Sir Salman Rushdie is a prize-winning British-Indian writer best known for his novels “Midnight’s Children” and “The Satanic Verses,” the latter of which led to accusations of blasphemy against Islam in 1988, sending him into hiding for several years. Nonetheless, he never stopped writing; since his first book in 1975, Rushdie has written eleven novels, as well as children’s books, a collection of short stories, and four non-fiction books. His twelfth novel, “Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights,” was published in September by Random House. In “Two Years,” the sky splits open and a war between the jinni and the humans breaks out, raging on for two years, eight months, and 28 nights – or, in other words, 1,001 nights. Stories unfold to reveal other stories and weave into and around one another, defying proper summarization. The book opens with Ibn Rushd, a Muslim philosopher from the twelfth century, for its outermost layer, and at the center of it all lies Dunia the jinni, the Lightning Princess, blending history and mythology together. Rushdie’s work of magical realism brings “One Thousand and One Nights” into the modern world, drawing on its narrative frame structure, the struggle of life and death, and folktale storytelling. The novel combines satirical wit with unflinching thoughtfulness to create a tone of intimacy with the reader, like a story told between close friends. The story invokes Arab, Persian, and Indian mythology and spans across millennia and cultures to reach out to as many audiences as will answer its enchanting call. Newcomers to Rushdie’s fiction may have a difficult time deciphering some of the messages and images he implants into his conflict between good and evil, faith and reason; Rushdie suggests that human imagination relies upon hate and violence – that the balance between humanity’s ability to create and ability to destroy is a crucial facet of the human experience, both individually and collectively. Many other such philosophical and spiritual ponderings are subtly imbedded deep into the prose. The disorganized story-within-story structure may also turn away those who prefer a straightforward plotline. “Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights” is a captivating novel with layers of satire, philosophy, theology, and symbolism. Whether the reader is a devoted follower of Rushdie delving into his ideological depths or only wants to pick up a unique experience to pass the time, the novel is an entertaining and captivating read.
March 6, 2017In light of Valentine’s Day, I want to start an honest conversation about Christian dating culture at George Fox University (GFU). On February 14th, I sat in an apartment with seven other girls and a guy. My lifegroup leader had brought her significant other; we were going to talk about love. We were captivated as we drank tea on the couch and they answered our deluge of tough questions about relationships and marriage with poise and wisdom. I, for one, came in with a million questions and even more doubts. What if their answers were uncomfortable? What if it turned out that I had no idea what love is? They gave practical advice that I had never once heard from a pastor. And this is the great irony:in a of room six college students who had grown up in the Christian faith, a religion that is supposed to be characterized by love, not one of us knew what to make of the Christian portrayal of romance. One statement my leader made, I will not forget. She told us that, as Christians, we are pressured to focus on the future, especially in regards to marriage and dating. And she said to us, “You can’t anticipate that future because you don’t know that ‘you’ yet.” As a collective group, we have made romance more about control than love; people try to control their future, their ability to plan and commit, and let’s be honest, when they can have sex. We no longer trust and explore. We control and “‘obey’.” And, by and large, we have been taught to do this by the Church. Think about the last time you were given actual, practical relationship advice in a church service or chapel that wasn’t based on control or obedience. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Now think of the number of times you’ve walked out of a service feeling ashamed of your choices or having heard a message about finding the person God planned for you. If you grew up in the faith, you’ve probably heard this too often to count. That’s a lot of pressure to put on relationships. And that’s a lot of pressure to put on any person: they have to be the “‘one.”’ I have had experiences with relationships that have hurt me, as have most of us. This is a part of life —, a part of growing up. But because of the messages taught in Church that link our relationships with our identity, I believe that the love hurts more often than it heals. What hurt me the most was not the actual break up but the fallout from it. There was this sort of unspoken expectation that it would work out, because, in a subversive kind of way, Christian uUniversity dating culture says, “If you date for longer than a month, you’re in it for life.” It was as if “, no” was not an answer that was allowed; expectations had already determined our future. My lifegroup leader pointed out that we often throw around phrases about love and marriage like they’re nothing. “Oh so when’s the wedding?” Elbow, elbow, nudge nudge. “I’m gonna talk about this at your guys’ reception.” It’s like we don’t even consider the idea that it’s okay to just date to get to know someone or that dating may be just as much about getting to know yourself. Being at a small school doesn’t help. With one sighting at Chapters or Coffee Cottage, everyone knows and everyone cares. I am not against dedicated relationships. I’m in one. But we must remember that it takes a while to get there. There will be failures, setbacks, and close calls. There will be almosts and not-quites and some-days. But marriage is not for the faint of heart and divorce statistics will back that up. So, we must ask ourselves: in a culture where one date means marriage, what are we really telling our children about commitment? You may wonder why I’ve brought up this issue, or what the point of talking about it is. And to that I would respond, why not? Why are we more afraid to talk about dating than we are to get married after 6 months? It’s time that we stop being afraid and start having these kinds of conversations. Ask someone out, go to coffee, get to know people. If you like it, you really really don’t have to put a ring on it. At least not yet.
March 1, 2017Most students attending GFU profess some kind of Christian faith, be it Quaker, Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, Presbyterian, or any number of other denominations. However, a small but significant population of students either align themselves with other religions or identify as agnostic or atheist. Atheist students, along with other non-Christian students, are not known at George Fox University (GFU) — at least, not in the same way Christian students are. While GFU promises each student will be known at an individual level, non-Christian students find it difficult to see this pledge lived out, as many professors teach with the assumption that all students in the classroom are Christians. Some professors may struggle to connect with non-Christian students because of their differences in faith. Professors use “we” and “us” when describing the ideologies and values of Christians, often without recognizing that not everyone in the room may feel like they belong. A simple statement like, “I’m going to use ‘we’ when talking about Christians because I’m operating under the assumption that the majority of the class is Christian. If you do not agree with any beliefs addressed or have any questions regarding this, please ask me,” from a professor might do a lot to make students of other faiths more comfortable in class. By acknowledging that non-Christian students attend this university, GFU can create stronger relationships with these students and work to build an atmosphere of understanding and community. Another challenging place for non-Christian students is Bible class. One student, who asked to remain anonymous, informed me that in his Bible Survey class, the professor assumed all the students were Christians by asking them to write papers regarding the history of their church, with no alternative offered to students of differing beliefs. The same student shared his experience at GFU, saying, “I find great moments of just dire resentment against what’s being told to me . . . I find moments of real connection . . . to find the good in people, the love.” These presumptions on the part of GFU, it seems to this writer, do not facilitate an environment where students from differing walks of life can come together and learn from each other’s journeys. Often, when peers learn of a student’s religious difference, they ask, “Why are you here then?” Scholarship money, convenience, and family influence only skim the surface of that question. One senior at GFU has been asked this question frequently. “In the end, it shouldn’t matter why people who aren’t Christian come here,” she said, “We are here and have every right to ‘be known’ . . . as much as anyone else. So the ‘why’ shouldn’t matter. We are here.” Creating a space where these students feel comfortable sharing their beliefs should be important to GFU. If GFU created a way to facilitate conversations between these students and other students who are Christian (maybe via a club on campus), understanding could be reached. This diversity should not be scary. Rather, it should signal our coming together to address unique standpoints. Perhaps opening ourselves to the possibility of learning from one another would create a better Christ-like community. And isn’t that what GFU strives to provide?
December 7, 2015Female superheroes are only now starting to dominate the small screen. This geek has been impatiently waiting six months for the premiere of CBS’s “Supergirl.” The reboot means a lot, not only to CBS, but also to comic fans everywhere. Can this version of “Supergirl” be something that lasts for more than two episodes? I hope so. My own journey with “Supergirl” started a time long ago… Helen Slater played Kora Zor-El, the cousin of Clark Kent/Superman in the 1984 film. Slater’s turn in the cape inspired me to come out of the shadows and learn how to use my gifts. The beginning of the movie reveals Kara as a woman who is unique, but afraid to embrace herself fully. Her cousin is known across the world; however, she does not believe the world wants another alien in the “saving people and stopping evil” business. She steps into herself only when she has no other choice. (This is a thread found with most female superheroes.) Kara begins to believe in her gifts and decides to be an active part of humanity. If you were to watch it now, you might laugh at the cheesiness of the plot—Christopher Nolan wasn’t making films then—but you may find yourself enjoying the ’80s attempt to bring more female superheroes into our lives. Thirty-one years later, I found myself rushing home today to watch the pilot of “Supergirl.” Going in, I knew there would be a campy vibe to the show (the previews set that up), but I wasn’t sure of how they would portray Kara’s transformation into the “other” Super. The creators did not disappoint. Immediately, they introduce Kara to her new family on earth, the Danvers. Playing her new mother and father were Helen Slater (Supergirl 1984) and Dean Cain (Superman from “Lois & Clark”). I loved the nod to the old vanguard—something “The Flash” also has done. This TV version of Kara also struggled with being the lesser Super; she thought she should just blend in. But life, as it always does, throws a wrench in her understanding of what participating in life actually looks like. Kara only steps back into her identity when she sees her sister’s plane circling National City, about to crash. Initially, her sister Alex tells Kara to not be like her cousin. (I won’t go in depth here, or I will spoil things for you.) Kara does not try to keep her identity a secret from her friends, which allows the writers to jump straight into stories, instead of dealing with a subplot that always drags the story down. The creators have tweaked the mythos of Kara enough to keep fans of the comics entertained and a new audience hooked. The casting is fantastic (so far) and the overall setting for the show is colorful and recognizable. There were several lovely twists in the premiere, and even though I would love to give you a more in depth recap/opinion, I can’t because I haven’t figured out how to not spoil the joyful goodness that is “Supergirl.” CBS has done something impressive with a thirty-minute show. Fans of “Arrow,” “The Flash,” “Marvel’s Agents of Shield,” “Agent Carter,” “Smallville,” and “Lois & Clark” will enjoy this take on the “other” Super. If you are looking for a show that will leave you feeling unashamed for spending thirty minutes geeking out, this is your show. If you are looking to end your Mondays on a good note, please check out “Supergirl.”
December 3, 2015There are only a few more weeks until Star Wars takes over the planet. December 17th will be a day filled with nerds, geeks, and ubergeeks crying, cheering, and in complete awe of J.J. Abrams and his take on Star Wars. But in order to prepare for this moment, one I will remember for the rest of my life, I have started to re-watch the first six movies. Technically, I feel that Episode 4, 5, and 6 are the only ones anyone needs to watch; I can’t stand the CGI in the first three episodes (not to be confused with the first three movies released) nor Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker. However there are reasons to re-watch the first three episodes. The first is to see if the idea of Jar Jar Binks as a Sith spy is even credible—which I admit, after re-watching, seems like a brilliant plot thread. The second reason is to watch the lightsaber fights between Qui-Gon, Darth Maul, and Obi Wan, Mace Windu and Palpatine, Yoda and Count Dooku, Yoda and Palpatine, and Obi Wan and Anakin. The third reason is to understand why Boba Fett is who he is. And the final reason is to remind yourself that there is always two—a master and an apprentice. And now that I have watched all six episodes again, I am left waiting, impatiently. But for few hours (where I should have been studying), I was able to tap into the feeling of pure wonder. This feeling will never let you down. The first few notes of the John Williams soundtrack will always bring you back to a moment when you questioned why Stormtroopers never seemed to hit their targets or to the moment when you fell in love with Wicket or to the moment Yoda’s words etched themselves into your very bones. “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” So as I continue to countdown to the 17th, I am preparing myself for something in episode 7 that will make me cry, that will make me angry, and that will make me jump out of my seat. But this is the great thing about being a Star Wars fan. The wonder of it all is electric.
November 5, 2015George Fox University’s own Melanie Springer Mock co-wrote the book “If Eve Only Knew” with Kendra Weddle Irons. Published in July, “If Eve Only Knew” investigates evangelical Christianity’s conception of gender and the biblical basis (or, as the book contends, the lack of a biblical basis) for such perceptions. Mock is a professor of English at GFU and teaches creative nonfiction, journalism, and other writing courses. She has published three other books and her essays have appeared in numerous academic and popular presses. Irons is a professor of Religion and Humanities at Texas Wesleyan University, a contributor to the Evangelical and Ecumenical Women’s Caucus website, and author of “Preaching on the Plains” (2007). Together, Mock and Irons run the blog “Ain’t I a Woman?” to engage with popular culture from a feminist Christian perspective. Each chapter of “If Eve Only Knew” delves into a different myth of biblical womanhood, beginning by breaking down the first few chapters of Genesis and reinterpreting Eve’s role in what traditionally has been called “the Fall.” It goes on to tackle such iconic biblical figures as Ruth and Boaz, address the pitfalls and double standards inherent in the concept of sexual purity, challenge the Christian patriarchy, and more. In the end, the book redefines biblical womanhood within the new, broader parameters it has now explored. “If Eve Only Knew” makes a well-organized argument in witty, conversational prose that is accessible to readers unfamiliar with either evangelical or feminist terminology. It provides a fresh perspective on biblical interpretation, based almost exclusively in close readings of the Bible itself and supported with other scholarly works and the experiences of women in the church. The book has received largely positive reviews, and according to Gary Tandy, chair of GFU’s English and Theatre departments, the book allows for different ways of thinking about women and equality from a Christian perspective. While the ease of reading may make it more accessible to the average reader, “If Eve Only Knew” may be jeopardized by its own niche perspective. Secular feminists uninterested in theology – especially a theology that is so historically patriarchal – and evangelical Christians wary of feminism – which is often viewed as a threat to the sanctity of the nuclear Christian family – will both be prone to passing it by on the bookshelf. As the authors themselves write, being Christian feminists is to inhabit a space that “is not well worn.” The feminist slant presents an undeniable bias, but “we always bring our own lens to the Bible,” said Tandy, and more widely accepted interpretations are no different. “If Eve Only Knew” opens up a much-needed dialogue by challenging many of the ideologies and practices within the evangelical Christian church that have gone unchallenged for generations. Mock and Irons strive not to attack Christianity, but to empower and engage those who follow traditional practices and interpretations without examination. At its core, “If Eve Only Knew” is a hopeful book about expanding our understanding of Scripture in order to fulfill everything we – not as men or women but as humans – are meant to be.
October 28, 2015As an international student here at George Fox University (GFU), I can say studying in a foreign nation is much harder than I expected. I would like to represent the international students at GFU by sharing some of the challenges we face. Before I wrote this article, I sent a survey to international students to collect opinions about certain challenges when studying abroad. The problems international students frequently mentioned were: language skills, food, making friends, a different educational system and lack of a support system. Needless to say, the language barrier is a major challenge for international students. It can be hard for American students to understand how they struggle with English in everyday life. For international students, a reading or writing assignment takes about two to three hours, while American students only use half that time. Think of a scene in which an American student tells a joke to an international student, but the international student does not understand the humor behind the joke. That student is embarrassed greatly. These sorts of things happen a lot. For Asian students, American food is challenging. Some students even get sick from eating food; some of them are not used to eating so much cheese, and others of them miss the food from home. Other international students said they have felt lonely since they started studying abroad. I have often heard international students say things like, “I have friends, but I don’t have close friends.” International students are eager to make friends with Americana because this is a good opportunity for both sides to learn from each other. However, it seems like taking the initiative is not very easy for them. Group discussions, presentations, exams and projects are driving some of the international students crazy. “You have to work so hard throughout the semesters here, whereas you only work hard right before finals back home,” said a Chinese student. “I felt bad for not making an efforts or making fewer efforts than American students during the group discussions or projects.” Another girl said, “but sometimes I really don’t know what to say, or how to say my opinions in English.” The last challenge, a lack of support systems, is the one that International Student and Scholarship Services pointed out. “Being completely unfamiliar to the system is very hard for students from other countries,” said Alex Pia, the International Student and Scholarship Services director. “We try our best to help students, but there are times they are forced to face the difficulties alone.” Indeed, for international students, there are more difficulties to deal with. However, these difficulties will help them become stronger, open-minded and curious individuals.
October 28, 2015Beware: they roam our campus. You will not see them at any home football game because, let’s face it, everyone goes there. Who wouldn’t? And yet, we have other teams that never (well, hardly ever) see us at their games… unless they are winning. Four weeks ago, I went to my first home game for the women’s soccer team. As I walked toward the bleachers, I heard people banging on pots and pans and I felt the adrenaline rush through my limbs. I was sure all the ruckus was coming from our side—our army. However, I was embarrassed to learn that not only were we not the ones making the noise, but we were not cheering on our team at all. There were people in the stands, but no one said a word. How do you go to a soccer game and not say anything? And there I was, sitting with a muted audience, watching our women’s team get hammered by Willamette. Why go to a game if you are not going to vocalize your support? Isn’t this behavior fair-weathered also? If the women were up by 4 goals, the GFU crowd would have been going nuts. So how do you spot these fair-weather fans? First, be on the lookout for someone who asks you about the team only when they are winning. Second, look out for someone who stays for the first half of the game and then disappears when the team is down by three goals. Third, listen to the silence that erupts from the complacent crowd. And finally, keep an ear out for individuals who profess their love of the Dallas Cowboys; those fickle fans blame players’ girlfriends for their losses. I am not the only one who notices how fickle the support for GFU teams are. Football is a different beast, I know this. But even football attendance fluctuates on the probability of a win. What is the point of supporting a team when you walk away at the first sight of a rut? Imagine what would happen if we were to all show up to each game and stay. There is something transformative about a loud crowd; it not only affects the players but affects the memory of the game. GFU encourages us to Be Known. So let’s rid ourselves of our fair weather tendencies and become a wall of sound and support for each of our sports teams. Let’s take time out of our week to celebrate the hard work of our athletes on campus. Let’s make sure to shift focus from the “W” to the way the game is played.
April 27, 2015Endings are never easy. I sit here staring at a blank page wondering how or what should be my last opinion piece of this year and part of me is numb. However, another part of me recognizes this is a farewell and therefore should be a celebration of what was, is, and will be. I loved being a reporter this year. I loved being an ARC consultant. I loved being a part of the Student Advisory Board for the IDEA Center and so much more. And while I will continue on with somethings next year, there are moments I will no longer be part of. Next year holds new opportunities and challenges that will only build onto the memories I have now. I can’t believe I have written over 23 blog posts for The Crescent as well as at least ten printed articles. I have stretched myself beyond my comfort zone and made many mistakes, but I also triumphed in other areas. Between you and me, I love failing at something because it means I learn more. And I love learning. Life is about each second, breath, and choice. There are so many moments from this year I wish I could bottle and keep to remind me of what is truly possible when you chase after your passions. There are so many choices I wish I would have followed through on instead of creating a stronger relationship with my snooze button because I either wanted to walk the tightrope of a deadline or because life became too heavy for me to push on. And then there is the faithfulness of God. I admit I struggle with understanding why He continues to bless me here at Fox, in life. And yet, I am reminded, daily, that He wants nothing more than for me to follow Him. That is why I am here. But in two weeks, the semester is over. Friends are graduating and I have no idea what I am going to do next year without them. Next year is my last at Fox and then I am on to grad school. Life never fails to move forward regardless of our request to take time to smell the preverbal roses. So what is the point of my blog? Enjoy the last few moments of stressful chaos that we are in. Make time to laugh with a friend. Take time to share something that is on your heart with a classmate, professor, or the person across from you in the Den. Find one of the many squirrels on campus and thank them for a moment of delightful distraction. Journal about your last few days. Thank those who have blessed you. Endings can also be about celebrating all the wonderful things in your life. So in my final call of action this year, I dare you to delight in everything you can about your time here at Fox and then let us know what you are doing to celebrate by posting your stories below.
April 21, 2015You sit at your desk, notes in clammy hands, breaths shaky. The professor calls your name. This is it. You slide out from your desk and meekly make your way to the front of the class—to the podium. You stare out into a room full of faces staring blankly back. You then stare down at your notes and wonder why none of them make any sense. But this is a communications class. You have to start talking at some point. If this ranks up among Falling Into Shark-Infested Waters and Being Chased by Flying Monkeys as one of your worst nightmares, then you might be interested in the following fun fact: Acting I can act as an alternative course to Introduction to Communication in fulfilling your communication requirement. Wait, you might say. Acting is pretty scary, too! Before you have flashbacks of your stage fright in the third-grade school play, let’s talk about Acting I. Acting I—THEA 100—is purely the basics of acting. It’s not Shakespeare. It is just the fundamentals, the building blocks. No one is expected to be able to stand up and recite a soliloquy on the first day of class—in fact, you might not even pick up a script for the first month or so. You will be focusing instead on movement, on how to respond to others, on how to draw from your own life experiences in order to make the most out of your characters and scenes. Expect some stretches; expect some running around the theatre (maybe even a game of tag). An “A” in Acting I isn’t based on whether your final scene performance could win you an Oscar. It’s not based on whether you end up changing your major to theatre. It’s based on your willingness to explore the world around you and the world inside you: skills that you can pack up and carry with you as you move through Fox and into the “real” world, no matter what career path you end up on. So if you’re still waiting on that Comm credit, consider taking the stage instead of the podium. It might not be as scary as you think.
April 8, 2015Getting your M.R.S. degree. Ring by spring. As members of a small Christian college, we’ve heard it all. And sure, we might make fun of the fact that 150 of our Facebook friends got engaged over Christmas break, but let’s face it: consciously or unconsciously, many of us are more affected by the ring/spring thing than we’d care to admit. So when it comes to friendships with the opposite sex—like actual “just friends” friendships—things have the potential to get a little complicated when other friends are watching, especially when those friends may be well on their way to getting M.R.S. degrees of their own. Not that you care at all what people think of you—of course not—but in case the haters are getting you down, here are some foolproof ways to ensure your platonic friendship will be viewed in just that way. Personal Space –Lots of It When you are walking with a friend of the opposite sex, always make sure there is at least three feet of personal space separating the two of you. Any closer, and people might start to talk: Who’s that you were walking with? You guys sure seemed friendly! I mean, you were both smiling! Ideally, at least one of you should make sure that your arms are folded or holding onto your backpack straps—just so there is NO chance someone across the quad could think you’re holding hands. No Texting Better play it safe: don’t text any of your so-called “platonic” friends. Because if your roommate looks over and sees your phone screen light up with a message that’s any longer than an “OK”…you’ll have some explaining to do. (This rule also applies to Snapchat, Facebook messaging, etc.) Study Groups: Dos and Don’ts When studying with a friend of the opposite sex, always ensure that you are studying in a group of at least three people, and at a big table. Otherwise, there’s the potential of appearing like you’re on an awkward library date. And that is an impression no one wants to give. Hopefully, with study and application, these three tips can serve as the kick-off for a semester free of roommate interrogations and teasing!