Brad Pitt soars in career defining “Ad Astra”
Oct11

Brad Pitt soars in career defining “Ad Astra”

The Hubble telescope estimates there are 100 billion galaxies in our universe. Outer space is an inconceivable, infinite place. Ad Astra is Latin for “looking to the stars,” which has been a sign of hope on our Earth, a symbol of a kind of goal for humanity to achieve. We’ve been looking for life outside of Earth for so long. What happens if we figure out that there is no other life? What if we’re all alone in our galaxy? Astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) is struggling in “Ad Astra.” His father (Tommy Lee Jones) left Roy when he was 16 to search for alien life at the edge of our galaxy. Roy’s wife has left him. He has no friends in the space program. He is just a machine with no true goal. He’s stopped struggling with his depression and now, he’s just living. He’s alone, just like humanity. When the space program comes to McBride with news of his father’s survival on Neptune, McBride does not know what to feel. He just knows that he needs to see his father again. Maybe he’ll finally feel something. The movie “Alien” was released in 1979 with the tagline “in space no one can hear you scream.” In “Ad Astra,” apparently no one can see your pain either. In a lot of ways, Brad Pitt’s character is screaming for help. With every fiber of his soul, he wants to help people so that they see him. He can get people out of the most difficult situations. He can fight space pirates, but he also has to fight his thoughts of worthlessness. That’s depression for many people. It’s an inner struggle that you just can’t escape, no matter how much you want out. “Ad Astra” is a slow-moving movie. Almost in the vein of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” there are scenes in the film that merely show off the sheer beauty of space. That beauty, in all forms, is a testament to what McBride truly wants. He hopes that one day he won’t feel so alone. “I am looking forward to the day my solitude ends,” Pitt narrates at one point of the movie. We all hope for that same thing, right? Recently the sci-fi genre has been groundbreaking with its cinematography. Movies such as “Annihilation” (2018), “Arrival” (2016), “Interstellar” (2013) and “Blade Runner 2049” (2017) are beautifully shot. Sci-fi is a genre that is truly able to revolutionize the way we look at films, and “Ad Astra” keeps that trend going. The film studies themes of solitude and depression not just through the story, but through the lens...

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Local artists Illuminated
Sep27

Local artists Illuminated

Illuminate held its second event here on campus, Friday, Sept. 27. Illuminate is labeled as a “positive vibes only” event that highlights the talents of various students and Belton locals with performances in Christian rap, singing, dancing and poetry. The event was founded by UMHB Alums Michael Carpenter and Alish Burden, along with sophomore Jan Carlo Rodriguez. It took only 3 months for the determined students to get their idea off the ground, which created major buzz within the UMHB and Belton community. “We feel like there is a gap in cultural events on campus,” Carpenter said. “There is a group of students whom we call ‘cultural minorities.’ They aren’t a specific race, gender or ethnicity, but they are cultured in a way that’s different than the majority of UMHB students, so a lot of times they fall through the cracks…we want to help fill that gap.” “These students appreciate a wide variety of music, fashion, humor, etc. than is normally promoted on campus,” Carpenter added. Illuminate was held at the Parker Academic Center in partnership with the CRU Bridge student organization. The scene for the event was decked out with lights, cameras and eager students ready to support their fellow classmates throughout the night. “I find it important for it to be hosted near or on campus, because there is a lot of talent in our backyard. A lot of dope artists and creators, but they have no platform for their voice,” junior marketing major Kalen Chatman, a previous Illuminate performer, said. “Illuminate allows UMHB to empower those artists and give them a platform,” Chatman said. Each performer had a lengthy amount of time to express themselves and show off their talents. The audience was filled with laughter and dance moves.  The room was packed with so much diversity. To learn more about Illuminate and their upcoming events follow their Instagram handle...

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ONE worship builds community
Sep25

ONE worship builds community

Students prayed and sang side by side together at the ONE interdenominational worship gathering in Walton Chapel on Wednesday, Sept. 25. It was an opportunity for a plethora of different churches from around the Bell County area to come together, which they do twice a semester. The evening started off with songs of worship led by the Temple Bible Church band.  Then the crowd was welcomed by two college pastors from local churches: Evan Duncan, the teaching and communications pastor at First Baptist Temple Church, and Shannon Soard, the college pastor at Temple Bible Church. Duncan’s message to the students in attendance of the event was that there is no exchange for faith or community provided by the church. His message was based out of the book of Acts 2:41-47. Duncan said that while we like to substitute some things in life, there is no substitute for our faith. “There is no substitute for the local church,” Duncan said. He encouraged the students to maintain their faith and to find a church to get involved with and plugged into. “It is not what you get out of it, but what you can bring to it,” Duncan said. He encouraged students to break their boundaries in order to find a church home. “Church community crosses boundaries,” Duncan said. ONE concluded with everyone reading the Nicene Creed, led by Shannon Soard. The atmosphere was reverent, engaged and worshipful. “It was a good experience to let go of my anxiety and give it to the Lord,” said Rynda Maddox, a freshman nursing major. “It was amazing to see so many college students worshipping together,” Liles said. “I thought it was an event that every freshman needed to hear…it was all about UMHB community…and was encouraging [students] to break boundaries,” senior physical therapy major Ellie Phelps said. For more information, contact Daniel McAfee, director of the Baptist Student Ministry, at...

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Sylvia White, lifelong learner, receives doctorate in 2019
Sep20

Sylvia White, lifelong learner, receives doctorate in 2019

Dr. Sylvia White is no ordinary UMHB graduate. At 76 years old, she is the oldest member of the Spring 2019 graduating class. On May 11, White, who teaches Exploring the Fine Arts class at UMHB, earned her Ed.D. in Educational Administration. She was one of 17 students who received a doctoral degree in the ceremony, which drew the largest audience for any commencement in the school’s history. White is no stranger to the world of education. In 1967, she earned a master’s degree from Baylor University. She worked as an elementary music teacher in her hometown of League City for 24 years. In 2009, she moved to Belton in order to be closer to her children. She began teaching piano lessons at the UMHB Conservatory, and soon afterward started teaching the Exploring the Fine Arts class. White describes herself as “a lifelong learner” which made the decision to go back to school a natural one. “I’ve always loved learning new things,” she said. One of her favorite parts of earning her doctorate was completing her dissertation. At UMHB, doctoral students complete an imbedded dissertation, meaning that they work on it during the entirety of their studies instead of just completing it in their final year. “All the classes in the Ed.D. program are geared to writing a piece of the dissertation in each class,” she said. “By the end of the three years, I had it completed.” When she chose a topic for her dissertation, White knew that she wanted to focus on veterans, who she says have a special place in her heart. “In teaching Exploring the Fine Arts, I had several student veterans, and they just touched my heart,” she said. “My first veteran asked if he could sit at the back of the room and keep the windows open. I thought, ‘there must be a way to help student veterans.’” Her desire to help these students was a major motivation for her to earn her doctoral degree. She knew that by having an Ed.D. in education, she would be better equipped to help these students in the future. Dr. Randy Hendricks, who is the director of UMHB’s Doctor of Education Program, is proud of White’s accomplishments. “Dr. White was an exceptional student in the UMHB doctoral program and provides an inspiring example of what a Christian educator should be,” Hendricks said. Senior social work major Nathan Gammage, who is White’s grandson, is incredibly proud of her accomplishments. “She works so hard and does a lot to give back to the community,” he said. “I am so proud of her.” White is not sure what God...

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The Peanut Butter Falcon – Movie Review
Sep20

The Peanut Butter Falcon – Movie Review

It’s September, which means that we’ve finally reached my favorite season of the year. Oscar Season. The Peanut Butter Falcon is a perfect start to the art house and indie film segment of the film cycle. The film stars Zak (Zack Gottsagen), who plays a man with Down Syndrome. His character Zak runs from a state nursing home to have his hero, The Saltwater Redneck (Thomas Hayden Church), train him to become a professional wrestler. While running from his nursing home caretaker (Dakota Johnson), Zak meets a fisherman on the run named Tyler (Shia LeBeouf) and so begins a fantastical Mark Twain style film in the deep south. On the surface, one could argue that The Peanut Butter Falcon is typical Oscar bait. The film has great acting, a great script, a diverse cast and is beautifully shot. These are all typical for Oscar films, but Falcon stands out because of its authenticity and boldness as well as because of the particular message that it carries. For instance, actor Zak Gottsagen actually has Down Syndrome like his character. This makes The Peanut Butter Falcon groundbreaking and exciting, especially because Gottsagen’s performance is so great. Hollywood films are often criticized for their portrayal of people with special needs and for not casting actors in the films who actually have those needs.  Recently, The Upside comes to mind. In that film, Actor Bryan Cranston gave an earnest performance of a man with Cerebral Palsy. However, Cranston doesn’t have Cerebral Palsy, there are actors who actually have Cerebral Palsy who should have been given a chance.  Another film, Rain Man, featured Dustin Hoffman giving a beautiful portrayal of a man with Autism, but he also did not have the condition of the character he played. Gottsagen isn’t the only standout of the film. LeBeouf plays his best role yet. LeBeouf has had quite a series of missteps lately in his acting career, but Falcon shows off his acting in an exciting way.  LeBeouf and Gottsagen have chemistry that is off the charts, and their friendship is what drives the film. LeBeouf gives an astounding performance as he displays the many layers of his character, Tyler. He is a rough person, but also loves Zak so realistically and beautifully throughout the film. There’s a scene where Zak tells Tyler that he isn’t a hero because he is “a Down Syndrome person.” Tyler responds beautifully with a question: “What’s that got to do with your heart?” The Peanut Butter Falcon’s message is clear and impactful. The film isn’t afraid to go to places that aren’t often shown on screen. Zak is consistently belittled by...

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