‘God’s Not Dead 2,’ A sequel for the books
Apr20

‘God’s Not Dead 2,’ A sequel for the books

Christians are slowly becoming a minority in the world, and the debate over “separation of church and state” has gained momentum in recent years. The God’s Not Dead movies, produced by Pure Flix Productions, are based on real court cases that deal with this issue. The first God’s Not Dead film follows Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper) as he debates his college philosophy professor (Kevin Sorbo) after refusing to sign a piece of paper with the words, “God is dead.” Harper’s evidence wins his class over, and the movie ends with Sorbo reconciling with God before tragically passing away, while the rest of the city is enjoying a Newsboys concert. In God’s Not Dead 2, we are taken back to high school. Devout Christian and AP History teacher Grace Wesley (Melissa Hart) must face the repercussions of answering a student’s (Haley Orrantia) question in class relating the teachings of Jesus to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi. Throughout the film, you’ll root for Hart as everything around her crumbles. Her fellow co-workers, as well as the media, turn against her, while she faces the possibility of losing her teaching certification. Things do not look good for Wesley as incriminating evidence builds around her. It’s not until her handsome, non-believer lawyer, Tom Endler (Jesse Metcalfe), decides to fight the case with a new perspective, that things start looking up. Returning from God’s Not Dead is Pastor Dave (David A.R. White), who provides comic relief in the film, while still adding to the storyline. Reporter Amy Ryan (Trisha LaFache), who is now in remission from her life-threatening cancer in the first film, struggles with finding her faith. And Martin (Paul Kwo), the Chinese foreign-exchange student who converted to Christianity at the end of GND, returns with many (147 to be exact) questions about the Bible for Pastor Dave. Other appearances in the film include Sadie Robertson from the popular A&E TV show, Duck Dynasty, and the Christian rock group, Newsboys. Over half of the movie takes place in a courtroom. And although this may sound a bit tedious, the filmmakers do a good job of keeping the audience interested and unsure of the final verdict, while transitioning effectively between the main storyline and the various subplots. The filmmakers chose actors and actresses that fit the part of their respective characters perfectly. However, I felt like some of the characters could have been more dynamic such as Orrantia’s onscreen parents (Maria Canals-Barrera and Carey Scott). I also felt like there were a few stereotypes in the film that weren’t necessary, such as picking (or not picking) the jury...

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Valentine’s Day ideas for the student on a budget
Feb16

Valentine’s Day ideas for the student on a budget

Valentine’s Day is just a few days away, and we know what that means—heart-shaped Reese’s peanut butter cups, long-stemmed red roses, chocolate-covered strawberries, dates, and sometimes even a marriage proposal. As a college student, funds are limited. So, if you’re looking for a way to treat your Valentine to a romantic night without spending a fortune, here are a few ideas that won’t break your budget. 1. Don’t have money to spend on a fancy restaurant? Either order take-out from a local restaurant or cook for your significant other. Women love when you cook for them, and it’s cheaper than going to a fancy restaurant. Next, go to That Art Place here in Belton, and paint pieces of pottery together. The shop offers mugs, plates, figurines, and more with various designs ranging from $10 to $20. If you call ahead on Saturday night and mention you’re on a date, you will get a 10 percent off discount. Or if you want to pay a little more, the shop is offering couple’s canvas painting or fused glass projects that comes with a complimentary rose and desserts. Finish off the day by watching the stars and drinking hot chocolate in the Quad. 2. Do you and your sweetheart like being outdoors? You can check out a kayak or a canoe for less than $20 at Recreation Equipment Checkout at BLORA and take a romantic kayak or canoe ride down Belton Lake. Bring along a guitar and play a special song for your special someone. After you finish kayaking, explore the trails by the lake together, before enjoying appetizers at Dead Fish Grill, The Gin, or BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse. 3. Would you rather see a movie? The Grand Avenue Theater is showing classic romantic comedies Sunday night for $5 a person. You may not be a huge fan of chick flicks, but you will score huge points with your date if you’re willing to sit through one. The theater’s café’ will be offering Valentine’s Day-themed entrees. After the movie, indulge in The Gin’s special red velvet cheesecake with a chocolate-covered strawberry on the side for $5.95 or make your own frozen yogurt concoction at the Weigh Station next to The Gin in downtown Belton. You can mix and match these ideas, check out Pinterest and Groupon.com, or create your own unique idea. No matter what you decide to do for Valentine’s Day, choose something from the heart, and I can guarantee that she’ll like it. You don’t have to spend a fortune to make a memory that your special someone will remember for years to...

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Media to blame for body image issues
Feb16

Media to blame for body image issues

Barbie, known for her blonde hair, blue eyes, thick makeup, and disproportionate body, is debuting a new look in 2016. Due to the growing opinion that Barbie’s unrealistic body has a negative influence on children, Mattel recently announced they are releasing three new body types this year: curvy, tall, and petite. While this is a novel idea, I don’t believe Barbies are behind the ongoing problem of eating disorders and distorted body image for children, teens, and young adults. The root of the problem is the media– not a heel-wearing, able-to-do-every-job-under-the-sun plastic toy. According to nationaleatingdisorders.org, 8 to 18-year-olds spend approximately 7.5 hours on some form of media every day. During this time, individuals are bombarded with ads featuring gorgeous paper-thin, photo-shopped women and handsome, muscular men selling everything from cars to hamburgers, sending a message to impressionable 5 to 25-year-olds that we must go beyond the natural look and strive to be like them. While I don’t think the media should portray women as slobs, I do believe they should show average looking women with wrinkles and cellulite. The average woman weighs about 140 pounds and is 5’4” tall. Most models weigh 23% less than most America women. Other countries are beginning to recognize the problem before the United States. In fact, in Israel, models are required to have a healthy BMI to be featured in magazines and ads. In the United States, the magazines and newspapers slam companies such as Mattel, but yet, they feature a size 0 woman on their next front cover with a feature story about how to lose weight in just 10 days. This is setting a double standard that needs to be addressed. Heavily advertised weight loss programs have become a $33 billion dollar industry, although studies show that half of people dieting don’t need to be dieting. Movies and TV shows are guilty as well. TV shows such as NBC’s The Biggest Loser, ABC’s The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, and many other shows focus on physical appearance. Characters who don’t fit the “ideal” look are generally ridiculed for their appearance while on screen. Dr. Anne Becker, a Harvard alum and professor, conducted a study of Fijian girls and women who had gone their entire life without Western TV until 1995. After just three years with television, 29% of the females were at high risk of eating disorders, compared to the only 13% before the study. Beauty contests such as Miss America and Miss Universe are televised glorifying beauty through evening gown and swim suit competitions. Miss Universe 2016 earned 6.2 million viewers when the show aired in Dec. of 2015. So,...

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Star Wars makes the big bucks
Jan28

Star Wars makes the big bucks

“Luke, I am your father.” Darth Vader’s gravelly voice echoes through the chamber. “No, that’s not true,” one-handed Luke Skywalker screams in disbelief and agony before he jumps down a hole into the abyss. Most Americans instantly recognize this iconic scene from the franchise that changed the course of cinema. Star Wars, directed by George Lucas, pushed its way into the box office in May of 1977. Considered a low budget B-movie, Star Wars opened to only 43 theaters. However, each week more theaters began to show the movie. Star Wars remained in theaters for almost 70 weeks, and made more than $460 million. “The first Star Wars was so appealing because it brought a new genre to the big screen with a great storyline that hadn’t been heard before,” sophomore Christian studies major Franklin Groseclose said. From this point on, Lucasfilms began licensing the brand to other companies for merchandise. In addition to the usual action figures and T-shirts, some rather unorthodox items have been spotted including airsickness bags, Darth Vader toasters, and fishing gear. During the next 28 years, Lucasfilms released five more Star Wars films, including three prequels to the original Star Wars movie. Star Wars was renamed as Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope when these prequels were released. Disney bought the franchise in 2012 for $4 billion from George Lucas. Once they acquired the franchise, Disney instantly expressed interest in adding onto the Star Wars saga. “When I heard that Disney owned Star Wars, I was angry, because it seems like they own almost everything. But when I saw the new Star Wars movie, I was very pleasantly surprised,” freshman nursing major Michaela Williams said. In December of 2015, Disney released Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Thousands of moviegoers of all ages flocked to see the new movie featuring old characters such Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, and Han Solo, and new characters such as Finn and Rey. “Star Wars is a movie franchise that a generation has been able to pass to the next,” Groseclose said. “Since our parents grew up on it, they understood what it would be like to see Star Wars once again, and it is appealing to the younger generation because of the action and that it was probably part of their childhood as well.” After just 20 days in theaters, Star Wars: The Force Awakens beat Avatar’s $760,507,625 domestic gross to become the #1 grossing movie in the nation. For those of you who have not seen the newest movie, let’s just say that Disney left everyone with a cliffhanger. I guess we’ll have to wait until...

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Program connects students with career mentors
Jan28

Program connects students with career mentors

The Apprentice Belton program hosted their kickoff for the semester in Bawcom Student Union in the McLane Great Hall Jan. 21. The program is a partnership between Belton’s Chamber of Commerce and the university’s career center that provides mentors to students. Director of Career Services Don Owens and the chamber came to each other with the same idea about Apprentice Belton roughly four years ago when they heard about the Apprentice Austin program in Austin, TX. “It was certainly God’s being involved and us all being on the same page at the same time that made the program possible,” Owens said. Sophomore, junior and senior students must submit an application and a reference letter by mid-October to be considered for the program in the spring semester. Once a student applies, they will be contacted for an interview by the university and chamber. The university and the chamber then find mentors in each of the students’ chosen majors. Owens believes that students should be involved with this program so they can get a true feel for their profession before they walk across the stage. “I think students should apply to get a bird’s eye view of what it’s really like in that field,” Owens said. “A lot of us have these concepts of certain careers but we don’t realize it’s a lot of hard work. There’s the good, the bad, and the ugly of every job. There’s an old saying that says if you love what you do, you won’t have to work a day of your life. We want our students to have a passion and a calling for their career.” Thirteen students have been paired with professionals from the Belton and Temple area for this semester’s Apprentice Belton. The students will be required to meet with their mentor six times throughout the spring semester, whether it’s to discuss how the student’s semester is going over coffee or to shadow the professional on the job. At the end of April there will be a closing ceremony where participants will receive a certificate and they will be able to speak about their experience. “Through Apprentice Belton, I was able to gain a mentor in the medical field who has been able to help me navigate through my journey towards becoming a physician. While I also gained many hours of shadowing experience, what stood out to me more is the practical knowledge I gained through talking with Dr. Wooldridge about her experiences in the medical field,” said senior cell biology pre-med major and Apprentice Belton alumni Autumn Brewer. Junior BCIS major with a minor in Christian studies Ashli Adams is participating...

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