Home   /   Blog  /  Archive by category "SA Engages"

Category: SA Engages

Book Review: You Are What You Love by James K.A. Smith

July 9, 2020

I am always jealous of people who seemingly get lost between the words on the page of a good book. I have never been much of a leisurely reader; it has always felt like work. Even when diving into something easily digestible, I find my mind running with concepts my eyes are unpacking from the page. All this is to say that I rarely read books, and frequently use the excuse of not having enough time, or simply not wanting to read or challenge my mind, as I have been in school for nearly the past 20 years. Well, I am officially done with schooling, and have found that I have more time on my hands than I can fill with mindful and intentional activities. So, in the spirit of continual learning, spiritual growth, and simply creating more healthy ways to spend the weekend, rather than watching the newest binge-worthy TV show, I picked up a book I received as a birthday present two years ago: “You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit” by James K.A. Smith.

Smith, a professor of philosophy at Calvin College, has been writing his philosophical and theological observations on human “creaturehood” and Christ in culture for many years. His work ranges from textbook style examinations of worship, liturgical practices, and the religious nature of politics, to a more digestible version of these works in “You Are What You Love”.

“You Are What You Love” is an in depth look at human nature; our nature to love things and to continue to change what we love, as well as the importance of examining and understanding your loves to ensure that your life is worshipful to our Creator. In a world where mankind is continually pushed to learn and grow in intelligence, Smith argues that it is not the intellectual knowledge that defines a person, but rather what and how they love. Smith poses the question, which defies what most philosophers pursue, “What if, instead of starting from the assumption that human beings are thinking things, we start from the conviction that human beings are first and foremost lovers? What if the center and seat of the human person is found not in the heady regions of the intellect but in the guy-level regions of the heart?”.

Throughout the remainder of the book, Smith addresses human tendencies in life, worship, and engaging in culture. He challenges the reader to review where their desires lay, and how it is likely that the truest worship they are expressing is not to God on Sunday mornings, but rather in their daily life to the objects, goals, and ideals that they love.

When taking this in, I was immediately made aware of the areas in my life where I channel more energy, time, and care in than my discipleship to Christ. This book is a great tool for reevaluating not only the way that you look at worship and its place in your daily life, but also the things that you may have been worshiping without even knowing. But don’t worry, the book doesn’t end there. Smith dives into liturgical practices like prayer, song, confession, and baptism, and how these are not just things we do, but rather vessels of worship that are gifts from God for our lives here on Earth.

Simply put, Smith addresses the seemingly uniform fashion in which the church views worship, challenging the reader to search “worship” on google images. While that can be a holy form of worship, Smith argues that man is propelled by love. Love of something, whether it be your new gadget, car, food, gym time, or baking that next loaf of sourdough, where you spend the most time and energy are likely the things you love most. After reading through “You Are What You Love”, readers are left with lots to siphon through as well as some internal processes and habits to think through. So, if you’re in the market for a book that’s easy to digest, and has big thoughts on worship and habits, check out James K.A. Smith’s “You Are What You Love”.


Smith, J. K. (2016). You are what you love: The spiritual power of habit. Grand Rapids, MI, MI: Brazos Press, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Written by: Clayton Copper

Clayton is the Marketing Coordinator of Student Activities. He has a B.S. in Business Administration: Economics and an M.B.A. Clayton oversees the graphic and video team as well as assisting in various event logistics.  

The Hottest Gift Card in Hill City

June 30, 2020

The Downtown Lynchburg Association announced a gift card launching soon that can be used at a number of downtown stores, restaurants, and on other activities. You really can’t go wrong with this gift; and if played right, it can benefit the giver as well. Below I listed some of my favorite places where you can use your gift!

If you’re interested in being the first to know when this gift card becomes available, you can sign up for their newsletter here. Also, keep in mind that some of our suggestions may not be currently available during covid-19.

Beeswax Candle Company

Check out this business on 13th Street; even if it’s just to stop in and small these candles for yourself. They are hand poured on the second floor of the shop, and come in a variety of natural smells like patchouli, spruce, and grapefruit.

Cinn City

They make BIG cinnamon rolls and you can add different flavored icings and TOPPINGS. I don’t need to say more.

Crisp Salad and Juice Bar

Want a quick lunch that is both healthy and tasty? Build your own salad or grain bowl or choose one off of their menu! If salads aren’t your thing, you can make any salad into a wrap (may I suggest the “Steakhouse” for this). Don’t look past their soup of the day, as long as you make sure to get one of their homemade rolls or breadsticks to go along with it.

El Jefe Taqueria Garaje

You can split chicken nachos with a friend, get a quesadilla for yourself, try a few tacos like the seared tuna or fried catfish, and finish the meal with oreo churros. Guac is extra… but you’re paying with a gift card, so don’t second guess it!


Treat yourself to a new pair of earrings, a mug referencing quotes from your favorite shows, or a poster for your room! You absolutely deserve a coffee from Nomad (located in the store on Church st.) while you browse. Why would you even ask?

Grains of Sense Coffee Roastery & Tea Gallery

Here at Student Activities we couldn’t be bigger fans of Grains of Sense, or Tom, who roasts all the beans! You’re probably a huge fan too… because we serve Grains of Sense at all our promo tables and events! This shop is located inside the Community Market in the back left corner, and if you must know, I’m currently sipping on the Nicaragua City Roast.

Oxide Pottery

Settled in a purple brick building you pass on your way down Main Street you’ll find Oxide Pottery, home to the beautiful creations of Chatham, Justin, and Joe. Check out their store which also carries fine crafts like wooden utensils, letterpress cards and jewelry! Justin also teaches pottery classes at the Academy Center (listed below) if you’re into that sort of thing.

The White Hart Cafe

Head here to do some “homework”, distract your friends instead, but buy them their coffees too so they can’t be annoyed with you.

Other Participating Businesses:

Academy Center of the Arts

Accents Flags & Gifts

Church Street Bridal

Craddock Terry Hotel

Depot Grille

Elektric Ave Salon

Georgia’s Subs Salads More

Heritage Connection Gifts & Tailoring

Hot & Cold Cafe


Lynchburg Visitors Center

Mission House Coffee

Oshun Organics

RA Bistro

Reserve Tasting Room & Lounge

Rise Up Climbing

Rolled Cold Creamery

Shoemakers American Grille

Spearman Artisanry

The Water Dog

WaterStone Fire Roasted Pizza

YMCA of Central Virginia

Written by: Kari Moye

Kari is an Assistant Director of Student Activities. She has a B.S. in Communication Studies: Advertising and PR. Kari oversees the department’s branding and the creation of marketing pieces for all events; including all print and digital advertisements as well as promotional videos. She also manages the promotional calendar for Student Activities which includes leading the graphics and video team.

TV Review: Survivor: Winners at War

June 25, 2020

Last month, reality TV competition series, Survivor, wrapped up its fortieth season, “Winners at War.” Like the previous seven seasons, Winners at War took place in Fiji’s Mamanuca Islands. What immediately makes this season stand out is that every single contestant competing was a winner from a previous season. Survivor legends from the show’s early seasons like Sandra Diaz, “Boston” Rob Mariano, and Parvati Shallow were mixed in with more recent winners like Tony Vlachos, Michele Fitzgerald, and Sarah Lacina. This wide range of winners, spanning nearly twenty years, quickly created an intriguing dynamic that viewers got to enjoy for the entire season.

*Warning: Spoilers for Survivor: Winners at War below*

The most refreshing aspect of this season right from the jump is how well each of these players grasp the strategy required to play Survivor well. This isn’t a huge shock; each of these players had won a previous season, but it is something that has been lacking in recent seasons that thankfully was not the case in this winner’s only edition.

Two gimmicks for Winners at War were the reintroduction of the Edge of Extinction, an island that voted off players could stay on for a chance to get back into the game, and the introduction of fire tokens, a type of currency that could be used to buy idols, advantages and rewards. Both of these twists had a big impact on gameplay throughout the thirty-nine days of the competition.

For the most part, fans of the show don’t really seem to like the Edge of Extinction, and it is easy to see why. If a contestant gets voted out, they shouldn’t get a chance to re-enter the game. The existence of the Edge of Extinction makes tribal councils feel a little less serious, knowing that the player about to be voted out has a chance to get back in the game. The reception to fire tokens was well received with many fans hoping the currency returns in future seasons.

Before contestants even got to their tribal camps, lines had already been drawn in the sand. The main theme throughout the first half of the game was “old school vs. new school”. The old school players were obviously going to work together if given the chance, because of the relationships they had built over the last decade and a half. Because of this, the new school player’s strategy was to target the old school legends to not let them get much power in the game. This strategy was largely successful, with eight old school players voted out in the first nine tribal councils.

Over the first half of the competition, Tony Vlachos, who eventually won, had played a relatively quiet game. Going into Winners at War, Tony was well known for his impressive victory in season twenty-nine, Cagayan, and his chaotic failure in season thirty-four, Game Changers. Since he was aware that it was his fast-paced antics that got him voted out in Game Changers, Tony knew that he had to lay low to start the game. Once he got established in the majority alliance, he was able to do just that.

Tony picked up his gameplay after most of the old school players had been voted out. He constantly pushed the vote in the direction he wanted and was able to form alliances with just about everybody on the island after the merge. When Tony was extorted by Natalie Anderson (finished runner-up), he was able to get fire token donations from three different people, two of which he wasn’t really aligned with in the first place!

The greatest asset to Tony’s game is his ability to get his allies back on his side after going completely behind their backs to make a move that only benefits him. After he did it a number of times in season twenty nine then general consensus was that nobody would be able to win a season like that again. When Tony left his closest ally, Sarah Lacina, in the dark for the blindsiding of one her allies, he still somehow reeled Lacina back in after the vote, despite Tony having an untrustworthy history with her.

In the end, Tony was rightfully crowned as the sole survivor in an exciting season with many great storylines. Natalie took advantage of the Edge of Extinction and the fire token system and nearly pulled off a massive upset. Michele Fitzgerald (finished third place) deserved a couple of votes in my opinion after playing a strong social game.

Overall, it was a satisfying finish to a season with ever shifting gameplay and alliances. With every single player grasping for power and influence, the level strategy was incredibly high throughout the entire season. It was a season full of blindsides, fake alliances, and innovative gameplay. Ultimately, Winners at War served as a final act for many of the greatest to ever play the game of Survivor while paving the way for a new generation of players to take up the torch.

You can stream Survivor: Winners at War on CBS All Access

Written by: Drew Snavely

Drew is the Special Events Coordinator at Student Activities. He has a B.A. in Business Administration: Financial Planning. Drew is responsible for maintaining analytics for event surveys, social media and website. He deals with various event logistics for all events such as filing out work orders and securing event rentals. He also helps manage monthly budgets, event finances and receipts.

The Changing Workplace

June 23, 2020

As someone who is graduating in a year and about to begin the process of job searching, understanding the workplace climate is an important aspect to keep in mind. To add onto this, workplaces could be drastically changing in the near future. With quarantine, many employees are working from home and most likely doing so for the first time at their job. Depending on the change in performance and costs from having many employees work from home, we could see a fair share of businesses begin to utilize remote work more frequently. So, what are the chances of seeing an actual shift in the way people work, and what does that look like for those looking to enter the job force?

We first need to look at the demand for this among people. Is this even a thing the employees themselves want to continue? It seems to be pretty split currently. CNBC reported that 43% of full-time employees hope to be able to continue working remotely event after a full reopening of the economy. In another survey, they also report that employees said 20% of their employers were actively looking at ways to make remote work more of an option. If you apply this number nationally, that means we could potentially see one-fifth of full-time jobs be primarily remote work or at least a significant amount of their work become remote. Another survey conducted by research firm, Gartner, found that 74% of senior finance leaders were planning on finding ways for employees to telework permanently. While there is no way of really knowing if this telework shift is permanent, these surveys at minimum show that both employers and their employees are actively seeking this as a viable long-term work option.

The desire to work from home is there, but does it actually make sense for a business to make the move towards remote work for good? Fortunately, the data seems to suggest yes. In an article published in 2017 by Forbes, this is specifically addressed. In this article, Best Buy saw a 35% jump in productivity after introducing a flexible work program. The same article also cited that 91% of employees said they were more productive when getting to work from home. Obviously, this is somewhat subjective unless you have project management systems to show how tasks are being completed, but it still is a testament to the use of remote work with 9 of 10 people feeling this way. It also just depends on the company and the job. For a graphic designer, remote work might be a more feasible option than someone managing in a factory. This will be something that each company looks at case-by-case, or job-by-job, I should say. They’ll most likely go through and decide if a job can’t change at all, can have a flexible work program, or can be completely remote. So, how should soon-to-be college graduates and job searchers take this?

There’s no question this will change the way offices across the country function. I have many friends who work every other day in the office and work from home on the alternating days. I have friends who have been told they can work from home whenever they would like as long as results continue to come in. What does this mean for those who start this search? It can seem overwhelming when you’re thinking about beginning to look for jobs, and unemployment goes from record lows to record highs, but there is still some good tips to keep in mind:

  1. Use the Right Resources

You may have just read that and thought, “Wow, Andrew what profound words.” But, did you know that there have been new features on job sites like Glassdoor that were designed to help those looking for a job during the pandemic? They have filters to show the latest in-demand jobs, remote work opportunities, and “surge explorers” which will show companies hiring for multiple roles. LinkedIn has also done similar things to help those needing to look for work.

  1. Be Flexible and Creative

A lot of recent and soon-to-be graduates were against temporary positions because of the uncertainty, but now that might be the way to get your foot in the door and create more opportunities out of it. Be open to taking a temporary position and look for ways to exploit possible opportunities that will arise while there.

  1. Network

Times like now are some of the key reasons you should have a network. It can serve as a vital tool when dealing with unknown situations that are within or outside of your control.

Using these three job search tools can help you feel better about combing through hundreds of positions and not feel like you are just sending in pointless applications. The opportunities are there, but you just have to stay committed to finding what you can and making the most of what’s presented. Keep your eye out too for jobs that include remote work opportunities. Maybe remote work is only available until a certain government restriction is lifted or it could be a new integrated part of the job. If you’ve read this and think you operate better in the structure and organization of an office, that is an important factor while job searching too as companies will still need people to fill spots inside the office. I also encourage you to follow some business news sources like the Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Forbes, and INC.com. These are just some of my favorite sites to use, but you can find plenty of other good ones. These news sites are great for keeping up with business trends and current events. The changing workplace is an exciting time for anyone looking for their first job or a career change, so get creative and make the most of this time to search!








Written by: Andrew Reynolds

Andrew is a Senior Project Management Major, and enjoys writing for the blog because of the opportunity it gives him to grow as a writer and to challenge himself to see current topics and discussions from a view point he may not have otherwise thought about.

Podcast Review: Espionage

June 18, 2020

I am always looking for a new podcast to sink my teeth into, this past year I listened to over 20,000 minutes of podcasts according to my Spotify Wrapped Up. While I enjoy listening to a podcast any chance I get, it also comes with the struggle of finding new ones to keep my constant stream of information going. This past year I was at a crossroads, I had listened to all of the available episodes of my, then, everyday podcasts and was unsure where to dip my toes next. I’d like to say that it was by chance that I stumbled across the Parcast Network and their seemingly endless collection of storytelling podcasts, but it was just Spotify ad that caught my attention.

I have always loved storytelling, whether it be in written word, a good TV show or film, or even listening to friends’ detail a past situation – a good story is always worth listening to. That might be what gripped me most when I gave Parcast Network’s “Espionage” a chance. It’s a well scripted, which typically I am not a fan of but when retelling history, I find it appropriate, and captivating. Carter Roy, the host of the show, does a great job detailing the history of the world’s spies. With episodes covering the first clandestine operations of the United States, with George Washington’s Spies, all the way to the well-known Cold War espionage couple the Rosenbergs.

In between this vast space of world history, Carter fills in the gaps with enthralling stories of seemingly normal people, swept into life as a spy, whether through greed, ideologies, or patronage to their country. Episodes lasting just 35 to 50 minutes cover some of the most interesting historical happenings in such great detail. This podcast is like taking Spies 101, but you don’t have any homework to turn in. Just tune in and listen to stories like that of Nancy Wake, who operated in the British Special Operations Executive branch as a spy responsible for recruiting British allies in the fight against Nazi Germany. In her time undercover, she was responsible for saving thousands of Allied soldiers and Jewish refugees out of France and to safety. The Nazi military could not get to the bottom of who was wreaking havoc on their operations. Only hearing murmurs of a woman operative connecting rebels across Europe, they dubbed her the White Mouse and placed a bounty on her head. Even then, Nancy did not stand down.

As June 6, 1994 approached, Nancy unified over 7,000 French country men and women to trap Nazi forces on the beaches of Normandy by destroying all of their supply stations and equipment that would have been used in a Nazi retreat. The most interesting aspect of this story to me, while her achievements and impact on French morale and military success are unescapable, was the fact that she was just a normal girl living in France when the war broke out. She saw injustice and chose to help in any way she could. Constantly escaping deaths’ grip to do what was right.

This is just one of the many stories that Carter Roy discusses in the “Espionage” series. The storytelling alone is enough to catch your attention, and the content is almost unreal. So, if you’re interested in history, even in the slightest, or just looking for a good story to listen to, check out Parcast Network’s “Espionage” and get your fix.



Espionage, Nancy Wake Pt. 1 & 2, August 2019.

Espionage. (n.d.). Retrieved June 11, 2020, from https://www.parcast.com/espionage

Written by: Clay Copper

Clay is a grad student that is still trying to figure out what he is doing with his life. Sometimes he writes about relevant topics here, but mostly he writes about what he cares about and hopes you enjoy it.


Album Review: Peopled With Dreams

June 9, 2020

The first time I heard of John Mark McMillan was in high school, it was the song “Future / Past” off of his album “Borderland.” When I heard it, I immediately was captivated by his rich, emotional voice. After listening to this, I went and listened to the rest of “Borderland.” The songs were authentic and immersive and each line sounding meticulously constructed to send a clear message to the listener. Fast forward to now, John Mark McMillan has produced 4 more albums, which halfway through brought a drastic change in his sound. In 2017, he released his third oldest album “Mercury & Lightning.” The album was originally intended to be a worship album – something familiar to him and other music he writes. However, while writing the album, he came to the realization that worship music seemed ingenuine more often than not. This made him want to write other genres of music, and that’s exactly what we got. Now in present time, his newest album is a continuation of him exploring new music territory and pushing himself to step out of his comfort zone. “Peopled with Dreams” pulls from the sounds of 80s and 90s alternative rock and combined with his poetic and rich voice.

The album begins with “Christ Jesus.” The song immediately makes your ears perk up because of the single repetitive note played on the piano for the first 15 seconds. After an intro of just John and piano, the listener is introduced to the heavenly sound of a gospel choir singing along with him in the chorus.  We then move into one of my personal favorites, “Juggernaut,” which goes back to what his avid listeners know as his most familiar sound. The song talks about this ominous juggernaut that lurks around. John talks about how originally he was thinking of the juggernaut as death, but he realized that life is actually the unstoppable force coming at us, and life is what wins in the end, not death. The most musically open song is “Pilgrim.” The piano-based song carries a beautiful melody throughout as he talks about how he is just a pilgrim searching for the heavenly city, and he too often finds himself on the wrong side of where he wants to be.

The next big album shift is the song “Hammering Heart.” Do you remember in the end of Inception as they only have a few seconds to finish their mission and escape the dreams? That’s exactly what the last minute of this song does – a grandiose instrumental outro. It makes you feel like you’re living in a movie with Hans Zimmer writing the score for you. With the epic music, John delivers some heavy “hitting” lyrics (sorry I had to). In the verses, he poetically and elegantly talks about the earth and all of the beauty found on it. Then, each chorus is the sovereign reminder that the love of God can also come through judgement. After taking in the lyrics, you are left with the incredible outro that stays unresolved as the song ends. The song is then followed by “The Roads, The Rocks, and The Weeds.” It’s an authentic look at the path of John finding his way back to honest faith. He is crying for authenticity within himself and he eventually finds his way back to this foundation – being real with himself and with God.

The last two songs of the album are “Unbroken Horses” and “Ancient and Brave.” I love both of these songs too. John said that for “Unbroken Horses” he overcompensated on the pop rock instrumental to cover the fact he was singing about adulting, but the song is magnificent. Just like an unbroken horse, an unbroken spirit looks beautiful, but it is weak without having gone through any trials. True love doesn’t allow for this kind of avoidance of true growth. To have true love, you have to be able to sacrifice, which is why one line of the chorus is, “Love has come to slay us, love has come to lay us down.” What a beautiful picture this line paints! To find true love, we have to find the ability to sacrifice, and this is why Jesus sacrificed himself for all humanity.

I have heard mixed reviews from some on the album because of the new and unusual John Mark McMillan sounds you get with it. Personally, I have enjoyed listening to it these last couple months as it shows how he stretches himself musically throughout his career. After his crisis with “Mercury & Lightning”, John explored how to express Christianity and faith through other genres of music other than contemporary worship music. He uses his past experiences to piece together these authentic messages in every song that people are give people the ability to relate directly to him. I know it will probably be a good bit before we see another album or song from John Mark McMillan, but I already can’t wait for it! If you want the full experience of this album, I recommend going to his Facebook and using the synopses posted for each song before listening to them!


John Mark McMillan Facebook

John Mark McMillan Spotify

Written by: Andrew Reynolds

Andrew is a Senior Project Management Major, and enjoys writing for the blog because of the opportunity it gives him to grow as a writer and to challenge himself to see current topics and discussions from a view point he may not have otherwise thought about.

Podcast Review: The Porch

June 4, 2020

While being at home a lot more and not seeing as many of my friends as I typically would, I have tried to be much more conscientious about what I am listening to, watching, reading, etc. Because of this, I have been trying to find meaningful, thought-provoking sources of entertainment in every channel. While unwinding with a nice, little binge of The Office can be enjoyable after a long day, I found myself in a rut of passively consuming entertainment and not really trying to find things that could actually help me grow. We are affected by whatever we’re listening to or watching. Whether it’s something that doesn’t require much of our attention or reading a book that makes you think outside of your normal beliefs, everything we consume will have an effect. It’s very easy to slip into a passive consumption mindset because of the easiness of it. It’s much easier to watch our favorite TV show than to find a new book that makes us think critically in both introspective and extrospective ways.

In my search for finding new forms of entertainment that would push me to grow, I found The Porch podcast. The Porch is the gathering of over 3,000+ young adults every Tuesday night as part of the young adult ministry of Watermark Community Church. The podcast is usually recordings of the different sermons done mostly by their Young Adults Director, David Marvin. These sermons are designed to address many of the issues young adults in their 20s and 30s are facing each day, making every podcast relatable to college students. I was first introduced to this podcast a couple years ago through a series called Fantasy Dating. It was a three-part series, with the two other podcasts being Fantasy Guy and Fantasy Girl. The idea of these were to tackle misconceptions of what dating and marriage looks like when we truly are pursuing God through it. I will admit I was skeptical at first. The amount of relationship advice out there today is overwhelming, and a lot of times way over-complicated or simply not true. But I gave listened to all three of the podcasts on my drive back to Lynchburg, and I was surprised by the truth and depth that Pastor David brought. He didn’t try to spruce up concepts or complicate things. It challenged me to rethink the way that I would approach dating when the time came. It wasn’t until about a month ago that I begin consistently listening to these podcasts, but I have been challenged through pretty much everyone who speaks on it. The podcast also contains messages about anxiety and depression, breaking down biblical stories, such as Esther, and digging deep into how they can be applicable to challenges we face as young adults.

I really recommend The Porch, as I feel it is perfect for any college student seeking meaningful growth in their lives. I don’t want to steer you the wrong way – there are many concepts in this podcast that can bring growth, but we have to not fall into the trap of passively engaging it. In Acts 17:10-15, Paul and Silas have travelled to Berea, and the found Jews who were eagerly studying God’s Word and examining the scriptures to make sure what they were being taught was biblically true. This is what it should look like when listening to sermons today. Through actively studying what he teaches, I take the concepts I hear and have questions about and discuss those with my friends. Though we live in a society that tends to disagree in unhealthy ways (social media being a big platform for this), questioning and fact-checking are important in finding out the truth and helpful for personal growth.

So, if you’re looking for a podcast that will give you a chance to grow both spiritually and mentally, I highly encourage you trying this one out. You can find almost every topic you could think of pertaining to young adults. These podcasts will also help you critically think and can help give the chances for more meaningful and deep conversations with friends – something I love to have. Make sure you actively listen to these though! It is important when pursuing growth that you are actively consuming the culture around you by critically thinking about the concepts being presented to you. Down below you can find the link to this podcast through Spotify or Apple Podcasts!





Written by: Andrew Reynolds

Andrew is a Senior Project Management Major, and enjoys writing for the blog because of the opportunity it gives him to grow as a writer and to challenge himself to see current topics and discussions from a view point he may not have otherwise thought about.

A Country of Abundance: Food Waste in America

June 2, 2020

It comes as a surprise to nobody that America is a country of excess. For just about any product you would want to buy here in the States, there are countless variations of said product made by several different suppliers. There’s constantly an abundance of different options to select which can be great for consumers, since that abundance drives down prices and minimizes shortages for a specific product. What many Americans fail to realize, however, is that this abundance has created a significant problem in our society today – food waste.

According to Feeding America, each year, around 72 billion pounds of food goes to waste in the United States. There are many factors that contribute to this gigantic waste of food. From farmers not being able to find a buyer for a portion of the crops they’ve grown, to the consumer throwing away unfinished or spoiled leftovers, waste happens at nearly every level of the food supply chain.

Nearly 40 percent of food waste in the US comes from consumer facing businesses like grocery stores. It’s strange to think that grocery stores, a place where food is constantly being purchased and shelves are constantly being stocked, can contribute so much to food waste, but that is the reality we face today. A huge reason why grocery stores are throwing out so much food is because consumers want to buy food that looks the most appealing or “perfect”.

We’ve all been there before, scanning over the produce section for that perfect Honeycrisp apple or the best looking red bell pepper, choosing them over their clearly inferior (and uglier) produce siblings. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with this approach. You’re the paying customer who gets to decide which bunch of bananas you’re going to spend your hard earned money on, so obviously you’re choosing the best looking food items.

The only problem with this train of thought is that if everyone else thinks the same way (which they do) then perfectly good “ugly” food will waste away on the shelves and eventually be thrown out. When this consumer pattern is repeated, grocery stores pick up on the trend, and throw out that “ugly” produce before it even gets the chance to be purchased by a more thoughtful consumer.

I, like many other Americans, never really thought about how my grocery shopping preferences can contribute to food waste. That all changed when I came across Misfit Market, a company dedicated to lowering the amount of food waste in the US by collecting these “ugly” food items, and shipping them directly to their subscribers. Through Misfit Market, I’m able to get most of the produce I would normally buy at the grocery store conveniently shipped to my door. The awesome part about this subscription is knowing that I will be using food that would otherwise be thrown out (alright, not having to make as many grocery runs is pretty awesome too). What really matters the most though is knowing that I’m helping produce less food waste, even if it is on a small scale.

It’s fitting that my mom was the person to introduce me to Misfit Market, since reducing food waste has always been something she has been very vocal about. This issue has always been close to her heart, due to the fact that she spent most of her childhood in a native Brazilian village where resources were more difficult to come by. So, for the first 18 years of her life, my mom’s family made the most out of every food item they had, creating little to no waste. Because of this early life experience, my mom raised me and my siblings to be more thoughtful of the waste we create in our own lives.

Eliminating food waste isn’t just an ethical issue either. There are pretty large environmental concerns the come along with getting rid of 72 billion pounds of food each year. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, China and the United States produce the most carbon emissions in the world. If global food wastage was a country itself, it would be the third largest carbon emission contributor. Additionally, nearly 21 percent of landfills in the United States is food waste. All of these number are staggering even before mentioning that there are 37 million Americans that still struggle with hunger today.

Obviously, I feel incredibly lucky to be living in a country where I’m able to buy foods from all over the world just eight minutes down the road from my house. I’m not condemning people for only picking the best looking foods. I’m still guilty of that at times. I would just like for you to consider doing your part to produce less food waste, and help shift our wasteful society to one that’s full of thoughtful consumers who use their abundance of resources efficiently.





Written by: Drew Snavely

Drew is the Special Events Coordinator at Student Activities. He has a B.A. in Business Administration: Financial Planning. Drew is responsible for maintaining analytics for event surveys, social media and website. He deals with various event logistics for all events such as filing out work orders and securing event rentals. He also helps manage monthly budgets, event finances and receipts.

What’s to Come

May 29, 2020

Wow, what a journey we’ve been on! Thanks for sticking with us these last 10 weeks as we explored some ways to stay engaged in our culture while at home. We’ve shared new music with you, cooking tips, ways to get outside, books to read, and more! Over 4,000 of you visited our blog over the last couple months, and we are so grateful for that. When we started back in March, we didn’t know where this time would take us – there is a lot of unknown in our world right now, but we wanted to provide a place to come and feel safe together. We wanted this to be a place to learn new things, interact with other students just like yourself, and to actively engage in the surrounding culture. Though our series stops here, there’s still much to explore. We’re going to keep up with our blog this summer from event updates to various reviews, so don’t drop us just yet as we’ll still be pretty active. In the meantime, there are a few places who provide incredible cultural content that I encourage you to also follow, including:

Christ and Pop Culture (they share a lot all across the entertainment industry) – https://christandpopculture.com

Christianity Today (‘Music’ section) – https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/topics/m/music/

Relevant (‘Culture’ section) – https://relevantmagazine.com/category/culture/

On another note, I’m sure by now you’ve seen that we released our fall calendar, and we’ve never been happier! Ending the semester of events early was a tough decision, but it is making what’s to come feel even more exciting. As expected, we’ll have our staples like open mic, movie nights, trivia, concerts, bingo, and more. A few new events have hit the calendar, and some of our favorites are back better than ever, including:

Block Party will kick off our semester on August 29 with live music, attractions, food trucks, and more! I can’t think of a better way to come together to celebrate the start of an awesome school year. Connect with us on social media as we announce all our artists next week (one a day, for five straight days… yes, that’s five artists jam packed into one night!).

SA Workshops is our new workshop series that provides hands on learning with a professional in various areas like planting, pottery, and cake decorating (all available this fall). These will cost $5 per person once registration opens and will have extremely limited space. You’ll even get to take home your new creations at the end of the night!

Homecoming is shaping up to be one of our favorites yet, taking place October 9-10. With events like our annual bonfire, a carnival, and the parade, we guarantee that this weekend will have plenty for all our current students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Registration for alumni will go live July 1 this year, so save the date!

Bandjoree is our newly revamped battle of the bands event. We are opening this up to all musicians and genres to take part – we’ll start with online voting and narrow it down to five bands who will compete live on stage on November 7. The winner will take home their own custom merch package (created and purchased for you to sell your own gear), a Lynchburg Music gift card, and get to headline a spring student concert ($1,000+ in prizes). More details early October.

Coffeehouse may be our most awaited event to host, due to canceling our spring production. Mark your calendars now for November 21 at 10:30 p.m. as we bring back Coffeehouse, which showcases the best talent Liberty has to offer. Theme and more details will be released in mid-September.

If you want to check out our full calendar of events, you can do so here. Concerts will be added as they go on sale, so check out our social media to be the first to know when events go live. You can find us on Facebook (Student Activities) or @LibertySA on Instagram and Twitter.

Thanks again for everything these last 10 weeks, we couldn’t have done this without you. Enjoy your summer, we miss you, and can’t wait to have you back!

Written by: Steph Ward

Steph is the Director of Student Activities. She has a B.S. in Visual Communication Arts: Graphic Design and a M.S. in Management. Steph oversees the overall calendar and vision of the Student Activities Department from promotion to execution and analysis. She also leads the Student Activities staff, comprised of 20+ full time and student worker employees.

Book Review: Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer

May 27, 2020

The title says it all and it’s quite simple, we need to slow down. Right now, we are in a world where we are forced to rest, but why don’t we look at that as a blessing? John Mark Comer beautifully wrote a book entitled “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry” which is a roadmap on how to stay emotionally healthy and spiritually alive in the chaos of the modern world. Not only did this book convict me and my personal actions but it also gives us biblically sound ways on how to eliminate the hurry in our lives–we all struggle with the hurry disease. I would love to share some things that resonated with me that I think we all can learn from, so shall we?

The bottom line that John Mark Comer was trying to communicate is that HURRY is the great enemy of spiritual life today. So many people want success and are always on-the-go, which isn’t a bad thing, until it consumes your life. So much of our time is lost in the black hole of a device that we lose the concept of our entire day. Did you know each person touches their phone approximately 2,617 times a day? Assuming you sleep eight hours each night, that’s just over 163 times an hour!

So how can we learn to SLOW DOWN? Here are some of my favorite lessons pulled from this book:

1. Making time for silence and solitude brings PEACE
When I say solitude, I don’t mean to sit and look at a wall all day. I understand that lives are busy, and people have things to do. Jesus himself was a busy man but he always made it a priority to be silent with the Lord. Some people think that laying in their bed and being on social media is their form of “solitude.” Just because you are alone on your phone, doesn’t mean you are alone with your thoughts. Find time in your everyday life to make it a part of your routine. Wake up early to read a book, find time to sit outside and smell the fresh air. Find your version of solitude, and understand that it’s different then loneliness.

2. Having a sabbath improves PRODUCTIVITY and HAPPINESS
Humans need to recharge. Humans need to not be around work and stressful jobs. Even God himself took a rest after the sixth day of creation, so if He did why don’t we?
I find myself guilty of this, trying to do everything in my power to be successful and run to the next big thing. Not knowing the boundaries is a whole other issue, but I find myself struggling with the discipline of setting aside a day of rest. Sit back and appreciate your week and what’s to come. Thank the Lord you had a week to enjoy and spend time with your family and intentionally with the Him.

3. We are called to WALK with God, not run.
I don’t see anywhere in the bible where it says to run with God, do you? There is a reason why we hear the Lord so clearly in the silence, it’s because our minds and hearts are focused. 1 Thessalonians 4: 10-11 states, “We urge you brothers and sister…. to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life.” This is what I encourage you all to live by in this time of rest we’ve been given. How can you intentionally have time with the Lord with a chaotic life? Hurry is the root problem.

I can’t stress enough of how convicting this book was. It is both an answer and a question. Are you and will you slow down? I encourage all of you to read this book and think about your own life, and ultimately, find rest for your soul.


Comer, John Mark. The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually Alive in the Chaos of the Modern World. Hodder & Stoughton, 2019.

Written by: Avery Watts

Avery is an Event Supervisor with a BA in Interior Design. She enjoys writing for the blog, because it allows her to grow in developing thoughts and opinions on the pieces of culture she consumes. When not planning events, Avery likes to thrift, cook, and watch reality TV shows.