Books...Yes, Books

by Robert Johns | February 3, 2016

written by Steph Ward

I think it’s pretty safe to say we here at Student Activities value good entertainment – from music to movies to art – we live and breathe it. Our events focus closely on the culture we live in, but we rarely get a chance to talk about the various books that we’re currently reading or have impacted our department (yes, people still read books and you should too!). So we asked our staff for some titles and came up with a short list we hope you’ll check out sometime this year. Whether they are current or classic, we think you’ll find all of them interesting:

  1. Desiring the Kingdom by James K. A. Smith
  2. Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman
  3. Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee
  4. Culture Making by Andy Crouch
  5. Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
  6. Scary Close by Donald Miller
  7. More or Less by Jeff Shinabarger
  8. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  9. The Power of Broke by Daymond John
  10. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin

Have you read any of these before? Let us know what you think. And we’d love some suggestions, too.

Concert Preview: The Vespers

by Robert Johns | February 1, 2016

written by Brian Shesko

Student Activities is proud to present The Vespers in concert, featuring Joel Kaiser with Native Spirit, on Saturday, February 6 in the LaHaye Event Space starting at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance for Liberty students, $15 for general public ($18 for everyone at the door), and are on sale now at the ticket link above.

Sisters Phoebe and Callie Cryar were The Vespers prior to meeting brothers Taylor and Bruno Jones in Nashville, Tennessee in 2008, but it wasn’t until the brothers and sisters joined in 2009 that the group became the band-on-the-rise they are today. The Cryar sisters have the musical pedigree and experience, as they are the daughters of 80’s & 90’s CCM star Morgan Cryar, and had the privilege of working on various professional music projects even as young girls. Their experience in the music industry certainly contributed to their polish and professionalism, but there is no denying their talent, both as vocalists and instrumentalists. The collaboration between siblings produced three albums. The first two, Tell Your Mama (2010) and The Fourth Wall (2012), are squarely in the indie folk/Americana vein. Both have lighter, pop moments, such as the songs Not So Nice and Flower Flower. However, for the most part those albums are more delicate, folk-influenced songs, led more by the subtle vocals of Phoebe Cryar, whose voice is reminiscent of Sixpence None the Richer’s Leigh Nash or even Alison Krauss. Callie Cryar, described by Phoebe as “a vocal powerhouse”, certainly makes her presence felt on those albums, but it isn’t until their most recent effort, Sisters and Brothers, that her vocals take center stage. And yet, despite Callie’s power, the dynamic relationship between the sisters’ vocals remains strong throughout, their respective ranges providing a perfect balance to one another. Their contrasting yet complementary styles are also what allow The Vespers to tackle a wider range of musical styles on Sisters and Brothers. The album’s first track, Break the Cycle, is appropriately titled, as the introductory drums alone represent a stylistic departure from their previous works. Where their first two albums fit more comfortably in the Americana box, drawing direct comparisons to groups like The Civil Wars or The Head and the Heart, Sisters and Brothers maintains that original sound while drifting towards pop country (think Little Big Town) and even R&B on tracks like You Leave Me. Still, with all the variety, the album closes with the track Thirst No More, what can only be described as a worship chorus, revealing that they remain grounded in both the sound and faith that got them where they are today.

Be sure to check out all of The Vesper’s albums, as well as the music of Joel Kaiser and Native Spirit, in advance of the show, and keep up with us on Twitter and on our website here for information on all of the great concert events Student Activities has for you this spring.

Meet the Staff - Jared

by Stephanie Ward | January 29, 2016

Meet one of our staff members, Jared!

Snow Daze

by Robert Johns | January 28, 2016

written by Drew Snavely

Being from upstate New York, I am very accustomed to winters with lots of heavy snow. Snow is the reason why I love winter so much, every flake falling and gently resting on top of the last. The beauty of it all is quite breathtaking (well, maybe that’s just the cold). I don’t know if you guys realized this, but Lynchburg doesn’t do the best job of clearing off their roads when a big storm hits. Granted, they can’t really do a great job of clearing off the roads, considering the fact that my hometown that has 2.88 square miles of land area and more snow plows than Lynchburg does (Lynchburg boasts 49.4 square miles of land area). Now you might be thinking, “Oh, great. Another snow snob from the North that thinks they are a professional at all things snow,” and you would be right for thinking that, but that’s not the point of this post. The point is that I love the fact that Lynchburg is pretty awful at plowing the roads, because that means a lot more snow days.

Snow days are great, but what makes them so great (aside from not having to go to class) is the community that comes along with being trapped in your dorm or house for a couple of days. Whether it is building a fort out of sheets, blankets and pillows, which is usually accompanied with binge watching Netflix, or tackling some of your closest friends in the giant piles of snow, snow days seem to bring out the most creative ideas people have just to be able to spend time together and have a blast with friends. It seems like college kids will literally use anything they can get their hands on that could be used as a sled. Exploring new and old places with a foot of snow on top of everything makes you look at things differently, almost with an apocalypse feeling.

Though it might not seem like it at first, there are so many things that you can do on a snow day if you think about it. The most important part about being snowed in is that your friends are with you the whole time. It is so easy to take spending time with your friends for granted, but it is arguable that the relationships that you build in college are just as important as the things that you are learning in the classroom. Are you going to remember the grade that you got in Old Testament or are you going to remember the time you and your friends went drifting through the abandoned streets of Lynchburg? I’m not saying that a snow day is the only time that you should take time to hang out with friends, but it is a great excuse to just forget about your responsibilities for a day and get some quality time with your crew. So take advantage of the free day you have and get involved in a massive snowball fight, or stay up all night watching movies or playing different games, because unfortunately, the number of opportunities you will have to forget all of your responsibilities tend to shrink as you become older. 

Movie Marathon Preview: Indiana Jones

by Robert Johns | January 25, 2016

written by Brian Shesko

Student Activities could hardly be more excited than we are for our next Movie Night Marathon, as we present the original three Indiana Jones movies in the LaHaye Event Space on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, January 28-30. All showings will start at 8 p.m. and will be shown as follows:

  • Thursday, Jan. 28 - Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • Friday, Jan. 29 - Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
  • Saturday, Jan. 30 - Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

A recent podcast from the great folks at Christ & Pop Culture lamented the fact that there are a great deal of action movies available today, but not nearly as many adventures. Since action and adventure tend to get lumped together, this distinction is important. And lament is not too strong a term to use either. The current state of the movie industry allows for a James Bond or a Star Wars to show up here and there, but sadly, for every one of those, there seems to be three of The Expendables or The Transporter or The (Insert Superhero Name Here) movies. There is a remembrance of and longing for stories that involve great and perilous journeys through exotic locations, places that are felt and experienced, not just driven through, bullet-riddled, or blown to bits. We want the endearing nature and warmth of stories with action that results from the adventure, as opposed to stories that exist for the sake of action itself. Almost no movie or series of movies in the past 50 years define this like Indiana Jones.

Each of the Indiana Jones movies can stand alone. Even Temple of Doom, probably the least of the first three movies, was described by Roger Ebert as “not so much a sequel as an equal” to Raiders of the Lost Ark, the greatest of the three. Steven Speilberg managed to make each movie unique, an amazing accomplishment since two of them are primarily about beating up the Nazis. His lead-role choice of Harrison Ford, who was only a rising star at the time by no means a shoo-in for the part, is one of the great “what could have been” moments of movie history: we could very easily be talking about Tom Selleck as Indiana Jones today*. Thankfully, this never happened, and Harrison Ford gets to be one of the luckiest actors ever, one who is both Indiana Jones and Han Solo. This certainly benefited his portrayal of Dr. Jones, as one critic described that character as “part Sherlock Holmes (smart), part James Bond (suave), part Man With No Name (tough), and part Han Solo (lovable rogue)”. No one plays the lovable rogue better than Harrison Ford.

On one hand, Indiana Jones is an earthy, very real set of movies. All of the chases are on horseback, trucks, tanks, mine cars, or whatever other vehicle happens to be around. Indy travels through jungles and deserts, he gets dirty and covered in spider webs, and he gets punched a lot. Heck, he spends a good bit of his time just running away from people or things that are trying to kill him. Yet, all three movies have religious and supernatural elements as major plot points, incorporated so effortlessly, the movies would never work without them. (What else besides the power of God will defeat/melt the Nazis?) Despite his sarcastic and oftentimes sardonic demeanor, Doctor Jones, archaeologist, seems to assume the power of the Ark and the Holy Grail in Raiders and Last Crusade and the magic of the stones in Temple of Doom. Rogue or not, he is still a hero, and the hero has to keep such power from falling into the wrong hands, no matter how much danger it involves. The sci-fi/fantasy and action/adventure elements of Indiana Jones combine everything we love about movies. They are as exciting, goofy, and repeatedly watchable a series of movies that have ever been made and we hope you will join us in viewing them next week.

*See Jamie Benning’s awesome “filmumentary” about Raiders - Tom Selleck screen test footage starts at 16:16.