justice. We walk into an empty room and the silence deafens.

The Kitchen has recently added a new juice machine! This wonderful contraption serves various juices throughout the day, allowing students to stay hydrated and catch up on their Vitamin C.

When we sit in silence perhaps we are disturbed by the sound of our own thoughts of boredom, inadequacy, or loneliness to such an extent that we thirst for some sort of stimulation. Cleaving tightly to our cell phones awaiting the next text, idling away inordinate amounts of time on social networks or XBOX, engaging in petty gossip; all of these are signs of a great disturbance of one’s inner peace.

The ever-present smell of sewage plagues the basement of the Commons. It stinks. A lot.

Effective silence does not simply mean “not making sound,” for even then we fail to be silent, content, and peaceful. In modern life, when we encounter silence we know not what to do with ourselves; sadly, it is so rare in the world that is become alien to life itself.

TODAY”S HEADLINE: “Screaming Cats Terrorize College.” Will the feral cats ever leave town?

With silence we fail to see some sort of gain that we might otherwise “see” when we are “hanging out” or “having fun.” Silence enables us to put these goods in perspective. Where silence ceases to be we become like a gong booming, a trumpet blasting, a drum banging—and to no real end.

Dear student body, Patch-pocket pants are not dresscode. Sincerely, Student Life

15 | fifteen


The Rambler Vol.10, No. IV  

The Rambler is the independent student journal of Christendom College, dedicated to training the next generation of Catholic journalists and...

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