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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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The Smudge: How to smoke your first cigarette

There are three kinds of people in the world: the smoker, the non-smoker, and the poor, conflicted soul caught somewhere in between. At a place like Whitworth University, there is nothing more uncomfortable and hilarious than the earthshaking collision of these three people. All three claim to be open-minded and operate according to a certain kind of ethic. The non-smoker is a virtue ethicist, asking the ever-important question, “What does it look like to be a good, virtuous person?” On the other hand, the smoker’s open-mindedness is more a biological condition in which the “openness” of their mind is simply an absence of brain cells, which have since been killed off by vapors and chemicals. And then there are the fence-sitters. These folk are the kind-hearted and endearing friends-to-all who don’t want to judge, but want to live fully and meaningfully. It is for you, my blessed ones, that I have created a guide to help you be “in the world, but not of it.” Here are some tips on how to smoke your first cigarette, when the opportunity most surreptitiously arises. 1) DON’T BE A HERO: I’m serious, you guys. It may be embarrassing not to finish the whole thing, but it’s infinitely worse if you end up ralphing all over the place. If you simply can’t continue, just stop inhaling. Puff the smoke only into your mouth, and then make the classic “that’s good stuff” face as you huff it out. No lungs, no problem! No one will even notice.

2) Avoid the smoker’s ledge outside the coffee shop windows: This spot is reserved for PROFESSIONAL SMOKERS ONLY. You don’t want to embarrass yourself. Besides, that spot is judgment city, and is no place for the closet-smoker (no offense).

3) Choose your friends: Be with people you are comfortable with, or people you want to reach out to. Maybe it’s that edgy friend who is rough around the edges, but is really a good guy.

4) Cover your trail: Run home. Don’t talk to anybody. When you get home, tear your clothes off, and throw them in the washer. Brush your teeth, floss and rinse with mouthwash. Febreeze your entire room.

5) Don’t tell anyone who wouldn’t understand: Smoking isn’t bad, right? It’s simply misunderstood. Don’t make the classic mistake of sharing your recent endeavor with a narrow-minded friend or parent, lest you feel the oppressive weight of their clandestine judgment.

Now get out there, you silly geese! A world of new and exciting things awaits for your open mind and willing heart. But don’t be a hero. Trust me.

Jonny Strain Columnist

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The Smudge: Coloradoans over zealous about Colorado

Coloradoans over zealous about Colorado We are only in our fourth week or so of classes, and already students all over campus are sick of their Coloradoan peers constantly informing them about the wonders of their glorious  place of origin.

Have you met a Coloradoan yet? You would  know if you have. It would actually be exceptionally surprising if you have not yet had this pleasure, seeing as how a Coloradoan will seize any opportunity to dive into an unsolicited monologue about their love of nature, mountains, and truth; three things that are apparently woven into the very fabric of their souls.

If they are actually gracious enough to wait for your authentic inquiry as to the whereabouts of their hometown, they will instantly be taken to another world. Their eyes will sparkle and rise upward, as if fixated on the snow-capped tip of Pike’s Peak. Their gaze will then snap back to yours as they peer deep into your soul. Eventually they will rediscover the faculty of language and reply, with great veneration, “I…I am from…..COLORADO!”

It is actually rumored that Coloradoans are not born, but rather emerge from the stone and pine of the mountains, a wondrous coalescence of the wild and spirited beauty that is COLORADO.

A typical conversation with a Coloradoan might sound like this:

“Hey Colorado Mike, how’s it going? Isn’t Mount Spokane beautiful?”

“Yeah, it’s ok. But have you ever been to the Garden of the Gods? I spent an entire summer there once, reflecting on the transcendent nature of its inexplicable beauty. I actually wrote a poem about it, if you would like to hear it.”

What you need to understand is that they are not trying to sound haughty and pretentious. They really aren’t. In fact, I have found that, generally, they are actually very likeable people.

I know it is a pain to deal with their eccentricities and overwhelming sense of pride, but hang in there! Because when it comes down to it, one very simple and painful fact remains: we’re stuck with them.    Jonny Strain Columnist

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The Smudge: Musings on Whitworth silliness & culture

Whitworth friendship: Feel the magic I don’t know if you heard, but Whitworth relationships have a special quality, nay, MAGIC, that you will not find anywhere else in this world, and arguably, the universe. Are you reading this right now? Pay attention. Now stop reading. Look up, and look around. All around you are potential relationships that will last a lifetime. Do not miss this opportunity. It may be too late. Crap, it is too late. Wait! Maybe it’s not.

Conventional wisdom tells us that friendships are a product of time, purpose and intentionality. But things run a little differently at Whitworth. Once you step behind the Pinecone Curtain, there is automatically a spiritual dimension that allows you to forge lifetime bonds in a matter of hours. It is pretty much guaranteed that you will find your best friend within the first week of school, and if you don’t, you are probably doing something wrong. You have to believe in the magic!

Here are some things that can help, if you need some tips:

Have conversations about Jesus with people from your hall until 2 a.m. as often as possible.

Jump into pick-up frisbee games, wherever they might arise.

Go on spontaneous explorations of Spokane. Don’t plan, silly, just do it!


Go to dinner exclusively with that group of 5-6 people who you discovered are simply the coolest. Is that guy/girl who caught your eye during Traditiation in that group? Even better.

Find a church. Join a small group and start leading worship. Go on retreats while helping with Young Life and babysitting your new pastor’s kids.

Get to know that guy in your dorm who is outgoing, good looking, super funny and totally not using volume to make up for insecurity. You know who I’m talking about.

The general rule of thumb when it comes to kick-starting these relationships is to be spontaneous, outgoing and carefree. And leave room for Jesus. But don’t waste time, because you only have the first couple weeks to make it happen. There is nothing more special than finding that group of friends that will be with you through thick in thin these next four years. Get on it, and start experiencing the magic! Trust me.   Jonny Strain Columnist

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