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Dear Reader,


n March 29, 1968, the night before he was murdered, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a speech to a group of workers in Memphis, Tennessee. His words were powerful, almost prophetic in light of the tragedy to come. Amidst a civil rights struggle that was far from over, he displayed a confidence and willfulness that could be interpreted as both naïve and inspiring depending on the observer. “Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t really matter to me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop,” Dr. King said near the end of the address. Among the many things that strike me about Dr. King’s words is the stark contrast between his demeanor and the prevailing attitudes of the present day. Whereas Dr. King worked with a tireless patience in the face of oppression, ours is a culture that does not want to wait for anything. The claim that we can’t have our best lives now or immediately will our way out of hardship is not only rejected but abhorred. Our pleasure-driven society perpetually offers a narrative of instantaneous transformation through the acquisition of things. We’ve been tricked into believing that we become runners when we buy the right pair of shoes and poets when we declare an English major. Even in the life of our churches this phenomenon of consumerism has done significant damage. We Christians find ourselves believing that if we attend the right church or feel the right emotions during worship, then we will suddenly find ourselves in the midst of a substantive relationship with God. “There is a great market for religious experience in our world; there is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue, little inclination to sign up for a long apprenticeship in what earlier generations of Christians called holiness,” wrote the late Eugene Peterson in his book A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. In a society racked by anxiety, depression, and identity crises, we repeatedly find ourselves opting for the allure of instant gratification and are, without fail, disappointed when we do so. On the contrary, the Christian gospel offers a message of hopeful patience. In the gospel account of Luke, Jesus describes discipleship as a daily decision of self-sacrifice rather than an instantaneous switch from sinful to sanctified. Anyone who has tried to form a habit knows that doing so only comes through a long journey of trials and errors, and life as a Christian is no different. When Jesus extends the invitation of discipleship, he does so knowing

that he calls broken people living in a broken world. In the book of James, Christians are encouraged that the testing of their faith actually brings them closer to God. Holiness, as the Bible describes it, is a lifelong struggle mostly populated with the monotony of daily routine. “The new life into which we are baptized is lived out in days, hours, and minutes. God is forming us into new people. And the place of that formation is in the small moments of today,” writes Tish Harrison Warren in her book Liturgy of the Ordinary. In our second issue of To The Well, we lean into the nature of this long obedience. Chapel Hill is a beautifully complex place, a multi-faceted ecosystem of people pursuing all sorts of things in all sorts of directions. In this edition of the journal, you will read about a number of these pursuits, ranging from pre-med classes to affordable housing initiatives. These practices, whether they be big or small, are best characterized by daily habits rather than mountaintop experiences. In opposition to the modern virtues of pleasure, comfort, and certainty, we celebrate the mysterious and gradual ways in which we see God at work in the world. As you read, I hope you see this theme showing up again and again. We live in a time of already-not-yet. On the cross of Calvary, the God-man Jesus of Nazareth defeated death, shame, and all brokenness. One day, this act will come to completion, and everything will be made new. Until then, we live and work through our daily lives in the peace of this hope, striving to maintain the mindset that Dr. King proclaimed with a simple beauty: “I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

Parker Marshall Editor-in-Chief

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Signal Mountain, TN Class of 2020

Edenton, NC Class of 2019


Religious Studies





Charlotte, NC Class of 2020

River Forest, Illinois Class of 2020


Economics and Public Policy



Highlands, NC Class of 2022

Hendersonville, NC Class of 2022

Linguistics and Romance Studies

English and Studio Art





Birmingham, AL Class of 2022

Fuquay Varina, NC Class of 2020

Public Policy

Entrepreneurship and Studio Art





Tucson, AZ Class of 2019

Wake Forest, NC Class of 2019

Graphic Design

MARGARET MARSHALL DESIGNER Signal Mountain, TN Class of 2022 Public Policy



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Graphic Design

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Our Mission To The Well is a student-run organization at UNC-Chapel Hill that strives to facilitate dialogue meaningful to our community by creating a platform for Christian perspectives articulated in a peaceful, accessible, and thoughtful manner.

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“I Don’t Know”

By Matt Williams


’ve got to be honest with you, I’m not entirely sure what I’m writing about. And yes, it might be obvious that by saying I don’t know what I’m writing about, I’m actually giving myself a lead-in to what I’m writing about. Fair point, you critically-minded reader. But to tell the truth, I struggled to put this article together. I outlined and re-outlined with the hope that I could write something impressive and wise, but only a few concrete thoughts came together. After all of this effort, my mind still feels like a jumbled mess. I’m beginning to think that that’s okay. In a high-pressured environment like Chapel Hill, ignorance is seen as a sign of weakness and inadequacy. On the contrary, I think it’s a necessary part of being a human. People ought to make a practice of saying “I don’t know” a little more often. I don’t know much about philosophy (see what I did there), but I did have to read René Descartes's Discourse on


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Method in high school. By that, I mean I tried to read the first couple of pages, and then I gave up and read the summary on SparkNotes instead. To reiterate, I’m not by any means a Descartes expert. But I do remember this from my high school English class: Descartes believed he had created a method of applying his reason that would allow him to understand every major science. His confidence was not in his own intelligence, but in the way he applied it. Descartes thought that any average person could understand everything on a deep level if they just used his method.1 In one sense, this seems liberating. I want to be an expert on everything. I sure want everyone to think I’m an expert on everything. It would at least be nice if I could just consistently say profound things about topics in my major. Maybe you relate to that. You’re reading this issue of To The Well, so I’m guessing you are a generally thought-

ful person who wants to know a little bit more about how Christians are thinking on campus. It might also be safe to assume that you seem pretty impressive. After all, you got into UNC. I’m sure there are classes that you’ve done well in and likely entire subjects that you can say some pretty profound things about. You’ve probably gotten pretty good at pretending that you’re knowledgeable, too. If you’re anything like me, I can also guess this: you have questions that you wish you could answer. There are classes you’ve taken that remind you that as hard as you try, you simply can’t will yourself into getting a good grade. You’ve had professors with unattainable expectations, regardless of the amount of time you put into their class. I’m an English major, and I’ve never been able to get a good grade in a math class. Not once. I think my highest math grade ever was a B+ in high school algebra. Beyond your classes, maybe you

wish you could work a room better, but no matter what you do, you still feel awkward. Maybe you tried everything in your last job interview, and you were still one of the qualified candidates they didn’t have a spot for. Maybe you were asked to write a To The Well article, and it just isn’t coming together. I love the idea that I could know a whole lot about everything, but I also hate it. I just finished job searching, and when I heard from my ideal job that there just wasn’t money in the budget for me, I didn’t want someone to tell me that I could’ve done better. When confronted with my failures, the assumption that I should know and be good at everything feels like tyranny, not liberation. I’ll put it a different way. When life slaps us in the face and we realize that things are more complicated than we thought, we will not find peace in thinking that all we need to do is try harder. Why? There are some things we genuinely can’t do. We are limited people. If we’re honest with ourselves, most of us are not as impressive as we want the world to think. Sure, as UNC students, we are among the 30% who were smart enough or shrewd enough to get accepted into this college. I don’t want to diminish that, but underneath our well-rounded applications and resumes, we are often scared people. I’m guessing, on some level, you feel that too. You feel that under the shine of being put-together Carolina people, there is a whole lot of rust that you’d rather not admit. When I feel the rust showing through, I’d rather not have someone tell me I could know everything if I just tried harder. I want to hear someone say that it’s okay that I don’t know. Psalm 127 says this: “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord guards the city, the guards keep watch in vain” (Psalm 127:1). That means that if we believe the Bible is God’s word and we see houses built, then we know Jesus is working. That means the fact that Chap-

el Hill is still standing after a crazy fall semester is not primarily a product of our ingenuity and resilience as a student body, but because Jesus has been watching over our town. Because Jesus is at work, we don’t have to “rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil” (Psalm 127:2). Instead, we can sleep. We can rest. Because Jesus is working in me to kill the sin that I struggle with; because Jesus is working in UNC to make it the institution that he wants; and because Jesus is working in you to mold you into the person he wants you to be, we can rest. Even if I know I’m not the person I wish I was; even if you perpetually feel inadequate, Jesus is still on the throne involved in every aspect of our personal lives and our campus. He’s working at his own pace to build us and our campus into something that glorifies him and lets us be who he created us to be. So here’s my exhortation to you: make it a practice to say “I don’t know” at least once a day. When we’re confronted with our failures or feeling perplexed because we genuinely do not know, Jesus has not forgotten us. He has chosen to build our lives in a way that’s different from what we wanted. He has chosen to give us situations that remind us how dependent on him we actually are. In those moments, it is much better to acknowledge our God-given weaknesses and say, “I don’t know” instead of trying to fake it and put ourselves on his throne. Descartes was a lot smarter than I am, but he also might be wrong, at least on this point. Sometimes, this is all I can honestly say: “I don’t know. I’m trying to do my best, but I can’t see where I’m going. But Jesus is building his world, not mine.” And I think that’s okay.

"If we’re honest with ourselves, most of us are not as impressive as we want the world to think."

MATT WILLIAMS Class of 2019 English and Communications

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Housing for the

Gospel By Noah Winstead


ome ownership is an institution that the people reading this article may take for granted. I myself felt a lack of appreciation for this issue until I biked up the East Coast this summer along with sixteen other young adults through an organization called Bike and Build that raises money and awareness for affordable housing. Living and traversing through dozens of quaint suburbs and massive cities every day on one of the most affordable forms of transportation was eye-opening, to say the least. Since the summer, I’ve frequently found myself reminiscing on what that experi-


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ence taught me about faith and its intersection with housing. Unfortunately, I’ve been much too hesitant when it comes to expressing the deep, palpable tension building in population centers across the United States regarding housing equality. As Christians committed to living as citizens of God’s kingdom, this issue should press deeply on our hearts. America's major metropolises host salient examples of the gentrification and historical ignorance that are plaguing American thought and having a powerful effect on what it means to truly live a Christ-centered life.

Gentrification is the systematic displacement of a city’s most vulnerable long-standing residents in order to provide goods and services to patrons who are willing to pay top-dollar for what used to be considered an “inner-city” dwelling, and it is destroying communities. While some social commentators mention the reduction of crime rates and soaring economies which this trend has brought, critics point out that it has unfortunately ripped millions of individuals away from homes they’ve owned for generations. Typically they are the poor, the elderly, and members of minority groups who own land that young,

out by the slow but expensive wave that won’t bluntly tell them to leave, but also definitely won’t make it easy to stay. Chapel Hill isn't a booming metropolis by any means. However, it is an affluent hub in the midst of a wealthy and growing region, and the attitudes that affluent people, including college students, adopt assume that because they have achieved some monetary or educational status, they shouldn’t have to be the neighbor of someone of lower socioeconomic status. These attitudes, commonly referred to as “NIMBY attitudes”

Luke 10:29, a lawyer tests Jesus by asking “who is my neighbor?” Jesus replies by telling the parable of the Good Samaritan, the one who proved to be a neighbor by showing mercy. One of my favorite accounts of this concept in the Bible is Peter’s visit to a gentile soldier named Cornelius (Acts 10). Sensitivity to the spirit allowed Peter to not only bridge an uncomfortable gap in the first century world, but to share the gospel with this man and his entire household (Acts 2:42-47, Acts 9:43, Acts 10:48). Throughout this narrative, and many

"I have uncovered quite a bit of idolatry of the lifestyle that I would like to live one day."

white individuals are attracted to. For this to occur, logistically, the less advantaged individuals must move away for others to flood in. Opportunistic developers scan urban centers such as Brooklyn and Philadelphia for neighborhoods that could turn a massive profit. Rent hikes and offers of “cash for your house” are primarily targeted at removing the old clientele from a neighborhood. To attract more affluent individuals, stores and restaurants offer goods and services which are accessible only to those of certain means. Suddenly, residents who have lived in affordable housing find themselves being pushed

(Not In My Backyard), are complacent in the cycle of housing inequality. As believers in Jesus, what does a neighborhood mean to us? Are we sacrificing our desires in order to live where the Spirit calls us? As young adults we must analyze our goals for adulthood and how much those aspirations are built on cultural expectations of success and ownership. How deeply does the American Dream run within your veins? I have uncovered quite a bit of idolatry of the lifestyle that I would like to live one day. However, I know that a home can be a powerful tool for the gospel. The ability to befriend your neighbors and invite others into your home is invaluable. This concept is spelled out inordinately in the New Testament. Jesus and the apostles sum God’s law into the idea that “you shall love your neighbor as yourself ” (Matt. 19:19, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:27, Rom. 13:9, Gal. 5:14). In

others in the Bible, Jesus and his disciples invite others into their homes and are likewise invited into the homes of others. Each time it seems like homes are sacred spaces offered to God to bring in neighbors of all kinds, not boxes put up to keep neighbors out. C.S. Lewis once said that “the word ‘mine’ in its fully possessive sense cannot be uttered by a human being about anything.”1 When we choose to live in ways to which we feel we have a “right,” we may be ignoring the alienated communities around us that need to experience both justice, and the peace of the gospel.

NOAH WINSTEAD Class of 2019 Exercise and Sports Science

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raying does not always make much sense to me. After all, I know that according to the Bible, obedience means bowing to my all-knowing, all-doing God, whose plans stretch across history and hold the cosmos together. But just as clearly, the Bible shows me a God who bears the burdens of the needy. I see the paradox of God’s gentle guidance of the individual and His orchestration of a much bigger picture in the biblical story of Elizabeth and Zechariah, the once-barren parents of John the Baptist. Our God calls us to come to him like Elizabeth and Zechariah, in the nakedness of individual need; without shaming this need, he ushers us into the grand work of his kingdom coming to the world. Ultimately, God opens my perspective to his larger plan most meaningfully through the simplicity of prayer. When I read the birth story of John the Baptist, I am tempted to see his mother Elizabeth as naïve for her prayerful perspective. She quietly marvels, “The Lord has done this for me”–– but she and Zechariah have become parents for reasons much bigger than themselves (Luke 1:25). Elizabeth is the first woman in Luke’s gospel account to find her womb is not her own––instead, she will conceive for the purpose of God’s Kingdom, and give birth to the


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greatest prophet to harken the coming of Christ. Elizabeth and Zechariah lack agency not only in what to name their child, but also in what purpose their child is to serve: “Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God” (Luke 1:16). John’s purpose––and therefore Elizabeth’s in carrying him–– is concerned with God’s people collectively. It looks to me like Elizabeth is not much the point. But God does not silence the individual story of either Elizabeth or Zechariah when he calls them into his plan of redemption. God’s angel opens his announcement to Zechariah this way: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard” (Luke 1:13). Before we learn the cosmic significance of the angel’s message, we learn one thing: God has seen the needs of Zechariah and Elizabeth in their barrenness. So when Elizabeth quietly marvels, “The Lord has done this for me,” she is not speaking in naïvete. Instead, she is experiencing the work of God in her life. And beautifully, this work parallels the bigger work being done. Through John, God restores Elizabeth from the societal shame of her barrenness; also through John, the Father prepares the way for the Messiah to restore his people from the

shame of sin. Gently, God calls Elizabeth and Zechariah into his plan to redeem all of history by answering their prayers. By teaching us the practice of prayer, Jesus commands us to embrace simplicity. That is part of why prayer makes me squirm: the things I need are so simple sometimes, and in prayer I have to admit I still need them. For me, the shame of incompetence surfaces nakedly in seasons of transition. When I first came to UNC, I was terrified of how obvious I was. I am spacey, not detail-oriented, and have a tendency to do stupid things in public. (Example: as a first year I once got yelled at for grabbing a pancake in the dining hall; apparently there was a line I didn’t notice, and apparently the station wasn’t self-serve.) The simplest things––breakfast, dating, making friends––caused me shame over my incompetence. But God showed me his kindness by meeting the needs I was most reluctant to bring to Him. When I told him my fears of being isolated and of not fitting

"But God showed me his kindness by meeting the needs I was most reluctant to bring to Him."

in, he drew me toward a church where I found community and friendships. God showed up for me as I anxiously brought my simplicity before him, and I saw his concern for my little corner of his plan. And seeing his faithfulness in my simple concerns showed me the gospel more deeply. As I saw these things about God’s character freshman year, I came across Psalm 68:7. “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” Daily, God eagerly embraces the burdens I am ashamed to admit I have. Daily, he feels my silliest concerns––and my messiest ones––as his own. This truth is only more powerful when I remember that God’s burden-bearing character is not seen most clearly in my little story, but in the story of the gospel; as prophesied in Isaiah 53:4-5, Jesus Christ “took up our pain and bore our suffering. . . and by his wounds we are healed.” Like Elizabeth, I was gently pulled into a deeper understanding of my Savior through the practice of prayer. As we offer our needs vulnerably through prayer, we learn the gentleness of our burden-bearing Savior––both

when he answers us the way we would like, and when he turns our life plans upside-down and names the baby “John.” It is his gentleness that enables Elizabeth and Zechariah to respond to God’s plan with obedience and trust, as each demonstrates at the time of John’s christening. Despite the confusion of Zechariah’s relatives, Elizabeth and Zechariah insist––in obedience to God––that the child be named John, as the angel instructed. With this act of obedience, Zechariah and Elizabeth defy the expectations of their culture, in which a son’s name would traditionally come from the family of his father. Instead of pandering to human tradition, Elizabeth and Zechariah respond in bold faithfulness to their gentle Savior. Elizabeth’s and Zechariah’s admissions of individual need lead

them to obey their Creator in humility; because of their prayers, they join God’s plan of redemption with the knowledge that he sees them. Prayer shows us that the God who asks us to lose our lives for his kingdom does not leave us nameless in the human swarm of history: instead, he gives us new names. Like Elizabeth and Zechariah, we follow him with the bold vulnerability and humble obedience, inspired to see his plan defy the expectations of the world.

SYLVIA WARD Class of 2019 English and Psychology

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Make a Joyful Noise By Trent Brown


here’s something special that led me to Tuesday Night Worship, the weekly worship service held at Chapel of the Cross on Franklin Street. In the modern worship industry, the focus made a shift at some point along the way to making the music more important than the mission. Spending thousands of dollars in sound equipment and instruments and building the most extravagant stages possible has become typical in many churches. In the end of all of the spending, it becomes about the music, like you’re at a concert for your favorite band. That’s not what worship is defined as in the Bible. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13 that without love, our loud speech is nothing more than a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. Sometimes I find it hard to distinguish a megachurch's ballads from a pop song that you’d hear on the radio. When we idolize the act and focus on finding the most perfect tones from our guitars and the most expensive sound equipment, we lose the basis of why we’re there. But when we’re there for the praise, the love runs wild. That’s what we strive for at Tuesday Night Worship; with no speakers or microphones to amplify our music, it’s only about the natural act of worshipping. We are not singing worship songs because we love the sound of a $5,000 instrument and the musician’s spectacular showmanship. We’re singing because


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we have been offered the most radical love to ever grace the earth. The best way that I can describe it is as a dichotomy of love; singing a bunch of words to let God know that you have no idea how you could ever express your thankfulness adequately. You were given a love that is unexplainable and unimaginable, that you don’t deserve in the slightest, and one of the only ways to tell God how wonderful he has been to you is in the form of a song. When we sing something like, “I lean not on my own understanding. My life is in the hands of the maker of heaven,” the chord structures and melody don’t matter all that much. It’s not really about the words, it’s about reciprocating that love back to God. It’s a matter of extreme gratitude, not of masterful sound production. “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises,” says Psalm 98:4. The language in this psalm has often compelled me to think a little harder about

"It’s a matter of extreme gratitude, not of masterful sound production." the purpose of worship and praise and how it should be conveyed. Joyful noise. All the earth. Break forth. This psalmist was not trying to convey a meek, tame tone when he told us to sing about our Lord. He’s telling us to get up and sing, bang on a drum, shout it to the mountain tops, clang your cymbals together! Tell someone, tell everyone. In the act of worshipping, we can see two things being accomplished. The first outlined in Psalm 98. To be joyful, to sing loudly, to be boisterous with

trumpets, lyres and horns! By letting your insecurities die and allowing your body and voice to break forth into joyous song, not only are you communicating to God how thankful you are for the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for us, but you’re communicating to everyone around you that they are missing out if they aren’t singing to. You have the gift of everlasting life and love, don’t be quiet about it when there’s a chance to give it to someone else! 19th century preacher, Charles H. Spurgeon described the act of worshipping as, “the highest elevation of the spirit, and yet the lowliest prostration of the soul.”1 In fact, it may be the only time that you can raise your arms in the air and shake them around, while feeling absolute conviction in your soul and crying your eyes out.

The second action being accomplished was possibly put best by C.S. Lewis, “In the process of being worshipped… God communicates his presence to men.”2 It is purely amazing to me how God has shown himself to myself and my peers in so many different ways during worship. I’ve seen hearts change a countless number of times, including my own, during a praise and worship song that just seemed to change the air in the room, if only for a few moments. It was during my first time hearing the song “How He Loves” that I cried in a church and felt compelled to offer what little bit of musical talent I had to the church after the service. My heart was shouting and pleading, but my mouth was quiet when God touched me

that Sunday morning. There are few moments as genuine and as vulnerable as when hundreds of voices sing together. It’s simple, yet intense. Watching from a stage, it gives me chills sometimes to witness the love emanating from a crowd of people when they all shout out the phrase, “Jesus, we love you.” Every once in a while, you just have to close your eyes and breathe moments like that in.

TRENT BROWN Class of 2019 Reporting

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JASON SATTERFIELD Class of 2020 Advertising

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By Bekah Pounds

God's affirmation is greater than . To The Well Vol. 1 Issue 2


uring the summer of my transition from middle to high school, I suffered from an undiagnosed eating disorder. The majority of people in my life probably don’t know this about me. Why is that? It’s simple: at the time, I didn’t recognize that there was an issue, and afterwards I refused to talk about it because of societal expectations and a lack of understanding of what the disorder did to me mentally. I’ll be very frank, that summer was horrific for me. I barely ate, I ran or walked for miles a day in the sweltering North Carolina heat because of an internal desire to work off the calories I did consume. This caused me to lose a significant amount of weight, which at the time was my goal. I thought that if I looked good by societal standards, the deep rooted insecurities I had would go away. I didn’t know it then, but the things I strived to define myself by were actually doing me more harm than good. That was six years ago. To this day I sometimes struggle to look at a scale and not want to immediately go to the gym and workout for a couple hours. That’s partially due to my long struggle with the shame and internal turmoil that came along with having a negative body image. It’s also partially because I’ve never been able to understand how I allowed myself to buy into society’s beauty standards. At this time I don’t hate myself by any means, but at one point I did. It wasn’t until I realized that the insecurities that led me into an unhealthy relationship with food still existed, even after I’d overcome my eating disorder, to realize that my greatest insecurity was in my desire to be known and loved.

If there’s one thing I wish I could go back and tell my younger self it’s that my value and worth are not found in the expectations or opinions of oters. Our worth, as humans, is rooted in Jesus, who gave everything to love us wholeheartedly... who died so that we could live. I didn’t learn this until my senior year of high school. That year I was given three things that have stayed on my desk ever since: a coin, a gem, and a key. The coin reminds me that the world is going to put a value on who I am, and the gem serves to discount that by reminding me that I am priceless and worth more than the world will ever tell

years, I’ve already grown immensely in learning to see myself as Christ sees me: as his handiwork, perfectly formed. We need to start drawing attention to the fact that everyone is fighting their own battles. Each of us must learn to embrace our brokenness and the ugliness that consumes us and be broken together. Together we must bear the weight of each other’s burdens as we’re called to do. We need to speak up and break the stigmas that have been placed on mental health for far too long. It’s time to learn to love ourselves again. To anyone who has questions or finds themselves struggling with an eating disorder or any mental health related issues, speak up. Talk to someone. Opening up is a crucial step in realizing the grip it has on you. My story is far from over. If I’m honest, it’s really just beginning. The difference is now I’m no longer afraid to open up about this time in my life. My painful past paints a glorious picture of what Christ can do through our weaknesses. Before, I was hurting and sought affirmation in all the wrong places. Now, I’m defining myself as a daughter of the king and learning to view myself from his perspective instead of society’s. God’s unconditional love for me is the reason I’m so willing to be open and honest about the brokenness in my life, and I hope that others who are suffering through similar battles find the courage to seek his affirmation.

"If there’s one thing I wish I could go back and tell my younger self it’s that my value and worth are not found in the expectations or opinions of others." me I am. The key serves as a reminder that no matter where life takes me, I will always be home, because there will always be someone who cares for me. No, these reminders don’t keep me from falling victim to societal expectations, but they never fail to recenter my focus on the truth that I’m defined by someone who is far greater than my imperfections. While it took me nearly six years to overcome the mental barriers of shame and guilt that were by-products of my eating disorder, it taught me how to be patient and grow. Finally, I’m ready to accept my past for what it is and let the fears I’ve had go, in hopes that I can grow from my mistakes and learn to love who I am now. It’s a process, and it’s going to take time. But in the past few

BEKAH POUNDS Class of 2020 Psychology

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For a Renewed


By Bart Dunlap


or the past year, banners adorning campus lampposts and buildings have asked “What are you for?� and have raised the question of what the University is for. These are good questions. We have lost sight of what human beings are for. We therefore neither know how to diagnose our collective ills nor how to make a principled case for how to fix them. Nonetheless, we are assured by politicians and those who command the media that things are broken, and we are accosted with strident voices proposing divergent course corrections. Yell and tweet as they may, there is little evidence that these voices are connected to heads with ears to hear. Our culture, politics, and universities are increasingly characterized by prejudice, which leads to bigotry and avoidance, rather than by definite, articulated beliefs, which would permit argument and encounters with those propounding contrary positions. In opposition to this, we, the privileged participants in public university life, ought to think clearly about what human beings are for and what human societies are for, and, beyond thinking, we should speak and write clearly about these things, teach and study them, and articulate the implications for our politics and our culture. However, we have, by and large, given ourselves over to the influence of a few wealthy men via a combination of centralized technologies and media. Instead of reading and discussing "The Republic," "Jane Eyre," or "The Mechanical Bride," we fill our time talking about the tweets of twits and recycled rants crafted for clicks--a chasing after the wind. This persistent whirring distraction, which molds our emotions and fragments our thoughts is, of course, all enabled by science, our ever-expanding knowledge of the world that allows us to have our way with it.


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The sciences are esteemed in our culture and in our universities out of proportion with their abilities. These abilities are considerable, but they are not infinite; neither are they particularly broad when considering the scope of human life and the palate of human culture. But the sciences, via the technologies that harness scientific knowledge to manipulate the world, excel at efficiency, and efficiency is a modern virtue. Without an aim, however, efficiency is meaningless, and the sciences alone cannot discern such an aim. The wisdom (and folly) of the centuries is preserved, studied, and elaborated in the humanities, which are better-suited (even if generally ill-suited at present) to know to what ends we should press these tools of efficiency into service. The charge is sometimes leveled that the humanities are of no use. That is surely sometimes the case, but without them, we are much less likely to know what is worth using and also more likely to think that humans are useless. To press the point, consider that science made a nuclear arsenal available to our president and to authoritarians

arguably less temperate. Whether this was a good thing, or whether unleashing these atomic destroyers from their silos is prudent, is not the sort of knowledge the tools of science are suited to uncover. For knowledge of this type to have practical effect, the metaphorical silos that seal off the sciences from the humanities must be torn down. These silos isolate not only the sciences from humanities but sciences from sciences and the humanist disciplines from one another. The modern university is a hive of silos, and its worker bees are often too busy tending their own cells to cross into others or to reflect deeply on the implications of their work for those outside the hive. A university for the people funded by the people has a responsibility to those citizens who enable its existence. Without a willingness to alter its course out of concern for its community, the university can undermine the people who give it life. Consider two examples, one from computer science, the other from genomics. The capability of “intelligent machines” to perform tasks that have heretofore provided work and economic means for millions of people is rapidly increasing. The potential economic shock is significant. The rise of increasingly capable biotechnology that can, e.g., alter “undesirable” traits in a human being’s genome immediately after she is conceived means that the possibility for grotesque errors of eugenics is not safely in our past. A university that fosters rapid and unfettered development on these and related technological fronts but does not also foster clear and careful thought aimed at human flourishing in light of these developments is abrogating its responsibility to the citizens who make it possible. Such thought, argument, and understanding may naturally lead to decisions to slow or halt certain technological developments. This would be unnatural for the modern research

"A university for the people funded by the people has a responsibility to those citizens who enable its existence." university, which has no unified sense of what human beings are for or even a sense of how we might come to know such a thing. Once upon a time, theology would have provided this vision. The idea that theology is queen of the sciences, as we are told it once was, seems quaint. Somewhere along the way, the people revolted, or she became a weak and irrelevant ruler. In any case, she lost her authority. Then, the people wanted a king. The rule of modern science has given us many good things, but it does not know who we are or what fruits are best left unpicked. It would as gladly provide synthetic polymers to bandage our wounds as synthetic memories to allay our loneliness. If we hope to fix this situation, we cannot do it alone. We must break out of silos, frustrate the hive, come together that we may think together across disciplines and ideologies. If we are to confront and hope beyond the challenges that stand athwart our life together, we must admit that these problems are our problems to take up. They are ours to name in light of what we know about who we are, how we got here, and what we should be for. And they are ours to rebel against where rebellion is appropriate to the preservation and restoration of a society that cultivates human flourishing. This is an old task, and it is one worth renewing. BART DUNLAP Postdoctoral Fellow Physics and Astronomy

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Open Hands in a Culture of Definitions By Valerie Lundeen

“And so now, I pray like this,” I finished, opening my hands and taking a deep breath.


rowing up in Christian circles, there was always that testimony-sharing thing I couldn’t seem to get away from, no matter how many times I insisted on my fear of public speaking. While narratives with clear plot points and a linear trajectory tend to be most well-received, my story has always been a tumultuous process of learning to release control--often synonymous with pride and certainty. God has taught me to open my hands in countless ways and in a variety of church (and non-church) contexts. I grew up a pastor’s daughter in a Northern, mainline Presbyterian church; I participated in a charismatic and multi-ethnic campus ministry; I attended a conservative church in the South. I’ve spent the past year attending mostly Catholic masses and Anglican Eucharist services. In all faith contexts, the Divine has deconstructed me, and my understanding of “control” has changed. Release of daily circumstances is important, but for me, learning to let go of control has be-

come more of an abstract consenting to God. Either way, my primary metaphor has been the same: open hands. For over a year now, I’ve been using those open palms to explore the texture of unthreatened faith. I keep finding my fingers running over what I can feel but not see: the mystery of Emmanuel, God with us. Learning to embrace that mystery has crumbled barriers to God I didn’t even realize I had built. For me, language was the first wall to disintegrate. This shift was strange as a writer. Soul-level resistance to the language-saturated experience of faith is not the spiritual path I would have chosen. This transition was scary at first; the expanse behind the wall was vast and uncharted, and I no longer had words for it. While I flailed for the familiar comfort of a narrative, God held me with a hand of Love. Being held by Love is uncomfortably intimate. Religious language isn’t bad, but it shouldn’t take the place of God’s actual presence. To learn the latter intimately, I had to lose a bit

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of the comfort of the former. I had to consent to what felt to me like my childhood understanding of theology spinning out of control. But in that whirlwind, with my fists uncurled and pen falling from my grasp, I’ve started to learn that my God is so much bigger than the words I, or anyone, use to describe God. I’ve grown in my desire to worship a God whom I cannot explain in three minutes, or three bullet points, or three hundred years. Gently, the Divine has pried open my hands and taught me to look at the Presence of Light that illuminates the language behind worship. As my grip on vocabulary loosened, ironically, I could name the spiritual tension even more precisely. Now, I am happy to interact with words for what they are--approximations. “Created for a material finite reality,” says theologian Kyle Strobel, language “doesn’t refer well to an infinite reality. That doesn’t mean it’s not true, but there’s an infinite otherness beyond our affirmation.” 1 I want to lean into that Infinite Otherness--that love melting into love, as Saint Tere-

sa of Avila put it.2 But the leaning into is a journey for which doctrine and community and Hillsong Music didn’t fully prepare me. Instead, throughout college, my faith has gravitated toward the languageless manifestations of God from the soil up. I’ve leaned into embodied practices of faith, liturgies that shape my stance toward Heaven more than my intellect about Heaven. One of those liturgies is the simple, daily act of opening my palms and letting the Spirit around me fill them. To me, liturgical worship means returning to the Ground of Being. Simple, tangible practices, such as opening hands to receive communion, ground me in the physical reality of God and God’s being in the world. To associate with Ultimate Reality at deeper levels than before, I accept both language and its limits. Approaching God primarily through wordless worship has been a wilderness journey. As a writer letting go of her obsession with language, this journey of

"While I flailed for the familiar comfort of a narrative, God held me with a hand of Love."


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spiritual shifts has taught me to embrace the tension that ensues. I’m writing words about how I have none; I’m using language to describe embodiment; I’m certain about uncertainty. These ironies represent my repentance from cut-anddried dualism. I think the nonduality of Jesus is a wonderful, terrifying mystery. I’ve sat in the dark, petrified; I’ve danced through the desert, empowered; I’ve exhaled, free. Fr. Richard Rohr calls the Christian’s necessary journey of faith transition “falling upward.”3 Saint John of the Cross called it unknowing.4 N.T. Wright calls it unpacking. Jacques Derrida called it deconstruction.6 I call it expansion. Jesus calls it being born again (see John 3). According to Jesus, this rebirth follows repentance, which in its original language denotes a change of mind or physical reversal of body position. Jesus preached a theology of change. I hope we, as Christians--or just as

humans--are not afraid of the spiritual change that Jesus so desperately preached. From Rohr to Jesus, the terms used to describe mystical transformation all express movement. It is movement by the Holy Spirit on the human soul; it is movement that defies definition. Lack of definition is scary to our post-Enlightenment, Western, capitalist minds, but I think it’s exactly what our faith needs. “Can we define that which by definition eludes defining?” asked philosopher Umberto Eco. 7 The elusion of definition is, most days, how I think of God. I cannot grasp the Vastness, the Filled Emptiness as Fr. Rohr writes8, and admitting that I cannot is incredibly freeing. I am no longer tempted to close my grubby little fingers around God, pretending to control whatever it is I desire to grip. As I surrender the notion that even the concept of God could ever fit neatly into my hands--or my pen--the liturgy of living with palms open becomes less a choice and more my only way forward. After all, what is the Christian life if not a constant relearning of what it means to hold it all more loosely? VALERIE LUNDEEN Class of 2020 Economics and Public Policy

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met Josh Cook for the first time on a Wednesday afternoon at the UNC Children’s Hospital. He was lying in bed, watching a YouTube video on a TV screen mounted on the wall. His mother sat on the sofa in the room’s corner, and his sister was on the floor, surrounded by toys. I introduced myself to the Cook family, informed them that I was a tutor from Hospital School, and asked Josh if he wanted to work on some schoolwork. I had in my hand a computer programming activity, which seemed to pique his interest. He welcomed me inside his room. He worked on the programming activity for an hour while lying in his bed (his doctor would not allow him to raise his torso more than 45 degrees). I sat in a chair next to him, offering guidance on the activity. During breaks, we conversed. I learned about Josh’s family, his hopes for the future, and his experience in the hospital. Josh was an avid backyard football player, and science was his favorite subject in school. Though he did not vocalize his affection for his sister, he showed it. Josh was a strong, protective, and instructive older brother. I tutored Josh on multiple occasions over the subsequent weeks. Most of my sessions with him were ordinary – we worked on homework, continued the programming activity, and talked about his interests and his life at home. We also discussed his disease. I learned that Josh had an aggressive form of cancer. He had recently received surgery in an effort to prevent the spread of his tumor. Each week I watched as Josh recovered. The week that Josh was finally allowed to leave his bed and sit in a chair marked a milestone in his recovery. Unfortunately, what I thought was a positive sign of healing also brought unbearable pain. After a few minutes of sitting, Josh became fatigued and decid-

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ed that he wanted to return to his bed. He requested that I ask his nurse to help him. I alerted the nurse, and stood in the corner of the room while Josh rose from his chair. His nurse helped to steady him. As he stood and began to pivot to his bed, he became uncertain of his balance. He labored to remain upright. His knuckles whitened on the handles of his walker. Then, to my surprise, he began to whimper. Upon standing, fear

In the hallway, I stood wide-eyed. I was superfluous, unnecessary. But most of all, I was unprepared. I was unprepared to reenter the room, where Ms. Cook stood stoically. I was unprepared to see the long row of sutures that lined Josh’s leg. I was unprepared for Josh’s sister’s solemn expression as she peeked at me from under a table in the corner of the room. Most of all, I was unprepared to offer any sort of encouragement to

This culture can produce inquisitive future doctors inclined to serve. But, it can also form us in counterproductive and often harmful ways. How can the same culture produce such different outcomes? The answer, I believe, lies in the aim one has for the pre-med education. Aristotle wrote extensively about the concept of an aim – the goal or purpose of an action. In Book I of the Politics, he shows the detrimental effect of distorted aims on a given craft. Specifically, Aristotle writes about the pursuit of wealth in the context of household management, but his wisdom can be applied broadly. He contends that the pursuit of wealth should have a limited role in the management of the household. But greed – wealth acquisition aimed at the wrong end – repurposes all other crafts for the sake of attaining more wealth. Aristotle shows that a miscalibrated aim propagates disorder. For the miser, greed takes a limited pursuit (the acquisition of wealth), renders it limitless, and brings all other pursuits into its service. Here is where we may draw wisdom from Aristotle. The most common misaligned aim for the pre-med student is self-actualization – achievement, recognition, and medical school acceptance. Like greed, the insatiable desire for self-actualization can repurpose the pre-med track for its own pur-

"The most common misaligned aim for the pre-med student is self-actualization – achievement, recognition, and medical school acceptance." and pain overtook him. In a firm tone the nurse asked me to return to the nurses’ station and alert the assistant on duty. I returned with help, but I was not allowed back into Josh’s room. The door was left ajar. Through the crack I heard the nurse and her assistant struggling to help Josh maintain his balance. His whimpering had turned to wailing, interrupted only occasionally by his mother’s loving encouragement.


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the Cook family. Paralyzed by inadequacy, I wondered how I should console Josh in his suffering. All I could muster was a mumble about staying strong. Then, I exited the room, allowing the door to click shut softly. The pre-med culture at Carolina is an invisible, yet profoundly formative, force. It consists of rigorous coursework, research, service to one’s community, and a relentless pursuit of achievement.

poses. When this happens, one prioritizes achievement and reduces others to instruments for attaining one’s desired end. I have not avoided aiming for self-actualization in my pre-med education. In fact, these assertions come from my own experience. As I previously mentioned, the pre-med culture expects high performance in rigorous coursework, involvement in research, service to the campus and broader community, and the pursuit of achievement. In response to this culture, I studied for my own good, researched for my own good, and served for my own good. In doing so, I habituated the notion that I was the ultimate beneficiary of each of these efforts. Even worse, other human beings became means to achieving my own self-actualization, along with studying, research, and service. Over time, as I practiced serving myself, I became like Aristotle’s miser: I took the good pursuits of the pre-med culture and subordinated them to my selfish ambition. On the day when I witnessed Josh’s intense suffering, the culmination of my selfish practices was on display. Rather than confronting my discomfort and encouraging the suffering young man in front of me, I tended to my own interests first. I failed to comfort the Cook family in their suffering because I had submitted to the false aim of achievement. All of this begs the question, what

is a pre-med student’s rightly-ordered aim? In working to become a doctor, one prepares for a vocation that seeks the health of one’s patients. Therefore, even now, before knowing their faces, names, or even their diagnoses, we must pursue our pre-med educations with these future patients in mind. We must allow their health to motivate our pursuits. As greed repurposes all pursuits for the acquisition of wealth without limit, so selfish ambition retools all actions to serve one’s own achievement. But, if we aim for the health of our future patients, we are oriented outward, so that others – patients, friends, family, and acquaintances – become ends in and of themselves. I wonder how I might have responded to Josh’s suffering if his health, and his family’s good, was my aim. Perhaps I would’ve sat with his sister and listened to her questions, so that Ms. Cook could console her son. I might have encouraged Josh and offered my support to the family. Maybe I would have checked on him as I left the hospital, just to say that I was thinking about him. While this situation with Josh has come and gone, I can prepare to encounter future suffering by orienting my aim to the health of my future patients. My experience with Josh caused me to critically reexamine my aims. This is a healthy practice for any pre-med student. We must investigate our intentions

and honestly assess what we discover. We must consider whether our daily habits orient us outward, to the health of our future patients, or inward, to our own selfish ambition. If it is the latter, we are responsible for recalibrating our aim. Let us resolve to aim for our future patients’ good. Perhaps we can keep Josh, and many young people like him, in our sights, even as we study, research, and serve. Furthermore, those of us who are followers of Christ must have a special concern for our future patients. We know that all human beings are created in the image and likeness of our Heavenly Father. We must practice this view by embracing the implication of this doctrine: a person’s worth is not derived from his or her function, but is rather an intrinsic quality. As we consider the powerful force of the education we have chosen to pursue, coupled with the danger of poorly aiming, we might fear that our tendency to prize ourselves above others will distort our aims. We may cry out, with Paul, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” But, we must always remember how this question is answered: Jesus Christ is our deliverer. As we submit our educations to his Lordship, let us allow Jesus to reorder our aims. Each day, let us ask the Great Physician to turn us away from our selfish ambition and aim us at our future patients’ health.

MATT GILLESKIE Class of 2019 Biostatistics

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genealogy By Kayla Rutledge

This is the woman who walked before me she forgot that she was loved and her body that had once danced in the cool of the day grew scratched with leaves became a thing stretched with child a spine broken and when her Creator clothed her and closed that heavy garden gate He wept to see her go and I wonder if she did not understand His tears until she watched her children choose blood over brother the fruit from her womb rotting away --This is the woman who walked before me her body felt homesick. This is the woman who walked before me her womb betrayed her and emptiness filled her to the brim they laughed at her so long that she laughed at her Creator and abused her sister as if bitterness could mother many nations yet still He placed a child in her arms This is the woman who walked before me her body felt emptiness.


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This is the woman who walked before me she hid men from a land she did not know in a basket found somewhere some compassion there was no one to protect her sold her body to feed her family and I wonder if she was scared that this Yahweh would not accept her -scarlet rope grafted into His lineage This is the woman who walked before me her body felt like someone else’s. This is the woman who walked before me her husband was stripped from her by a war she did not want to fight -ripped from her purification so that a king could take her as his own and I wonder if she mourned stained her robes indigo with weeping in a palace that she did not ask for unseen to all but Him -This is the woman who walked before me her body felt grief.

This is the genealogy I carry on my back and in my heart these women that lay inside the cracked spine of my Bible they made mistakes and moved mountains and walked in between the lines of the story to hold up His line this God-man this Emmanuel brought to Earth by women whose bodies broke and bled and birthed a path to redemption a broken, tattered story blooming.

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think and live By Brodie Heginbotham

Minds race. We think about why we aren’t thinking. We talk about why we aren’t talking. Lazy days and a mental haze Paralyze our good intentions. I want to know how to think. Yet I want to think I think enough, and live. I think I think too much and live too little, and wonder what others think of me. If they think of me, they think too much. And live too little. We were made for glory, not esoteric nonsense. What is man that you think of him. What is man that you lived as him. You thought too much of me, I think. Yet when you lived, you died for me.


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beating a path

ANNA GRACE FREEBERSYSER Class of 2020 Economics and Studio Art


he original language in the Old Testament defines the heart as the inner-man--the mind--as well as the seat of emotion. We are hardwired, to some degree, to be ruled by our hearts. As believers, then, it takes on new meaning to recognize that we have been given new hearts. Hearts, as described in Ezekiel, made of flesh and not stone. There’s something that changes when we submit to God’s authority over our world's. With this heart of flesh, a new and more worthy king is being enthroned. Solomon describes his own heart as being “like channels of water in the hand of the Lord, He turns it wherever He wishes” (Proverbs 21:1). Just as the beating of our physical hearts gives witness to our physical vitality, our spiritual vitality can be seen through the daily prac-

tice - the ongoing beat - of bringing our thoughts, emotions, and actions captive to the obedience of Christ. Our hearts, guided by the thoughts we entertain, the habits we embrace, the relationships we pursue--- and at the most basic level, the neural pathways we employ and reinforce daily--- have the potential to beat a compelling, loving, joyful and redemptive rhythm that invites the hearts of others to join in.

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Margin Notes PS A LM 8


O Lord, our Sovereign,

how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.


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The psalm begins and ends with the elated realization that just as the sky (heavens) spans and encompases the whole earth, so also does God’s own presence. The name (ha-shem) of Yahweh is a common way to refer to the manifestation, or revealing, of Yahweh among human beings (Psalm 22:22, 66:2, 99:3). Similar words like the face of Yahweh (Psalm 33:13; 18) and the glory of Yahweh (Psalm 19:1) refer to the same sort of divine presence. It is this presence of God inside of his sacred space, the earth, that causes the psalmist to praise. The psalm is built upon the humble response of awe to the vastness of God’s creation.


Out of the mouths of babes and infants,

you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, 3

the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, 4

mortals that you care for them?

Yet you have made them a little lower than God, 5

and crowned them with glory and honor. You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; 6

you have put all things under their feet,

The God of Israel shows himself as a fortress emerging from weakness and vulnerability (here, of young children). He does the same in Christ, where conquering comes through sacrifice, and life through death. Hatred will be defeated by love, and mercy will triumph over judgement (Philippians 2:5-11).

It is common for authors of the Old Testament, when seeing God and his majesty, to quickly turn to a meditation on the humble state of humanity. The prophet Isaiah, when seeing and hearing of how the glory of the Lord encompasses the earth, immediately recognizes his unworthiness (Isaiah 6:5). This is a fragment of the broader biblical principle that humans can only understand their true nature after seeing the nature of God.

In the biblical worldview, as opposed to the Greek, human beings do not have value on their own, but receive their value from God. These verses are a reflection on the mandate to Adam and Eve to cultivate and subdue God’s good garden, giving humanity a unique position of co-creating with the very God that created them. It is this task and divine mandate that gives rise to human purpose and meaning.

BRODIE HEGINBOTHAM Class of 2019 Religious Studies

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Endnotes THE HUMILITY OF "I DON'T KNOW" 1. René Descartes, Discourse on method, trans. John Veitch (New York: Barnes & Noble, 2004).

HOUSING FOR THE GOSPEL 1. C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters. Chapter 21, p. 14

MAKE A JOYFUL NOISE 1. The Complete Works of C. H. Spurgeon, Volume 14: Sermons 788 to 847, Sermon 795 2. C.S. Lewis, Reflection on the Psalms, 93

OPEN HANDS IN A CULTURE OF DEFINITIONS 1. Kyle Stroble, interview with Adam Narloch and John Williamson, The Deconstructionists, podcast audio, Nov. 1, 2016 2. Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle, trans. Mirabai Starr (New York: Riverhead Books, 2003), 145. 3. Richard Rohr, Falling Upward (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2011). 4. John of the Cross, “I Came into the Unknown,” in To Touch the Sky: Poems of Mystical, Spiritual & Metaphysical Light, trans. Willis Barnstone (New York: New Directions, 1999), 170. 5. Jonathan Merritt, interview with Adam Narloch and John Williamson, The Deconstructionists, podcast audio, Oct. 3, 2018. 6. R. Gnanasekaran, “An Introduction to Derrida, Deconstruction and Post-Structuralism,” International Journal of English Literature and Culture 3, no. 7, (July 2015): 211-214. 7. Umberto Eco, “A Photograph,” in The Photography Reader, ed. Liz Wells (London: Routledge, 2002), p. 126. 8. Richard Rohr, The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2013), p. 169.

PSLAM 8 MARGIN NOTES 1. Weiser, Artur. The Psalms, a Commentary. Westminster Press, 1962.


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To The Well: Practice, Spring 2019  

Volume 1, Issue 2

To The Well: Practice, Spring 2019  

Volume 1, Issue 2