Assent vs. Belief

Assent vs. Belief

And their practical application.
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When I resigned from crew this spring, I found myself with three extra hours in the day to do whatever I wanted. To fill the time, I did almost exactly what I did while competing: run, erg, and go to the gym. It appeared the only difference between pre- and post-crew life was I no longer had to commit to what I was doing. With crew, I had had to show accountability, make practice on time, and keep a routine. Without crew, I was accountable only to myself. A few weeks after resigning, I understood there was no difference between my pre-crew and my post-crew routine; that while both demonstrated accountability, neither demonstrated commitment. My mind and body had been in the boat, but my heart had not. Unless your heart is in something, you never can say you are committed.


I contrast the verb “commit” with the verb “resign.” A sign in the Rollins U.T. Bradley Boathouse displays a pyramid showing levels of dedication, capped by the phrase “I commit.” When you commit to a cause, you do more than put your time and effort into it. You put in your time, your effort, and your intent. With just the time and the effort and without the intent, your commitment becomes resignment. The difference between resignment and commitment is heart, and choosing to put your heart into what you do is the most important difference you can make.


My high school namesake, John Henry Cardinal Newman, also writes about the difference between resignment and commitment in his book An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent. He describes resignment and commitment as two kinds of assent, or two ways of accepting a proposition as true. He calls resignment “notional assent,” where you accept something as true, but you keep it at arm’s length. You understand why it is true, and you could explain to somebody what it means in words, but your understanding it has little to no influence on your life or behavior. A good example would be someone who understands why recycling is good for the environment, but who lacks the motivation to separate their waste from their recyclables.


Writing on commitment, Newman refers to it as “real assent.” When you give real assent to a proposition, you believe it to be true, whether you understand it or not. An example would be a child who knows nothing about the science behind climate change, has never watched An Inconvenient Truth, but whose parents have told him climate change is bad, so he recycles because he believes it can help prevent it. The child cannot explain how recycling helps prevent climate change, but if asked why he thinks it does, he says simply, “My parents told me so.” The logic is missing, but the belief is there.

Newman recognizes both notional and real assent as important for accepting a truth. Notional assent requires understanding the logic behind a truth. People who notionally assent can satisfy their desire for a logical explanation of what they believe to be true. Whatever happens, they can rest assured their beliefs lie on a firmly logical foundation. Real assent, on the other hand, requires not rational logic, but a logic of its own. It seeks its logical basis in an emotion that moves people to accept as true what they do not fully understand, but even so, have the courage act on it. In this way, the weakest real assent is more powerful than any notional one, because any real assent inspires action. Further, every action real assent inspires only strengthens real assent already present. The call to action real assent demands distinguishes it from mere notional assent. For this reason, Newman considers real assent a technical term for another more readily understood term: belief.

But what makes for belief? Isn’t belief simply blind trust in something we don’t understand? Newman answers that while belief can be blind in the sense that we don’t understand something, belief sees more clearly with the heart that understands truth in love. Through belief, we see the love of a person whom we trust, and we listen to what they have to write and what they have to say because we have faith that person will tell us the truth. What’s more, because we love that person, we not only listen; we also do what they say. So a child listens to her parents and does what they say not because she understands them, but because she loves them.

When I resigned from crew this spring, I had felt overwhelmed. I knew the logic for why I should stay resigned to it, but I never thought to myself why I should stay committed to it—maybe really commit to it for the first time. I chose to resign because I forgot my love for the sport, and I confused forgetting that love for not having it at all. But what do you do when you forget why you do the right thing? You do it anyway, is the answer I should have given. But I resigned when I should have committed, and what I learned was the difference. If I had a second chance, I would do it different. Not resign, but instead, commit. And you probably are wondering, "Would he really?” And I would say, “You better believe it.”

Cover Image Credit: Team Canada

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.
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Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.


7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

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Giannis Antetokounmpo And Christian Yelich Have Put Milwaukee Back On The Map

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"MVP" is currently being chanted around the city of Milwaukee and the people of Milwaukee aren't just talking about one person. Giannis Antetokounmpo, a forward for the Milwaukee Bucks and Christian Yelich, an outfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers. Giannis is on the path to winning this year's NBA MVP and Yelich, who happened to win the NL MVP last year, is showing no doubts on potentially becoming this year's MVP as well.

Both the Bucks and the Brewers have struggled in the past few years. The Bucks finished their 2013-2014 season with a record of 15-67. On top of that, they have been playing in the BMO Harris Bradley Center for the past couple of decades. The Bradley Center was intentionally built for hockey and not basketball so attending games for the Bucks sometimes had you in the nosebleeds barely seeing what was going on on the court. The Bucks struggled after their 2013-2014 season with records of 41-41 (2014-2015) and 33-49 (2015-2016). Now, the Bucks have recently finished their regular season and moved to the playoffs. From 15-67 just five years ago, to now 60-22 which gave them the best record in the NBA, the number one seed in the East and home-court advantage, Giannis has proved himself as potentially one of the greatest players the NBA and the Bucks franchise will ever see.

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The Brewers had won the NL Central Divison back in 2011 but lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series. After that, they struggled a bit and haven't won the title since until last year in 2018. He brought the Brewers to the NLCS last season, but unfortunately, they lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Yelich had 36 home runs last season and already has eight (as of 4/16/19) this season. He happens to be a great right fielder as well. In last night's (4/15/19) game against the Cardinals, Yelich alone scored three home runs.

Miller Park has been filling up more and more each game of Brewers fans. Being a small market team like their cross-city friends, the Bucks, bringing home an MVP title as well as a division title, it makes everyone aware of their greatness and dedication. The season may have just started back up again, but there is no doubt, if Yelich and his teammates keep playing like they are right now, they will have another shot of making it to the World Series.

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