The Crusader Online

November 30, 2012
Vol. 54 No. 11

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Foreign affairs take step back

"Wait, something happened in Egypt?" This was the response I received from a friend after mentioning the recent riots against Egypt's president Mohammed Morsi.

While I know many people, including myself, are not always up-to-date concerning foreign happenings, current events such as Morsi's claim of temporary power over all governmental decisions until the ratification of a new Egyptian constitution seems like it should be on people's radar. However, it seems that in this day and age, people within the United States do not value the connection between our country and foreign countries. Global connections are measured by value. What do they give us? We get electronics from Asia, oil from the Middle East, coffee from Africa. What do the countries offer us here in the United States? Greece is a vacation spot with picturesque white-washed houses beside a sparkling sea, Japan is the birthplace of manga and Egypt is the land of mummies and rolling scenes of sand used in countless documentaries. The economic problems in Greece, the lasting effects of the 2011 natural disasters in Japan and the political turmoil plaguing Egypt fail to register as topics of importance for people in the United States.

If something does happen in a foreign country, some of the immediate reactions people have are: "Well, I guess gas prices are going up again" or "I knew I should have bought that Mac last year."

The only concern people have is how outside events affect the United States, not what those events mean for the people of that particular country. Even devastating incidents such as the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in 2011 were a public concern for merely a few weeks. After the Fukushima nuclear reactors were brought under control once again, talk of the event was gradually replaced with what Kim Kardashian wore on the red carpet or the next blockbuster hit coming to theaters.

I do not expect people to sit down each morning and search the internet for the front pages of foreign newspapers for news. Dropping a random tidbit of foreign news into conversations is not necessary. All I am asking is that people try to change the way they look at the world. The world is not made up of the United States and all those other countries. We are just one part of the bigger picture and worldwide events all have an effect on outside countries in one way or another. To only be aware of or care about what is happening within our own country is ignorant. After all, it cannot hurt to be more aware of what is happening outside the confines of the good ol' USA.

Grateful editor prepares for time abroad

I would be lying if I said that this semester has been easy for me. What with a breakup, stupid boys, a concussion that ended my rugby career and scarlet fever, let's just agree that it could have been better. I've become close with people I never thought I would, and have made some amazing bonds. Leaving for the entire spring semester is going to break my heart.

My heart is filled with pride and love for each of my friends. Any friend of mine who is a senior I have seen really come into accepting graduation and understand what path in life to take. It's inspiring. As a communications and journalism double major, I'm lost as to what I'm doing, but each of my friends has showed me that no matter what, I'll figure it out and be happy.

Then, there's all of my little families. To all of my sisters, I don't know what I would have done without you all this semester. There are the few who have really been there for me, listening to me while I cry and sort out my life, driving me to the hospital and supporting me in everything I do. One of the only aspects of college life keeping me sane is you guys, and I will miss Saturday mornings on the couch, late night Dunkin' runs and being Spongebob and Patrick while everyone else is Squidward. To my Crusader clan, working with you guys, especially the seniors, has been an honor. The office is one of my havens on campus, and talking to all of you about my crazy shenanigans helps me out a lot. Whether it's Gabi's bubbly personality at editorial board meetings or my cursing at the computer because my headlines don't fit, it's always a good time. It's one of the only places where I don't feel judged, and I appreciate all of you for that, because even though I laugh at all the stupid things I do, sometimes I wonder if I'm making the right decisions, and somehow you guys make me feel better about it all.

This isn't really a family, but my corner in Bioethics is where I've actually made some amazing friends. Mike and his exploits of Simon the squirrel, Dan making me sing on the radio and overcome my fears, and Kyle for being the best project partner I could have (for many reasons).

Then, there's just the random, crazy people that I've come to know and love. Dan and his vibrant Hawaiian shirts, my bros in Theta who just let me chill out and be a guy, Jackie and her wild stories, the three other people in my Italian class who constantly make me laugh, and my fiction class for pushing me to become a better writer and be confident in what I write.

Lastly, there's my rocks, good old Mads and my brother. With all that Madison has been through in her life, not only has she helped me through my worst times, but made the best times better and completely grown into an amazing person during her time here at Susquehanna. And my brother, Mikey, who inspires me. Seeing him truly become his own person has been the most amazing experience in my life, and watching him transform has been an honor. I can say that my love for him has grown so much in our short time together at Susquehanna, and I cannot wait to see what else he accomplishes over the next three years.

I couldn't ask for a more varied group of friends, and I love every second of it. Even though I won't be on campus next semester, I know that I'll have a home to come back to. What I love most about campus is the people, and even though I'm mad excited to go abroad, leaving is bittersweet because I know who I'm leaving behind. Thank you, my friends. You all are beautiful people, and I'll see you soon.

Editor explores religious identity

"Losing my Religion," a song by R.E.M., is a work of lyricism that you wouldn't necessarily find on my iPod. However, looking back on my life, it speaks volumes to the religious person I had become during my transition from high school to college.

In retrospect, I was never that overly religious of a person. I would always say things louder than I should, and then have to fight the looks of embarrassment as I realized I was in a place of purity and holiness. Let's just say you'll never see me knocking on doorsteps trying to convert you to Christianity or preaching, "The power of Christ compels you."

Before I go any further, I should make it known that, although I considered myself to be as religious as the Pope at a Madonna concert, I did still believe in something, I just wasn't sure what.

My analytical mind saw religion and the Bible in a similar manner to how I viewed history lessons taught in school: as a grain of salt. How am I supposed to know what to believe when I was not there to observe what happened, I am left with only secondary sources that were passed down through time and may or may not have been misinterpreted along the way.

In no way were my experiences within my churches any help in finding my spiritual identity. The very church I grew up in should have been that archetype of what religion should be. Every Sunday I was surrounded by friends from my school and many relatives from my mother's side of the family. It should have been that place where I felt most comfortable, but that just wasn't the case. It's pretty sad when you go to church every week to be blatantly ignored by your own flesh and blood and have to sit in a pew listening to a stuck-up pastor who would shake hands and bend over backwards for those who had money, while struggling week by week just to remember my name.

My grandmother died in 2000, the day after Christmas. I remember many things from that time, such as calling my grandfather a widower and watching him burst out into tears while I stood by and questioned why a word that I had learned the previous week in school could emulate such emotions. No memory from that time will leave me feeling more ill than the betrayal I felt from my church. Our minister was unable to perform the funeral services and an assistant pastor stepped in. The Sunday after the funeral, while my mother waited for me to be dismissed from Sunday school, she was standing with a group of people, including the minister. Not once did he acknowledge my grandmother's death or say anything as simple as, "I'm sorry to hear about your mother." It was not until a year later, at Christmastime, that a letter arrived in the mail blabbing on about how losing a loved one at that time of year can be hard and can affect the Christmas season. In no time at all, that letter was thrown into the trash. That was the final bridge left to be burned.

By the time I had hit the fourth grade, I had had enough and was ready to move on. My parents and I began going to a local church just a few blocks from our house. Upon first setting foot in the white doorway, I felt welcomed. For once, I was happy to wake up at 8 a.m. and trot off to Sunday school. Church was no longer a chore for me. Over the next few years, I had formulated strong relationships with many of the members of the church and gained friendships with those who I still today consider my best friends.

Even in my religious Garden of Eden, there was no absence of evils to add to my spiritual journey. From the age of 11 up until my senior year of high school, I had witnessed more religious drama than I probably should have at my young age. I had seen two of my churches pastors, people I saw as being the models for who I should be, banished from the church for sexually-related offenses. The third minister welcomed into our congregation during my youth was nothing more than a pompous ass. In many ways, he reminded me of the pastor of my first church. God forbid he tried to get to know anyone unless he was offered something in return. I found his messages to be full of hypocrisy. Do not preach about abandoning social cliques and then only pay attention to those with money.

Entering college opened my eyes to who I was as a participant of religious practices. After my past dealings with religious figures, I never really saw the potential for much to change on the religious home front during college. I can shamefully admit that I had not attended a religious service held at Susquehanna or the surrounding community. If I had to try to etch out a reason as to why, I would say I had trust issues when it came to religious figures. I was tired of building up relationships with someone only to have them pull a Judas and betray my trust and walk out of my life.

This past summer, my views on religion started to take a turn for the better. Once again I had to say goodbye to my previous minister and welcome in a new one. This new minister fit the standard prototype; however, there was something different. I've always been one for second chances, or in this case a fifth chance, so I was willing to give the new guy a chance. For now at least, the fifth time is the charm.

I guess it's true what they say about change being good thing. It's entertaining and enjoyable every time I go to church now, hearing messages that are relatable and that are not presented in such a manner that they go over my head. It is also refreshing to see a minister who reaches out and tries to get to know everyone, not just those with money.

The day I received a Facebook friend request from my new pastor, at first I was a bit apprehensive. My mind began to flashback to my most recent status updates and whether or not they were appropriate for "godly eyes." After some careful thought, I made the decision to accept the request; after all, it wasn't my job to try and paint myself in a different light just for one person's approval. Not a month goes by that I don't receive a notification from my pastor or his wife liking one of my statuses or bringing something funny I posted up in conversation after a church service. I can remember after not knowing what to wear to a wedding, the minister came up to me and asked me if I had made it through the wedding wearing the potato sack I had joked about on Facebook.

My new minster possesses qualities that I find likable and that I think are sometimes missing in religion. A sense of humor is something I most admire. Sure religion and church can be a serious matter, but there is a time and place for seriousness and a time when learning about God and the Bible can be fun and entertaining. I also admire my minsters ability to embrace the technological advances of today and his outreaching to the congregation through social media. I find it to be a better way of keeping up to date, in real time, with events occurring in our daily lives. It also puts him in a more down to earth light by showing that he is human too.

As far as my future goes with religion, I can't be quite sure where we'll end up, but for now at least, I'm happy that I have seen the upside of religion and can begin to fully explore who I am and what I believe.

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