TELOS A WILLIAMs Journal of Christian Discourse
hunger Falling in Love Liszt the enigma Seeking the kingdom of God
Elizabeth Hwang ’13 Rachel Durrant ’13
Shirley Li ’13
Michael Berry Bianca Brown Judith Clerjeune Shana Dorsey Rachel Durrant Dylan Griswold Nicolei Gupit Kelsey Ham
Andrew Haringer Caleb Kim Shirley Li Emily Loveridge Caleb Miaw David Nolan Jackline Odhiambo Keelia Willison
We are indebted to the Cecil B. Day Foundation and College Council. SENIOR EDITOR
Chih McDermott ’14 Amanda Su ’14
Bianca Brown ’14 Wyatt Boyer ‘14
Telos is the Greek word for “purpose,” “goal,” or “fulfillment.” For us, telos represents a direction that can only be found through God.
Jasmyne Grismore ’15
Si Young Mah ’14
Alyssa Barlis ’13
The Williams Telos is a journal dedicated to the expression of opinions and perspectives informed by the Christian faith.
Email email@example.com with comments, questions, donations, or submissions.
Esther Cho ’13 Samira MartinhagoCustodia ’13
Cover photos Leonardo da Vinci [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons http://www.flickr.com/photos/blacken1772/335965526/ edited by Si Young Mah
Jamie Baik ’14 Eduard Ciobanu ‘15 All pieces in The Williams Telos are reflections of personal opinion, interpretation, and understanding of the Christian faith, but do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Telos board or the publication as a whole.
t h e WIL L IA MS
Amber Ellis ’15
Marcel Brown ’15
Doris Mbabu ’15
TELOS Fall 2012
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Letter from the editor
Liszt the enigma
Professor Andrew Haringer examines Liszt’s many appetites.
Seeking the kingdom of God
Shirley Li talks to Pat Murray about transformation in Springfield, MA.
Aquinas on everyday emotions David Nolan discusses Aquinas’s perspective on reason and emotion. EMILY LOVERIDGE
Hungry for more Caleb Miaw invites readers to awaken their hunger for God.
Lunch Jackline Odhiambo affirms the joy of everyday life in Kisumu, Kenya.
ART NICOLEI GUPIT
Untitled By Emily Loveridge. Fall 2012
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TELOS REFLECTIONS POETRY 04
Longing for the House of God 25 By Bianca Brown.
By Caleb Kim.
By Michael Berry.
A life of undying commitment Dylan Griswold reclaims goodness in relationships.
Diligent seeker Shana Dorsey wrestles with being a faithful Christ-follower.
“I want to ride a Lion and swim in the stars.” Judith Clerjeune celebrates a newfound desire for God.
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Letter from the editor “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” John 17:3 (ESV) At the famed Last Supper, Jesus tells his disciples he is leaving them, to die. But his disciples don’t get it: his absence, and thus by extension also his presence, are as of yet not clarified. They miss the point, that Jesus himself is the whole point. I’ve been in Christian communities for a long time, but it wasn’t really until last spring that I realized that I didn’t get it either. I’d been so concerned with all the peripheries that I’d neglected the heart of the matter: to get to know God myself. Through a few friends I saw a picture of what real closeness to God looked like, and to them, Jesus was captivating. As I looked through their lens and then back at my own, I found that I was not at all captivated by Jesus – that there were plenty of folk in my life more real and colorful than he – that I didn’t really know him. I’d cast my nets, satisfied with the motions of devout religiosity, and come up empty. It was scary to realize how poor I was, and to find that for so long my Christianity had consisted of platitudes and an abstract, impersonal God. Yet I had a glimpse of what it was like to talk to and know God, and I thought I wanted more: so I asked God that I might know him. Thankfully Jesus really is the best Fisher King. As I’ve been asking over these past few months, he’s been answering and catching me in his wide, good nets: nets I couldn’t escape from even if I wanted to. I feel that I’m finally growing closer to and deeper in him, beginning to see Jesus more clearly that I might more fully fall in love with him. As Christians, we believe that all our heart’s desire is found in God: “Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee” (Augustine). This semester, join the Telos as we celebrate and grapple with and question what it means to have God truly for ourselves. We are dissatisfied with our poverty, and long that our hunger for God might stir yours, too. Caleb Kim struggles to believe that his Father keeps his promises, and Judith Clerjeune desires to offer all her heart to God with reckless abandon. Professor Andrew Haringer examines Liszt’s overarching life-thrust toward God. We recognize, too, and grieve that hunger is a physical as well as a spiritual reality. Jackline Odhiambo’s fiction story affirms God’s grace amidst physical hunger, while a Christian community in Springfield, MA confronts realities of poverty and homelessness. Both insist quietly, yet boldly, that in the kingdom of God those who hunger and thirst will be filled (Matt. 5:6). Our writers reinvest what have become stock phrases with lively meaning: God is our treasure – our utmost joy – he is the eternal life that we seek. Even so, all these pieces are in some sense still unfinished. In our searching we are constantly finding, and in our finding we are discovering there is still more to pursue. All the while, our sense of hunger ebbs and flows, and the path of seeking is oft uncertain. Yet for us as Christians, the end is clear: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face” (1 Cor. 13:12). Some day, our faithfulness will be rewarded (Heb. 11:6) and our deepest longings wholly satisfied. With these promises in mind, we invite you to press on alongside us to take hold of the eternal life that Jesus offers: to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he has sent. In Jewel the Unicorn’s triumphant words at the end of C.S. Lewis’s The Last Battle, “Come further up, come further in!” with joy, Shirley
To the Worship Leader: According to the Body. Of a Daughter in His Court. A Psalm. 1 When I look upon Your people I see no rough exteriors, Just soft edges, lines of grace; I see no one inferior. 2 When I’m present with Your people In purposeful relationship Arms wide, hearts abandoned Unified in worship
Based upon Psalm 84
3 Enlivened by the same Spirit, Our hearts sing in key. Those I’ve never met before Share this life force in me.
Longing for the House of God by Bianca Brown
4 And this body that keeps the soul Is not separated but aligned; Every part was made for God The branches for the vine.
5 Every pore is blessed by God, Every fiber hears the song; My muscles can’t help but strum Rhythmically along. 6 When these exquisite, immortal beings Are together praising Him, The things of this world—the worries, the cares Grow slowly and strangely dim. 7 How beloved are those with pathways Written in their hearts To a place of higher holiness Regardless of where they start 8 Often they’re from a place of weeping, Often a valley of tears; Dust overwhelming, danger consuming Hedged in by delusive fears 9 But these people, Your own people Courageously voyage through. Rain kisses their every step And the land is renewed.
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10 As they go, they get stronger, Constantly thinking on the prize. They seek peace and pursue it Without compromise 11 As they go, they draw nearer, Mount Zion above! Hardships surmounted, trials passed A victory of love. 12 Bands of the redeemed Lifted by song and prayer. Firm purpose, wise counsel Encouragement everywhere shared. 13 God’s people, so beloved! The anointed, so free! Strength!—the fruit of daily life As we’re made holier by degree. 14 If the sparrow can find security Where Your people praise, I will follow the swallow to her solace And rest in Your favored gaze. 15 I pull Your cover over me— Look upon my eager face! Where you are, I may be also, The only permanent place. 16 For in this world of many memberships, Many offers to belong, I seek the orchard of abiding trees Whose roots are deep and strong. 17 Just keep me with Your people For there is where You dwell, Just “one day in Your courts” is better, But You give eternity as well. 18 No longer a structure where You are found, No longer wood and stone, But Your presence with a people Lord! Living houses are Your home.
Bianca Brown ’14 is a Political Science and Asian Studies major from Long Island, NY. As she studies the government of God, she’s learning that hunger never goes unnoticed in the Kingdom. Fall 2012
Lunch In the summer of 2012, Jackie travelled to her hometown in Kenya to start a literacy project. The following story is written from the perspective of one of her young students. Last night I made porridge with the last of the corn flour. We all enjoyed it. Eva, my nine-year-old sister, and I left home for school quite early today as Denis, my older brother, travelled to town. At school, I try to be attentive in class. The Science lesson with Mr. Kamau is always fun. Today we are learning about the vertebrates and some exceptional mammals like the duck-billed platypus. Mr. Kamau asks, “We now know the egg-laying mammals. Do we also have toothless mammals?” Tommy lifts his hand up. “My grandmother,” he says. The class bursts into laughter. But Tommy is right. His old grandmother is edentulous. I usually look forward to break time. I love playing kati. Kati is a Kenyan version of dodgeball played by two teams, one ball and bottle tops. The goal is to make a tower with the bottletops before being hit by the ball. The running, the screaming, the jumping, and the arguing when unfairly hit by the ball all produce a special energy. As lunch time approaches, I am hardly attentive in class. The bell rings. As usual, the kids in the lower primary shout “Luuuuuunch!” as they rush home. “Are you going for lunch?” asks my friend Mary Judith. “Oh yes!” I reply. “See you in the afternoon girl. Enjoy your lunch!” Mary Judith runs off. As I watch her go, I smile.
Mr. Kamau asks, “We now know the egg-laying mammals. Do we also have toothless mammals?” Tommy lifts his hand up. “My grandmother,” he says. 06
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by Jackline Odhiambo I walk out of my class to the grazing field outside school. I can see another student walking towards the Jacaranda tree next to the boys’ soccer field. I am consoled. Everything drags. The sun is faithfully scorching. The wind blows the dust in a circular array. It is beautiful to watch the spiral even though dust gets into your eyes. The young shepherds are grazing their goats and sheep. With their bare chests, I can count the ribs on their bare chests. Their lips are dry and cracked. “It is a beautiful day, isn’t it, schoolgirl?” one asks me. “Oh yes! Very beautiful indeed,” I reply. These shepherds are a funny lot. I come out to this field to listen to their songs. Yesterday they were singing about the richness of the fields that fatten their animals. Today they are praising the grey clouds that bring fresh water. I look at the rich blue sky, decorated by white, irregular-shaped moving clouds. The thought of a great meal tonight cloud my mind. Eva and I decided pilau would be the appropriate dish. Pilau is spiced rice prepared with goat meat and spices like cumin, cinnamon, and cloves. Eva will make a salad of kachumbari with diced tomatoes, onions, carrots, and cilantro, mixed with lemon juice. I can smell the fragrance of pilau. We reminded Denis to bring some soda too. My afternoon lessons are uneventful. I am the first to leave school for home. Eva smiles at my entrance and continues washing the dishes. She has collected firewood enough to last us for another week. I join her and together we finish household chores while chatting. “I will make the pilau,” Eva says. “Then the aroma will fill your stomach before you eat,” I interject. “ You make kachumbari as you usually do, and leave the pilau work for me.” Eva laughs. Dusk quickly approaches. I lit the kerosene lamp and put it on the table as she locks the door. We sit at the table to do homework as we wait for Denis. Eva picks the lamp up and walks to the bedroom. “I need the lamp here, Eva.” “I know, just getting my math homework,” she shouts from the bedroom.
“Where did you hide it today?” “Just making sure the rats won’t eat them like they did with yours.” Last week the rats enjoyed the juicy taste of my finished homework. I had left my books on the dining table, which is also our study table, only to find pieces chewed up in the morning. Mr. Kamau had suggested we either leave some leftovers for the rats, or we domesticate a cat. We finish our homework silently, except for some grumbling about where to put the lamp. Its light is too dim to serve us both effectively. “Why isn’t Denis back yet?” asks Eva. I look at the wall clock and it is about 10:00 pm. “He must be on his way. He’ll be here soon.” “Don’t you remember Mama said we should not be outside at night? She said hyenas from Mount Katito eat people at night. What if…?” “Eva, nothing will happen to Denis. He is a man. Also he is not walking alone.” The door rattles and we both rush to find out who it is. “Why did you lock the door?” a wearied voice asks. “Safety measures,” says Eva. “Is that you Denis?” I ask. “Yes! Open up!” he replies.
We open the door. Denis is empty-handed. Eva and I look into each other’s eyes then into Denis’s. He collapses on the chair and sighs. We both kneel on the opposite side of the table, waiting for what he has to say. He smiles, scratching his chin. He leans forward and fidgeting with his fingers, breaks the silence. “I have to go back tomorrow. There was a delay with the money transfer. I tried to wait for afternoon transactions unsuccessfully. Can you imagine how I had to trek the 16 miles back home? But I am sure we will have the money tomorrow.” “You must be tired brother. Can I make you warm water to clean up? I fetched a lot of firewood today, you know,” says Eva. We all laugh. “Thank you Eva. The firewood will be of use tomorrow.” We laugh again. “We better get to sleep then. We’ll be waking up early for school tomorrow, you know.” “Goodnight my ladies,” says Denis. “Goodnight brother,” Eva and I reply.
Jackie Odhiambo ’14 is chemistry major from Kisumu, Kenya. She loves community service, playing volleyball and singing. Fall 2012
A Life of Undying
As a young Christian man, I can’t wait to marry, and I certainly can’t wait to make love to my wife. I believe sex is one of the greatest gifts God has given to mankind. In fact, one of the most lovely, genuine descriptions of passionate, poetic erotica is found in the Bible! Just linger in the beauty of Song of Songs, “Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins, which feed among the lilies…. Thou has ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou has ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck… Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb: honey and milk are under thy tongue” (Songs 4:5, 9, 11 KJV). I find Song of Songs to be a particularly positive celebration of human love and sexuality within the context of marriage. Sex is meant to be beautiful, to be cherished and desired. God wants us to enjoy His creation, for His creation is “very good” (Gen. 1:31). While The Song of Songs displays sexuality in such a radiant light, one specific verse jumps out at me, “[do] not stir up or awaken love until it pleases” (Songs 3:5 ESV). Before I came to know God and know about his love, I really struggled with a fitting understanding of sex. I have known what it’s like to have lust govern my heart. In the past, I’ve tried to quench the need for intimacy in my life with the many ways the world offers me: casual hookups, pornography, and even long-term relationships where the fixation is on self-satisfaction, without any regard for honoring God through it. All of these physical pleasures appear to ‘fix’ the problem of intimacy at the surface, but deep down, all this did was provide me with a lustful buzz soaked in transient feelings of pleasure and self-valida-
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tion. Hooking up was a quick fix for self-doubt, a need for acceptance, to feel wanted, hot and loved. But after it was done, it was done, and left me just as empty. I didn’t find the love and intimacy I longed for. All these physical pleasures didn’t quench my thirst; it only made me thirstier – for real, consuming, passionate, ever-lasting love. At the time, the prospects of how to fill this void in my life seemed bleak. I was nearing the end of my high school years and had reached a point where I had put my
Commitment: Falling in Love
by Dylan Griswold
girlfriend on such a pedestal as the source of both my happiness and sadness, hoping that she was going to complete me. I became clinically depressed. I felt so broken, so empty. I had internalized my angst to the point that each passing day only drove me closer to the ground until I had nowhere to go but to my knees. Humbled, I replaced my girlfriend on the pedestal with God, and, as a result, my perspective was changed. I no longer looked to her for the source of my fulfillment and happiness, but it was
now God who would provide. He was creating a new heart in me, a heart desperate for Him. He filled my life with love, His true love that changed how I saw everything. Over the next few months my heart was made entirely new. I started to see new qualities in women that I hadn’t seen before. I started to see my family differently. I started to love. I began to realize that just as God created water for good purposes, floods and tidal waves are water without control, destructive and frightening. It became clear that the more power something has to do good, the more it has the capability of inflicting an equal magnitude of destruction. When we desire to please our flesh rather than experience the blessings God has for us outside of marriage in honoring His will, we open ourselves up to the abuse and perversion of such an amazing gift. As a result, purity took on an entirely different meaning, no longer holding prudish and dispassionate connotations, instead becoming the guarding of my body, mind, and soul from influences that were driving me to please my flesh – influences that were drawing me away from a selfless disposition grounded in selfless love, drawing me away from God. Much like the verses from Song of Songs, Proverbs helped my understanding of sex and marriage. Just look at these verses from Proverbs: “Rejoice in the wife of your youth. She is a loving doe, a graceful deer. Let her breasts satisfy you always. May you always be captivated by her love” (Prov. 5:18-19 NLT). I began to understand that sex within marriage was not about self-satisfaction and filling a void of intimacy and admiration, but about commitment Fall 2012
“God’s gifts are to be enjoyed in this world, but God has designed these gifts for a greater purpose, for they function to hunger to know the giver of these gifts.” and an undying love. The marriage vow, “till death do us part,” demands a loving, sacrificial commitment that depends not on circumstance, but upon faith and love. In spite of this new perspective Christ gave me senior year of high school, I was not completely fulfilled. I had initially thought that, with my newfound understanding of love and purity, all my problems would go away and that I would feel completely satisfied. Yet while a part of my soul had been greatly healed, another piece of my soul felt an ever-greater longing, and the solutions I found didn’t satisfy my desire for intimacy. I was still not sure what to do with the Bible’s emphasis on the goodness of sex within marriage, and my own desire to marry some day. What was I to do in the meantime if I have to wait a long time before I marry, or if I don’t get married at all? For a long time, like many Christians waiting for marriage, I took hold of the statement “true love waits” and became overly fixated on waiting. But in adopting that mantra, I felt I lost perspective that God alone is everything. I’ve now simply stopped waiting. This is not because I want to sleep with women before I’m married! To the contrary, I finally understand that He is not to be confused with the gifts of marriage and sex. Marriage and sex are great, but God is even greater – He is the giver of these gifts. He is not just a means to the life we think He would want us to have; God is life itself!
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Augustine wrote, “God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find rest in you.” We can never find fulfillment in this world, for our hearts are designed to long for home – to long for Heaven. On the other hand, God’s gifts in this world, although good, will be always imperfect, tainted by humanity’s imperfection. God’s love for me, on the other hand, is perfect, and satisfies my heart’s desire. Even God’s gifts ultimately point toward Himself! When making love within marriage, two human beings are unified in a powerful mingling of two souls and bodies, illuminating and modeling the relationship God has with us. Marriage is not just about enjoying an earthly love; rather, it is about enjoying and growing toward God. Yes, I still long to “know” my wife, but how much greater does the artist know his painting than the man the artist sells his painting to. So it is with God. We are often still led astray in believing that it’s about us. We fool ourselves into believing that marriage is about us and that within its bounds we are completely fulfilled – the focal point still on ourselves. But the more I give myself to God, the more it becomes not about sex and my own happiness but about Agape. It becomes about God’s infinite love for His creation, and our receiving that love undeserved in grace. God is Agape – God is love. He is the source of all gifts, all good things, and it is in Him that I place my hope, my love, and my desires. I no longer want to live like I’m waiting for something. I want to live for Him, knowing that His timing is perfect with all things. I want to live for Him: He gives my life purpose, my singleness purpose. As I live for Him, satisfied now, I will one day be able to love my wife more perfectly if I marry. More importantly, I can now love everyone more perfectly – all the time. Agape.
Dylan Griswold ’15 is an aspiring missionary doctor from Monson, Mass. He enjoys struggling to play the piano and finding a comfortable balance of discomfort in his life.
My Heartache by Michael Berry
Were you there to watch me drink my Poison night after night? Did you watch me as I writhed in pain with my Poison coursing through my veins, slowly killing me from the inside out? Did you hear my cries as I lay in bed begging you to stop me? Because I never could stop myself. I tried and tried again, and I failed miserably time and time again. Did you notice how my eyes become hollow and lifeless as I became used to the pain? Could you hear all of the lies I told? Trying to cover it all up. Trying to make myself look good. Too scared to let the world know that I screwed up. Were you ever there? Did you even care? I looked to the left and to the right but no one was there. I scanned the stars night after night hoping to find my way to you but the stars stared down at me, lifeless. I was in Hell, that pit of darkness and despair. My own wails were all I heard. There was no light to be found. No warmth. No one there to comfort me, to listen, to care. No one. I was all alone. Fall 2012
Then one day I looked up and saw the sun rise. You drew near to me, and my heart leapt for joy. But to what end? A week later I was right back where I started. Back in my Pit. Feeding myself the Poison. Too scared to resist. Too afraid to continue trying. And I begged you to strike me dead so that I wouldn’t drink the Poison anymore. My heart was a hollow vessel, numb to the pain that came from waiting on you. And did you even care? Did you ever care? I’ve gotten older now and it’s hard for me to say what exactly it is that you’ve done wrong when all of the guilt and the blame lies on me and on my own wretched heart. You didn’t do this to me. I know now, you weren’t the one, that I did this to myself, that you aren’t the one to blame. I’m tired of living like this. Too scared to move. Hardly able to try. Afraid that my life is going to fall apart more than it already has. I’m so sick of this, trying to seek you out, not knowing where to look. So please, if you ever cared then come find me instead. I don’t know where to go from here. Michael Berry ’15 is from the Middle of Nowhere in western Arkansas. He enjoys jammin’ out to Tobymac, riding his bike, and solving Rubik’s cubes, but not all at the same time.
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Liszt the enigma
by Andrew Haringer
Nadar [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The Hungarian composer Franz Liszt (1811-1886) has always been a difficult figure to classify. He is best known today for his second Hungarian Rhapsody, a flashy piano piece familiar to millions from its use in several inspired Bugs Bunny and Tom and Jerry cartoons. Liszt worked hard to shake the public persona of self-aggrandizing showman, but it remains a common perception today. To the degree he is thought of by the general public, it is not as a great composer such as Mozart or Beethoven, but as the sort of long-haired, vaguely ridiculous artist so brilliantly skewered by Bugs and Tom. Even the music world—though it accords him a certain degree of status as perhaps history’s greatest piano virtuoso—has not fully embraced his compositions, typically accepting only a handful of piano pieces without reservation. This lopsided view of Liszt also extends to his personal life, which is typically characterized as mired in shallowness, womanizing, and narcissism. As we will see, Liszt was not without his faults, and yet to overemphasize his failings would be to ignore the devout Catholic faith that runs as a constant thread throughout his life. This sincere Christian worldview informed Liszt’s most laudable actions, from his seriousness as an artist, to his charitable enterprises, to his personal generosity. We cannot entirely dismiss the charges of artistic superficiality, of overweening posturing and licentiousness, for Liszt’s indefatigable nature did often lead him astray. Nevertheless, his story provides a valuable lesson about God’s grace and its power to bring peace to the most restless spirit. Liszt’s childhood was securely rooted in the faith of his parents. Before marrying, Liszt’s father Adam briefly trained for the priesthood with Franciscan monks and later named his son after the order. Franz evinced strong religious inclinations at an early age and sought to enter the seminary in his teens. However, his father had worked hard to cultivate his son’s natural talent as a musician and convinced him to continue along a path that brought him from obscurity in rural Hungary to international renown. Still, upon Adam’s death in 1827, a devas-
tated Liszt once more attempted to join the priesthood, only to be deterred once again by his mother, Anna, and his priest. The immediate catalyst for this second religious awakening was not the death of Liszt’s father, but rather the failure of the first of what would become a string of love affairs. In this case, his attempt to marry the daughter of a prominent government official was thwarted by her father, who considered a musician unworthy of her hand. Fall 2012
The sting of this slight stayed with Liszt, fostering an antiestablishment streak that would inform his liberal politics and disdain of the class system. Tellingly, Liszt seemed to favor affairs with noblewomen, no doubt a product of the circles in which he traveled, but also perhaps borne of a desire for acceptance within those circles. At the same time, Liszt’s reputation as a lothario is exaggerated, especially considering the throngs of women who flung themselves at him during his concerts. In reality, his liaisons were relatively few in number and centered around two lengthy relationships that were marriages in
“He increasingly focused on ... a musical language both rooted in the past and looking to the future. His masses, oratorios, and other vocal works are rarely performed but convey an intensity and immediacy borne out of his powerful desire for, and love of, Christ.”
all but name. This is not to condone what was undeniably a failing on Liszt’s part, but merely to suggest that he seemed to be seeking something more meaningful than physical pleasure or the thrill of the chase. It seems that these relationships brought Liszt more grief than anything else, and it is likely that he viewed his concert tours both as a means of escape and as another possible source of adulation. From 1838 to 1847, Liszt embarked upon an unprecedented concert tour across Europe, performing before adoring crowds and earning unheard-of sums of money. By all accounts, his recitals were riotous events, resulting in pandemonium among audi-
ences (especially the female contingent) and yet earning the approval of even the stodgiest critics. As a performer, Liszt clearly had the goods and knew how to market them to connoisseur and casual listener alike. His transcriptions, concert paraphrases, and original works from this period revolutionized piano technique, pushing the instrument to new expressive realms scarcely dreamt of before. Despite the universal acknowledgement of Liszt’s superiority as a performer, critics refused to take him seriously as a composer. After retiring from the concert stage, he took up residence as the court composer in Weimar,
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where he revised earlier works and wrote many new ones. It is largely as a result of these efforts that his reputation as a major composer is secure today, but critics at the time remained unmoved and even audiences started to question Liszt’s competence as a musician. In many respects, the last decades of Liszt’s life were marked by decline, with his most experimental works dismissed as the products of an inept, even feeble, mind. As is so often the case with great artists, true recognition of Liszt’s genius would only come long after his death. However, these later years also saw a resurgence of Liszt’s faith that, if never exactly dormant, certainly had
not flourished amidst his personal ambitions. He took minor orders in the priesthood, and while he had always attended Mass regularly, he began doing so with renewed fervor. Always generous with his time and money, he expanded his charitable efforts in both areas. He gave away virtually all of his considerable fortune, accepted no money for his many concert appearances in support of various causes, and taught hundreds of piano students free of charge. He was tireless in promoting the efforts of other artists such as Berlioz and Wagner—in spite of their general ingratitude—and did little to raise his own musical profile. In fact, he even deterred his students from performing his works, afraid that doing so would harm their careers. Liszt’s spiritual awakening also informed his compositions, which had long reflected his religious beliefs. He increasingly focused on sacred music, striving to create a musical language both rooted in the past and looking to the future. His masses, oratorios, and other vocal works are rarely performed but convey an intensity and immediacy borne out of his powerful desire for, and love of, Christ. This same passionate faith is evident in dozens of instrumental works spanning his career, inspired by his interactions with a number of religious leaders and artists. They exist alongside works much more worldly in character, and yet I tend to think that more than a hint of the divine is present even in Liszt’s earthiest pieces. This summary has necessarily simplified and reduced the life of an unusually complicated individual. While I do think Liszt’s spiritual commitment ultimately deepened later in life, it would be misleading to claim that his life was an uninterrupted ascent from brokenness towards redemption. Just as his later years were marked by much heartache, disappointment, and doubt, so too can we find
abundant evidence of a robust faith even in times of great material wealth and indulgence. Like all of us, Liszt could be woefully inconsistent, selfless and innocent one moment, selfish and impure the next. In my own spiritual journey, I have gone back and forth between times where I truly seek to place Christ at the center of my life and times where I revert to my usual selfish ways. What I have found most spiritually helpful in studying Liszt is to focus on those qualities that most point towards God. While I can’t quite compete with his generosity as a teacher (I won’t be teaching for free anytime soon!), I do aspire to be as supportive a mentor as he was. He did much to encourage and promote his students and, in doing so, served as a powerful witness for Christ. As a musician, I am increasingly focused on how best to serve the music, not my own glory. I won’t delve into my personal life here (trust me, it’s nowhere near as interesting as Liszt’s!), but I will say that I try to put the feelings of others first and to think about what I can do for them, not vice versa. I’m far from perfect in all of these areas, but Liszt at his best has served as a pretty good role model for me. To end with a brief anecdote: Liszt famously did not teach piano technique in his lessons, telling students they should “wash their dirty linen at home!” If I’ve rehabilitated his image somewhat and provided some helpful advice, hopefully he’ll forgive me for airing some of his dirty laundry here!
Andrew Haringer is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Music Department at Williams College. He received his Ph.D. in February with a dissertation on religious and political elements in the early works of Franz Liszt.
by Caleb Kim
Father, It is written that you know the hearts of your children that you discern our thoughts from afar that you are acquainted with all our ways that even the hairs of our heads are all numbered. Then Father, you must know, How difficult believing has been for me. I have tried to remember your promises that you will give me your peace, your joy of salvation that you work all things for the good of those who love you that neither death nor life can separate me from your love that you will replace this heart of stone with a heart of flesh that if I seek you with all my heart, I will find you. But your children’s convictions crumble, Father I am so weak, do you not see? Do you not know? When my friends abandon the faith, I am left to wonder if my convictions are too but shadows and dust When my songs sound like clanging cymbals, I ponder whether I mistook moving melodies for your Spirit
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And when confessions flow freely from my lips but my ways remain rigid with deceit, when I search with the best of this hardened heart but cannot seem to find, when I become weary of waiting for that heart of flesh, O Father, you must know, How difficult believing is for me. In my troubles you ask me if I remember your Son His was a sacrifice most unnatural, A love that somehow speaks hope into my being. I do, Father, I do, but what is that love if it rattles the heart but does not move it if it moves but does not break it if it breaks but does not mend? Father, this is the silent cry of many Renew a steadfast spirit within me Bind up my wounds, revive me â€“ O LORD, do not delay! Fulfill your promises Father, for it is written that you are a promisekeeper that you are our healer that there is none greater! Give me to believe As surely as the sun rises, As the rains water the earth, You will come to me. Amen.
Caleb Kim â€™13 is a biology major from Los Angeles, Calif. He hopes to attend Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary after Williams and is lucky to have a girlfriend who is cool with
Seeking the An Interview with Pat Murray from Nehemiah House, The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Matthew 13:44
The city of Springfield is in unpromising straits, stuck in a cycle of economic downturn, failing education systems, racial inequity, and collective abandonment. To most of us it would not appear to hold much treasure. Yet in 2002 the members of what would become Nehemiah House gave up much of their lives to come and inhabit this increasingly abandoned city, searching for the kingdom of God. As an intentional community of Christians – from many different families – who live together in Springfield, Nehemiah House is deeply committed to the city’s welfare. They have regularly fed the homeless, run afterschool centers for youth, and even rallied in D.C. for the poor; at present, they are involved with building spaces for creative arts in the city. The Nehemiah community’s primary purpose, however, is to be a place of home and hospitality, providing people and spaces in Springfield to care for those travelling through the city or experiencing particularly difficult times. The community’s deep dedication to Springfield sprang from unlikely circumstance, making for what Pat Murray, a founding member of Nehemiah House, calls an “amazing” story of God’s providence. One evening ten years ago at a concert, Pat and his wife Debbie ran into their former pastor, who enthusiastically related how he had dreamt that the Murrays were selling their house and moving into the city of Springfield. Pat and Debbie were skeptical: “We thought that was pretty hysterical because we didn’t have any intention of moving into Springfield – in fact, we were going to move further out. But anyway, we
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said, great to see you again, very interesting dream, and went on our way that night.” Yet over the next few weeks, as the Murrays prayed together with another couple, Paul and Katie Foster, they became increasingly convinced their former pastor was right. Soon afterward, the Murrays and the Fosters partnered together to start the Nehemiah community, and the details began falling neatly into place. The Murrays’ house sold within 36 hours of entering the market, and they quickly located a suitable new home within the city, now known as Nehemiah House. Pat explains this was an affirmation: “We realized that God’s hand was on it. We didn’t really even know what we were getting into, we just knew we were moving into the city and that God had a plan around that. The way that everything unfolded was the confirmation that God’s call was on us to be here in this city and to live in community here.”
“Because we have been changed and taught by the people on the streets of the city, our community holds a little less tightly to our money and things.” Given such exciting beginnings, I expected to hear a glowing perspective from Pat about how the Nehemiah community is reversing Springfield’s decay. Instead, Pat’s honesty about the continued status quo caught me somewhat off-guard. Although they’ve been in Springfield for a decade now, Pat remarks that they have not seen noticeable change in the city, much less transformation. Incredibly, he offers that their community does not even play much of a determining role: “The truth of the matter is that we don’t really make that big of a difference to the
kingdom of God Springfield, MA
by Shirley Li
city itself, only to the immediate people we come into contact with and are blessed to be in relationship with. The city is still suffering from the same challenges.” This is perhaps obvious – that a small group of individuals would struggle to change the landscape of a city on any dramatic scale in just ten years. The kind of “very, very long, longterm investment” that Pat speaks of is not entirely unexpected but still foreign to me, an exercise in steadfastness and in patience that I only comprehend in bits and pieces, if at all. In this gradual process of transformation, Pat ventures that thus far they have seen one visible change: in themselves. For seven years, Pat has been a regular at a Bible study at Springfield’s Loaves and Fishes Church. He confesses that he initially attended hoping to “help” the homeless folks there, “to bring them Jesus and save some souls, lives, that sort of thing.” Although this has occasionally been the case, more often than not the opposite has been true. Pat relates how the people on the streets have become his teachers, offering him a compelling picture of what the kingdom of God looks like. “They impact our lives when they get by on so much less than we do and still love God in the midst of all of that. And some of them are fairly happy people. We tend to worry and get concerned about things that Jesus
wouldn’t even think about getting concerned about.” As a result, the Nehemiah community has also been freed to live more simply and thankfully: “They help us become more humble, more appreciative of what we do have, and more generous with what we do have. Because we have been changed and taught by the people on the streets of the city, our community holds a little less tightly to our money and things.” From the way Pat speaks, it is clear that these are no longer just “people on the streets” to him, but friends. Pat explains that he never had this privilege before coming to live in Springfield. “My friends were all lawyers and doctors and accountants, plumbers, certainly accomplished people in the trade fields, and things like that. I never knew a homeless person until I came here. So it’s an amazing thing when some of my friends now are folks who have spent a lot of their lives on the streets.” At first, the implications of this aren’t immediately apparent to me. It doesn’t sound so difficult to care for and befriend a homeless person – but on second thought, I have to confess I don’t have any. This kind of deep engagement over weeks stretching into months requires much more than my infrequent dabbling in community service. The members of the Nehemiah community have deliberately chosen this way of life, and all these Fall 2012
long years later, their lives are bearing fruit. These rewards, however, often seem intangible, and given the absence of widespread change, it is not always so easy to pursue the Nehemiah community’s vision for the city. The most difficult challenge, Pat contends, is just staying put. It is an intentional choice to stay and not to leave: “Some of us have had great offers to go someplace else and to do something else. For others of us, our blood family dynamics are changing, and maybe the kids or grandkids want us to go and live near them. Either way, there’s a sacrifice involved… It’s physical effort to stay.”
“As they seek the peace and prosperity of their city, God is revealing to them a richer picture of the kingdom of God.”
Pat calls this intentional lifestyle a “discipline of place.” It is a far cry from the independence oft touted as highly desirable, especially in Western culture: “Most people, if they get an offer for a great job, they look around, they say, oh well, I’m done with this place, and I’ll go on to this next place where I’ll make more money or my career opportunity will be bigger. That’s not the motivation for us. The motivation is to stay living in community and to stay living in a place unless there’s a clear calling from God to go somewhere else.” The members of the Nehemiah community choose to remain deeply committed to one another: they are, in a word, family. In their day-to-day, week-to-week living, community members are family to one another too. They meet at 7am every Monday to Friday for morning prayer, as well as almost every Monday to Thursday evening for a meal.
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Because they worship at different churches, they make a point to gather every other month to sing and share together. The Nehemiah community also participates in “relational tithing.” They place gifts in a common pool to be used for any needs a community member, or a person related by family or friendship to the community, may have. For example, the community is at present helping to cover the costs for one of their families with a newborn son. At other times, a member of the community may have a relative who has lost his or her job and can’t make a monthly mortgage payment, so the Nehemiah tithe will pay the bill instead. For Pat and the rest of the community, relational giving is a joyful, redemptive act lifted straight out of Scripture. “It’s a way of freeing up our economics and living by this Jubilee theory that God talks about in Leviticus 25, freeing us to live in this different economy than that the world tells us to live by.” The members of the Nehemiah community live differently – very differently – from the rest of the world. As they seek the peace and prosperity of their city, God is revealing to them a richer picture of the kingdom of God. Although there may not be any upward trending statistics for the city at large, the lives of those in the Nehemiah community and their circle of acquaintance are being gradually but visibly transformed. Perhaps, then, the strongest testament to the Nehemiah community’s love for the city is their presence. They have chosen to remain in Springfield for the long haul – working as teachers, lawyers, social workers, and pastors; sending their children to Springfield’s public schools; worshipping in the city’s churches – joyfully inhabiting the city rather than abandoning it.
Shirley Li ’13 is an English and math major from Cranbury, NJ. She is seeking the kingdom of God.
Aquinas on everyday emotions by David Nolan
The Scottish philosopher David Hume famously claimed, “Reason is and ought only to be the slave of the passions.” In recent years, growing public awareness of the centrality of the emotions and desires to the human experience has superseded an earlier emphasis on emotional restraint. From psychoanalytical therapy to the emergence of a therapeutic direction in our justice system, the effects of this revolution in thinking are hard to overestimate. In many ways the changes are positive. Empathy, mutual understanding, and self-reflection now receive a healthy emphasis. Our culture encourages us to tolerate others and see alternative points of view as we try to appreciate each person’s background and emotional experiences. However, there is a major problem in the usual application of this ethos. Desires, we have come to believe, justify themselves. When asked why we do something, we say, “Because it feels good;” when asked what our opinions are on a political matter, we reply, “I feel…” Yet we need only to look at the example of emotionally motivated murder to realize desires are not self-justifying. St Thomas Aquinas, writing nearly 800 years ago, built upon Aristotelian notions of the passions and the appetites to develop a corrective picture of the human psyche. He demonstrates why desires cannot be self-justified and how we can positively proceed, neither denigrating hu-
man emotion below its rightful place nor exalting it to heights that can only precede a fall. Aquinas’s passiones animae, translated as “emotions,” do not only refer to passions in the modern sense of overwhelming and perhaps incapacitating feelings. Instead, they refer to our reaction to the nature of every object or situation. He thinks we react in two ways, either to the object itself or to the difficulty we face in trying to obtain or avoid the object. For example, as a child I desired a dog. Dogs are naturally lovable, so I loved them and desired one for myself. This is the first type of emotion—what Aquinas calls concupiscible emotions—which entails having an emotional response to an object because of that object’s inherent nature. My parents, on the other hand, were not so amenable to my idea, and prevented me from fulfilling my desire for an adorable dog. Frustrated, I courageously fought for a puppy but eventually gave up hope and despaired of ever having one. Because my parents had stopped me from obtaining my goal, I was angry with them. Anger, courage, hope, despair—these are all emotions of the second sort, the irascible emotions; they describe our reaction to our perceived ability to obtain an object of desire. Aquinas thinks that both types of emotions have a close relationship with reason. In fact, he thinks our reason in a way rules our emotions, “not by a
“Focusing too heavily on extreme cases has largely skewed popular culture’s conversation on the relationship of emotions to reason.”
‘despotic supremacy,’ which is that of a master over his slave; but by a “politic and royal supremacy,’ whereby the free are governed who are not wholly subject to command.”1 Eventually, I realized that a lasting anger at my parents was unreasonable and that I should probably encourage my anger to subside—and it eventually did. Reason and emotions, then, enforce each other day by day. Aquinas grounds his understanding of emotions in the infinitude of little impulses that arise spontaneously throughout our normal experience. Focusing too heavily on extreme cases has largely skewed popular culture’s
conversation on the relationship of emotions to reason. Usually, the impulses of our sensory appetite (emotions and passions) align quite closely with our reasoning abilities and our intellectual apprehensions. For example, in a given day, we desire to eat food, we want to complete tasks, and we try to care for our friends. While there are cases of overwhelming emotions, most of our life is more accurately described in little impulses of joy or sorrow, hope or despair, that we can encourage or check with our intellect and reason. The question remains, however: what impulses ought we to encourage? Well, passions must be appropriate to their objects. In order for this to be true, apprehension must precede desire: we must know what something is before we want it. For example, I must know about cake before I can want cake. Once I have apprehended that the cake is sweet and delicious, I will then desire it. If I thought it was a pile of mud rather than chocolate cake, I would believe it to be distasteful and undesirable. Clearly, correct apprehension leads us to experience passions appropriate to the object. Only in light of the ‘appropriate’ can we understand the greater value and purpose of passions. Emotions and desires, as aspects of the everyday, carry moral weight. We can make judgments as to the appropriateness, the goodness or badness, of our emotions. Aquinas writes, “in so far as they are voluntary, [passions can] be called morally good or evil. And they are said to be voluntary either from being commanded by the will, or from not being checked by the will.”2 Before competing in a race or a game, we can voluntarily work up positive emotions; in response to someone cutting us off while we drive, we can discourage our anger and try to remain levelheaded. Emotions are both reactive and willed, and their origin need not necessarily describe how we then respond to them. Measures of good or bad can refer only to voluntary impulses. But when, if ever, are emotions voluntary? Our
1. St Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologica, Ia IIae 17.7 2. Aquinas, ST Ia IIae 24.1
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“Only in light of the ‘appropriate’ can we understand the greater value and purpose of passions.”
lives are a history of partially voluntary actions and reactions. Humans learn many things through experience, and as an essential part of this experience, the emotions help develop our habits. Even our instinctual drives, like the drive for food, can become more and more voluntary as we get older. Not only do we learn to like a broader range of foods (I learned to like onions only as an older teenager), but we also learn to have “will-power” in to restrain our consumption of some foods. As one of Aquinas’s commentators has said, by deciding which impulses we encourage and discourage, which emotions we try to check, we “tell our life story.” The choices we make now both reveal our current preferences, and encourage specific future preferences and future choices. Thus, it is impossible to be sure that an emotion is voluntary or otherwise in the moment: we have to under-
stand ourselves as beings progressing through time. We do know, however, that emotions can be scrutinized according to moral standards. If we can judge our emotions, how should we do this? We judge emotions based upon their relation to the person about which they arise and in relation to their object. Our emotional response must be appropriate to the context in order for it to be good. By our will, which we inform with our reason, our desires, and our emotion, we plan our path of action. Reason informs us when our path is contradictory— when our plan will not bring us to the goal that we willed. For example, competitive sports highly prize the quality of being a good loser. An overreaction to a loss comes off as immature. On the other hand, athletes who are apathetic to winning not only are less likely to succeed, but do not have enough emotion in-
“Nothing transient, passing, or temporal can actually fulfill this most fundamental of desires.”
vested in the sport. Our reason must balance these many impulses, neither neglecting self-control nor suppressing a healthy passion. Over time, reasoned responses discourage inappropriate emotions and encourage appropriate ones. Eventually, I might not even have to really focus to keep my temper—it may start to come naturally. The joy of competition does not contradict a healthy appreciation for sportsmanship. Reason can balance our particular goals with our particular situation. But there is a more fundamental way that the will, the reason, and desire all work together. One particular desire underlies all our other impulses: the desire for the good, for happiness. We cannot help to desire to be happy—it is our nature. If we ask ourselves why we wish to be happy, there is no answer other than “because.” Nothing transient, passing, or temporal can actually fulfill this most fundamental of desires. When we plan paths of action with our will, we are trying to fulfill this desire. Our will, as it aims at the universal good, ideally aligns the sensitive appetite (the source of desires and emotions) with the larger goal. Aquinas recognizes the universal Good in the Incarnation—God is the ultimate object of desire, the source of happiness, and the greatest good. Our nature, to use modern terms, is programmed towards God, and in so far as we either pursue or reject God, we expand or limit our
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opportunity for real fulfillment in this world and the next. Against the measure of the ultimate good, our desires and emotions begin to fall into place. Slowly, through the building of good habits, we can desire objects and guide emotions appropriately. This is not to deny the many layers of emotional complexity. Emotional complication is part of growing up in the world, but through a growing awareness of self, we can begin to understand our emotional impulses. Through the practice of self control combined with the contemplation of God, our highest desire, we can hope to develop a greater internal unity. Our goal is to desire particular goods as the goods themselves deserve, and through the practice of virtue we begin to experience intense love and joy and desire towards objects that actually deserve that intensity of feeling. Emotions are incredibly valuable, and the therapeutic insight of self-discovery through the examination of emotions is helpful. But as we understand ourselves and see extreme emotions in the light of many everyday impulses, we need to cultivate emotions that align with our intellect, reason, and that most fundamental desire, the desire that God implemented within us for Himself.
David Nolan ’13 is a philosophy major from Williamstown, MA.
by Shana Dorsey
Can I call myself a diligent seeker of God? I couldn’t a ing sermons, reading the Bible and lying in God’s presyear ago. I remember the times when I waited ten min- ence were no longer enough to satisfy me. The novelty utes, twenty minutes, an hour, and he still hadn’t come. of my life had faded and I no longer experienced God’s Listless, I would roll from my bed and would try to sup- supernatural gifts with the same intensity I had before. press the welling geyser leaking from my soul. “Where All too soon, the extraordinary had become ordinary. are you, Lord?” I would wonder. In the spring of 2011, I took time off from Williams. Theologically I knew the answer; he was ever with me, Back home in Florida, I hoped to learn more about God’s because he had promised to never leave me nor forsake plan for my life, to rest and to pursue ministry. I rested me. Still, I was uneasy. Weary of the deadness of my life, but found I was not ready to pursue ministry. My distired of the leaden Bible studies where no new revelations satisfaction with life increased; I was home with my famwere imparted, I was in ily, but without studies a spiritual drought. I folor a purpose. I needed lowed the same routine to do something, for daily—reading Scripture, myself and to support praying, worshipping, and my family financially, awaiting God’s presence and so I looked for emto descend in a mighty ployment. However, in way, a moving way, a fulthe battered Floridian economy, the job hunt filling way. At that point, did not go as planned. I had been walking with Rejected by employGod for a little over a year ers and with a lowered and a half, yet I felt so far http://www.flickr.com/photos/wiifm69/3816838563/ removed from the exciteself-esteem, I felt abanment and wonder of my first weeks as a Christian. In con- doned by God’s lack of provision. Why weren’t the offers trast, my first month of following God, I received gift after rolling in? Where were the supernatural blessings I had gift. I spoke in tongues; languages I could not naturally experienced so tangibly in the past? There was nothing speak. I discovered God was real and that he loved me. He in my life now but the painfully natural. I craved somespoke to me daily of his love. His presence was new—ev- thing fresh. I wanted God to bring me new and exciting erything was new. I was in a whirlwind, suspended mid- possibilities because I tired of what he had already given air by the joy of discovering something good for the first me. After having received gifts such as the Holy Spirit’s time. However, as time progressed, my joy waned. Study- tangible movement within me, I realized that God’s word Fall 2012
was truly living, and I was eager to have more. However, God didn’t bring me any new manifestations. I stagnated in my walk with him and my days were weary. As a result, I found little joy in my interactions with him. I was dissatisfied but I couldn’t identify what my longing for God meant. As I was listening to worship songs, I happened across the term “hunger”. In the songs, the worship leaders would cry out fervently for God and express their “hunger” for him. This led me to ask myself, “Am I hungry for God?” I squirmed around the word. It
“What if God didn’t come to meet me? What if I poured my desire out to him and he did nothing?”
appeared too desperate, too intense. In my pride, I didn’t want to be like those worship singers. I was uncomfortable with their emotional cries to be filled up with God. I was too awkward to even admit that I was hungry. So I ignored my longing and didn’t ask God about it. Toward the middle of the summer, I read the prayers of the psalmists, particularly David, who stated, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.” David wasn’t ashamed to say he needed God. Why was I? I probed myself further and discovered I didn’t want to admit I needed God desperately because I did not want to be vulnerable. I was held back by many—very human—fears. What if God didn’t come to meet me? What if I poured my desire out to him and he did nothing? Was he just passively sitting on the throne, accepting my worship as one out of millions? Did my words and songs mean anything to him? Again, I knew the theological answer: if God loved me enough to die on the cross for me, then surely my worship meant a great deal to him. But there was a great disconnect between my mind and my heart. Struggling to overcome my doubts, I was often frustrated and discouraged when my prayers were not answered and my life continued as dully as ever. I was hungry to know more of God and to experience him as intimately as I experienced my best friends. I longed for the reality
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of heaven that God had so incrementally placed into my life on Earth, but I was reluctant to embrace the intensity of my desire, fearful that God would not reciprocate the hunger I placed before him. But God, in his providence, answered me through my Bible study. As I read more of Psalms, as well as Proverbs, I realized it was normal to want God desperately. More importantly, it was fine to express that desire to him. He showed me that it was my glory and my privilege to seek Him. It was humbling to discover my utter dependence upon God, but it was even more honoring to discover how high I could be lifted when I sought the Most High God. He was worth the search and I knew there was no shame in needing him. From that moment on, I prayed to him honestly. The results I wished to see did not come immediately, but after praying, my relationship with God grew a little more intimate, dynamic and steadfast. Following this, I read Michelle Perry’s book, An Invitation to a Supernatural Life. It encouraged me to view hunger and times of spiritual dissatisfaction as an opportunity to grow closer to God. Even when extraordinary circumstances in my life were sporadic, God continued to invite me into his spiritual world. By the time I accepted my hunger for God, summer was nearly over. My first few weeks back at Williams were challenging. I grew impatient with dissatisfaction. Thus I continued my Bible study and one verse in particular gave me the final solution to my dilemma: “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6 KJV). I realized that each moment I waited on God was an act of diligence that brought me closer to the reward. My hunger continues even now. I cannot be complacent. In my difficult journey of accepting and coping with my hunger, I have found what it means to diligently seek God. I know I must spend time with him even when I do not want to, even when life is dull. Each day is a daily surrender to that hunger and an exercise in diligently seeking him. I trust him, and so I wait, knowing he will come.
Shana Dorsey ’15 is an English major from Jacksonville, Florida. She enjoys books, creative writing, and theology, as well as conversation with God and her friends.
Hungry for more
An unquenchable thirst for God by Caleb Miaw
We often glimpse traces of her presence, fleeting but piercingly sweet moments where we experience wonder and joy, fulfillment and meaning. Our delight is equally momentary, though, and quickly fades into memory, leaving nothing but an unmistakable absence that awakens our hunger. And that sense of hunger shatters any illusion that what we presently have, whether good or bad, is enough or all that we want. It plants the flag of truth within the fortress of our soul – we might have otherwise remained “blissfully” unaware of our need. Thus roused from complacency, we begin our pursuit with purpose. But we are half-hearted creatures, far too easily pleased,
and when we weary of the chase, we turn to nostalgia and linger there, allaying ache with bittersweet memory. Even nostalgia betrays us though – for should we return to those glorious moments, we would find only her shadow, not her presence itself. While these reminders are fitting reflections of what we truly desire, they are not the thing itself, only the scent of a flower not yet found, the echo of a tune not yet heard. We must receive them gratefully, then, without mistaking them for what they suggest. We must never turn aside from our pursuit. We must press onward, keeping alive our desire and helping others to do the same. The Psalmist captured well this sensation of longing: “I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.” He was desperate for God. Burning desire had been kindled, and it led to the energetic expression of his inward longings. As the prisoner extends his hands when pleading for liberty, so did the Psalmist. As the ground cracks and opens its mouth in mute moaning, so did his soul break and groan. His thirst insisted upon being attended to; it was a perpetual longing not to be forgotten. No heavenly shower had yet refreshed him and, separated Fall 2012
from the fount of living water, his soul felt parched and but life is also more than we expected. We find ourselves dry, and he cried out. Nothing would content him but the trembling with fear and hope at the possibility of New presence of God. O, to have the most intense craving after Life. And for a moment, we feel complete and realize that the highest good! we have never yet been complete. Our heart begins to (Selah) The Psalmist paused, for his heart was strained hunger for more than food, to thirst for more than drink. to the point of agony. He needed to rest before pressing As we commit ourselves to pursuing self-knowledge, onward once again. But the and as our hunger for God awakens, the Good News is presence of God was an urthat we become more real. gent need of his soul, an abWe stop projecting our feelsolute necessity, not merely ings onto others; we start the sweetest of luxuries. claiming them as our own. Like the parched traveler We begin to see – sometimes in the wilderness who finds with disturbing clarity – our his waterskin empty and the pride, our jealousy, our comwells dry, the Psalmist could parisons, our manipulations. not afford delay. Every moment mattered. His life was We discover our fears of beebbing out; he was reduced ing alone and abandoned, to despair. And so his cry inof loving and being loved by tensified: “Answer me quickothers, of being sexual and ly, O LORD! My spirit fails!” spiritual persons. We begin to acknowledge who we truly Like the Psalmist, those are, and we eventually gain who desire to (re)awaken the courage to say before their hunger for God must God, “I recognize what I am, first recognize their present and I am none other than condition. Life may be fine, what I am. Whatever needs maybe even good. We may to be done in my life, you will feel secure because things have to do.” We must not make sense. We might occahold onto anything within sionally suspect that somehttp://www.flickr.com/photos/audreygrace/3157093336/ ourselves. We must realize thing is amiss – a vague sense of dis-ease, another person who seems more com- that we have nothing, that we are utterly helpless, that plete (more shalom?) – but we remain mostly unaware someone else must come and take hold of us. God waits that more awaits us. Eventually something(s) happens, patiently for those words; He then reveals who we are though, that we cannot dismiss or ignore. A turning point truly meant to be. We should not come to the conclusion, however, that is reached. We begin listening to our more-than-tired exhaustion and our longings for more-than-physical com- we have nothing to do. Those who truly desire something fort. We discover that life is not as good as we imagined; always reveal some evidence of that desire. They do not wait passively for something to happen. They voluntarily and deliberately remind themselves of their desire. Hunger for God seems to awaken in certain places, and those who hunger never miss an opportunity to be present in those places. We must respond to what we have already seen, then, and order our life to better reflect the priority
“We discover that life is not as good as we imagined; but life is also more than we expected.”
The Williams Telos
of our hunger. How much time do we spend in the presence of God? Do we often remind ourselves of who He is and who we are in relation to Him? The inadequacy of much of our spiritual experience may be traced back to our habit of skipping through the corridors of the Kingdom like children in the marketplace, chattering about everything but pausing to learn the true value of nothing. If we desire to honestly sing the words, “I need Thee, O I need Thee / Every hour I need Thee,” we cannot afford to neglect what we need. We can begin by refraining from what tends to spoil our spiritual appetite. Certain things are obviously opposed to our hunger for God, but there are many things that are quite harmless and perfectly legitimate. If we find ourselves spending too much time with them, however, and our desire somehow becomes dull, we should avoid them. Common sense dictates that first things must come first. Take, for example, prayer and Scripture. God Himself grants us these gifts. Read and study Scripture. Read books about it; try to understand it. Allow its truths to sink deeply into your soul through prayer, and your hunger for God will slowly awaken, as gradually as the tide lifts a grounded ship. “I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands.” We can also supplement our reading of Scripture with biographies of the saints, men and women whose lives revealed their hunger for God. Then, of course, we can seek the company of those around us who share our desire. It is common sense. Those who hunger and thirst for God cannot afford to lose any opportunity. They create more time for these things. This is an invitation, then, to the path of disciplined grace. Such grace is costly but free. It is costly because it demands discipline, a consciously chosen course of action, and it is grace because it is neither earned nor earnable. It is costly because the price is our entire life, and it is grace because we receive New Life. But above all, it is costly because the price was God’s Son, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap, and it is grace because God chose to pay that price for our life. Blessed are those who have traveled the path we seek to tread, who have discovered the costliness of grace, and who continue to receive God’s grace through Jesus Christ. We must never stray to the right or to the left – we must stay on the
“We hunger and thirst and are satisfied, yet hunger and thirst for more, never having enough because our experience is glorious beyond compare.” path. We must always remember that the path itself cannot produce hunger; it can only take us to the place where hunger awakens. Lastly, let us look briefly at what is promised to those who hunger for God: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for [God], for they shall be satisfied.” You see, the Christian life is blessed because it goes on and on. We hunger and thirst and are satisfied, yet hunger and thirst for more, never having enough because our experience is glorious beyond compare. This is Good News – to taste and see that the LORD is good, to realize that from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. To borrow the words of A.W. Tozer: O God, we have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied us and left us hungry for more. We are ashamed by our lack of desire, and are painfully aware of our need for further grace. O God, the Triune God, we want to want Thee; we long to be filled with longing; we hunger to be made more hungry still. Amen.
Much indebted to those whose hunger for God has whet my own. 
I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done;
I ponder the work of your hands. I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. (Selah) Answer me quickly, O LORD! My spirit fails! [Psalm 143:5-7]
Caleb Miaw ’11 works with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Williams. He has a particular fondness for the game “Hungry Hungry Hippos.” Fall 2012
Emily Loveridge â€™14 is a history major with a Jewish studies concentration from Loyalton, CA. She currently enjoys torturing her friends with glorious pictures of Italy.
The Williams Telos
“I want to ride a Lion and swim in the stars.”
by Judith Clerjeune
On a starry fall night, a dear friend and I gazed at the clear sky and she jokingly said to me, “I want to ride a Lion and swim in the stars.” My initial reaction was to laugh, but the words refused to fade into oblivion like most jokes do. They echoed in my mind, slowly taking a life of their own, begging to be considered and to be brought into existence. Maybe it was God speaking to me through that phrase, or maybe I was really tired and the phrase sounded really nice. Looking back, I suppose these words resonated with my heart so much because they perfectly captured the messiness that had been throbbing in my heart for the past few months. My heart was craving something, something out of routine, something that I had not yet been able to put into words, and finally somehow these words perfectly captured all my thoughts in one simple sentence.
I grew up in a Christian home and I’ve considered myself a Christian for most of my life. I’ve always thought that I had a steady relationship with God, but at an annual Christian fellowship retreat at the end of my sophomore year, I started to question if my relationship with God was all that it could be: I suspected there was more. I was hit with the fact that I always left these retreats wanting to be more authentic with God, but it never happened. Life always returned back to normal; I never followed through with all those wonderful plans and never applied those mind-blowing conversations to my daily life. I saw the ocean but I had always simply admired its beauty instead of diving in. I was dissatisfied with my spiritual life as it was; I was bored with the routines. I felt as if I were stuck in a maze of spirituality and schoolwork in which I was familiar Fall 2012
with all the twist and turns, and I simply wanted to escape. Slowly, without realizing it, my heart had atrophied in these routines; I never attempted to dig deeper. Somewhere along my short life journey, the Gospel turned into snippets of nice phrases, soundbites of touching verses and good sayings. The excitement and joy of God was lost in the contradiction of my words and inaction. I convinced myself that waiting on God was a passive process where I could ignore every whisper that nudged me to step out of my comfort zone and my complacency. I was so focused on protecting my heart that I didn’t realize that I was starving for the presence of God. I didn’t realize that my fears had been keeping me from living a life of reckless abandon in God.
“If I gave up total control to God, I knew that he would ask me not just to walk among the stars, but to swim in them; to completely immerse myself in the beautiful unknown.” I found that my heart was crying for something new. I yearned for something, but I wasn’t sure what it was. I hungered for authenticity in my relationship with God. I wanted to be honest and vulnerable, to be ruled by an overmastering passion, and to radiate with God’s grace. Painfully aware of the void that existed in my heart and longed to be filled, I was still so scared of getting hurt and of all that could possibly go wrong, that I was afraid to take those steps in the dark, those steps of faith. It was as if I were standing frozen on the shore of an ocean, with the waves lapping at my feet and slowly dragging me further in. I was afraid and wanted to run away to find safety on dry land, and yet I longed to recklessly throw myself and trust the ocean to carry to my heart to new heights and depths. Deep inside, I knew that if I did, God would radically change my life and take me to places that might hurt. If I gave up total control of my life to God, I knew that he would ask me to not just walk among the stars, but to swim in them; to completely immerse myself in the beau-
The Williams Telos
tiful unknown. He would ask me to let him carry me like a lion, to trust him even when worldly wisdom and logic would say otherwise, to ride on the back of a lion and trust that I would be fine, even when he has all control and I have none. Yet this amazing joy offered to me had been lost and suffocated by my fears. I was so intent on protecting my heart that I was also closing my heart to God. But I still longed for Him; I still hungered for his joy and his peace. I desperately desired to trust Him, but I had been blinded by my own delusions of protecting my heart for so long. I had built a prison around my heart that kept away the exact thing that I desperately hungered for. I had always prayed for my life to change and for my heart to be filled, but I was unwilling to listen to that small whisper that begged me to trust God. I hungered to “approach the throne of grace with confidence so that [I] may receive mercy and find grace,” but I was too afraid (Heb. 4:16 NIV). I am still afraid and much more messed up than I ever knew, but God is becoming increasingly irresistible. He has been slowly revealing to me parts of my heart that are dead and dry, parts of my heart that can only be revived by his presence and his mercy. I want my heart to be made flesh; I want to be fed by His grace and mercy. I want to soak my spirit in his words, enjoy his presence, and bathe in his infinite ocean of grace. I want to immerse myself in the stars, regardless if they bring immense joy or sweet sorrow that forces me to daily relinquish my desires and saturate my soul in God’s presence. I don’t know where God will take me, and I must confess that part of me is still fearful; however, I am slowly learning to trust God to continue fuelling this hunger in my heart and to teach me to ride a lion like a child, releasing all control while fully savoring every moment.
Judith Clerjeune ’14 is a history major from Nashville, Tenn. She is a daughter, a sister and a friend. She thinks squirrels are really cute. Danish cookies are her favorite. If you see her around, she would love it if you said hello.
“If I gave up total control of my life to God... he would ask me to let him carry me like a lion, to trust him even when worldly wisdom and logic would say otherwise, to ride on the back of the lion and trust that I would be fine, even when he has all control and I have none.”
Keelia Willison’14 is an English Major, Leadership Studies Concentrator, Jesus Lover from Kampal, Uganda. Though a junior, interest like playing the ukulele, tracking lions in Ishasha, or indulging her sweet tooth make her feel like a kid again.
TELOS spring 2012
Fall 2012 issue of The Williams College Telos. Theme: Hunger.