The core tenet of spirituality is to understand our spirit rather than the desires of flesh. Easier said than done. What takes you away from spirituality is sin, which is the opposite of having the discipline of faith and the understanding of grace. To achieve discipline, the gospel is a massive source of strength and truth to many. Here are some best quotes from the book of how the gospel has been twisted over generations to confuse the message of God.
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Nothing will ever be the same after driving in Tokyo.
Anyone who has been lucky enough to drive in Japan knows the incredible courtesy of drivers. Other drivers don't hesitate to let you out of busy intersections or pull out across traffic for right turns, unlike drivers in Jersey that usually don't like to let you pull out for left turns. Fortunately for me, I learned how to drive in Japan. Unfortunately for me, I have now returned to the States, where drivers tend to fall more on the opposite side of the "politeness spectrum."
The first place I have driven since returning to the United States is New Jersey, and anyone unlucky enough to have driven in New Jersey knows that road rage is almost as common as traffic lights. Although I mentioned how most people miss polite drivers after leaving Japan in a past article, I have realized that there are so many more differences than just politeness that I miss.
1. Everyone's overall attitude about traffic is different.
In Japan, the drivers expect traffic and have pretty much come to terms with it. Rather than getting upset when driving in rush hour traffic, everyone sucks it up and understands that we are all in the same boat and there's nothing that can be done but wait it out. On the flip side, drivers in Jersey often get upset and frustrated, which is something I wasn't excited to return to after leaving Japan.
2. Although both Jersey and Japan have gas station attendants that help to pump your gas for you, their functions are quite different.
While in Jersey, they simply put gas in your tank. In Japan, they offer to clean your windshield and escort you back onto the road, even stopping traffic if you have to cross lanes. The extra mile that Japanese workers put into customer service is amazing and something I miss from the Land of the Rising Sun.
3. They drive on opposite sides of the street.
Although it may seem to be an obvious difference, it can be tricky adjusting to the other side. After driving in car where the steering wheel is on the right in Japan, it can be difficult to adjust back to driving a car in the States. The trickiest part isn't always the driving itself, but confusing the turn signal with the windshield wipers.
4. The signs are in different languages.
Another seemingly obvious difference, after returning to the States I realized how convenient it is to be able to read everything quickly and easily. The signs may be one of the few differences that I don't really miss from Japan.
5. Drivers in Japan use horns, lights, and bows as positive signs of gratitude and courtesy.
Of course, horns and lights are also used for other reasons, but they are often polite, to alert other drivers, or say "thank you." Other drivers also slightly bow and wave while driving, after being let out or helped. While at intersections at night, drivers even turn off their headlights while facing or stopped behind another vehicle, to save their fellow drivers' eyes from the blinding lights in the dark.
6. Pedestrians and bicyclists are treated differently.
While in the States, although pedestrians do have the right-of-way, they are often not given the same chances to cross that drivers in Japan give. People walking and riding bicycles are more common in Japan, and drivers are more likely to look out for them and give space, which I miss.
Although of course not all Jersey drivers are crazy, you don't get the same feeling there that you do in Japan. Driving anywhere is stressful, but driving in Japan is made a bit more enjoyable through the culture of the country and positive atmosphere on the road.
I'm Feeling Disappointed.
It's the last week of summer. I'm already back at school. I'm cringing at textbook prices, questioning if I really want to be taking the credits that I am and trying to figure out when, exactly, I'm going to sleep this semester. I'm starting a new chapter in my life. Things are changing, like they always are. I'm saying goodbye to yet another summer.
I'll admit that I've never been the biggest fan of the summer. I hate the heat and I'd much rather be in school. But the end of summer is always bittersweet for me.
I'm excited, like I always am, to head back to school. When I was little, school supplies shopping was always my favorite thing. I still love the look and smell of a new notebook or box of crayons. I love walking into class on the first day. I love learning. I love connecting with new people and taking notes and having something to do with myself, even if that something is homework. I'm more than ready to start another year at a school that I love, with professors and classmates that are inspiring and talented in so many ways.
But, like I am every summer, I'm disappointed. There's so much that I said I would do with my time. I wanted to go to the beach. I wanted to dress up and go out with my friends from high school. I wanted to hear all about their new lives. I wanted to lie in the sun and read a book. I wanted to go to the lake with my family. Take up a new hobby. Take a road trip. Go on an adventure.
As usual, I spent my summer on the couch, re-watching The Officeand Friends for the sixth or seventh time.
Admittedly, The Office and Friends are both wonderful ways to spend time, but they aren't things that I'm excited about. I didn't see any of my friends from high school this summer. I read maybe two books. I didn't take up a new hobby or go on a road trip. I went swimming once.
In my house, summer is always busy. We always over-book ourselves, so when it finally ends, we look back and things are a blur. I've always hated that. I've always wanted summer to be some big, monumental, exciting thing. But summer isn't like that. I've romanticized the idea so much that I am left feeling disappointed in myself for not taking advantage of a season. That's stupid.
I know, no matter what, that I'll be regretting how I wasted my summer again next year. And the year after that. I'll be surprised if I don't think so for the rest of my life. I will always romanticize summer. It will always seem like there is some sort of unattainable ideal surrounding it. Like there's some sort of glow emanating from the very idea of bonfires, road trips, and beaches. I want those things to be real to me. I always will.
I'm going back to school this year missing a summer I never had. I hope someday I might miss one that I've gotten to experience.
If you look closely enough, God is revealed in a new, powerful, beautiful, and magnificant way.
Many times in college we have events that make us question our faith. Growing up in a predominantly southern christian town at a public high school where the teachers were pretty open about their beliefs and most students were involved in a church, or at least claimed to be Christian, it was really hard to be faced with opposite views this first year at a public university. I have never had a reason to question my faith, until questions were posed to me that made me discover a new level of faith. When a professor who has their Ph.D. and seems to have worlds of knowledge, but they clearly disapprove of what you believe, it can rock your world. It seemed like all odds were put against me as three of my professors and classes were challenging what I believed about literally everything. The very foundation of who I am. This semester instead of feeling farther from God, I feel so much closer and more in awe because of these classes that were put in place to rattle me, but proved to rattle me into a deeper level of amazement with the world around me.
Astronomy, geology, and sociology are courses that make you think. They make you take a step back and reconsider. I find it so valuable to learn about this universe, the world, and people of every walk of life. Stars, mountains, families, galaxies, religion, oceans, and everything in between, is difficult to wrap my mind around. Much less the origin of it all. In these classes, the ideas of the Big Bang, being made of stardust, human evolution, and every other scientific idea was proposed. This article isn't to bash ideas or science, but to encourage those who are having their faith shook because of them. When I looked out into the world before these classes, I was like "oh alright, cool." But, now I am in AWE. I am in awe that there are so many stars in the sky that we cannot even count them. I am in awe that the perfect amount of chemicals mixed in our atmosphere at exactly the right temperature to create the perfect environment for us to live in. I am in awe of emotions. I am in awe of love, joy, sadness, tears, laughs, and how people interact. I am just simply in awe. As my professors tried to convince the class of no God, they showed me there was indefinitely a beautiful, magnificent creator. How would my heart know exactly how many beats per minute to pump blood throughout my body to keep me alive? What purpose would cells or chemicals have to produce the emotion of sadness, which then promotes tears? What would be sciences reason for the strong bonds of love we form with other people? What about the way our brains organize ideas in a way that it is hard to even pinpoint why or how our brains work? I l love the way Propaganda put it in this spoken word, " One must begin with the mind that was given to him to even believe he's evolved."
Yes, I respect the professors beliefs and I don't think these classes should be avoided because if you look closely enough, they open our eyes to the beauty of how perfectly perfect things are in a way that if one little thing was changed, things couldn't survive or thrive.
An experience I had in Paris was the closest thing I've had to an out-of-body experience, and I still wonder about it today.
Last summer, I took a week-long trip to Paris. A close friend from high school invited me to stay with her in the apartment she was renting for the summer. I spent my week touring, exploring, dining, and shopping—all the expected wonderful things. But there was one day that showed me what I had never understood about that clichéd magic of Paris.
During my visit, I quickly discovered the Shakespeare and Company bookstore in the center of Paris right across from Notre Dame Cathedral. I was immediately enamored. I went to the bookstore several times that week, to read upstairs in the rooms full of old books, or to leave messages on their vintage typewriters (which had a different key arrangement than our American keyboards), or to eat at the cafe next door and gaze at Notre Dame across the street, through a stream of bikers, buses, and pedestrians. One day a street musician played Saxophone for thirty minutes or so as I drank iced tea.
One day at Shakespeare and Co., I wandered upstairs and came across a man sitting on an upholstered bench in a smaller side-room. Gathered around him were several people—a man and a woman sitting on the piano bench across the room, a younger teenage-looking girl (who I later discovered was Chinese, and fluent in German and English), an older woman, and now, me. I walked into what I assumed was a guest lecture or reading. I slipped into the back of the room, when immediately the man speaking addressed me. He invited me to come closer in a thick accent and he tipped his fedora at me as I approached.
The fedora man was talking about philosophy—everything from God to the French Revolution, with whiffs of Plato in between. We got to talking about music and over the course of the conversation I realized I had not encountered a lecture, but a spontaneous gathering of people discussing whatever arose among them. As we talked about music and why it moves us, the fedora man asked the man at the piano bench to play. They explained that he had been playing when the conversation started—the conversation had begun as a few peoples’ compliments to the playing. He played a few pieces for us, and the woman next to him introduced herself as his wife. After he’d played his fill, I was visibly moved by the music, and the fedora man asked if I knew how to play. I said no, but I do sing, and he asked me to sing for the group.
Now, while I am not shy in everyday interactions, I do have a proclivity for stage-fright and anxiety when put on the spot. As Eliza Schuyler sings in Hamilton, “I have never been the type to try and grab the spotlight,” but the whole group joined in asking, and I didn’t know what to do. I was a tad nervous from the get-go and it was just a matter of time before I became even more so. But as I stood there, the knee-knocking didn’t come. I could breathe easily and I wasn’t sweating through my sundress. After a pause, I conceded. I pulled a version of “Caro Mio Ben” from my Choir memory-bank, and began singing, letting muscle memory supply rhythm and dynamic motion. The whole time I sang I felt like I wasn’t standing there at all, like I was someone else watching myself sing from a vast distance. I guess it was a sort of out-of-body experience. It’s nearly impossible to describe and difficult even to remember exactly how I felt in those short two minutes. My voice shook a little in the middle, but the smiles and books and golden evening light egged me on and soon I was enjoying myself. This moment didn't feel like a performance.
People clapped as I finished, and I descended from my momentary cloud formed from reverie and sunset and song. I felt my heartbeat slow and I wiped my palms on the side of my dress. Immediately I could not believe what I had just done, and a combination of nerves, modesty, and disbelief assailed me. We eventually parted ways and I returned to the apartment.
Looking back, I don’t know how or why it happened. It seems so natural, so obvious that I would sing for them—we had been engaged in dialogue and intellectual intimacy, and in a way, we knew one another. Yet at the same time, it feels other-worldly. I am no performer, and this was a small crowd of strangers, along with everyone else in the store who could hear me from other rooms. It seems bizarre that I would sing a solo for strangers in a crowded bookstore. All I know for sure is that it could only have happened right then, right there, in that top room of Shakespeare and Company bookstore, among those people, beside the old piano and antique Royal. It was a singular moment for me. I never place much stock in fate or coincidence, but I allow that memory to nestle in my mind as an anomaly, a thing apart from reason, perhaps never to be explained.
Only in Paris. I am lonesome without the city of lights, and I tug again and again at that memory. A memory like a handmade quilt worn with age and use but nonetheless belovéd.
It's hard to believe that fall semester is here already, that we have passed welcome week and the first weeks of classes are underway.
I'm here to talk about one thing that we all know is true: why fall semester is arguably the best semester. Here is a list of ten reasons why fall semester is the greatest thing known to undergrads.
1. Football. Fall semester is filled with one of my favorite collegiate sports, football. If you're like me and many others who attend state schools, you know one thing: Football in the fall is huge. Even if your school isn't the greatest at football, you will still find yourself out there cheering on the team every Saturday afternoon.
2. Tailgating. With football comes the magical event before every game, and that's tailgating. Getting up early and making your way to the tailgate fields with your brothers and sisters is something that you'll never forget. There's just something about playing corn hole while music blares all around you that is oddly satisfying.
3. Philanthropies. Fall semester is chock full of philanthropies. It seems like every weekend, you are waking up early to get together with your waterdaze or bust team to prepare for a day full of slip n' slides and watermelon tosses.
4. The weather. Fall is my favorite time of year. You get to enjoy being on campus with all of your friends, weekends are spent in each others back yards hanging out and enjoying the weather. Fall is a perfect excuse to get a group of people together, hang out and relax in each others porches and yards.
5. The nostalgia. We've just spent an entire three months back at home working our part time jobs, hanging out with our families. Now that we're back at school, everything is fresh and exciting again. People are moving into new houses and apartments and things are switching up from the same routine you developed over the summer.
6. Classes. I know what you're thinking: class is on this list? We now have something real to do and something to make us productive again. No more sitting in front of the tv for hours after work. We are starting school again and everyone is happy to actually feeling productive again.
7. Traditions. Coming back to campus means being back around the traditions that take place on your campus. I know I took a detour to walk by frog baby and I've seen numerous people sticking gum on the gum tree. We all love these traditions, no matter how weird they may seem to other people.
8. Being back also means being back with your chapter. Maybe you saw some of your closest sisters or brothers over the summer, but now you all are back in the same city and probably living in the same house even. You're gearing yourself up for all the stuff your chapter has set for the semester!
9. Formals and socials. Fall semester means the start of many formals and socials. There's nothing better than Thursday night spontos or doing mock recruitment with one of your favorite sororities or fraternities. Everyone loves formals, especially away formals. Getting out of town for a weekend is fun no matter who you are.
10. New experiences. With every semester comes new people, new friends and new experiences. Fall semester is the start of that and the start of another great year in college.
So move over spring semester, fall semester has officially blown you out of the water.
1. Brittany Morgan, National Writer's Society
2. Radhi, SUNY Stony Brook
3. Kristen Haddox, Penn State University
4. Jennifer Kustanovich, SUNY Stony Brook
5. Clare Regelbrugge, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign