Issue 116, No. 1
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Greenville university Student produced
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CULTURE P. 4 FROM THE OUTSIDE / SELF TRANSITION P. 12
LISA SHARPE ADVISOR
Summer mengarelli EDITOR
JACK DAWDY Creative Director
ALLI HAUG DESIGNER
BEN ISAACS DESIGNER
ISAAC WARREN DESIGNER
DAMIEN CANTRELL WEB-MASTER
COLE GENSLER SOCIAL MEDIA COORDINATOR
ETHAN CHI PHOTOGRAPHER
Jonathan Bremer Creative Director in-traininG WRITER
REFLECTION P. 16 WRITING AS A FORM OF SELF-EXPRESSION P. 16 IMMIGRATION AND THE IMAGO DEI P. 18
OPINION P. 26 KALEI SWOGGER WRITER
SHELBY FARTHING WRITER
Josh Robinson WRITER
abi hillrich WRITER
Dear Readers, Maybe you remember playing with a kaleidoscope when you were young — looking through the eyepiece and seeing the individual flecks of color rotate around each other to form a coherent design. It’s a simple toy, but this semester we’ve chosen to focus on what it represents, the movement of abstraction into meaning. We’ve chosen to focus on the minutiae. In these pages you will find more narratives than what you may have come to expect from the Vista. As the Vista grows more into its position not as a yearbook, or a reflection on the past semester, but rather as a student-produced, student-led thinkpiece, we want to tell stories. And we want our readers to know that narratives can convey significance and articulate tensions in a uniquely poignant way.
I hope that as you read our stories, you will hear our passions and convictions, and find it within yourself to value our vulnerability. In return, I hope this issue of the Vista allows you space to embrace your own narrative. I want to thank you for picking up the Vista. As you flip through its pages, please allow our narratives to serve as a reminder that your stories are powerful. Subversive. Controversial. Important. And ultimately, they are worthy to be heard.
Happy Reading, Summer Mengarelli
The views and opinions expressed in this and all other issues of the Vista are those of the student writers, and do not necessarily reflect the values of Greenville University.
CENSORSHIP AND CHRISTIANITY P. 29 FOR CHRIST OR COUNTRY? P. 30 SUBMISSIONS P. 36 GALLERY P. 38
BoJack Horseman Taught Me About
FOOD JUSTICE: Understanding Food Waste in America
When I sat down to watch BoJack Horseman, a Netflix original comedy cartoon, I didn’t expect it to have such an impact on me as it has. For reference: this show follows a washed up actor in his middle-aged funk. He’s rich and famous, unhappy and selfish. He’s also half horse, half man (see his last name). There are countless other characters at play in this show: his agent, a cat-woman named Princess Caroline; his friend Todd, a human who crashed on BoJack’s couch after a party and never left; a dog-man named Mr. Peanut Butter whose career has gone similarly to BoJack’s; Mr. Peanut-Butter’s wife named Diane, who enters the show by ghost-writing BoJack’s memoir. But, despite this ridiculous premise, by the end of (at most) episode seven of the first season, you’ve picked up on it. BoJack is not a good person, and he doesn’t even want to be (until about the end of season one episode eleven). He uses his fame and influence to take advantage of women, he’s selfish and narcissistic, he falls into the same unhealthy habits over and over (and over). Amidst all of this, though, BoJack reminds the audience of themselves. I’ve been selfish, I’ve been manipulative, I’ve wanted to get better without knowing how. I’m sure you have too. I know each person’s faith journey is unique and spirituality means something different to everyone, but for me, it was the realization that I could never be perfect (or even good) on my own that began a search for something larger than myself. BoJack goes through this same process as he recognizes that there’s nothing or no one to blame for his wrongdoings outside himself. “You’re all the things that are wrong with you,” Todd yells at BoJack after getting fed up with being hurt by someone he’d considered a friend. Todd forces BoJack to look at his life without blinders, and see his bad decisions for what they really are. It isn’t until the fifth, and most recent, season that BoJack finally realizes he’ll need help and support from others to continue in bettering himself. Though BoJack does not choose to turn to religion or spirituality throughout the series, there is a moment that he is exposed to this option. A friend from his past turns to practices reminiscent of Eastern religions, professing to have discovered the secret to happiness. “Only after you give up
everything can you begin to find a way to be happy,” he says while drinking tea near an excluded hut in the mountains, sitting cross legged on a hammock-like chair. BoJack leaves this encounter with a dismissive “man, what a nut” on the drive home, and never considers this path for himself. However, the inclusion of this scene reminds the viewer that spirituality and the traditions of those who may choose to sacrifice material goods for fulfillment in life are valid practices.
This show may not directly address spirituality, but there are echoes of it in every episode. BoJack is constantly looking for something outside of himself to fix himself. He tries drugs, alcohol, sex, and fame to no avail. It is in this same way that many people accept religion or Christianity, as if because they call themselves religious and follow specific practices, they become good people. It seems that the only people (and animals) that have found true happiness and fulfillment in this show have chosen the hardest path: to make the decision to do what is right day after day after day. I’ve watched BoJack Horseman with people who shut it off after the first episode because of its profane and offensive content. This show addresses the hard stuff: alcoholism, addiction, sexual double standards, loneliness, sexism, and dangerous drug use. But it’s not hiding anything; the creators of BoJack Horseman are not trying to put on a front of something sterile or pure. I think this is the reason it’s taught me so much about God. It reminds me a little bit of the Bible, a book full of stories of people messing up over and over, and learning to be better through the grace and truth of God. But, the process is active. If BoJack Horseman teaches us anything, it’s that if you sit around and wait to become a better person, you’ll continue to disappoint yourself.
In the small rural farming community where I was raised, there was an area
of town that I always hated driving by. I noticed at a small age that this area of town smelled terrible, and by terrible, I mean it smelled like trash. I later learned that this is because it literally was filled with trash. It was a dump. I asked my preschool teachers why people put trash into giant heaps in the middle of cornfields. My teachers responded with the fact that America simply had too much trash. This conversation has been in the back of my mind every time I pass by a landfill. I notice dented refrigerators, old television sets, or long-forgotten love seats. It wasn’t until recently, however, that I was made aware that the bulk of waste thrown into landfills isn’t furniture or old tires, but food — and perfectly edible food. It is shocking to think about the amount of food that goes to waste in America. A few years ago, I was wandering past a Panera Bread with some friends, and an elderly man asked us if we could buy him something from Subway. I reached into my pocket to see if I had any money when I noticed a Panera bread worker throw a huge, clear garbage bag of bagels into the trash. I ran inside and asked if I could take the bagels, and the worker told me they were perfectly good. I was so shocked by this that I asked the worker why they would throw them out in the first place. The worker responded that their marketing strategy was selling “fresh baked goods” and that anything that was not made in
the store that day was not up to their standards of “fresh.” I grabbed the bag of bagels from the garbage and handed them to the elderly man.
This situation has made me question: why would we throw away perfectly good food? A study from the not-for-profit organization Feeding America has found that 218 billion dollars’ worth of edible food is thrown away every year. Another staggering statistic indicates that 21% of available freshwater is used to produce food that is later discarded. Ten percent of food that is thrown away is waste from grocery stores. This is usually because grocery stores believe that customers are more likely to purchase food from overstocked displays. Thus, perfectly edible food is thrown away to make room for the next shipment of produce. Another reason why food goes to waste in America is the misinformation of sell-by or expiration dates. Food production companies usually use expiration dates as an estimation of when they believe the food will go bad. In order to avoid lawsuits, food production companies usually guess that the food will go bad before it actually is even close to expiring. Many American families toss out food that is perfectly fine because they are misinformed. The best way that activists can go against the grain in trying to properly allocate food resources is through nonprofits such as Boulder Food Rescue. Boulder Food Rescue’s mission statement is as follows: “Boulder Food Rescue works to create a more just and less wasteful food system. We do this through the sustainable redistribution of healthy food to low-income communities while educating each
other about food justice.” They began their mission after conducting research that proved that there is enough food thrown away in their county to feed every homeless or low-income individual that lives within their county borders. Many similar nonprofit organizations exist in suburban or urban areas within the US, although they are lacking in rural areas. Although “food justice” is probably not a term that most of us have heard before, it is something that every middle- or upper-class American should be considering.
They began their mission after conducting research that proved that there is
enough food thrown away in their county to
feed every homeless or low-income individual that lives within their county borders.
Literature has radically reordered the world many times over. From its conception
being so it can incite powerful emotions — rage, sorrow, empathy, joy — and move in ancient days, it was revolutionary as a individuals to acts of great violence or of remarkable step in human accomplishment, great kindness. The product of literature is a rendering of a rich cultural landscape, in various turns turbulent and restorative, and a fascinating concept actualized at the carrying minds and souls through their convergence of many great monuments confrontations with change and imbalance. in human history. At the same time, the The motivations of a culture’s literature and creation of literature was processual, an its effects on those who claim it as their own evolutionary consummation of potentials are important not only as relics but also to in long-developing neural structures. understand the mindsets and tendencies Therefore, an important interpretation of of peoples and individuals, as well as the the role of literature comes not only from a making of a cultural identity. current understanding of neurophysiology — knowing that words with their evocative Literature is also a deeply personal kind of nature can affect important change art. As such, it weaves together the threads of within the brain itself — but from a story, introspectively, keeping all the parts interconnected yet individuated a reflection on how it has been in the retelling. Done skillfully this becomes a masterpiece that transcends used, and continues to be used, time, relations, and the specific circumstances of its own creation. Literature by humans as a tool. Words create is therefore the authorship and ownership of all people. vehicles of thought by which we communicate experience, Perhaps most importantly, then, is that our words connect us. With its and literary expression uses inherent binding qualities, literature spans throughout time and space, these vehicles to affect change reaching broadly across geographic regions to dramatically affect seemingly in that experience. Therefore, by insignificant people in unexpected places. Reviewing the literatures of comprehending the literatures of the world, keeping these notes in perspective, evidences that the deeply a culture we can grow to further entrenched natures of the cultures surrounding us, often perceived to be understand the culture itself. monolithic, inaccessible, unquestionably or inevitably segregated, are really fluid and interrelated. With this in mind, it is important that we develop an Literature may be regarded as a approach to the intricacy of writing that we find within and among cultural historical monument: a period of groupings — one that is respectful, humble, and absolutely open to the time is honored and preserved by infinite possibilities afforded by world literatures. its literature. Works of literature are greatly valuable during their By advocating and working to instill an uncensored, tolerant and intentional own time, both as critically consideration of literatures we can develop a global system of thought observational, descriptive records and interaction that is in some measure both heterogeneous and holistic. of real circumstances and as Cultivating not only knowledge of, but also a personal appreciation for personal reflections in relation to and widespread access to the literatures of all nations and cultures, while these circumstances. This amounts understanding the deeply rooted origins of each one’s written tradition, is to a written chronicle throughout an important step in improving cultural awareness and communication. time of the intertwining emotional, By learning from literature the aspects of an unfamiliar set of lives, a intellectual and sociopolitical complex web of viewpoints, it is possible to grow an organic respect for experiences of individuals and other peoples, individuals, and ideas. We, at the same time, are personally societies within localized portions affected and influenced by the outpourings of all that we learn, though we of the world. This narrative then do not necessarily assimilate them. In this way isolationism decreases, but reaches down vertically into the not at the expense of cultural integrity. lives of future readers, giving insight and inspiration. It is true that the Diversity in the reading magnitude of a work’s intrinsic value is often of literature increases the measured more by its impact on subsequent information available to us, generations than by its reception during its and in doing so it broadens own time. And like any historical remnant, psychological possibilities literature has deep cultural significance and clears pathways of as it documents a way of thought being thought. This results in passed traditionally downward through the spread of a powerful many epochs. Literature is an artifact, an bricolage of ideas. Learning inheritance and a lineage. as much as we can about many things, especially Yet human experience is not uniform and things previously foreign to so one can often uncover manifold contrasts and conflicts among the literatures of a single us, stimulates us to continue becoming, and to continue society. There is a high degree of experiential creating. Likewise, what variety demonstrated in the collective we create contributes to works of a large population, reflecting the the growth of others. We all continual flux of thought and action. All the participate in the expansion possibilities and proclivities of human beings of human knowledge. can be unmasked through literature — it is the the archive of imagination. Additionally, literature is a dynamic, sometimes volatile form of expression. In
Coffee shops have become a culture of their own
GUIDE ORDERING TO
in the wake of third wave coffee. The sounds of milk steaming, people talking, and indie music playing in the background have always made the setting itself appealing for anything, like getting work done or a conversation between friends. The delicious drinks aren’t the only thing drawing people to coffeeshops anymore. However, it is still important to understand the options that coffee shops provide. Though these drinks may not be listed on the menu of your favorite local shop, they are drinks that every barista has the ability to make.
BLACK COFFEE OPTIONS: Pourover
A pourover is made with a device like a V60, Kalita Wave, or Chemex, with water poured slowly through the grounds. Usually served in a mug or Hario device, pourovers are one of the most common ways specialty coffee shops serve black coffee.
This coffee is made with airpot (large pot that holds many cups of coffee) and a machine designed to make coffee in these pots. This is the most common way to make coffee, and it’s hard to find a coffee shop without an airpot set up.
Foam: The bubbly top of ste amed milk when it is aerated we ll.
Microfoam: The bottom pa rt of steamed milk when it is aerated evenly.
presso: Concentrated coffe e, with a little less caffeine than one cup of regularly brewed co ffee.
This is a cup of drip coffee with a double shot of espresso. It gives as much caffeine as possible, and a stronger, thicker mouthfeel.
MILK BASED DRINKS:
1. Traditional Macchiato This drink is a single shot of espresso with a dollop
Diversity in Literature Shelby Swogger
of foam atop. Starbucks makes something they call a macchiato, that is really just an upside-down latte (milk, then espresso). Drinks like a traditional macchiato, espresso, and sometimes even a cappuccino are served with a small shot of seltzer water to clear your palate after finishing the drink.
More CONCENTRATED LESS CONCENTRATED
2. Cortado / Gibraltar A gibraltar is made with a 1:1 ratio of espresso to
steamed milk. This milk is steamed like a latte, with a consistent thickness throughout. In some cases, a cortado is just a gibraltar with added sweetener; in others, they are the same drink.
3. Cappuccino This drink is a double-shot of espresso with
steamed milk on top, made smaller than a latte. The milk for a cappuccino is steamed to contain much more foam for a layer on top of the milk and espresso mixture. If you are crazy about the foam and want more foam than milk, ask for a dry cappuccino. This will just be espresso, with a lot of foam on top (basically a larger macchiato – with a little different ratio).
4. Flat White A flat white is made the same size as a cappuccino, with a double-shot as well. The only difference between these two drinks is the milk consistency. Milk is steamed more evenly, to “microfoam.” This is the creamiest part of the milk, at the bottom layer of the pitcher after it has been steamed. To get this milk, the barista will steam the milk like a latte, with consistent texture, and then pour out the top layer that develops.
A latte is probably the most common steamed milk drink at coffee shops. It has a doubleshot of espresso, steamed milk, and often some flavor added. The milk is steamed to have a consistent texture throughout. If you’re lucky, you’ll get some cute art on top too. If you want something a little creamier, ask for a breve latte. This is made with half-and-half, which gives it a delicious edge.
6. Cafe Au Lait This drink is an interesting combination of a latte
and a cup of coffee. The cafe au lait is made with a cup of brewed coffee and smooth steamed milk.
The rise of E-Sports over the past several years has redefined the world of competition. Increasing interest in
A Chilly-Day Playlist of
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30-degree weather and you realize that you’d forgotten to make a playlist. Do not fear! Below you’ll find a song for everything from the energizing falling temperatures to the melancholic, dreary rain (or snow)-filled days. You’ll only find female artists in the mix, to raise awareness of some of the strongest, most emotion-filled voices I know.
It’s that classic changing-of-the-seasons problem: you’re four days deep into
you? / o are h w t u “Bu do yo where you o From hat d W / ? ho come And w e in? / v e i l e b ?” u love do yo
6. Safe – St. South
o and warm vocals, will This song, balanced by its gentle pian write bad poetry while it’s make you want to drink coffee and snowing outside.
7. Depreston – Courtney Barnet
had while shopping for A song about an experience Barnett on a dreary fall day. home is perfect for going on walk
8. Heat Wave – Snail Mail
find / Swallows you “And I hope the love that you you said it might”
9. Vacation – Florist
“Vacation” feels like nostalgia and
10. Tactilian – Half Waif
wholly / Like
growing up and falling in love.
t, that’s all.
This song is completely brillian
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What happens to the professional scene when the casual audience disappears? As interest dies, the casual player pool dwindles, and the quality of competition depreciates at the same time. Eventually, the game begins to lose viability as a spectator sport, and the hard work that competitive players put into perfecting their mechanics is nullified. A professional player might wonder, “Is this game going to be a passing trend, or will I be able to build a long-term career in E-Sports?” This is something that athletes in traditional sports do not have to worry about, even though the disciplines are similar. Like traditional athletes, competitive gamers spend countless hours pursuing their game of choice. They immerse themselves in competitive environments and invest themselves entirely in their chosen platform. Perfecting their technique and in-game mechanics is of the utmost importance. Their career depends on that split-second reaction or gameshifting decision. In that sense, E-Sports and traditional sports are no different. They both require that level of focus, discipline, and intelligence that makes competitive individuals tick. The fundamental difference, and the obstacle many E-Sport players face, is rooted in uncertainty. No competitive gamer can predict the lifespan of their game. It could last ten years, or it could last two. The longevity of these games begs the question posed above. Will E-Sports stick around, or will we soon see them fade away? When traditional athletes are dropped from their teams or lose their jobs, their talents are not rendered useless. The sport itself has not disappeared, only their role on a specific team or group, and they have the potential to take on other roles, like coaching or commentating. In other
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video games in general has allowed the video gaming industry to accumulate a large base of casual players, and this is the perfect environment to foster the growth of competitive gaming. These games range from single-player games like Hearthstone, Starcraft II, and Super Smash Brothers Melee, to cooperative games that involve teams of two to six players like League of Legends, Overwatch, and Heroes of the Storm. These large groups of casual players make games successful and allow for the emergence of competitive and professional players. But these casual players don’t stick around forever.
E-SPORTS: Trendy or Timeless? jONATHAN bREMER
words, these athletes have other opportunities to make an impact in that sport, because it still exists. Professional gamers don’t have that luxury. When their game loses viability, or dies altogether, then they are done permanently. Their sport is deleted from existence and their livelihood is destroyed. It is a unique problem unlike any other in sports. It is possible for competitive players to adapt to similar games if their game of expertise has died away or fallen from popular favor. When new consoles and gaming systems are released, updates and new versions of the same games are released to stay relevant and maintain user interest. Games like Super Smash Brothers have done this successfully, with few problems to speak of. But players of other games like League of Legends would be unable to make such a shift. The game-specific skills required of League players would not directly translate to any other game on the market. There is a lot of unique game-sense and knowledge that is only relevant to League of Legends. As a result, its competitive player base would have a hard time transitioning to another E-Sport. Problems of unique skill sets like those required of League players only increase the uncertainty many professional gamers face. Are E-Sports trendy or timeless? Due to games’ lack of longevity and the limited interest of casual audiences, it is likely that many E-Sports will die sooner rather than later. The specific games that don’t fade away will have to offer incentives and unique and immersive experiences for their audience to keep their long-term interest. While the games themselves may not share the longevity that traditional sports have, professional gamers can still survive and make a living off gaming. The rise of streaming services like Twitch and Youtube over the last decade has allowed for gamers and content creators alike to become monetized as they play games for a specific audience. Zach “Sneaky” Scuderi, who plays “AD Carry” for Cloud 9’s League of Legends team, is a perfect example. Having participated in the competitive gaming scene since 2012, “Sneaky” has built a massive following across the world, with his Twitch channel exceeding 1.3 million followers. He has played World of Warcraft competitively, while also playing games like Heroes of Newerth and DOTA on the side. Even when his “first team” career seemed in jeopardy after he was benched for a portion of this past season, he was able to pull through with the massive support of his fanbase. While the concept of E-Sports may be timeless, the individual games could very well be passing trends. But there are still ways for competitive gamers to support themselves, even when their games or their expertise in t hat esport are no longer required. If gamers are versatile and adaptable, they can survive a in seemingly fragile industry and make a living for themselves while doing what they love.
10 And because dissociation is more common than we’d like to think. I want to invite you to understand something a little out there, and a little complex. I want to invite you to see beyond the stigma, little by little, tearing the barriers down. I want to suggest that perhaps the shattered fragments of dissociation, though chaotic and disruptive at first, have the potential to become gifts, multiplying the human potential. Our world is full of colorful, kaleidoscope experiences. Examine the Fragments of the rainbow with me.
BECAUSE PEOPLE MATTER.
Human beings have been debating this question since we knew how to speak. Recent explorations in the field of psychology have centered on understanding the nature of consciousness, and how exactly our physical brain relates to this metaphysical space we call “the mind.” This space seems to be the only way to explain the surreal experience of being absent from the body. Somehow our body experiences something our minds don’t. Imagine if you experienced highway hypnosis everyday. Multiple times a day. This is what it’s like to live with a dissociative disorder. What happens to these sensory experiences? Are they lost in the abyss of the forgotten past? Are they simply sensory messages that weren’t coded correctly and failed to reach the conscious mind? Where do they go? Imagine a jar with me: a smooth, clay vessel. Carefully crafted by skilled hands, refined in the kiln, glazed with an array of varying colors and geometric figures. Someone caresses the jar in their hands. They carelessly shift their grip and it slips from their grasp. The jar collides with the floor, shattering into pieces.The jar is your mind under extreme stress. Dissociation is the defense mechanism. Stress hormones surge through your nervous system unabated, because you can’t leave the stressful situation. Rather than losing touch with all reality, your mind shatters into fragments, each one capable of handling a certain part of the stress. Some parts of you remember being dropped, others don’t. But the experience of falling, and your brain’s sensory record of it, doesn’t disappear. It remains imprinted on a fracture. Experiences of disruptive dissociation occur on a spectrum, and they can feel different for every person, based on their unique traits and history. The most extreme cases result in permanent fragments of the mind, some of which develop their own traits. In other words, they become individual personalities. Yes, multiple personality disorder is actually the result of severe dissociation. Its revised name, dissociative identity disorder (DID), has been adapted to reflect this. So why is this important?
WHERE DO YOU GO IN THESE MOMENTS?
This phenomenon is as common to the human experience as breathing. Take highway hypnosis for example. Have you ever been driving on the road, and all of sudden arrived somewhere you didn’t even know you were going? How did I get here? Have you ever sat in a lecture and somehow missed the last point the professor made, even though you were staring at the screen? What was that definition? It’s like reality is far away, until someone snaps you back to the present, and shuts the door to the abstract reality of your thoughts.
DISSOCIATION: THE DISCONNECTION OR SEPARATION OF SOMETHING FROM ANOTHER THING OR THE STATE OF BEING DISCONNECTED.
To be honest, this isn’t something I wanted to write about. It means opening a door into my life that isn’t easy to shove open. But I think sharing my experience, and the experience of those closest to me, is worth expanding your view of the world.
I WOULD LIKE TO SUGGEST THAT SOMETHING PROFOUNDLY ABNORMAL IS ACTUALLY MUNDANELY TYPICAL.
E O C I L P E D S KA E N D I M 11
That’s dumb. I wish I could tell her. Sometimes I wish the outsiders could understand. But they don’t. So I tell her it’s nothing. Suddenly Sister interrupts: “What’s so funny?”
I’m still partially in the Inside World. I hear one of my friends make a joke. It’s funny and I’m laughing with him. The guys are always so funny. I’m one of them in the Inside World.
Fog billows around the car as the breath of the engine mixes with cold air. She steps from the house, closing the door behind her. As she walks towards the car I see her head down, lips moving. She whispers to herself a lot. She opens the door and sits down. “Hey, kid.” She looks at me, blinks, and nods. Blinking. That’s always a sign. I know she is struggling to stay present and not let someone else take over. But I’m not entirely sure who I am talking to. I shift gears and we pull away from the house. Sometimes we have long conversations, but other times she is silent. “How was it?” I ask. “It was fine,” she responds. “What did your writing group talk about?”
That is Sister beside me. She drives me places a lot. Now I can see that I am in a car and in the Outside World. The Outside World is layered, ticking, absolute. It mocks me. Today I’m interested in some things in the Outside World; I’m thinking about how I can apply concepts of chaos theory to understand diseases and neuropathology caused by mutations—I’ll tell Sister about my ideas. Not that she’ll care. When I talk about cool things she just sits there and nods and doesn’t say anything interesting. am
I try to formulate a response without time to come up with something smart. “Oh, so you don’t actually know what that is?” Disappointment. It’s on her face. She was sitting on the edge of her seat, features animated, hands moving. She leans back now, stares ahead, becoming silent. This always happens. Our conversations are never enough to keep her engaged for very long. We sit in silence.
Self Transition Shelby Swogger
What you are about to read is a fictional account told from two different perspectives. My sister and I compiled this story from our interactions with one another to give you a brief experience of what it’s like to interact and live with dissociative identity disorder.
They are going back and forth; they are changing; I see those shapes and they frighten me. I cannot write well and so I need the help of others. But these times wear me out and I get tired. I’m worried. I don’t know what to say to people. I stay quiet. Those shadows, they are spinning again. Sometimes they try to take me with them. Sometimes they do. I don’t know where to go. I don’t know where Shelby is. We need to find her. I am afraid. Who is talking right now—not me? I can only be in the spinning shadows.
SO THE SHADOWS DISSIPATE, THE WHITENESS COLLAPSING.
Sometimes she whispers, or laughs a little to herself. I’ve stopped asking her what’s so funny. She usually says, “Oh never mind.” This frustrates me because I want so badly to understand. Other times we have amazing conversations, like the night we went to Starbucks and talked for hours about her experiences and her goals, and reminisced about the past. I could tell she was tired when she began to disengage. When we got home, she went up to her room, with no goodbye. Her choice to engage even for a short period of time says more to me than the absence of “goodbye” or “I love you.” She is capable of communicating these things, but often in unconventional ways. When she struggles to be present, my choice to be present matters. Some part of her always hears. I want her to know that I love her. Always.
Still The Others spin, vortical, and with their ebbs and flows. Now I must analyze myself. I have an approximated few seconds to ossify amid the eddying or another form will grow to replace me—weak like the Littles or bad like Bethesda. I have finished; I Shelby. I don’t know, exactly, who Shelby is, but no one questions me when I say my name is Shelby, and that I’m 15 (or 14, or 17, as the time goes.)
I keep asking questions to hear about her ideas and intellectual thoughts. She’s always teaching me something, challenging me to focus on the road, follow her highly complex ideas, and formulate a response all at the same time. She is always a wonder to me.
“People who come to see my movies, you’re coming to see a drama masquerading as a genre piece.” This is what M. Night Shyamalan,
IN MY EXPERIENCE, MOST PEOPLE CONSIDER MENTAL ILLNESS TO LABEL YOU AN OUTSIDER. Instead of being normal, you’re considered “abnormal,” “special,” “overly sensitive,” or “different.” Have you considered that we might all be on the same playing field?
Some models explaining how mental illness can develop in otherwise neurotypical persons describe mental health on a continuum rather than in categories. Instead of being entirely different groups of people, we all exist on the same line, but in different locations. One person’s highest level of functioning may look different than someone else’s based on their location. Although this is an imperfect illustration, it helps put into perspective that mental illness is another part of human experience. It is not something to be feared, ignored, or worst of all, doubted. The brief glimpse into my sister’s experience with DID is only a limited snapshot of what it’s like to live with an illness that is not physically visible. However, once we come to terms with the reality that mental illness is a common part of human experience, the next step on the path of healing is to see the potential for greater understanding, greater creativity, and greater human connection that can be found if we choose to embrace these experiences. I would like to leave you with a portion of a personal journal from the moment my own perspective shifted. May you be inspired and challenged to shift your own paradigms. DID saved her life. My mind opened as I discovered the key to unshackling my heart and mind from the anger, the wrestling against the greatest injustice of my life. Why my beautiful sister’s mind? Why a mind with so much potential? This mysterious process of the brain has been surrounded by mystic superstition, fear, degradation, hate, and shame. But this thing saves lives. Is it wrong for me to say that DID is a demonstration of her mind’s potential? Potential to survive things that shouldn’t be. Potential to live past grief and paralyzing, confusing pain. And now this confusing thing, this scary thing, this thing that has prolonged grief (enabled grief), increased pain (utilized pain), prolonged healing (initiated healing). This thing has set in motion the beautiful, painful process of healing. It has set in motion a rebirth. It has set the stage for the creation of something new.
MOTION Kalei Swogger
"THE NEXT STEP ON THE PATH OF HEALING IS TO SEE THE POTENTIAL FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING, GREATER
the creator of the 2016 thriller Split, said in response to the question of whether he worried about controversy over his depiction of dissociative identity disorder (DID). The main character in the film, Kevin, is a host to 23 different identities. In a film full of major plot twists, the only thing exhaustingly predictable is that Kevin deteriorates into the villain. Shyamalan claims the philosophy behind the film is that the broken are more evolved. However, the portrayal of Kevin as an erratic criminal raises questions about Shyamalan’s success in communicating this idea. Although M. Night Shyamalan’s goal was not to accurately portray DID, his lack of understanding misrepresents and further stigmatizes those who live with the diagnosis. Artistic liberty is allowed, but I think it’s right to question the morality of taking liberties in an area where ignorance costs a significant group of people their dignity.
and ways of speaking. Each one plays a role in processing the trauma and protecting the original person. Without the brain’s extraordinary capacity to break down an experience into more manageable parts, the experience would cause a break with reality. With DID, however, all the identities can learn to cooperate as a highly functional system, capable of acting almost seamlessly throughout everyday life. Most people with DID do not understand what is going on until the process is explained to them. They may recognize that different factors are acting on their behavior, think they hear voices telling them how to act, or experience blackouts similar to highway hypnosis. However, once the cause of their confusion is explained, they can begin to gain more control and balance between all their parts.
It requires the individual to “ accept that they lived through the experience, and as a way of coping, natural parts of themselves developed into individual identities
I don’t remember when I first heard about DID, but I remember having the idea that it was scary. When my sister was diagnosed, I was forced to confront the reality that something I had confined to the arena of criminals and the insane was something my sister dealt with on a daily basis. I deeply love my sister. And she isn’t close to being either of those things. At first, grappling with this reality was extremely difficult. It wasn’t exactly something I could call my best friend about, expecting them to understand. So I began to educate myself in order to reconcile my conflicting ideas about DID. This is the most important thing I learned: DID is a complex defense mechanism, not a violent disorder. It develops in response to childhood trauma that the developing brain cannot process. The result is a splitting of the mind into different identities, each one defined by a small part of the memory. Some parts are purely emotional and not really capable of intellectual thought or language. Others are similar to what we call personalities. They have unique dispositions, ticks,
If safety is secured, it is possible for the individual to acknowledge that they no longer need the system to function for them. This is called integration. It requires the individual to accept that they lived through the experience, and as a way of coping, natural parts of themselves developed into individual identities. Although the identities will never leave, integration leads to extreme self-awareness that can provide unique insight, understanding, and problem-solving capacities that might not be available to a neurotypical person.
So yes, M. Shyamalan, the broken can indeed become more evolved. And because of this, they have more to offer than providing the novelty in your screenplay. Understanding DID as a defense mechanism has allowed me as an observer to understand my sister on a much deeper level, and to support her through the journey with compassion and encouragement. To truly understand requires walking in another’s shoes. While everyone’s experience is different based on their unique personality, I invite you to see a glimpse of what it’s like for one person to live with DID.
CREATIVITY, AND GREATER HUMAN CONNECTION THAT CAN BE FOUND IF WE CHOOSE TO EMBRACE THESE EXPERIENCES."
ma: e in C in r e d r o is D y Dissociative Identit
Y Y A A L L P P N N E E E E R R C C S A NA AN HA TH ET RE OR M MO Kalei Swogger 15
REFLECTION Jonathan Bremer In the chaos and the unpredictability of life, finding the courage to talk about your
circumstances, goals, struggles and dreams is difficult. We live within a “me-centric” universe that revolves around us. While many people can be content to post their “#blessed” statuses about their perfect lives, there are so many more of us that feel a disconnect from the filtered world of this augmented, post-social reality. So much of what we see has been masked over and packaged for selling. This is because in a me-centric universe, we are so focused on being “liked,” or meeting a standard of acceptability, that what is projected is no longer authentic — and if you are like me, you are not one to trust inauthentic people. Thus, having the freedom and the platform to write down thoughts and emotions can be extremely therapeutic. Whether that is through poetry, song, short stories or journal entries, all formats can effectively help you process your innermost thoughts. As an introvert, it can be difficult for me to trust others with my story. First, like many others, I don’t want to be judged. I want people to like me and there is always pressure to be good enough. Secondly, I have a conditioned fear and mistrust of individuals who aren’t authentic. I question their intentions and generally find myself uncomfortable around them. So, I turn to a medium that allows me to say the things I need to get off my chest, while also avoiding the risk of being hurt. As far as emotional expression and wellbeing goes, I find it relieving to just sit down in front of my computer with my guitar and type out my feelings. I funnel all my emotions into the words that I put down. I’ve sat for 2-3 hours at a time, just writing and playing, with an emotional breakdown every now and then. Most of the time, no final product comes out of it. But even when I haven’t produced anything, that time has been invaluable to me. During those sessions, I have analyzed myself and reflected on the why behind my emotions. Often I don’t find a solution, but usually just taking the time to think about the “why?” behind your feelings allows you to process them more effectively. I also find that I have recurring feelings. So, I often look back through my journal where I’ve written similar thoughts and reread them. They serve as great notes for reflecting on where I’ve been and how far I’ve come. Writing and music also serve as spaces where you can safely and freely speak
about your identity, your life goals, and your personal journey of discovery and direction. In a journal, a song book, or a diary there are no filters imposed upon you. You can say whatever you think, be as personal and open as you desire, and share as much or as little as you want. You can also refer to entries years later and reflect while you compare your recorded thoughts with your new perspective. Finally, it can be used as a tool and a platform to prepare to share who you are with those around you. Despite all this, there is still a fundamental problem with relying on writing for selfexpression. Unless we use this medium to relate to others, to help our friends and family through their own experiences, or to support other people, we begin to isolate ourselves. A limit of this medium is that we can begin to lose touch with others. Using writing or music as an emotional and creative outlet is a great thing, but it should not be a substitute for meaningful connection with other people. It cannot adequately fill the space that a deep conversation with a trusted friend occupies. Trusting others not to hurt us or judge us based off our histories is hard, but it is not impossible, especially if we can use something we’ve written or created to guide us. If we reflect on our experiences and share them with the people around you, then we can build a powerful connection with them. There is risk involved, as opening up exposes those areas in your life. But people will notice that you are genuine, and people will be more likely to relate to you. They may even be vulnerable and share their story with you. When everything is stripped away, it is important to remind ourselves that we are all people. We all have feelings and there will always be someone willing to listen to your experiences and build you up.
When you’re young, it’s easy to call everybody your friend. Some parents allow the opportunity to choose your
Circle of Success
own friends, while some tell their children to stay away from those kids that cause trouble. Either way, it’s often the case that kids experience for themselves who is a real friend and who is not. As you get older, you find that your friends from your childhood, or maybe just from an earlier period in your life, aren’t going to be around to support you unless they’re on the same page as you. You’ll find out who will really have your back through thick and thin, and who won’t ever do you any harm. Throughout my life, I’ve been trying to find out the true meaning of a friend. When I was younger, I hung around kids in my neighborhood who didn’t know any better and tried to do things that they thought were “cool,” but that would actually get you in trouble, like fighting, smoking, and stealing. My mother had always told me that it’s fine to play with them every once in a while, but not all the time. I was puzzled, because they were my friends and they had always treated me like I was family. What I didn’t know was that they had gotten into trouble around the area. I also tried to pull the “What Would Jesus Do” card on my mom to get permission to roam free with them.
Meanwhile, I made friends from grade school that are still some of my closest friends till this day. As I got older, I began to understand what my mom was talking about. One of my neighborhood friends started getting into a lot of trouble with the police and tried dragging me into it. I was being led down the wrong path. I would always try to look out for him, and try to help him out, just like how he would do the same for me. But while you can lead a horse to water, you can’t make him drink. The last time I saw him was two years ago. In college, you’ll begin to find your own understanding of a true friend. Hopefully, you will find two or three companions you could have as your best men or bridesmaids in your wedding. I’ve had the same friends since freshman year, and we’ve always had each other’s back. We have pushed each other to do better and they have never steered me in the wrong direction. As you get older, you begin to realize who actually wants to help you succeed, and who wants to watch you fall. Friends want to see you prosper and also want to prosper with you; they always have your back through any circumstance and will support you in your goals and ambitions. If you surround yourself with positive influences, then they’ll make you a better person.
IMMIGRATION AND THE
believe any part of this process is honoring to the Imago Dei. The main arguments I see on both sides go down to the heart of this issue. Are we more concerned about the economic impact of a person, or are we more concerned about the person?
Greenville University has prepared me for a lot of things. My professors have taught me how to ask great questions and produce really great work. They have consistently pushed me to pursue my “calling.” However, they did not prepare me to survive this calling. I have always had what are considered to be extremely liberal views on immigration. I have proudly sported a “No Human is Illegal” sticker on my laptop for the entirety of my time at GU. I sported these “liberal” views, but before starting my internship in Washington, DC, I probably could have counted on two hands the number of immigrants with whom I actually interacted. I probably could not have named a single undocumented person that I knew. My views were abstract, and they came in the forms of Twitter retweets and attending marches (but only if they worked out with my schedule). I approached the “issue” of immigration with such privilege. I could opt out at any moment. When I took a position at Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I do not speak Spanish, so I had never really considered pursuing a career in immigration law. This internship was a complete wild card. I see everything differently after working at CAIR. I spoke with immigrants and their families every day. I attended immigration court proceedings. I saw the inside of an ICE Detention Center — more than once. At no point in this process did I sense justice. If those of us who call ourselves Christians are supportive of the current immigration system, I would argue we are kidding ourselves if we
While I was at an ICE detention center in Virginia, I met a man. I met several men, hundreds probably. The facility I was at housed over 700 people, and due to the nature of work CAIR does, we see anyone who would like to come out. However, I will tell just one story. There are hundreds I could tell, and hundreds that deserve to be told, but this is one that stuck with me in particular. For the sake of confidentiality, let’s call him Juan. I walked up to Juan and gave my speech about CAIR, and I asked him if he spoke English. He told me no; “Español, por favor.” I looked around for help, and there was none. I told him my Spanish was horrible, but that I would try my best. After he spoke about his immigration journey and told me I was “muy bonita,” I started struggling to understand what he was saying. He was talking very fast, and my Spanish is just not very good. I was helpless and extremely stressed because we do not get a lot of time with each dorm. I did not want my inadequacies to hinder his assistance. Juan stopped, and he looked me in the eye and in near perfect English stated “We can do the rest of this in English if you want. Thank you for trying.” I chuckled. I was embarrassed. My Spanish was horrible, and I am so much more comfortable when I do not have to use it. If he spoke English, why did we have to go through that? I think back to this story quite often. Juan was so similar to every other 20-something year old man I had ever met. It felt so obvious in that moment that the only thing separating me from him was an abstract border. The thing is, though, nothing was separating us in that moment. We were the same. If our circumstances were different, we would be friends. With reflection, I have come to the realization that that specific moment probably meant much more to Juan. Most of the ICE guards in that detention facility do not speak Spanish. The immigrants in Virginia do not have the right to attend their court processes, and the interpreter is in the courtroom
rather than at the detention facility with the immigrant, making communication very difficult. There are not many non-detained people in Juan’s life who are genuinely trying to communicate with him. Why is it that we demand so much from people while offering so little? My work at CAIR is filled with emotions. I cannot do much for the people I meet. I cannot even guarantee Juan any help at all. I am just an intern, but I do my best in every conversation I find myself in to honor the humanity of the person in front of me and to try to love them as best as I can. More than both of these things though, I believe them. I believe the stories they tell me without any pushback. Immigrants spend a majority of their time in the United States simply justifying their existence. They have to prove their worth at every single turn, and I refuse to let this be the case when they are speaking with me. Jesus has never asked me to justify my existence. Frankly, I would not be able to do it. Who could? Christianity is based in undeserved grace. Why are we so unwilling to give this out in any other context?
really well, but I am struggling with the number of neighbors with whom I am in contact. I spend my entire day showing love to immigrants and their families. I hear their stories, and I try to be strong for them. I try to bring them some sense of hope about the future. I do not know how to love the people on the other side of the aisle, because, in every immigration discussion I have, I can only see the faces of the people with whom I work. I see Juan. I see his laugh, and I wonder how people on the other side could ever want to send away a person who is just the same as me.
I am utterly uncomfortable watching a system deny so many people their basic humanity day in and day out, but I am left confused and hopeless most nights. What power do I have to change a system? This question feels impossible to answer, and it is because I cannot answer it by myself. I was not meant to. The church is a powerhouse, and colleges and universities pave the way to the future. What would happen if everyone just decided that these dehumanizing policies were not good enough for us anymore? What if we shook off the chains of fear and hopelessness and lived in the free-of-charge grace we have been extended, and maybe even began to extend it to other people?
I know that this is not good enough. I know that this is not the attitude Jesus calls his followers to have. I desperately want to be better and to be stronger. I am hoping that this will come with time and effort. For now, I will take it one step at a time. If you are on campus, shoot me a message. Let’s get coffee. Let’s have the conversations. Let’s become informed. But we must recognize that we are all coming from vastly different places. These conversations are hard and painful. People are going to get mad, and people might even storm out of the room. I only pray that I am ready when they choose to come back to the table.
I wish that I was filled with kindness and compassion towards people who are ignorant about the immigration system. Not so long ago, I was completely ignorant myself. I wish I had it in me to sit down and have coffee with as many people as I could who have oppositional beliefs toward the immigration process, but the truth is I am tired. Greenville University taught me how to love my neighbor
Palmer says, “The soul is like a wild animal—tough, resilient, savvy, self-sufficient, and yet exceedingly shy. If we want to see a In his book entitled Let Your Life wild animal, the last thing we should do is to go crashing out through the Speak, Parker J. Palmer describes woods, shouting for the creature to come out. If we are willing to walk the often harrowing journey of selfthrough the woods and sit silently for an hour or two at the base of discovery in a way that seems calm, rather the tree, the creature we are waiting for may well emerge, and out than chaotic. Parker J. Palmer is a practicing of the corner of our eye we will catch a glimpse of the precious Quaker philosopher who juxtaposes typical wildness we seek.” Christian ideas of calling with a more contemplative approach. A calling, or a vocation, is something that many people spend their early twenties trying to come to grips with. I especially have struggled with understanding what it means to have a calling.
This quote shocked me. It completely ripped out the entire thought process I had established for myself in regards to calling. He describes a quiet and peaceful quest into the self, one that involves patience and perseverance. The way of finding In the church in which I grew up, this idea was thrown around oneself that Palmer describes requires messily. Everybody seemed to have an idea of what it meant to have a an understanding that each person is calling, but no definition was ever presented to me. It created confusion a complex human being. Recognizing and chaos in my life as I was trying to understand myself and my our inherent complexity demands not passions. I felt as if I had to have it all together. I felt as if I needed necessarily asking big, intense questions, but all of the answers. I spent copious amounts of time obsessing over rather living a life that allows “letting one’s life anything and everything that brought me any amount of joy, big speak.” Parker states that “Before you tell your or small. I would question whether or not I could spend my life what you intend to do with it, listen for what entire life’s work on things such as art, theater, or teaching. it intends to do with you.” Take the time not to ask I was trying to give myself a harsh deadline on finding yourself more questions, but to find patterns in your life my calling, and I was so caught up in the idea that my that may lead you to a deeper understanding of who you calling had to be my vocation. Then, my senior year are. This was a lesson that I had to figure out my own. Instead of high school, my sweet mother bought me a of feeling anxious and worrisome about how I was going to copy of Parker J. Palmer’s short book about calling spend my life, I was able to realize that I could trust myself to and vocation. discover happiness in my own time. This process has been one of patience and contemplation.
S D N DEMA
ITY X E L P UT M B O , S C N T O STI REN E E U H Q N I E NS UR E O T N G I , N I BIG NIZ G G N O I C K E R Y AS AT L I H R T A S E S F CE LI A G N NOT NE IVI L E R F E I L H T S ’ A R NE O G 20 N I “LETT
S W ALLO
” . K A SPE
FILTERS: WEAPONS OF MASked DECEPTION As perfectionists and connoisseurs of anything and everything aesthetically pleasing, we like to present ourselves in the most appealing ways possible. As part of a society that likes to document each and every area of our lives, we often look for the best ways to make our lives attractive to others on social media. This may be through reshooting photos until we get the perfect angle, or editing out the imperfections until it becomes acceptable to share with the world, or carefully analyzing our captions to make sure they provoke the right reactions and inspire the right amount of likes. As media applications like VSCO and Instagram increase functionalities and editing capacities, we have been enabled with tools that allow us to synthetically enhance our reality. These enhancements, and specifically filters, allow users to alter their online appearance to make themselves, their possessions, or their reality look more appealing to others. We have become so self-absorbed and caught up in the need for approval or praise, that we have begun to manipulate our reality until it lines up with an “ideal” reality that makes us passable when measured against the unrealistic aesthetic standards society has set for us. Taking this into account, we conclude that in order to meet these artificial standards, we must filter our realities. When we think about filters, Instagram and Snapchat are the first apps that come to mind. According to Steffen Patterson, co-developer and software designer for Relatable, an influencer marketing company, over 18% of all Instagram photos are altered by a filter – and the majority of those pictures are from self-proclaimed “photographers.” That says a lot about the way we think about our lives and the world around us.
It seems like filters are just one more way to try and aesthetically one-up our friends, or to give a false impression of the state of our lives and the quality of our experiences. Filters in this regard are not only artificial representations, but also just downright deceptive. Whatever our intentions, they still mislead and point toward a reality that does not actually exist. These edited realities and experiences ultimately can’t take away the feeling that we still can’t reach those experiences we have fashioned with a filter. Companies often use filters for business purposes or marketing as well, and these are no less deceptive. In fact, they can completely change how a product looks to the point where the one you actually receive is unrecognizable. Not only is this a prominent practice, but it is also a shameful and unethical one. There are times and places for filters. But rather than using them to mask or edit our realities to be more attractive, more jealousy-provoking, why not just live our lives as if our actions, words and experiences serve as filters for us? Our imperfections are like unique filters that no one else possesses – and they make us one of a kind. Why do we have to manipulate and deceive when we have the power to live free from the chains and emptiness of filtered realities? As Christians, media consumers, and content creators, it is important for us to step out from behind the filter and show the world who we are. It’s how we stand out. It’s how we embrace ourselves – and embracing our uniqueness is what allows us to initiate change and make a difference in the world.
we have been enabled with tools that allow us to synthetically enhance our reality.
E d u c at i o n a l A u t o n o m y, E d u c at i o n a l R e s p o n s i b i l i t y:
A Reflection on
Homeschooling Summer mengarelli When I was seven, I would finish all my
coursework for the day before my parents woke up, so I was moved from the second grade and bumped up into third. Throughout elementary school, I took the usual classes in math, literature, penmanship, and social studies; but my lessons were recorded videos that I watched on the family computer, or collaborative work with my siblings at the dining room table. I spent the fifth and sixth grades studying Latin and taking taekwondo lessons. In eighth grade, I was often found on the roof of our mountaintop house in northern Georgia, reading classic novels and collections of short stories. I took two weeks during my freshman year to study nothing but American art history, following a curriculum I had designed. My sophomore year, I took classes in photography and American Sign Language hosted at a local church. I don’t talk about it a lot, but I was homeschooled until my junior year of high school. I think my hesitancy to talk about my education stems from the misconceptions a lot of people have about homeschooling. I have been asked in seriousness if I ever left the house or had friends who weren’t my siblings, if I always did schoolwork in my pajamas or if I was only taught to cook and keep house. People tell me they’re surprised to learn that I was homeschooled because I don’t “act like it,” or because I dress how I want and wear makeup, and startle my Twitter followers with my leftist political views. To be fair, some of the negative associations people have expressed are true for my experience. I used to own more ankle-length skirts than I did jeans (although it’s worth clarifying that my sisters and I just liked to dress like this; it wasn’t necessarily enforced by our parents). I can still crochet a mean dish towel, although I never figured out how to make anything that wasn’t a rectangle. I grew up in fairly conservative environments, and I was taught by curriculums that espoused beliefs like a literal seven-day creation. It wasn’t until college that my political ideologies and religious beliefs began to change.
There are plenty of aspects of my homeschooling education with which I no longer agree. Nonetheless, I am endlessly grateful that my parents chose this path for my siblings and me. I believe that being homeschooled allowed me autonomy and freedom in my education. It gave me a sense of responsibility for my learning that has shaped my experience in college, as well. I spent my years as a homeschooler studying the same topics my public- and privateschool peers studied, but the difference was that I could study them however I liked, or however my mom understood worked best for me. For a few years, I took my math classes through an interactive computer program, because that’s what worked well for me, even while one sister took lessons with my mom and another took lessons through a coop. I flew through my literature curriculum every year because I spent most of my time reading. An old journal, in which I wrote down every book I read for several years, indicates that I was often reading at a pace of two or three books a week. My siblings and I all read voraciously, but those who enjoyed it less took the curriculum at a slower pace. It’s the classic homeschooling tagline, but I genuinely believe that my siblings and I enjoyed an education that was tailored to our needs and talents.
One of the most prevalent misconceptions I have noticed is the idea that homeschoolers
don’t have friends outside of their family. I understand why people might think that. I had plenty of neighborhood friends, or friends from church or homeschool co-ops, but my siblings were my best friends. Unlike many traditionally-educated kids, we spent all day together, just about every day. We were our first classmates — but not our only classmates. Throughout my education, we were constantly attending co-ops with other homeschooled families, taking classes from other homeschooling parents who were maybe more qualified in a particular field than my parents were. At various points, like in fifth and sixth grade, once a week we
attended private schools that were designed for homeschooling families and that assigned homework weekly instead of daily. We were always involved in clubs, just like our peers in public school, and held positions on student councils through our co-ops. We took lessons in gymnastics and taekwondo, participated in statewide speech and debate competitions, and played on city league soccer and softball teams. All this is to say that rather than keeping us cloistered away, homeschooling gave my siblings and me the freedom to engage in whatever activities we wanted, and to meet and become friends with not only fellow homeschoolers, but also people from all other educational paths. And we had the time and ability to do this because we had a say in our education. Our parents could trust us to participate in extracurriculars, or spend the day at work with our dad on one of his construction sites, or take two weeks to study American realism because we were as invested in our education as they were. We wanted to learn, and thanks to our parents we were allowed to learn unconventionally. I wouldn’t say that everyone should be homeschooled. For my final two years of high school, I attended private school, and I learned and grew there in ways I couldn’t have in the homeschooling environment. Homeschooling is often implicated in all the harmful trimmings of conservative Christianity, like purity culture, sexism, homophobia, and a resistance to science, as many families who choose to homeschool do so to protect their children from the secular world. Although these values do not always accompany a homeschooled education, they often do, and I cannot have a conversation about my own education without discussing its negative aspects. However, even while I am critical of the values espoused by many homeschoolers, I am thankful for my educational path. Being homeschooled allowed me to recognize both the privilege and the responsibility inherent in being a student.
I love beautiful things. I have always loved beautiful things: a fresh pair of light wash jeans, pastel pink seashells. I have often felt shallow and embarrassed that I care so much about the way that things look. Food tastes better when it is served in a certain way; I feel better when I am wearing a new sweater. I have often thought that my love for beauty was a personality flaw. Throughout my time as someone who strives to live a physically beautiful life, I have found that I genuinely do not care what others think of me. I hope people see me as caring and naturally excited about life, but anything more that feels unnecessary. I do care that people understand me and what I am trying to communicate, in every aspect of my life. I transition this feeling into my paintings: I do not care if some thinks that my work is beautiful, but I do care that someone feels the emotion I am trying to convey. I care about beauty primarily in the way that I love to feel things. I respect and cherish the world around me, and this respect of beauty has manifested in my love of painting. Painting has helped me discover colors that I didn’t realize existed in the face of a person, like purple and green undertones. Painting has helped me to think
Beauty i n
PAINTING Shelby Farthing
deeply about the physical world around me, the colors and shape of a landscape or a hand held out towards me. Painting requires me to see things, not simply as things, but as an extension of the way I choose to see the world. I recently painted a pitcher of water. I was not attempting to paint a picture of a jug of water sitting on a table, even though that is exactly what it was. I was trying to capture the conceptual nature of feeling half empty, which is what I perceived in the jug. As an artist, I try and tell a story with color and shape. So does my friend, Erin Gilmore, an art major at Greenville University. When asked about how she perceives beauty in regard to painting, she responded, “My art is always affected by my idea of beauty. Art, like all things, has a creation process. Things are never automatically beautiful; they have to grow into beauty. A flower was once a seed and a piece of art was once some paint and a blank canvas. There is beauty in how everything (and everyone) grows.” If you break the world down into simplistic data and see the beauty in those miniscule details, everything is inherently beautiful — not only in its form and color, but also in the story, the creation history, it has to tell.
It was late afternoon in Paris, and I had just left
the Louvre and its labyrinthic Still overwhelmed from the museum and nearly finished with Portrait of the Artist as a Young halls. The weather was clear Man, I asked them if I could stay and read while they walked around. Paris is indescribably and gentle in the city that day, a beautiful, and it’s a comforting feeling knowing that the people around you are there to perfect 77 degrees, but there were appreciate the beauty just like you. Visiting Paris is like being told a secret that everyone so many people in the museum that else knows. It’s enlightening. it was too hot to think straight. It’s a pity all that gorgeous art had to attract so much The surroundings were classically European, like what you see in movies: an attention; it made it so much harder to enjoy. open courtyard surrounded by tree-lined sidewalks and flowers. Everything We were all separated—me, my cousin, my was wrapped into a feeling of grand contentedness, of completion, of grandparents—when I went to find a map and beauty and grace and history that is rarely matched. It is this knowledge the rest entered an exhibit that turned out to be a of the chaos of the Louvre and the peacefulness of the cafes that makes three-floor wing of the museum, through sculptures Paris what it is. This city has an air about it – poise that’s difficult to and floor-to-ceiling portraits and crowded elevators and put into words. humid salty air of too many bodies close together in the middle of summer. The Mona Lisa was the star of the show, Maybe you’ll never go to Paris, or sit outside Cafe Kitsune surrounded by bodies crushed together to get a clear view for reading a new book, and maybe traveling isn’t your thing. their iPhones; I was only in the room for a minute or two before This contentedness can be anything for you, though: I was driven to leave by the chaos. I still don’t understand the need watching a lightning storm from the roof of your car to see it up close. DaVinci’s masterpiece was so much smaller than I or taking a nap with your cat after a long day or any expected it to be. other multitude of moments you won’t ever allow yourself to forget. Beauty isn’t hard to find in Eventually, I lost service and my phone nearly died, so I left the museum and this grand world that we’re a part of. Taking was able to meet up with my cousin, right outside the exit. We walked to Café time to recognize this beauty and allow Kitsune, where everyone miraculously spoke English. I got an iced latte with a it to influence your life can be more scoop of strawberry sherbet and Gabriella got an iced mocha with crumbled dark difficult, but it is endlessly worth it. chocolate mixed in. We took our drinks outside to the gorgeous patio across from a park. When my grandparents arrived, we sat a while with our coffee and sherbet, swapping experiences in the maze of a museum. We’d all gotten lost in different areas of the building, and my grandparents hadn’t even made it to the Mona Lisa. Gabriella and I assured them that it was probably grander and more beautiful in their imaginations.
: y t i ur
Faith, Sexuality, & the Failure of the Church
It wasn’t so long ago that I believed all book, readers were told to imagine a present: a beautiful little box, these things. That my body being a temple carefully wrapped and immaculately tied up with a bow. We were to somehow made me housekeeper, maid, imagine giving this perfect box to our husband on our wedding night guard, but never worshipper and certainly — imagine the joy on his face, the satisfaction we feel as we know not divine inhabitant. That when I went out we’ve given him the best present possible. Then, we imagined the in public or spent time with my family at box again, this time crumpled, the corners bent and the bow coming home, I was responsible for the thoughts untied, and pictured the disappointment on our husband’s face as and reactions of the men I passed in the we held out the present, avoiding eye contact in shame. The box, the grocery store or the uncles with whom I author clarified, is our bodies, our virginities. The message is clear: celebrated Thanksgiving. That ultimately, at what man would want a body someone else has already enjoyed? my best, I might become some man’s prize, his to do with what he will and show off to In the insular universe of evangelical his friends like a new car. That my body was my father’s, my homeschool communities, every girl I knew, future husband’s, my God’s, but only mine insomuch as I was myself and my sisters included, wore a purity responsible to keep it pure. ring — and none of us ever noticed that boys didn’t wear them unless their last name was Growing up, my sisters and I read all the books: John and Jonas. These communities solved the problem Stasi Eldredge’s Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a of “impure thoughts” by setting norms for Woman’s Soul, Dannah Gresh’s And the Bride Wore White: girls’ clothing like ankle-length skirts, or Seven Secrets to Sexual Purity, the Ludys’ When God Writes shirts with necklines that didn’t go lower Your Love Story, and of course Joshua Harris’s I Kissed than the collarbone. Beliefs about women’s Dating Goodbye. These books instructed us on how to dress bodies, gender roles, and romantic and sexual modestly, to make sure that we never led our brothers astray relationships were reinforced by an entire by provoking impure thoughts. The authors, often youth genre of Christian teen fiction that provided us pastors or other members of ministry, drew heavily from a with models of how to live purely, as well as romanticized vision of the “Proverbs 31 woman” to promote demonstrated the consequences of wandering a woman’s role as her husband’s support, a partner who takes astray. The TrueColors Series by Melody Carlson care of things on the homefront so the man and the Christy Miller Series by Robin Jones can be victorious in the realm of spiritual Gunn, in particular, captivated me with their warfare in the outside world. stories of teenage girls whose struggles I could relate to, but who in the end always rose above the challenges of peer pressure and For now, young readers were taught, God sexual temptation with the help of the Lord. wanted us to dress sweetly, act sweetly, learn the trades of keeping house, and avoid men The books, the rings, the purity pledges we all signed with — because God would present our husbands conviction, these were the trappings of the True Love Waits to us when we were supposed to be married. movement. The True Love Waits organization began in 1993, Then, in the single most momentous created by Southern Baptists and supported by Lifeway occasion of our lives, our fathers would hand Christian Resources. The movement rapidly gained footholds in us off to our husbands and we would assume evangelical American Christianity, and by the time I was reaching our God-given roles. We risked ruining this adolescence in the early 2000s, our churches and parents were moment in the hours after the ceremony, on strong advocates for the organization. TLW pushed for sexual our wedding night, if we had already “given purity not only in abstinence until marriage, but also in avoiding ourselves away” before the wedding. In one
oral sex, sexual touching, sexual thoughts — and in Joshua Harris’s case, even dating altogether. I was raised in this environment, which heavily implied a purity continuum on which total repression of sexuality was the ultimate spiritual goal. I left the homeschooling community my junior year of high school, and in the years following I have distanced myself from evangelicalism and purity culture. As I became submersed in mainstream culture, it was not hard for me to reject many of the teachings of TLW, like modesty and traditional gender roles; a secular environment that allowed space for discussions about equality and gender expression caused these beliefs to fall away naturally. However, it was not until college that I began to unpack the trauma that purity culture inflicts on girls and young women, including myself.
themselves, but also how men understand their relationships with women. A young man reading the above-outlined scenario with the present will understand that he is somehow owed a perfectly wrapped box — that a woman’s sexuality is created for him to take and enjoy. The glorification and misinterpretation of the woman described in Proverbs 31 enforces gender roles that keep a woman submissive to her husband, with both partners believing that her body and autonomy belong to him. Purity culture creates ideological space for sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and domestic violence, and creates theological space for the church to sanction these violent ideas. A brief perusal of the #ChurchToo tag on Twitter will emphasize the damaging effects of purity culture. This hashtag, based on the tag #MeToo that conceived by Black activist Tarana Burke, was founded by Emily Joy, a survivor of sexual abuse in her church.
I wonder if we can come to an agreement When girls are taught that their bodies belong to someone else, someone masculine, that the church has grievously mishandled issues of sexuality, and that perhaps it should be that God, their father, or their future take a hard look at itself before it continues husband, they are taught that their value to engage with this issue. We should as a human being is wrapped up question not what the women in in the physicality they will one church wear but what the men day provide a man, and in in church believe. If the church their ability to protect that must be involved, it must work physicality until then. When to educate young men about our pastors, parents, and in the consent, about respecting case of many homeschooled boundaries, and about what students, even our textbooks healthy expressions of sexuality teach us that our virginity is look like. It must support young the most sacred thing about us, women and foster an environment in we have become enlisted as our which they are allowed to understand own bodyguards, and if we fail in our that their bodies are theirs, that their sexuality duty to protect our virginity, whether by belongs to them, that consent is theirs to give or consent or by coercion or by force, we are made to understand that experience withhold. The church must recognize that sexuality first and foremost through a framework is created by God, is included in the good nature of creation, and is to be celebrated and exercised of shame. When we are taught that healthily, rather than repressed and perverted. virginity is something physical, rather than merely conceptual and cultural, and that it can only be stripped away I wish I had been taught that my body is my own. That if it is a temple, I am the protector, the holder of the through a very particular sexual key, the worshipper, and the goddess at once. I wish act, we are at the same time taught my church leaders had affirmed the goodness in me, that sexual acts of another nature, instead of convincing me to believe it is inherently evil. such as intimacy with a member of the same sex, are unnatural and My hope for the church is that it will recognize the ways it has failed both women and men, and have the humility abhorrent. to do better. The ramifications of purity culture endlessly pervade not only how women view
Emotion: THE LOST PIECE OF FAITH Kalei Swogger “The heart is deceitful above all things.” As a child, these words formed the foundation for my understanding of spirituality and emotion, even while I was hearing the opposite, “follow your heart,” from Disney movies and TV shows. In the middle of this dichotomy, I concluded that feeling is a natural part of being human, but feeling can easily become a sin. Alongside the obvious emotions like fear, envy, and anger, even joy needed to be scrutinized for any hidden unholiness. In fear and trembling throughout the day, I remember compulsively confessing, “Forgive me, God, if that was wrong,” sometimes without having said or done anything prior to the prayer other than simply feeling. The pastors I grew up around would deny this was ever a part of their teaching. However, messages like “deny yourself,” “take up your cross,” and “the heart is deceitful,” combined with a constant battering of apologetics, doctrine, and theology solidified the idea that spirituality was a practice of the mind intended for ruling the heart. Church became torture. I never felt free enough to enjoy service because I was always trying to “capture my thoughts.” Somehow, I even found flaws in simple daily tasks. What I now understand to be spiritually triggered anxiety, I would have then labeled as holy self-examination. Fast forward several years, and I now understand that these teachings skewed the original intention for our emotions set in place by their Creator. Our emotions are a direct reflection of who put us on this earth. Compassion, love, disappointment, jealousy, anger, sorrow, joy, regret, satisfaction, zeal, loneliness, feelings of abandonment, hopefulness. Everything we feel exists because it was first felt by God. Feelings are not something to be denied, but rather a guide to aid us on our spiritual journey. Emotionally healthy individuals have the capacity to discern their self and their values from their feelings. The most independent adults have the capacity to be self-directed and maintain momentum towards their goals, regardless of their emotional state. Psychology has tested these principles and repeatedly found them to be consistent. Nowhere does the research suggest that denying emotion leads to a healthy individual. This is why counseling exists as a thriving field. People seek counseling to understand and repair the damage done in their life and relationships because they were not able to heal from, or were even aware of, destructive emotional wounds.
The same thing happens to Christians. It is easy to cover up a lack of emotional maturity with a faith that calls you to deny yourself, serve selflessly, and beware of a deceitful heart. However, none of these things can truly be accomplished if we remain unaware of our emotions. Emotion is one of our most direct routes into the spiritual realm. Personally, I’ve never heard “the voice” or felt a clear connection with God. However, I have felt a deep sense of peace, love, joy, and clarity in moments where this would be uncharacteristic of my self on its own. In these moments, I chose to be aware of the panic, anger, or disappointment driving me, to wrestle with it, and thus allowed God to speak by providing a solution or emotional alternative. By being aware of my emotions, by being in touch with them, I am able to solve conflict, understand others, and gain a deeper understanding of what it means to search for the being we name God. Without grasping emotion, our perspective of God becomes limited as well. He becomes dry, a tyrant, an impersonal character acting behind the scenes. But if we add emotion, if we really read to understand, we see that God has many dimensions, feelings that go to the highest highs and the deepest lows. And when we understand ourselves as a reflection of this God character, we understand that we too have this capacity, and are meant to embrace the ebb and flow of emotion. We need to be unafraid of listening to our feelings, not allowing the emotion itself to be the ultimate reality, but to guide us to the underlying issue, question, or truth. My hope is that our generation can embrace the tradition and foundation of the past, while moving forward in more freedom to embrace the deeply emotional tradition of our faith.
y it n ia t is r h C & ip h Censors
Can silencing voices be Christian? As a Christian campus, it is our job to look at the pitfalls of other Christian institutions and learn from their (and our own) mistakes. Surely, the students of Taylor University, Seattle Pacific University, and Liberty University would be some of the first to raise awareness of the surprising number of Christian schools whose publications have been censored in some way. Taylor University’s publication staff, a group of students frustrated with the unrealistic boundaries placed on them by the administration at their school, conducted a survey last year within the group of Christian schools listed as members of the CCCU (Council for Christian Colleges and Universities). One hundred and thirtyeight school newspapers were interviewed with an online survey, and the results are astonishing. Forty-nine schools participated, and more than three out of four student editors surveyed admitted to having been censored. An astounding forty-eight percent of schools admitted to being forced to end pursuit of a story in the research or writing phase. What began as an attempt to better the administration at Taylor University has exposed a problem deeply imbedded in the traditions of Christian institutions. Liberty University, a religious institution that is not a part of the CCCU, has had similar issues. In March of 2018, Erin Covey told Religion News Service that her attempt to write an article concerning religious figures’ disapproval of Liberty’s controversial
president, Jerry Falwell, had been censored. She even mentioned that the student publication seems to be “more a PR vehicle for the university than a newspaper.” In an article covering the same event and other similar cases, New Republic calls this the “Invisible Free Speech Crisis.” As Christians, we should be able to understand that censorship is wrong. Not only does it go against the constitutional rights of publications and free speech, but it is also against the teachings of Jesus. Christ calls us to enter into the world, in all of its unholiness and imperfection. He calls us to find truth in the midst of it, and stand alongside others on their own searches for truth. Is this not what he has done for us? The root of this problem of censorship does not seem to be the students’ actions or a misinterpretation of the Bible, however, but a miscommunication of the purpose of a student publication. As Erin pointed out, the administration of many Christian colleges seems to believe that the student publication should be used as a way to draw new students into the school, while the students in these universities simply desire a place to publish their opinions, thoughts, and art. At Greenville University, we can choose to keep ourselves away from this debate. With communication between administrative staff and students, with open minds and respectful attitudes, we can avoid becoming another statistic in the censorship debate. The choice is within reach.
What is Censorship: the suppression or prohibition of any parts of books, films, news, etc. that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security.
censorship? For More Read: Threats to the Independence of Student Media, a study by Chris Evans View: the Taylor University students’ study results at the Student Press Coalition website Read: The Invisible Free Speech Crisis by Sarah Jones on “The New Republic”
In the United States freedom is prized above all else In the United States freedom is
prized above all else — and the privileged in society have enjoyed an unparalleled ability to express their individual opinions and ideas with little concern of retaliation. Whether that freedom is exercised religiously, emotionally, or creatively, specific groups are free to enjoy them as they please. American soldiers fight to defend the idea of freedom. That said, not everyone is permitted to participate in this freedom. In the United States, social justice activists fight for the rights and freedoms of the voiceless and the marginalized. Our leaders even fight with each other over who deserves to share in the rights and freedoms with which we are blessed. For some, complete freedom is rendered an idea rather than a reality. This is crazy to think about in a nation that claims to be a safe haven for the oppressed. There have been times throughout our history that we have exercised our freedoms responsibly. Other times, however, our nation has infringed upon the freedom of specific groups and conveniently veiled our actions under the guise of respecting our freedoms and freedom-fighters. A recent example of this can be found in the controversy surrounding kneeling at sporting events. This movement was sparked by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in peaceful protest to the inequality and social injustices experienced by Black people in America. Both politically and spiritually the nation was, and still is, split. Some claim this showed blatant disrespect for American veterans and the sacrifices they made for our freedom. Others have allied with their Black brothers and sisters in Christ and knelt with them.
y r t n u o C r O t s For Chri 30
As this example shows, our self-drawn political lines have crossed into the church and created separation within a body that was designed to be whole. Jesus himself laid out the two greatest commandments in Mark. This passage says, “One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’ ‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus, ‘is this: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this:
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these’” (Mark 12:28-31). The fact that Jesus himself placed so much emphasis on loving our neighbors makes me wonder why we don’t focus on this area more. Ironically, our stalwart defense of individual liberty has resulted again and again in the persecution of another group seeking those same liberties. This prioritization of self above others has directly contributed to the political and religious divide we are experiencing today. As Americans, we are expected to be hard-working, independent and patriotic. As Christians, we are called to love others unconditionally and communally. But sometimes, we get so focused on our political agendas and allegiances that we forget to fulfill our duty to love others first. In other words, as Christians, we have put our commitment to country before our commitment to Christ — and It is apparent that our priorities need reordering.
If we are to call ourselves “Christfollowers” then we need to strive to model him in our behavior. How we reflect Christ is
indicative of what we value. If we place more value on loving our neighbors than we do on being right, that is going to directly translate to our witness and our political decisions. Putting our neighbors before our patriotism actually helps inform our politics. It allows us to see the world from the eyes of our neighbors and think about their needs before our own. It makes us less egotistical and it allows us to act selflessly and generously. We are called to stand by and with our brothers and sisters of color, because they too are invaluable members of the body of Christ. We are called to walk through life defending the marginalized and the voiceless, picking them up and supporting them in the face of trials. It is time to step out of the silence and speak out. Loving and defending your neighbors should always take precedence over personal safety and comfort. This isn’t a question of left or right. It isn’t a problem of kneeling or standing. It is, however, about loving others more than ourselves and seeing people the way God created them. It’s about putting people above patriotism. It’s about choosing Christ over country.
Gracious Conversation: PASSION, RESPECT, AND DIVISIVE OPINIONS CHRISTINA HARDIN Equality is something that should always be achieved, because
is an absolute truth (trafficking and slavery are wrong), but just remember that moral values can sometimes be subjective to a person and are not always absolute truths. This is how different opinions form, and why people are so passionately for things that other people may be passionately against.
idealistically we are all on the same plane and should be respected as such. We are each human beings with emotional, There are certain topics that pertain to absolute truth (such as Jesus being God’s son, spiritual, sexual, political, physical, and dying on the cross for our sins, and then being resurrected on the third day), and mental functions. With our many differences, certain topics that address moral values but are not absolute truths. Something we should be embracing each other and that I am very passionate about is porn: how it encourages sex trafficking, affects celebrating this, and not using it as fuel for mental health, tears apart relationships and families, and, I would argue, is division. It is so much healthier when two people morally reprehensible in its nature. If you speak with me about this, I will list of completely opposing sides can sit down and reason after reason (physiological, biological, physical, emotional, mental, have an intelligent and calm conversation without emotional, and spiritual) about why this is morally wrong (and why I think ripping each other to shreds. it being wrong is an absolute truth), but I have a friend who believes it is a positive industry and outlet. He is not misogynistic, and is very respectful I think that the only way to properly do this is by to women and what we do with our bodies, as well as respectful towards making an effort to be educated on both sides, and many other opinions and topics. In an attempt to exercise of everything to not take a closed-minded, extreme position without I am encouraging here, I choose to respect his opinion and hear him making room to learn more. Maybe as I continue to out. There is nothing wrong with having an educated opinion experience life, this viewpoint could change or be altered and discussing value-laden topics and their related issues of in some way, but in reflection of things that have happened morality, but how would I be showing my friend the love to me and those around me, this is my greatest resolution. of Christ and respecting his opinion if I screamed at Having balance in every issue, controversial or personal, is him that he was wrong, rubbed his face in the dirt, the best way to respect not only your opinion, but also those tore him apart, was rude and aggressive to him, or around you. This allows for you to participate in a weighted and shoved my opinion down his throat? As educated informed conversation while being open-minded and charitable and devoted Christians, we have a duty to not let our to those around you. intense opinionated passions keep us from loving the way Christ did. I think this is particularly difficult for people that are very passionate. Now, once again, if I am speaking with someone Do not let this lead you into thinking you should be about a subject that I am very passionate about, and that person weak or dispassionate about subjects that are important is very passionate in the opposite way, I need to find it in me to to you. We are called to be strong and courageous, and to respect them enough to not just hear them out, but also consider stand up for the weak and give a hand to the needy. their opinions. This is not easy, especially over controversial issues, but this allows you to function in your passions while Be strong enough to respect someone’s opinion and also displaying the love that Christ requires us to show. We are courageous enough to ask them questions about it, to supposed to lead, trust, and share God’s love and grace. How understand why they think that way, and to respectfully is that love and calling being communicated if we are ripping address things you might disagree with. Defend those that each other apart over subjects that will one day not matter? cannot stand up for themselves, and lead those that are lost. Lost, broken people are not always kind and timid; But, that also leads us to wonder about what kind of subjects some are angry and fierce and defiant. You have to be we’re talking about. Because opinions should not be mistaken humble and allow God to give you strength to show with absolute truths or moral values. Opinions are subjective, love in specific ways that people need to be derived from what an individual has experienced; and met, even if it is painful or difficult. opinions reflect complex patterns of the individual’s emotions Be humble, be passionate, be and personalities, while they are also greatly influenced by respectful, and above all, be environment. An absolute truth is a truth that is true at all loving. times in all situations. A moral value is a standard of ethical understanding, a specific definition and line between what is right and wrong. An absolute truth can be a moral value, but that does not mean that a moral value is an absolute truth.
For a simple, non-controversial example to further understanding, in respective order: I think that coffee tastes good. Coffee is a drink that has caffeine. How coffee beans are gathered in other countries can decide whether drinking particular brands of coffee is morally correct or not (if trafficking or slavery was used). In this case, my example for moral values
The Rise of Pornography and Sex Trafficking
It is the year 2018, and the majority of society would assert that slavery is an abhorrent thing, morally and ethically wrong on all accounts. In fact, many people still carry the weight of America’s troubled history of slavery and the conscious infringement upon people’s basic human rights, and many more people throughout the world and even in the United States — often times, the people who make our shirts, pick our fruits, and construct our homes — are currently experiencing the horrors of slave labor. Despite its continuance, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who would disagree that slavery is objectively wrong. But, for many, this is still a reality. Victims of sex trafficking are forced to live in atrocious power structures that make them slaves on demand. In fact, according to Fight the New Drug, 22% of modern-day slaves are held in sex slavery. While many would strongly oppose the idea of slavery, they may still support it through the consumption of pornographic content. Pornography consumption helps fuel the sex trafficking market and thus supports it — and sex trafficking is slavery. It may not be slavery in the sense that it was a few hundred years ago, but it is atrocious, and it is an inescapable truth for many around the world.
Porn isn’t a new thing. In fact, it is extremely common and has normalized through its portrayal in TV, cinema, and other cultural influences. While much of society accepts it as a healthy form of sexual self-expression, most Christians and other groups (religiously affiliated or otherwise) maintain that consumption of porn is morally or ethically wrong. Specifically, groups like Fight the New Drug or the cleverly-named NoFap have tried to push back on the acceptance of porn. Both of these secular and sex-positive organizations have created programs to help break the cycle of porn and sex addictions. Fight the New Drug’s program, Fortify, created a system with their donors that afforded teenagers and young adults under the age of eighteen free access to the Fortify program. The program includes a daily component that allows you to interact with a progress tracker, write journal entries, and add accountability partners if you are going through the program with someone that you trust.
The way pornography impacts the brain is quite damaging. It not only changes the way we see sex, but it also impacts those around us. It’s like a warped lens; through it, we begin to see sex as a means to achieve pleasure, not as a means of intimacy and holy union with another person. In fact, the focus is no longer about our partner at all. It becomes about ensuring the most pleasurable experience for ourselves. Consuming pornography warps the parts of our mind that allow us to enjoy the intimacy of a real partner. Each time a person uses pornography, they are using the person behind the screen as an object, not as a person, made in the image of God. What people often don’t realize is the correlation between pornography and sex trafficking. Not all of the acts of physical degradation that one might find in pornographic photos or videos are consensual. In fact, it is safe to assume that a majority of the people are forced or coerced into performing these humiliating or harmful acts. Particularly with the rising popularity of ameteur porn, consumers can’t know for sure if the people pictured or recorded knew that the camera was running. Even if they did, maybe they didn’t consent to the distribution of the photos or videos. Maybe one or more of the participants consented to all of the above, but once the cameras starting rolling, their partners suddenly began something to which they did not consent. Maybe the participants are underage and therefore cannot consent. In all of these ways and more, they are the victims that cannot escape the industry. Exploiting, objectifying, and lusting after others means that we sinfully destroy the image of God inherent in their being. As Christians and fellow human beings, it is important that we stand up for justice and defend the voiceless and the oppressed — and the trafficked. At a basic level, it is most important that we cut ties with a corrupt industry that traffics our own flesh and blood. These actors can’t always stand up for themselves, but we can. We have to stop supporting these cruel practices — and we can do that if we stop consuming pornography.
She also told me that she didn’t feel comfortable talking about John before I spoke to Dad about him. He was Dad’s brother, after all. So the next time that Dad drove me to school, I popped the question: “Dad… Can you tell me about John?” “You should really talk to your dad about this. He would know a lot more than I do.” She paused for a moment, unsure of how to continue. She looked as though she was about to explain something, but decided against it. Mom was thrown off by the question. “Oh, John. He would have been your uncle. We’ve never talked to you about him, have we?” “Dad, umm… said that he had a uh… brother yesterday. Could you tell me about him?” I was five or six years old when I learned about Uncle John. He came up one night during a discussion my parents were having, and I was confused. My dad had a brother? Where did this come from? Why had I never seen him? I was too nervous to approach the topic with my dad, so I approached Mom about it first.
UNTITLED Johnathon Goodenow, Class of 2019
My entire high school academic career was consumed by my personal expectations. From the moment I learned the concept of grade point average, I longed to be at the top. Walking across that stage at the end of the four years knowing I had earned an A in every class was my expectation. My mom’s expectation to give nothing but your best was instilled in me at a young age, and by high school, my own expectations for academic success were more powerful than any expectation my family or friends had set for me. It would not be a lack of knowledge, determination, or work ethic that would drag me down! Rachel lost it too, so that gave me a little comfort. So did Jasmine. Molly also lost it, but her parents would fight back with the system. The tears continued to pour. The walls seemed to cave and the faces I passed blurred. I could not make out coherent words, only buzzing. Mom said that this was a challenge I could handle, that the sun would rise again, but I was too disappointed to even think. The only purpose my sixteenyear-old self knew had disappeared in an instant.
An Unexpected, Yet Greater Outcome Sidney Webster, Class of 2021 moment, but I believe that it had a far greater impact on my life than I realized for a long time. It was a key event that guided how I chose to develop my interests and skills as I grew up, and I can see the impact it has had on my life today.
This experience taught me an abundance about life and my self-imposed expectations. I began to recognize the importance of the growth that comes after failure. This was the beginning of a new reality for me, and although I still wince and feel a bout of nausea in the retelling, I am now beginning to understand that who I am is not determined by my grades. God determines who I am, not my report card. The screen read 86%. My mind operates in words, not numbers. But the day I found out I lost my 4.0, numbers were all that were on my mind. The feeling in my hands vanished, my face paled, and my limbs weakened. How could this be? For days leading up to the exam, my car had pulled into the parking lot an hour before every other student so we could discuss the more challenging concepts. I lost sleep, missed out on social opportunities, committed myself fully to this midterm. This could not be happening to me! a screen. I knew an 89% would get me an A, and so did the teacher.
I remember standing on the corner of 54th and Avalon with nothing in my hands, tears rolling down my face, and only my uncle
He pulled over to the side of the road and looked at me with tears in his eyes. I had never seen my dad cry before. “Sorry…”
I thought to myself, I actually don’t have anything, so what is it that she’s working? Dayveon and I kept fighting, yelling at one another, and getting on my grandmother’s last nerve, until she told us to get out of her car. I thought it was a joke until she put the car in park, and she literally didn’t move until we got out. We closed the door and she took off fast into the night.
“No, it’s just hard to know that we’ve never talked about him before.”
The first time I went to St. Paul’s in Greenville was with my brother. The art in the building touched the familiar part of my heart that I missed from home. While the nervousness of feeling like an outsider in such a close church community held me back, the sun shined through those windows, bringing back the feeling that God was standing next to me.
As we sat in the backseat riding through the chilly night, my uncle Dayveon took it upon himself to punch me in my arm. The only thing I could think to say was “stop touching me, fatboy, before I gain weight.” Don’t ask me why I thought being on the heavier side was something you could catch by touch. My grandmother, becoming more and more agitated, yelled out “Y’all ain’t got much back there, but I can work what ya got!”
Dad told me that John was his adopted brother who had died in a car accident before I was born. Dad named me after him.
No matter what I was doing, I wanted to win. Much to my dismay, this was not the outcome of every contest. However, my parents always asked me, “Did you
Our family pew at Bethel UMC was next to a window I particularly loved, a stained glass window of Jesus, holding a lamb. The early light would shine down on my family every week, making it impossible to look away. Most sermons I found myself staring at this window; it seemed no matter how strong the words of the pastor, I could not look away from the bright eyes looking down at me.
Growing up, most of us have a sibling, cousin, or uncle that we don’t necessarily get along with. My uncle and I definitely fit that description of hostility. We would always have these verbal fights that would eventually end up violent. He was a bully and I was a hot head. He’d always say, “Kieshaun, you look just like a wild monkey,” and my comeback was “you’re fat, Dayveon.” My grandmother would tell us to “stop all that arguing,” but of course we kids didn’t listen.
As it turns out, it was my lack of confidence and skewed priorities that sank me. Despite report cards that delighted my parents, I never believed I was smart enough. I thought I was equipped with the ability to earn a perfect score, but it was never enough to warrant pride in myself. This made the road to achieving my goal of a 4.0 messy and tearstained. I stayed up late to finish assignments and arrived at school early for extra help. I was determined to achieve my goal.
From age six to my senior year, I was signed up at one time or another for every county and school sport available. I loved attending camps, taking lessons, and going to practices, in addition to playing in as many games with my older brothers as they would allow. Spelling bees, perfect attendance, and accelerated reader tests were just the beginning of my competitive tendencies in a school setting. I found that doing something “for fun” was just not in my nature.
Whenever I am asked to describe my faith, I like to say that my God is the Father of Lights. The explanation always follows: My favorite part of going to church when I was younger was looking at the beautiful, stained glass windows. On Sunday morning the sun would beam through them, illuminating the entire church and illustrating God in all his power. What I remember from my baptism is the large church, Pastor Mary Ann and especially the red, blues, and greens I was surrounded by as water was sprinkled onto my head. This is how I first recognized God, as this beautiful being, constantly watching over me through these jeweled eyes. I never wanted to look away.
I remember when I was about seven or eight years old, sitting in the backseat of my grandmother’s cherry red 1997 Ford Escort. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that car, because my grandmother would always have snacks in the trunk that were easy to grab through the backseat. It was a very cold night; I remember because I kept yelling at my uncle about the window being down.
It started as an average day. I went through each class as usual, expecting my normal structured routine. As the bell rang to dismiss us from the last class of the day, I rushed down the hallway towards practice, which started in less than ten minutes. Nearing the end of the hall, I found myself nose-to-nose with the person whose class I dreaded most.
I was given a simple task: catch the pace car. Before too long, I was about twenty-five feet behind it. And before too much longer, I was crossing the finish line…with no one else in front of me. I remember asking my mom, “Did I win?” She was laughing because I had won the race that I didn’t even want to run. I felt a little more cheerful about it when the race people started handing out the tall, shiny trophies. My mom got hers: blue and gold with a star on top and a big number “1” on the base. I could not wait to get my own! When they announced my name as first place of the fun run, I marched up to claim my trophy – blue and gold with a star on top and a number “1” on the base, just like my mom’s. That trophy set me on a path from which I have never deviated. From then on, being a competitor in all aspects of my life became an integral part of who I am.
Stained Glass and God Emma Weiland, Class of 2020
You Ain’t Got Much but I Can Work What You Got Kieshaun Young-Jones, Class of 2019
Dayveon grabbed my hand and told me, “It’s going to be okay, Kie, just follow me.” We started walking, and I had no idea where I was going until I realized we were only down the street from where we lived. We were standing on the corner of 54th and McKinley, and I recognized the corner store. I was able to crack a smile as I yelled to Dayveon, “I know where we are!” I dropped Dayveon’s hand and took off towards 53rd Street, where I made a right and headed towards Central. I ran with my head down, but with so much confidence. Suddenly everything I saw was familiar, and as Dayveon was screaming “wait for me!” I arrived at our apartment on the corner. This is one of many situations that have played a role in who I am today, because in some ways I’ve had very little in life. I’ve learned how to work what I’ve got.
This exchange, and the existence of this man to whom I am not related by blood and whom I have never met, shaped much of my early life. Being named after John made me feel as though I needed to live up to something special. I wanted to make Dad proud, and I wanted be successful enough to take my uncle’s name somewhere that people would notice it. I poured effort into learning, particularly learning to read well because my parents put a lot of importance on that at the time.
“On your mark,” I heard as I stood at the starting line for the one-mile fun run. Despite my disinterest in running at six years old, my marathon-running parents insisted that I give it a try. This was easy for them to say after winning the 5K race just minutes before. “GO!”
Years later, I found my trophy from the fun run, but there was something wrong with it. The winner of this trophy, according to the label, was the “Female 5K Champion.” Only then did I find out that the organizers of the race did not actually make trophies for the kids who ran the fun run that day. When I walked up to claim mine, my parents passed my mom’s trophy through the crowd so it would be there when I got to the table. Little did they know that they had sparked a fire in me that would burn for years to come.
by my side. I looked left, seeing abandoned buildings with shattered windows, and then looked to my right to see nothing but an open concrete field with no sign of green grass. The street lights were flickering as if I was about to become part of a horror movie. I was shaking with fear because I thought I had been abandoned.
“Sidney! Would you like to see how you did?”
Competitive Streak Lauren Eagleson, Class of 2021
Today, I compete with only one task: to be better than I was yesterday. I strive for this by challenging myself not only physically, but also mentally, socially, and spiritually. Through my academics, I compete against my last test score. Before practice or a game, I vow to be a better teammate and a smarter point guard than I was during the last one. With all people I encounter, I see how many ways I can emulate the way Jesus treated those around him.
I have always loved the ability of stained glass to illuminate an entire chapel with swirls of color. The glass tells ancient stories as the sun shines, but it loses all purpose and beauty as soon as night falls. This is how I viewed God in my life — feeling his presence surrounding me in a warm, colorful embrace; seeing his power in the sun rise, watching over me in the most beautiful way. But at night the sun sank down, the warmth disappeared, and I stood alone in darkness. It took a long time for me to realize his presence was housed in my heart and his strength gave me light. I realized God is present with me through the darkness, as subtle as the moonlight on a cloudy night. We often miss this light, because it does not shine as brightly as the daytime sun but, if we look closely, it shines through a stained glass window just as beautifully.
I knew exactly what she was talking about. I lost a lot of sleep from studying for the midterm exams that had taken place the day before. As I followed her into the classroom, I nervous, but fairly confident. I leaned over her shoulder as she clicked on my name on
The writers of the Vista are only a few of the tiny pieces in the vivid composition of Greenville University. Therefore, we wanted to allow our peers to speak, as well. We asked the Greenville community to tell us their kaleidoscopic moments — those singular incidents that shaped their lives from then on. Below are glimpses into the kaleidoscope.
give it your all?” I always replied that I had. Because of my competitiveness, I believe that I have never really known how to give anything less than my best when faced with a challenge, no matter how minor.
This moment has significantly influenced the decisions that I made in my life, even if I wasn’t necessarily conscious of it at the time. If I hadn’t had that talk with Dad about Uncle John, would I still be in school as an English major? Would I have put more time into music? Did I only decide to become a runner because that is something that my dad values? That’s something that I can never know at this point. Who I am now is the result of much more than just that one
The Constant of Chaos | JJ Shafe PHOTOGRAPHY
FACES | JONATHAN BREMER DIGITAL ART
EXPEDITION | ERIN GILMORE PAINTING
overdose | JONATHAN BREMER DIGITAL ART
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The student-produced Greenville University VISTA magazine - Fall 2018.