Mississippi Joins National Day of Prayer

-Abbie Walker, Editor

On Thursday, May 7, Christians all around the country will gather in schools, churches, businesses, and other public places to lift up their prayers to God during the National Day of Prayer. In addition to a main event in the nation’s capitol of Washington D.C., Mississippians have also responded to the call by hosting NDP events across the state.

The NDP is a tradition that predates the founding of the U.S.A. when the Continental Congress proclaimed a day set aside for prayer in 1775. In 1952, Congress established an annual day of prayer, and in 1988, the law was amended to designate the NDP as the first Thursday in May.

According to a press release from the Mississippi Chapter of the NDP, the purpose is to “intercede” for the country, the state, and the community: “As our nation struggles with continued economic insecurity, vast healthcare change, and continual challenges to basic constitutional rights, citizens of the United States are preparing to exercise one of their most precious freedoms – the right to gather, worship, and pray to God.”

The theme for this year’s NDP is “Lord, Hear Our Cry,” emphasizing the need for every citizen to cry out to God in prayer. The inspiration for this theme is 1 Kings 8:28: “Hear the cry and prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day.”

“NDP has been around for a long time, since our founding fathers. It’s a tradition in our history; it’s a part of our heritage,” said Debra Brown, the state director for the MS National Day of Prayer and a high school teacher. According to the NDP website, “The mission of the National Day of Prayer Task Force is to mobilize prayer in America and to encourage personal repentance and righteousness in the culture.”

The NDP focuses on seven major areas of influence that the communities in America pray specifically for: government, family, church, education, military, business, and media (entertainment). With over 2 million attendees and 30,000 observances across the country, this event is a chance for believers to express their Judeo-Christian faith to the world.

Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, TX, will serve as the 2015 honorary chairman and give the keynote address at the national observance in Washington, D.C., which will be held at the Cannon House Office Building. While prayer will also be lifted up throughout the entire state of Mississippi, an NDP event in Jackson is scheduled for May 7.

Starting at 10:30 a.m. at the Mississippi State Capitol, there will be a time for children to pray over the state’s public safety officers and law enforcement officers. Families will also enjoy picnic lunches. From 12 to 1 p.m. the National Day of Prayer event will take place on the south steps of the Capitol as thousands lift up their prayers of healing and protection over their government, city, and community. Mississippi governor Phil Bryant and his wife will give the NDP proclamation. Mayor of Jackson Tony Yarber and others will also lead in prayer along with Vision United Ministries leading worship. Children will then release prayer balloons, followed by tours of the state capitol. Guests are invited to bring a lawn chair or blanket. In case of rain, the Jackson observance will be held in the Rotunda.

“This year we are excited to have a time of prayer by children from across Central MS for our Public Safety Officers,” said Cathy McCraw, member of the MSNDP task force. “We prayerfully ask people to come and participate in this year’s event. We believe that the prayer that goes forth on May 7 will be a watermark in our lives as we appeal to Heaven for one another, our city, state, and nation.”

There is also a NDP event scheduled for 12:15 p.m. in Clinton in front of Clinton City Hall. While exams will be coming to a close for Mississippi College and many will have headed home by May 7, MC students are urged to either find an NDP gathering in their area or create their own. “We need volunteers to go into their county or city and create their own gathering,” said Brown. She encourages people to not just pray with those they know but to “move out into the area.” “It’s a great gateway to reach out to people in businesses or in the community without focusing on a certain agenda. We are simply praying for our community,” she said.

Those who are wanting to head up a NDP event in their own city are advised to post their event on the National Day of Prayer website so that others in the area will know about it. “Even if it’s just a small gathering, we want to know what ‘s happening across the state,” said Brown. “And we also send free resources and support throughout the year.”

Some hold gatherings with churches, youth groups, or schools the Wednesday night before as a way to prepare and rally for the next day of prayer. Brown said that the goal is to get more of the younger generation involved and create a “unity of the spirit” by people of all ages praying and gathering together.

Brown added that the NDP should be something that Christians celebrate continuously. “We are going to be standing in the presence of the Lord that day and exercising our freedom of religion,” she said. “It’s once a year, but it doesn’t have to be once a year.”

As the NDP event in Jackson draws nearer, volunteers are needed to help make it a success. Approaching churches in the area and inviting them to participate is a big way to help. There are also needs for volunteers who can assist with children’s activities, blow up balloons, set up and clean up for the event, and more.

To learn more about The National Day of Prayer, find an event in your area, or register your own event, visit nationaldayofprayer.org. For information about the Jackson Prayer Observance or to volunteer, email prayer4msndptaskforce@hotmail.com or pray4msndp@aol.com.


What Young Christians Read

-Benny Warnick, A&E Editor

Some students read everything that they can get their hands on. Others won’t read much more than their class textbooks (if they even read that much). All that to say, Christian literature has been known to help a plethora of Christian students learn and grow in their walks with Christ. MC students voiced their opinions on their favorite Christian authors, ones that they find most beneficial for every young Christian to look into for personal reading.

Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church in the Dallas/Fort Worth area of Texas, is a key figure in popular literature among young Christians. Author of such books as “The Explicit Gospel” and leader of the Acts 29 Network of church planting, Chandler emerged as a raw and authentic presenter of the Gospel message, challenging and encouraging the body of Christ to mold their Christian worldviews.

“What I love about Chandler is his passion to serve his readers and congregation to the best of his ability,” said MC student Wesleigh Taylor. “He is unashamedly honest; he doesn’t shy away from hard topics while bringing the truth of the Gospel, humor, and real-life understanding to his teachings. You are completely aware of his God-given ability and his humanness at the same time…he isn’t trying to fool people.”

Timothy Keller is another author with increasing popularity among MC students. Keller, pastor of Manhattan’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church and a guest speaker at MC in 2014, has received praise for his bestselling books “The Reason for God” and “The Prodigal God.” Keller’s focus on evangelism (in the midst of American urban culture) encourages the spread of the Gospel from city to city, realizing the importance of a grace perspective in telling others about Christ.

Christian Books

            “Keller gives profound insight on how we rebel in various ways,” Grant Gilliam said. “His books give us a great interpretation of the constant love and forgiveness of our Lord.”

Lovers of classic Christian literature at MC note C.S. Lewis as a figure in profound thought and creative practicality for readers who love to think and analyze the many facets of the Christian experience. Most known for his “The Chronicles of Narnia” series, Lewis has also written a wide variety of literature with a more philosophical approach to life lessons regarding a walk with Christ.

“False pride is something I’ve been guilty of more often than I would like to admit,” said Chad Perry. “Lewis says in ‘Mere Christianity’ that ‘True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.’ That quote is a reminder that serving others doesn’t necessarily mean to make yourself subordinate to everyone else, but it does require you to realize you’re not struggling alone. You’re not diminishing your own self worth at all. You’re building on it.”

Many of the aforementioned books can be found at MC’s Leland Speed Library or at various Christian retailers such as LifeWay Christian Book Store.

Other Christian Books MC Students Recommend:

-“Love Does” by Bob Goff

-“The Battlefield of the Mind” by Joyce Meyer

-“Because He Loves Me” by Ella Fitzpatrick

-“Jesus>Religion” by Jefferson Bethke

-“Kisses from Katie” by Katie Davis

-“Desiring God” by John Piper

-“To Live is Christ” by Beth Moore

-“Crazy Love” by Francis Chan

-“Humility” by Andrew Murray

Source: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/08/08/meet-the-texas-preacher-who-survived-brain-cancer-and-may-be-one-of-the-most-prominent-pastors-youve-never-heard-of/

Source: http://www.timothykeller.com

The Development of Christian Music

-Griffin Wacker, Contributing Writer

Christian music is slowly but surely gaining more and more of America’s attention as the years progress. Tennessee Ernie Ford is definitely the first catalyst of the gaining popularity of Gospel music. He drug numerous fans into the world of Gospel by eventually selling 16 million records of “16 Tons” in 1958. As the genre gained popularity, the Grammy Foundation decided to add the first Gospel award to the Grammys in 1961. Charley Pride, the next key catalyst in gaining Gospel popularity with America, won multiple Grammys in both Country and Gospel music in the 1970s and 1980s, which spread around fans to other corresponding genres and even attracting more fans with his gimmick of being the only successful black country singer of the time. Now, even Gospel showing itself in the form of Rap, its supposed counterpart, shows nothing but a steady rise in the popularity of Christian music.


Many people think the gaining popularity is because Christian artists are conforming to today’s style of music. “When analyzed, the music is getting more and more similar. While they still aren’t exactly the same style, Christian music is much closer today than it was in the past few decades,” Beth Haley, Director of Fine Arts and chorus teacher at McGill-Toolen Catholic High School said. Haley and Logan Anthony, a graduate student studying music at the University of Montevallo, tend to agree when Anthony said, “Just compare Rich Mullins to ACDC, Randy Travis, or James Brown. None of them are anywhere close to similar. But today compare Matt Maher to some country artists or light rock bands. While there are obvious differences, unlike before there are obvious similarities as well.”

There are a variety of other reasons theorized of why Christian music is gaining popularity. One is that artists today are less focused on being a successful Christian artist and instead focus on being a good artist that plays music that preaches the Gospel. Tom McDonald, theologist and Gospel music enthusiast, agree with this line of thinking. “Oh it’s not just music; it’s all forms of media: music, books, websites, and movies, whatever. The difference is noticeable when the person is trying too much to be Christian, rather than being Christian and focusing on making good material. If you’re a good Christian, that will show through your work if you make the work good.” Phillip Mark Golden, a freshman at Mississippi College, thinks it’s a slow massive conversion to Christianity in America. “God’s people tend to flourish and flock to him when they’re persecuted. The Christian faith is under attack in this country and history is repeating itself. It happened in the Roman Empire of the early Church and it’s happening now.” Golden said. “It’s becoming ever popular to be Christian where it’s not popular to be a Christian.”

Whether it is one, none, or all of these reasons, the fact stands that Christian music is gaining popularity. This is evident when musicians like Lecrae, For King and Country, Needtobreathe, and MercyMe attend a ceremony as credible as the Grammys, and if it keeps on the track it is on, Christian music is only going to get more popular.

Why Celebrate Lent?

-Abbie Walker, Editor

Last week marked the beginning of an important season for the Church—Lent. This period between Mardi Gras and Easter is one where Catholics and many Protestants take time to give up something in their lives and replace it with time with the Lord. Many regard Lent as simply a time where Christians try to see how long they can go without coffee, chocolate, or the Internet; but Lent is so much more than just a shortened New Year’s resolution; It’s a time of self-reflection, spiritual discipline, and ultimately, renewal.

As a Methodist, I celebrate the season of Lent. Over the years, I’ve given up Pinterest, sweet tea, and makeup, among other things, and this year, I’ve decided to give up staying up late. In other words, I’ve given myself a harsher bedtime with the intention of getting up earlier and having a more consistent devotion time. As a college kid and a night owl, I know this isn’t going to be easy. But Lent isn’t supposed to be easy; it’s meant to be challenging.

During our church’s Ash Wednesday service, my pastor talked about the significance of the ash cross we wear on our forehead to signify the beginning of Lent, how we have been marked for Christ. He also told us that this season is about spiritual healing—dealing with fresh wounds, but also cleansing old ones. It may be messy and painful, but we can ultimately look back and see a scar that reminds us of how God healed us. For me, this was such a different perspective on Lent.

The truth was, I had often treated this time as a way for me to somehow “prove” that I could discipline myself, that I could show God how devoted I was to Him. And to no surprise, that always failed. I wasn’t treating Lent the way I should have been—as a surrender.

You see, we give up something that is important to us, something we love so much that it pains us to separate from it. But we do it because God separated Himself from His only Son so that we might be made new. Our tiny sacrifice for about 40 days is so insignificant compared to the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus. However, taking the time to give things over to the Lord allows for the message of Easter to penetrate our hearts deeper than it would have otherwise.

Often, our spiritual lives get clouded and chaotic, and we need the Lord to dig out the nastiness in our hearts and re-center us on Him. If we make the decision to examine our lives, pull out the things that may be hindering our spiritual relationship, and then hand them over to God, we are allowing His power to cleanse our hearts so that His truth can sink in that much deeper.

But it’s not easy. Choosing to inspect ourselves and detach from something that is important to us can be downright difficult. However, the goal is for us to be brought closer to Christ and to be renewed in Him. The great thing about Lent is that if we fail in our commitments or restrictions (which I often do), Easter comes right after. How refreshing for the Gospel of grace and redemption to be preached right after a season of trying to stay disciplined in our faith!

Lent is a time to get right with the Lord, to search our hearts and let Him do the same, so that we might be healed. But it also keeps us from remaining numb to the message of Easter.

So whether your church celebrates Lent or not, I challenge you to take some time to reflect on the state of your spiritual life and let the Lord cleanse your heart so you can take in the Good News all the more deeply. After all, Jesus came so that we may be right with God—let us rejoice in that this spring.

50 Shades of Garbage

-Bethani Thomas, Opinions Editor

“This is not just mainstream porn. This is mainstream bondage porn. And it’s coming to a theater near you just in time for Valentine’s Day.” – J. Lee Grady from charismanews.com

Before I begin this very strong opinion regarding the series “50 Shades of Grey” by E. L. James, along with the upcoming premier of the film, directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson, I want to convey my purpose for doing so.

I am in no way better than anyone who has read this book or want to go see the movie. I am in no way trying to condemn you or point at you and say you are wrong or messed up. I am simply lifting a sign of warning to all of you who may be going, as well as trying to raise awareness to those who aren’t necessarily in the know (for good reason) about the movie coming out.

BDSM is a term that describes a community of people involved in sexual practices that include bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism. Participators in this normally connect power and humiliation with pleasure. There is evidence that says BDSM stems from a past in childhood abuse. And this is what the protagonist in the poorly written, plot-driven, erotica novel “50 Shades of Grey” suffers from.

Christian Grey is an attractive, successful male who seduces a 21-year-old college senior, Anastasia (or Ana) Steele into signing a sexually explicit contract to participate in BDSM with him. He tells her of his past in which he had a “submissive” sexual role to a woman at age 15. That is sexual child abuse. He then goes on to reveal that ever since that “relationship” he has been addicted to similar play, except that now he has the power to be submitted to.

Social scientist Amy E. Bonomi published a study regarding the books in which she proved that every interaction between Ana and Christian were emotionally abusive in nature, including stalking, intimidation, and isolation. In part of the contract he even insisted on monitoring what she ate on a daily basis.

I will tell you now that this book scares me. The fact that it is based almost entirely on sex scenes that are telling the world that sexual bondage and violent, non-romantic relationships are exciting, has sold more than 100 million copies around the world, been translated into 52 languages, and is now hitting the big screens on Valentine’s Day is revolting to me.

Hollywood Reporter forecasts a $45 million debut of the movie, which is right there next to what Interstellar made the first weekend it appeared. The director, Taylor-Johnson told reporters that it is not as “graphically explicit” as some are expecting from reading the book, and therefore does not actually, “[go into] the realm of pornography.”

I hate to break it to you all, but this is pornography.

We live in a very scary world where ISIS are murdering daily and gaining power, the Boko Harem are raping women and children and gaining territory, and so I wonder if this movie is really worth the fuss. But right now I’m going to argue that it is. Christians on this campus fight for the End It movement to end sexual slavery around the world, which is a valid fight that I completely support. But I will say with confidence right now, pornography is the industry behind sex trafficking—and sadly, pornography will be shown on Valentine’s Day just up the road from our little world and that is a big deal.

Is that what love is? The women and girls going to view this movie hoping to get a little excitement from the danger portrayed in the relationship—is this their ideal match? A man who ties them up with zip-ties and rope and whips their backs in his “play room” so that he can get the pleasure he wants from a feeling of physical power. He is a coward! And I hope and pray earnestly that you who read this would see through the lies and perversion this book and movie declare. Sexual relationships—and relationships in general—are meant to be beautiful and balanced and nurturing for growth. Love is not hurtful and emotionally or physically painful.

1 Corinthians 13:5-8

“Love is not arrogant or rude, it does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…”

If you are reading this and are involved in a risky relationship or know someone who is, please tell someone. Or if you regularly view pornography and are ready to be done with its filth, please tell someone. We have people on this campus, teachers and ministers, who want to help the students here on this campus. There is a counseling center free for anyone who struggles with an addiction of any sort.

But more importantly, there is a Savior who exhibits the kind of love in the Scripture passage above. His love never fails and is unending. If you do not know this love please ask someone. I would love to talk to anyone and answer any of your questions regarding my Savior’s love for me, and what a better time to find out about it than Valentine’s Day week? His love is so real and honest, and I’ll tell you now, it is truly exciting.

A few articles included in the discussion: “The 3 most dangerous lies promoted by 50 Shades of Grey” written by Matt Fradd on lifesitenews.com.,

“Let’s call 50 Shades what it is: perverted” by J. Lee Grady on charismanews.com, and Washington Post’s “The 50 Shades of Grey movie: what we know and what we don’t know.”

Futral to Speak at Evangelism Lecture

-Megan Cole, Reporter

On Feb. 2-3, the annual Evangelism Lecture will be delivered at Mississippi College. This year, Mississippi College alumnus Rob Futral, the senior pastor at Broadmoor Baptist Church in Madison, Miss., will be the guest speaker.


The lecture will begin at 6 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 2 in Anderson Hall East at the B.C. Rogers Student Center and will continue on Tuesday, Feb. 3 at 1:30 p.m. The event will end with a luncheon following the second part of the lecture. All students and staff are invited to attend, listen, and learn as Futral delivers a lecture to further students’ understanding and knowledge of the importance of evangelism. Futral will also be speaking for Mississippi College student chapel on Tuesday, Feb. 3.

Rob Futral graduated from Mississippi College with a bachelor’s degree in Christian Studies. Futral continued his training at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, where he earned both a Master of Divinity with Biblical Languages and a Doctorate in New Testament and Greek. In 2010, Futral also received the Young Alumnus of the Year Award from Mississippi College.

Futral comes from a long family line of ministry. His grandfather, the late Guy Futral, Sr., served as a Baptist preacher, and his father, Jim Futral, is the current executive director-treasurer of the Mississippi Baptist Convention. Futral’s family consists of his wife, Kimandria, and his three children: Trea, Rivers, and Ridge. In 2012, Futral wrote his first book, The Greatest Week in History, in which he studied the Gospel of Luke’s account of the Passion Week.

The MC Christian Studies faculty’s passion for developing and growing Christ-centered lives inspired the Evangelism Lecture many years ago and still acts as its driving force today.

“I like the term ‘Evangelism’ in the title because our main purpose in religion is to reach men for Christ,wrote the Lecture’s founder, George E. Emmett. “Although New Testament and Evangelism are specific entities, background material for this subject covers all of the Bible and religion and there would never be a real limit as to what anyone wished to discuss.”

The fund was created in 1969 by Emmett, who was an anesthetist from Dallas, TX. Emmett led a God-centered life, and that focus was reflected in his decision to name the fund after evangelism rather than himself. He believed that the “better way to name the fund would be to leave the title free of any personality either current [in 1969] or past” and avoided “name[ing] after persons who [were] instrumental in creating” the fund.

The lecture’s history reveals the center of what the Evangelism Lecture is all about: a sole focus on Christ, which the fund will surely seek to maintain in the years to come.

Lighting of the Quad brings Christmas cheer to MC’s campus

-Alexa Jenkins, Copy Editor

The Campus Activities Board welcomed Mississippi College students to a “Candyland Christmas” themed Lighting of the Quad on Dec. 2. Guests were welcomed by CAB members to walk among Christmas trees and through a gingerbread house for cocoa and cookies. This year, for the first time, Lighting of the Quad was hosted as a community event for the city of Clinton, and a large turnout of MC students and Clinton families attended.


The evening began with a telling of the Christmas story by professors Ivan and Mary Ann Parke, whose lively and truth-filled account was enjoyed by many. They were followed by CAB Chairperson Hunter Sandoval, who took the stage to welcome visitors and explain the various aspects of the event.

CAB has adopted the Lighting of the Quad as a night of philanthropy—a way to give back to the community. A collection of Christmas trees was admired by the guests and donated the next day to the 4 C’s, a local charity that will give the trees to families in need. Students also filled a sleigh with donated t-shirts for the fourth year in a row. These shirts will be sent to a missionary in Nicaragua, who will distribute them as needed. The final way that Lighting of the Quad was used to give back was through their t-shirt sales. Event t-shirts were available for students to purchase, and proceeds were given to the Make-a-Wish foundation.


In addition to celebrating the act of giving this Christmas, Lighting of the Quad also provided a fun diversion for students as finals week nears. All of MC’s clubs and tribes built gingerbread houses to be voted on by the students. Laguna took first place this year, followed by Civitan in second place and Nenamoosha in third. Guests also enjoyed hot chocolate, cookies, and other sweet treats as they mingled and listened to music provided by a variety of MC musicians.

CAB members Elizabeth Rogers, Jarvis Stampley, and Emily Boyd were recognized at the end of the event for their work putting Lighting of the Quad together. Their efforts are appreciated by many MC students. Several mentioned the tradition that Lighting of the Quad has become throughout their time at MC, and everyone was excited to see the community participate in this MC tradition. Students and families alike enjoyed the opportunity to celebrate with loved ones as the semester and the year nears an end.


Why I won’t celebrate Santa Claus with my kids

-Abbie Walker, Editor

I’ve decided not to do Santa with my kids (whenever I have them, that is).

People may tell me I’m unAmerican or that I’m going to ruin my kids’ lives or that I’m going to be the worst parent in the world, but before anyone throws me under a bus, let me explain why.

I have nothing personally against the fat man in the big, red suit. Honestly, I think he’s a pretty cool guy. He’s jolly, eats cookies, and spreads Christmas cheer by giving gifts to children, and I think that’s awesome. But there’s another part of Christmas—the most important part—that makes me believe Santa isn’t quite as great as people think.

Ultimately, Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. It’s a time for family and friends to get together and rejoice in the arrival of the Savior of the world. I love Christmas traditions, and I think spending time during the season preparing for the coming of Christ is a wonderful thing. We should get excited about the greatest gift the Lord has given us! Bring on the Christmas music and deck the halls because the Messiah is coming!

But often the one we are really waiting for, the one we are actually excited about, is Santa. And while the tradition of Saint Nicholas started out as a Christian act, it has become something that has contributed significantly to the commercialization of the holiday season.

When I hear my young nephews talk about the holidays, it revolves around their Christmas wish lists. In fact, isn’t that what we all ask kids during the month of December? Not ‘Are you excited about the coming of Christ?’ but ‘What do you want for Christmas this year?’ I can’t blame my nephews for their focus on the material things when our culture has made it all about the temporary presents.

While my childhood was not scarred from receiving presents on Christmas from Santa, I wish my family had put more focus on the religious aspect of the holidays. Instead, I feel that all the emphasis on ‘being a good girl’ and making a list of things that I wanted only contributed to my earthly, selfish nature. I wish my parents had sat me down before the holidays and said, “This time isn’t about you; it’s about Jesus.” However, today’s society tells us that Christmas revolves around ourselves.

Not only does Santa contribute to this selfishness, but he almost cheapens the true meaning of Christmas. We have Santa, who gives children physical gifts based on whether or not they are good. In comparison, we have Jesus, who offers eternal life and unconditional love for everyone. How confusing is that for a child?

In addition, Santa has almost been given God-like characteristics. “He sees you when you’re sleeping; He knows when you’re awake; He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake.” But don’t we tell children that God is the only one who knows everything and watches over them? How are children supposed to understand the love of Christ when Santa is being made out to be better than God because he gives them whatever they ask for?

While I don’t think celebrating Santa with children keeps them from accepting the Gospel, I do think it makes it a lot harder. Santa is essentially robbing children (and adults) of focusing on the Lord during Christmas. Not to mention, the whole charade of Santa is essentially parents lying to their kids.

I recently heard about a child being sent home from a church daycare because he told another kid that Santa wasn’t real. I don’t know about you, but I find this to be really sad. Here we have a kid whose parents decided to be honest with him, and he is being punished by not buying into the lie of Santa. We have this fear of ruining a kid’s childhood by them not believing in Santa, but I don’t think we care enough about them believing in Christ.

I have nothing against ole St. Nick by himself, but if he is trying to push Jesus out of the Christmas picture, then yeah, I do have a problem with him. That’s why, when I have kids, I’m planning on kicking Santa out of the equation entirely. I’m going to explain to my children, “This time isn’t about us; it’s about celebrating the most important gift—Jesus.”

And when it comes to gifts, I like the idea of giving them ‘something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.’ Gifts are used to express our love for others, but they should never be the main priority. Instead, Christmas should be spent giving to those in need and serving others. “We love because He first loved us,” should be our focus during the holiday season.

Some may think I’m being extreme by not celebrating Santa with my future kids, but if there was something possibly keeping your child from truly understanding the Gospel, wouldn’t you block your chimney too?

Collegian Debate: Mandatory Chapel

Argument 1: Andrew Rock- Against Mandatory Chapel

Most MC students are rankled by being forced to attend Chapel if they want to graduate. Many of us don’t like standing around waiting to scan out or listening to bad speakers during precious study time. These issues are real, but the problem with Chapel goes far deeper than annoyances. I hope to make a basic case against the fact that MC forces its students to attend.

The main issue with Chapel is not that it’s boring or annoying, it’s that it is mandatory. If you don’t go to chapel, you don’t graduate. This creates a problem simply because people don’t like being told what to do; it goes against what Robert Heinlein called “that streak of anarchy which was the birthright of every American.” Obviously, this argument could apply to any of MC’s rules, but it is a problem for Chapel in particular. This is because forcing people into things will alienate them. Not everyone at MC is a Christian, and being forced to attend worship can drive people away.

As “A Christian University,” we presumably have a duty to share Christ, not to drive students from Him. This means loving and serving others, not forcing them to listen to us! One must accept Jesus personally—He said that no one gets to the Father except through Him. But how has a relationship like this ever been built by force of power, whether that power comes from a sword or a grade book.

However, the deeper issue is compounded by the fact that the services are often poorly done. Not only is everyone forced to attend, but some of what people hear drives them away from Christianity. Many of our speakers are boring at best and enraging at worst. For example, following the Chapel session about homosexuality, there was a firestorm of controversy and some students felt the speaker had slandered them. All of this was done in the name of Christ. It is difficult to convert someone if they feel they are being attacked and stereotyped. Thus, one can see that requiring people to attend Chapel is a recipe for disaster, given that we force them to listen to divisive messages.

I have heard counterarguments to these points. Some argue that it makes sense for MC to require Chapel, as it can expose people to the Gospel and save at least some souls. While I understand that God can work through Chapel, think about what this argument implies. By saying that we have to force people to hear the Gospel, we assume that no one will share it with them otherwise! We assume that a person will go through four years of a Christian college without their fellow students mentioning Jesus. The answer to this problem is not to force people into Chapel, it’s to do our jobs as believers and share the good news.

If it is necessary to mandate Chapel, then we need to live like Christians. This will mean sharing Christ with our fellow students, even if it seems awkward or like there is never a good time. I struggle with this myself, but if we can get out of our comfort zones, we can be missionaries in our own classrooms. The more we do this; there will be no excuse for requiring chapel.

Mandatory Chapel is a problem in and of itself, simply because people don’t like being forced to do things. This issue is worsened by the fact that Chapel speakers can be anything from boring to enraging. All of this combines to alienate people from Christianity and make them less receptive to the Gospel. While it is well-intentioned, this policy needs to go, and it should be replaced by Christians living as the Bible commands and sharing Christ with those around them.

Argument 2: Hannah Richards- Pro-Mandatory Chapel 

For the average undergraduate student at Mississippi College, Tuesday morning holds a special sort of frustration. Throughout four semesters, every enrolled student is required to attend chapel once a week on Tuesday from 10:50 to 11:40 a.m. For some, this is simply a mental break from the stressors of college. Unfortunately, for many others, this time is considered a total waste—time that they could be using to do other, much more productive things. Even as someone who is in favor of the required chapel, I easily see both sides of the equation.

What I also do see is all the good that this required chapel has done for campus. During this fall semester, Dr. Pratt and the rest of the faculty and staff in the Office of Christian Development have striven to bring in speakers to deal with important, radical issues. Many would say they have succeeded. Several months ago there was a rather controversial chapel that occurred dealing with the male perspective on homosexuality. The speaker’s opinion aside, the chapel was a constant topic of conversation for students who were present and even those who were not. This is exactly the purpose of chapel. It stretches us far beyond the hour we sit inside First Baptist of Clinton. The goal is to teach and to educate, as well as to spark discussions on campus that extend far beyond Tuesday morning.

However, if some students still dislike the policies of chapel, they should be grateful that MC has chosen to have chapel only once a week instead of three times a week or every day of the school week as does some other schools. As a student at a Christian school, a school both endorsed and funded by the Southern Baptist Convention, the standard for chapel and Biblical education was set far before you moved into your dorm. As an adult, you were made aware of the expectations set forth by the administration, and chapel attendance was one of those standards. MC wants for the chapel experience to be as educational and interactive as possible, but even if you don’t take advantage of that, the expectation for attendance does not decrease.

People so often forget that Mississippi College has a once-a-week stage to literally say whatever they want, and they have made the conscious decision to bring in speakers who will spark conversations on campus. Every chapel and every speaker brought to campus is an invitation for students. MC is inviting them to interact with the material, both in and out of chapel. Many of the speakers this semester have also held follow up sessions. In addition, many of these speakers come truly wanting to connect with the college students they are speaking to.

Instead of being resentful for the hour per week taken from their schedules, students should be grateful they attend a school where so many resources are so easily available to them and realize that our school is private; therefore the requirement of Chapel is completely understandable and expected.

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