FALL 2018, VOLUME 1
THE TEXAS TRINITAS
A JOURNAL OF CHRISTIAN THOUGHT
INTERVIEW WITH PROFESSOR ROBERT C. KOONS
THE SEARCH FOR HOME IN LONESOME DOVE
REUNITING THE TRANSCENDENTALS
A LETTER FROM THE EDITOR Dear Reader,
elcome to the first issue of the Texas Trinitas, a semesterly journal of Christian thought and philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin. We, the staff
of the Trinitas, believe that science and religion – and reason and faith – are not in conflict with each other. We believe that faith and reason each access different aspects of the truth and that, at their best, they complement one another. I grew up in a Christian family, but I went through a period in middle and high school during which religion seemed inherently contradictory with reason. But then something inconvenient happened. I began to discover thoughtful Christianity – that of such thinkers and philosophers as G.K. Chesterton, Fyodor Dostoevsky and C.S. Lewis. Their writings opened my mind to questions I had never even thought to consider, and helped me realize that I was not alone in my doubts. I believe “Is there a God?” is the single most important question that one can ask. This journal is meant not to proselytize, but to catalyze a discussion of that question on the University of Texas campus and beyond. I invite you to join us in that conversation.
WILL VICKERY, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
The Texas Trinitas will gladly consider for publication any article, essay or artwork submitted by a student of the University of Texas at Austin. We reserve the right to publish only those submissions that align with our mission statement and publication standards. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Online-only articles, issue archives and other information are available at: www.texastrinitas.org
Front Cover The Prodigal Son (1996) by Mary McCleary
Letters to the Editor As a student-run journal, we value the opinions of the UT community and welcome thoughtful expressions of support or criticism.
The views expressed in this journal do not necessarily reflect those of the Trinitas, its editors or the University of Texas.
EDITORIAL BOARD EDITOR-IN-CHIEF WILL VICKERY, 2019
MANAGING EDITORS CHANDLER MICHAELS, 2018 HOLT WEST, 2018
BUSINESS MANAGER DAVID LEISTER, 2018
CONTRIBUTORS J.B. CLARK, 2018 JAMES HOLLIDAY, 2018 GIANCARLO BERNINI, 2019 ELAINE MOORE, 2020 JOHN PAUL NGUYEN, 2020 CAMERON BRINKMAN, 2021 CAYDEN CONNALLY, 2021 HANNAH GEORGE, 2021 SOPHIE SCHOTT, 2021
MISSION STATEMENT The Texas Trinitas exists to promote constructive dialogue among University of Texas students by articulating a thoughtful Christian worldview in the academic context.
THE TEXAS TRINITAS
INTERVIEW WITH PROFESSOR ROBERT C. KOONS
THE SEARCH FOR HOME 10 IN LONESOME DOVE HOLT WEST
TENSION AND RESOLUTION 15 JOHN PAUL NGUYEN
REUNITING THE 19 TRANSCENDENTALS J.B. CLARK
POSITIVISM AND THE 29 BURDEN OF PROOF WILL VICKERY
A UNIVERSAL HOME 33 GIANCARLO BERNINI
A COLLECTION OF POEMS 41 CHANDLER MICHAELS
HILL HOUSE SPOTLIGHT 44 A JOURNAL OF CHRISTIAN THOUGHT 4
INTERVIEW WITH PROFESSOR ROBERT C. KOONS SOPHIE SCHOTT
What is your personal and religious background?
was born in Minnesota, grew up in Tulsa, OK; and then Houston mostly while growing up. My father was a chemist and he worked for Exxon. And I think having a father who had a PhD planted the thought that maybe I wanted to do that someday, and he had thought about being a professor someday well and it just did not work out. I grew up in a Lutheran family and they were pretty devout, so I had a pretty, I’d say, real religious experience as a fairly young child. And went through the usual kinds of transitions as I got older. I guess I’ll just weave the philosophy and my faith together, if that makes sense. I went to Michigan State. I got a scholarship there and that’s why I went, but I also just wanted something
different. I had an advisor who recommended I take philosophy first semester; I didn’t really know what philosophy was, much. I had read Plato, and Francis Schaeffer, and C.S. Lewis, and people like that, so I guess I sort of knew what it was, but did not think about it as a subject until I decided to take it. I found myself fascinated by it. I was originally a physics major but discovered I really hated math so I dropped that and changed to economics, but that made me bored if I am honest, supply/demand curve, all that. But I kept taking more and more philosophy courses, so I guess junior year I just decided I was a philosophy major. I remember at one point thinking, “But what if the philosophers have this killer argument that God is false, and what will that do to me? Maybe I should just go back to physics or economics or something safe.” And then thought well, I will
assume my faith is true and then there will not be a killer argument against it. And I felt like God was calling me to do that. So I went ahead and did it. I think it was the right thing to do, and I will say, I have never found that killer argument. The vast majority of my colleagues in philosophy are not believers, and if you ask them about Christianity they will say, “No way!” But in reality none of them have thought about it for 10 minutes. And certainly there are no devastating arguments. I remember reading this book by Bertrand Russell, Why I am Not A Christian. (I recommend every Christian read it actually - because it is so bad). This is one of the top philosophers of the century, but his argument is really, really weak. There weren’t any Christians in the philosophy staff at Michigan State during my undergrad, but then I went to Oxford and UCLA and in both those places there were really good models of Christian philosophy. At UCLA in particular, there were several prominent Christian
philosophers, especially Bob and Marilyn Adams, and because they were there, there were all these Christian grad students. And we made a subculture we had a Bible study at their house every week. And that was very helpful because graduate school is an intellectual boot camp where they break you down to build you back up. And so it was really helpful having them there. I do not think I would have lost my faith in grad school, but without them I do think my life would have ended up...compartmentalized. I think that can happen. You put your technical philosophy over here and your faith over here and they never connect. To me, they are much more closely related. Not that you should make a religion out of philosophy, I think that is a mistake. A lot of my colleagues do that in effect without knowing it. It is a religion substitute – it deals with big questions. But, for me, there is a connection of reason and faith. You can do the “reason thing” in philosophy, thinking that will satisfy the needs of
faith, but at the same time my view is that reason and faith are concordant. They support each other in a lot of ways. The big thing for me, and the advantage to being a Christian philosopher, is that it gives you a worldview and a framework in which philosophy makes sense - we are created in God’s image and thus we must ask questions because part of that image is truth and we have to question it. People who think we are the accidental products of natural selection think philosophy is hopeless. And a lot of my colleagues wrestle with that – how philosophy can still be possible – and get discouraged. I was on a panel once (on philosophy and life or careers or something like that) and someone asked my colleagues if they could do their education and career and life again would they still be a philosophy professor, and all my colleagues said no. And that surprised me, because I would say yes. What’s not to like about this life? They
pay you to do what you love! I am not bored at all. I am more interested now than when I started to teach. I think part of that is my philosophy and my faith fit together really nicely. Twelve years ago now I joined the Catholic Church (that is another story). I started to read Thomas Aquinas, the most impressive philosopher in the Christian tradition, and he really impressed me, so eventually I thought his was the direction to go. But I still have lots of Evangelical friends, and really like C.S. Lewis. This is going off my questions a bit, but we were talking about Transhumanism in my philosophy class and something that really struck me was my professor said the reason that Transhumanism appealed to people was that it met their need to be saved from vulnerability and promised them a future “free from want.” And it got me thinking about my faith and how
in Christianity, unlike Transhumanism, our weakness can be helpful when dependence on Christ in the goal. So I guess my question is: Do you think philosophy makes you ask questions or reflect on your faith more?
Can you say more about what you mean, like doubts about your faith? No, I mean, do you feel that some of the questions we ask in philosophy and academics can only be answered with Christ? Yes, and what I have been working on recently relates to that. I have been working on the theory of knowledge and brushing against C.S. Lewis. When I was in high school I read his book Miracles, The first two chapters are very philosophical but then in chapter three Lewis sort of goes on the offensive and says if you are a naturalist, it undermines reason, because if the brain is just a product of a closed chemical system, it does not make complete sense and you
have no reason to believe that - if that is true it has no contact with necessary truths or transcendent truths - logic, math, things like that. I have been thinking about that for 40-odd years now. And I just keep coming back to that chapter and that thought. Our brains and our thoughts are made after our creator, God, in His image. And it is a really crucial thing, without that we are pretty hopeless, I think. I just wrote a chapter, there is a book coming out in honor of Alvin Plantinga, an important Christian philosopher, at Calvin College and later Notre Dame. And my chapter is on the nature of intuition, our capacity to know things that are a purely intellectual act, apart from the senses. Things like 2+2=4 and things like that. And what I am doing there is developing
â€œOur brains and our thoughts are made after our creator, God, in His image. And it is a really crucial thing, without that we are pretty hopeless, I think.â€?
“We are created in God’s image and thus we must ask questions because part of that image is truth and we have to question it.” Lewis’s argument and Plantinga does something like this as well. We have to know God exists to know other things. The other thing I have worked on a lot is first cause arguments - our way of thinking about the world really is cause and effect. And we always infer there is some sort of cause. If you extrapolate this, and look at the sum of all living things, everything has a cause. And something without a cause would have to be supernatural and self-sufficient. A lot of the contemporary work in philosophy supports this. In the 20th century this went out of style, but now there has been a revival in it.
ROBERT C. KOONS is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin, where his research focuses on metaphysics, philosophical logic and the philosophy of religion.
Do you talk to students about your faith? It depends. Right now I am doing a class on Christian philosophy, so in that case, I do not have to apologize for it at all. It has pros and cons. I am just finishing it up this semester, so far it has gone pretty well. Sometimes it just comes pretty naturally, like when I talk to students about metaphysics. And right now I am doing a political philosophy class, and in that I identify myself as a political conservative, and from that most students can figure out at least that I am not unfriendly to Christians. It is easier as a philosopher because it comes up naturally.
SOPHIE SCHOTT is a sophomore humanities, history and pre-health triple major at the University of Texas at Austin Liberal Arts Honors Program. 9
THE PILGRIM’S MYTH
THE SEARCH FOR HOME IN LONESOME DOVE HOLT WEST
“ ll America lies at the end of the wilderness road, and our past is not a dead past, but still lives in us. Our forefathers had civilization inside themselves, the wild outside. We live in the civilization they created, but within us the wilderness still lingers. What they dreamed, we live, and what they lived, we dream.” - T. K. Whipple Stories in general, and mythologies in particular, allow us to explore the complexities of life, death, and the human experience in a nuanced way. This is, no doubt, why Christ spoke to the masses in parables. Myths, however, run deeper than simple narrative; they are formative for us as individuals and as communities as we examine the world around us. Even the myths from which we are far removed cultur-
ally and temporally captivate us in ways that mere facts cannot. Myths bridge the gap between impersonal, abstract concepts and the more personal experience of daily life. As we each look for our own niche in the world, a place we can call home, it is clear that mythology is essential. While American society is inundated with an overwhelming number of stories and sources of entertainment, we somehow have lost a prevalent and unified mythology. The once great myth of the “American Dream” has failed to captivate our generation as it did our predecessors. The vacuum left in its wake has given us a lack of direction as we search for a lasting home within an increasingly mobile society.
Wandering from location to location as school and work demand, we have lost the connectedness our ancestors had to the place in which they lived. We are a culture that never facilitated the growth of strong geographical roots. With the advent of modern transportation and instantaneous, global communication, our relationships and our homes are formed not as a consequence of our learning to live alongside those around us, but as a matter of deliberate selection. Since the creation of a home rests on our own willful association with others, each of us becomes responsible for the formation of tangible communities based on our varied, abstract criteria. ‘Home’ is no longer a place we go, but rather an idea we construct. We must have something that ties our abstract conceptions of home to the personal experiences of our society. Myth is as crucial as ever, and our mythology of the American West, as it examines the individual and universal quest for home in the vast frontier, is especially helpful in identifying our current condition.
“Failing to establish any meaningful roots or to cultivate a true home, they were, like so many of us, wanderers at heart.“ Wanderers in a Familiar Land Larry McMurtry’s Pulitzer Prize- winning novel, Lonesome Dove, follows the journey of two former Texas Ranger captains, Woodrow F. Call and Augustus (Gus) McCrae. Growing restless in their less-than-thrilling retirement from law enforcement, they decide to drive cattle all the way from the sleepy border Texas town of Lonesome Dove to Montana to become the first ranchers to exploit the lush countryside. Captain McCrae diagnoses their discontent: “It was that they had roved too long, Augustus concluded, when his mind turned to such matters. They were people of the horse, not of the town; in that they were more like the Comanche than Call would ever have admitted. They had been in Lonesome
Dove nearly 10 years, and yet what little property they had acquired was so worthless that neither of them would have felt bad about just saddling up and riding off from it.” After their years of wandering with the Rangers, they had lost attachment to any particular location. For them, Lonesome Dove was merely a place to take up a different trade. Failing to establish any meaningful roots or to cultivate a true home, they were, like so many of us, wanderers at heart. For Gus and Call, satisfaction would never come through settling down. This is why they felt compelled to go and chase fulfillment. But this would not prove any more effective than
their attempts to settle down in Lonesome Dove. Setting out on their journey, they encountered a land very different from the one they had known in their days as Rangers. The domestic civilization for which they had paved the way by fighting the Comanche and outlaws had taken root, but it did not look kindly on the Rangers’ coarser way of doing things. “We’ll be the Indians if we last another 20 years”, Gus remarks after breaking the nose of a pretentious, urbane bartender. Through their success in taming the American West, they had ushered in a society with no room left for them. They had outlived their welcome and their utility. Much like the Native Americans whom they helped drive out for
the sake of westward expansion, Gus and Call were destined to be the latest casualties of an impersonal vision for American society: Manifest Destiny. They recognized a rift between their efforts to implement the abstract goal of settling the West and the practical creation of a home. They could not find home in settling down, and their expedition was likewise insufficient. They were strangers, wanderers, unwelcome relics in a world that they helped forge.
From Wanderers to Pilgrims Our mythology is the mythology of McMurtry’s frontier. We are often severed from roots that might provide an established sense of home, and our attempts to find and build a home have proven unsatisfactory. Lonesome Dove recognizes our symptom, but Christianity knows and addresses our condition. We are all, by virtue of the Fall, exiles and wanderers without a home. In his Confessions, St. Augustine posits that all Christians are pilgrims traveling through this world. Pilgrimage is distin-
guished from wandering in that it has a final destination in mind: an eternal home already prepared by Jesus. Through Christ, victory has been won and home established in heaven, but we are simultaneously invited to partake in its formation here on earth. When we hear the cliché “in the world but not of it”, we forget to consider that with the word “in”, we mean not only the
“Our journey to our eternal home must first take us through this temporary, imperfect one.“ Christian individual, but also the Kingdom that is already present, even if it is not fully realized. Christianity is a living mythology that presents the opportunity to enter into an ongoing story and an eternal home, right now. The gap between the abstract and the practical realization of home has thus been bridged by God’s incarnation, his becoming man. He did not simply tell us how to find a home, but by dwelling among us, also brought home with him.
“Christ demands our attention to the here and now, in order to reconcile the impersonal with the personal, to find our home in His true and living myth.” Knowing this does not necessarily stem the restlessness we experience, but it does allow us to see that even our disquiet is not without cause. Our journey to our eternal home must first take us through this temporary, imperfect one. As he speaks to his dying friend, Captain Call asserts, “I’ll die someplace, and so will you – it might not be no better place than Lonesome Dove.” Gus famously replies, “It ain’t dying I am talking about, it is living. I doubt it matters
where you die, but it matters where you live.” Call doesn’t find a satisfying home in settling down or in his wandering, just as we won’t, but that doesn’t mean that our lives here are without consequence. Home has been prepared by Christ and is expanded through our efforts, but it is not yet realized. Christ demands our attention to the here and now, in order to reconcile the impersonal with the personal, to find our home in His true and living myth.
HOLT WEST is a chemistry and classics major who graduated in Spring 2018 from the University of Texas Austin Liberal Arts Honors Program. 14
TENSION AND RESOLUTION JOHN PAUL NGUYEN
few weeks ago, my guitar professor stopped in the middle of a lesson to comment: “Our ears always want the music to come back home. Focus on leading the listener back.” He instructed me to notice the twists and turns and how they moved the piece from its original key and melody. He wanted me to appreciate this tension, but to recognize when the music began to transition back home. In doing so, he hoped my musicality would leave no doubt to the listener that they had come back “home” from their musical journey.
THE TENSION As humans, we yearn for a place where tension can be resolved and everything can be in harmony: home. At home we are safe, comfortable and fulfilled. One major way we experience tension is within our identities. There is hope that this tension can lead to resolution, but also fear that, if handled in the wrong way, it will lead to more confusion. Tension when handled properly leads us to a splendid resolution just like it does in music.
The “instruments” that we have at our disposal have the potential to help us resolve tension or to create a never-ending discord in our search for identity. The organizations we join, the friendships we make, the movies and TV shows we watch – these all have the potential to lead us towards resolution. But, just like with any instrument, we must understand how to properly play them to avoid misuse.
In order to use these resources properly, we have to understand the tension of identity. This tension wants us to discover our identity and makes us wonder, “Why am I doing the things I am doing?”, “Who am I?”, and “How should I live?” If we choose to answer these questions, we begin the process of discovering our identities and resolving the tension.
“In music, one of the most important things a composer will do is to incorporate silence in the midst of tension.“ Typically, we select organizations, friendships and entertainment by how well it can fill the void of identity. This void is uncomfortable and uneasy, especially in a new environment. As soon as this tension occurs, we cling to whatever can get rid of the tension as soon as possible. We prefer to be passive in the search for our identity instead of active. Instead of choosing these good things because they have attributes that are in line with our identity, we choose them because they tell us what our identity should be.
THE RESOLUTION My guitar professor has constantly reminded me to spend more of my practice time on my weaknesses – to sit down with the flaws of my playing and slowly remove the flaws. This is completely against everything I want to do with guitar. I want to play beautiful music effortlessly. In order to temporarily accomplish that, I try to find quick solutions for the inaccuracies and deficiencies in my playing. Unfortunately, the
simple tricks or fixes I can make with my guitar technique might help in the present, but this poor technique can eventually result in injury, lessened potential and, consequently, lack of true freedom. Without facing the tension and weak points in my playing, I will never be truly free to play challenging, but beautiful music. I will be restrained to simple chord structures and basic rhythms. In seeking solutions to the tension we feel, we must seek sustainable resolution and avoid the temporary peace we receive from an unsatisfying resolution. Most of the time, sustainable resolution requires adversity and patience. Sustainable resolution is usually at odds with the quick fixes we are drawn towards. There are common moments in music that indicate resolution. Notational patterns, rhythmic movements and harmonic progressions can be these indicators. Music can use similar notes, rhythms and progressions to resolve a piece, but songs are unique despite these similarities. Similarly, the tension of identity
and its resolution can be similar among individuals, but the person and his journey home remain distinct. We have to know our identity in order to resolve the tension. The knowledge of our identity comes from outside of us but internally it resonates with the tension inside of us. We are called to acknowledge the external voice that Christ hears at his Baptism. The same voice that identifies each one of us and tells us â€œYou are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased.â€? (Mark 1:11). Externally, we are called to hear this call to be a child of God. Listening is difficult when there is a cacophony of noise around.
THE LISTENER In music, one of the most important things a composer will do is to incorporate silence in the midst of tension. This adds a brief moment of rest where the listenerâ€™s ears can deal with the tension at hand. In the period of rest, the listener processes the tension and yearns for the resolution. Silence
and rest provide the same informative experience for the tension of identity. Rest can help us to remove ourselves from the desensitized experience we have when we run from noise to more noise. The noise drowns out the call that God has for each one of us to identify as his sonor
daughter. We turn the cruise control off, hit the brakes and pull over to the side of the road to make sure weâ€™re still headed in the right direction. We can slowly hear the shepherdâ€™s voice. Following the voice of this shepherd will lead us back home from our journey.
JOHN PAUL NGUYEN is a junior business major at the University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business. 18
REUNITING THE TRANSCENDENTALS J.B. CLARK
artin Scorsese’s Silence is a beautiful film, adapted from the book by Shusako Endo. The cinematography is fantastic; the acting is heartbreakingly well done. But it is not as beautiful as it could have been. Silence, especially in its movie adaptation, takes a complicated situation and makes it astonishingly difficult to judge, leaving everyone that watches Silence in a state of confusion. How could they not be? Scorsese takes the apostasy of a tormented priest and makes sympathy for him nearly impossible to avoid, with the voice of God even telling him to submit to his Japanese oppressors. The final shot of the film, with Rodrigues clutching a crucifix to his chest
in the casket, is a glorification of a dead faith, one with hardy works of truth and goodness. And yet, many Christians watch this film and cannot come to call Rodrigues’ actions wrong. Even the ones who do must take the time to work through all the intricacies of the film’s final scenes. Judgments of Silence are so cloudy because the film is so effective at drawing forth emotion and empathy for Fr. Rodrigues. Because, as many would say, it is so beautiful. In a myriad of articles, podcasts and videos, intellectuals have tried to tackle the problem of Silence. Many of them quite simply say that it just needs to better show the truth. Remove
10 seconds of the film and it is perfect. I agree. Others take a different approach; they suggest that we ought to make the truth all that we hear, every word into our minds and out of our mouths. For them, even if Silence would be better if we removed those crucial 10 seconds of the film, it would still not be a great film. The truths proclaimed are neither explicit nor scriptural enough. This is the type of thinking that creates films like God’s Not Dead. For these artists, the aesthetics of the artwork do not matter. “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” (John 8:32) Stereotypes of non-Americans and non-Christians are rampant in the film. The creators do not care, what is being shown is the truth. They quote scripture and believe everything will be just fine. But it is clear that God’s Not Dead’s ugly presentation of Christianity does not help anyone. No atheist or Muslim or lukewarm Christian will ever watch that movie and be so enraptured by truth that their life will change forever. It simply drives people away.
The problems of Silence and God’s Not Dead are not as different as they appear. Yes, one lacks truth and the other beauty, but this is part of a larger problem. We, in both our Christian and American cultures, have separated truth from beauty. But these are inseparable things. In the Catholic tradition, there are three things known as the transcendentals, three things which bring us as people to know and love God - truth, beauty and goodness. These things find their ultimate expression in God, who is himself Truth, Beauty and Goodness. The search for each of the transcendentals in the Christian life is simply another expression of our search for God. But the transcendentals cannot be separated. What is God’s truth without his beauty? His goodness without his truth? Who is God without God? We cannot separate these things in God, and so too we cannot separate them in our own lives. This essay is not simply a pair of movie reviews; it encompasses much more. The transcendentals are just limited to art and
philosophical argument, they permeate our lives, just as God does. As we apply the transcendentals to our lives, two major flaws become apparent. First, we see that we have stopped looking for all the transcendentals together. Our searches for truth are distinct from our searches for beauty, and these in turn are distinct from our searches for goodness. If we do not shift this way of looking for God, we will miss His signs of love in our life. Second is the fact that the things we create do not unite the transcendentals, but they must. This encompasses all of our works, not only our works of art. If we do not, we risk forgetting to live like God at all times. In these two areas - how we seek and how we create - the reunification of the transcendentals is necessary for us to draw ourselves and the people around us closer to God. E. M. Welcher is a pastor at First Christian Church in Glenwood, Iowa. His book Resplendent Bride is a series of essays on love, loss, grief and suffering. In the late passages of his work, Welcher identifies this need for beauty
to live alongside truth. He also recognizes that we have stopped recognizing the beautiful. “Beauty. It is has been said to be in the eye of the beholder, but the beholders have the same taste in this monochromatic world of ours. The term “beauty” has become cliché. We say something is “beautiful” when we have nothing left to say. The word has become a vague term of encouragement, yes, a buffer against the ugliness of it all. Yet the beauty of it all remains.” Welcher goes on to talk about recognizing the beautiful in all that we see, and ultimately in the Lord. We see the true, we name it, we know it (in a sense). But we do not look for the beautiful unless we are looking at something deemed as beautiful: some forms of art and parts of nature. Something is only beautiful if society has deemed it so. But just as we recognize hard truths, terrifying truths, we must turn our gaze to recognize the beautiful in hard things. In cases of immense suffering and pain, we must look to see the beauty of the Lord’s
work, just as we must look to see the goodness in it. We know the truth of it: the suffering is right before our eyes, welling up in our emotions. But we must do the same with the other transcendentals. In seeing beauty and goodness and naming them as such, we walk with the Lord in a new way. It is easy to posit that “all men are seeking truth, deep down.” This idea is rampant. Men are hungry for truth, they just do not know it when they see it. But we know this is not entirely the case. If everyone was seeking truth, we would have a very different society. It would be, quite literally, heaven on rarth. Everyone needs truth, but we cannot ignore man’s agency to deny God’s truth, beauty and goodness in their lives. Though God is the all-powerful seeker of our hearts, and though we are made for Him and His glory, God has given us free will out of love. We can run from his love, avoiding the transcendentals. But we can also actively seek out the transcendentals. In fact, if we are to fully encounter God, we must. Knowing the truth that
the annoying guy in our class is loved by God is one thing; it is another to look at him and see the beauty and goodness of God’s creation in him as well. The same goes for those who never want to look for truth, but only goodness or beauty. This is the treatment that leads to the justifications of Silence. We must look for all the transcendentals in all things if we are to look like God does. This disposition, the seeking of the transcendentals, is a way of Christian living that we have largely forgotten. It is a hard way to live - it is one that requires discipline and purity of heart. It is way of living that asks many questions: “Where was the truth in that conversation? Where
was the beautiful in that dull classroom? How did that boring lecture help me do anything good in the world?” These questions are necessary because they are all ways of asking, “How was God present to me today?” God cannot be confined to the Scriptures and tabernacles. He is everywhere. We cannot ignore Him.
Co-Creating the Transcendentals How many things do we find today that truly strive to be true and beautiful and good? They are few and far between. Though we should seek to find transcendentals where they appear, so as to remember God in all things, we can also recognize that not everything is being created with the same intentions as the Lord. When we begin to think about what we ought to do in our daily lives (and how we should do it), we must recognize that we also do not live with the same intent as the Lord. But it is not enough to accept our sinful nature and never strive to improve. This we know well. But often times, even
when we recognize this fact, we struggle to overcome sin because we do not recognize how we sin. The transcendentals provide a guide to our lives against the evil one. When we create, when we act, we must strive to make things that are beautiful and true and good, all at once. If we do not, we will start to sin more and more, cutting ourselves away from God. This is more pronounced in attempts by Christians to lead people to God that do not unify the transcendentals. When we do not, we risk becoming like many aspects of today’s secular culture, enthralled with aesthetic for the sake of aesthetic. Something is beautiful if someone finds it beautiful, and this is good in and of itself - but truth does not matter (or so they say). We see this in reactions to a New York Times Magazine piece decrying the evils of pornography in connection with the #MeToo movement. Parts of our secular culture exploded. One tweet captures the outrage well: “Maggie displays no knowledge about porn history, porn as
an art form, porn aesthetics, how pornographers make it…” ranted Habib, an author from Los Angeles, CA. This is the wild claim we have stumbled into: art is good because it is art, and art is anything you would like it to be. Notice that no other critiques matter here: the deep social issues being caused by the rampant scourge that is pornography are nothing in light of the fact that ‘porn is art and thus good.’
claims. I have no idea if Habib has ever read Nietzsche’s late work on art as the will to power, but I know he would agree. Some may note that The New York Times is a prominent secular institution, a perfect example of our secular culture fighting against this nihilistic thought in itself. It sees the effects of an “art form” that is simply a perversion of some of the greatest beauty known to mankind, and see
“Something is beautiful if someone finds it beautiful, and this is good in and of itself – but truth does not matter (or so they say).” This is not a new idea; it comes (intellectually) from nihilist thinkers such as Nietzsche. As time passed, these ideas went from being recognized as nonsensical, radical concepts to being taught in our universities. They’ve become so pervasive that we do not even bat an eye at the words “subjectivism” and “nihilism” being used as foundations in our classrooms. They have become so pervasive that you do not even have to read these thinkers to receive their
how it hurts our society and it calls it out. I do not mean to say that non-Christians can never identify horrific things and put an end to them; man can produce good works (through the grace of God) without full knowledge of the truth. But it is worth our time to recognize the extremes of this problem within some parts of secular society and how deep it can run. If we do not recognize this problem, more and more of our world will be led away from the Lord.
This is what makes the separation of the transcendentals in Christian art so ominous. It is a sign that Christian art has become as much of the world as it is in the world. Where are the great works of Christian beauty of our time? The architecture, the film, the photography, the music? I want to take a moment to briefly define what I mean by Christian art. It of course includes art by Christians that reveal the transcendentals implicitly. The works of J.R.R. Tolkien come to mind, the great author of the many works that take place in Middle Earth. His stories reflect Christ in all three of the transcendentals. One must only look and they will find the Lord hiding beneath the pages. But there is also a lack of explicitly Christian art that has been found throughout the life of the Church that seems to be sorely lacking. We must have the fullness of Christian art, the explicit and the implicit. Even when we create Christian art today, in both forms, it is not consistently doing the job. With
our works of art, we ought to be able to make the porn industry look like the awful thing it is. But we do not. At least not enough that Habib is still able to consider the aesthetic value of pornography as anything more than pure filth. It is a good and true thing to say that pornography is grotesque, damaging to the soul, damaging to society, damaging to direct relationships, and something that perpetuates the wicked sex trafficking industry, but this is not enough for some. For some, they must be shaken from their stupor by the beauty of something that outshines the tawdry ugliness of pornography. We are all called to create beautiful things, just as Bezalel was called to build a beautiful tabernacle for the Lord: I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every craft. (Exodus 31:3-5)
We are called to become what some Catholic thinkers call co-creators with the Lord and what some Protestant thinkers call sub-creators with the Lord. With both phrases, the concept is the same: We should create in accordance with the will of God. He makes things that are true, good and beautiful, and we should participate in that creation. The Passion of the Christ isn’t supposed to stand alone as the only beautiful Christian film we have ever had. To be fair, Jim Caviezel (the actor who plays Jesus in the Passion) is starring in a new film on the life of St. Paul. But even then, two beautiful Christian films in 14 years isn’t a heartening symbol of the continuation of Christian art. Christian music isn’t supposed to be limited to the poppy, upbeat children’s music we hear in the car (Christian Contemporary Music is the genre). I apologize if you love CCM, but I hope you recognize that what you experience when listening to that music is wholly different from what most others do. The call is ever present for
Christian artists to step up. The public square is not meant to be full of white-haired intellectuals. The entire concept of the public square is that we are all there. We all have a role to play. Even so, that is for Christian art and for the most part, we are not artists but students. But we are still all called to be co-creators with God. We all produce works of some sort. In our classes, we are bombarded with essays, videos, presentations, and every other kind of project our professors dream up. And so we create. But we do not view this as an opportunity to do anything but to create something for a grade, to get a degree, to go into the real world. But our lives, right now, are about much more than the future. We are called to make beautiful and true and good things everywhere and always, not just in our Bible studies and churches. Our evangelization cannot be limited to coffee shops and tables on the West Mall anymore. We must bring the transcendentals into our classrooms, into our relationships, into every moment of the day.
A good priest - Father Jonathan Raia, Director of Vocations for the Diocese of Austin - once gave me a strong piece of advice: “We talk about putting God at the top of our lists. We go ‘God first, family second, and so on.’ But that is not what God wants. God wants to be in every part of the list. God wants to be in everything you do.” By looking at our lives through the lens of the transcendentals, we can see if we are living this out. In class, did I live out the true, beautiful, and good? Did I live out even one of these? How about when I was at that party? That conversation with my secular friend? That four-hour stretch of Fortnite I played?
This type of thinking radically changes the way we look at our lives, and eventually, it radically changes the way we create. It is easy to look around and see where others must grow in uniting the transcendentals. Take the guy that reads scripture directly off Guadalupe every day. Good and true? Absolutely, it is the word of God. Beautiful? Absolutely not. He has cheapened truth and made it ugly to those who hear it. What a tragedy. This is easy to see, but it is much harder to see in what we produce ourselves. One mustn’t talk about the Scriptures all the time to be speaking the truth; this is just common sense. But this isn’t an excuse
to not speak the truth, or speak about the truth at all, when we aren’t talking about Scripture. When we sit in our class discussions and we hear one of Habib’s disciples spreading the lies of the Enemy, speak up and do it well. Do it beautifully, one might say. When we are assigned engineering homework, look for the true and good and beautiful. Seek it out, and then do it in a way that illuminates God’s love. When we are assigned essays whose very premise we disagree with, do not just acquiesce to get a good grade. Write the truth, and write it beautifully. How will we be able to stand up to injustice and hardship in the world if we are unwilling to take a bad grade for defending the
truth? How will we ever show the world what Christ has done and why it is important if we never make beautiful works that show our love for God? Who will ever believe that we love our neighbors if we do not care for our neighbors? No one is free from the call to love God; no one is free from the call to make things that are true, beautiful and good. No matter the thing being created, we are called to make it with God. The things we create, our works, cannot be separated from our faith: “Faith without works is dead.” (James 2:17) Co-creation must be what we do whenever we do anything. We must do it in a way that lives out the way of God, with the transcendentals.
J.B. CLARK is a Rhetoric and Writing major who graduated in Spring 2018 from the University of Texas at Austin 28
POSITIVISM AND THE BURDEN OF PROOF WILL VICKERY
hen Alvin Plantinga was born in 1932, philosophy was in the grips of logical empiricism. This doctrine, also known as logical positivism or simply positivism, held that all knowledge lies within the purview of science. One might think of positivists as having adopted an extreme form of John Locke’s under-laborer conception of the relationship between philosophy and science, on which “it is ambition enough [for a philosopher] to be employed as an under-laborer in clearing the ground a little, and removing some of the rubbish which lies in the way to knowledge” (Locke). To distinguish scientific from non-scientific questions, positivists used the verifiability principle, on which a question could be considered scientific if and only if it could be verified empirically. For the positivist, metaphysical questions such as, “Does God exist?” were simply meaningless.
This way of thinking has its roots in the Vienna Circle, a group of philosophers and scientists who met regularly at the University of Vienna and Café Central in Vienna, Austria, in the 1920s and 1930s. Three of the group’s most prominent members - Rudolf Carnap, Otto Neurath and Hans Hahn - published the unofficial
manifesto of positivism in 1929, and in 1936 British philosopher A.J. Ayer, who was not officially a member of the group but was a public proponent of its ideas, brought positivism to the attention of the Englishspeaking world with his book Language, Truth, and Logic. It is not difficult to imagine, then, that the presumption that pervaded academia at this time was that God did not exist. After all, anyone who argued that He did would necessarily be doing so on non-empirical - and therefore unverifiable - grounds. Indeed, most philosophers’ prior commitment to positivism had led them to rule out belief in God from the start, and the middle of the 20th century saw the percentage of theistic philosophers wane to near zero. This was not because theism is untenable, but rather because, within this ethos, the burden of proof necessarily fell on anyone whose ontology included that which could not be verified empirically. Science – defined as the method by which we conduct empirical investigation – had come to be seen not as the primary source of knowl-
edge, but as the only source of knowledge. Positivism was not without its critics, however. Chief among these were Karl Popper (whom Neurath jokingly referred to as the “official opposition”) and W.V.O. Quine, an American philosopher whose 1953 book Two Dogmas of Empiricism is perhaps the seminal anti-positivist text. But philosophy advances notoriously slowly, and so the ideas in Two Dogmas had yet to take hold by the time Alvin Plantinga began work on his PhD in 1955. His first major book, God and Other Minds, took the world by storm in 1967. The book was at its core a rejection of positivism, which at this time was still the dominant worldview among philosophers. God and Other Minds begins with a treatment of what Plantinga considers the best arguments for the existence of God – namely St. Anselm’s ontological argument, St. Thomas Aquinas’ cosmological argument, and the teleological argument – and concludes that none of them accomplish their intended goal.
But this does not matter: The proposition “God exists,” says Plantinga, is not one that can be shown to be true or false, at least not in the same way as a scientific claim such as, “The speed of light is 186,000 miles per second.” Instead, he believes the problem of God to be analogous to the problem of other minds, whose existence nearly everyone affirms (solipsists being the lone exception) despite a lack of empirical evidence. This is the central thesis of the book. Plantinga argues that although one cannot prove empirically that other minds exist, it is still rational to believe in them, and that the same is true for the existence of God. It follows from this that there must be bases of knowledge outside empirical investigation. This conclusion was anathema to the positivist, whose entire epistemology revolved around a presumption of the omnipotence of empirical investigation. But the question remains: Is this argument sound? For one, although Plantinga has revised some of the views he presents in
the book (for example, he now advocates a modal version of the ontological argument), he still stands by the central thesis of the book. It was also well received by his fellow philosophers. Michael Slote, for example, in the January 1970 edition of The Journal of Philosophy called the book “one of the most important to have appeared in this century on the philosophy of religion” (Slote). What is more, the logic is elegantly simple: We believe (A) despite a lack of empirical evidence; it is rational to do so; therefore, it might also be rational to believe (B) despite a lack of empirical evidence. If one takes Plantinga’s goal to be restoring the viability of belief in God by dismantling the tyranny of the positivist regime, he certainly succeeded. From within the positivistic framework of the day, however, the argument seemed analytically false; that is, false by the meanings of the terms alone. After all, if science can explain everything there is to explain, there is necessarily nothing that science cannot explain. We now
see that this logic is circular, but only because we have rejected positivism. If one of our most fundamental presuppositions about the world were that any talk of the metaphysical was a category error, this claim would seem self-evident. It is tempting to look back on this period through a 21st-century lens and think of its adherents as somehow more unsophisticated than ourselves, but we must avoid this. Many of the past century’s greatest thinkers were positivists, at least for a time, for the simple reason that it is incredibly difficult to see outside the milieu in which one exists. But this is exactly what Quine and Plantinga did. And in my opinion, this makes their contribution to the field all the more impressive. Possibly the most important upshot of God and Other Minds was a shifting of the burden of proof away from the theist. It was no longer incumbent upon the person arguing in favor of the possibility of the non-empirical to prove to their interlocutor that their entire worldview was based
on an incomplete ontology. This meant that philosophers of religion were once again free to believe in the metaphysical, and therefore in God. By the late 1970s, positivism was largely recognized to be an untenable position. Even A.J. Ayer, the aforementioned author of Language, Truth, and Logic and one of positivism’s most prominent advocates, said in an interview, “Well, I suppose the most important defect... was that nearly all of it was false.” We should be careful not to underestimate the role that Plantinga played in this change of heart.
WILL VICKERY is a senior philosophy and Spanish major at the University of Texas at Austin Liberal Arts Honors Program.
A UNIVERSAL HOME GIANCARLO BERNINI
atholicism. It is a word that for many people carries a connotation of antiquation, scandal, corruption and bureaucracy. Etymologically, the word “Catholic” comes from the Greek “Katholikos”, which means “universal.” For Catholics worldwide, however, it is a word that evokes a sense of family. I am a convert to the Catholic faith. I came to understand and accept the Catholic Church’s views on the relationship between God and humanity, its stance on social justice issues, and
its teaching on morality and salvation. I became Catholic because I became convicted of the truth I encountered. However, I never expected that I would also find a home in the Church. Through its emphasis on unity, Catholicism fosters a more beautiful home than anything I have ever encountered. Unfortunately, current negative stereotypes about Catholicism have prevented many from fully recognizing and appreciating this. People’s perceptions about Catholic rituals, its hierarchical
organization, devotion to Mary and saints, and the Eucharist often lead to criticism. However, the truths at the core of these very same stereotypes demonstrate the full beauty of the home - the family - that is the Catholic Church.
Stand, Sit, Kneel, Repeat. One of the most prominent characteristics of the Catholic Church is its liturgy. While the individual’s personal relationship with God is important in the Catholic faith, anyone attending a Catholic Mass will be struck by the overwhelming emphasis on communal worship. Catholics stand together, kneel together, and recite prayers in unison throughout the worship. We are not an audience in front of a preacher; we are vitally active participants in the liturgy. This sense of togetherness is marked in the sharing of the “sign of peace” and even more so in the celebration of Eucharist. Everything carries an emphasis on community. The church would much more
readily sacrifice an individual’s preferred worship style for the sake of unifying its members. This is true of the Church worldwide. The Mass is offered every day of the year (with the exception of Good Friday). On any given day, every Catholic Church around the world reads the same passages from Scripture and sings the same psalms. Practically, this means I can call a Catholic friend who lives in England or Australia and discuss that day’s readings. The calendar of readings has been specifically designed to cover the fullness of salvation history and the Gospel message of Christ. Thus, the entire Catholic Church throughout the world embarks on a Biblical journey together. Social media very visibly exemplifies this worldwide unity. When I log into Twitter, I see various quotes from the day’s Gospel reading that stood out to different people. My Facebook newsfeed is inundated with theologians from around the world posting an analysis of that day’s Psalm. I can watch videos of the Pope’s sermon on the
“Social media very visibly exemplifies this worldwide unity.” same passage that I just heard preached at my home parish. I can lead a Bible study discussing the most recent Sunday’s Gospel reading under the safe assumption that everyone in attendance is already familiar with the passage, regardless of where they went to Mass. This allows for rich conversations and the beautiful fostering of community. Many critics look down on the Catholic Church’s adherence to liturgy, perceiving it to be “dead ritual.” However, our ritual is one of the things that breathes life into the community. It connects us to all Christians who preceded us. The earliest record of the liturgy of the Mass comes from St. Justin Martyr’s “First Apologia,” dated to approximately 150AD, less than 60 years after John’s Gospel was written. In this document, St. Justin provides a painstakingly detailed step-by-step account of the liturgy which the early Christians followed, and it coincides exactly with the liturgy of today’s Catholic Mass.
The overall format of the Mass, comprising of “Liturgy of the Word” and “Liturgy of the Eucharist” is based on the format Jesus followed at the Last Supper (Mark 14:22-26) and on the Road to Emmaus on Easter Sunday (Luke 24:27,30). From the very beginning, Christians have followed this format, as evidenced by Acts 2:42, which says that the newly baptized “devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers,” and in verse 46 of the same chapter, we see that “they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes.” This was the early Church’s way of modeling its worship to follow Christ’s command at the Last Supper: “Do this in memory of Me.” (Luke 22:19)
We still do so today, joining the prayer of the Christians that came before us through a liturgy that has remained unchanged for 2,000 years. But there is more to this adherence than mere scrupulosity. Because the Mass follows a standard liturgy, I can actually walk into a Catholic Church anywhere in the world – even in places where I do not understand the language – and fully understand what is happening. I can still participate, knowing that what I am praying in English is the same as what the community around me is saying in their native language. Some parishes still hold Latin Masses, which allow Catholics who have taken the time to learn the Latin prayers to walk into a church anywhere in the world and fully participate in the liturgy, despite not knowing the local language. Thus, the Church prays in one truly catholic, universal, familial language.
Papal Power Rankings The hierarchy of the Catholic Church is another crucial source of community and family. The Catholic Church is structured much like a family tree. Every local parish has a priest and belongs to a diocese or archdiocese. These groups of parishes are overseen by the bishops of the Church. The bishop of Rome is the Pope, who is responsible for the general leadership of the Church. Every Catholic Church is connected and related to every other church, just as the members of a family are. This is expressed more fully when we use familial terms with each other. We call priests “Father,” as they are spiritual father figures for their congregations. Priests often refer to themselves as being “married” to the Church. In fact, a term used by some Catholics is “Mother Church”, in reference to the way the Church nurtures our faith. Nuns and monks go by the title of “Sister” and “Brother”. These terms, although perhaps confusing, actively illustrate the familial nature the Church is meant to live out.
All of Jesus’ recorded last words carry vital importance and relevancy to the crucifixion – and this is no exception. In this verse, Jesus expresses that he fully intends His crucifixion to be a full welcome into His family.
Hail Mary… and All the Other Saints Too As Christians, we believe that through the cross we become full members of the body of Christ. This helps explain why our devotion to Mary, Jesus’ mother, is so strong. It is an extension of Christ as the Son. His Kingdom becomes our Kingdom. His Father becomes our Father. And therefore, his mother becomes our mother too. We see this powerfully during Jesus’ crucifixion in John’s Gospel, which proclaims: “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom He loved, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold, your Son.’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother.” (John 19:26-27)
We also see this in the Catholic belief in the intercession of Saints. We believe that the Christians who came before us are not dead but, on the contrary, are enjoying eternal life in Heaven. We acknowledge that our Christian family includes both the Church here on earth and the Church in heaven. Therefore, just as I would ask my fellow Christians here on earth to pray for me, I ask the saints, my brothers and sisters in heaven, to pray for me as well. The saints are part of the entire Christian family to whom we can turn for both encouragement and example in our Christian journey. Paul captures this idea well when, after speaking at great length about all those who had died in faith (Hebrews 11), he says:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us.” Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us.” (Hebrews 12:1) The Church also celebrates Feast Days for various saints. I consider them to be like birthday celebrations, excepting that the focus of the celebration is the work that God has done in the life of that particular person. Catholics often keep icons and statues of Saints, just as a man might keep a picture of his wife and daughters on his desk. We do this to remind ourselves of the reality of the kingdom of heaven and the fullness of the family that we have. We know that we are brought closer to God through friendships and marriages that are rooted in Christ. Thus, we glorify God even more through our friendship with the saints. This is why we sing hymns like “Holy, Holy, Holy” during Mass, which is based on the words
that, according to Scripture, the angels and Saints sing in Heaven. The entire Church, as one family, praises God with the same song.
The Family Dough Of course, no discussion of the Catholic Church as a family would be complete without a discussion of Holy Communion, the Eucharist. Catholics believe that the bread and wine we consume undergoes transubstantiation, literally becoming body and blood of Jesus Christ. Rooted in the practice of consuming the Sacrificial Lamb during the Passover Seder, this belief is crucial to our understanding of Catholicism as a home. Drawing on Eucharistic theology, Paul spells out the familial relationship of the Church: “Is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf” (1 Corinthians 10:16-17).
As Catholics, we believe that the Eucharist, being in reality Jesus’ body broken and blood poured out, is the timeless, once-and-for-all sacrifice of the cross. Thus, we believe that there is only one Mass, and it is timeless and eternal. We simply experience it within the confines of time when we go every Sunday. As we transition from the Liturgy of the Word to the Liturgy of the Eucharist, our hearts are taken up into the Kingdom of God, heaven touches earth, and we enter into full unity with God. In that moment, we are truly the Body of Christ. And we are mystically, timelessly united with God, with Christ on the cross, with all the angels and saints in heaven, with every person around the globe who is receiving Holy Communion, and with every person who ever has or ever will participate in the Eucharist until Christ comes again. We are, in that moment, eternally and fully one family.
Who is Love? To grasp the ultimate importance of knowing the Church as a family, we must understand the Catholic concept of God. We believe that God is perfect love itself, existing in the form of a Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This Holy Trinity, this community of love, is essential to His nature. God is, in Himself, a family – the perfect family. Thus, the Church’s familiar nature emulates the love of God. It further serves as an acknowledgment of our Baptismal adoption into God’s Trinitarian family as children of the Father, members of the Body of Christ, and Temples of the Holy Spirit.
Ite, Missa Est I love the Catholic Church. Its universal liturgy allows me to participate fully in any Catholic Church, providing me with a home regardless of where I am. Its hierarchy allows for the Church to be structured like a family, relating parishes around the globe. Its devotion to the saints emphasizes our adoption into Godâ€™s family. Its celebration of the Eucharist transforms the Church into a real family. Finally,
its understanding of the Trinity illuminates how the concept of family is at the very core of Christian life. For these reasons, it is important that we recognize that the Catholic Church is more than an institution. It is a family, a home of Godâ€™s love.
Note: This article was written in March 2018 and is not intended as a response to the sexual abuse scandal in recent headlines.
GIANCARLO BERNINI is a senior religious studies major at the University of Texas at Austin
LEAVING LIVERPOOL CHANDLER MICHAELS
ou are on a train
It is hurtling forward much too fast, but you do not know your destination Everything you pass is so beautiful that you want to grasp it and hold on tight, yet it flits past before you can even reach out your hand This fleeting beauty, so intangible, gives your heart a pang of grief that no one else will notice You are totally alone in the crowded train, each person caught in their own episode of nostalgia A warm light flickers inside a house on a hill and you can feel its glow sink into your bones You imagine a life inside it, cheerful and content, so stationary and so unlike your train ride to nowhere
You can feel the light slipping, slipping, just out of reach, and then the darkness falls When the light flashes past, the stillness that replaces it feels colder for it having been there The scenery fades into the evening, and inside the train it begins to feel sterile, artificial, and you dream of escaping Of getting up and getting out at the next stop, wandering into the growing darkness and finding a home for yourself there But you do not You stay on the train to nowhere, strapped down and struggling against it, wondering how to weigh two unknowns
WHY WRITE CHANDLER MICHAELS
I write to capture a feeling Those fleeting moments of beauty, yearning, sadness Encapsulated in words Glimpses of something brighter, more full Behind the veil of this world A gauzy, hazy view of glory A figure through the fog, the outline visible for a breath before it shimmers away A feeling that tugs at your core, begging you â€œdo not forgetâ€? as it fades into nothing More than memory, less than materiality
QUEST FOR HOME CHANDLER MICHAELS
I set out long ago On a quest in search of home I wander down an aimless road Yearning for someone to lighten my load The longer I travel, the more I unravel As place after place shuts the door in my face I stop to sit and ponder, despondent Do I give up or continue on yonder? I decide to stay put, stake a claim Make this place my own, through the pain I put on a grin and try to pretend That this great unknown is my new abode Yet it becomes real even as I fake it I finally find: Home is where you make it
CHANDLER MICHAELS is a psychology major who graduated in spring 2018 from the University of Texas at Austin Plan II Honors Program. 43
HILL HOUSE SPOTLIGHT CAYDEN CONNALLY
ne might assume that the influence of religion is waning in contemporary society, particularly at colleges and universities. College students make up an ever-larger portion of the irreligious demographic in the United States, yet that is not stopping Greg and Mary Jane Grooms from ministering to young Christians attending the University of Texas at Austin. Greg and Mary Jane are the directors of Hill House, a ministry which “seeks to instruct students in the Biblical perspective that all of life and vocation flows out of our identity in Christ.” Beginning as
a resource center in 1989, Hill House has since become a full study center with weekly Bible studies and activities. They came to Hill House in August 1994 after working with the L’Abri Fellowship for 15 years in Switzerland. So, what does a typical week at Hill House look like? On Monday, undergraduate students gather together for dinner (usually a home-cooked meal by Mary Jane) and participate in a Bible study. The study is usually centered around a particular theological concept or set of beliefs central to the Christian
faith, such as the Apostles’ Creed. Greg utilizes Bible verses and quotes from famous figures to promote discussion and present his own case, and students and other guests are encouraged to share their own thoughts and beliefs as well. The night then ends in prayer, during which time everyone is free to share prayer requests and pray for the requests of others. And on Thursday night, graduate students gather together to do the same. Fridays might be the busiest day of the week: For lunch, students read and discuss an article pertaining to current events, and in the evening, both undergraduate and graduate students can come enjoy a home-cooked meal and special event, which can range from a movie and discussion to lecture or concert. With their ministry at Hill House, Greg and Mary Jane hope to reinforce students’ knowledge
of the Bible and proper theology so that they are sufficiently equipped to act out their faith in all realms of life. As a result, students will then be able to engage with the growing secular sentiment common to college campuses. “The challenge of secularism is huge,” says Greg. “The common explanation today is that science has replaced religion, but this is too simplistic. Instead of replacing Christianity with a scientific view, it has been replaced with dozens of different competing views. All of these differing views give everyone more freedom and make any one viewpoint less compelling. One of the main difficulties students face is asking how they would go about embracing any particular one of them.” This is where Hill House comes in. According to Greg, students not only need to know what they believe and why they believe it, they need a strong supporting community
“Greg and Mary Jane hope to reinforce students’ knowledge of the Bible and proper theology so that they are sufficiently equipped to act out their faith in all realms of life.” 45
of Christians among whom they are able to ask the big questions and get answers. Unfortunately, churches and families are often ill-equipped for this task; yet Hill House provides students with the chance to discover and delve into the deeper aspects of Christianity.
“In a world that seems to be growing darker every hour, Hill House helps young Christians fan the flames of their faith and let the true Light shine forth.”
When asked about how he feels about the future of Christianity on universities, Greg replied with a quote from William Henry Willamon, a contemporary American theologian at Duke Divinity School: “I am not optimistic, but I have hope. Optimism, if you push it too far, can make you blind to the problems that we face. As a believer, I take the problems very seriously, but I also believe that the grace of God at work in the world is greater than the problems. So, I have hope.” In a world that seems to be growing darker every hour, Hill House helps young Christians fan the flames of their faith and let the true Light shine forth.
CAYDEN CONNALLY is a sophomore government major at the University of Texas at Austin. 46
Front Cover The Prodigal Son (1996) by Mary McCleary Mary McCleary is Regentâ€™s Professor of Art Emeritus at Stephen F. Austin State University, where she taught from 1975 to 2005. Named Texas Artist of the Year in 2011, her work has been featured in 350 one-person and group exhibits in museums and galleries in 29 states, as well as Mexico, Canada and Russia.
The Nicene Creed We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstancial with the Father; through Him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation He came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, He suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and His kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy, catholic and apostolic Church. We confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins and we look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.
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