Valentine's Day a misrepresentation of love

By Valentine’s Day morning it was predicted that over $18 billion would be spent on the day. Approximately $130 was predicted to be be spent per person participating in the holiday. By tradition, Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love. That being said, in 2012, pet owners spent an average of $4.52 for their furry friends on Valentine’s Day. This amount can feed a starving child in an underdeveloped country for a week. As cute and as cuddly as pets may be, perhaps where we’re placing our money is a significant statement to our definition of love. I am not one to quickly label myself as a romantic by any means, and could soapbox about Valentine’s Day for a variety of reasons; however, I also see the merit in the holiday. Originally named after a Catholic martyr, about whom we don’t have extensive information, Valentine’s Day was a Christian holiday that was celebrated in order to counteract traditional pagan festivals happening at the time. The holiday marked the beginning of the birds’ mating season, hence the developing emphasis on romance. Now highly secularized, Valentine’s Day is a unifying celebration of love, regardless of religion, culture, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, and so forth. Love is an intangible unifying force.

Yet if an outsider were to merely observe Valentine’s Day in our society, I am not convinced that he or she would not see just an utter celebration of materialism. The chocolate, the roses, the cards, the jewelry, the dates, the trinkets, the doilies, the boxes of Valentines that have every 7-year-old’s favorite superheroes on them—the list does not end.

Gifts can be thoughtful and fun expressions of love, but should not define it. Valentine’s Day oversimplifies the complexity of relationships. “Just buy her some flowers,” might save a desperate boyfriend briefly, but love cannot be bought. It cannot be retained to one specific day of the year. It doesn’t fit into a box of chocolates and it’s more expensive than a diamond ring.

Now Valentine’s Day is over; for some of us this isn’t a reason to grieve. But genuine, actual love—be that romantic, friendly, or familial—runs so much deeper than a date on the calendar. It doesn’t come with a receipt. Love in itself is a gift, the gift that we should be celebrating just as enthusiastically on February 15 as we did the day before.

 

Sena Hughes

Columnist

Contact Sena Hughes at shughes15@my.whitworth.edu

Fair trade falls short

Whitworth is moving quickly toward becoming the first fair trade university in Washington. While the goal of helping disadvantaged workers in developing nations is laudable, fair trade is not an effective means of achieving positive results. Unfortunately, economics dictates that fair trade actually winds up producing the very types of negative consequences it purports to solve. Fair trade goods are certified by organizations like Fairtrade International. Certification is supposed to indicate (1) that producers have been paid “fairly,” (2) that certain labor practices and management institutions are in place and (3) that efforts are underway to encourage development in areas like education, health care and farm improvements. According to proponents, all you have to do to be a conscientious consumer is buy Fair trade-certified goods.

However, basic economics reveals a number of serious problems with this scheme.

First, the most basic argument against fair trade is based on supply. According to The Economist, the reason the prices of agricultural products are so low is because of overproduction. Fair trade coffee is an instructive example. Increasing the price of coffee through fair trade with the intent to benefit existing growers will cause more producers to begin growing coffee to take advantage of the higher possible profits. As supply increases, the price will again begin to decrease, limiting or erasing the initial benefits to producers. Furthermore, encouraging additional coffee production with an artificially high price “could potentially inhibit the development of other economic activities,” according to The Economist.

However, fair trade often prevents new suppliers from reducing prices by setting a minimum price for goods. Still, becoming fair trade certified is expensive and difficult for producers: a whole host of new standards must be complied with and periodically verified. Jeremy Weber of the Cato Institute warns that, “if not managed effectively and efficiently,” the added expenses of fair trade certification “can consume much of the higher Fair Trade price before it reaches growers.” The unintended consequence of these higher standards is that “increased barriers to entry [into the market] have made it increasingly difficult for marginalized producers, which Fair Trade supposedly targets, to participate,” according to Weber.

Second, another potential unintended consequence of fair trade standards is that fewer workers would be employed. The increased cost of labor caused by fair trade practices creates an incentive for farm owners to “use more capital such as machines or fertilizer, and less labor than [they] would under less-stringent labor requirements,” according to Gene Callahan of the Foundation for Economic Education.

Thirdly, fair trade unintentionally undermines the very engine of economic growth in developing nations. Even noted liberal economist Paul Krugman once pointed out that developing nations can only compete with the industrialized world because of their ability to provide cheap labor. “Deny them that ability,” he argues, “and you might well deny them the prospect of continuing industrial growth, or even reverse the growth that has been achieved.” Krugman concludes that “a policy of good jobs in principle, but no jobs in practice, might assuage our consciences, but it is no favor to its alleged beneficiaries.”

While the desire to try to help impoverished workers is understandable, the laws of economics cannot be changed. The root cause of poor wages and low prices for goods like coffee is excess supply. The only real solution is to let the market sort things out, even if it means that inefficient producers will go out of business and people will be unemployed. In the case of coffee, cheap and efficient coffee production in Brazil and Vietnam has cost the jobs of between 200,000 and 400,000 workers in Central America, according to Brink Lindsey of the Cato Institute. However, Lindsey points out that “in Vietnam, coffee related jobs have soared from 300,000 a decade ago to between 4 and 5 million today. The job losses and job gains go hand in hand.”

Simply because fair trade falls to deliver does not mean that nothing positive can be done. In a truly free market, those who transition out of coffee (or any good) because of excess supply would be able to switch to some other crop or occupation which would be more profitable and productive. However, “huge subsidies to farmers in parts of the West mean that farmers in poor countries cannot diversify their production, because they cannot access these markets. Poor farmers choose to produce coffee, cocoa and other commodities because they have few other options,” according to Kendra Okonski of the International Policy Network.

As Lindsey argues, if the U.S. and other developed nations moved toward freer trade by doing away with “high trade barriers and lavish subsidies on a wide variety of agricultural products,” then “coffee farmers would be better able to diversify into other crops.” Freer trade, not fair trade, is the smart way to improve the economic position of workers in the developing world.

While simple solutions like buying fair trade goods sound easy and appealing, real solutions are more complex and require more effort to implement. As Lindsey observes, “economic illiteracy leads again and again to the advocacy of measures that would actually exacerbate global poverty.” While that may not sit well in Whitworth’s culture of social slactivism, it is a necessary realization if we truly desire to make positive change in the world.

Maxford Nelsen Staff Writer

Contact Maxford Nelsen at mnelsen13@my.whitworth.edu.

Passion for knowledge compromised by the need for academic achievement

When we were growing up, we tinkered with toys, played outside in the dirt and learned because it was fun. Now we’re in college. The desire to truly learn has faded for many of us. We just want to get the grade. We want to be the know-it-all. We want to be at the top of our class.

School has changed the curiosity of our childhoods. We have little to no motivation to learn unless it will benefit one grade on the transcript of our $40,000-a-year education, yet we have so many other opportunities to grow.

There’s virtually a lecture every week in the Robinson Teaching Theatre, but most of the time you’ll only see the seats fill if there’s Core 150 extra credit involved. We only make the effort if there is a tangible incentive.

So, why aren’t we taking advantage of these opportunities? Shouldn’t growing in knowledge be incentive enough?

It seems as though there’s too much going on at Whitworth. We are bombarded with emails each day, blinded by posters walking into the HUB and, frankly, we just have other stuff on our plate.

Whitworth students tend to want to be involved in everything; we want to make positive changes, but it’s as if we’ve chosen quantity over quality. Most people do things they are passionate about. However, seldom do they branch out and gain insight on other topics that they haven’t explored or things that can only increase them in knowledge. We tend to want things that will get us points, look good on our resumes or get us ahead in some way.

That decision comes with the culture we live in today. We are told to only spend time on things that are “worth it,” things that will help us become “successful.” If there aren’t rewards, society tells us it’s not worth it.

In addition to the stresses of school, many of us are constantly reliant on smart phones and computers to keep us connected and updated with information. Although technology is a blessing in some regards, when its constant place in our lives is coupled with academic obligations, the result is a loss of learning motivation.

That’s not to say that we don’t benefit from what we learn in classes, but because of our priorities and schedules, the emphasis shifts to the grade we receive as the driving component of our academic agenda. If there is no incentive to increase our grade, we don’t try.

In reality, we have the time to explore new things. It doesn’t even have to be a lecture. If we spent just a few minutes a day immersing ourselves in new information, we would amaze ourselves with how much we could learn.

This editorial board encourages students to take into account the dynamic of balancing the busyness of academics and other campus commitments with learning and satisfying personal interests.

If we fail to grow in knowledge through exploring ideas without incentive, we fail to grow as people. Whitworth is a place that prides itself on preparing people for to be well-rounded individuals, fully equipped to take a meaningful place in society.

In its defense, Whitworth gives us the tools to do so; however, we don’t take those opportunities. The lectures that are offered are to expose students to different perspectives and ways of life. It’s time for us to do our parts. Whitworth can try to equip us in every way, but until we take advantage of that, it’s meaningless.

Ultimately, your grade is a number. It will likely impact you for the next couple of years as you apply for graduate school or jobs. However, once you start that job or degree, the number of points you got on your final exam will mean nothing.

What will have meaning is the information that had enough of an impact on you to stick, the experiences you have had, and the skills you have gained. These are not things that come from cramming for an exam, but rather from going to those lectures, discussing interesting topics with your friends or professors and delving into the things that interest you most. Go earn the points that count.

Whitworthian Editoral Board Contact the editorial board at croach14@my.whitworth.edu

 

Societal consumerism has altered season’s meaning

Thanksgiving dinner took me more than 14 hours to prepare. I cooked more than ten dishes, which I placed in elegant cream-colored china and set atop a gold table runner. In the center of the table, I lit a golden candelabra with candles that perfectly matched the china.

Thanksgiving dinner itself lasted no more than half an hour at my house. I did more than fourteen hours of active preparation, months of agonizing over the menu, days of obsessing over the presentation and it was all for thirty minutes of family enjoyment.

After dinner, my family stayed in playing board games and visiting. But while many families like mine spent time together, according to the National Retail Federation, more than 35 million Americans were shopping on Thanksgiving evening. Others spent the day watching football or creating wish lists for Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping.

I have to wonder at what point the holiday season became more about pretty tablescapes, good food, shopping and football than it is about family time.

According to folklore, Thanksgiving began as a celebration of thanks between the pilgrims and the Native Americans. Children’s books and popular culture describes the first Thanksgiving as a time when people came together, spending time being content in the simplicity of togetherness. Our culture idealizes this allegory, and I would argue this idealization is actually good.

There’s something highly attractive about the holidays marking a time of simplicity and quiet.

But that’s not what actually happens. Rather than bringing the restful time of year, the holidays bring a series of rush. There’s a rush Thanksgiving morning to get the turkey in the oven. There’s another rush at 9 p.m. when Target finally opens their doors. Again, a rush the morning of Black Friday. Then, a rush to get the house decorated for Christmas so it looks as good as the neighbors’.

It seems to me that even those of us who don’t shop on Thanksgiving or don’t watch football or wait until December to put up our Christmas trees still can’t overcome the haste of our culture during the holidays. And Christmas is no better than Thanksgiving.

Christmas always seems to move past the archetypal spirit of giving and into the contemporary reality of the spirit of getting.

It’s about having the most presents under the tree. It’s about getting the most bang for your buck during Cyber Monday. It’s about putting up the most lights on the block.

Where is the quiet? Where is the sloth and rest that we so desperately need just once per year? Where is the family connection, the satisfaction in simplicity?

We have got to learn how to reconnect with what the holidays are truly about—rest and relationships.

Lindsie Trego

Trego is a junior majoring in journalism and mass communication and English. Comments can be sent to lwagner14@my.whitworth.edu.

The Smudge: The North Face

Raise your hand if you own a North Face product; that should be all of you. Raise your hand if you’ve ever been outside; that should be about seven of you. OK, before I continue, let me just set the record straight. I own about 38 North Face products, and I certainly am not slapping a horse I haven’t ridden (I’m pretty sure that’s a saying, right?). But let’s just say that there is definitely an inverse ratio between the number of North Face products you own and the amount of time you’ve actually spent exploring the outdoors. But I love the North Face, and here is why. The products allow you to create an illusion that you are adventurous and outdoorsy without actually needing to spend any time outdoors. Let’s be real, hiking and climbing are exhausting, risky, and make you all sweaty. Gross! But just in case, at least you got the gore-tex moisture-wicking technology base layer from their Fall 2012 lineup, right?

The North Face makes some quality products. I have no argument against that. Their goose-down jackets are capable of keeping you warm in even the most freezing temperatures and are just PERFECT for the adventurer who has to walk 50 yards from their dorm to the HUB on a crisp fall day. They also make some great rain jackets that will keep you dry even in the most torrential downpours, and are accented nicely by a cute pair of Uggs and yoga pants. Not interested in the North Face? Don’t worry, there are other options. If you are of the trendy, earth-conscious hipster variety, maybe you should consider Patagonia. You can find a nice purple fleece at any thrift store, or just steal that teal windbreaker from your Dad’s closet. Or maybe Columbia is more your thing, provided that you are a 38-year-old father with two kids and a mini-van. If neither of those tickle your fancy, then you can always become a rich 50 to 60 year-old retired businessman and go with Arc’tyrx at $600 a jacket, which you can then wear when you go on walks around the neighborhood with your wife.

There are so many options and ways to brand yourself as an adventurer, and I know it can be overwhelming. Whatever your jam is, just know that cool and trendy outdoor products are almost always the next best thing to spending time outdoors. Keep in mind the North Face’s call to “Never stop exploring,” but don’t feel like you need to take that TOO literally.   Jonny Strain Columnist

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Contact jstrain13@my.whitworth.edu

The Smudge: Dating at Whitworth

There is something that we all deal with as Whitworthians, something that can result in great reward or tremendous pain, something that is so simple and so complex, something that can give you delightful butterflies or make your stomach churn. No, I am not talking about French Dip Friday. I’m talking about Whitworth dating culture. Navigating this terrain is like walking through a minefield. One wrong step, and BOOM! You’re married, and you don’t even remember what happened. It is my privilege and honor to offer you some unsolicited tips on how to navigate your way through the Minds and Hearts of those Whitworth guys and gals without getting too much flack from those nosy noodleheads we call friends. Let’s get personal. 1) Find someone you think is neat! Studies show that three out of four Whitworthians are totally cute and totally dateable (there are no studies that say that, but there could be). Whitworth is like a giant eHarmony in the flesh, where you are surrounded by a limitless number of talented, like-minded, passionate and good-looking people. I hate to say it, but there are simply NO GOOD PEOPLE anywhere else on the planet. I checked, so don’t miss out.

2) Coffee date! Nothing says “I am interested in you but don’t want anyone to know” like a good old fashioned chit-chat in the coffee shop. This is a great way to dip your toes in the waters of friendship before being swept away by the waves of love. And peer pressure.

3) Casual texting. Only it’s not so casual, is it? Develop a steady stream of inside jokes, flirtatious comments and affirmations. If you REALLY want to give your messages that suggestive edge, start adding little smiley faces to everything you say. Example: “It was great getting coffee with you today :]”

4) Casual date. Okay, I realize we are covering a lot of ground in this step, but it is a necessary one. General rule of thumb: go light on activity (light dinner, a flick at the Garland) and go BIG on questions: childhood, interests, hobbies, faith, hopes, dreams and fears. Hold nothing back. How will you know whether or not to commit to DATE #2?

5) Keep it cool. When you get back from your first date (is “date” too strong? How about outing?) people will immediately pounce on you like a cat on an unsuspecting mouse and demand a full account of what you did, how it went, and when the wedding will be. Do not indulge them. Give them an inch, and they’ll take a mile and your free will.

6) Some other things, yada yada yada. You know the drill. Jonny Strain Columnist

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Contact jstrain13@my.whitworth.edu

Electoral College eliminates reason behind right to vote

The Constitution of the United States is a truly remarkable document that weaved the foundation of our country. It is an essential guide for how our government ought to run, but there is one particular element that I believe we must re-evaluate: the Electoral College.

We are incredibly lucky to have the right to vote in this country and we must take advantage of that privilege.

However, I don’t think that we are utilizing our right to the fullest when some votes seem to count more than others.

As a student in Washington state, it doesn’t even matter whom I vote for. Because of King County and other counties on the west side, all 12 of our electoral votes go to the Democratic candidate. As a result, it seems as if my vote doesn’t even count.

According to George Edwards, author of the book “Why the Electoral College is Bad for America”, it discourages voter turnout because people know that their vote won’t make a difference if they’re in the minority or if they’re a state that is clearly going to go for a candidate, it won’t make a difference either and it doesn’t help the candidate to get additional votes.”

Voter turnout is extremely low in the United States; according to the George Madison University United States Election Project, it was only 61.6 percent in 2008.

Our state is so solidly democratic that candidates do not even bother to campaign here. The candidates spend nearly all of their time in swing states such as Ohio.

According to National Journal, Obama’s official campaign committee spent $72,762,477 in Ohio alone. Mitt Romney’s official committee spent $43,198,708.

These numbers do not include spending by other super political action committees (PACs). Millions of dollars were spent in other swing states as well, because candidates knew that these were the votes they would need to win.

Some people argue that the Electoral College causes the candidates to ignore the small states because they won’t have enough impact on the election. However, Edwards writes, “Not only do they ignore small states, but they ignore large states. They ignore California, they ignore Texas and they ignore New York. I mean, the three largest states are ignored. And they’re ignored because they’re not competitive. And that’s due to the Electoral College.”

We are all Americans, and therefore, every vote should be equally important. We should not support a system that encourages the candidates to focus on only a small handful of states and ignore the rest.

I am glad that this election ended with Obama taking the Electoral College as well as the popular vote, because I believe that the person who wins the popular vote should always become president.

Unfortunately, it is possible for a candidate to win the popular vote but not the Electoral College, as was the case in the 2000 election.

The Founders set up this system because they feared tyranny of the majority, as shown in Federalist Paper No. 10, but times have changed. It’s time to switch to a popular vote and have every vote count equally.

Lindsey Hubbart Staff Writer

Hubbart is a sophomore majoring in economics. Comments can be sent to lhubbart15@my.whitworth.edu.

Too much TV time poses dining distraction

By most accounts, the remodeled dining hall and HUB expansion are significant improvements in décor, food quality and variety.

The goal to give the dining hall more of a “restaurant feel” was successfully achieved. If anything, the refurbished dining hall may be too much like many modern restaurants in one respect: the proliferation of TV screens.

To be sure, the menu and announcement displays are great, quickly and very visibly displaying the meal’s options. It is the giant screen showing sports with every meal that is the problem.

Students’ lives are already crammed with electronic media. Apparently we just cannot get enough football.

Brian Stelter of the New York Times reported three years ago that the average American spends 8.5 hours a day exposed to screens of some kind.

There are several reasons to preserve 30 minutes of dining space from being encroached by more TV.

For starters, not everyone wants to watch. Anecdotally, most students I have spoken to have agreed that they would rather not have the TV on during dinner. For some students, dinner is a time to tune out for a little while and relax from studying.

Some students like to be able to get a little reading or studying in. Others would simply like to be able to enjoy a hall dinner or a quiet conversation with a friend.

Indeed, the constant TV provides an all-too convenient escape from conversation.

While there are obviously those who appreciate TV, is it necessary to force everyone to have to deal with the giant screen for the sake of a few?

Well, you might say, just because the screen is there does not mean you have to look at it; just try.

On multiple occasions I have found myself distracted from a lovely meal with my fiancée by a touchdown or particularly painful-looking tackle. To add insult to injury, I do not even like football.

Unless you are willing and able to find refuge at one of the handful of tables beneath the screen, it is nearly impossible to avoid being attracted to the constant motion and flashes of the TV. It is simply too distracting to avoid. Even if you are able to restrain yourself from watching, chances are one or more of the people you are eating with, and presumably talking with, will not be. With that said, there are those who really appreciate being able to watch sports during their meal.

There are a few ways that reasonable accommodations could be made for both sides. One solution could be limiting the number of nights the screen is shown to once or twice a week.

Another possibility would be leaving the flat screen TVs in the expansion on continuously, but discontinue use of the projector in the main dining hall.

That way, students would be able to choose where to sit based on whether they want to watch sports or not. Until that happens, however, in our media-saturated society, the last thing we need is continuous football in the dining hall.

 

Story by Maxford Nelsen Columnist

Nelsen is a senior majoring in political science. Comments can be sent to mnelsen13@my.whitworth.edu.

Intramurals provide alternative community

Whitworth is known for its community; the community in the dorm, the community in the coffee shop and elsewhere. However, the community provided by intramurals is often overlooked. It is so easy for people to skip over sign-up emails or not want to talk to people about forming a team and then miss out on an awesome aspect of Whitworth.

My freshman year, I joined an ultimate Frisbee intramural team and had a blast getting to know other people in my dorm beyond a surface level exchange of hellos in the hallways. Some of those friendships grew deeper due to a friend of mine deciding to spread the word about starting a team.

Now, this year, I was asked to join a new team for ultimate Frisbee intramurals and went into it knowing two people. Now, I have had the chance to form friendships with teammates whom I may have never met, had I not decided to join.

Frisbee is not the only place where community within intramurals takes place. While playing a Frisbee game, I often see football and soccer teams on the other side of the field laughing, high fiving and coming together as a team. There are also intramural teams for volleyball, basketball, soccer, dodgeball, tennis and other sports.

An intramural team allows you to take an hour break from homework for friendly competition. It allows you to get active without the seriousness of a team, practice and training.

After joining a team, you will notice teammates, or competition, all over campus and you will see your community here expand.

I have a teammate whom I met because we play on the same team, and now we notice that we always pass each other on campus and frequently do homework in the coffee shop at the same time.

Before, I did not notice how often our paths crossed and didn’t even know his name. My challenge to you is to stop making excuses.

You will always too feel busy, uninterested, too cool or not good enough until you try it out.

Whatever the excuse is, it shouldn’t stop you from wanting to have an amazing experience, meet new people and expand your community.

Haley Williamson Columnist

Williamson is a sophomore majoring in journalism and mass communications. Comments can be sent to hwilliamson15@ my.whitworth.edu.

Greek and Hebrew Words: Your Inspiration

Do you ever have an idea or concept in your head that simply cannot be put into words? Are you looking for inspiration for a new tattoo, or perhaps a name for your new club, ministry or nonprofit organization?

Are you a fan of using archaic words or objects because they transcend the phoniness of our modern age?

It sounds like you could benefit from developing a shallow but workable vocabulary of Hebrew and Greek words. Let me take a minute to explain why this is a good idea.

Ancient languages are obscure, and obscurity is in. Forget tattoos with Chinese letters and symbols, those went out of style around 2003. Hebrew and Greek? They are the next big thing.

I’m telling you this in confidence so that you can hop on the cool-train before it even leaves the station. Why? Because I like you.

Need a name for your church retreat? Flip through a New Testament Greek Lexicon, flap your fine finger on any one line, and you got yourself a new name!

Example: “Come join us on the Honeydale Community PRAUTES church retreat in November. PRAUTES is the Greek word for spirit, because we’re all spirits, you know?”

The beauty of using an ancient language for your new tattoo or organization name is that not only are the words deep, Biblical and smart-sounding, they are also aesthetically beautiful.

They just look SO COOL! You don’t need a huge tattoo, just get the Hebrew word “hesed,” (which means steadfast love), on the inside of your forearm. Your peers will be entranced.

Besides, if you are a theology major, it is pretty much a requirement that you get a tattoo in either Greek or Hebrew, for New and Old Testament scholars respectively. That’s how we know you are legit, that you really know your stuff.

One final way these words are useful is in the way they help us avoid chronological snobbery, or the false notion that our thinking and way of life are getting better and better as time goes on.

The truth is that we would all be better off if we could just go back to the good old days when things were perfect like in the days of the early church.

Selective use of Greek and Hebrew words ripped out of their Biblical context is a great way to tap into the inherent goodness of old things.

So get out there, you! Start planning out that ministry retreat and sketching your next tattoo idea. Shalom and agape. E pluribus unum. Jonny Strain Columnist

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Contact jstrain13@my.whitworth.edu

“American dream” hones in on Christian commands

The American Dream has seen more popular days. Not only has government expansion gradually crowded out the promise of the American Dream, but certain strains of Christianity have challenged it on a moral and theological level. But is the American Dream really at odds with Christianity? Not necessarily. In some cases the American Dream corresponds with Christian ideals, and in other aspects it depends on how it is approached on the individual level.

At the most basic level, the “American Dream” provides opportunity; it leaves the door open for people to pursue their dreams as far as their hard work and responsibility can take them. In its perfect form, the American Dream does not distinguish between race, nationality, gender or religion, but provides equal opportunity for all to pursue their dreams, none of which is anti-Christian in itself. In the modern context, however, the American Dream is often negatively associated by Christians, such as mega church pastor David Platt, with individualism, materialism and status. Platt argues that Christians should rebel against the American Dream, giving away potentially everything we have instead of simply striving for success. There are two problems with his argument. First, it does the very thing it claims to oppose. If prosperity is viewed as incompatible with Christianity, then why give money to the poor in India or the needy in our communities in order to increase their prosperity? The ultimate goal is the same. Assuming, then, that the goal is to increase others’ well-being, the question must be asked: What is more effective, or more sustainable if you will: giving away all you have in a moment of fervent radicalism, or working hard your entire life to be successful in order to be able to continually contribute to the needs of your community and the world? There is a much stronger biblical case for the latter. Second Thessalonians chapter three recounts how Paul worked and toiled to avoid being a “burden” to anyone.

By working hard and taking responsibility for himself instead of relying on the collective, Paul lived out in a Christian way, the individualism of the American Dream. Working, and working hard, is an integral part of the Christian life. Later on in Second Thessalonians, Paul instructs the Thessalonians that “if a man will not work, he shall not eat.” Regarding status and success, Colossians 3:23 instructs Christians in this way: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” There is no higher work-ethic. Furthermore, Proverbs 14:23 notes that “all hard work brings a profit,” and Proverbs 22:29 declares that a skilled man “will serve before kings,” not “obscure men.” Thus, we are commanded to work hard for Christ and, if we do our duty well, presumably our hard work will bring profit and recognition. Up to this point, this seems to fit nicely with the American Dream.

What Christians need to be wary of is making wealth the ultimate goal. Riches and success are no substitute for reliance on God, since even the richest are not safe from trouble (Proverbs 11:28). The fact that some individuals allow themselves to be controlled by materialism is not an indictment of the opportunity provided by the American Dream. The American Dream that allows one person to relentlessly pursue material success is the same Dream that allows another person to spend a lifetime working in nonprofit ministry. Indeed it is precisely the prosperity that has resulted from the American Dream which has allowed the U.S. to be the world’s largest contributor (by far) to charitable causes, according to Arthur Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute.

Instead of renouncing the American Dream, Christians should take advantage of the opportunity it provides to succeed, and then turn around and reinvest that success back into the Kingdom of God.

Story by Maxford Nelsen Columnist

Nelsen is a senior majoring in political science. Comments can be sent to mnelsen13@my.whitworth.edu.

American culture constricts critical thinking

Back in June, the national media hemmed and hawed when the Texas GOP came out with a platform which included an education plank opposing “the teaching of … critical thinking skills.” Though it later came out that including this phrasing in the platform was a mistake due to oversight, it seems to me this “oversight” might have been a good ole’ fashioned Freudian slip. Though under normal circumstances, very few in our society would verbally advocate against critical thinking skills, examining the actions and norms of our society reveals that mainstream American culture discourages critical thinking.

We see it, perhaps most obviously, in the way we teach history in schools. History (among other subjects) is taught from a singular, presumably “correct,” point of view.

Students are taught to value Christopher Columbus for discovering America, and they are rarely taught to consider the plight of Native Americans getting their land taken as more Europeans came to settle. Students are taught that Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor was an act of aggression, but rarely are they taught why Japan actually attacked.

By teaching from such a singular viewpoint, we prevent kids from learning the art of interpretation and, in effect, keep them from ascertaining the skill of critical thinking.

We tell them how to think rather than allowing them to think for themselves.

But K-12 education isn’t the only place where we see this kind of think-for-us attitude. We also see it in the media with the way that the government and news agencies determine what types of news stories are appropriate for the public. I recently had a conversation with a friend about the difference between the news in the United States and in France. She spent a year studying in France, and shared a story with me about how she and her host father had watched a news report about a nude bar, and how she had expressed that such a thing would never appear on TV in the United States because it would be considered inappropriate. The common argument is that this type of programming is left off the air in the U.S. to protect children from seeing that which is inappropriate for them, and there is some merit in such a caution. However, the danger with having such regulation regarding what can or can’t be shown on TV is that people begin to accept that nudity is not okay without thinking through the question of why—in other words, people accept the condemnation of such programming without critically thinking about the cause for its rejection.

Thinking about this conversation, I asked my 11-year-old sister why she thinks nudity isn’t generally seen on network TV. This is my little sister who can recite and explain all five protections granted by the First Amendment, and who made a sign and joined a protest when the local toy store was being fined for violating signage laws in my hometown. This is my little sister who usually has an opinion about everything.

However, her reply was: “People can’t be naked on TV because people will see them naked and that’s not appropriate.” But why isn’t it appropriate? And why doesn’t our culture encourage us to grapple with these questions?

It is worth looking at these and other examples of our culture stifling critical thinking, and considering the question of “Why?”

Lindsie Trego

Trego is a junior majoring in journalism and mass communication and English. Comments can be sent to lwagner14@my.whitworth.edu.

Tattoos provide a form of transformational ministry

Everyone has their own reason and desire for having a needle slowly inject ink onto their skin, resulting in a tattoo.  In my opinion, there are three types of tattoos. The first type comes from the rebellious phase/I just want a cool or cute tattoo in a generic location that does not mean much but looks sweet, and can be hidden and revealed when chosen.

The second is the artsy or symbolic tattoo that has an awesome story or meaning behind it; this type always sparks a conversation and you know a lot of time was put into thinking about the look, placement and reason behind it.

Finally, there is the ministry tattoo.  Much like tattoo number two, it has a lot of sentiment and meaning, but usually the purpose behind it has to do with one’s faith or relationship with Christ.

This tattoo allows for people to ask what it stands for or why it is important, which opens a door to ministry.  It can be an opportunity to share a verse and the meaning behind it, the way God has moved, impacted or saved their life or just how much they love God.

It is not uncommon for people to see Christians, pastors or others in leadership within ministry, perhaps, with tattoos and think “doesn’t the Bible say not to get tattoos?” Yes, it does.

Leviticus 19:28 says, “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves.”

As much as I respect the Bible as the word of God and as guidance on how we should live our lives, there are some pieces of scripture that Christians may take out of context too often.

If we read this verse for its black and white meaning, not only would we not be allowed to get tattoos, but we would not be eating pork (Leviticus 11) and when women are considered unclean they would have to go through a ceremonial cleansing (Leviticus 15:28). Those are both pieces of scripture that we respect in the Bible, but no longer view as a necessity to be a Christian.

Tattoos can be used for ministry.  They can lead people to ask questions that can be directed back toward having a relationship with God and what that means to that individual.

It may open a door to conversation about Christ in a casual way.  It gives people the opportunity to publicly display what they believe and are proud of.

A simple tree on the ankle, verse on the back or a detailed picture on the forearm may lead to salvation, God’s grace, the power of scripture and more.

It is a good thing that we do not take Leviticus 19:28 so literally, or there could be a lot of people in the world today that would never hear the gospel.

Haley Williamson Columnist

Williamson is a sophomore majoring in journalism and mass communications. Comments can be sent to hwilliamson15@ my.whitworth.edu.

The Smudge: Students too busy and intelligent for Core

It’s bad enough that I hate Whitworth, have no friends because I’m mean and am wasting all my parents’ money by going here when I should be working at Dairy Queen. However, it is infinitely worse that while I am here, I have to go to something as pointless, worthless and trivial as Core. Let’s be real. If I wanted to learn about Hinduism I would just go to China or Iraq. I am a Christian for a reason: Because it’s the TRUTH. If Whitworth is a Christian school, shouldn’t we be studying Christianity? Was Plato a Christian? No. He’s probably in hell, and we’re studying his ideas like they were dipped in gold and kissed by Christ himself.

And I don’t get why Leonard Oakland gets so excited about it. I mean, I understand that he has a PH.D, has taught literature for longer than I’ve been alive, has read 6.5 million books, and is essentially Wisdom Incarnate, but his enthusiasm for Core is definitely misguided. I just think that like, everyone has their own truth, and who are we to question that? I mean, we learn about all these different ideas and thinkers, and they have great ideas, I’ll give them that. But that’s their truth. Why should those ideas be imposed on me? Everyone has their own reality and own sense of value, and it just isn’t right for them to impose these other ideas on us. I just don’t have time to waste energy on something like Core. I am a college student. I can’t do dumb things like worldview papers when I am busy enough as it is complaining about SAGA or building giant forts in my dorm room. I am trying to put into practice Aristotle’s golden mean, by balancing the amount of Core readings I do with the time I spend farting on my roommate’s bed.

When am I ever going to use this information? Why should I be given an opportunity to explore the fundamentals of my thinking? Why should I be forced to examine the philosophical underpinnings of the very way I perceive reality? It’s just stupid for them to make me do that, and a waste of time. Just give me some grace. It’s not like I haven’t at least tried to get into it. I studied for 7 hours straight for the first test and didn’t even sleep. But those tyrants who run the class failed me, and I know they did it on purpose because they were threatened by my worldview. Anyway, I’m all worked up now. I think I’m gonna go play Call of Duty.

Jonny Strain Columnist

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Contact jstrain13@my.whitworth.edu

Schools ought to stick to on-campus affairs

Spokane Public Schools recently made Yahoo news headlines when Rogers High School suspended 32 students for either participating in or watching an off-campus fight. School officials told media that the students were punished by the school because the fight had been planned in school, and therefore had disrupted learning. We’ve seen an upswing in this kind of public school regulation in recent years, with schools offering discipline not only for off-campus fights, but also for things students post online or things they say at home or at work.

I don’t seek to argue about whether Rogers High School, or other schools that have made similar moves were within their legal rights to discipline students. The legality and authority of such actions is its own can of worms. And while I recognize that what these students did was far from right, I do assert that punishing students for off-campus behavior shouldn’t be within a school’s authority.

This kind of discipline is risky in that it takes away the right of parents to choose appropriate discipline for children when not at school, while putting additional pressure on schools to police their students 24/7.

With families having so many different parenting methods and values, it makes little sense to centralize discipline of an entire neighborhood of students to a single school administration. And with students struggling with reading comprehension and math homework, do we really need our public schools spending time keeping an ear out for rumors about things their students may have done after school hours? Not only that, but do we really want our schools spending time investigating and punishing such allegations?

The point is often made that when off-campus fights or off-campus speech start to affect the school environment, they become the business of the administration. To an extent, I would agree.

For example, in the Rogers High School case it was said that the students planned the fight while in school. If so, it is perfectly understandable that the school punish the students for planning the fight on campus during school hours.

In other cases, students have said something off-campus that led to a fight on-campus. For example, in September, an Oklahoma high school student faced suspension because he spoke badly of another student while off-campus, which resulted in that student striking him on-campus.

It’s completely reasonable for that school to have punished the students for the in-school altercation, but not for the off-campus speech.

So should school administration sit idle when it hears of students engaging in dangerous behavior while at home? Absolutely not.

For example, in the Rogers case, administration used cell phone video to identify those involved in the fight.

If they had cell phone video, it would be reasonable for them to pass that information on to the parents and police.

Parents could then discipline the children at home, and police could investigate the case and prosecute it in the juvenile justice system.

Lindsie Trego

Trego is a junior majoring in journalism and mass communication and English. Comments can be sent to lwagner14@my.whitworth.edu.

God’s gifts are testaments to His noteworthy nature

How can you hear about God and not be impressed? Genesis gives us a glimpse of what God is capable of. He made the sky and gave it life. Below it, he created the ocean and the mystery of its depth. He hung all the planets, plus the moon and the stars. Then, He stretched the trees to challenge the height of the tallest mountain peak. He gave life to the microscopic, while in turn made us to match His perfect image. All of this was done for us.

How can you hear about  God and not be impressed?

Look at all the stories in the Old Testament. In the beginning of Isaiah, when God displayed the supremacy He has to destroy the Earth, He rose up powerful nations that were brought into deliverance in God’s name. Other examples include when He spoke to Moses through a burning bush, saved Daniel from the lion’s den and used a mere shepherd, David, to defeat the enemy of the Lord’s city. He provided, promised, saved and loved. Impressed now?

The New Testament continues to display how awesome God truly is. The Gospels tell the story of God’s only son, sent in human form to die a painful death in order to give us life. He loved the rejected, gave to the poor and healed the sick, while He was loved by few and rejected by many. God used Jesus as an instrument to show his abiding love for them, and inevitably for us. To bring peace to the hearts of the troubled, reveal truth in the midst of darkness and clothe with gladness those with hardened hearts. God used Jesus to perform miracles; raising Lazarus from the dead, driving out demons and ridding people of leprosy, blindness and lameness.

Everything Jesus did was through the power of God. God prophesied these accounts to happen so that once Jesus took his last breath, once he said it was finished, we’d have the chance to spend eternity in Heaven with a God that loves us more than anyone ever can.

Impressed yet?

God is the father, the beginning and the end, the all-powerful and untamable who rules with mercy, grace and wisdom.

He loves you; he loves me, for all we are and all we will ever be. While the devil wants to destroy us, He is fighting to keep us in His kingdom and in His arms so that we may live out the promise Jesus states in John 10:10 as His work for God, “I come that they may have life, and have it in full.”

With everything God has done, everything He is capable of doing and the awesome God He is, He still loves us unconditionally. Now that you have read a mere smidgen of God’s impressive work I will ask you again: how can you hear about this God and not be impressed?

 

Haley Williamson Columnist

Williamson is a sophomore majoring in journalism and mass communications. Comments can be sent to hwilliamson15@ my.whitworth.edu.

Too early in the election to rule out a win for Romney

Recently, a Huffington Post article written by Cenk Uygur claimed that the election is practically over and the voters have already decided that President Barack Obama will serve another term. He cites that the latest five polls have all shown Obama to have at least a five-point lead. Also, Romney is currently losing Ohio, which is significant because no one in the last 11 elections has won without winning Ohio. However, I do not believe that the results of this election are set in stone yet. While Romney certainly has some work to do, he still stands a strong chance at winning this election. According to Dick Morris, former political advisor to Bill Clinton, much of the polling data is skewed in such a way to favor Obama. All polls are weighted to accurately represent the voting population, and usually the weights are determined based on the previous election’s results. Comparing previous elections to the last election, Morris writes, “blacks, for example, usually cast only 11% of the vote, but, in 2008, they made up 14% of the vote. Latinos increased their share of the vote by 1.5% and college kids almost doubled their vote share.” However, polls don’t show nearly the same enthusiasm for these groups this time around, but the polls are still weighted this way. Since these groups tend to favor Obama, the polls most likely overstate his margin.

Even though Obama is leading in the polls, Morris notes that he is usually ahead with less than 50 percent of the electorate. He writes that this is a positive sign for Romney because undecided voters tend to vote against the incumbent. For example, Morris notes that when Jimmy Carter was running for re-election, polls showed him winning with less than 50 percent of the vote, but those who were undecided ended up voting for Reagan, costing Carter the election.

Another indication that Romney still stands a chance is the Electoral College predictions from political scientists Kenneth Bickers and Michael Berry of the University of Colorado. They have used the same model since 1980 to predict the outcome every election. Their model predicts a win for Romney, with 325 electoral votes and 52.9 percent of the popular vote.

Finally, we have only had one debate so far, which ended favorably for Romney. In an article titled “Romney lands punches against subdued Obama”, Justin Sink and Amie Parnes of The Hill write, “Mitt Romney dominated the critical first presidential debate Wednesday night.” Even liberals, such as Chris Matthews, a news anchor on MSNBC, accused Obama of being too submissive. Although the debates are unlikely to sway voters who have firmly made up their minds, they can definitely have an impact on undecided voters. It is very important for both candidates to influence this group of voters, since the election will likely be very close.

We will continue to watch the election play itself out before Nov. 5. Romney definitely has an uphill battle to fight on his way to the White House, but it is too early to rule out a win.

Lindsey Hubbart Columnist

Hubbart is a sophomore majoring in economics. Comments can be sent to lhubbart15@my.whitworth.edu.

The Smudge: Whitworth in need of an “Awareness” awareness program

I don’t think students at Whitworth are aware of how important awareness really is. I think we’re missing that crucial ability to recognize that there are important topics and issues that we need to recognize. Because, if you aren’t aware of something, how are you going to know about it? So many important issues, such as eating disorders, racism, poverty, human trafficking, and a whole list of others, are needlessly overlooked by students simply because they lack awareness. Whitworth, we need a wake-up call.

I think that we really need to collaborate and come together as a community in order to start a dialogue about this issue. We need to go toward the difficult and start a courageous conversation about what it really means to be aware.

I was thinking we could have an entire week dedicated to awareness. We can have a booth set up during lunch where we can hand out flyers with some important statistics about awareness and stuff, and then maybe end with a bigger event to bring it all together.

Does anyone have any ideas for speakers? Or maybe a band? My cousin from Montana plays guitar, and he’s pretty good. Just throwing it out there.

However, I think a good thing to be aware of as we begin brainstorming ideas for  “Awareness” Awareness Week, is that, like, people are coming from a bunch of different backgrounds and all have different experiences when it comes to awareness, and I just think we really need to be respectful of that. This will be a really neat opportunity to love on each other and to be servant leaders.

We should also definitely make “Awareness” Awareness Week t-shirts. But because it’s such a touchy subject, be sure to be wary of where you wear your “Awareness” Awareness Week wares, okay?

Who wants to make the posters? Mike, you’re on it. Those posters you made for the “Maybe Jesus is the One” dating awareness program were legit! We’ll also need to send some campus-wide emails, preferably filled with unrelated pictures of cute cats, because people love that! My spiritual gift is crafting cat-picture emails, so I’ll take that one.

I’m so stoked to start putting this together, you guys! If you have any additional ideas, be sure to throw them my way. I am so excited for this opportunity to learn and grow alongside all of you. Shall we pray?

 

Jonny Strain Columnist

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Contact jstrain13@my.whitworth.edu

Discover the truth instead of putting people in boxes

People tend to place others under stereotypical umbrellas. Talking about your faith, politics, morals and life choices is a great thing to do. I consider it wonderful that people are able to have respectable conversations with one another about such things. In doing so, we allow each other to voice opinions whether or not we agree with them. What is unacceptable is when people overgeneralize one statement and consider themselves experts on who the person is.

Too often, I hear people voice their opinion on abortion, or about how they disagree with a lifestyle choice and automatically the person they are conversing with saying, “so that must mean you believe…” What we assume about others is not always true. The fact that they hold one belief or one opinion does not qualify them for other supposed stances they “should” have. A person can live the life of a Christian and also support gay marriage. People don’t always belong in just one box. For example, if someone is voting for Mitt Romney, people  may think the person must be completely against welfare. On the flip side, if someone voted for Obama, then others think  that person must want the government to just hand out money to whomever needs it. We can bring this to a Whitworth level too.  Someone may carry around a mason jar as a cup and they are instantly classified as a hipster.  That overgeneralizes peoples’ lives based on one stance or life choice. I remember once telling someone I was a Christian, and they  responded by saying because I am a Christian I must believe one thing, and live life this one way. People have made incorrect assumptions about me to my face, and it made me take a step back and realize that I have made boxes for others that I need to rid myself of. Respect each other when talking about different beliefs and opinions. Once someone voices their thoughts, don’t assume that the rest of their life, but rather continue asking them questions. Find out from others what else they believe and you might be surprised  that they do not fit into the box you put them in.

Haley Williamson Columnist

Williamson is a sophomore majoring in journalism and mass communications. Comments can be sent to hwilliamson15@ my.whitworth.edu.