This Is Halloween

Halloween, or at least the celebration of it, is probably one of the most controversial topics in Christianity. I’m including baptism versus sprinkling, communion versus the Lord’s Supper, and Hillsong versus hymns in that assessment, too. Parents all across America argue over whether or not the celebration of Halloween, or the distinct lack thereof, encourages their children to participate in witchcraft. The topic is polarizing; in many people’s minds, a person is either pro-boredom or pro-Satan—nothing in between will do.

The exception: my house.

We didn’t really celebrate Halloween until I was older. We might have worn costumes we already had around the house and eaten candy we got at church, but trick-or-treating was for the neighborhood kids. We didn’t even watch the Peanuts special when I was little.

Then, as I got older, Mom got outnumbered, and we went trick-or-treating for the first time when I was in high school. (Note to parents: your teenagers will be somewhat miffed if you do this, because they get funny looks from the neighbors if they’re unaccompanied by smaller kids. Trust me.) To fifteen-year-old me, it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, but the younger kids in my family had fun.

Astonishingly enough, out of the eight of us, zero have shown any interest in witchcraft. Granted, one of us is two years old, but still. An amazing statistic, right there.

So, which perspective saved our spiritual lives? The anti-fun perspective or the anti-Jesus one?

Neither. I’ve never considered Halloween to be any different from any other holiday, save for the unfortunate lack of canceled classes. With Thanksgiving, I can focus on the feast and the football, or I can focus on thanking God for my bountiful life. With New Year’s Eve, I could get drunk and make out with some stranger, or I could spend the evening praying and asking God to bless the new year. Valentine’s Day? Even without a “significant other,” I can focus on the infallible love of Christ in my heart.

Halloween is the same way. I could dress like a vampire and go around sucking blood (wait, nobody actually does that?), or I could take the opportunity to reach out to all the kids roaming the neighborhood. Schools don’t typically talk about Jesus, so trick-or-treating is a great way to briefly encounter all the kids in the neighborhood at once. That doesn’t happen every day!

It is possible to throw a pack of Gospel tracts in the bucket of candy without dressing up. It is perfectly reasonable to host a movie night without bubbling cauldrons of potions. It’s these sorts of acts that will truly help get the message of Christ out to the masses—more than any candy boycott or angry internet post.

It’s okay to dress up and hand out junk food if it’s clear that getting down on the neighborhood kids’ level is the best way to reach them. It’s also okay to avoid those things if doing so will only raise suspicions or guilt. Buy leftover candy on clearance on November 1st if you must. (I know I will.) None of this makes a person any more or less of a Christian by itself. What makes someone a Christian is Christ’s presence in the heart, and no little cowboy or witch at the door is going to take Him away.

Be cautious and be discerning, but be open. After all, we still have to decide between “Oceans” and “It Is Well.”

Written by Catherine

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Hope and Sickness

Have you ever been so sick that you were confined to bed-rest?

I have. That’s where I was for an eternity and a half. I laughed; I cried. I went crazy, Bob. To be completely honest, I didn’t even stay in bed for the entire month I was supposed to rest; as soon as I felt better (the first week) I returned to normal life with a passion I haven’t felt for a long time. I even looked forward to work, and no healthy American would ever admit that. I was curious to figure out why my enthusiasm was much greater than usual, and it got me thinking about several topics, the most prominent of all being hope.

First, why is the day-to-day life dreaded? I suppose, if you aren’t as lucky as we are at the Writing Center, your boss might drive you crazy. Maybe your classes bore you, or maybe your professor is a psychopath who thinks the students are all his guinea pigs. After weeks, months, or even years of this treatment, plus all the other things like family and friends and humans being annoying, we start believing that tomorrow isn’t going to be a good day. Tomorrow, in fact, starts looking like a putrid pile of pure pain.

That sort of thinking, as easy as it is to fall into, is very dangerous.

Let’s look back to when I was confined to bed. All the days blur together for me. Basically, I didn’t want to go sleep. I didn’t want to wake up. I didn’t want to eat, or drink, or exist. I lost pretty much all hope that I could get better, because I was so caught up in the pain. I focused too much on everything that had gone wrong. Losing hope that our everyday lives can be wonderful is similar to being sick. I’d call it worse, since it can’t be diagnosed as easily as a physical symptom. Losing hope is like losing faith in God. He wants what is good for us; why can’t that look like a good day? (Yeah, I mean every day. But that’s another blog post.) Sometimes, I pretend that losing hope is smart because God isn’t a vending machine, and He doesn’t promise flowers and happiness and loads of money to His followers. But He does promise Himself. And He is very, very good, indeed.

Ever since I was diagnosed with chronic depression last winter, I end up relating most of my thoughts to my fight with this mental illness. (Suffer, my poor readers!) Hope is, by far, one of the most useful skills to develop when fighting things like anxiety and depression.  I say it’s a skill because it takes discipline to look at the world, circumstances, and others in a positive light and tell yourself to think well of these things. Negative thinking literally shapes your brain; negative thought breeds negative emotion, and negative emotion causes the brain to produce certain chemicals. In the same way, positive thinking can help a body function correctly. But not stupid thinking: the best kind of positive thinking is realistic and rooted in truth. Just because chocolate is positive doesn’t mean one can eat a truckload of it. That’s even worse for the body.

We still don’t know much about the brain. A lot of it is a mystery. But what we do know is that it’s an incredibly complicated thing. If we think, and look closely enough at anything, it’s extremely complex. The atoms that form molecules which bond together to form everything are complicated. I can’t even list half the periodic table, and those atoms can come together to make an infinitely more lengthy list of molecules. And these molecules bond together to form an infinitely more lengthy list of things. Look at your hand. Every cell in your body was intelligently crafted, beautifully made slowly over the years into what it is now. God knows where it all came from and how it was made. He was there at the beginning, and He will be there at the end. Like the Bible says: if we know how to give good gifts, as corrupted as our hearts are, imagine how much more does He!

So even when the body fails, don’t forget hope. It is a joy to be able to work and to be able to do productive things. Creation is beautiful, and we get to be part of it. It’s a miracle we exist. “There’s good in the world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for!” It’s worth enjoying, and praising the One who made it.

Written by Isaac

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“Around the World in 80 Days” in One Afternoon

One of the best ways to relax after a long day of class is to read a good book, and Around the World in 80 Days is a delightful way to see the world from the comfort of your own home. Written by Jules Verne, this work has been beloved by many ever since its original publication in 1873. So here are a few quick reasons why you should definitely check it out:

Nostalgia. If reading Around the World doesn’t bring you back to your childhood love of adventure and imagination, I don’t know what will. Follow the stuffy, indubitably British Phileas Fogg as he bets his club members that he can travel all the way around the world within precisely eighty days. Joining Mr. Fogg are his French manservant, Passepartout, and a dogged but at times misguided agent of Scotland Yard.

It’s short. Clocking in at 159 pages, Verne portrays an infinitely charming and intriguing story without overwhelming the reader. You can knock it out in an evening or two!

Adventure. Duh. How can you say no to travel, especially on such glorious sources of transportation such as elephants and wind-powered sledges, or merry chases involving Sioux Indians, India Indians, angry Japanese circus masters, and a stuffy British detective? You can’t, I tell you.

Jules Verne’s one-liners. “Moreover, it is safe to say that, when Americans, so casual as a rule, show signs of caution, it would be the height of folly not to be cautious too.” Or “Passepartout stuck on the animal’s back and, receiving directly the full force of every jolt, was all the time trying to remember his master’s recommendation and to keep his tongue from getting between his teeth, as in that position it would have been bitten in two.”  Verne’s dry sense of humor gets better and better.

Delightful stereotypes. The antics of a certain hot-blooded Frenchman contrasted with cool, calm, and collected Phileas Fogg are incredibly entertaining, and the ensuing chaos from such a decided clash of cultures is hilarious. (Sidenote: is there anything Passepartout can’t do?)

Also: how do you pronounce “Passepartout,” you ask?

…Good question.

Phileas Fogg’s thought processes. “Oh, you don’t believe I can circumnavigate the globe in 80 days, old chap? Allow me to bet my entire fortune on the fact that I can, and knowing you have nothing better to do with your life and your money, you’ll take my bet.” He is literally surprised at nothing; unless of course his latest manservant in a long line of manservants brings his shaving water to him at 82 degrees instead of 84 – truly shocking.

Finally, Verne’s love for travel, technology, and other cultures comes to life in such a delightful and humorous way that one can’t help but laugh, smile, and go along for the ride. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Written by Carilee

Image credit: Featured Image, Middle Image

Life of an Education Major

Let us set the scene: it’s a late night, craft supplies are spread across the floor, and a lesson plan must be presented the next morning over Main Idea and Supporting Details. The Education Major is calculating in her head that if she goes to bed in an hour, she can still get 5 hours of shut-eye.[1] All the parts for the Direct Teach and Guided Practice[2] must be done before the sweet ecstasy of sleep can finally take over.

Congratulations! The lesson plan went smoothly and the “students,” aka the classmates, learned all there is to know about Main Idea and Supporting Details. It’s time to celebrate with a trip to Whataburger. Afterward, the next project beckons.

The life of an Education Major (Ed Major) is stressful to say the least. There is always something due that deals with a core subject or assessment, whether that be a lesson plan, a bulletin board, or a project over the Texas Revolution (or any other topic). Teaching, as with many other professions, is definitely a calling and not for the faint hearted, but it provides the most rewarding feeling knowing that we, as future teachers, will change the lives of our students.

137 hours. That is how many class credits Education Majors need to graduate. Granted, that is not nearly as many needed for Music Education Majors or various other degree plans; however, embedded in the course load are many classes that are critical for our survival as educators. We are taught how to teach all major subjects, how to address the community, school, and district standards, and how to write an effective lesson plan. We are required to get into the classroom early on and must accrue 200 observation hours before our final semester of student teaching. Essentially, by the time we graduate and have a classroom of our own, we are prepared for basically everything. Great, right? DBU would not have the number one Early Childhood Education program in the country if it didn’t prepare its students for all but the apocalypse.

Creativity runs wild. What better way to encourage students to use their imaginations than to use our own? The Curriculum lab, where Ed Majors concoct all their fanciful lessons and projects, is full of materials from cutting boards to books to rolls of giant colorful paper. This is where the magic happens. It has the resources needed to make any classroom project dream come true. The only problem is that it is closed on weekends and is a little unorganized. Ed Majors have the privilege of unlocking their inner child for the rest of their career.

ed-grad-hat

The beauty of being an Education Major is the fact that when asked why we want to teach, our answers vary. For me, personally, I love kids. I love how fun and random they are. But mostly, I love getting to see the light bulb go off in their heads when they have understood a concept, when they finally say, “Ohhh, I get it.” That is the best feeling. For others, it is because they had a great teacher who taught them how to love school and made a big impact on their lives. Never once have I heard someone say they want to teach because teachers are so highly paid. Because, let’s face it, teachers get paid more than NFL players, right? It isn’t about money or the summers off but about the ability we have to change lives and create safe places of learning.

Even though many late nights lay behind and before all Ed Majors, the end goal shines brighter than all the setbacks and disappointments. By the time graduation rolls around, Ed Majors have been through almost everything. It is sweet relief to know that from then on, what we have dreamed about doing will finally come true. This is the life of an Education Major, and I would not have it any other way.


[1] I meant sleep.

[2] Two parts of a DBU lesson plan.

Written by Maddison

Image credits: Featured image, education graduation hat

A Poem for Fall Break

You know just when I need you, and I love it when you come.

You take away my worries when I’m starting to feel numb.

You understand that college isn’t always how it seems.

It isn’t quite as wonderful as how I’d always dreamed.

I work so hard to make it through each single day alive,

but now I’m growing tired, and I’m breaking out in hives.

It’s been so long since seeing you, my sweet partner-in-crime.

So, thanks for being punctual and coming right on time.

What do you have in store for us? I’m not too hard to please.

Netflix? Hulu? Amazon? I’m down for all of these.

My one request is that you stay as long as you can bear.

You tend to leave before I’m ready and leave my heart in tears.

I understand that you can’t stay as long as I would like,

but I refuse to let you go without putting up a fight.

I love you more than riding boots and “Starbucks Pumpkin Spice.”

So, when you’re gone, this season will be nothing more than ice.

Okay, you’re right. There is no ice, just a blazing “autumn” sun,

which only proves my point that my life’s sadder when you’re done.

While this is true, I know we must enjoy the time we’ve got.

So let’s just crawl up on the couch and never leave that spot.

Written by Haley

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