Describe: The annual Percussion Ensemble on Sunday evening at Concordia University St. Paul. was a performance entirely dedicated to percussion instruments. The pieces ranged from an adaptation of an orchestral piece by classical composer Edvard Grieg to a 5-part drum piece (titled Shock Factor) to even a solo drumming piece, composed by CSP senior Patrick Inouye. The concert had a wide range of music, even featuring some reggae-style Caribbean music. Some fellow honors students, Sophia, Emily, and Hannah, made appearances in pieces such as Anitra’s Dance.
Integrate: The percussion ensemble was a fun experience that showcased the student’s hard work throughout the year to a supportive audience of friends, family, students, and faculty. It brought the student body together to celebrate a talent that the students involved in this concert share.
Evaluate: I enjoyed the concert very much, particularly the reggae piece, and was surprised at how musically gifted these students were. I think that Concordia could advertise these events even more so that more students can come and support the students in the percussion band! I hope to come to this event next year as well.
Describe: Dorothy Day was a very motivated activist who spent her life writing, protesting, and serving the poor. In her writings, she made her stances clear and asked questions that prompted the reader to re-think how the church and society handle certain issues. In her quote “Is it not possible to be radical and not atheist? Is it not possible to protest, to expose, to complain, to point out abuses and demand reforms without desiring the overthrow of religion?” (pg 414), she asks the tough questions and makes readers think.
Integrate: Day’s passion for her work is so clearly fueled by the love of God. Her vocation and her love of serving those around her are very apparent her both her writings and in her life’s work, from her activism to her service of those who have less than her.
Evaluate: I enjoyed Day’s writings because I feel like we have similar personalities. She is inspiring to me because of her bravery and how bold her work is and the impact it makes. She was able to combine her love of serving others and her bold personality into her vocation, which I admire.
Describe: Walter Rauschenbusch was a Baptist pastor and theologian. He spent many years teaching in the rough neighborhoods of New York City and exploring how Christians can bring their faith into the workplace, no matter what position, class, or demographic they belong to. He also explores how “class” and the differences between groups of people lead to negative effects in society, and that’s where both personal and social religion comes in.
Integrate: I think this writing is something very relatable in today’s society. We experience division in our society all the time. One quote by Rauschenbusch that I enjoyed was “The demand for equality is often ridiculed as if it implied that all men were to be of identical wealth, wisdom, and authority. But social equality can co-exist with the greatest natural differences” (Callings, pg. 379). I think that as Christians trying to live out our vocations in this fallen world, we sometimes can feel hopeless. But Rauschenbusch’s writing is a good reminder that even the little things we do for our neighbor and the faith we have in Christ are what ultimately gets us through.
Evaluate: I very much appreciated this reading because I felt that I resonated with it well. Living in today’s capitalistic and opinionated society comes with its challenges, but being able to have the foundation of Jesus and my relationship with Him is what has given and will continue to give me hope.
Describe: The 7th International Conference on Hmong Studies, hosted by Concordia University St. Paul, was an event that brought together people of Hmong descent and Hmong Studies as well as others. The goal of the event was to collaborate and create shared goals in the community and on campus regarding the preservation and importance of Hmong Studies and reiterating the importance of it. Hmong culture is extremely important, especially in Minnesota, and should be valued, studied, and taught. Prof. Kao Yang, a renowned speaker and professor in Hmong Studies, spoke at the event after receiving an award for his work in the field.
Integrate: Yang’s life story reminded me of what we have learned about in studying vocation. Although Yang grew up Buddhist, he showed many similarities to Christian vocation. He pursued the preservation of his culture and always felt a tugging on his heart to dig deeper into Hmong Studies and contribute to the culture by bringing it further into the light. He has taught many people about Hmong Studies and continues to lead the next generation into its preservation.
Evaluate: This event was very eye-opening and intriguing because it showed me how hard other cultures have to fight in order to simply be recognized and appreciated. I believe that I can use my general vocation in this topic by welcoming Hmong culture in with open arms and celebrating the tradition and ideas that they bring to our campus, community, and country. In doing this I am loving my neighbor and accepting them as Christ does.
Describe: This discussion in the library between Prof. Keith Williams, Prof. Daniel Siedell, and Dr. Rhoda Schuler was very thought-provoking and dug deeper into vocation, and explores how it ties to our careers, interests, and day-to-day lives. Siedell answered a series of questions that discussed how Luther’s theology of vocation and loving your neighbor can be implemented in careers that aren’t directly involved with the church or “religious.” Sidell answered these questions from his perspective as an art critic and art history teacher.
Integrate: This discussion was very similar to discussions we have had in Honors because it questioned what vocation looks like in the workplace and daily life. Reading several excerpts from Callings during the Reformation period has gotten us thinking about how we can love our neighbor while still doing earthly labor. Siedell explained that in his particular field of art and art history, the artist encourages the viewer to think deeper and to feel a connection to the piece. Artists create in order to inspire people, relate to others, and portray God’s creation through visuals, giving the viewer freedom to see God everywhere.
Evaluate: I very much enjoyed this conversation because art is something I am deeply passionate about and am pursuing as a career. A quote from Siedell that impacted me was “If there’s more than what we can see in a painting, then I’d like to think there’s more than what we see in a person.” This quote put art into an entirely new perspective for me. It has made me realize that art, although earthly and human, is something that connects people to one another and keeps us “alive.” Creating art for others to view and be impacted by is loving your neighbor and using your God-given talent for good.
Describe: CEO of Thrivent Brad Hewitt gave a lecture on what it means to “Live Generously” in society today and how we can balance our faith, loving our neighbor, and being smart with our money when giving to others. He addressed how we as college students with very little money to work with can use what little we have to transform lives and contribute to the Kingdom.
Integrate: This lecture was tied to the idea of a general vocation. In scripture, God makes it clear that tithing and giving to those in need is very important in our faith. As Christians, we should place others above ourselves and use what we have to make a difference, even if it simply our time. This calling for all Christians is something that has been made important in the Bible, the Church, and the Kingdom of God, and learning to be smart with donations and having faith in God can make a little bit of money go a long way.
Evaluate: This lecture was very relatable to college students and all Christians because it tackled a topic that is sometimes difficult to approach: money. Money is often times associated with well-being, survival, and even life. Because of the strong worldly ties to money, we need to take a step back and look at money through the lens of the Gospel. Our money isn’t completely ours to keep, but rather a blessing from God that should be used to glorify Him, whether that is spent in smart and beneficial ways, or giving to further the Kingdom.
Describe: William Law’s excerpt in Callings talks about ways in which we as Christians can incorporate our faith in the workplace. Law had the academic potential to hold very prestigious positions of employment, but in denying taking his oath of allegiance was unable to fully pursue those careers. Instead, he used his intelligence to become a tutor and chose to live simply and serve God in his day-to-day life. His statements like “Men may, and must differ in their employments, but yet they must all act for the same ends, as dutiful servants of God…” (pg. 305) shows that he firmly believed that no matter what form of employment you had, you could serve the Lord. Writers like William Law looked at living out faith in a new light based on Luther’s theology.
Interpret: This perspective was interesting to read because it matches up much more closely to current Christian beliefs. Our ideas of vocation often are incorporated into our careers, hobbies, or interests because we see that we can use our God-given talents to love one another and contribute to the Kingdom and the earth. This quote from Law’s writing: “…to make our labor or employment an acceptable service unto God, we must carry it on with the same spirit and temper that is required in giving of alms, or any work of piety.” (pg. 306) is something that most modern-day Christians would agree with. It reminded me of the Bible passage Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (ESV). This perspective on vocation sits well with our more contemporary faith ideology.
Evaluate: I overall liked this excerpt because I felt like I could relate it to my life more easily than previous ones. I think that it is always a great reminder that we can always be serving God in what we do, specifically in our employment or labor. Personally, I am excited to find unique ways to contribute to the Kingdom through my career in art and design.
Describe: This year’s Poehler lecture, led by Professor Tom Hanson, a Professor of Management and Law at CSP, was a lecture that addressed in what ways Christians could use the Freedom of Speech in order to further the kingdom in today’s society. He also discussed the Bill of Rights as well as the First Amendment and how they can unite people, specifically Christians.
Interpret: This lecture was very interesting and offered new ideas and new ways of thinking. The idea of general vocation was brought into the lecture by learning about the ways we as Christians can bring faith into political topics by putting ourselves in other people’s shoes and understanding other demographics, situations, and political views. By listening to others and being in community, we are glorifying God and being Christ-like in politics.
Evaluate: This lecture was very eye-opening and intriguing to me because I personally take a lot of interest in political and social issues/topics. Politics can easily become very heated and competitive, so there is definitely a lack of Christ-like influences in that area.
Describe: The poem The Collar written by George Herbert describes his struggle being a pastor in a small church located in a small town. He seems to question God and what he has called him to do, and wonders if his efforts in the Church are truly planting seeds and making a difference. The poem has a rhythm and several elements to it that show his confusion and anger towards God. The poem starts much more uneven and irregular, and gets more rhythmic and unified as it continues. This is intentional and emulates his anger and frustration that slowly resolves as he talks to God and feels peace about his calling.
Interpret: This poem is a very personal and good example of how we as Christians might not always know what our vocation is, or might not always feel confident in it, which is okay. What matters is our faith in God and trusting in the peace that he promises us when we give our hearts and our worries to Him.
Evaluate: I enjoyed this poem because it seemed more personal and real than previous reading we have studied. This poem felt relatable to me because there have been and still are points in my life where I am confused with my calling and don’t exactly know what God wants me to do with my life. I think it is okay to feel this because callings can come and different points in people’s lives, and in the meantime, I can serve God in the places He has already put me.
Describe: Time Stands Still is a student-directed production here at Concordia’s theatre department. The play, directed by Alex Johnson, is about a photojournalist named Sarah and her partner James (Jamie), a journalist. The couple travels around the world together and documents tragic events– from wars and famines to genocide and attacks. After Sarah gets severely injured from a bomb while photographing an event, she is treated at a hospital and then returned home with James. The play takes place in their apartment and follows them on their journey of recovery and learning how to be “comfortable” again after the tragedies they documented.
Interpret: The turning point of the play is when Sarah decides that she wants to go back to the Middle East and continue doing what she always does: photojournalism. James tries to convince her that she should stay home and live a normal life with him while she heals, one that involves marriage and children. After they get married, however, she makes the final decision: she will go back and follow her passion. This part of the play reminded me of Christians being called to a vocation. Sometimes, it requires sacrifice and risk, but if it is God’s will, He will provide.
Evaluate: This play was very interesting to watch and had many similar themes as the Honors course regarding vocation. Sarah leaving her husband to follow something she felt called to do was sad to watch, but was the best decision in the end. She didn’t feel like she was fulfilling her purpose living the “comfortable life” and decided to go back instead. As Christians, we shouldn’t live “comfortable” and “lukewarm” lives when God is calling us to serve Him.