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.

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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No cable TV made life better
Feb10

No cable TV made life better

In the fifth grade, the popular thing to do after returning home from school was to go straight to the bedroom and turn on the Disney channel, maybe eat cookies with milk while lost in the daze of the television’s glow of dancing colors until dinner. Not me. Instead of plopping on the sofa with soda and remote in hand, my sister and I did our homework like the angels we were asked to be. When we finished, there was no Nickelodeon or Lizzie McGuire waiting for us. Instead, we had to burrow our way through the fuzz as we adjusted the antenna to get a 13-inch picture on the only working television our family owned. There was no such thing as a hundred channels. We were lucky to pick up five, one of which was in some unintelligible language we later learned was called Spanish. On the weekends, there was plenty of entertainment besides television. But on more than one occasion, a friend would ask to watch TV, until she saw the scary long antennae sitting on top of a box smaller than the family microwave and would say, “Let’s just go play with the Pound Puppies instead.” Today, if someone were to show up and snicker at the undersized screen, I’d recommend sitting outside on the porch for some truly fresh country air and something foreign to much of this generation — conversation. Growing up in a small town of about 3,000 people had its pros and cons. But life in the country had rewards well worth the few bug and snake scares. Have city folk ever seen the stars? It may surprise a few people, but there are more than a dozen up there. Have urban dwellers ever been able to stand in the yard and not see a single other house than their own? And the country sunsets — not even Belton’s can beat those. I’ve seen deer, rattle snakes, opossums, scorpions, hawks, baby vultures (they’re actually cute), blue martins, a crawdad, turtles, wild bunnies, roadrunners, wild hogs (including a blind one) and even a bobcat. Yes, I’ve seen the destruction a raccoon wreaked in our garage … and when we first planted trees in our front yard the neighbor’s goats nearly knocked some over. Once when a friend was over, several goats had just started partying in the front yard. The male goats were rubbing their horns on the thin tree trunks, scratching them and then eating the leaves. We put on our tennis shoes. My friend had a special treat that day as we chased the goats. It was quite fun. The males...

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MLK saw promised land near
Feb10

MLK saw promised land near

By Ryan Busby UMHB Alum Thousands of years ago in the Ancient Near East, a group of slaves led by a man named Moses escaped from their oppressors in Egypt.  While they wandered in the desert, God promised them a place where they could rest, a place to call their own. That land was called Canaan, and one day they did settle into the Promised Land, but without Moses. In a similar fashion, the face of race relations and equal rights for the United States was the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He represented and worked to see his people freed from oppression, but his life was cut short by an assassin’s bullet, and he did not get to see the fruit of his and many other’s labor. King, in his sermon, “The Birth of a New Nation,” (praising Ghana’s independence from British colonialism) used Moses as a metaphor for leaders unable to see their dreams become reality. He explained, “There is something deep down within the very soul of man that reaches out for Canaan. Men cannot be satisfied with Egypt… Moses might not get to see Canaan, but his children will see it. He even got to the mountaintop enough to see it and that assured him that it was coming. But the beauty of the thing is that there’s always a Joshua to take up his work and take the children on in.”  This sermon was delivered April 7, 1958. King’s last speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” was given the night before he was assassinated on April 3, 1968.  In this speech, Dr. King continued his ten-year-old motif stating, “Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop! And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we as a people will get to the Promised Land.” Indeed, King, it is a shame you did not get to meet your Joshua. Regardless, he is here, and on January 20 2009, the Jordan parted and the first steps into the Promised Land were taken. We still have a long way to go; many enemies and obstacles remain as your children settle into the land flowing with milk and honey. However,...

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Valentine’s Day: A love-hate holiday relationship
Feb10

Valentine’s Day: A love-hate holiday relationship

“This is the day that the Lord hath made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.” Feb. 14 is a day of conflicting feelings. Depending on who you are, your stage of life and your relationship status, Cupid can shoot either painful stinging arrows or endless love bullets into your heart, causing you to enjoy or despise the holiday that plasters affection across every superstore isle and through every American mind. It’s quite interesting and sometimes disappointing to examine Valentine’s Day and its effects on the general public. While I do not claim to be an expert on national, holiday, celebration protocol, I’ve compiled a list of why Feb. 14 is such a healthy holiday for our nation. Sales thrive off of people madly in love. The holiday brings in annually over $14 billion. Suddenly giant stuffed animals are worth 50 bucks, and the cost of your average Hershey’s bar wrapped in red displaying “I love you” inflates to a dollar more. Men are willing to ignore outrageous price tags to surprise their ladies with diamond rings and the sort. Flower businesses see skyrocketing profits as carnations and arrangements flood vases or melt young women’s hearts as their man waits at the door with a dozen roses in hand. In an economically-thirsting stimulation, what could be better? Babysitters also experience a peak in business on this day as the demand is high and the labor is low. Parents, desiring romantic escape, are willing to fork out big money for someone to watch their children. Other service industries benefit, too. Waiters and waitresses can expect to see big tips because nothing seems to speak louder than “here’s an elegant, expensive meal for you honey and don’t I look great if I give our server a monster tip.” Now, for those who do not have a significant other, this is no reason to pout. Just because Mr. or Mrs. Right didn’t give you a box of chocolates doesn’t mean you can’t spoil yourself with some sweets. Many pessimists have renamed Valentine’s Day as Singles Awareness Day, wearing shirts that promote destruction of lovely holiday festivities. This is ridiculous. If it takes a national holiday to make you aware of the fact you are single, then you have bigger problems to address than not having a boyfriend. Then there are those people who use the holiday as a reason to publically practice unneeded romantic gestures. While intimacy is a gift God gave to couples, children do not need to see what it looks like or how it works prematurely. PDA overhaul should not be abused, nor is it justified because of...

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City showcases immigration issues
Jan27

City showcases immigration issues

The city of Laredo, with a population of about 220,000, clearly has a culture different from that of many other Texas cities. Even Police Chief Carlos Maldonado likens Laredo to an island, since there are virtually no other large American cities within a 200-mile radius. This “island” embodies the constant American struggle to balance national security with sympathy for fellow humanity. The governing principles in place are failing. Thousands of undocumented immigrants enter the United States every day. However, becoming a citizen of this great nation the legal way is extremely difficult and takes several years. Only the winding Rio Grande separates the border town of Laredo from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, a place virtually cohesive with its United States counterpart by culture. Two main bridges grant legal passage from one country to another, creating much hustle and bustle. A constant flow of people cross the bridges carrying cardboard boxes, shopping bags and rolling suitcases behind them – full of the day’s purchases or personal belongings. A border patrolman explains his daily routine on the Rio Grande as a continuous cycle. He shared a trend in trickery used by undocumented immigrants who make it across the river, unknowingly being detected. One time the border patrol apprehended a mother and two daughters who had run for about 10 yards as fast as they could and then stopped in the middle of a city park, pretending they came there to play and had been there a while. Others try to blend in with Laredo citizens as they have barbecues on the park grounds. Hearing these stories put the process of legalization in a different light. Countless times people ask, “Why do undocumented immigrants take the risk of the river crossing, of being caught and of deportation? Why not just come the legal way?” The legal way is a long way, taking nearly seven years after paperwork and a series of tests. Looking from “our side of the river” to the other, Mexico is noticeably different economically. Even with all the media cries of the “economic crisis” in America, seeing the dusty roads and homes made of scrap metal in Mexico, where one is either poor or rich, Americans have much less to cry about. Why else would there be such draw to come to the United States? Since Laredo is so intertwined culturally with Nuevo Laredo, the issue of immigration (both legal and illegal) is complicated. Some issues are hardly talked about, such as the fact that when an undocumented immigrant is caught for a crime like prostitution, he or she must have a medical screening before being admitted into a jail...

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