Opinion Is Knowledge in the Making

I am of the opinion that I can change my opinions.

I am young. I am curious. I am testing ideas to see if they hold up.
And I am learning.

Sometimes people don’t understand why I’m so curious and why I’m so willing to test ideas and beliefs. I understand their fears; they want what is best for me and are afraid of where my journey might take me. I appreciate that.

I want what is best for me too—that’s why I’m so willing to challenge ideas and belief systems. How else can I know what I actually believe and why I believe it?

The great poet John Milton (think: Paradise Lost) wrote, “Where there is much desire to learn, there of necessity will be much arguing, much writing, many opinions; for opinion in good men is but knowledge in the making.”

I am willing to risk being wrong in order to learn. I recognize that the ideas I hold to now might not be the same ideas I hold to later. But right now I argue about them, write about them, and have opinions about them. I do this in the hope of gaining knowledge. My opinions may change…. *I reserve the right to change my opinions!*

“What is true? and what is truth?” People have asked this question since the beginning of time. Eve asked it when she was tempted by the serpent. The ancient Egyptians asked it because they believed their hearts would be weighed against the feather of truth in the afterlife. Pontius Pilate asked it of Jesus before sentencing Him to death. Every person has asked it (audibly or not) at some point. I’m don’t pretend to imagine that, out of all these people, I will be the one to know all truth. But I want to know as much truth as I can.

So I question. I think. I write. I argue. I form opinions.
And that doesn’t scare me.
It’s all part of my journey.

The Parable of Margaret Hamilton: Christian Women and Higher Education

Liberated

You’ve probably never heard of Margaret Hamilton. You’ve probably heard plenty about Neil Armstrong, one of the first men on the moon, but there isn’t much said about his support system. Margaret Hamilton is the woman who sent him to the moon–and without her, he may not have come home again.

She was one of the founding fathers (ahem–mothers) of modern software. Without her brilliance and mad coding skills, software as we know it would not exist and those men may never have landed on the moon. She was working as a programmer at MIT to get her husband through law school when the Apollo program started. At the time, she had an undergraduate degree in math and a 4-year-old daughter she frequently brought with her to the lab. She was chided occasionally for abandoning her motherly responsibilities for the space program. The chiding stopped when America won the race…

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Elizabeth Lorelai?

Sometimes, I relate very strongly to Lorelai Gilmore. I was recently introduced to the show and have been fascinated with her fun, quirky character. (I’m still in season one! Sh!) I’m a little worried, though…because I think she might be rubbing off on me. Why else would I be writing emails such as this one to the public library?

Hello,

I’m so sorry, but I set a DVD on top of my car as I was getting in and then drove off with it still on my car. It fell off somewhere in my journeying and is lost. I’m hopeful that some kind soul will find it and turn it in, but I want to let you know right away so that you can rework any holds on it. I’m willing, of course, to pay a replacement fee for the DVD: Gilmore Girls, season one, vol. 3—only fitting that I would lose that DVD the same way I imagine Lorelai would. . . . Again, I’m so sorry. Please let me know what I need to do.

Thanks,
Elizabeth Turner

Allow my to clutch my coffee in mortification.

See what had happened was that I was dashing out of my apartment, and my hands were full of stuff, and I was trying to get the keys out of my purse, but things were falling, so I set all four DVDs on top of the car while I finished putting my stuff inside the car, and then I grabbed the DVDs, tossed them into the passenger seat, and took off. But when I reached the library, I could find only three of the four DVDs. And one must have remained on top of the vehicle until it decided to take a swan drive into the road behind me.

So…whether Lorelai is rubbing off on me, or whether we just happened to already share a lot of similar characteristics, I owe the library $10 for the swan-diving DVD.

DMV, Donating, and Tears

I cried in the DMV parking lot today.
And I was laughing as I cried.

Maybe I was crying because I was hungry.
Maybe I was crying because I had officially registered my new car.
Maybe I was crying because I rang a little bell after donating one dollar to Donate Life.
Or maybe it was all of the above. (That’s the most likely, to be honest.)

I just sat there in my new car, laughing and crying at the same time in the parking lot of the DMV.
Here’s the observation I came away with.

Be grateful.

I knew there was a healthy meal waiting for me at home. That’s a privilege that many people don’t have.

I drove my new (okay, new to me) car home. It has air conditioning. The locks work. The headlight isn’t held on with packing tape. And I don’t have to roll the window down so I can open the door from the outside in order to exit the vehicle! This is wonderful!

And I have the gift of life. I had the privilege of living this day. I had the privilege of donating one small dollar. I had the privilege of remembering my aunt and the two lives that she helped by donating her kidneys.
(Uh…you should consider donating money too. Right here. ‘k, thanks.)

These are all things to be grateful for.
Donate Life

Learning to Grieve

How long can one stare at a blinking cursor before writing any words?

What do you say when you don’t know what to say? Or, even if you know what to say, how should you say it?

The cursor blinks again.

A year ago, I was praying, begging God to spare the life of my aunt, to let her wake up. But when faced with an unexpected accident and a loved one fading away, there comes a point when you accept what is happening. A point when you realize that there is nothing more you can do, a point when you realize that God isn’t sending a miracle.

When that moment came for me, I felt numb. My face still had the dried salt of tears on it, but I’d stopped crying. All I really felt was an emptiness—and a headache. Crying has some nasty side effects.

My parents came out to celebrate with my sister and me as we finished our degrees, and then they left for the funeral. My brother and sister went with them. I had to stay behind to start my new job.

I grieved in my own way—writing. All the emotions found themselves landing on a page where I could process them, analyze them, and appreciate them. We need the emotions in our lives. (Hello, Pixar. Good job.) Most of those writings are not for public sharing. But they did help with private healing. And that’s okay.

So, wherever you’re at, whatever is going on in your life, whatever you’re grieving, it’s okay. When the cursor blinks . . . and blinks . . . and blinks, it’s okay. Sometimes you won’t know what to say. Or how to say it. And that’s okay. Sometimes you won’t even know what emotions you’re feeling, and (you guessed it) that’s okay.

Hang in there.

Psalm 121

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

 

#WhenIWas

 

1On April 19, 2016, a new hashtag trended through Twitter, raising awareness of how early discrimination, abuse, violence, and sexual harassment start.

 

For the next several days, post after post shared experiences of both men and women, though most entries were about women. Even I chimed in.2.png

 

Sometimes people tell me that we no longer need feminism. Or they tell me that women’s rights are not their battle. Or they tell me that people are just being over-dramatic and seeking attention.

But when I read through the millions of #wheniwas posts, I see the need for feminism. I see the need for all people to defend each other’s rights. And I see people who have been hurt and need love and compassion.

I contacted several posters on Twitter and received permission to share their tweets.

A-17

Some said things similar to what I had said. My mother taught my siblings and me that it was never okay for boys to hit girls. We need to continue to teach children that abuse is unacceptable.

B-22Other posters shared stories of the sexual abuse they had endured. We need to see and intervene when a child is being abused. We need to believe children when they try to tell us. We need to learn how to understand whatever methods they use to try to tell us.

We need to stop blaming the victims. They need our love and compassion, not our judgement and criticism.C-10

 

D-20We need to stop excusing children.

We need to stop protecting and excusing abusers. It doesn’t matter if the abuser is a celebrity or the least-known person on the planet. Abusive behavior must not be tolerated.

E-12 E-15

F-4

We should teach girls that they are just as worthwhile as boys. We should seek to erase from our minds the idea that men are better than women.

We should fight against street harassment. And when we see if happening, we need to defend the people being harassed (and often endangered).

G-14

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And finally, we need to treat each other with respect.

We need to wake up to the discrimination, abuse, violence, and sexual harassment that continues worldwide. People are crying out for change.

We must work for a better future. It is both an individual task and a community task. It is a task that requires us to stop participating in these destructive behaviors and attitudes, and it is a task that requires us to speak up when we see wrong being done.

Bringing “Far Away” Close to Home

Far AwayThe Friday evening performance of Caryl Churchill’s Far Away provoked the audience to contemplate the decaying human condition. The intimate space of Bob Jones University’s Performance Hall allowed us to vividly experience each moment in a play that depends on the emotions evoked by its images and word play. Directed by senior theatre major C.J. McElhiney, the play featured three speaking characters and a silent ensemble.

The production began with three faculty members giving clear introductions and explanations that prepared the audience for what it was about to see. Then the actual show began, opening on a dimly lit stage. Shadowy figures moved in the background. Then they left and the lights faded into stars, which combined with natural sound effects to create the feeling of being in a forest at night.

In scene one, JOAN (Janie Board) and HARPER (Jessica Ingersoll) engage in an understated interrogation, each trying to discover what the other knows. Harper tries to end the conversation with every answer she gives, and Joan tries to continue it with each question she asks. The actors portray these two characters believably and simply, allowing the audience to fill in the unspoken details and emotions. The crisp, sterile speech contrasts the bloody images it describes, defiling itself only momentarily when the actors raise their voices in a quest to discover or to hide the truth. As the scene ends, the audience is still unsure of what had happened, but also feels a gnawing awareness of an evil being dismissed.

The transitions between scenes were visible in a dim light, allowing the audience to follow a time jump of several years. In the second scene, we meet Joan again—this time as an adult, working in a hat factory with TODD (Jonathan Watson). Todd guides Joan through her first few days in the hat factory, giving advice on hats, lunch, and office politics. It is quickly obvious that there are certain things best left unsaid for fear of being overheard by the wrong people. The actors convey the tension exquisitely—the furtive glances felt real, and the moral dilemmas seemed familiar to anyone who has joined a workplace only to have a coworker explain the political maneuvering awaiting the new employee.

The transitions within this scene were more hidden, each time bringing a new, more complete version of the hats. When the hats are finally finished, the scene introduces a parade. The ensemble members step out, attired in tattered gray clothing and wearing the spectacular hats. They slowly march a dreadful, exhausting march across the stage until they are standing on all sides, surrounding Joan and Todd and facing the audience. A well-dressed man in a tailored suit glides among the ensemble and selects a winning hat, and thus condemns the entire ensemble. Yet as the parade reaches its demise, Joan and Todd continue making hats blithely. They are content to ignore the ultimate destination of their hats, and instead focus on their indignation at the corruption of their workplace. Surrounded by the legacy of their work, they decide to act on their personal complaints.

The final scene occurs in Harper’s home once again. This time Todd and Harper engage in a nonsensical debate, yet the actors committed very well to the strange words and comparisons. The arguments sounded as though the actors truly believed that what they were saying was true. And although the words themselves made little sense to the audience, they created a feeling of doom as nature turned against itself. Then Joan joins the conversation and describes her horrific journey. She paces along the edge of the stage and makes eye contact with audience members as she delivers a lengthy monologue, appealing to them to understand her. Her words paint a picture of death and decay accompanied by ruthlessness and complete selfishness. Her words leave the audience horrified, unsure whether to feel sympathy or disgust.

Then the production ends, leaving the audience uncomfortable—disturbed by the images they have seen and the things they have heard that reveal the worst of human depravity and yet still maintain echoes of familiarity. So many elements touched aspects of our own lives, and I left wondering how far I would have to go before what I had seen and heard became my reality.

Congratulations to the cast and crew. You took a challenging script and turned it into a thought-provoking and haunting production. There is one more showing, if anyone would like to attend. A few tickets will be sold at the door for this evening’s 7:30 performance. It would be well worth your time to try to go.