River Journeys

-Abbie Walker, Editor

This past weekend my church college group went on an outdoor retreat. Between the hours of splashing in canoes, singing songs around a campfire, and laughing to our hearts’ content, we also talked a lot about our journeys—where we have been and where we are now. We discussed how our lives are like rivers that start out one way, twist around, fork, etc. Each of us ended up drawing a picture of what our river journey would look like, and surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly), a lot of our rivers had commonalities in that there were periods of rapids, rocks, or other treacheries that depicted difficult or devastating times in our lives. Some rivers went off the straight path but circled round again; some dropped off in waterfalls but continued past fields of flowers later on.

As my time at MC comes to a close, I think about how college has shaped my own river journey. I guess I could describe it as a period of small rapids. It’s been a fun, crazy, exciting time, but it’s also been really challenging. A lot of old wounds have been reopened and a lot of tears shed. Some things have spun me around and left me disoriented. But I’ve learned a lot about life and the Lord through the experience. So I’ve decided to impart some last minute advice that I wish I’d had a better understanding of earlier.

  1. We are all on the river journey of life. All of us have hard times that we go through, and we should embrace that. It’s OK to not be OK. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable with the right people and share your struggles. Chances are those people have been or are going through a rough patch as well. Your story about a time when the Lord got you through a dark tunnel could be the hope that someone needs to push forward. There were times I was hesitant about sharing personal things with others, but I’ve also witnessed the Lord work in people’s lives because I did. Sometimes we see the effects, sometimes we don’t; but it’s definitely worth it. Let’s encourage each other because we all need to hear that we are not alone.
  1. Even when the craziness of uncertainty makes you dizzy and you can’t seem to find solid ground, the Lord is there. He’s got your back. I can’t tell you all the plans I had before and during college that have either been altered or completely changed. Sometimes it’s painful to see a desire taken away, but God really does have your best interest at heart. However, that truth can sometimes be hard to swallow. I’ve learned that it’s all right to complain to God. Sometimes we are afraid of angering Him, but nothing can change His love for us. Those times where I was practically wrestling with the Lord about decisions or plans that changed were the times where I learned the most from Him. Seek after Him, TALK to Him, argue with Him if you have to (He can take it), and He will direct your steps. We can spend our entire lives planning things, but the only thing that remains true and prevails is the Lord. He is our solid rock to grab onto when the crazy current threatens to pull us under.
  1. Joy is your life vest. The truth is, life is going to suck at times. Parents will get divorced; loved ones will be lost; heartache is inevitable. The only way we can really get through this life and be able to do what we are called to do is by having Joy. While happiness is something that is dependent upon one’s circumstances, Joy is an underlying peace that remains constant, and true Joy ONLY comes from the Lord. And that Joy spurs us onward to do amazing things and handle whatever gets thrown our way. If you feel like your situations are drowning you, latch on to Jesus and the supernatural, unexplainable Joy that He gives. Nothing else will be able to fill the hole in our hearts.

While the river journey analogy may be slightly cheesy, I think it speaks a lot about life. Sometimes it’s smooth; sometimes it’s a Class 4 rapid. Sometimes the river forks and we end up down a path we didn’t expect to take. Sometimes we hit rocks or capsize. But if I leave you with nothing else, know that the Lord is good. His love is unchanging and lifesaving.

Life is an adventure. Learn from where you are. Meet challenges head on. Trust in the Lord to direct your path. Only He knows what’s waiting around the river bend, but I’m glad I don’t have to face the next rapid alone.


America’s Excessive Military Spending

-Andy O’Brien, Assistant Editor

Last week, the House of Representatives passed a $3.8 trillion budget for the next fiscal year. The plan calls for raising military spending from $523 billion to over $600 billion. Meanwhile, some estimates say that the total U.S. government debt will reach $21.7 trillion by the end of fiscal year 2015.

America has long had the world’s most formidable armed forces. A study by the International Institute for Strategic Studies found that the U.S. spent $581 billion on military expenditures in 2014, which was the most of any country. Next was China, coming in at $129 billion. Only six countries in the world spend more than $50 billion on defense annually.

Despite the spending disparity, the American people are still hesitant about demilitarization. Our paranoia veils the reality that we spend four and a half times the amount of any other nation on our military. If wars were won by the dollar, the U.S. could defeat all other top-ten defense spenders combined, and still have over $15 billion remaining. America’s defenses are well equipped to take on any threat.

And lately, we haven’t been threatened enough to justify all of our spending. During the Cold War, we were involved in an arms race that demanded mammoth spending and constant innovation. The world is in a different place now. Although we have less than friendly relations with some nations, we are not in direct contention with a world superpower the way that we were with Russia. It’s time the American people realize that our military might, although impressive, is also excessive.

America doesn’t need to raise defense spending. Here at home, we have a myriad of problems facing our own people today. The American Institutes for Research found that in 2013, there were 2.5 million homeless children in the U.S. The same year, 69 percent of college seniors graduated with student loan debt. The average amount owed was over $28,000. As usual, there are more problems than money to solve them. Unfortunately, we consistently allot money to places where there are not problems that the American people face.

By attempting to increase the military budget over $77 billion, the government is reassigning about $240 per year from each citizen. If I were asked, I would never approve this.

I’m proud to be an American, and I am grateful for all the men and women who fight to protect my freedom. However, when defense spending is about $1,900 per citizen annually, I have a problem. I would rather see that money feed a child who goes to sleep hungry at night, or help pay the medical bills of a struggling senior citizen. I would rather see that money take care of our veterans, who notoriously struggle through unemployment and homelessness after their military days are over.

America is a great place to live, and the safety and security that we have because of countless brave men and women is a cause worth supporting. However, I believe that we should use our taxpayer’s money to address problems stateside before we spend any more billions of dollars fighting less consequential battles overseas.

Reality Shows: Self-esteem Verses Self-destruction

-Candice Smith, contributing writer

On one end of the spectrum, you have your more positive and upbeat reality television shows such as “The Voice,” “Survivor,” “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” “The Biggest Loser,” “Duck Dynasty,” and “19 Kids and Counting.” On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are the loud, obnoxious, unruly, pull-your-hair-out, cat claw shows such as “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” “The Real Housewives” (too many to list), “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” and “Bad Girls Club.” Some reality shows are positive, upbeat, healthy shows that bring families together or make you want to cry tears of joy. Other reality shows have you questioning how this ever became a hit show at all!

According to Dictionary.com, reality (noun) is “a state of resembling what is real. Then, according to the definition used as an adjective, it is noting or pertaining to a TV program or film that portrays nonactors interacting or competing with each other in real, but contrived (meaning forced or artificial), situations, allegedly without a script.” The sad part? An entirely too large of a percentage of our population actually feel that these shows are real and try to emulate their life according to these shows. Some of these shows have people feeling they, too, can achieve this type of celebrity status. All they need to do is grab a cellphone and a friend and film themselves acting in the most absurd and inappropriate way because, after all, that is what draws in the crowds and makes the views or soar, right? Intelligence is thrown to the wayside and is supplanted with tight dresses, extensions, fast cars, vulgarity, foul language, loss of mannerisms, infidelity, un-lady like women and overall general immorality.

According to cnsnews.com, individuals who watch non-competitive reality shows are more extroverted, irrational, disturbed and exhibit lower self-worth than their counterparts. Of the 19,000 individuals who participated in a survey, more than half of the men and women watched non-competitive reality shows out of shear boredom. Forty-six percent of women and 26 percent of men watch to see what it is like to be rich and famous. One thousand one hundred teen girls were interviewed and it was determined that while some reality shows can be uplifting and motivational, other reality shows can damage their relationships (or ideas of one) and self-image. Also, teen girls who watch certain reality shows on a regular basis tend to have more aggressive and dramatic behavior coupled with bullying verses their counterparts. The same girls also felt physical appearance was the only way to measure ones’ value of their self.

Many reality television viewers turn to these shows to make them feel better about their own lives because they are not satisfied. If you watch “Hoarders,” you may feel a sense of relief because you do not have a mountain of garbage in your home. Schadenfreude is a term used when people enjoying taking pleasure while viewing the misfortune of others. Maybe it is not done in a purposeful manner but it is still done. It is not a very healthy defense mechanism because the viewer is postponing their own responsibilities to revel in the discontentment of others’ lives. According to Today.com, 70 percent of reality television fans consider themselves to be extroverts, meaning they obtain much of their information from the television or Internet (the outside world, so to speak). It is very disheartening to know that many people have lost the art of conversation that does not include gossip, fighting, vulgarity, the latest trend, the hottest person, the newest fad diet or the most recent celebrity scandal.

One simply cannot watch celebrity garbage and still portray a decent amount of self-esteem. As per Dictionary.com, self-esteem is “a realistic RESPECT for or favorable impression of oneself; self-respect.” It seems that self-esteem is all about respect for oneself and a person cannot have personal respect if their biggest influences do not have respect for themselves. A person who is truly happy with the self will not find it necessary to try and live their life through an electronic device or television screen.

If you absolutely just cannot live without reality television, at least switch the channel from a reality show that makes you feel you have to dress, act, look, think, eat, socialize, or behave a certain way in order to be happy with yourself. That is not true happiness. That is misery. Instead, find a show that is competition-based because most competitive shows are going to be based on individual talents and will depict how hard a person has to work to achieve a desired goal. If you have the will power, turn off the television and electronic devices and participate in conversations and activities that will allow you to look within and say “I am happy. I like myself the way I am. I do not need anyone else in the world to validate my self-worth!”

I want YOU to be a conversation partner!

-Alex Dougherty, contributing writer

If you’ve been here long enough, you’ve probably realized that we have a pretty large international student population. For my first three years at MC, I wasn’t friends with hardly any of these students. I thought we wouldn’t have anything in common, I wouldn’t have anything to talk to them about, or they wouldn’t understand English. Everything changed for me last summer when I helped with an English sports camp in the Czech Republic. It was there that I learned that we aren’t that different from one another. My heart was opened to the rest of the world, and my perspective was greatly influenced. I came home from that trip with such a longing to go back, but in the meantime, I was in Mississippi.

I wanted an outlet where I could serve international students while I waited to return to the Czech Republic. So I joined the conversation partner program. Basically all you do is meet with an international student once a week to talk for an hour about anything. The only restriction is that everything has to be in English, which wasn’t too hard for me. If you haven’t been a conversation partner yet, I highly recommend you try it for three reasons.

First, if you are like me and enjoy surprises, then you will love the first day of the program. All of the students are given slips of paper with their conversation partner’s name and major on it, and they have to try to pick you out from the crowd. You don’t know the name or nationality of the student you will be working with, but that is what makes it fun. When I met my assigned student from China for the first time, the friendship was formed instantly. It doesn’t take long to form a friendship with your conversation partner because both of you are eager to know one another. That seldom happens in most situations.

Second, you will laugh a lot when you approach the language barrier. My partner’s English was pretty good, but we still had a few miscommunications. For instance, I was asking him about public transportation in China (comparing that with my experience in Prague. I talk a lot about Prague). I said, “What kind of public transportation do you have in China?” He didn’t know what I meant. I said, “Like, do you have a subway?” He said, “Oh, yes! And we also have a KFC!” It was awesome.

Third, you will learn just as much from your student as they will learn from you. The whole point of the program is to help international students practice their English, but the Americans who help them profit as well because their worldview expands. I was able to learn many fascinating things about China that I would have never known if I didn’t ask someone. I was able to see the country the way that its citizens see it and was able to understand Chinese history in a way that wasn’t explained to me in my American textbooks. I learned that the life of an international student is not easy. They are in a different country with different customs and are having to speak a language that is foreign. They have to find transportation (for a while, my friend had to walk all the way to his house near Chick-fil-A after class. That’s a long way). They have to find a house and possibly a job. And believe it or not, there is a little bit of discrimination.

Of course, my partner did learn a few things from me. Whether those are good things or bad things is too soon to tell. For example, in addition to just talking, I taught my friend slang. The first time I taught him a slang word, I immediately checked with Mrs. Vandersteen, who was in charge of the program at the time, to make sure that it was ok. I once talked to him about some of the things that we can say in English that aren’t bad words, but can serve the same purpose, like crap or shoot. At the end of every meeting, he had to write about what we talked about. So he said, “Today, we talked about bad words.” I said, “Nononononono!”

Anyway, if you love internationals, you like surprises, enjoy a good laugh, wish to broaden your perspective, or just want to make a new friend, I highly recommend you look into the conversation partner program. You can contact Christina Bach at cbach@mc.edu for more info.

Things Pass By

-William B. Gurtowski, contributing writer

Life is a reality that moves forward. As we grow, we meet people and leave them; experience happiness and sadness; enter places and depart them; believe ideas and refute them; and so on and so forth. We live in a world where everything constantly changes, and we change along with it. I, for example, do not currently live in the same circumstances that I did one year ago, and I will not likely be involved in the same situations one year from now as I am at present. This is not a condition that I control, nor is it one that I want; it is simply something that is.

Now, I am placed at every moment in a situation completely new and unique to anything that I have experienced. These new instances may seem relatable and similar to others from the past, but they are each distinct from one another. No moment can ever be considered the same. This is because life moves forward, and as simple-minded as this explanation may seem to be at first notice, it is not. To reveal this, I shall ask the question: What is life?

In order to know what life is, I must look at what it contains. I know from my experiences that life involves interactions between objects; these objects being anything that can be experienced. Examples of this could be for a person to age over time, to receive feedback from peers for different actions committed, or to experience emotional reactions from the circumstances of given situations. I also know that life is real; I experience events as they occur, and I give reactions to them in their moments. My interactions with objects show me that my life is a reality.

Knowing this, I have to accept that life is the interactions that I have with objects. I must, however, observe this realistically. I have learned from past experience that I am a part of reality. I myself am subject to experience in the exact same fashion as the objects of my observance. In actuality, though, observance itself is an illusion. There only exists interaction between objects. I, too, am an object of experience, just like everything that I come into contact with. My past experiences have taught me that I age, I learn, I feel, and I tire. Yet, above these things, my experiences have taught me to approach my situations with great care if I wish to receive satisfactory results. Diligence produces a praiseworthy work ethic; impulsiveness does not.

Having spoken about experience’s role in life, I can now discuss the main point of this article. Life moves forward. Never have I experienced any such event that can make me speak otherwise. I have learned over time that situations come and go as I age. I meet people, become acquainted with them, and, before I know it, leave them. The same applies for all other objects. It is not through cruelty or cold judgment of mine that this happens, but it is rather how the times work. Every situation that I come across comes and goes in time, be it with any object. But, though each situation travels in the same path, it cannot be said that each one is the same. No, the answer is in fact quite the opposite. Every situation is completely unique in itself. Sure, there may be similarities between some situations, but those are only some. Each situation contains with it an infinite number of qualities that set it apart from all others. It would therefore be unjust to say that any two objects are the same because each contains different experiences from past situations. This, therefore, makes every object unique.

My experiences have taught me that life moves forward. I have aged in time, and through this aging I have learned that I will always be placed in new situations at every moment, and each of these situations will be totally unique. I have learned that each person whom I encounter is an individual, and each one contains in him or her experiences that I will never be able to obtain. Every person’s experience is unique, and this makes each individual unique. I am unique, but so is everyone else whom I encounter. It is the experiences that we gain from our situations that truly make us each an individual. Each of us moves forward in our situations, learning at every moment from them. Situations come and they go. We live, we learn, we experience, we age, and things pass by.

Misconceptions about Iconoclasm

Griffin Wacker, Contributing Writer

As a freshman and a transfer this semester I have had to make friends very quickly. Naturally, when making new friends one discusses similarities and differences between them; one of the differences constantly discussed is the fact that I am one of the few Catholics on campus. In their curiosity they ask me, “Why does the Catholic Church hate gays? Why do Catholics worship Mary?” They assume that the Catholic faith preaches this doctrine. Instead they should be asking, “Does Catholic doctrine state the Mary is divine? Why do Catholics believe contraception is sinful?” These questions are inquisitive rather than assuming.

In order to clear up some misconceptions about the Catholic faith, let’s talk about icons, statues and other artwork to represent Jesus, Mary, and other saints. Icons are not to be confused with idols, which is something that is not God but is divinized like God (CCC 2113). Throughout my life and recently at Mississippi College, I have been asked, “Why do you Catholics worship statues, when Exodus clearly says not to,” referring to Exodus 20:4-5. However, the exert clearly states that we can’t have “idols” (Ex 20:4). The question would carry some credence if idols and icons were the same, but since they’re not, it doesn’t.

Catholics use icons for three purposes: as a reminder, as an inspiration, and as a source of education. In our humanity, we sometimes forget to set time aside for God. These murals, portraits, and statues act as post-it notes to ourselves to give God time from our day. While others may state that you would only need the figure of a cross to do this, to me the message of just a cross is very limited, therefore making your prayers limited. When I see a cross I think, “Alleluia, Christ has risen,” and I become overwhelmed with joy. In turn, my prayers are joyous and celebratory. All of which is fine, but there are numerous types of prayers. When one see’s a crucifix, they tend to think of the Passion rather than the Resurrection, which invokes a whole other set of emotions, in turn “inspires new expressions of the same basic form of prayer” (CCC 2644).

We as humans are incredibly foolish, and sometimes, even when we remember to pray, we choose not to because we think there’s no point, that nothing will come of it. When we see representations of the Virgin Mary, Saint Peter, Saint Padre Pio, Saint Maximillian Kolbe, and others, it reminds us of the point and inspires us to live better lives like them. All of them had tough times, doubts, and hardships. Christians can relate to that, and it inspires them to live like the saints. Catholics then either pray to God, ask the saint that reminded them to pray for us, or sometimes both. Catholics use these representations of the saints because: what’s the point of an inspiration if you’re not going to use it? Does the Christian community not do the same with movies and books today? Movies are watched; books are read, hoping the stories inspire us and give us a closer relationship with God. Is a picture or statue nothing more than a cover for the book? And the story the person’s life?

The third purpose that Catholics use icons for is to educate. Since the Bible did not get translated into vernacular languages until the early 1500s, artwork was used to teach what the Bible said, its interpretations, and its characters. Common images in statues or artwork are the dove, representing the Holy Spirit, and keys, referring to the “keys of the kingdom” Jesus gave Peter in Mathew 16:18. It was a tool against illiteracy. Today, Catholic educators use this same tool with young children and sometimes just to explain something that can’t quite be put into words.

In conclusion, Catholics do not “worship statues,” nor do Catholics worship what the statures represent – except if the statue is that of Jesus. Catholics use statues and other art pieces as post-it notes to remind themselves to pray. Everyone needs a little help with that. Catholics use icons as inspirations. If you’ve never heard or read anything about Padre Pio, do it as soon as you can. That was a man close to God and an inspiration to all. Catholics use icons as visual aids in learning about the Bible and the philosophies surrounding God. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, how many words is a sculpture worth?

Dedicated to the Girl in the Onesie

-Bethani Thomas, Opinions Editor

I was on my way to my car to leave campus the other night when I came upon two girls in the Healthplex parking lot. One was helping the other put on a onesie, or as some would call it, footie pajamas. Now of course, this was a little strange, but most of the time I do not judge others’ strangeness, as I’ve been there myself. But both girls saw me coming and began laughing at the awkwardness of the situation. Upon recognizing me, they approached me at my car. The one now fully dressed in the onesie began an explanation as to why she was wearing this outfit, in the parking lot, at 11 at night; and it was simple—she was restless. This article is dedicated to her.

I’ve written about restlessness and discontentment before, about a year ago. If you’d like to read my first article, themississippicollegian.com has them all. It is titled, The Search for a Place Called Elsewhere. But now, a year later, I am drawn to the topic once again, but this time I want to rewind a little more in my life.

When I was six years old, I ran away. It wasn’t too far—I simply took to the woods. I grabbed my kid brother, who was four at the time, and my little blue suitcase, hurriedly stuffed with clothes, and trekked off through the neighborhood to reach the forest’s edge. Then mom found me. When I was around seven years old, we visited someone’s home and, once again, I yanked my little brother to the backyard, and we descended into a concrete-lined run-off channel using a “rope” of tied-together garbage bags. But mom, again, soon came after us.

Since growing up, or at least coming to college (I have yet to decide whether the two have been synonymous for me), I have written short stories about a character running away, and even about myself leaving or disappearing mysteriously into the night. I had some friends who renovated an abandoned shack in the woods, which we named “Elsewhere” and would waste long hours there ignoring life and responsibility.

I remember a specific day when I lay alone on a blanket in the woods across the street from school. I remember somewhat being caught in a daze (no drugs induced this, I promise) and hearing the train’s whistle in the distance, I quietly wondered if I would survive a jump onto it. I felt that if I could get away from the scratched record of everyday life, I would be able to see myself and embrace my life in a true manner.

But even still, I made it to senior year. And through the “making it” I have grown up a little bit. I am not a better person because I no longer have crazy urges in the middle of the night to explore abandoned buildings, and in no way am I much more mature because I go to bed earlier than I ever have in college. But I’m different. I’ve applied for a few “big girl” jobs, and I’m happy to have gotten an interview. I’ve deeply considered further education and will probably go to grad school next year.

Sometimes I wonder if I’ve given up a part of myself with the giving up of my adventuresome, restless spirit. But after much thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that I really haven’t given up as much as I thought I did—life simply changed. And with transition come decisions and things we have to leave behind. When I broke down my junior year it was due to change. It was due to the decision that I have to grow up and leave my childhood and my wishy-washy emotions and my futile attempts to run away behind.

During my unbeknownst-to-me breakdown, I talked to Dr. Miller. I had a class with him at the time that was challenging me, and several times I found that I was not meeting the class expectations. One day, I apologized and told him that life was getting me down. I described that in the class I was fine and felt good, but that upon exiting the classroom I felt an undertow that would pull me away into a current of reckless emotions and anger that wanted to draw me away from life at Mississippi College. He chuckled (Dr. Miller always does that) with coffee in hand and basically told me that what I described to him was perfectly normal, and in a way exactly what he wanted students to experience. We should be restless at school so that we can be drawn into the real world. We should be antsy and ecstatic, ready and willing, passionate and yes, even angry at times. We are discovering ourselves and how we think, and act, and gain pleasure, and are hurt, and incited. That is the beauty of growth.

So go ahead and put on your footie pajamas because you’re restless. Do not be alarmed at this need to do something and be something, or the craving to see new things. This is the sign of a healthy hunger to get away from the monotony of college life and to do, be and see life as it is. You can make it through and before you know it you’ll be going to career day wearing a pencil skirt and heels, wondering how the girl that was wearing a onesie in the healthplex parking lot made it through—but I promise you, she did.

Why read the news?

-James Osborne

I believe staying informed about local current events, national news, and world news is extremely important. Not just casually glancing at the headlines in our social media news feeds, but really being curious and seeking information about what is going on in the world. I might be a bit biased since I’m a journalism major and the current news editor of the Collegian, but I believe that everyone has a responsibility to stay informed about the world around them.

There are many excuses that may seem to be valid like “I don’t have the time,” “The news is too depressing,” “You can’t trust the press, everyone is so biased,” or “if it doesn’t affect me personally why should I care?” But all of these excuses are not enough reason to not have some curiosity and seek information about the world around us. In today’s digital age we don’t have an excuse for not being able to know the news. With just a few clicks of the keyboard and mouse or on our smartphones, we can instantly find important or just interesting information about local and world news.

Staying informed about the news is part of my job as a journalist, yet I still fall short of staying well informed like I need to be. I love movies and science fiction, so I stay informed with entertainment news more than regular news, like I should. I have had some jobs where part of my responsibility was to know what is happening in the community and because of that, I have had a deeper respect for where I live and the interesting events in the community and the people who make it happen. I’m thankful for my journalism classes and some of the different jobs I’ve had that force me to stay informed and to know what is going on in the world, but there are several reasons why I think everyone needs to keep up with current events.


            Other countries and the problems they go through seem so far away from us, but we are all connected as citizens of planet Earth, and the terrors and problems in one land can easily influence or head to another land. What happens to one country can easily happen to us here in America, maybe not instantly, but over time.

One big reason to stay informed is to have something to talk about with the people around you and to be able to add to the conversation “around the water cooler” at school and work. Stories from the news are great conversation starters and good for small talk and can even be a way to dive into deeper conversation. Be able to know what is happening around you and in the world—not to look smart, but to be smart about what is going on in the world.

Besides being able to be a smarter conversationalist, watching or reading the news can help you be more informed about your chosen industry or career and the events that may influence those types of careers. Being well informed and curious about the world around you can make you more attractive to employers.

If we don’t know the troubles of the world and especially those close to us, we won’t know how we can personally make a difference and seek to do good in the world. We can’t know what to pray about outside our own network if we don’t look beyond it and seek what we can pray about for the world. We can’t find new ways to serve those in the world if we don’t seek out the needs and the problems that we might be able to help fix.

Also, current events are history in the making, and just like in learning history, we can seek and find wisdom from the good and the bad. It has been said that the average life span of a civilization is 200 years. The United States of America is over 200 years old, and it is up to the people of the country to be watchful and make sure that this country does not make the mistakes of past civilizations or be affected by the same things that destroyed civilizations like the Roman Empire. If people want to vote and be involved in the political process, then a knowledge of current events should be mandatory.

Ben Carson reminded people at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2013 that the American system of government was created by the founding fathers for a well-informed and educated populace, but when the public becomes less informed, they become vulnerable. If people are not educated, then they are more easily manipulated. To be a successful country we have to not only be educated and well-informed, but care about what is going on around us.

In the Christian community there is often the view that Christians have a responsibility to watch the news and seek to understand world events because of biblical prophecy about Christ’s second coming. Mark 13:33-37 (NLT) says, “And since you don’t know when that time will come, be on guard! Stay alert! The coming of the Son of Man can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. When he left home, he gave each of his slaves’ instructions about the work they were to do and he told the gate keeper to watch for his return. You, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know when the master of the household will return- in the evening, at midnight, before dawn, or at daybreak. Don’t let him find you sleeping when he arrives without warning. I say to you what I say to everyone: Watch for Him!”

Let us be curious and to stomp out apathy. We have the time and the means to stay informed and educated. For these and many more reasons, we should seek to stay informed about the news and the world around us.

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.”

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