All posts by Sophia Drager

Bartling Lecture on The War on Poverty

Describe

On November 15, 2017, John Bouman spoke at the Bartling lecture. Bouman is a lawyer and the founder of the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law in Illinois. His educational lecture focused on the prevention of poverty and reflected on the history of The War on Poverty. In 1962, Michael Harent wrote a book called, The Other American, which stated that 22% of the American population was in poverty in 1959. That is roughly every one in five people in America. This was a shock to many Americans, including presidents Kennedy and Johnson. The War on Poverty all began during the Presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. President Johnson spoke to Shriver, who ran The Peace Core at the time, and wanted him to run The War on Poverty as well. Eventually, he ran became “The President of Poverty”. Shriver and other political leaders had specific requirements in order for this War on Poverty to be successful. This included: 1. the knowledge that fighting poverty does not mean America needs a spending spree; 2. The key stakeholders are to bring hope and opportunity, not free handouts; 3. People will receive equity; 4. This war will help everyone, not just the poor.

Shriver supported the idea that all people, even the poor, have access to legal services. This created a legal reform around the time of President Nixon. In the 1990’s the government disputed if they should continue their funding of legal services. After six months of debating and stalling the policy work, the government decided to continue legal services. After this event, Bouman left Legal Services and founded Shriver Center. Through the rapidly growing business and impact the Shriver Center has had, lawyers can continue to humbly work with community leaders by advocating for the poor and working on policies to uplift those in poverty in America. Bouman ended with the statistic that poverty in America has decreased to 12.7%, but this does not mean that the government is done fighting and that Americans should ignore these concerns.

 

Integrate

Bouman discussed the effects poverty has on children and the stress it brings on brain development. Children do not have a choice of what social class they are born into, which influences their future as well. A child that is born into deep poverty can experience large amounts of trauma and stress, due to the overwhelming financial burden their parents may experience. Bouman stated that the stress is released by hormones that effect the developing brain. The Honors class talked about the brain and the reaction the body has to specific stimuli in relation to the brain and mind.

Evaluate

I liked the this lecture. I was not expecting it to be focused on the historical standpoint of a lawyer and the history of his company intertwining with the history relating to the previous presidency. Knowing this new information has given me a different perspective on the impact the government and influential people in America have to fight poverty. Bouman addressed in his lecture that poverty will not be eliminated, but it can be reduced significantly. He proved that history has been a reliable source to show Americans the impacts we have to reduce Poverty and make a difference in our economy.

Luther Play 10/27/17

Describe:

        From October 26-29, 2017, Concordia University presented the play Luther written by John Osborne.  The play was performed in celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation. Luther focuses on the Martin Luther becoming a monk and being a stakeholder in the Protestant Reformation. Luther does not solely focus on his traditional story. The play also focuses on the fatherly relationships in his life, even though it does not completely align with his original story. However, Luther covers his life from the beginning, his life in the monastery, the Peasant’s Revolt, and ends on him beginning his life with his wife Katherine Von Bora.

Integrate:

        The Honors class learned about building communities and what different groups of people look like when gathered together. The play showed many dynamics of groups. Although Luther was not a group, he was a leader and an individual reformer in the crowd of Catholic believers who created a new group. The monks were also a crowd of people within the monastery and the peasants during the revolt who became a mob. All of these groups experienced isolation, whether social from the monks being in the monastery, educational with the peasants being restricted from a higher education, or religious when the peasants did not understand the gospel and needed someone to teach them the Word.

Evaluate:

        I attended Luther on Friday, October 27, 2017. The play was fabulous! I did think it went on for a long time, but it contained humorous jokes to keep the play somewhat light-hearted. The cast did a fantastic job performing, keeping in character, and transitioning between scenes. Alex Johnson did a great job acting as Luther. The entire cast filled their roles well and made me feel that it was their true identity. Although I cannot say Luther is my favorite play, I thoroughly enjoyed it and it is in my top three.

Reformation Reformed 10-19-17

On October 19, 2017, Concordia’s art department opened their show about the 500 Year anniversary titled Reformed Reformation. Professor Keith Williams, the host of this show, spoke at the art gallery and acknowledged Cate Vermeland for coming up with the theme that “this gallery should look forward and see what Reformation means to people in the next 500 years.” Artwork was shipped in from across the United States to show Concordia the, “natures of what the church has valued going forward in life, in the world around us, in justice issues, and in being stewards of the planet” (Williams).

 

Currently, the Honors class is doing a study of rituals and symbols. The Reformation gallery was filled with many symbols, but Stop Killing Us Here I Sell by Chris Roth intrigued me the most. Here I Sell was a collage of Martin Luther containing images of Luther merchandise and European currency. The items used portray and affirm Luther’s position not only as a major reformer, but also a mascot and a symbol in the Lutheran church. The other image of protestors ties the past with the present and subtly suggests to the audience to look to the future. Stop Killing us is an image of protesters holding a sign labeled, “stop killing us.” This was a message projected to the Chicago Police Department in an effort to reform the corrupted city of Chicago. Both pictures reinforce the constant and necessary reform the church, society, and individuals are participating in today.

 

I enjoyed the art gallery. It had many beautiful symbols that reminds Lutherans of their faith. Three pieces I enjoyed, in particular, was the beautiful banner, the collage of Martin Luther and protests due to the death Laquan McDonald, and the picture of the burning cement block. The Quilted Banner: Luther Rose, by Cecil Margaret Lewis, was originally made to be in the Reformation service, but it’s beauty was so magnificent, it was presented in the at the show as well. The Burning Block: “I Am Who I Am” brings in the surreal nature by presenting a cement block on fire. The irony of this image is almost disturbing. It perfectly portrays the tensions America faces today and the infinite powers and abilities God has to do what He pleases. It also represents how in this time of tension and modernity, God reaches us where we are at in the possibly most absurd ways to show us the Gospel.

Homecoming Weekend 2017

DESCRIBE

On Saturday September 30, 2017, The Concordia Saint Paul Golden Bears played Mankato State University. Football is a good gathering for students at Concordia, but at Homecoming weekend all the bleachers were filled with students and families to celebrate the festivities. Before the game, the National Anthem played. Everyone stood respectfully in silence facing the flag. During the anthem, one player, number 4, from the opposing team started beating his chest and pointed one finger in the air. Then he put his hands in a praying position when the song sang, “The land of the free and the home of the brave.” It was cool to see the players get excited and prepare for the big game. Many people came to Homecoming weekend to help celebrate and join in on the excitement. My father went to Concordia as a student and visits for this special event to gather with his friends. Before the game at 9 am, all his friend started the annual tailgating party. My dad and I joined later and conversed with everyone until 1:30pm. Concordia ended up losing this year, but the loss did not ruin the entertainment and good food the carnival provided.

 

INTEGRATE

The Honors class is learning about rituals. There were many rituals at the football game and the carnival. Some rituals include: the tailgating party, the National Anthem, and getting corn on the cob every year. At the carnival, my dad, his friends, and their children all get together to take an annual picture of the Banchees, the name of my dad’s friend group, and their family. This small event is also a reminder of the interconnected world Concordia people live in, bringing together generations of family members to create a community.

 

EVALUATION

Homecoming weekend was so much fun. This year I talked to more people at the tailgating party and enjoyed meeting up with old friends. Although Concordia lost, the game was good to watch and even better to socialize at. I was so happy to play carnival games, win free Concordia gear, and eat the annual corn, cheese curds, and wings!

Book of the Year: A Good Time for Truth: Race in Minnesota 9-20-17

DESCRIBE

On September 20, 2017, Sung Yung Shin was the key speaker for Concordia’s book of the year: A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota by Sung Yung Shin. Sung Yung Shin’s main points were to address the effect of colonialism in global history, militarism, mass genocide and incarceration rates, and the effects of racism on education. Yung looked at the White America and White Minnesota that Midwesterners live in and sought to hear the voices of the minorities. She wrote about her personal experiences, her interactions with racism, and the overwhelming presence of racism in America today. She realised that there was not enough literature on the race that had a personal connection to her. After writing A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota, Sung Yung Shin has hoped her audience would learn from, grow, and appreciate others for their differences to build a better world.

 

INTERPRET

Last semester, Honors focused on the topic “Hearing the voices of the marginalized.” Shin capitalized on some main points that directly aligned with last semester’s topic. Honors read a book called, The New Jim Crow. This book talked about the alarming number of people in the prison system and how racially corrupt America is. Shin discussed some statistics that correlated with The New Jim Crow. She stated that Americans are ten times more likely to be killed with a gun and that twenty-five percent of Americans are incarcerated. These devastating facts weigh on America and remind many of the necessary change towards a more united America.

 

EVALUATE

Sung Yung Shin was a more informal speaker. She used stereotypical passive aggressive jokes to draw her audience and remain relatable. Although I liked her style of speaking, I could not follow all of her main points. Her speech summarized our last semester in Honors. One point Shin made was, “Racism is invented to be dismantled. It is not a law of Physics.” It was a good reminder of everything we learned, which is that we need to continue to advocate for, support, and fight with our brothers and sisters in Christ to overcome the hatred and prominent racism in our society.

Life’s Too Short to Pretend You’re Not Religious

FRAMING:

David Dark’s book, Life’s Too Short To Pretend You’re Not Religious, uses pop culture, anecdotal evidence, and today’s technology as a conversation piece to know what it means to be religious and how one uses religion in all facets of life. Dark was an English teacher and after receiving his doctorate, he became an assistant professor of Religion and the Arts in the College of Theology at Belmont University. He also teaches at the Tennessee Prison for Women. After writing three other theological books, Dark wrote Life’s Too Short To Pretend You’re Not Religious as a response to a friend who said, “No one is more religious than me.” Dark challenges his Christian audience to recognize religion in every part of life, enable readers to take action and subtly witness to others through routine, and use religion as a tool to start conversation and find commonality, rather than division.

 

CONTENT AND METHODOLOGY:

Life’s Too Short To Pretend You’re Not Religious is split up into two parts consisting of an introduction and nine chapters. The introduction outlined the book and gave a concise summary of his book, explaining that a person should live their life with Christ in all areas of his or her life. The other nine chapters divide his summary into sections by redefining what it means to be religious throughout his book. Dark explains that being religious should not be a word that makes Christians feel bad about themselves or should cause a person to create division and cause them to compartmentalize their faith into sections because they attend church once a month, but also do other non-religious activities. Dark challenges the reader to recognize that Christians should live lives that emulate Christ in every area of life, “We’re always in the thick of it, this living fact of what our human hands have wrought under the dictation of what’s actually going on in our human hearts and minds. Our real sense of what’s really sacred is regularly on display” (18). Dark also mentions that people should, “choose our ancestors carefully” because they drive a person and shape them to do what they want (59). In the second half of the book, chapters five through nine, Dark focuses on Christian’s role in society and the connectivity through relationships and technology. He emphasizes on the future generations, the responsibility they hold to live in a world of technology, and remind them to get off of their devices that alter the world and to form personal relationships in reality instead.

 

ANALYSIS:

At the very beginning of summer, I read the introduction and felt encouraged from this book to share a devotion, based on the book, to campers about judgement and about pancakes and waffles––how each food is like our life,, and the syrup is like our faith. We choose whether we will be waffles or pancakes and where God will be in our lives like syrup being compartmentalized in waffles. Dark said in his introduction, “When I label people, I no longer have to deal with them thoughtfully. I no longer have to feel overwhelmed by their complexity… They’ve been neutralized” (13). People fear being identified as religious, but a Christian’s identity is placed in Christ, as a Child of God.

The definition of religion is fuzzy within today’s Christian culture and the secular world. Many people think that religion is a conversation killer, but Dark challenges this idea and uses anecdotal evidence to illustrate Christ’s presence in secular activities. Life’s Too Short to Pretend You’re Not Religious is a good book to challenge Christians to reflect on their faith life and Christ’s daily presence. Dark encourages Christians to share the Gospel and let Christ control their lives even when there is tension around “non-religious people.”

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Dark, David. David Dark. 2016. 31 August 2017. <www.daviddark.org>.

—. Life’s Too Short to Pretend You’re Not Religious. Downer’s Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2016. Print.

“After 500 Years, Does Lutheranism still matter?” 8-29-17

DESCRIBE
The Reformation Heritage lecture’s keynote speaker was Dr. Bartelt of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. Dr. Bartelt’s main point was to discuss if Lutheranism still matters after 500 years after the Reformation. Bartelt stated, “religious life is always in context of our place in history.” The world is constantly changing and progressing, but theology stays the same. What was applicable to Luther is applicable for people today. His argument was very compelling and included many key points that helped guide the audience to realize that, as a Lutheran community, we are subject to change (no matter how hard it is), and through the ever-present chaos, God’s Word remains constant.

INTERPRET
In Honors last semester, the class read a section of a book called “God of the Oppressed,” by James Cone. From this portion, the Honors class learned that the message of God remains constant across cultural lines, but the way a community approaches and connects with theology is different. The same goes for how someone like Martin Luther would approach theology differently from Dr. Bartelt and from a millennial. This semester, Honors 210 is talking about living in an interconnected world. This can be tricky, but Bartelt reminds his audience that the next generation needs to recognize the tensions and be serious about theology, rather than accepting theology with a shrug, and build a bridge to cross the cultural divide in our ever-changing, technological, and secular world.

EVALUATE
I enjoyed Dr. Bartelt’s lecture. I think that his message was long and there were times when my attention was no longer drawn, but when it seemed like my attention was focused on other things, he brought me back with more insight. I thought his two most impactful statements were, “theology does not change, social context does,” and “social context and chaos are changing today.” These statements helped me realize that the progress of society can get messy and be difficult, like Dr. Bartelt mentioned the sixties were, but God’s Word remains consistent and applicable to all generations.

A little about me (2017)

Hi!  My name is Sophia Drager.  I am a sophomore this year and I am in the Lambda class.  I am majoring in Christian Ministry and minoring in Theology to become a Director of Christian Education. This year at CSP I am excited to be a Resident Assistant in Luther Hall and to go exploring events around the Twin Cities.  Outside of school I love camping/ going to camp, swimming and boating, going on adventures, boxing, hanging out with friends and family.

Handbell concert

DESCRIBE

On April 23, 2017, Concordia University–Saint Paul held its annual handbells concert. The Handbell ensemble and CSP Ringers played a total of ten songs. I played in both the Handbell ensemble, the CSP Ringers, and played percussion. The Handbell ensemble played a song “Jovano, Jovanke.” It is a Macedonian folk song that is traditionally sung and played by a band. It was fun to play on handbells, have the opportunity to play the chimes that are as tall as I am, and play the big thirteen-pound bells in the ensemble. “Jovano Jovanke” was a fun upbeat song that had a fun ¾ beat measure. The ringers used interesting techniques by ringing the bells and then lightly tapping the tables with the rim of the bell; they hit the bells with mallets, and mart-lifted them, which is where the ringer hits the bell on the table and lifts it to create a longer noise. My favorite part was the transition into the B form. That’s when the bass ringers would hit the bells with mallets having a dotted quarter note and two staccato notes following in each measure to create a syncopated feel. “Sing Praise to God Above” was one of the songs the CSP Ringers did. I play bass clef bells, so I malleted almost the entire song. It was difficult to play when first learning the piece, but it was easier after a while. One way to help keep the beat was thinking of the Takademe counting (Ta-dee-me, Ta-dee-me, ta-dee). It was beautiful hearing the takademe counting and melody switch from bass (who used mallets) to treble bells (who used thumb damping technique) halfway through the song.

 

INTEGRATE

Throughout the song “Jovano, Jovanke,” I could imagine the Macedonian women and men dancing their traditional dance. In the last song, “Ring Dance,” played by the Handbell ensemble, Anna Reinecke played her bells and they sounded like light rain falling, until the other bells came in to disrupt the light sound. The song “Nocturne in C Minor” sounded like a night song. I could imagine a little bat in the dark under all the stars sleeping in a tree. All of these songs evoked a feeling of joy and relaxation throughout the concert. I could imagine a story line and each note played allowed me to fall into a sense of relaxation as my mind began to imagine. Last semester, Honors learned about the ways of knowing. Emotions are what shape us and drive us, whereas Imagination helps us make sense of a situation or an experience. Throughout the songs listed above, I felt very relaxed, until halfway through the concert when I played percussion. As the audience was applauding from the previous song, I checked to make sure I had the right music and all my ducks in a row. When I saw the music, I noticed it was not my part. I asked the person next to me where my music was and where my instrument was. The percussion leader said I was going to play what was infront of me and my instrument was what looked like a gourd with beads on it. Looking at my music and down at the instrument I had no idea how to play it. I became panicky, I started to feel fear welling up inside me, and I had a deer-in-the-headlights look. The leader saw this and told me how to play the gourd as the conductor turned around to start the piece and we played. This situation aligns with the James-Lange theory of seeing something reacting to it and then having an emotion. Thankfully the percussion leader saw my panicked face and changed my emotions quickly.

 

EVALUATE

The concert went very well. It had many beautiful pieces that incorporated interesting bell techniques. Both handbell groups were challenged by these pieces but were able to pull it together. The concert was not long, and it was refreshing to hear music so close to the end of the year when there is a lot of stress in everyone. I was honored to play in both bell choirs and with the percussion. At the concert I was surprised I could pick up the lowest bells because they are somewhat heavy and hard to ring and damp. It was fun to play the heaviest bells. I hope to play the big bells next year as well.

Privilege Walk 4-10-17

DESCRIBE

The Privilege Walk was an event hosted by Concordia Saint Paul’s United Minds Of Joint Action club, Concordia’s Hmong Unity Student Association, and Honors 120 on March 27, 2017. The event started with Dr. Chatman and Dr. DeVríes introducing the Privilege Walk by ensuring a safe space and explaining that this walk is a visual representation of the privileges that each individual has. Many questions were asked about privileges in social, financial, gender, racial, and economic status. These questions were very generalized, but they still created a heavy effect on everyone in the room. Throughout the walk, Dr. Chapman instructed the participants to look around the room and see who was around each them. When looking around the room it was easy to see a “clear-group” of people clumped together throughout the room. After the walk, each person was invited to share one word that summed up their experience. The most common response from both spectrums was “blessed.” Next, everyone was placed in a big circle to discuss what just happened. Many people, including me, were heavily impacted by this event. Most people were impacted by the questions about being financially unstable to the point where the participant would miss meals, about parallel construction housing issues, and about participants’ ancestors coming to America by force or against their will. Questions like these helped bring up the fun fact that Concordia Saint Paul is one of, if not the most, diverse Concordia University. As a community of students, all should welcome one another and rejoice in each other’s diverse backgrounds, being aware of the experiences each person faces and continuing to support and encourage one another by letting our Christ-like light shine to one another.

 

INTEGRATE

Since the Honors class was so involved in planning and hosting the Privilege Walk, this walk brought to light how privilege and race affects daily life, even in diverse cities like Saint Paul and Minneapolis. Dr. DeVríes brought up the point that it was by chance who she was and the Lord placed her where she was in that situation for a reason. There is no way for a person to control when they will be born or to what family, but a person’s experience allows learning and achievements. The Honors class has been discussing how to make a difference in the world when most are unknowingly tied to racist actions. Over break, the Honors class took home a midterm article written by Peggy McIntosh. She explained white people’s unconscious privilege and brought to light some simple solutions that one faculty member brought at the debriefing. Since the Honors class is learning about this controversial subject, it means that society has made advances, but there is still more to be done.

 

EVALUATE

After the Privilege Walk, everyone shared one word about the impact of this event. Some words were those such as “clearly-grouped,” “embarrassed,” “blessed,” and (my initial thought) “disgusted.”  These words stuck out and made me feel bad about my privileges. I initially thought the word disgusted because as Christians we are called to encourage and support one another in the faith. It was hard to see me walk forward and leave my brothers and sisters in Christ behind. Every step forward I took felt heavy. At the debrief, I heard most people who were further behind me in the line say that they were very blessed and that life is hard, but they are very blessed to be where they are now: getting a good education and having the opportunity to make it through the hard times and share these experiences with others. Most people who had to make many steps back said they started feeling bad about themselves, but when they remembered where they were in that moment and how they got there, that kept their spirits high. I, personally, felt disgusted by the privilege I have and every step I took forward I realized it not only defines and shapes who I am, but it also put a weight on my heart for the people I left behind. One teacher pointed out that the questions that were asked were out of the participants’ control. The answers were not caused by the people in the room, but from our history, environment, or family that shaped our experiences. Another faculty member said that taking the time to learn about these issues is good and if people want to help, they can stick up for another person or facilitate another person in little ways. It is not about making someone more like ‘us,’ but interceding when something goes against moral and ethical justices.