Friday, April 27, 2012

Pondering Purgatory: Carol Zaleski Lectures on the Afterlife in Christian Thought

It isn’t every afternoon at Gordon College that a group of students gather in the Ken Olsen Science Center to discuss what happens to humans when we die. But for Carol Zaleski, a professor of world religions at Smith College, discussing purgatory, hell and heaven are a normal part of her academic life. Professor Zaleski came to campus yesterday as part of the Faith Seeking Understanding (FSU) lecture series and delivered a talk on “The World to Come: The Afterlife in Christian Thought.” The FSU lecture series seeks to expose students to a broad array of Christian thinking, often encouraging them to consider important questions and issues from the perspectives of various traditions within the historical Church.

Zaleski's lecture centered around four major problems Christians run into when thinking about the afterlife. The first was “immortality—Christians shouldn’t dwell on it.” The second, “heaven—our imagination can’t grasp it,” followed by “hell—love can’t bear it,” and finally, “purgatory—Christians don’t agree about it.” Drawing from C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkein, Zaleski argued that thinking about immortality is not the same as thinking about extreme longevity—simply trying to avoid death for as long as possible. “It is wrong to speak about death as a serene transition,” Zaleski argued, “because it is a transformation. But it is also wrong to think of it as annihilation—there is a principle of continuity between this life and the next.”


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Gordon’s Goose Continues in 2012

What do humpty dumpty, a tortoise, a fairy-godfather, and a gingerbread man have in common? They're all geese, of course! Perhaps this equation only makes sense in the context of Gordon College’s annual event known as Golden Goose. 

Golden Goose is a non-traditional male talent show put on each spring semester by the Campus Events Council. Three representatives from each class (‘geese’ as they’re often referred to), are voted into the performance by their peers. Originally, Golden Goose began as a “Mr. Gordon” competition in 1999. The event was as a spoof on beauty pageants that included talents, a fashion competition, and a question and answer session.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A New World: Gordon College Puts on Bacchai

“I create worlds in your imagination; and I can destroy those worlds.” Standing on a ledge, half-hidden in shadow and illuminated by purple light, Ryan Coil ’13 issued the chilling final lines of Euripides’ Bacchai, the Theatre Department's final production of the 2011–2012 school year. Coil's character, Dionysus, warns that the dramatic rites are powerful—powerful enough to bring us into another world with drumbeats and headdresses, gold dust and red water.

The cast of Bacchai indeed created another world for its audience. In this new world, women raged and worshiped the god of wine. The king Pentheus (played by Chris Preyer ’12) fought against the Dionysian rites and became consumed by his notion of justice. The mother of the king, Agave (played by Kelsie Davidson ’12) was possessed by the god and, thinking her son was a lion, killed him with her bare hands. In just an hour and a half, the audience watched, stunned, as we learned the tragedy that Dionysus had visited on this family. But we were also stunned and awed that the tragedy seemed so close to us. The walls between our chairs and shuffling programs, and the characters on stage, vanished as the actors drew us into the very heart of their story.


Monday, April 23, 2012

The Prepositions of Hope

Ryan Groff coordinates Gordon College's interdisciplinary great books honors program, Jerusalem and Athens Forum, and teaches sections of the first-year seminar course, The Great Conversation, and the upperclassman Christian Theology seminar. He reflects on Thursday’s Symposium theme, "Hope: Making All Things New," in light of the event's various lectures, panel discussions, and other opportunities to ponder the place of hope within our lives:

I don't usually mention prepositions on the first day of class. But there I was, cruising through the COR107 syllabus and finding myself talking about prepositions. How they are so important for good writing, and so painstakingly annoying when overused. My students’ glassy expressions told me to get back on topic.

I've made a few comments on prepositions since then, but didn’t really think about these little pieces of speech again until this past Thursday during Gordon’s annual Symposium. During the all-day event, I attended many insightful student-led sessions focusing on this year’s theme of hope. Aside from a few generic definitions, I noticed that references to hope didn't get too far before linking hope with a preposition.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Earth Week 2012

It's Earth Week at Gordon College and the student group Advocates for a Sustainable Future (ASF) is working hard to make sure each student has access to opportunities for connecting with nature and God's gift of creation. Events this year feature learning opportunities as well as action events that put hands to work—from cleaning up litter to sinking them in the soil.

One of the highlights of this year's Earth Week is the Sustainable Speaker Series featuring local business owners from CHIVE—a sustainable catering and design company based in Beverly. "I resonated with their vision for placing value on where our food comes from and how the CHIVE philosophy carries that ideal further, considering what happens with our food beyond the harvest," said Lisa Artuso, a political science and international affairs double major from Pennsylvania. "The North Shore is lucky to have a substantial agriculture presence, but sustainability has to be carried out further. CHIVE is a beautiful example of how caring about sustainability can be a part of business and community, and how ethics can be applied to all areas of our lives."

Artuso is also the director of Advocates for a Sustainable Future this year. She credits her family for her first impressions of creation care as well as a course she took her freshman year in college. "I took a course on Crops and Society that really connected the beautiful and delicate balance of the Earth's soil, water, crops and atmosphere. Learning about those processes and how closely knit they are with our human existence–such as social, economic and political issues–brought new understanding to my outlook and call to stewardship."


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Interfaith Discussions of Hope

Where do you find hope? It’s a question one must grapple with along life’s journey. Loving Our Religious Neighbors, a student group at Gordon College, is creating the opportunity for such conversation to take place through a student-led interfaith panel discussing the role of hope in different religions at this year's Symposium.

The Gordon College Symposium is a day-long series of workshops and seminars where students take the reins to lead events and discussions of their own design. This April marks Gordon’s 14th annual Symposium day, hosted by the Center for Christian Studies

Students and faculty are encouraged to plan collaborative events with this year's theme, Hope: Making All Things Newa theme also reflecting the inaugural year of new leadership at the College. The majority of Symposium events will take place in the Ken Olsen Science Center—including presentations, panel discussions, debates, interviews, art exhibits, and dance or musical performances—and will be held this Thursday, April 19, from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

The Loving Our Religious Neighbors Symposium event will welcome students from other colleges and universitiesincluding representatives from Harvard’s Interfaith Councilto share their personal perspectives on hope along with Gordon students. The event will take place in Jenks 406, from 1 - 2:30 p.m., with a question-and-answer session to follow. 

“It will be great to have a panel of diverse student perspectives on this issue,” said Zach Capalbo, a senior physics and computer science double major and co-leader of Loving Our Religious Neighbors. “I’m curious to hear a Humanist or Buddhist approach to hope in life after death, or their hopes for interfaith relations.” 

Loving Our Religious Neighbors is a newly formed group that Zach co-leads with fellow student Kyleen Burke ’12, a double major in philosophy and political science. In the spirit of Gordon's commitment to engaging global culture while remaining rooted in a supportive Christian community, the group seeks to learn about various religious traditions, outside of Christianity, in order to broaden personal understanding and open interesting conversations about faith and belief. The team has collaborated with Harvard’s Interfaith Council throughout the year participating in local food distributions, coastal clean-up days, farming, and working together for a rally against hunger in Boston.

“I hope people leave with more informed viewpoints,” said Capalbo. “If they come with any preconceived notions, this event might put a fellow student’s face to other religious traditions.”


Monday, April 16, 2012

The Shalom of Tie-Dye

Story by Rebekah Connell ’15

Ashlie Busone '14 knows well what Mother Theresa meant when she said that "Peace begins with a smile." For a smile—simple as that—is what inspired the sophomore to start her own non-profit organization, Hippies for Hope.

Ashlie started tie-dying in the summer of 2007, when she was just 14. Having babysat for two girls suffering from a life-threatening lung disease, Ashlie brought a batch of tie-dye shirts when she visited them in the hospital. The smiles on the sick girls' faces amazed Ashlie, and those first smiles, along with thousands of others, have stuck with her ever since. "My inspiration was, and continues to be, the smiles that are affected by such a simple act of kindness," Ashlie says.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Pilgrimages and Caduceus: A Poetry Reading for the Princemere Writer’s Series

Story by Hilary Sherratt ’12

On Thursday, April 12, the Barrington Cinema classroom was filled with students and faculty, chatting amiably to each other and shrugging off their coats. Mark Stevick, associate professor of English, introduced the evening’s two featured Gordon College alumni writers: Joshua Scott-Fishburn ’99 and Sørina Higgins ’02. The event, a part of the Princemere Writers Series, showcased these up-and-coming writers, both near the beginning of their promising careers. 

Joshua, who earned his MFA in creative writing from Seattle Pacific University, read first. He served for several years with the College’s Gordon IN Orvieto program, and the small shrines that line the streets in that Italian hillside town inspired his poem, “Our Lady of Perpetual Neglect.” 


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Stories of Faith and Power

Hilary Sherratt ’12 is a Pike Scholar and student writer for the Office of College Communications. She shares her experience listening to President Lindsay talk with honor students in a personal reflection for Notes Along the Way.
It was easy to hear the voices coming from the Chairman’s Room as I walked into the Ken Olsen Science Center. I heard students greeting professors and chatting about their upcoming research projects. They were the voices of my classmates and those I have grown closest to in the course of my time at Gordon College—students from the A. J. Gordon Scholars program, the Jerusalem and Athens Forum (JAF) cohort and the later cohorts of the JAF program. We took our seats in long, neat rows and Dr. Tal Howard introduced Gordon's President, D. Michael Lindsay, who would be speaking with us about his research on leadership, and how power and faith are defined and understood in our culture. 

President Lindsay began by tracing the history of the definition of power, from Max Weber’s definition of power as domination over an antagonist, to Michel Foucault’s idea that power exists in the web of social relationships. Finally, President Lindsay offered a third definition: Power emerges, and we engage it in different parts of our lives as we participate in different institutions and organizations. 


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Human Rights Week at Gordon College

Story by Rachel Bell ’12

Ashlie Busone ’14 has been busy with more than her regular school work. The secondary education and Spanish double major recently helped organized three guest speakers, two chapel services, a documentary-screening, a faculty panel, the Red Cross blood-drive, a coffee house, and an education summitall elements of her to-do list in planning Gordon’s third annual Human Rights Week.

“This year the Human Rights Week theme was Justice at Home," said Busone. “Specifically, we wanted to center Gordon students on global issues that are truly beginning and taking place in our backyard.”

Busone is vice president of the Human Network, a GCSA club with a six-member core committee. The Human Network was responsible for coordinating multiple justice-themed events for the week long series and invited author Mike Yankoski as this year's keynote speaker.