The Art of Interfaith Dialogue: A student reflects on her time in the Chamberlain Interfaith Dialogue.

According to Krister Stendahl, a Swedish theologian and New Testament scholar, three rules are essential to interreligious understanding: first, when one aims to learn about another religion, they should ask the adherents of that religion rather than its enemies; second, one should not compare their religion’s best to another religion’s worst; lastly, it is important to leave room for holy envy. The art of interfaith dialogue is rooted in both Stendahl’s three rules of religious understanding and sichah – the Hebrew word for “conversation.” Sichah is an opportunity to engage in meaningful dialogues that extends beyond small talk with another person. 

In taking part in the Chamberlain Interfaith Fellowship, Stendhal’s rules of interreligious understanding were enacted through sichah and relationships developed alongside students from the Jewish faith. Under the guidance of Dr. Modica and Rachel Happel, four Jewish students from Temple Beth Shalom and four Christian students from Eastern University discussed our unique faith backgrounds through the lens of justice, current events, and beyond.

Amongst the wonderful students from Temple Beth Shalom, I had the privilege of being paired with Evie to meet bimonthly. Sitting (virtually) alongside Evie, a former stranger and current friend, we utilized Krister Stendahl’s rules of interreligious understanding to delve into discussions about our different faith backgrounds. 

The art of interfaith extends into real-life importance of religious literacy within career paths. Business majors benefit from knowing how people of varying religious backgrounds lend and borrow money; nursing majors must know how people of varying religious backgrounds treat and view illness and death; youth ministry and biblical studies majors must be mindful of how to commit to sermons and dialogues that are not discriminatory towards other religious backgrounds; exercise science majors must be aware of the dietary restrictions and religious fasting periods of their athletes of varying religious backgrounds; and education majors must be cognizant of the different pedagogies that religious teachings utilize and the major holidays that students celebrate. 

Regardless of how appetizing the notion may appear, I do not believe that different religions worship the same God. However, I do believe that there is a common denominator among the major world religions: loving others. I have found celebration in that, despite many differences, the world religions unite on a message of deep love for others. I certainly experienced this neighborly love in my engagement with interfaith immersion experiences and hope that others engage with the art of interfaith dialogue.

COVID and “WnW”: A look at COVID’s effects on Wednesday Night Worship

Imagine it’s 2018, and you live in Gough. It’s approaching 11 pm, and you decide to be responsible for once and start heading to bed. As you flick the light off and crawl under your sheets, you hear booming music vibrating the very floor and walls of the building coming from downstairs. Intrigued, you trot to the lobby to find the source of it all, and you see students from all over Eastern filing into Gough Great Room. Deciding to join them, you are welcomed by students with smiling faces and warm hearts; As the worship team transitions into the next song, you raise your voice with the crowd and the evening melts away in praise of God.

That’s how it used to go, anyways. After COVID shut everything down for a long period of time, the longstanding Eastern tradition that is Wednesday night Worship (or “WnW”) had to make some adjustments. I sat down with Kaitlyn Arrow, junior and a team leader for “WnW,” to talk about the event in its current form. Kaitlyn first experienced “WnW” during a campus visit as a high-schooler, and fell in love with the people and community: “It’s something you can’t describe,” she said, “you feel safety and a hope that is hard to replicate, seeing people worship in all different ways”. Kaitlyn joined the worship team as a sophomore Fall of 2019, but COVID soon forced the university to shut down, and the event was resurrected at the start of the new school year in a more COVID-friendly form.

Holding worship outside presents a variety of challenges and drawbacks for the Wednesday Night Worship teams. Kaitlyn mentioned that there is a lot more setup/tear down than there used to be. This means that the worship team can’t devote much time to mingling with the community. Furthermore, while worshipping outside can be great, Kaitlyn said nothing beats the ambiance of the dimly-lit great room filled with students and music. When everyone is spread out on the field, worship is more impersonal and it’s much harder for students to connect with each other. She also said it was harder for a student to come by themselves. Kaitlyn encourages anyone who has questions about pre-COVID “WnW” to contact any of the seniors on staff.

The two most obvious difficulties for “WnW” are winter and the weather. Last year, when it was raining or too cold, the worship team performed to an empty Great Room and an Instagram live feed. Singing in the very room that in years past was packed with worshipping students seems like an ironic reminder of how much the Pandemic keeps people apart. This school year Eastern’s COVID restrictions are much laxer, but as winter rapidly approaches, the “WnW” team has yet to receive any official word on how they can hold the event as the temperature drops. One potential plan is to hold it in the Great Room with vastly limited attendance, but Kaitlyn is against this plan herself, saying that “WnW” has never been about turning people away. She says, at the moment, Wednesday Night Worship will happen at 9:30 pm every Wednesday “until our fingers freeze off or our equipment breaks”.

Squid Game: A look at Netflix’s new smash-hit, “Squid Game”

On September 17, 2021, Netflix’s “Squid Game” made its debut on the streaming service. Hwang Dong-hyuk’s “Squid Game” had a long journey to see the light of day, as it was initially rejected for nearly a decade until finally being greenlit by Netflix two years ago. 

“Squid Game” introduces their main protagonist, Seong Gi-Hun, who is in financial trouble with debt collectors. He is a gambler, lazy, divorced, and lives with his elderly mother struggling with health problems. To make matters worse, is his constant failures as a parent to his 10-year-old daughter, as he makes his daughter’s birthday unsatisfying. The same night after bringing his daughter back to his ex-wife’s house, he is met in a subway station by a well-dressed man. This man offers Seong the chance to play a game for money. This scene is very comical as every time Seong loses, he is then slapped by the man. Finally winning, Seong receives the cash and a card with a chance to change his life for the better. 

Thinking about the card and his financial troubles, his mother tells him that he will lose the chance to see his daughter as she moves to the United States in a year. Due to this information, Seong then calls the number in the back of the card to participate in a series of games without knowing the severe challenges he will face.

While being picked up by a mysterious man in a van late at night, Seong is knocked out by sleeping gas reaching to the games. He wakes up with a new pair of clothes in a room with other contestants. Seong notices his childhood friend, an older man with a brain tumor, and a pickpocket. At the same time, surprised by the number of people in the room, multiple men in masks walk out to introduce the games. In an uproar, the contestants are furious with being kidnapped and not knowing where they are. However, in particular, one man tells them why they are here and what measures had to be taken, as each contestant is struggling financially. 

The masked man then informs the 456 contestants that there will be six games, and if someone loses, they will be eliminated. While the players walk to the first stage, the contestants are introduced to “Red Light, Green Light.” Thinking this would be easy, contestants who failed were killed. The scene is eerie, as each player is shocked by the outcome of these games. While narrowing his safety, Seong and other players fear for their lives and want to quit knowing that half of the other members were killed. The masked men then allowed the contestants to vote to end the game or continue for the prize.

To me, “Squid Game” displayed significant character development not only in our protagonist but in our side characters. It focuses heavily on human nature as to what people would do for money and how this can damage relationships. The uneasiness of each member going through the games and outside of them makes it more challenging. Contestants lose their identities, while others grow new ones. “Squid Game” isn’t just a death parade, it is a show of character improvement.

Sources: Esquire, Collider, and Netflix

SATIRE: Inflation is a Scam: ​​A satirical take on the country’s rise in prices.

When you go to the store, it can be a shock to see how far prices have gone up over the years. This is a result of inflation. Inflation, according to John Schmidt, an editor for Forbes Advisor, is the gradual increase in prices and the slow decline in purchasing power of dollars over time. It is supposed to help you spend your money so it does not lose its value but what happens when prices become too high and no one can afford anything?

The simple solution is printing more money and keeping prices the same. If companies were to keep their prices the same then the value of the dollar would be the same. Take Venezuela for example. Their inflation rate skyrocketed, Schmidt said, and forced their economy to shut down and their citizens to flee the country. There is no need for a country to have such an economic disaster when inflation is not needed. Print more money, keep prices the same and the United States will be good to go.

Some may say, “we are decreasing the value of money by printing more” but we are already decreasing the value of it with inflation. At least with more money, those who are not able to afford certain things will be able to now because the prices are the same and they have the money to buy it. If we agree to keep the value of money the same, then there will be no decrease in value. Inflation, Dylan Matthews, a writer for Vox, says that it was a self fulfilling prophecy because of the Great Depression. People were worried that it would happen again and demanded higher wages because companies were expecting wages to rise. It was a battle between pricing and it kept getting higher and higher.

Banks raise their prices too high and it causes people to not want to borrow money from the banks. Inflation is a drag to the economy. Print more money and it’ll be better. Everyone will be able to have money and afford things because the prices are the same. People will not have to worry about prices increasing. They are able to go into the store with money they know will be able to pay for the items they want. Inflation seems like it is a positive thing to have in an economy but there have been so many examples in history that show how dangerous inflation can be and that is why we do not need it.

Workers should not have to worry about their wages becoming less with inflation. When inflation is gone, people will not have to worry about whether their wages will be less because of the economy. Inflation is just a social construct that the government has put in place to make us rely on them. When prices are raised too high, people will not be able to afford things. This is why we do away with inflation, print more money and keep prices the same. 

https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/22576069/inflation-1970s-volcker-powell-federal-reserve

https://www.forbes.com/advisor/investing/what-is-inflation/

Sodexo Food Services: A call for better food service at Eastern

It is no surprise that Sodexo food has been a problem for Eastern students, especially these past couple of years. Students have been complaining about food and how it is not good compared to other colleges around the area or in other states. Fruit with mold on it gets served to students. Food poisoning has happened from undercooked chicken, and lettuce has been brown rather than green. Students have tasted food and spit it out because it tasted awful. The best options that Sodexo has given students is the ice cream sundae bar on Thursdays and chicken nugget Fridays.

Even with those two better options, there are not enough options available for students to pick from the rest of the week or the weekends. 

People with certain dietary restrictions are not given good options to choose from. They have the salad bar and a small food line section that offers some form of carbs, meat, vegetables and that is it. Even those without dietary restrictions have select options, especially on the weekends. There is the grill, the pasta and pizza hut, the salad bar and the sandwich section. The pizza and pasta section are only open during the week along with the sandwich section. The limited options on the weekends require students to use their own money to buy things they want.

College students pay hundreds of dollars for a meal plan but half of the kids do not use it because of the food that is offered at Eastern. When they do get food from the dining commons, they end up wasting it and their money. A lot of students get groceries and spend their own money to buy them while also spending their money on the meal plan they have to have. If Sodexo is going to cost thousands of dollars there needs to be better options.

Along with limited options, one of the better places to eat on campus is the cafe called Zime. Zime is only open on weekdays with shortened hours on Fridays. Having Zime opened on weekends would be a good start in fixing Sodexo’s food problems. Zime does get busy but having certain hours will help with that and it is the only place that Eastern students enjoy eating at because of the better options

 The other option to eat on campus, besides Zime and the dining commons, is Breezeway. Breezeway is only open during the weekdays and weekends from 7-11p.m and all they offer is fried foods and no healthy options for those who like to eat healthy while at school. There are no readily available options for those with certain diet restrictions and the concerns for cross contamination are high.

Sodexo needs to take into consideration those who have dietary needs when it comes to eating. A person should not have to walk into the place they pay tons of money for and not have any options to eat. A food service should be able to provide the best meals for their students. Not every student is able to afford grocery runs or ordering out, so all they are stuck with is the awful dining commons food. The pizza section would be the best available option but it is only open during the week. Having the sandwich bar and the pizza/pasta hut open would be another step in the right direction when it comes to Sodexo.

Making college kids pay for a plan they have to have means that Sodexo needs to step up their game. Either drop the forced meal plan so students can buy and make their own food without wasting money or give students better food options. One of the biggest drawbacks of Eastern is their food. If Sodexo were to fix this, things would start to look up but for now it is a huge problem that needs to be fixed. 

The Supply Crisis: A student weighs in on lack of supplies and lack of urgency

I don’t think anyone can deny there are supply shortages. Why they are happening, and how drastic they are, is certainly up for debate, but all across the spectrum, from CBS, to CNN, to Fox News, there are reports. Photos emerged over the last week showing massive amounts of ships sitting idle off the coast of California. But this event is just one instance among many, of supply chain problems. Over the past year we have had rising prices, and low unemployment. This situation economists call stagflation. It is caused by a drop in short run aggregate supply.

 One of the reasons for this drop is that businesses are struggling to find workers. During Covid, the government issued multiple stimulus checks, and increased unemployment benefits. This can certainly be argued as fair considering the government prevented many industries from reopening. But as business started reopening, government stimulus and benefits did not decrease at the same rate. This caused a problem. For many lower income workers, going back to work made them earn less. Their income was less than the government unemployment benefits. It made sense for them to stay home and be paid more in benefits. As more workers stayed home, employers had trouble finding employees, which led to less productivity, which began to cause supply shortages.

There is an opposing idea that this shortage is due to rising demand. This is partially true. It does seem like as people have come out of lockdowns, they have been more willing to spend money on things they were too scared to during Covid. Also, with all the stimulus money, people have had more to spend. But there is no denying the supply shortages all over the world.  

 One of the main reasons for the supply shortage is the shipping crisis. During shutdowns, shipping became backed up and delayed. This caused shortages for companies who then in turn could not supply goods to other companies. Before long, the entire supply chain began to fray.

 There is a large shortage of computer chips. Nearly 75% of computer chips are made in Asia. Because international shipping is not in sync, many U.S. companies cannot obtain the number of chips they need in order to produce what customers demand.

While the Biden administration says they are committed to sorting out the supply chain, transportation secretary, Pete Budigiug, was just given paternity leave. It does seem a bit strange that while our nation is experiencing what could be considered a supply chain crisis, our secretary of transportation is out on paternity leave.

So, who is responsible for this problem? I don’t think it is one individual, but it does seem that the shutdown may have longer lasting effects than we thought. You cannot just turn an economy on and off like a faucet. Supply chains are complex, and when parts are shut down the whole can collapse. It seems like the right course of action going forward would be to open the economy up as close to normal as possible, as fast as possible, and to encourage people to return to their jobs. This would involve cutting down restrictions on businesses, and not offering additional benefits to unemployed workers. 

Scourse: CNN, Fox news, CBS, USA today

Southwest Cancellations: A lack of transparency keeps flyers in the dark.

Planning on flying? Hopefully your flight is not booked with Southwest Airlines, as the company has been running into issues with mass flight cancellations and delays. These cancelations and delays have impacted an estimated tens of thousands of customers and that does not even take into account the $75 million loss they took according to CNBC. While Southwest Airlines is not the only one to cancel flights, they are perhaps the most talked about in the news. 

There are numerous reported reasons for the cancelations and delays of flights: One possible explanation is the volume of demand since travel has seen an increase with rules regarding the COVID-19 pandemic began to loosen with more people becoming vaccinated and infection rates going down. The biggest culprit, however, could be the staff shortage. This is not just an airline issue, it seems to be impacting numerous industries. Walking around New York City recently, it is noticeable that a lot of small businesses remain closed as they are understaffed. This can be tough on airlines, as flight attendants are needed on every flight. The Wall Street Journal reported that Southwest Airlines is over halfway to their goal of hiring 5,000 employees in 2021, but the process is still taking longer than usual.

Despite whatever may have caused all of these issues, that does not take away from how frustrating it is. I asked a friend of mine, who is currently planning on taking a trip down south via Southwest Airlines, for his thoughts regarding the cancellations. “They better not cancel my flight,” he said. It seemed like a reasonable response considering there is not a clear-cut answer as to why the flights are being canceled. He spent hundreds on his flight tickets there and back, and while a cancelation would likely result in a refund or credit of some sort, a big part of his trip revolves around an event happening that weekend. Being that he is flying from Maryland, it would not be easy if he had to suddenly change course and drive down to Alabama.

I have a lot of sympathy for those flying with Southwest Airlines and in this situation. Whether it is the unclear reasons for these issues or the fact that my flight was in danger of being canceled at the last second. Sure, the COVID-19 pandemic could still be a reason for these cancellations, but at some point or another, we kind of have to do what we have to do and travel. Some do it for work, others are traveling on vacation, and I think it can be mostly agreed upon that traveling is one of the most important things for mental health. When I went to Iceland this summer, it was my first time flying since the start of the pandemic. The process was incredibly frustrating; we had to get a last-second test because of new travel rules that were enforced the day we flew and we also had to wear our masks for the entirety of a six-hour flight (much easier said than done on a hot plane). But all of that was worth it to get to experience a beautiful city like Reykjavik, and it is one that I will not forget.

In the end, while I do think that it is a shame that Southwest Airlines is having issues, the lack of transparency is incredibly frustrating. I cannot speak for everyone, but I think having a clear answer such as a lack of workers, or concerns about the pandemic would ease some of the tension. Of course, some would still find things to complain about, but most understanding people would do what they have to do if it meant they could travel. Sooner or later, Southwest Airlines will have to be a little bit more transparent, because people can only be left in the dark for so long.

The NBA’s 2021 Return: A look around the NBA’s tipoff and star troubles.

The NBA has been in a weird limbo since the COVID-19 pandemic began; at one time, they were in “the bubble,” and then last season opened in December and had the Finals in July. We are now in the third season of the pandemic, and it feels as though the NBA is attempting to get back to a sense of normalcy. 

The big matchup of the tipoff night was the Los Angeles Lakers against the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors pulled it off 121-114, Steph Curry had a triple-double with 21/10/10 despite shooting only 5/21 from the floor. Unfortunately, Lebron’s 34-point day wasn’t good enough to overcome the team he currently has a 1-3 record against in the NBA Finals. The Lakers will have to wait until February 12 to get their revenge. Nevertheless, the win was crucial for the Warriors. Who is coming off of a 39-33 season in which they lost in the play-in bracket. It was their first time watching the playoffs from their couches in eight years. 

In the Eastern conference, the Milwaukee Bucks blew out the Brooklyn Nets 127-104 on the opening tipoff night. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 32 and added 14 rebounds. Nets forward Kevin Durant also finished with a comparable 32 points and 11 rebounds, but that was not enough to escape a blowout from the Bucks. 

Cade Cunningham and Jalen Green, the top two picks in this year’s NBA Draft. Both had  disappointing starts to their career. Cunningham was ruled out and did not participate in the season opener. At the same time, Green, selected by the Houston Rockets with the second overall pick, began his NBA career with 9 points and 4 rebounds in and 4 assists against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Luckily for the two of them, the NBA season is a marathon, not a sprint, so expect the two rookies to find their groove sooner than later. 

The Brooklyn Nets looked like they could use Kyrie Irving in their first game, as he is sitting out due to not wanting to get the vaccine. Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, the 76ers deal with one of their stars, Ben Simmons, wanting out. From playoffs to work ethic, Simmons time with the 76ers has been rough. So a trade does feel inevitable but finding suitors has proven to be somewhat difficult. 

Even if the wait was shorter than usual, it is great to have the NBA back already. A new season means new rookies, veterans on new teams, and there is a long way to go before a playoff picture becomes clear. 

Basketball Reference, ESPN, NBA.com, NBC Sports

 

Julia’s Grace: A foundation joins Eastern to watch Women’s and Mens’s Soccer games.

The Julia Grace Foundation is a nonprofit organization that symbolizes the braveness of an eight-year-old Julia Grace Eveland. While having a Wilm’s Tumor, a form of childhood kidney cancer, she helped others during her treatment. 

She donated her birthday gifts to the oncology clinic, and from there, asked school fundraisers to enable doctors to find a cure for childhood cancer. Sadly, Julia passed away in September 2013. However, she is known to many as someone who put other’s first, and this foundation still follows her goal to make other’s feel happy through tough times.

On October 16, Enactus and the Eastern’s Athletic Department hosted Julia’s Grace Day during the Women’s and Men’s soccer games against Messiah. As a result, the Julia’s Grace Foundation could sell t-shirts and spread awareness of its mission to fans during halftime. Being there and hearing about their mission meant a lot as it focuses on childhood cancer. 

Childhood cancer is a common issue in today’s world, causing a struggle within families to bear news of their children having cancer. Julia Grace wants to make life normal for those in need and provide “hugs” to those during the process. 

Seeing the athletes and coaches wear Julia’s shirts connected us. We might have lost the games, but it was a sight to see as this moment bigger than sports.

Suppose you’re interested in donating or buying merchandise to the foundation look at the top of the page on their website juliasgracefoundation.org. With their click donate button, you can choose to either donate once, monthly, quarterly, or annually. Merchandise is next to their donations, so feel free to buy a shirt to support the cause. Lastly, if you want to follow their Facebook “Julia’s Grace Foundation” to view their movements. 

Sources: juliasgracefoundation.org, Julia’s Grace Foundation Facebook

 

The WNBA Season Wraps Up: A look into how WNBA season crowned a new champion with record-breaking statistics.

The WBNA season has finally concluded, and the season had a lot of great points to cover. For those who may not know, the Chicago Sky are the 2021 WNBA champions after a marvelous 80-74, game four victory over the Phoenix Mercury. 

Kahleah Copper was named the Finals MVP, averaging 17 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.3 steals in the finals series. The Sky had significant contributions from All-stars Candace Parker and Courtney Vandersloot. Parker recently joined the Chicago Sky in the offseason with dreams of winning a championship for her hometown team. In her 13 seasons with the Los Angeles Sparks, won a championship and was a 2x MVP. 

The Phoenix Mercury were a particular team in the WNBA due to the heavy firepower on their team. In the offseason, they made an upgrade to their guard position by picking up Skylar Diggins-Smith. This acquisition adds to their team consisting of the recently named “GOAT” Diana Taurasi and the dominant center, Brittany Griner. 

The WNBA postseason was filled with shock as the top two teams were eliminated in the playoffs. The Las Vegas Aces and the Seattle Storm had troubles. The Storm have been a tough team as of late due to their superstar Breanna Stewart, alongside the legendary Sue Bird. After the birth of her daughter, Breanna Stewart took time off to support her wife and child.

This impacted the Storm as they lost their best player moving into the postseason. The Aces had a great season, finishing second in the league. The postseason was looking very bright for the Aces after being swept in the finals the previous year. Although they came up short this year, they have a young star in A’ja Wilson alongside an upcoming star in their rookie guard Jackie Young. 

The Connecticut Sun was another team that fell short in the postseason. They finished the regular season with the best record in the WNBA. However, the team faced a disappointing first-round exit against Chicago Sky.

Throughout the playoffs, viewership for the WNBA has risen 51%, averaging 306,000 across multiple networks. Game 1 of the WNBA finals was the most viewed finals since 2017, peaking at 547,000 and averaging 476,000 viewers. Game 2 of the WNBA finals reached a peak of 1 million viewers with an average of 789,000 viewers. 

In addition, Instagram pages like HighlightHer, WSlam, and WNBA have grown over the year with viral posts of women’s highlights; this boosted social media engagement for the WNBA. The future is bright for the WNBA as popularity is growing.

Sources: WNBA, ESPN, CNBC, The Athletic, WSlam (Instagram), HighlightHer (Instagram)