The 2018 Heginbotham Lecture was given by Newberry Award winning author Kelly Barnhill. She spoke to an audience of friends, family, faculty and staff, and students who had to be there, such as myself. Her lecture was enjoyable, for it gave a sneak peak into her creative and thought process, which is different for everyone. And hers in particular, I find fascinating, for a truth/idea is reveled to her in a vision like way and she has to make sense of it. She processes the idea until she is able to connect point A to point B, point A being what was reveled to her and point B being what she knows to be the truth. Barnhill explains that fairy tales and the need for darkness help her understand what she knows to be true.
By using fairy tales, Barnhill uses the imagination way of knowing, for she takes what she know to be the truth and puts her own interpretation on it. She explains and expresses truths in a creative way through her writing. She also uses the emotion way of knowing, for her interpretations of the truth are influenced by her emotions. For, if the truth makes her sad then she will interpret it in a way that will also make her readers sad. Revelation is also a way of knowing used often by Barnhill, for she is influenced by the Bible’s creation story and used theology to understand that darkness is a natural part of the world.
Her most resent book, The Girl Who Drank The Moon, combines all of Barnhill’s ways of knowing. The book opens with a creation story that is influenced by the creation story in the Bible. And the characters of the book where not carefully planned out they just came into being in Barnhill’s imagination. Once the book was published it was no longer hers. The book now belongs to the readers and it is up to them to interpret the book how they see fit. To look at Barnhill’s view of the truth from their own perspective. In many cases Barnhill’s truth and the truth the readers got from the book are not going to be the same, and that is alright. Barnhill wrote the book in hopes the reader will gain a new understanding and perspective on the world different from what they already know.
The current and past three presidents of Concordia University, St. Paul, Rev. Dr. Tom Ries (2011 – Present), Rev. Dr. Robert Holst (1991 – 2011), Dr. John Johnson (1989 – 1991), and Rev. Alan Harre (1984 – 1989), gathered this evening for a panel to answer questions about their experiences during tenure. Those who attended the panel ranged from former faculty and staff to currents faculty and staff to their family members to alumni to current students. As a student attending the event, I felt a little under dressed, for this was a semi-formal event, which I was unaware of that until I walked into the auditorium. Aside from feeling a bit out of place, it was fascinating to hear first-hand accounts of how Concordia has grown over the past 29 years from the leaders of this institution of education.
Five questions were asked to the panel, spanning from favorite memory to the legacy they left. After the first few questions asked it was very evident that each of the presidents has a different way of knowing. Rev Harre is strong in observation, Dr. Johnson is strong in revelation, Rev. Dr. Holst is strong in emotion, and Rev. Dr. Ries is strong in reason. Each president brought a new perspective to CSP during their tenure; they were able to pick up where the last left off and lead Concordia to success and prosperity.
This was a unique opportunity for current students, such as myself, to get a glimpses into the past, so that we may see and understand the great legacy we are a part of. This also is an opportunity for us to appreciate what has been done in the past so that we are where we are today. This evening I learned that Concordia only recently, when Dr. Johnson was president, began to expand the the programs offered. The university itself had to expand the ways of knowing that were being taught to the students. Concordia would not be as successful as it is today if it did not expand past church work majors. By doing so Concordia now prepares its students for more than just a job after graduation. Students are being prepared to be contributing members of society by learning how to think beyond how they already know. Students are being exposed to new cutler and experiences that help shape them and expand their understanding of life.