All posts by arend

Homecoming 2017

This whole week built the anticipation for Homecoming, conversations were buzzing with talk of the game, the carnival, what to wear, and who was going. On the Wednesday before, I went with a group of my friends to the mall where we all bought gear to wear — metallic blue leggings, gold pants, face paint, jackets, hats, and various other accessories as each of us wanted. The hours leading up to it were a little crazy since several girls and I went to Wisconsin to the hometown of one of the girl to see her homecoming game. We got back around 10:15am where we rushed to get spirited up with our homecoming gear for the game. Two of us had to sing the national anthem and so at 11:20 we headed to the Buetow to warm up and walked over to the game with the choir. I have sung with choirs before, but I come from a small school so singing with such a big choir for a collegiate game was very different. When the singing was done, the game began!

The game didn’t go incredibly well and we ended up losing, but throughout the whole game the fans I sat by still faithfully cheered and chanted the school song. We sat right by the pep band which was really loud but kept the energy high throughout the game.

When it was finished, we all headed over to the carnival and began to ride rides and eat a ton of food. And it was all free!

In class we are learning about rituals and recognizing the rituals we partake in without even thinking — and yesterday was a great example of rituals. From dressing up in CSP gear to singing the national anthem, we engaged in the common rituals that are done for homecoming games to show school support/spirit and to keep traditions. The carnival, too, was a ritual, though it was a ritual that is specific to CSP. Dressing up with spirit and singing the national anthem are expected at most homecoming games, but the carnival is something that CSP puts on that is unique to the university.

The experience was great — even though we lost the game I had a lot of fun. Studying rituals in class has definitely helping me to identify them in real life. Before I had not even thought about what rituals I take part in, but now as I’m recognizing them and living them out, I’m realizing their significance. Homecoming was a ritual that helped me to feel a stronger tie to CSP and also to the people that I primarily experienced Homecoming with.

A Good Time for the Truth

Today Sun Yung Shin, author of “A Good Time for the Truth: Race In Minnesota” gave a talk on her book. I honestly had no idea what I was going to, but I knew I was suppose to be there, so I went.

“‘Essays that challenge, discomfort, disorient, galvanize, and inspire all of us to evolve now, for our shared future.’ Who is ready to be inspired?…Who is ready to be challenged?…Now what about discomforted? Disoriented?”

This is how the discussion opened, I was posed these questions which I answered haphazardly in my mind, accompanied with a slight hand raise. These were questions which I didn’t even give a second thought until hours after the talk was over and I had long since moved on with my day.

Sun Yung Shin is an American with South Korean ancestry. She is an artist and an author who wrote the book “A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota” which takes a look at racism in Minnesota and systemic issues that perpetuate the racism that takes place in our society. She sought out stories that have been intentionally and unintentionally suppressed and brought them to light. Her discussion began talking about the origins of Minnesota. We are living on land which is indigenous to the Dakota Native American tribes. She read to us legislation from the 1800s when Minnesota was being established that stated, “The Sioux Indians must be exterminated.” Our government dissolved all treaties between them and indigenous people which causes masses to be forced off the land which was their home and to seek sanctuary in foreign places.

This was shocking to me. It was painful that this state that I love so much has a legacy of oppression and extermination. It was grieving to examine my culture within the context of this past that condoned the belittling of entire people groups. Shin talked about ways that our society cater to white people and favor them. With systemic racism what can we do?

I totally agree that there are issues in our society that perpetuate the problem of racism. As a white, middle class female, I cannot imagine what it is like to live as a POC. I know that it is important to hear what she talked about because I can’t even imagine it. Also, in class we talk about being human and Christian. Both of those identities call us to care for our fellow person. If we consider it from a humanitarian view, each human should be awarded basic human rights and privileges just from the fact that they have breath in their lungs and a complex brain that can make decisions and process emotions. In light of Christianity, our job becomes even more clear — we are to love all people, to help the oppressed, to care for the poor and underprivileged. As Christians, if there is a chance there are people who might be oppressed, it is our job to that we stand with them because people cannot stand alone. If it is other white people that are oppressing and belittling others, maybe it is my job as a white person to stand up, because maybe I am the only one they would listen to. The Dakota struggle is important, people being oppressed is important. As Shin said, “Silence is to engage in the status quo. Truth telling can alleviate the burden of maintaining oppressing systems. Maintaining them are a moral disfigurement.” As humans and Christians we are called to set right that which is wrong, to bring life and liberation to all people. We have a lot of work to do — but it is no more than what we are already called to do as Christians.

Did it inspire me? Yes. Did it challenge me? Yes Now what about discomfort me? Disorient me? Yes and yes. As I was reflecting I realized that that is what happened to me. I was inspired to stand up to oppression. I was challenged to consider the ways in which systemic racism has seeped into my life in ways I have not recognized. I was discomforted and disoriented as I realized she was shining light on things that I did not like to think about — calling a spade a spade. It was a wake up call to recognize the struggles of the people around me and to stand with them in whatever way I can to bring restoration and healing to oppressed people.

Book Review — Life’s Too Short to Pretend You’re Not Religious

Framing:

Life’s Too Short To Pretend You’re Not Religious opens with a provoking list. The author, David Dark, outlines the people his book “goes out to” — a list which every conceivable person falls into. The book is for those who will read it — and though Dark is a professing Christian, the scope was broader than Christianity alone. The book is not about wooing new believers, but about changing the connotations associated with the term “religion” to stimulate conversation and connection among people of diverse backgrounds. It is meant to alter the way that all people view religion — especially those who are hostile to simply the idea alone — so it will not be a semantic stumbling block, but they will begin to view it as an intrinsic part of their story that shapes who they are and what they do.

Summary:

From the start, Dark opens the discussion to all people. He addresses the reaction of nonreligious people to the word “religion”: they label. When people hear the word “religion,” their emotional baggage automatically rises to the surface, leading to judgment. Dark recognizes the necessity of identifying the labeling problem within the introduction: “When I label people, I no longer have to deal with them thoughtfully… they have been taken care of” (Dark 13).

Dark also weaves several central Christian principles into the book: the need for community, the relational aspect of religion, and how it’s for everyone. Dark acknowledges the importance of community, not only within the context of Christianity but also in humanity as a whole. He spends an entire chapter imploring people to recognize the importance that community has in our life. He captures this in the phrase “chother,” a shortening of “each other.” Our chother — our family, our community — is the iron that sharpens iron.

Dark offers a thorough motivation of community as a basic human need, acknowledging that community is a universal necessity, not only for people of faith but for all of humanity. In the words of Dark “everyone needs at least one or two people asking them to tell them specifically how they’re doing in this unfolding tale” (Dark 114). Indeed, this key principle of Christianity is for everyone. Dark recognizes a deep desire for meaning within us and that “the idea that any of us can have our meaning alone…is a death-dealing delusion” (Dark 139).

Analysis:

My primary critique is of the idea that we can be religious about anything. Dark says you can be religious about “your obsession with Game of Thrones” or “your determination to hold onto that plastic bottle till you’ve found a recycling receptacle” (Dark 22). Dark goes to significant lengths to level religious playing field in an attempt to bridge the gap between those who think they’re religious and those who think (or even assert strongly) that they are not. This move is problematic because it cheapens the concept of “religion” itself. Dark defines religion as “the what, the to whom, and the how of our everyday lives” (Dark 115). He defines it this way so that the idea of “being religious” is no longer something that people can separate from themselves. In this way, he strives to make religion a less polarizing topic. However, in doing this, he devalues the very notion of religion in some sense. Religion has historically been held to be sacred because of its relationality — it uniquely describes the tradition of how people relate with God. Dark allows religion to be replaced by a fake replica of relationship with whatever it is that people invest their time in, no matter how trivial. By construing “religion” as something so casual and commonplace, he undermines its relational principle.

People often associate rules with religion, perhaps because they were taught to have that relationship they must follow the rules and jump through the religious hoops. But at its core, religion should always be used to describe a relationship between two beings. In my case, it is me and a triune God. In others, it may be someone and Allah or some unnamed god. But in each case, it is a living human with another perceived being — not with an object. To use religion to describe a relationship with an inanimate object lessens the significance of religion as a relationship with another being.

Conclusion:

I disagreed with Dark’s loose definition of what can be considered a “religion” because it can desensitize people to the word itself. If we hope to draw people into a more comfortable place with Christianity, we must not attempt to convince them they’re already religious. This risks minimizing the notion of religion entirely. We must shift the discussion away from religion and towards the relationship. Relationship is where the gravity and sacredness of religion lies. That is why the Gospel is all about cultivating a relationship with God and knowing Jesus. Forgetting about relationship cheapens religion and misses the point of the Gospel.

Does Lutheranism Still Matter?

This evening Dr. Andrew Bartelt gave a lecture addressing the relevance of the Lutheran faith in today’s culture. We are now in the 500th year since Martin Luther composed his 95 Theses and it raises the question, “Does Lutheranism Still Matter?” After all these years, is there still a place for the Lutheran faith in today’s world? Bartelt argues that though the times have changed much since Luther nailed the Theses to the door of the church, and though the social contexts have changed, the theology on which the Lutheran faith was built has not changed. “Theology doesn’t change, even if social context does” — which is precisely what makes the faith intrinsically relevant to humanity. Lutheranism is always applicable because it gives us tools to deal with a diverse, complex world. Dr. Bartelt asserts that we can fearlessly face the changes to come, embracing the human condition, because the Lutheran ideals remain independent of any new sociological differences that come with new generations. It is a faith with a rich past that still informs future generations because it encourages engagement with the culture at hand for the purpose of growing and enhancing the body of Christ.

This is exactly what we are unpacking in class — how to bring our Lutheran traditions into all aspects of our lives so that what we do is reflective of what beliefs we profess. We live in an interconnected world; we cannot separate our faith from the life that we live in the world because they are so deeply intertwined. It is paramount that we allow “our religious life [to always be] in the context of our place in history” because it informs how we interact with the world around us. It allows us to be sensitive to the needs of our communities so that we can step into the unique role we have and minister to the broken world around us.

Overall, I found that Dr. Bartelt’s lecture brought to light some significant aspects of our faith that are not often focused on. For many people, trying to balance faith with modern culture is difficult because the two seemingly conflict. However, Dr. Bartelt put importance in allowing the tension of differing viewpoints to hang in the balance, which moves people away from feeling the need to defend their position and gives the opportunity to enter into dialogue with others about any points of discord. I appreciated this because recognizing our differences with those around us, while coexisting in a respectful environment, provides the chance to can converse freely about contrasting views. It keeps the door to religion open and informs us how to adapt accordingly as the social contexts continue to change.

Thoughts on Religion

I had many expectations about what I would read when I opened “Life’s Too Short To Pretend You’re Not Religious” by David Dark. Primarily, I expected that the book would attempt to soften the term “religion” specifically regarding Christianity, making it less polarizing for the purpose of encouraging people to consider it. However, as I delved deeper into the book, I realized that its scope was broader than Christianity alone. The book was not about wooing new believers, but about changing the connotations associated with the term “religion” to stimulate conversation and connection among people of diverse backgrounds. Here I will discuss several points on which I agreed and disagreed with Dark.

From the start, Dark opens the discussion to all people. Without wasting time, he addresses the reaction of nonreligious people to the word “religion”: they label. When people hear the word “religion,” their emotional baggage automatically rises to the surface, leading to judgment. Dark recognizes the necessity in identifying the labeling problem within the introduction: “When I label people, I no longer have to deal with them thoughtfully… they have been taken care of” (Dark 13). This creates a strong conceptual foundation for Dark’s arguments throughout the remainder of the book.

Dark also weaves several central Christian principles into the book: the need for community, the relational aspect of religion, and how it’s for everyone. I concur with these points — community is an integral part of Christianity, going hand-in-hand with its relational aspect. In fact, Christianity serves a triune God who, in His very being, is a representation of perfect community. You cannot ignore the relational aspect of the faith because its entire foundation is a God who is relational — a Father, Son, and Holy Spirit coexisting together in flawless unity. To deny that aspect is to undermine a pillar of the faith. Dark recognizes this much, spending an entire chapter imploring people to recognize the importance that community has in our life. He captures this in the phrase “chother,” a shortening of “each other.” Our chother — our family, our community — is the iron that sharpens iron.

While Dark offers a thorough motivation of community as a basic human need, he fails to tie it directly to Christianity. Dark acknowledges that community is a universal necessity, not only for people of faith but for all of humanity. In the words of Dark “everyone needs at least one of two people asking them to tell them specifically how they’re doing in this unfolding tale” (Dark 114). Indeed, this key principle of Christianity is for everyone, but Dark stops short of explicitly connecting it Christianity. This point could have been made by explaining that the principles were laid into place by an intelligent, intentional God who knew His creation would need each other and, ultimately, would need Him. Dark acknowledges a deep desire for meaning within us and that “the idea that any of us can have our meaning alone…is a death-dealing delusion”(Dark 139). However, he never brings his point full circle by mentioning where this deep desire came from. I read all the way to the end of the book expecting Dark to draw this connection, but he failed to address it entirely.

However, my primary critique is of an integral aspect of the book: the idea that we can be religious about anything. Dark says you can be religious about “your obsession with Game of Thrones” or “your determination to hold onto that plastic bottle till you’ve found a recycling receptacle” (Dark 22). Dark goes to significant lengths to level religious playing field in an attempt to bridge the gap between those who think they’re religious and those who think (or even assert strongly) that they are not. This move is problematic because it cheapens the concept of “religion” itself. Dark defines religion as “the what, the to whom, and the how of our everyday lives” (Dark 115). He defines it this way so that the idea of “being religious” is no longer something that people can separate from themselves. In this way, he strives to make religion a less polarizing, and more accessible, topic. However in doing this, he devalues the very notion of religion in some sense. Religion has historically been held to be sacred precisely because of its relationality — it uniquely describes the tradition of how people relate with God. Dark’s “religion” capture no such relational aspect. Dark allows religion to be replaced by a fake replica of relationship with whatever it is that people invest their time in, no matter how trivial. By construing “religion” as something so casual and commonplace, he undermines its relational principle.

This criticism becomes especially important in the context of Christianity. For Christians, religion is sacred because it represents a relationship. People often associate rules with religion, perhaps because they were taught to have that relationship, to be more holy, they must follow the rules and jump through the religious hoops. But at its core, religion should always be used to describe a relationship between two beings. In my case, it is me and a triune God. In others, it may be someone and Allah, a person and Mother Nature, or some unnamed god. But in each case, it is a living human with another perceived being — not with an object. To use religion to describe a relationship with an inanimate object lessens the significance of religion as a relationship with another being. This is somewhat like insisting that someone is married to the TV because they watch it all the time. But in reality, that demeans the concept of marriage as a relationship between two people.

If the goal is to draw people into a more comfortable place with Christianity, we must not attempt to convince them they’re already religious. That risks minimizing the notion of religion entirely. Furthermore, it desensitizes people to the word “religion.” The way to sway people towards Christianity is to shift the discussion away from religion and towards the relationship. Relationship is where the gravity and sacredness of religion lies. That is why the Gospel is all about cultivating a relationship with God and knowing Jesus. Forgetting about relationship cheapens religion and misses the point of the Gospel.

Hello!

My name is Sarah Arend and I am a recent graduate from a small private school in Roseville, MN called Concordia Academy (from Concordia to Concordia, crazy right?). I am going to be studying Exercise Science {hopefully, eventually} for Physical Therapy. I am attracted to PT because I have had many good experiences with physical therapists, both personal and second-hand. My mom and I have both been helped by PTs for rehabilitation of injuries. I love people, I’m a people person, and I love that PTs help people to be able to do what they never thought they’d be able to again; they can help people get back to doing what they love.

Quick rundown of other things I love:

  • Jesus! I’m super passionate about my faith and I am pumped to see how it grows and continues to evolve over the next four years.
  • My wonderful family! I am the youngest of five, with three brothers and a sister!
  • S’mores and cheesecake! I’m a serious sucker for both of those so if you give me one (or both… Or a s’mores cheesecake, maybe?) I will be your instant best friend.
  • Music (and theater)! I love listening to a range of music, and if you recommend something to me, I’ll listen to it and probably like it. I also play a couple instruments, sing, and have been involved in theater through high school. Theater is something I dearly hope to continue being involved at CSP!
  • Running! It’s a classic love-hate relationship.
  • General spontaneity! If you’re ever looking for a buddy to do something goofy or to make some last-minute plans, I’m probably your girl.
  • Sleep! I love sleep and hold what might be a record of 17 blankets in the wintertime. If someone beats me, I would love to meet them because we would probably get along really great.
  • Tea! I love tea. In the morning. Ah. And maybe a book. And also more blankets.
  • Rudy! He’s my dog 🙂

If you wanna connect, ask questions, or, hey, even meet before CSP begins, my email is sarah.g.arend@gmail.com. I know email is kinda old-school now but I still check mine religiously.

Hope to meet you all soon. I am really excited to be starting at CSP and beginning this next chapter of life!

Sarah