Dorothy Day (1897-1980) was a Catholic woman who had been arrested three times for civil disobedience, had an abortion, a child out of wedlock, and was an advocate for the poor. In one of her writings, she talks about how Christians should love their brother by volunteering to be in poverty and not participating in having luxuries that were created by workers who were suffering. Because Christ was poor, we should rejoice in poverty. One should fast from non-local foods like coffee and pineapple. One should live in a communal living space with others. Being poor allows one to truly love the poor.
Dorothy Day was someone who had major concern for the poor, but she lived in a different time than we do. She lived in a time where workers were working in horrible conditions, it was during the Great Depression, and WWII was coming. This was also a time there was no social safety net for the poor, and minorities were treated terribly. Today, we work in better conditions, we are not coming out of a recession, and minorities are treated better than they were before. Sadly, one thing does remain the same, and that is poverty. As Christians, we do not necessarily need to go to the extremes of living in poverty or not enjoying imported foods, but we can help the poor. There are so many poor people in our developed country, and not enough people are doing anything about. As Christians, we can donate money, food, clothes, furniture, or anything that could be of use to someone. We can volunteer at a shelter, food banks, and other places to help people. That’s what Dorothy Day wants: for someone to care about the poor, and as Christians we can do that because Christ set that example.
I loved reading Dorothy Day because she had such a passion for others, and it is inspiring. But I do not think voluntarily living in poverty is a good thing because there are so many negative things that come with it. People are born into it; no one chooses it. Poverty has so many terrible effects on learning for children that I would never want to have my child grow up in that. I do agree with her that we need to help those in need because of these negative effects. Living in poverty, personally, would show a person how bad it is, but it should not take that to help someone in need.
On April 22, I attended Concordia’s 6th Spring Into Dance. This performance features fifteen different types of dances choreographed by current students, alumni, and the director Jan Puffer. Each dance featured various amounts of talented students, from two to ten students in each dance, of different backgrounds, majors, and minors. Some of the dancers are going for minors in dance or majors in theater, but others are not and just dance because they enjoy it.
Spring Into Dance connects with this semester of Honors in different ways. Some of these performers and choreographers felt called to have dance as part of their career. This also ties into what Dorothy Sayers wrote about, that some people do work so that they can keep working. Dancers have to audition for roles; they may not always have that job, but they may work in other areas to keep doing something they like to do, which is dancing. Dancing is also a way to serve others and God. Dancing can serve someone through a piece to take action; the dance Radio could have been one of these examples because it expressed the crisis in Syria. By making others aware of the situation or make someone feel inspired to do something this dance could serve other. Dancing also serves by bringing pleasure to other people. Someone might be having a bad day, and watching a dance performance could make that person feel better, which is service in an indirect way. It also serves God because they are using the talents that God gave them, and some dances could be choreographed to help show God’s love or story.
I really enjoyed this year’s Spring Into Dance. Two of my favorite pieces were Tightrope and The Four Walls That Listen. Tightrope was one of my favorites because it is from one of my favorite musicals, that I am currently obsessed with, The Greatest Showman. I also really like the dance because I think Grace and Geoffrey did an amazing job recreating the piece. The Four Walls That Listen was also another of my favorite because of the cultural piece that it brought to the show. The costume, the song lyrics, and the dance moves were Hmong, which brought a unique and cultural dance to people who may not understand the culture or knew about it. Overall, I loved the performance, and every dancer did amazing. I cannot wait for next year’s Spring Into Dance!
Simone Weil (1909-1943), a Jew, who grew close to Catholicism, writes to a group of Catholic school children about how they can apply the way they attentively do schoolwork, to achieve a higher attention used in a time of prayer. She talks about two conditions that connect with being successful in school to prayer. The first is a desire to achieve good grades, test scores, and have success. To do so one needs to have a focused attention solely on that piece of work with intent to do so correctly, along with enjoying the work. Prayer requires a higher sense of attention and having the desire to successfully connect with God because we enjoy the time we share connected with our Father. The second condition is to have a sense of humility, recognizing our faults and learning from them. In school, children recognize this through learning from their mistakes and corrections from their teacher. In prayer, we do this through recognizing our sin by looking at our souls to bring into consciousness the feelings that come with recognizing sin. When we recognize our sin we want to connect with our Father to help us learn from them.
Because of the grace we receive through Christ, we can connect with God in our Christian vocation. It is important we do because we want to grow closer to God. Most people have gone through some schooling in their life and know what kind of attention it takes to good on a test or earn a good grade. We do so because of the desire for and enjoyment of success, but it also comes with learning from our mistakes because we are not perfect. It is the same way with prayer. As humans, we are not perfect; therefore we make many mistakes, and at the same time we want to grow closer to God. A way we can grow closer to God is through prayer. Since we have grace, we can have the desire and joy when connecting with our Father because we know that our faults will not determine our fate when it comes to being with Him eternally. When we recognize our sinfulness, we can connect with God to ask for forgiveness and guidance to be a better example of Christ than we were before.
This reading really connected with me because I am going to be a teacher. I am going to help build that desire for success and enjoyment in learning. I also want to make them better students by having them learn from their mistakes. Since I also hope to be a teacher at a Lutheran school, I am going to be teaching them about God and Christ. I am going to help them build that want or desire for closeness to God by helping them learn how to pray, realize their sins, and ask for forgiveness. While they require different types of attention, the way one approaches God in prayer is similar to the way that a student should approach learning.
I attended Concordia’s Student Juried Art Exhibition on April 12 in the Concordia Art Center. There were two sections in the art exhibit for that night. The first section was artwork by a single student, Celene Paez. She had two main types of artwork in her section, painting and sculpture. Her art helped provide visualization of struggles that she personally faced, but still others could relate to these struggles. The other section had many different types of art: sculpture, ceramics, photography, graphic design, painting, and drawings, that were made by students in the different art classes.
The juried exhibition mainly has artwork by students who are going into a career in visual art. These students felt that they were called to do this with their lives. Because of their talents in art, no matter what style of art, they chose their vocation for reasons that go along with their talents. Art can also help serve others in different ways. Art has been used to express different problems, so it could serve as a way of making people aware of problem. Art can serve others by giving them inspiration to do something or take action. Art can serve someone with mental health conditions to know that others feel the same way and that they are not alone. Art can serve communities and countries by helping preserve history. Art has so many ways of serving others through people who choose art as their calling in life.
There was one piece that really connected with me in the whole exhibition was one by Celene Paez called, Asking For Help Is Not A Weakness, But A Strength. This image really explains my situation last year with my mental health. I was in such a dark place, and when I acted on a target behavior that got really bad, I finally realized I needed help, so I reached up and got it. The whole past year I have been getting pulled out of this giant hole I was in with the help of many people providing me with tools to prevent me from going back down. While it was mainly me having to work and practice controlling my anxiety and depression, I could not have done it without the help of those who reached out their hands to me when I reached out for help.
Thursday, April 5, I attended “Between Two Oaks,” a conversation hosted by the Art and Theology Departments at Concordia. This conversation featured Dr. Daniel Siedell, while being moderated by Prof. Keith Williams and Dr. Rhoda Schuler. The main focus of the conversation was the intersection of contemporary art and theology. One thing he talked about was how to be a Christian and love your neighbor in careers that are not directly related to the church, like art. He feels called to love the people he is trying to sell art to, who may not care about it. He talked about loving the artwork because it has a history with people. There is an artist behind the art, and he really talked about the people who tried to protect the art from the Nazis. He wanted to remember and love the history behind each piece.
This conversation was really similar to the conversations we have in Honors, where we discuss how we integrate our call to be a Christian and our calling to whatever job we have, whether in the church or not. As part of that call to be a Christian, we can serve and love our neighbors. Dr. Siedell made me realize that we also can love and respect the things we have because there is a history behind everything we have as well; so taking care of the things we have is also very important in our calling.
While I have a Lutheran theology minor with my education major, I may not always be serving in a Lutheran school. I could be at a public school where talking about Christ is not really allowed. I can still show my Christian faith by following Christ’s example to my students, their parents, and the faculty around me. I can do this for my student by being there for them, caring about them no matter their differences from me, and respecting their beliefs. I also have many things from my great-grandmother that were passed down from generations, and one way I can love her and my family, even though they are no longer here, is by knowing the history of the items and continue the tradition of passing them on.
In the final section on the Reformation in Callings, one of the readings was from John Wesley. This reading was from of his sermons entitled, The Good Steward. This sermon is about how Christians are now in a vocation of being stewards to others. In this sermon, he says that God entrusted us with everything we have received from him: soul, body, good, and talents. God entrusts us with talents that benefit or influence others. From the time we are born to the time we return to dust, we are stewards of the Lord.
As Christians, we can be stewards to others and to the Lord. We can be a steward to others by helping those in need, listening to people when they need it, being kind to one another, and everything else that benefits our neighbor. We are stewards of the Lord by following the example Christ gave on earth and when we share the love and message of Christ to others. God entrusted to us these various talents when we were born and baptized into his kingdom, and because of the grace he gave us through Christ, we can use to serve him and others.
While this was not my favorite reading in this section, it was higher up on my list because of the points made above. I full heartedly believe that because of God’s grace, I can have the vocation of being a steward, and because of Christ’s example, I can follow his ways in being a steward to others. God entrusted and gave me so many talents, that it is only right that I can use these for his glory. There are so many ways I can use them in my vocations, especially when I work with people, since most of my talents involve working with people. I also find it important to thank God for these talents that he blessed me with because these talents have lead to many experiences and people in my life have impacted me for the better.
On March 21, Brad Hewitt, CEO of Thrivent, spoke about his book, Your New Money Mindset. In his lecture, he showed us a video about what a college student’s expenses look like by putting a person in a tank and filled it will ping pong balls, each representing $7. When all the balls were poured in, every person in a tank had the balls up to the bottom of their chin. From there he reminded us that we are poor college students so we need to act like, therefore we need to be wise with our money for our future. He told us that we need to remember that everything we have, including money, comes from God, and that he will give us what we need to thrive. He then told us that it is not our income that makes us successful, but the mindset that does. One of those mindsets is being generous, and that does not always mean money. In the end, he talked our about calling, and to find that, we need to give generously and engage in the world.
This lecture really tied into vocation because how we use our money as apart of our vocation. In one of our Callings readings we talked about those who had money but could not join the monastic life, therefore they choose an active life. They were generous with their money and did things for others with it. We can be God’s stewards and use our money to help others when we can, but we also need to remember that we can help others without it as well. His ending point really hit vocation, because as part of our Christian vocation, we can help others by being generous and in order to help others we need to engage in the world. We do this duty through our many other vocations along with our Christian one daily.
I really liked this lecture because it reminded me that I need to act more like a poor college student, but I cannot rely on money alone to get through college. The one I should rely on is God, because he is the one providing me with money, and he will provide what I need. It reminded me that because of what God has given me through Christ, I can be generous to others because of him, even if it is not through money. While there are times that we have money struggles, it is extremely important to remember that God will provide, even when it does not look so good.
Many readings from the Reformation section on Callings come from English writers in the 17th century. George Herbert (1593-1633) writes about this of vocation in The Temple or The Country Parson where he talks specifically about a pastor’s vocation. In chapter 3, of “The Parson’s Life,” discusses that a pastor should act based on the people he is serving, in Herbert’s case country people. A country pastor should not be greedy, stingy, or upset about losing worldly wealth because country people live a hard life and cannot afford the best of things. Because country people cannot afford luxury the pastor is to avoid things of luxury, like drinking alcohol. His last example is that the country pastor must keep his word because country people are honest people. If the pastor is not trustworthy, the people will disregard his teaching in the pulpit and in conversation.
While most of us will not be country pastors, many of us will be working with various groups of people who are of different age, location, race, religion, and gender. It is important in any vocation we undertake that we know and understand the people we work with. If we are working in a very racially and religiously diverse area, we need to have a basic understanding of these different types of cultures. There are also needs to be a form of empathy to allow us to understand those who are different from our way of life. If we do not try to know them, we will not know how to work with them and that creates barriers and mistrust.
After I was able to understand the context this was written, I was able to really appreciate what George Herbert wrote because it had things that could apply to different vocations than those in the church. When I understood that he acted the way his congregation did because he got to know them it really reminded me of what I have been learning in my education classes. That main principle in all my education classes is to get to know your students. By getting to know my students, I can help incorporate different methods in my teaching to allow all my students to understand something. I can know how to help my students by knowing them. I can prevent triggers a child may have because of knowing them. That is exactly what Herbert did with his congregation- he got to know his congregation so he could connect with them and understand them in order to help them. Understanding those you work within your vocation, I believe, is one of the most important things.
“Labels and the Death of Free Speech: What Does This Mean?” was the title of seventeenth annual Poehler Lecture, delivered on March 13. The speaker for that night was Tom Hanson, current professor of management and law at Concordia University. He wanted the audience to use critical thinking skills about the idea of free speech in our lives. When he talked about free speech, he said that free speech has been used more to the divide and find the differences between us rather than it being used to unite and find the similarities. He showed this by playing video clips from presidential debates. At the end of the lecture, he talked about ways to overcome the challenges that the freedom of speech has in order to unite us and get rid of labels.
This lecture really connected with the 2017 Spring Semester, Hearing the Voice of the Marginalized because people today still use their freedom of speech to express their racial biases and prejudices. They use this to divide the human race into those who are superior in race and those who are inferior. We saw this recently in Charlottesville, VA with the white supremacists rally. At the same time, people who disagreed, used their freedom of speech to fight back and tried to unite us all. Tom Hanson’s main point was to use our freedom of speech to unite rather than divide, and listening to those who are marginalized and using our freedom of speech to support the marginalized will help unite us instead of dividing us.
This lecture was given at the right time because today we see so much use of our right to freedom of speech to divide us and forget so much that we need to unite together to solve our issues. I see so many dividing uses of speech by people of power, friends, family, and celebrities on social media. Social media has become a big a tool in expressing our freedom of speech, and it is being used more negatively. I have had personal experience with a negative use of free speech when I was in middle school through bullying. What I have seen, heard, and experienced with negative uses of free speech makes me want to build a bigger sense of community, unity, and positivity with the help of free speech.
On March 6, 2018 the Concordia University Concert Band held their spring tour home concert, directed by Aaron Isakson. The week before the band went on tour through Wisconsin and Michigan. That night they played eight songs of different styles: hymns, marches, spirituals, and dances, with an intermission in the middle along, with stories made by Aaron Isakson in between pieces. I was one of five trombonists in the concert, and was featured in the piece, “The King of Love My Shepherd Is.”
The talent of musicianship, and playing in band comes with different vocations. I, personally, have the vocation of being a trombonist.The band has a vocation of providing music, and is also a service to our neighbors because we can help create joy or happiness. While music my not physically helping someone, music can help people through inspiration, like it has for myself. Music can connect people together for different situations and can help lift people out of the dark places one may be in. Some of the songs we played also fit into our vocation of being a Christian. Some of the songs played were Christian hymns and spiritual pieces. These pieces gave glory to God, and are also a tool of witnessing to others.
I really enjoyed playing in this concert, even though I did not go on band tour and experience the whole thing coming together. My favorite piece that we played was “The King of Love My Shepherd Is” because it is a really beautiful piece and the hymn is one of my family’s favorites. When I had the chance to play the melody, I felt so peaceful and connected with that song. I could feel the music going through me and I would move while playing the music because that song impacted me like that. All of our songs that night were very successful, even though we had some hiccups during the concert. I have to say that so far this was one of my favorite concerts because we kept song that were great from our other concerts, but also had new ones that created a variety and meaningful concert to me.