All posts by Emily Safarik

Concordia Concert Band Home Tour Concert

On February 12, 2018 was the Concordia University Concert Band’s spring tour home concert, directed under 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. The concert order for the night was Invictus, The King of Love My Shepherd Is, Jesus Jesus Rest Your Head, Mambo Furioso, Beside Still Waters, Albanian Dance, and A Mighty Fortress.

This relates to this semester of Honors because we have a vocation to use our talents. The band uses their talent to play music for everyone. This is also a service because we are providing music for people to hear and enjoy. While it is not helping someone it is still a service and doing something for our neighbor. 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 was a really pretty piece and that 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.

Hoffman Lecture

February 20 started the first annual Hoffmann Lecture Series with Rev. John Wetzstein, from Valparaiso University.  Rev. Wetzstein talked about three different types of faith, while talking about how we come to understanding or truth when dealing with these different types of faith. The first type of faith is THE faith or statements of faith, like the creed and confessions. The second type of faith is presuppositions that can be held by Christians and/or non Christians. The last type of faith is promises and hope. He then went on to discuss how we use them interchangeably, and the importance of knowing which type we are talking about.

This lecture particularly reminded of the Fall 2017 semester of Honors and the five ways of knowing, particularly revelation. Revelation deals faith and Christianity to help us know our truth. And each type of faith helps shapes our truth. The first type shapes our truth because our faith in Christ shapes our lives, such as our morals. The second type shapes our faith because certain Christian presuppositions help shape our views, like our belief in creationism over evolutionism. And the third types shapes our truth because through our faith in Christ we hope for the promise of eternity with him in the resurrection.

This lecture was intriguing because I did not realize that faith had different meanings and uses because our world uses them so interchangeably. When Rev. Wetzstein talked about the importance of which type are talking about, especially in the world where it is constantly be contested, it made me reflect deeply on my faith in Christ. It had me look at my Christian beliefs and how all three types fit in with my Christian beliefs, which allowed me to help stand firmer in it, Especially, when there are so many different individual truths/beliefs and need people have to prove theirs is right it made. It also made me remember that my truths are not always going to be accepted by everyone, and that I cannot fight that or force it upon. All I really need to stand for is my own believes and not become discouraged or doubt them when others do not accept them.

Calling Blog: Middle Ages

In the Middle Ages section of the book Callings, most reading focus on monasticism and are written by monks, but there are a couple of exceptions. One exceptions is change is The Treasure of the City of Ladies by Christine de Pisan. She was a noble woman, widowed at age twenty-five, and had three children. The excerpts from her book talks about the mistreatment of women, and how those in higher status can be good Christians, without going into the monastic community. One section, “The Life That the Good Princess Decides to Lead,” discusses this question of how to be a “good” Christian. She first contemplates her level of submission to God that is appropriate. She cannot leave her family and  and every earthly thing to serve only God, therefore considering the active life of serving others. To her the complete submission to God, giving up everything to follow God, is the most ideal life but is not how one is saved. She then describes how one can live an active life by giving to others through her riches, and that it is how one uses their riches to please God. She notes several high status people: Saint Louis, Saint Elizabeth, Saint Badour, that did not committed themselves fully to God, like monastics. She concludes the section that while she cannot fully commit herself to the ideal monastic life, she can wholeheartedly find a happy medium to please God.

This section applies to us today, because many of us are not able to fully commit our lives over to God like the monastics do, but we still want to please and serve God. While many of us do not have the money like Christine did, we are still able to use our worldly things and gifts to serve others. We can do this by doing fundraisers to help out those in need. We can give our earthly bodies to serve by building houses or working at soup kitchens. This applies, because we can still serve God and have these earthly wants like a spouse and a family, and is still pleasing to God. God gives us all things we receive, and how we use these gifts from God that please him. If we use these gifts like a car or a bonus check to serve God, it is pleasing to him. We can serve God because of Christ. We can follow Christ’s example of serving others.

This section stuck with me because it was one of the few writings that differed from the writings about the monastic life. I also really enjoyed because it was written by a woman who wanted to do something with herself besides being a mother and a wife. The monastic readings before really just made me upset because if that was what I had to do to please God, I would never feel like a good enough Christian, and reading those I slightly felt that but knew that it is not the only way. This section in Callings reminded me of that it is not about how good I am and committed to God I am to be a good Christian, but to have faith in Jesus Christ as my Savior and that His grace that allows me be a good, all before we even discuss Martin Luther. It also showed me that people wanted to find ways to please God, while not joining monastic life, and that choice did not keep them from trying to please God.

Callings Blog: Early Church

This semester of honors is about service and vocation. The book, Callings, addresses the topic of vocation and goes into depth of the views of vocation since the beginning of Christianity. During the early church period, after Christian martyrdom and legalization of Christianity, monasticism was considered the vocation. Those who took this vocation were closer to God.There were many forms of monasticism, and one of the best examples to show this was in section about Palladius, “The Lausiac History.”  This section is divided into six sections of different accounts of early monastic life, one sticking with me the most is about Paesius and Isais. They were brothers who received estate when their father died. Instead of becoming merchants, like their father, they decided to join a monastery.  They both had different ways of pleasing God; one brother shared everything with the monasteries, churches, and prisons. He learned a trade to earn food for himself and spent time praying and doing aesthetic practices. The other used his to build a monastery taking in those who are considered marginalized. After their deaths, people wanted to know which one was better and went to Pambo to have the question answered. Pambo responded to their question that they were equal, and that they were both standing in paradise at God’s presence.  

These accounts of monastery lives apply today because we all try to do our best to be the best Christian we can be or to get as close to God as we can. Like these different monastic lives there are different types of Christian denominations who all have differences that set them apart. Especially when we leave our parents’ homes we look for a church that fits what we feel fits our vocation to being a Christian, like the different people choose their different forms of monasticism. These different types of early monastic lives also show that our vocation to be a Christian is about not focusing on this world, but rather focus on doing things for Christ and because of Christ. Christ was kind to all those, even those who were considered marginalized and were against him. He helped those who needed it. We also focus on our relationship with him by praying and worshipped him.

This section stuck with me, also it was my section to report one, because it reminded me the most, especially in the Paesius and Isaias section, where my vocation is based, and because of my vocation what I can do. At the end of the Paesius and Isaias section people asked who was better, and the response was that they were equal and both in the presence of God. This section reminded me that is not about what we do on this earth, but rather our faith. All these people had different ways of showing there love for Christ, but they uniting factor between them all is their faith. Faith is the driving force of who we are and how we live. When I do my other vocations, along with my vocation as a Christian, I need to remind myself and others that it is not about our works, but our faith. In a world focused on the self and how good we are, I see so many people struggle and knowing that is not about what we do that gets us into heaven, but our faith in Christ and what he did for us. It helps make me less worried and focus less on myself. And reading these stories and how they did not focus on worldly things for their faith helps strengthen me faith in Christ.

MLK Day of Service

On January 15, Concordia’s C.A.L.L Center hosted their tenth annual MLK Day of Service. There were four service sites that the students volunteering were divided amongst to serve at. One of the places was Episcopal Homes Senior Living, where the gospel choir sang and the other student interacted with the seniors. At Higher Ground, students helped clean and prepare the new homeless shelter location. At Bridgings, students put together and sorted furniture so it can be donated to those less fortunate. Lastly, for Lex-Ham, students put up pedestrian crossing signs for the community. I was the student leader, along with Anthony Herr, for Episcopal Homes. There the choir sang some of their rehearsed songs and then took some requests from the seniors and sang them. We all then had refreshments with them, sitting and talking with them. We then regrouped and all sang songs together, and some students did solos and duets. We then said our goodbyes and thanked the seniors for their kindness to us. When we came back to campus, we reconvened and discussed as a big group our different site and what we did.

MLK Day of Service connects with this semester of Honors because it is all about service to others. Through some of the projects from that day we are being of service to those less fortunate. We are bringing joy to seniors who may not always have visitors and bringing a smile to their faces. We are also being a service to our community by providing form of safety in our campus’ neighborhood by providing crosswalk signs and flags. This is also connects to this semester because of vocation. Through service we are fulfilling our vocation of being a good neighbor. We have many different vocations, and one of those is following Christ’s example, being a good neighbor and loving those around us as Christ did.

This event was really enjoyable for me both helping to plan and tp be involved in. It was enjoyable working alongside my peers them to where we would go to serve. I found it awesome how we used our strengths to decide where we would be leaders at. We also really communicated well together and worked hard to make sure the event went smoothly as possible. When we had bumps we adjusted, like when I had to sort out the buses and one of the main leaders gave the groups the wrong numbers to go too, but the leader and I got it figured out. What I enjoyed most about the service part of the day was seeing these people sing songs that they knew, especially the ones they requested. I remember singing “Amazing Grace,” and I looked over and saw some of them with their eyes closed, smiling, and singing the words. I also remember when a woman started singing the refrain of the songs after the first time hearing it. The simple refrain opened up the gift of song to this woman who loves singing. After every song one older gentleman would say, “Wow.” When I talked to him he said that they were so good that everytime they sang it made him smile, and that is worth a wow. While there were only a few of seniors there, each of them left this on my heart, that the little things can make a person’s day. And let me tell you, they do!

Martin Luther and the Called Life

One of the chapters in Martin Luther and the Called Life that struck me the most was chapter two, “Luther: His Road to Vocation.” This chapter tells about Martin Luther and his quest to find his vocation. It starts by talking about his father’s life, a miner who worked really hard to provide for his family. Because of this, Luther was able to be sent to different schools, so Luther could live the life his father did not. Luther was sent to school to be a lawyer, but an event caused that to change. Luther was caught in a terrible thunderstorm and prayed to St. Anne for protection. He then vowed that he would become a monk if he was saved. He was saved, and he joined the monastery. Luther first thought that he found his true calling or vocation. As time passed he began to question this vocation because of the sacrament of penance, which most of us know or have seen as private confessionals with the priest. Because of this, he was sent into a pit darkness. He then comes to a new realization about Christ and his sacrifice that gives new meaning to him and vocation. Christ receives our sin and everything that comes along with it in exchange we receive forgiveness, life, a good conscience, and freedom. We receive this through faith alone, nothing we do can bring us closer to God. Through this Luther left this monastic calling, found peace with God, and his new vocation followed.  

Today, in a world where the focus and the pressure on us to be the best is high, this chapter appeals to us because it shows the struggles back in the 1500’s were similar to today. In Luther’s time, where everyone was normally a Christian, the people were told that to be closer to God or be a good Christian they were to commit themselves to God through a nunnery or monastery, and live a certain way there. Today most people think that to be a good Christian we need to do good works, and live life with a bunch of rules, along with fitting into the standards of society. Luther’s struggle reveals to us that all we need to do to be a good Christian is to have faith, and nothing else. We are not forced to do anything to earn our eternal life. We are not forced to do works and live a life that is formed around laws. This frees the person to do things for Christ. By doing things for Christ we do good for our neighbor out of the love for God, and nothing else. No matter what we do in life, we have multiple vocations because of Christ and what we do because of him.

This chapter really struck me because it brought me back to when I struggled in life to find my calling and my faith. When I was in middle and high school I struggled with finding my place and faith similar to Luther that brought me into a depression. It took much soul searching and scripture to find myself almost out of the bounds of this depression. It was not really until late last year where my faith became more true and sealed to Christ. That was through reading Martin Luther’s struggle and reading how nothing I do can take me away from Christ. That my faith is what saves me. When I thought I was not good enough for Christ I found that I am because of Him. He gave me everything when I believed in him, and that was all. It helped me see that even when I make mistakes I am still His. It also showed me that I do not need to meet the standards to be important because all that matters is my importance to God. Lastly, no matter where life takes me I am in vocation because of Christ in me.  

Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures

On Monday, May 1, our class watched Hidden Figures to conclude our semester together. The movie was about three black women were “computers,” mathematical calculators, for NASA during the space race against the Soviet Union. The three woman– Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson– all had integral parts helping the United States get ahead in the space race by sending John Glenn into orbit around the earth. Katherine was responsible for doing the calculations for Glenn’s take off, point of reentry, and landing zone. Dorothy was responsible for getting an IBM computer to start working for NASA, also keeping jobs of many other African American female computers by having them work on the computer with her. Mary had responsibilities the with engineering design of the rocket Glen would be in. Throughout this story they faced marginalization for being both African American and female.

This real story relates both semesters of Honors this year, but especially with HON 120. It relates to imagination from the “five ways of knowing” by recreating a story and putting it into real life again. It relates to hearing the voice of the marginalized because this movie and the book it was based it helped give these women the credit they deserved for their work they did for NASA. They all faced discrimination for being African American. Katherine was forced to go a half a mile to use the restroom and drink from a separate coffee pot. Dorothy was not allowed to become a supervisor and check out a certain book from library. Mary was not able to go to college classes she needed to become an engineer until she fought it in court. These women were also marginalized because they were women. Katherine was not able to attend critical meetings for her calculations because she was a woman. Mary was questioned by a professor for attending class because the curriculum was not meant for women. Towards the end though their voices were heard. Katherine’s boss got her clearance to attend the meeting also got rid of the colored bathroom signs and her separate coffee pot. The judge allowed Mary to attend classes at a segregated school. Dorothy was able to become the supervisor of the IBM.

I really enjoyed this movie a lot because it was a story of empowerment for both African Americans and woman. A lot of people probably would not have known about these women unless they knew more about NASA back then. I really liked that we got to see into the personal lives of these women as well. One of my favorite actresses, Octavia Spencer, was Dorothy in the movie playing a sassy woman in the film, which I love. Every film she is in she is sassy, and she does it so well. Overall, I really enjoyed the film and the message that this film gave. Katherine’s boss, Al Harrison, said, “Here at NASA we all pee the same color.” To me this film was all about what he said there because we are all the same no matter what race or gender.

Spring Into Dance 2017

2017 Spring Into Dance

On Sunday, April 30, I went to the Spring Into Dance. It featured many different dances with numbers of students in each piece. There were ballet, hip hop, Hmong, ballroom, and contemporary types of dances in the program, giving it a wide variety to speak to everyone who came. There were students, alumni, and professionals who choreographed each piece showing the talent of these people to not only dance but to teach. Before each piece, the choreographers would speak about each dance telling the audience the meaning behind them. 

The dancing in Spring Into Dance relates to both HON 110 and HON 120. Dancing is considering a creative process of movement involving all parts of the body to create a vision in one’s imagination, one of the “five ways of knowing” we studied in HON 110. Because dancing can be a visual representation, it can be used to hear the voices of the marginalized. There are many cultures where dance is a part of their life: Native American, African, Hmong, Chinese, and many others.  Their dances give a visual voice into knowing about their lives because they have danced for celebrations, protection, and religion. Today with more modern types of dancing choreographers are now able to put music and dance to a particular event or message. I remember seeing a dance on television that was inspired by the Black Lives Matter Movement. It featured dancers dancing to a darker type of music with an African American dancer having an “artistic” death by a white dancer. After that, each dancer did their own dance with never much unison to show inequality.  At the end of the dance, all of them came together and danced in unison, ultimately coming together holding hands to represent equality.

Overall, I really enjoyed this dance program. I am usually not one who is into watching dancing, but because of the variety of dances involved,  I really enjoyed watching everyone. I enjoyed seeing my friends and classmates dance because some of them I did not know could dance like that. I really enjoyed the dance, On My Wedding Day, because it was a type of dance I have never seen. It gave me a glimpse into the Hmong culture with the mother-daughter relationships they have with the wedding. I loved the costuming for that because it was really similar to their actual traditional clothes. All the dances were amazing and helped create a good end to the school year.

Spring Jazz Concert

Spring Jazz Concert

Saturday, April 29, was the Spring Jazz Concert featuring Blue Rondo Band, an instrumental jazz group, and Vox 9, a vocal jazz group. First to play was Blue Rondo, which played six  songs: “Boplicity,” “Basin Street Blues,” “Waltz for Hornz,” “Walnut Creek,” “So What,” and “Blues in Hoss Flat.”  In between “Walnut Creek” and “So What” the piece Summertime was played by a small select few. In the band, under the direction of Adam Rossmiller, were two alto saxophones, two tenor saxophones, a baritone saxophone, two trombones, and one trumpet. The band then had professional musicians fill in the rhythm section: bass, drum set, and piano. Vox 9, under the direction of William White, sang six songs: “God Only Knows,” “Come Sunday,” “Wings to Fly,” “Drive My Car,” “A Life for Me,” and “That’s What Friends are For.” In between the first and last three songs four of the students sang solo songs with a guest instrumental solo in each. First was Scott Kleppe who sang “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars” with a trumpet solo by Adam Rossmiller. Anne Gifford sang “L.O.V. E” with a saxophone solo by Keith Williams. Logan Van Sickle sang “Nature Boy” with a saxophone solo by Josiah Bode. To conclude the solos, Laura Taranto sang “At Last” with a saxophone solo by Keith Williams. Overall, the music created a beautiful concert, showcasing every student’s vocal and instrumental talents.

The jazz concert ties into Honors 110 through imagination and emotion from the “five ways of knowing.” The jazz music fits in imagination because music is a creative art form used to describe practically anything one could think of. The pieces of music can also be used as a way to represent emotion. A person can tell the emotion in the vocal piece through the tone of the singer’s voice, the tempo, and lyrics. In Laura’s solo, one could sense the emotion of happiness in the piece through the lyrics, her uplifting voice, and the upbeat background and tempo. In instrumental pieces, it can be harder than just the title, dynamics, and tempo. One may need to know more about the genre and the piece, itself, to figure it out. Ballads are mainly romantic, giving off the emotion love and happiness. They also can be about sad, like “break up” ballad, so to figure the emotion out, titles help. Jazz can relate to Honors 120 through its history. Jazz first has its early forms from slavery as a way to help relieve some of the hardships that came with slavery. Today’s jazz has its roots from African Americans, like Duke Ellington. When jazz started becoming popular in the 1920’s and 30’s African Americans were marginalized because they were not able to show their talent to many, and had to perform to African Americans only. When technology became more prevalent and cheaper African Americans were able to perform their music on air to the masses without race becoming an issue. Because of the radio people only focused on the voice, and skin color did not matter unless it came to the radio station head. People could have just been going through the radio to find some to listen to, and when the jazz caught their attention they may have never known that it was an African American run station.

For this concert I performed in the instrumental group, Blue Rondo, and performed a solo in the last piece, “Blues in Hoss Flat.”  My favorite songs that I played in were “Walnut Creek” and “Blues in Hoss Flat.” I loved the part I played in “Walnut Creek” and the saxophone melody that was throughout the piece. I was also very confident in the piece because the many practice sessions we had. I loved “Blues in Hoss Flat” not because I had to solo, but because it was one of my most confident pieces I played this whole year. From Vox 9 I really liked “A Life for Me” because the song was so touching and the soloist sang so beautifully. Another one I really liked was “Drive My Car” because I am a Beatles fan, and the vocal percussion in that piece was great. I really enjoyed working with the jazz band, but really wished we had a student rhythm section this semester. Overall, I enjoyed this concert and am proud of the performance I gave with my fellow musicians.

Student Showcase Art Gallery

Jamie Tan and Student Showcase Art Exhibit

Thursday, April 20, was the opening of Jamie Tan’s Head Trip art exhibit and the Student Showcase exhibit. Jamie Tan had several different painting to showcase. There pieces that had were one a colored piece of paper with the same color painted on it. When looking at the piece multiple times one could find something new every time in it. She also then had a painting that was composed of different canvases coming together together to create one full image. The Student Showcase Exhibit featured different art forms: ceramics, sculpture, drawings, paintings, and photography. Each piece had the creator’s personal style to it, which helped give each piece its own personal touch making it memorable. 

The art really fits into the imagination and emotion categories of the five ways of knowing because imagination is the creativity that goes into each piece and emotion is put into the piece by the creator. Art work can be a form of expressing one’s emotions and feelings about current situations. This then ties into hearing the voices of the marginalized because it is a way one can show another what is going on. It is another way to voice the concerns of the marginalized. We see different forms of art also come out from different races and cultures who are marginalized, and it is used as a piece of history for them. The artwork can be used to tell their story and struggle just like a book can. Art is a way that connects people, and allows for others to take a step into someone’s life, and that is what these works in the gallery did.

I am not usually one to enjoy looking at artwork, but this exhibit was rather neat. It allowed me to support my friends, and see the talent they have as well as the other students at Concordia. One of my favorite pieces was the piece called “Ocean in a Bowl.”It was piece of pottery that after glazing literally looked like there was water in it. My first time seeing I literally almost touched the piece to see if there actually was water because it looked like there was. Another one of my favorites, that I do not remember the name, was this big sculpture made out of cardboard and tape. It did not really have a definite shape to identify what it is, but it just looked really cool because the of the way the color of the tape and the cardboard looked together. This whole exhibit made me appreciate art just a little more, but overall made me see the true talent in some of my friends.