The world needs Goshen College

A chapel message from Jim Brenneman


On Nov. 18, 2005, the Church-Chapel was filled with more than 800 students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members awaiting the announcement by the Presidential Search Committee of the candidate of choice to serve as the 16th president of Goshen College. Rick Stiffney, chair of the search committee and vice-chair of the Goshen College Board of Directors, introduced educator, biblical theological and church leader Dr. James E. Brenneman to the community, culminating a discernment process that began following the resignation of Shirley H. Showalter in August 2005.

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Straight from the cow

By Jodi H. Beyeler

When senior Adrienne Landis went shopping for “raw milk” – that is, non-pasteurized or homogenized – in the Goshen area and wasn’t able to find it, she approached a vendor at the local farmer’s market. Leaning over his stall, he told her in a hushed voice where she could acquire the specialty product.

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Close to the heart:

“This I Believe” assignment yields personal stories, human truths

During the fall semester, Associate Professor of Communication Duane Stoltzfus ’81 heard about “This I Believe,” a series being aired on National Public Radio (NPR), from his wife, Karen Sherer Stoltzfus ’81. Then on the radio, he heard Deirdre Sullivan, a lawyer from New York, share her personal philosophy about funerals; she always goes, something learned from her father. “I was so moved by her stories and her thoughts,” said Stoltzfus: “‘Always go to the funeral’ means that I have to do the right thing when I really, really don’t feel like it. I have to remind myself of it when I could make some small gesture, but I don't really have to and I definitely don’t want to. I’m talking about those things that represent only inconvenience to me, but the world to the other guy.”

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Bulletin cover 2006 Winter issue
"The world needs Goshen College."

Winter 2006




Close to the heart:

“This I Believe” assignment yields personal stories, human truths

During the fall semester, Associate Professor of Communication Duane Stoltzfus ’81 heard about “This I Believe,” a series being aired on National Public Radio (NPR), from his wife, Karen Sherer Stoltzfus ’81. Then on the radio, he heard Deirdre Sullivan, a lawyer from New York, share her personal philosophy about funerals; she always goes, something learned from her father. “I was so moved by her stories and her thoughts,” said Stoltzfus: “‘Always go to the funeral’ means that I have to do the right thing when I really, really don’t feel like it. I have to remind myself of it when I could make some small gesture, but I don't really have to and I definitely don’t want to. I’m talking about those things that represent only inconvenience to me, but the world to the other guy.”

Intrigued, Stoltzfus went to the Web site for the program (www.npr.org or www.thisibelieve.org) and “discovered the historical archives, full of powerful personal accounts about battling cancer, parenting, watching a tree through the seasons, the joy of reading. People from all walks of life distilled something dear to their hearts into a three-minute essay. It seemed a great opportunity for students to do the same, even if the audience were no larger than a class at Goshen College,” he said.

And it could be larger. Students in the Writing for Media class were required to submit their essays to the program for consideration on the national program (to date, none have been chosen). In keeping with “essay-writing advice” on the Web site, students were to name a belief, be specific and be positive, according to Stoltzfus. “NPR also says to avoid preaching or editorializing, so I encouraged them to be true to themselves but not get carried away,” he said.

In his Oral Communication class, students read their essays aloud as one of their formal speeches. In Writing for Media, students focused more on the personal essay as a conversational written work. The following are recommended essays from both classes.

 


By Anita Hooley

Anita Hooley I believe that laughter can heal.  I first learned this in the third grade, when my best friend and I had a huge fight. I had made a new friend who my “old” friend didn’t like, and she was mad at me for weeks. I tried everything I could think of to make the situation better: I put notes in her classroom mailbox, called her house, and apologized profusely even though I didn’t feel I had done anything wrong. Then one day in the middle our class reading period, I randomly fell out of my chair to the floor. Being a quiet, studious girl who never did anything to disrupt class, I immediately got up and, mortified, started feverishly scribbling nonsense words into my notebook. A few seconds later, I heard snickers coming from the next row where my best friend was seated. I turned toward her, my face flushed with embarrassment, and saw her beaming in amusement. Soon we were laughing uproariously together, filling the quiet classroom with our childish, connective giggles. After that moment, we were best of friends once more.

While I decided that laughter should become a way of life for me, this decision has sometimes been forgotten in the complacent monotony or difficult novelty of my life experiences.

Last year I spent a semester in the Dominican Republic, studying and serving with a college group. Trying to joyfully assimilate into a new culture, a new family and a new language was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. My three months there were filled with moments where laughing was the last thing I wanted to do. Once, I gave a dirty little girl at the youth center a kiss when she asked for a coin (thinking she’d said “beso” instead of “peso”). Another time, I ruined pancake batter by putting it in the blender while trying to make a special American meal for my host family. It took me a long time to learn to laugh with the Dominicans about my silly mistakes, but once I did, an immediate bond was formed that transcended language and culture.

The great devotional writer Oswald Chambers states, “The saint is hilarious when he is crushed with difficulties because the thing is so ludicrously impossible to anyone but God.” So I believe in living hilariously – laughing at life's difficulties, at other’s pensive schemes and annoying comments and, most importantly, at myself. I believe that laughter can heal – it can heal broken friendships and wounded pride and dashed self-concepts. It can heal the pain of life’s unfair challenges. As far as I know, one can laugh in any language, including the secret internal language of the self, which cries for some way to positively respond to the absurdities we are faced with everyday. This I believe with every chuckling particle of my mind, body and soul.

Anita Hooley is a junior English and American literature and language major from Canton, Ohio.

 


By Dustin Combs

Dustin Combs In the little town where I was raised, time is measured by the number of fish you’ve caught or the tons of hay bales brought in from the field. The days start early and run late. The work is laborious and the hours are long. Mountains tower above the old farmhouses and the streams rush by in a hurry that no one can relate to. Squirrels play in the yard and foxes stalk the squirrels, while the eagles soar high in the sky with their wings spread, showing all that they are the gods of their domain. Momma stands at the door, yelling at the kids to come in for breakfast. The old cowbell rings on the gate, not once or twice, but six times as the kids rush through the yard one by one. The door slams as the last of us enter the house just in time for breakfast to come out of the oven. Everyone is screaming in hopes to be served first, but Momma knows better: she always starts with the one who got up earliest. As the kids get done, they file by the sink to place their dirty dishes in the soapy water and get back to work. This is where I was raised, this is my home, and this is what I believe in.

This is the world I was raised in; I was not given a choice. I had no option or preference as to who my parents were, but I was blessed. I was born into a world where time seems to stand still, or maybe it’s just that no one’s in a hurry. As a child I did not understand the concept of time, nor did I enjoy every moment of it. This is the world I never learned to appreciate until it was no longer there. Now I visit home when I am out of school, but it is not the same. I will never again be right in the midst of my siblings screaming to be the first served, or working right along with the rest of the family. Somehow being educated, moved out and grown up changes all of that. When I am home, I lay on the bank of the little mountain stream that runs by but something is different, my mind is no longer occupied with the cows or what neat snake I might happen upon next. Instead my mind is cluttered with politics and current events. Rushing like a freight train my mind seldom slows down. I think about a million things at once. Everything is a rush and I rarely find time to enjoy the simple things in life.

But I still believe in home and the beauty of family and the challenge that I will someday face in creating an environment of that nature for my children to experience.

Dustin Combs is sophomore communication major from Central Point, Ore.

 


By Becca Johnson

Becca Johnson I used to read books. This is not a statement but a confession. During middle school, I read every day – through lunch, through class, through little moments between classes. And while I enjoyed reading, the truth is that it was also my defense – a wall that kept out everyone I didn’t know as well as those I did but was too shy to deal with.

In middle school, acceptance is hard to find. I got lucky: Other bookworms were deemed outcasts, ignored or, worse, endlessly discussed in muffled giggles from two tables away during study hall. But I just moved from California, and in Northwest Ohio being from California meant acceptance, even for a girl consumed by books.

My new Ohio friends were in band, like the majority of the school, because in the fifth grade everyone was required to play an instrument (and most were not allowed to quit). However, my music teacher kindly told me that it was too late for me to begin to learn an instrument, and so in high school I found myself not taking first-period band, but dumped in whatever class the school decided would fit into the schedules of the other 20-some non-band kids in my grade.

It was this class that upset my schedule from the schedules of my friends. Because of this I always ended up in a couple classes without my group and so I began collecting friends that my mom referred to as kids “needing grounding.” My favorite “ungrounded” friend could quote the Star Wars trilogy from beginning to end in the time it took to watch the movies. He had sandy blond hair and like your typical sci-fi geek, looked like he hadn’t seen the sun in years. He also wore a long black trench coat from the day after the school murders in Columbine in 1999 to the day I left for college; although he intended to prove that wearing a trench coat doesn’t make you a killer, his sarcastic attitude gave a different impression. Behind the attitude I found a depressed friend who withdrew into the safe surroundings of sarcasm. And about that time, I was beginning to notice my own tendency to withdraw into myself.

My life changed one day. I wouldn’t have made friends with my trench coat-wearing sci-fi geek had I still been reading a book a day, nor would I have confronted some of the aspects of my own personality, really accepting and loving who I am and learning to appreciate people with all the talents and quirks that they have. It’s hard to make connections with people when you’re caught in a fictional adventure of a girl traveling back in time.

What had happened? Near the beginning of my eighth grade year, one of my gossiping, joking friends finally pushed me to change. She dared me not to read another non-required book for two months and I, who rarely lets a challenge pass, didn’t.

I continued her challenge throughout eighth grade and, to a lesser extent, through high school. Within that period of time I realized that people are more important. People like the boy who wore the trench coat and taught me that it’s OK if you’re not happy all the time and people like my girlfriends who accepted me even when the status of being from California wore off. It was my friends who helped me to learn what I believe: people should be met where they are in life and then asked to change.

Becca Johnson is a senior physics major from Archbold, Ohio.

 


By Jessica Hertsel

Jessica Hertsel I believe that animals protect us.  There are stories of guide dogs that help those who cannot see, or walk, or who have mental illnesses. The image of Lassie barking for help because Timmy fell into the well is forever etched into American pop culture. Dogs can sense earthquakes, know when their owner is coming home, save children from certain death, fly in outer space, and can count and read and do advanced algebra (well, maybe not the last one). But what about cats? Where do cats fit in on the list of great animals? Don’t cats deserve some recognition for goodness sake? Sure dogs can be man’s best friend, but let me tell you, cats are superheroes.

I first saw Felix at my mother’s house when I peeked into a small animal crate stuffed with four abandoned kittens; he was the first one to hiss at me.

I was at a crossroads in my life, a time when I didn’t know what to do, and I didn’t know how to do it. I was a sophomore in college, and felt trapped in my English major. My schoolwork was overwhelming, my part-time job as a supermarket cashier drained my life’s essences, and I was terribly lonely. What I needed was a superhero.

My mom brought Felix to me, by putting him in her coat and driving him over to my Grandma’s house, where I was staying. As his little black head popped out of her coat sleeve, I knew I got myself into something.

For the first five months, he was a terror, and attacked everything. His tiny claws and teeth wrapped around my feet, gnawing at my soles. “Felix, stop! Felix No! FELIX!” He learned his name rather fast. I was worried that my cat would be like this forever, and that I would have to wear shoes on my feet as long as I was in the house, but then one night, he changed my opinion.

It was a hot summer night, and Felix was sleeping in the basement, when I decided to go upstairs to bed. While I was lying down, I had a panic attack, and started to cry. As I was lying on my bed, curled up in a ball, I started to feel something licking my arm. I looked up and saw Felix. He had come up from the basement to be with me. He made me pet him, and hold him, and he rubbed his head on my arm, until I calmed down. Then he left; back down to the basement where he could get some sleep. If Felix wouldn’t have been there, I would have just cried until I got so exhausted that I fell asleep, but my cat seemed to know just what to do to calm me down.

I have come to welcome his presence now, claws and all, because every time I have a panic attack, he is there at my side. I don’t have many panic attacks anymore, and when I do have one, it doesn’t last for very long: Felix makes sure of that.

Jessica Hertsel is a junior communication major from Elkhart, Ind.

 


By  Lane Miller

Lane Miller I believe in music.  I believe in the power it has on time, on emotions, on reality. Music speaks what words cannot, revealing what we cannot see. I write music. I believe in it.

Music touches me as if it is tied to the core of my being. When I hear a great melody, it tugs at my heart. My body shudders; I close my eyes and simply feel the music. Christian author Philip Yancey claims that music even relates to how we connect with the supernatural – touching our souls like a finger from another dimension, gently coaxing our emotions in ways other things in this world cannot. I agree with him.

The power of music is timeless, resonating with eternity rather than one generation. The simple melody of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” reflects more than musical inspiration, or even genius. It captures the attitude of an era – the roaring ’20s are caught within the roving line of the composer’s jazz concerto.

The opening chords of Beethoven’s “Pathétique Sonata” have beguiled music lovers for centuries. Even after its composer was completely deaf, he wrote one of the most masterful symphonies in the history of music – his “Ninth Symphony.” Music must be for more than the ears. Its power stretches our physical limitations. It almost transcends reality.

The power of music can reach even into the darkness of racism. Nothing but the blues and jazz could bring black musicians into white dance clubs. Spirituals ringing in Southern churches created unity and inspiration for the civil rights movement. Just as it reaches across racial lines, music stretches those of society. School music programs bring together students from many backgrounds into one choir room. Two different social classes might find common ground in the music of Paul Simon. Music can tie us together.

I say these things not just because I have felt them, but because I have created them. The music I have written has captured my feelings and extended them beyond a moment in making a song. My music has also broken down stereotypes and touched me spiritually.

I’ll sit on the shiny brown bench of my piano. As I touch the glossy keys, I sink into my senses. My emotions play rather than my hands. Sometimes I play with such joy that I barely stay seated; other times, tears stream so freely that I cannot see the ivory below. Music releases the feelings of my soul. I truly believe that. I don’t know what I will play – I just let it come, which mystifies me. I am often amazed at what I hear, and I can rarely repeat it, because the music comes from a particular moment. Though some of it may be lost for all time, somehow its power – so real, so vivid – is remembered.

My former P.E. teacher once asked me, before a school concert, “Are you gonna be tickling the ivories tonight?”

“Yes Mr. Morris,” I replied.

But there’s much more to my piano playing than “tickling” the keys. It’s far more about how the power of music touches me.

Lane Miller is a freshman music and Bible and religion major from Danvers, Ill.


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