Dr. Stephen Stohlmann spoke for the Poehler Lecture on Tuesday, April 17th, 2007, at 7:00 PM at Concordia, St. Paul. His lecture was titled, "What Comes After Easter?" It confronts the issues of whether or not we are living our Christian lives as a school of Christians. Are we trying to hide the fact that we are Christian? We are a Lutheran school-- but we often seem hesitant to admit it. What comes after Easter is Christ's resurrection, and we can now look to our own life in Christ, both the life on this earth to witness and bring others to Christ in his name and to our own new life in heaven that is to come. We are acting ashamed of our Lord and his resurrection when we don't want to take Christian classes or proclaim that we are a Christian university. We should proclaim, because of the Gospel and what Christ has done for us, boldly and confidently that our Lord lives inside of our hearts and we are gathered here in his name, teaching and doing everything "all within the context of the Christian Gospel." Dr. Stohlmann so eloquently addressed an issue that was important for the University to address. He specifically targeted Admissions for the problem, but really, recruitment is something that we all do. The best part of his argument was the content. It was strongly supported by fact, logic, and Scripture, making it credible and sensible. It was an excellent argument because of the logos, or words of his argument. His point was extremely strong, supported, and justified. He did an excellent job explaining and making his points clear. I think that applies to our class because it was such a well-worded and explicated argument. Also, it relates because it once again it shows that because of Christ's resurrection, we have a responsibility to God and our fellow man to witness to those who may not have heard or do not believe that Christ is Lord. All men are equal in the eyes of God, and all should be in heaven on the last day. We cannot idly wait for our Lord's second coming, but make haste and witness to those around us about our Lord's power, might, and grace. We can start where we are, in this Christian University, and branch out where God will take us in our lives. This is only a springboard of the adventure in Christ that is to come. I really enjoyed the lecture. Dr. Stohlmann's passion and vigor truly comes out in his words as he makes his point. It is true that we should recruit differently. Especially for me, having worked in the Admission Office, I see how important it is for us to be honest about who we are and why we are here. I do think that he is right in saying we should present ourselves as Christians and have those who are or are not Christians all take the same class about Christianity, as you would in an Islamic university. The message seemed to say, "Hark, the voice of Jesus crying, 'Who will go and work today?'" and I wanted to respond, "Here am I, send me, send me!" I really enjoyed the lecture and felt God's call once again through the words of the lecture. It was excellent to hear and was definitely a good use of my time.
April 2007 Archives
I went to Feed My Starving Children at Concordia Academy in Roseville this Saturday. We worked in the lunchroom, packaging food for those who need it. I didn't know anyone when I went, but ended up meeting a woman who worked at Bethany House Publishers and the mother-in-law of one of my old high school teachers. It was very fun talking with them and just being quick and efficient enough to get that food prepared for those who need it. At first, I just went to a table and did the sealing of the packages, because secretly, it is my true calling in life. However, I was working with a teenage girl, and her father was just watching us work for the first ten minutes or so because there was no job for him at our table. So, I gave him my job and left to another table who needed me more. It was very fun and warmed the cockles of my heart.
Feed My Starving Children is very relevant to class. Before they let you start working, they show you a movie about the people who the food will go help support. It's not specified to the country that the food goes to for each shipment, but just a general video. It gives some statistics, such as "16,000 children die of starvation each day." It is very relevant because, as we talked about last week, we are all covered by the blood of the Lamb. We are cleansed, made clean, and because of what Christ has done, we may live as forgiven people, awaiting our arrival in heaven. These souls are not exempt from this opportunity at all. God doesn't care what race you are, how smart or dumb you are, what your face looks like, or what you can or cannot do. He cares for you because you are his creation, his very own. However, if people die before hearing the good news of Christ, the Bible says they will go to hell. If we do not save their bodies before they get a chance to hear about Christ, we cannot save their souls. By prolonging their lives, we have a greater chance to reach them with the news of Christ before they die. That is one of the main and central points about the importance of service.
I really enjoyed myself on Saturday, despite it being 7:37 when I woke up. I saw a few people I knew, but for the most part, it was fun just to pack food and be able to concentrate on what I was doing. It makes me sad when people go somewhere to volunteer, but don't really put anything into what they do. I think that's sad. I feel like they go because they go through the motions and don't come because they want to. It happens all the time, but every time I see it, it makes me sad. If you're there, make it meaningful. But that's just me. I had fun, and it seemed very worthwhile to me.
Dr. David Mennicke led a discussion/interactive lecture on spirituals, and the voices of the oppressed and poverty-stricken through music. We looked at Negro spirituals, and then the progression into gospel music; white spirituals; and the musical devices specific to the type of music. We talked about heterogeneous rhythms (those that have a melody with other things added in that are not additional melodies; for instance, the drums or staccato voices added in that have no melody), homogeneous rhythms (Gregorian chants, which do not have harmonies), and other such things. Also, an interesting fact about the syncopation of the song: the syncopation may have had to do with the task they were performing. It was very interesting to learn his position on singing Negro spirituals, which is that it is just as if one was singing a song in Italian: mimic the way it should be done, no matter what your color.
The Negro spirituals often were written when, as slaves, the African-Americans were working in the fields of plantations and such. It was their oppressed voices that come through these songs, mirroring the suffering of the children of Israel under Pharaoh. Even later, after slavery was over and gospel music became bigger, it still referred to the oppression under the whites. Also, some of the white spirituals existed, probably derived from the poor whites who lived in that time as well. I found the information very connected to giving a voice to the poor and marginalized.
I enjoyed this discussion. I thought it was worthwhile and interesting information. I learned quite a few things about music in general and about spirituals in specific. I also thought it very helpful for Dr. Mennicke to have such a respectful appreciation for these songs. I felt it very beneficial for him to mention that singing like a poor black person is just like singing in Italian -- you do your best to make sure it's as accurate as possible. Dr. Mennicke certainly has a passion for both music and giving a voice to the poor, and that came out in his lecture today. I thought it was very pertainable to the course and interesting, as well.
Dick Gabel came in and talked to us about his life and his mission, especially where food distribution (which is what Second Harvest, the company he worked with, does) is concerned. He talked about how his life had been affected by the desire to give a voice to the poor and the marginalized, especially within the context of being a pastor and a dedicated Christian. Mr. Gabel talked about how he became a pastor and started realizing that urban ministry was certainly calling him. He was at Zion Lutheran in St. Paul for awhile, which is near Rice Street, which used to be a very multicultural and dangerous area to be from. They did so many things for the community to pick them off their feet. It certainly worked for a while, and the people really benefited. He worked hard to redistribute the food that was being thrown out in dumpsters, especially those from restaurants and such, and giving them to the poor who need them or want them. This is the main work of Second Harvest, to make food available to those who need it from what is going to waste or maybe just is donated. It is a great program and is truly sensible. Dick Gabel was a pretty good speaker. I talked fast, which kept my attention focused, but was hard to take notes on. I felt like what he said definitely pertained to leading a life of action, focused what we can do to help the poor. And not only that, but what Christ can do through is is a huge part of that. I enjoyed the talk. Like I said, it was interesting, but it was hard to take notes on him because he talked to fast. Other than that, it was an excellent time and I learned a bit about the weird things that you have to deal with when you ask for donations (like a truckload of bubble gum). I guess more than anything, it was good to hear that organizations are out there working to eliminate poverty, and to learn about Second Harvest just in general was pretty good, too. I liked Dick Gabel.
Feed My Starving Children is a non-profit, Christian based organization that works to distribute food packets to people in other nations who are literally starving and suffering from hunger. They use a specially designed formula in order to provide the correct amount of nutrients to a starving person to make them well as soon as possible. They bring packets of nonperishable food to many nations of the world, depending on where the need is first. We made these packets when we came. Due to religion and custom, the formula for the packet of food is very specific: one small scoop of chicken flavoring with added vitamins (chickens can be eaten by most of the population whereas pork or beef would exclude some people); a small heaping scoop of veggies (a substitution for veggies isn't as good as the real thing scientifically speaking); a cup full of soy (preserves well and is also edible by most); and a cup full of rice (recognizable to most people). When put with 6 cups of boiling water (which is fairly accessible to all people), it makes a meal for six people. The amounts of each product are determined based on the combination of cost-effectiveness and what is needed most by the body, and are very specific. The bags also have to weigh a certain amount in order to get sent off, because if the boxes are too heavy, then shipping prices increase and such. Their company is definitely growing, and it's getting hard to book times for people to come in and help. It is certainly helping preserve the starving children in other nations. This service pertains to the course because it is directly shows how to act because of our principles and beliefs about poverty. It allows us to reach in and help those who are impoverished from our home right here in America. It is a fun and convenient activity which increases awareness of life for the people of other countries. I really enjoyed going. It is sad to say, but serving others certainly makes you feel better about yourself. It makes you feel good that you were able to help a person in need. And what's important, whether or not it was actually fun and what not, is the fact that we helped other people live another day. I pray that God blesses that food and that it goes to whoever needs it most. I thank God for my blessings and for all he has given me. God is truly an amazing God.
On Monday and Tuesday (April 2 and 3), Dr. Cheryl Chatman and Tyrone Terrill came to Honors to talk about Martin Luther King, Jr., his work, and his life. They also then addressed the affects of racism. Racism is caused by our education; people are not innately racist. We must work to reeducate our society and eliminate or reduce racism. Also, Dr. Chatman and Mr. Terrill talked about how Martin Luther King attempted to reduce poverty. He was only around for a short time before being assassinated in 1968, but he made a lot of speeches and worked hard to fight inequality of all kinds. As he said in The Letter from Birmingham Jail, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
This discussion was important to the class as a whole because it showed a truly great example of passion being turned into action. Martin Luther King traveled all over the nation making speeches about inequality. He didn't just lounge around on his couch caring for people; he went out and did something about it. He helped organize the Bus Boycott. He was protesting in Birmingham when he was arrested. He felt something was not right and he acted to correct it. Action is where the difference is made.
I liked that Dr. Chatman and Mr. Terrill covered so many topics that fell under the heading of Martin Luther King. I like how they did not just talk about his racial equality protests, but also his work for the elimination of socioeconomic barriers as well, which are also extremely important. They also still gave us information about King's life, which I appreciated. I really like Dr. Chatman because I feel that she is intelligent and fun, simultaneously, and brings much passion to her teaching. I also liked that she brought in someone else to help her teach, showing humility and giving us the best chance possible to learn by increasing the perspectives. I felt that two days was appropriate time to cover all that we did, and the paper requirement (having it due before we had class) helped immensely, so that I was more prepared for the topic. I thought it was really good to have them come in and talk.