Friday, November 30, 2012

Not a Museum, but a Garden: Massimo Faggioli Lectures on the Meaning of Vatican II

By Hilary Sherratt ’12

It was Massimo Faggioli's provocative lecture title, “Vatican II: Then and Now,” that likely drew many local Catholic parishioners, as well as Gordon faculty and students, to the Ken Olsen Science Center MacDonald Auditorium for the final talk of the Fall 2012 Faith Seeking Understanding Lecture Series at Gordon College. Faggioli explored in his lecture the history, theology and broad cultural impact of the Second Vatican Council. Professor Faggioli, assistant professor of theology at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, is an Italian scholar who has taught at the University of Bologna, the University of Modena-Reggio Emilia, and the Free University of Bolzen-Bolzano; he brought his passion and enthusiasm for church history to his listeners.

Beginning in 1962 and concluding in 1965, the Second Vatican Council represented a major effort on the part of the Catholic Church to address issues of modernity in a way understood by many (Faggioli included) to be more open and culturally engaged than the Church's approach through "the long 19th century."


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Gordon Students Win Big at Regional Skateboarding Contest (and Why It's Not About Winning at All)

Brian Glenney, assistant professor of philosophy and skateboarding enthusiast, shares a story of how two Gordon students are making some impressive (concrete and wooden) waves in New England:

The Fall Brawl, New England’s largest amateur skateboarding contest, took place earlier this month. Among the highly selective crop of 50 invited competitors were Gordon College students Matt Lane ’13, a recreation and leisure studies major, and Steve Mull ’15, an English major.

After warm-ups—a kind of Battle Royale which seemed to defy not only Newton’s laws of nature but Hobbes’ nasty, brutish, and short state of nature—competitors plied their tricks in groups of five for several minutes while judges jotted notes and, at points, covered their eyes. Following a few elimination rounds (a term I use in both its technical and descriptive senses), only two groups remained. Both our heroes, Gordiators we might call them, remained in the fight.

Allow me a moment to clarify something: skateboarding is not a sport. These contests are not really a competition amongst skateboarders. Skateboarding is, rather, an inherently kinetic activity of the body—not unlike ballet or other forms of artistic dance—which simply adds further dimensions of speed and landscape. What do you have when you add landscape to ballet? Parkour. Now, add speed—pushing-a-wheeled-stick-as-hard-as-possible-with-your-mobile-leg speed—and you get skateboarding. Add several skateboarders together, you get a session. Add judges, you get a contest. The Fall Brawl, then, is really some breed of obstacled, high-speed, free-form ballet—and Lane and Mull are kinetic artists of rare quality.

However, let’s not let this information take away the social meaning and fiscal value from a further set of facts: A this year’s Fall Brawl, Matt Lane took 1st place and $1000. Steve Mull took 2nd place and $450. And there’s little reason to be surprised. Consider the following:

“Matt [Lane]’s the best up-and-coming skater in Boston, hands down,” I overheard from Josh, part-owner of Boardwalk Skate Shop and Indoor Skate Park in Woburn. Matt’s recent feature article in Steez, a top skateboarding magazine, sharpen Josh’s point, as does Matt’s mug on the cover of another premier magazine, Focus. What makes Matt so good is that he rarely misses a trick. What’s more, every trick he does is done faster and bigger than anyone else who does that trick. I feel sorry for the obstacles in Matt’s landscape. It’s like watching a silverback gorilla move across a jungle floor: the trees might try to get out of the way, but the silverback is just too quick. Power, courage and backbone like Matt’s—well, you just can’t buy that stuff.

Steve Mull, whose signature board just came out with his sponsor, Vermont Skateboards (yes, I mean that Steve Mull has a skateboard deck with his name printed on it in fancy script next to graphics that would make any street artist go legal), is a different kind of skater. His style is influenced by the round and sloped semi-rural landscape of his home, Vermont. This kid is pure style. (And to use this word, ‘style,’ multiple times, as I intend to, is not being repetitive when describing Steve Mull.) Mull’s contest performance was marked by his signature trick, a very long, stylish stalefish crooked, which looks something like this (skip ahead to 2:30). It’s a trick as difficult as it is original. Steve Mull: innovator, innovator, innovator… and style-king… and owner of a heart-warming smile that could melt a Vermont winter.

Matt Lane, Steve Mull, we love you. You make Gordon proud—for your backbone and your style; for throwing your whole selves onto those boards.

Brian Glenney, PhD, is assistant professor of philosophy at Gordon College, where he also teaches a skateboarding physical education class. In addition to his peer-reviewed scholarly work on philosophical psychology and perception, Glenney has been an active skateboarder and (reformed, legal) street artist for over twenty years. His scholarly interests in perception and personal passions for art and mobility have recently coalesced into the Accessible Icon Project, a collaboration with Harvard artist Sara Hendren to transform the International Symbol of Access (the Wheelchair Symbol) into an “active, engaged image.”

Photos: 1—Steve Mull ’15, Frontside 180 Kickflip; 2—Matt Lane ’13, Frontside Nosegrind


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Fall Theatre Wrap-up: Working: A Musical

This past weekend in the Margaret Jensen Theatre, the Theatre Arts Department closed the curtain on its final performance of Working: A Musical. The show opened to a sold-out audience on Friday, November 2, and went on to welcome more than 600 attendees throughout its two-weekend run.

Working: A Musical is based on real interviews with American workers, conducted by writer Studs Terkel in the 1970s. Through a series of individual stories and ensemble numbers, the audience is offered a glimpse into the frustration, joy, pride and aspirations of average American workers.

Directed by Gordon professor Jeff Miller, the cast and crew were challenged with reimagining this classic American musical, each playing multiple characters and assisting the tech crew.

“The cast and crew deserve an enormous amount of praise for a very successful run…One of my favorite things about watching an ensemble cast is seeing each cast member get to embody multiple, different roles,” said production manager and technical director Matt Schwabauer.

One of these performers was Cristin Gordon ’14, a theatre arts major. “Being a part of a show like Working was amazing because of how close the entire cast and crew became. It's awesome to get to perform in such a fun, nurturing environment. Also, I felt honored to perform these roles and tell the stories of these people.”

Miller echoed these sentiments in his reflection about his students’ performance: “For college students to embrace and give integrity to these characters who are very different from themselves (in more than age) is a major accomplishment. Time and again we heard that audience members were moved, challenged and deeply affected by hearing these stories.”

Josh Kaplan ’16, a communication arts major, was one of those who connected with the stories presented by the cast. “Working was very thought provoking. The text of the piece and the performances by the actors truly made me think what is the value of work in today’s society.”

Another first-year student, Damaris Gibaldi, was excited both to serve as assistant stage manager and take part in a production that tackled these timely themes. “Not only did I learn about the logistics of backstage work, but I got to be a part of a show that clearly demonstrated the worth of the working class.”

Miller had been eager to present a show that communicated the values and complexity of work and vocation, and he concluded that he was humbled by his students’ “commitment to excellent work and their full commitment to their Creator, who gives them the opportunity to use their gifts in service like this.”

If you missed Working: A Musical, you still have plenty of time to plan your next visit to the Margaret Jensen Theatre. The Theatre Arts Department will present its next production, Waiting for Godot, in mid-April. Tickets can be purchased online beginning in a few months at


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ten Years Towards Benign

By Hilary Sherratt ’12

“The real question is, how do we train chemists?” John Warner looked intently at each face in the front two rows of the MacDonald auditorium. “How do we expect chemists not to make harmful compounds if they’ve never been taught how to identify them?” Education was the key word at Monday afternoon's Green Chemistry Lecture at Gordon College. Warner, a world renowned industrial chemist and founder of the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry, shared his personal journey into green chemistry and his commitment to calling attention to this unmet need.

When he was a lead researcher at Polaroid, Warner met with his college friend and colleague, Paul Anastas, at the Environmental Protection Agency. Anastas was working in the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, and the two men got to talking about the need for environmentally benign non-toxics. This, Dr. Warner told us, was the birth of green chemistry. “It started with the two of us, wondering why there is such a lack of conversation around this important issue,” he said. The initial conversation in an EPA office in Washington, DC, sparked a worldwide revolution, the publication of a book, Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice, and a new field of research and development in chemistry. Now, Warner says, green chemistry is projected to be a $100 billion industry by the year 2020.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Aruhah: Awareness and Prayer for the Hungry and Thirsty

By Rebekah Connell ’15

While in high school, McKenzie Watson ’15 remembers being asked, “If you could remedy anything in the world, what would it be?” A daunting question, but McKenzie didn’t hesitate to answer, “I want everyone to have clean drinking water.” This issue has remained close to McKenzie’s heart for much of her life. “The world is filled with needs and injustices, a smorgasbord of causes to lobby for,” she says. “Access to clean drinking water is the most basic. People die every day from not having their most basic needs met. And to me, that is absolutely crazy.”

Since coming to Gordon, McKenzie, a biblical studies major, has sought the means to bring her passion for hunger and thirst to the campus community. Steph Clark ’15, a social work major, recently joined forces with McKenzie, and the two have brought to life a brand-new ministry called Aruhah—Hebrew for “meal.”


Monday, November 12, 2012

Seek the Lord While He Wills to Be Found

Beginning Monday night, November 5, and through the evening on Tuesday, November 6, the Gordon College community marked its annual Day of Prayer. This year's theme, SEEK, focused on Isaiah 55:6—"Seek the Lord while he wills to be found; call upon him when he draws near."

Each year the Day of Prayer celebrates two fundamental realities about Gordon. On the one hand, we are one body in Christ. By praying together in two large chapel services on Tuesday, we sought the Lord as one campus. The morning service began with the Morning Chapel Band, the Dance Ministry, and others, all calling us to worship. We moved through a time of individual and corporate confession. And we prayed in groups for the needs of this community, this nation, and all nations.

In the evening we worshipped again as one in the chapel with a congregational expression of the Psalms through song. From a lone voice in the darkness expressing the cries of the Psalmist in Psalm 130, to voices in unison reading the Psalms of Ascent; from hymns to contemporary music to bluegrass; from a Taizé chorus to Gospel music led by the Gospel Choir, we raised our voices in prayer and praise together, using the words of the Psalms.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

On View in the Gallery: Joseph A. Fiore

The Gallery at Barrington Center for the Arts continues its 2012–2013 season with a traveling exhibit of landscapes by the late artist Joseph A. Fiore (1925–2008). The exhibit, entitled Fiore/Drawing, will be on view in the Gallery until Saturday, December 14th.

Joseph A. Fiore was less well-known publicly than he was among his contemporaries in the academic art world, having spent much of his career as a professor at Black Mountain College in Asheville, NC, and Philadelphia College of Fine Arts. This exhibit attempts to give the public its first glimpse into nearly half a century of Fiore’s drawings, watercolors and pastels, revealing an artist who was dedicated to experimentation and abstraction within his representation of the American landscape.

Last Saturday's opening reception, in addition to unveiling this body of work for the first time to a New England audience, gave Gordon students and gallery visitors the chance to hear from two of Joseph Fiore’s closest contacts. The first was the curator of the exhibit, David Dewey, himself an artist and former student of Fiore. Before his passing in 2008, Joseph Fiore asked Dewey to take on the significant honor and challenge of preserving and curating his artwork. Dewey spent over a year preparing Fiore/Drawing, and he was delighted to see the work on the gallery walls in Barrington.

Joseph Fiore’s own daughter, Susanna Fiore, was also in attendance. Susanna and her husband, Jay—both accomplished jazz musicians from Boston—paid tribute to her father’s love of music with a wonderful set of classic jazz standards and original pieces. It was a fitting atmosphere for an artist whose work inherently reflects the energy and rhythms of live music.

Bruce Herman, Gallery Director, observed that Fiore “often started with a rendering of landscape and then improvised and experimented with abstraction in order to find just the right color, texture, or form to give voice to his vision.” The exhibit presents this vision in series of related themes and styles, each given its own wall within the Gallery. The result is a fresh interpretation of a cohesive yet diverse body of work.

“We are proud to host this exhibition, which surveys fifty years of Fiore's drawings and shows his acute visual thinking,” said Herman.

Fiore/Drawing is open to the public MondaySaturday, 9 AM7 PM. Visit to learn more about the exhibit.

Fiore/Drawing is sponsored by the Falcon Foundation, a Maine-based non-profit that has been exclusively entrusted with the archival and promotion of Joseph Fiore’s artwork.