Owned and published by UMHB, The Bells is a biweekly publication. This content was previously published in print on the Opinions page. Opinions expressed in this section do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff or the university.

Today’s modesty lacks clear guidelines it needs
Mar10

Today’s modesty lacks clear guidelines it needs

“Modesty.” The seven-letter word is scattered in the university handbook, and posted next to a full-length mirror in Mayborn gym is the phrase, “Modest is hottest.” Modesty is relative. Don’t believe it? Ask anyone’s grandmother what she was allowed to wear in school. Back then, girls were only allowed to wear skirts and blouses. No pants and definitely no shorts. Girls had to learn a special grace to walk like penguins on their mile walk to school because their skirts were so long. Today, modesty has become a thin line that so many try to walk without technically crossing, and the line is ever elusive. It cannot be objectively nailed down. Should a girl’s shorts be finger tip length or two inches above the knee? What about those with long fingers? Are they just sentenced to wear longer shorts for life because they have longer phalanges? No two people agree. Females are left with more questions than answers, and comical late-night discussions between girlfriends try to answer a few of them. Nobody can seem to decide what the qualifications are for the “hoochie factor.” That’s not to say that some young women don’t obviously need instruction to keep their appearances family friendly. I’ve seen more than my share of wardrobe malfunctions. In my summer English course, one of the requirements was to give a presentation in front of the class. Unfortunately, the girl in front of me gave “presentations” nearly every day, and not the class-appropriate kind, either. At Wal-Mart I saw a girl wearing yellow shorts that were obviously too small. I know she probably got more than one look that day, and perhaps that was her goal. But what about those who don’t want to see that? Why should they have to suffer? It may seem laughable that in the “olden days” grandma had to wear a skirt that fell bellow her knees and always wore a hat to church on Sunday. But the shift toward more casual dress has brought complications of its own. Companies have to provide detailed rules for their work dress code. Baptist churches are adding to their constitutions and bylaws guidelines for what is suitable.  However, universities, such as our own, have avoided being particular. Instead, the 2009 Student Handbook says, “Standards of dress are not minimized nor eliminated by the absence of regulations, but the university administration assumes the students shall continue to accept individual responsibility for appropriate dress as a member of a Christian academic community.” Our “individual responsibility” is relative to each person. I don’t mind. While some may be fine sitting in class with what I deem a...

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Learn to juggle life
Mar10

Learn to juggle life

College life is a lot harder than people make it out to be. Students are dropped off in a random dormitory where their freedom is stolen by curfews, room checks, and all sorts of fines. Some work two jobs while taking 18 hours of class, which means around midterms and finals, anxiety and stress levels skyrocket. On top of that, many want to work out at the gym, play intramural games, spend time with friends, go to Focus on Wednesdays, go out dancing on Thursdays, serve at Reaching Out on Saturdays, go to church on Sundays, and participate in an endless number of other activities. Then there are roommate problems and disagreements. Professors don’t understand the problems of sharing a room with someone who refuses to shut the light off before 3 a.m. and blasts her rap music at whatever hour she chooses. Professors also have the habit of assigning projects and essays for the same week. Then there are the stresses of finding a job in a crappy economy, or piling on thousands of dollars in extra debt for loans to go to graduate school. Of course, there’s finding a spouse. Those who haven’t found their special someones better move quick, because after age 23 it all goes downhill. College students have so much to handle and too many decisions to make. That’s why in the chaos of juggling work, school and relationships with friends and family, it’s easy to become self-centered. It’s popular to blame financial institutions, corrupt media and broken families for screwing up America, but individuals are also at fault. Americans have glued their lives together by indulging in affluent lifestyles. Our society has lied to itself for so long that it is corrupted by selfish patterns and desires. Yes, circumstances are demanding and situations can be tough, but as students at a private institution in a Christian atmosphere with housing of any sort and edible food on the table, we are blessed. Feeling small and victimized is easy with deadlines and varying conflicts, but it is important to remember when money is short, people are demanding, and life is tough, we’re all in this together. Complaining and sulking only adds to the...

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Everyday life can be radical mission
Mar10

Everyday life can be radical mission

Smoke billowed from the washing machine because the California king comforter stuffed into it stopped the rotors from moving. For those who need a translation, a normal washer loaded down with an extra-extra large blanket equals too much to handle. Like this washer, sometimes life gets bogged down with trying to clean all the impurities of faith. Can this extra-extra important part of life intertwine with normalcy? All my life, I have been told God has a fantastic and wonderful future in store for me. “He has great and mighty things for you to do and accomplish,” they said. What are these things, and is this future knowable? The ridiculous picture of me as a whitewater rapid tour guide, brown hair flowing from my shiny helmet pops into my head when I think of “great and mighty.” Maybe a future in the dark despair of Africa saving babies from starvation and disease is not what God has called me to. Certainly I don’t plan to appear on Joel Osteen’s television show. Even if I don’t want to be Miss Missionary, does that disqualify me from the race of faith? I want to be normal, but where does that desire and my passion for following God meet? It might seem strange, but living the grand missionary life others image for me is like standing on a long, beautiful platform wearing this knock-out dress and killer high heels, all the while being completely miserable wanting to simply wear a pair of jeans, a T-shirt and flip-flops. One looks better, but if I can rock out the plain-Jane outfit with heart, vibrancy and love, that would be preferable. I want to tell people around me during the daily grind about Jesus, his love, grace and hope. I want any and every person I can reach to hear the good news and to see it lived out the best way I can with help from someone much greater than I. There just doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with living a normal life and sharing Jesus with those I come across. Is it necessary to go somewhere exotic to do great and mighty work? The other day my friend was talking about her younger bother. She said, “If I can just keep him from getting married before he finishes college, then he will be good.” The reply was simple: “Just because the way he is choosing to get through college is not the way you would do it does not make it wrong. Getting married could help him grow up, and he might just get better grades in the process.” People think they...

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Christians should end divisions, find unity and common purpose
Feb24

Christians should end divisions, find unity and common purpose

By Garrett Pekar A house divided against itself cannot stand. Christianity contains many different churches and denominations. Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist and Brethren are just a few. One could even argue that non-denominational is a denomination in itself. Which of these is truly the way to salvation? Many people are torn apart by the differences in denominations and forget that they are all under one umbrella–Christianity. Christianity should unite, not divide. It is my belief that God judges all people differently, according to the circumstances of their lives. People should follow the teachings of their denomination and respect those of others’. Catholics should follow Catholic teachings to the best of their abilities, and Baptists should do the same for Baptist teachings. Most importantly, everyone should focus on following the teachings of Jesus. He taught many lessons through His parables about how to live righteously. Jesus teaches in the New Testament how to become closer to God. The key to this is becoming closer to other people. It is important to care for all of God’s children. Every person should strive to give compassion to others without wanting anything in return. It is always wrong to hurt someone else for any reason, especially out of envy. Caring for and helping others is not always easy. In fact, it is often the hardest task imaginable. When someone mocks, hurts, or insults me, my first instinct is to hurt them back. Jesus taught to turn the other cheek and be kind to people despite what they have done. I still struggle to put this into practice, but it is the ultimate display of compassion Again, I believe God judges every person differently. We are all created to be unique. The experiences one goes through in a lifetime are never the same as anyone else in the world. A person who is blind from birth can perform more good in a lifetime than someone who has all of the senses but takes them for granted and doesn’t use them to help others. Someone who is wealthy but only spends money on material things will not find favor in the eyes of God. However, someone who gains riches and donates a great deal of them to charities or gives them to other people who are less fortunate will surely be rewarded by God for such compassion. People are different. God created us this way, so it is only right that He would judge every person uniquely. An earthly set of standards for reaching heaven does not exist because they are different for each person. A poor man can reach heaven just as much...

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Don’t talk classmates’ ears off
Feb24

Don’t talk classmates’ ears off

I have a disease. There is no cure, but there is a treatment. I tend to add to class discussions. A lot. Some people would call this verbal diarrhea, but I prefer the term verbal superfluity. While this is wonderful for participation points, it prevents some classmates from answering and may simply be annoying to others. Perhaps it is because I suffer from this need to answer all questions from the professor that I recognize the behavior in others. Fortunately, it is treatable. The first step is, of course, admitting there is a problem. If people roll their eyes, and you can see them thinking, “Here we go again. More comments from the peanut gallery,” this should be a clue. Another clue is found by comparing how much you talk with how much others add to the discussion. If you talk as much as or more than the professor, you may want to seek professional help or change your major to education so it counts as practice. The next step is gaining the support of friends and fellow classmates. Find somebody you trust to remind you, kindly, that you need to work and play well with others. This can take place in a nudge, a cough, a code word or an outright slap. The third step is to listen. There is a time and place for everything. You’d be surprised how much more you learn and how much more you can add to a discussion when you listen to others. The fourth step is to simplify and improve your statements. Make sure what you are saying has a definite point that is stated before you give the reasoning behind it. Use words in the correct context and pay attention to grammar. Keep it short and simple. If you don’t want to listen to another classmate give their opinion for five minutes, you should give the class the same courtesy. The final step is to remember who you are. Never feel as though you have to be quiet because you talked a lot during class last week. Talk and add to the discussion, but just remember that other people also have opinions and hope for the same opportunity. These are a few things I’ve found helpful during past years as I try to overcome this childhood illness. While the repercussions of being an irritating commentator still pop up every once in a while, the need to talk is slowly ebbing...

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Bible, meet evolution. Shake hands.
Feb24

Bible, meet evolution. Shake hands.

The question of whether humans evolved from apes does not lend itself to civility. Arrogant atheistic scientists who think evolution disproves the Bible square off against narrow-minded creationists who cry “Pagan!” at anyone who doesn’t believe God created the universe in six literal days. Reasonable Christians are often left searching for a middle ground the fanatics have overlooked. The idea that evolution disproves the Bible rests upon the assumption that a literal, surface-meaning interpretation of the creation account in Genesis is the only way to read the text. Since evolution seems to show all birds, for example, were not created in a day, that would make the Bible false and certainly not divinely inspired. Creationists who insist that to accept evolution is to deny the authority of Scripture take a similarly hard-line stance. They assert the entire Bible, including Genesis, was meant to be taken literally, and to deny the literal truth of the creation account is the same as denying the literal truth of the Gospels. Galileo Galilei, the famed 17th-century astronomer, ran into a similar problem when he discovered through use of a telescope that the Earth revolves around the sun. Several biblical passages, if read literally, suggest the opposite, and the Catholic Church heavily persecuted him for supposedly contradicting the Bible. Galileo, a devout Catholic, did not see a conflict between what the Bible said and what his telescope saw. It would be wise to learn from his views on science and Scripture. First of all, he rejected the idea that all of the Bible must be read literally. When the Bible says God “stretched forth his hand” against Egypt, He didn’t literally stick his arm out; it is a metaphor for God’s wrath. In the same way, a “day” in Genesis could refer to an epoch of time, and “created” need not mean instantaneous generation out of nothing. Galileo also believed that since the purpose of the Bible is to communicate the truth of God’s salvation, when it needed to speak about nature, it did so in the manner that would least confuse its readers or hearers. It is much easier to convey to an uneducated Israelite peasant the truth of God’s creation via a six-day metaphor than a lecture on geological formations and evolutionary lineage. Furthermore, Galileo held that since God is revealed in nature as well as His Word, the two will never contradict each other. If nature tells us God did not create the world in six days, then the creation account in Genesis was not meant to be read literally. By using the intelligence God has given us to discover the...

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