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When “Low” Quality Was Higher Quality

June 25, 2021

Technological advancement has paved the way for an enhanced entertainment experience whether on the silver screen or a television screen. Animation has advanced to the point where deceased actors and actresses can now be digitally placed into a scene with little to no noticeable difference between them and those who are still alive. For some projects, technological advancement has given the audience a better experience, but I argue that in some situations a crisper image actually hurts the quality of an overall work and in other ways visual appeal has become the misplaced priority over content.

The US adaptation of “The Office” is undoubtably going to be one of the revered artistic takeaways of our generation for its originality, side-splitting humor, and quotability. Although many maintain that the show had a significant dip in quality after the departure of Steve Carell as office manager Michael Scott, the show still reigned on the viewership leaderboards throughout its run. But around Season 8 or 9, the cameras for the show were upgraded to a higher definition. While the scenes look crisper, the believability of the plot of a small-grade camera crew documenting a random paper company in Scranton, PA became significantly less believable. At one point, it seemed like it was simply a few camera men with a mic attached to a camera, hiding in corners with some low quality equipment to be able to capture the Dunder-Mifflin workers in their element while remaining undetected but after upgrading equipment (and revealing a boom mic operator as well as at least two cameramen in Season 9 episode 12) the show plummeted in practical believability and to me overall quality despite visually being higher quality.

Although grainy at times, there was an aesthetic to 1990s movies and tv shows that is hard to beat. With blockbuster hits like The Sandlot, The Truman Show, Independence Day, Braveheart, and Good Will Hunting as well as hit television shows like Frasier, Seinfeld, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Home Improvement, Batman: the Animated Series, ER, Friends, and Rugrats, many regard the 90’s as being the greatest era in entertainment history. This is proven further by the fact that today’s studios keep trying to reboot pieces from the 90s and early 2000s such as Beavis and Butt-Head, The Lion King, and Will & Grace. Originality was the key to the decade – not necessarily a stunning visual presentation (although for the time they were in they were monumental). So, while we may be able to say that modern technology could make the shows better visually, there is little to improve on in terms of writing.

Even digitally created content has taken a blow in quality after the apparent shift from focusing on storytelling to focusing on the visual experience. While 3D works may have more of a visual pop, it seems to me like 2D Disney films have a more iconic nature to them than their 3D counterparts. Given the choice between Tarzan, Hercules, and Beauty & the Beast or Frozen, Tangled, and Moana, I am going to side with the historic masterpieces. From a storytelling perspective, it seems as though those films were most substantive (although all of these and most Disney projects are aided by fantastic soundtracks and voice acting). 3D and heavily computerized content has proven to be highly entertaining, but there’s just something about the 2D animated-feel that seems to strike viewers differently.

A common finding nowadays is a movie filled with stunning visuals but low substance. 2021’s Godzilla vs. Kong is not the type of movie someone goes to for the plot but rather for the action, but this serves as an example of the common practice of appealing purely to the visual and little to the core. The storyline of AMC’s The Walking Dead was powerfully told and visually masterful for many seasons but the quality dipped over time as mounds of money went into visual effects, but the writing became lackluster.

I am not some fuddy-dud who is stuck in an era long past – dangerously pessimistic about his own generation; on the contrary, I have great expectations for my generation creatively due to our place at the backend of so much history of art to be inspired by. There is a happy middle ground where visual awe and storytelling gusto converge in spectacular fashion, which still happens today. Avatar: The Last Airbender, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Avengers: Endgame, Interstellar, Whiplash, Toy Story 4, and others are recent examples of works that capture a combination of storytelling and visual awe. While I love a good piece of art, the story behind and within it is often what moves and transforms me, and though I am entertained by many modern works, I am often not changed by them even though they have been enhanced by technology. If we only care about the cover of a book while the pages within get put on the backburner, we will never advance in art but only inspire further mediocrity.




Written by: Landen Swain

Landen believes the human experience longs to be expressed; through our art, our labor, our songs, our storytelling. As a published playwright, author, and poet, he enjoys expressing his little chapter of the human experience through his writings and is thankful that the SA blog allows him to do that. He is published in numerous magazines, literary journals, and has several plays published by Off the Wall Plays, an online play publishing house.

Good vs Good For You

June 18, 2021

Growing up in a King James Version only, no drums in sight, “the only rated R movie allowed is Passion of the Christ” type of church, I was exposed little to the vast world of entertainment, aside from CSI: Miami, The Andy Griffith Show, and the occasional Disney movie. Before easing up on many restrictions, I recall my parents becoming exceedingly wroth after discovering that my brother had a CD of a bunch of secular songs. The reason given for the stern prohibition of secular entertainment was usually that it promoted something that went against Scripture, and that I can understand, but what irked me was the common offhanded insult that those songs “sucked”.

Just because those songs or shows promoted (or even just mentioned) something not aligning with the Bible, that meant that the quality of the product was subpar. Yet, in the eyes of the people who looked down on all that was secular, everything that did align with the Bible was somehow superb, even though it was corny or mediocre. Some honestly believe that GAWVI is superior in skill to Eminem or that Shai Linne would rank over Tupac. None of this is to say that the Christian artists previously mentioned are bad. They are very good and some Christian artists like Kings Kaleidoscope, Lauren Daigle, and Kirk Franklin rank among or even above most music artists in the world.

But as Liberty University founder Dr. Jerry Falwell Sr. once said “if it’s Christian, it ought to be better,” and yet often that is not the case when compared to the what the world is producing. As I grew up, things that did not live up to the hype were continuously hyped up just because of the word “Christian” associated with it. For example, although I enjoy Chick-fil-A and think highly of them, there are those who elevate them to a status I don’t believe any fast food lives up to. Some would claim that the sole reason why Chick-fil-A is supposedly better than Popeye’s or Zaxby’s is just because they are associated with Christianity, and that somehow the others “suck” just because they are not.

Tove Lo’s “Habits (Stay High)” may talk about distracting oneself with the party life in order to forget about someone but at least the sound quality is high. It doesn’t sound like it was written in five minutes, and it isn’t corny like many songs on your local gospel music radio station. Game of Thrones may be obscene but at least there’s character development and quality acting.

Until Christians can provide examples for how they can make something that adheres to Scripture and yet is higher in quality than what the world often produces and promotes then we need to stop saying that things “suck” just because they are not Christian. Rockstar Larry Norman, paraphrasing an old Martin Luther quote, poses the question “Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?” in a song, and I keep wondering the same thing. How about instead of complaining that J. Cole talked about losing his virginity, we make music that is good enough so that people would choose that over his songs? Instead of dreading that people enjoy Game of Thrones, we can make Narnia.

What I think many Christians meant to say when they said something secular “sucks” was that something was not good for someone, but it does not mean that from an artistic perspective the work was not good. There are some things that promote something unbiblical and just flat out are bad in quality, but just because something mentions an act or practice that is sinful does not mean that it is inferior in creative execution.

Christians have vegetables and fruit. The world has ice cream. People are going to gravitate towards ice cream even though it is ultimately not good for them, since it’s more appealing, better marketed, and tastier. Christians can either complain that the world loves dairy products, or they can take what they have and make a smoothie or acai bowl. Psalm 34:8 compels us to “Taste and see that the LORD is good;” and yet, when many people consume that which has “Christian” attached to it, they sense a lack in quality. In our art, in our crafts, in our everything, may we produce quality in thanks, reverence, and praise to the Father who gave us talents to point back to His majesty.






Written by: Landen Swain

Landen believes the human experience longs to be expressed; through our art, our labor, our songs, our storytelling. As a published playwright, author, and poet, he enjoys expressing his little chapter of the human experience through his writings and is thankful that the SA blog allows him to do that. He is published in numerous magazines, literary journals, and has several plays published by Off the Wall Plays, an online play publishing house.

Memphis in the Summer

June 4, 2021

It is finally summertime! After a hectic year of classes, we can finally enjoy this summer sun. As we exhale from this past semester, we take up our summer jobs and disperse all over the world. This summer, I have the privilege to work for a church in Memphis, Tennessee.

This past summer, I went to Memphis for the first time and had no idea what to expect. This summer as I get to return to work at Bellevue Baptist Church, and I am ecstatic to go back to my Memphis family  to work with 4th and 5th grade ministry this summer.

As I visit and live in Memphis, I have discovered how uniquely beautiful Memphis is in comparison to different cities. I have traveled the world, and I have stood on the beaches of the Bahamas, seen Paris at night, and walk the streets of New York City but through it all there is no place like Memphis. The city of Memphis is packed with history, food, and culture.

The city was formally established in the early 18th century and is located on the southwest corner of Tennessee. It is built on the Mississippi River and is a central point in the US. Memphis is home of the National Civil Rights Museum. The museum is located at what was formally the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed in 1968. After visiting this sobering museum, I recognized that the Lorraine Motel still has the same cars parked there from the day Dr. King was shot, and they have a reef hanging in the balcony where he was shot to honor him and the movement he started. Another historical landmark is Beale Street. This downtown street is known for all the constant live music and restaurants found here. The city of Memphis has deep roots in jazz and rock and roll. The great singers, Elvis Presley and Justin Timberlake, are from Memphis as well. On top of that, Elvis has a mansion named “Graceland” which was his home.

The city is also known for its great variety of food and local restaurants. The city has many different BBQ restaurants: Central BBQ, Rendezvous, and Commissary all in which have been noted as local favorites. Central BBQ is the hang out place and is famous for their BBQ nachos. Outside of BBQ there is also some great fried chicken places to try. Gus’s World-Famous Fried Chicken is a Memphis signature and one of my personal favorites. Another great place to get some good chicken is Hattie B’s Hot Chicken, and if you have an urge to eat some spicy chicken, this is the place for you! Then, if you are feeling tired after eating all this food, you have a huge variety of some great coffee shops that can be found through the whole city. All this food and coffee can be great ways to build community, but what really makes the city great is the culture.

The culture of Memphis rallies around the term “901”. 901 is the area code used in Memphis and the surrounding area, and the people of this city champion their city. They believe in Memphis and all of its local endeavors. While working at Bellevue, I made so many friends that are Memphis locals. They were able to show me all the beautiful art and music created by all the creative locals. A lot of my closest friends go to the University of Memphis, and they love it. I have never been to a city where so many different people with different backgrounds and different worldviews all still rally around a love for their city. Memphians are some of the friendliest people, and their hospitality is unmatched. Memphis was home to the first Passion Conference as they met in Shelby Farms Park. The church also has a huge impact on this city, and the ministry reaches far past the walls of their church building.

As I work at Bellevue for the second summer, I get to reflect on the history of the beautiful church in this growing city and look forward to the healthy growing change that is taking place even now. I have grown to love this beautiful, diverse, and growing city not just because of what it has to offer but because of the people that live here. So, if you ever want to eat some good food, meeting some incredible people, and make memories you will never forget, Memphis, Tennessee is the place to be.


Written by Riley Anderson

Riley is a junior majoring in Christian Leadership and Church Ministry with a minor in Biblical Studies.


May 28, 2021

Summer break has finally arrived. The past two semesters seemed longer than ever with little to no breaks, time-consuming assignments, and finals that never seemed to arrive. But now with all this free time, we realize just how exhausted we are. Instead of soaking up the sun and getting sunburn, we are struggling with how to overcome school burnout.

As slow as this semester passed, it also snuck up on us. Everyone was trying to make the most of things. Hanging out with friends and still submitting to Canvas on time proved to be a difficult balance. As students, we are masters of multi-tasking and managed to keep up. A nap or two (or fifty) may have been needed to get us through, but we scraped by in the end.

Now, the last assignments are submitted, the last plus swipes have been used, and we are finally all out of dining dollars. We finally have a break… now what? Plans of having the best summer ever seem less important than a week-long sleep in our own beds. It can be difficult to find a routine over summer break – especially when wanting to focus on destressing from academics.

Letting your mind and body rest is allowed. It keeps you healthy. What is important to be aware of is not to let your body get too comfortable in this state of rest. Though it sounds like an oxymoron, resting for too long can be damaging to our physical and mental health. Staying inactive for a prolonged period of time will cause lethargy, a lack of motivation, and potentially a state of depression. This is an easy spiral to fall into. If we stay in bed and rest for too long, we will become lazy and unmotivated. This lack of energy will then lead to not wanting to leave the house or the bed for anything. All those aspirations of beach days, road trips, and summer fun will be long gone. Once they are gone, a strong sense of FOMO will take over. This could ultimately lead to the most depressing summer ever.

Finding the balance of allowing the body to rest, the mind to recharge, and getting back out in the world is the goal. The best summer ever can’t happen if we stay in bed the whole time. Remember to take a break. You deserve it, but make sure you don’t fall into a pattern of inactivity.

The last thing this summer needs is to be wasted. Go out and enjoy it!


Written by: Anna Pender

Anna is a Senior Strategic Communications major. She is thankful to have the opportunity to write for the blog because it gives her a chance to explore and write about topics and events that she is passionate about and that are relevant to the world. She loves getting to be creative and share her personality through writing.

Time to Make Some Decisions

May 10, 2021

The end of the semester is here, and it is time to take the next step, but what should that next step be? Many of you may be walking across the stage as a graduate next week, or you may be like me – about to head into your final semester and starting to think about what you are going to do after you graduate from Liberty. Figuring out what to do next can be stressful, nerve-wracking, and exciting all at once. It is the time to think about what kind of life we want to live and who we want to be.

Many of us ask God to show us what we should do next. Often, we want Him to give us some kind of supernatural experience; we want God to shine a bright light directly onto the job we should apply for, the city we should move to, or the person we are supposed to marry in a way so obvious that we cannot possibly miss it. While I must admit that this kind of very clear instruction would be really nice, it does not often happen this way. We also often want to have direction for our entire lives. Everyone wants to have a 5-year plan. But how can we know where we will be in 5 years if we haven’t even decided where to go tomorrow?

As much as we want the path for our lives to be obvious, most of the time it’s not, and that can be discouraging and stressful. A lot of stress comes from a fear of making the wrong decision. Many believers experience this fear because of their sincere desire to be obedient to God. One way that we can be obedient to God is by not being anxious or worried about anything, including making decisions.

As we all walk down the path of decision making together, I would like to share with you some of the advice that some very wise people in my life have shared with me.

The first thing we can do is to remember that God has already told us what His will is for our lives. If you are wondering what God’s will is for your life, you can look to Scripture. In Luke 10:27, Jesus gives the Greatest Commandment which says, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Then, before Jesus ascended to Heaven, He gave the Great Commissionsaying, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” These two verses and commandments from Jesus show us what the will of God is for our lives, that we love God, love others, and that we make disciples who follow Him. No matter where we live or work, this should be our highest priority in how we live.

The second thing to remember is that we do not need to arrive at our dream job and live in our dream home right after college. These things take time and experience to achieve. Remembering this helps to take the pressure off of ourselves. Instead of looking for your dream job right out the gate, look for jobs that will help prepare you for that job later on. There is so much to learn along the way.

Lastly, know that if you are seeking the Lord and obeying Him that He will guide your steps. He will open doors and closed doors and give you opportunities to serve Him right where He wants you. But, we have to take the first steps in faith, if it is where you are meant to be, the Lord will make it happen, and if it is not, He will remove that opportunity from you. This is even shown in the life of Paul as he traveled on his missionary journeys. He would make his plans and prepare to go to one place, and the Holy Spirit would either allow him to go there, or he would redirect Paul to go elsewhere. You do not need to be anxious about making the wrong decisions because the Lord will direct you as you go.

I am walking down this path with you of trying to figure out what is next in life. It’s exciting because of the whole world of opportunities, but it also can be scary. You are not alone; your fellow graduates are in the same boat. So, send in that job application, ask someone on a date, move to that new city that has caught your eye, and while you are there, love God, love the people around you, and make disciples. The most important thing you can do is to be obedient to Him. If God has given you a specific direction to go, then be obedient to Him and know He will be with you. If you don’t know what to do next, just take the next step in faith as He will guide you and know that He will be with you.


Written by: Sarah Day

Sarah is a junior majoring in Youth Ministry. Sarah enjoys writing for the blog because she loves exploring the ways that the simplest things in our lives impact us in the most meaningful ways. She is passionate about connecting with people, talking about what truly matters and baking.

Mental Health and The Church

May 7, 2021

Within the Christian community, the topic of mental health can be considered sensitive or taboo. However, many believers struggle with issues that require professional treatment or counseling; as Christians, we must now learn to navigate the balance of spiritual and professional support as the need for mental health treatment continues to rise.

According to the National Alliance of Mental Health, in 2019, 20.6% of adults in the US suffer from a mental illness, representing 1 in 5 adults. The highest reported conditions included Major Depressive Episodes and Anxiety Disorders. However, only 43.8% of adults with mental illness sought professional help.

Consequently, in a recent study by the Barna group, it was discovered that non-Christians are twice as likely to seek counseling and professional help for mental illness. Within the Christian community, there is a thick stigma against seeking treatment for mental health, and until this past fall, I found myself convinced that going to counseling was evident of a lack of faith. I thought that by admitting I needed help for my anxiety and depression I was being sinful.

In most churches, there is a lack of availability for professional care in response to mental illness. While there are usually resources such as small groups, mentors, and pastors, these individuals do not have the training necessary to deal with serious conditions. In most situations, mental health issues can easily be misunderstood, and the solutions given by leaders in the church can be hurtful and confusing.

For me, anytime I brought up struggles with depression, anxiety, and even my relationship with food, I was met with three common misconceptions.

  1. Have you surrendered your condition to the Lord?
  2. God is just testing your faith. You should really pray more about this.
  3. Mental illness is just a sign of spiritual immaturity; through prayer and growth, it’ll go away.

Each of these are not only inaccurate but have been detrimental in my journey to find liberation. I remember being prayed over week after week in youth groups and prayer times with no change in my situation. I began to question what I was doing wrong, was I saying the wrong words when I prayed? Was I not praying enough? I eventually tried to ignore my mental health situation. Thinking if I could forget about it, it would be okay. This led to an overflow of emotions and fears and doubts in my mind. The issue was never resolved, it just grew until I knew something had to change.

In the Fall of 2020, I made my first appointment with a mental health counselor and have been going regularly ever since. Through the help of a professional, I have found liberation, clarity, and self-confidence. The practice of professional counseling in conjunction with prayer and time in the word has been the perfect combination to help me understand my situation better.

If you are a Christian who is questioning seeking help for your mental health, I would advise that you seek a professional counselor who is also a Christian. Having a counselor who understands your faith and your worldview is so helpful in making progress and breaking down barriers. Counselors can incorporate as much or as little “faith-talk” into your sessions and homework. Everyone has a different comfort level and set of needs, but there is no pressure to over-spiritualize your very real struggles.

Admitting you need help is not a sign of weakness, it’s not wrong, and it’s not sinful or an act of doubt. It’s the first step in finding freedom.

I would like to add some advice to those of you who are not struggling with mental health issues but know someone who is. I have compiled a simple list of tips that will help you navigate conversations surrounding mental health with gentleness, kindness, and understanding.

  1. Be present. Listen. Don’t provide solutions.
  2. Be intentional. Pursue your friend even if it feels like they are pulling away.
  3. Ask what they need or what would be helpful.
  4. Pray for them on your own (or with them if that is something they are asking for).




Written by: Lisa Diaczynsky

Lisa is a Junior studying Business Administration and Graphic Design. She enjoys writing for the blog to express her creativity as well as sharing her views and opinions. She is passionate about healthy relationships, graphic design, social/political reform and mental health.

SA Reviews: Fearless

May 3, 2021

By this point, you have probably heard about Fearless (Taylor’s Version). Whether you already know every single word of the songs or have no idea why there is a duplicate album from the same artist 13 years later, this should hopefully fill you in.

Imagine this. A sixteen-year-old with big dreams signs with a promising new record label. That teenager proceeds to be the main artist on the label for the next decade. She becomes a global superstar. Through all the hate she gets from the Internet, other artists, their fans, and even their managers, she perseveres and comes back stronger than a nineties trend.

Then one day, the owner of the record label decides to sell the label. Who becomes the new owner? A manager of some of the main artists that encouraged the most hate against the label’s star. Not only does her recording label get sold to a man that has tried to ruin her multiple times, but she also is cheated out of owning any of her life work past, present, or future.

This all seems drastic and unfair, but unfortunately this is just scratching the surface of the hardships Taylor Swift has faced throughout her career. To give more details to the tale above, here are some names. Scott Borchetta has been in the music industry a long time, and in 2006 decided to start Big Machine Label Group. Swift was the main star for the label. Scooter Braun is a manager of stars including Kanye West and Justin Bieber, who have been publicly known to be anti-Swifties. Braun also owns Ithaca Holdings, which purchased Big Machine from Borchetta in 2019.

On top of all the wrongdoings in this change of ownership and Swift’s public “feuds” with other artists, she was denied ownership of her masters before the sale. The best offer they could give her was the chance to earn back one album at a time through each production of a new one. Though her pleading attempt at negotiation was long before the sale, she was blindsided when it happened. By the time Braun had ownership of the label, Swift had already left the label to join Republic Records. It was under this label that she released her first self-owned album Lover.

In late 2019, Swift confirmed she would begin legally re-recording her first five albums in November 2020. This brief summary brings the timeline up to right now: April 2021 and the release of Fearless (Taylor’s Version) which includes all the songs from 2008 as well as six new “From the Vault” bonus tracks.

But the question of the whole situation still remains, why? The simple answer is to own her work. Unfortunately, there are always other opinions. Skeptics criticized the star, calling her greedy and attention-seeking. Others said it was a risky move to put the same albums out again because it could lead to no sales. Putting yourself in her shoes might make you think there is nothing better than revenge. However, most fans are certain she is doing this solely for the purpose of rightfully owning all her hard work from her career. Anything else is just added perks.

Now that all this drama has been covered, hopefully everything makes a little bit more sense. Fearless (Taylor’s Version) is just the beginning for not only Taylor Swift, but hopefully future artists also owning more of their works as well. All these bold moves and standing up for herself just prove that Taylor Swift truly is fearless.





Written by: Anna Pender

Anna is a Senior Strategic Communications major. She is thankful to have the opportunity to write for the blog because it gives her a chance to explore and write about topics and events that she is passionate about and that are relevant to the world. She loves getting to be creative and share her personality through writing.

SA Reviews: Nomadland

April 30, 2021

The 93rd Academy Awards aired on April 25th, 2021, and the ceremony was full of surprises and historical wins. One such win was that of Nomadland, a film directed by Chloé Zhao. The movie is based on the non-fiction book Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder, which was released in 2017. Nomadland was nominated for six award categories and won the coveted best picture category, best director, and best actress for Frances McDormand, who played the leading role of Fern.

The film tells the story of Fern, a widow who is forced to leave her home in Empire, Nevada after the 2008 financial crisis. With an unstable economy and not much of a choice, Fern packs her belongings into a converted van and travels from town to town looking for work. Throughout her journey, Fern explores the western landscape and adopts a nomadic lifestyle – learning how to live on the road and developing friendships along the way. Nomadland captures the highs and lows of van-life and provides a glimpse into the beautiful scenery of the American West.

At the Academy Awards, the movie took home several awards including best picture, the most prestigious honor of the night. Director Chloé Zhao became the first woman of color, and only the second woman, to win the award for best director in the Academy’s history. Directing a film about nomadic lifestyle and keeping the characters realistic and down to earth was a special task for Zhao. However, she has previously been known to cast non-professional actors in order to portray fictional versions of themselves. While Frances McDormand, recipient of the award for best actress in a leading role, and several other actors were professionally cast, many of the film’s notable characters are real-life nomads with true stories being depicted. This inclusion of real events and real people help to keep the movie grounded in truth, and Zhao was able to harness the weight and impact of each of the nomad’s stories.

My personal favorite aspect of the film is the cinematography. Nomadland was nominated for the category of best cinematography, and although it ended up losing the category to Mank, I nevertheless appreciated the camera work. The large sprawling landscapes of the American West juxtaposed against the tiny, intimate spaces of renovated vans and campers creates an effect that provides wide-open spaces to explore, yet still feels incredibly claustrophobic. Fern travels through Black Rock Desert in Nevada, searches through Badlands National Park, and ends her journey at Point Arena near San Francisco, California. The camera switches between close-ups of Fern to show detailed emotion and large, empty backdrops to showcase the vastness of the desert and how empty the nomadic lifestyle can often feel. Overall, the cinematography offers beautiful images of raw emotion and nature in its purest form.

This year’s Academy Awards were promising and rewarding, and Zhao showcased her potential to be a strong contender in a multitude of categories. Nomadland is simply a striking film about American wanderlust, the human connection, and searching for the true definition of home.






Written by: Zachary Grabill

Zachary is a Sophomore studying Business Administration: Project Management. He is passionate about music, traveling, and adventure, and enjoys sharing his experiences with others. He appreciates the opportunity to write for the blog as a platform to both entertain and discuss culture from a creative and personal perspective.

Not Like Other Girls

April 26, 2021

“I’m not like other girls.” Maybe it’s not a phrase you’ve heard directly out of someone’s mouth, but I’m sure you’ve heard it in the form of, “Other girls (fill in the blank), but I….” It’s not just girls, boys do it too. “Some guys (fill in the blank), but I….” It’s portrayed in media as well: social, visual, and print. Whether it’s the “quirky and unique” girls on TikTok or a male character in a movie who reads poetry in a school full of jocks, we are surrounded by the “I’m not like other girls” phenomenon. This is not a new troupe either. Breaking the norm has been popular for decades at least, if not centuries. In the 20s it was flappers, in the 50s it was greasers, in the 90s it was grunge girls – the list is endless.

While this trend can be seen clearly through social media, it has been popularized most through books, movies, and television shows. Think about the movies you have seen most recently. Over the weekend, I watched 10 Things I Hate About You. The main character, loveable Kat Stratford, has one defining feature – she is not like other girls. While she is not as popular as her typical teenage sister, she is romanticized as deeper than all the others because she doesn’t care about boys, or parties, or even being nice like all the other shallow girls. Rather, she likes punk, backing into cars, and badgering her English teacher. The more movies with female leads you watch, the more you’ll probably notice the main character is not like other girls.

This phenomenon came to a head in 2019 when memes about the “not like other” girls started circulating. These memes flipped the table and put down the girls who try to be distinctive. Both sides of the coin are harmful because of their inflation of one thing and put down of others. Some inflate their egos by putting down girls who hold to feminine stereotypes, and others turn girls who don’t hold to feminine social norms into harsh memes. 

Still, now more than ever it seems we are desperate to stand out from the crowd. We are afraid to be basic. Many of us show we have this fear in the silliest of ways. Personally, I remember purposely not buying a pair of Air Force 1 shoes and not trying a pumpkin spice latte (which I will now admit I like) for years, because I was afraid to be like all the other girls. Maybe you try to make sure your music is really out there and cool, or maybe you only take pictures on disposables to set yourself apart from all the iPhone cameras.

Where does this need for individualism come from? While most are under the perception that individualism is mostly found in Western cultures, recent studies have shown that it is on the rise all around the world. Countries who seem to place greater value on individualism tend to have a few things in common including socio-economic development, less infectious diseases, and less climactic stress. This relates to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Cultures that are less focused on simply surviving are able to focus on more psychological needs, like the need for individualism or self-discovery. So, in a way, it is a blessing that the “I’m not like other girls” phenomenon exists; it means our culture largely feels safe, provided for, and is free enough to explore self-identity.

 It has to be noted though, that even though we so often want to stand out, even those who do usually fall into some sort of label be it flapper, greaser, grunge, soft girl… you name it. It’s interesting that so many of us have the desire to belong to a community while also having the desire to be an identifiable individual.

The need for community is also highly observable. Friendship and bonds with others have been proven to increase happiness, prevent stress, and lessen the likelihood of depression. In fact, neuroscience has shown that the circuits in our brain are similar for social and tangible situations, meaning our brains have the same reward and punishment systems for our interactions with people and things. So, a positive interaction with a friend can have the same neurological effect as doing your favorite activity. On the other hand, an altercation with someone important to you or an embarrassing moment can be comparable to a physical injury. One research study by a Stanford psychologist found that when minority college freshmen received encouragement from senior students about the transitional hardships of college they had improved well-being and academic performance over the time of their college experience. 

How should we deal with this phenomenon from a Biblical perspective? I think the way God has designed His church answers both the need for belonging and the need to be an individual. 1 Corinthians 12 opens by talking about spiritual gifts. Everyone who has the Holy Spirit has been given at least one spiritual gift for the good of the Church. The beauty of this is that there is not one spiritual gift; there are many, and we are each gifted in unique ways. This so wonderfully answers our desire to be unique.

Even more, 1 Corinthians 12 not only provides an answer to our need for individuality, but it also gives the answer to belonging. It goes on to talk about how we are many members of one body – the body of Christ. It says, “For the body does not consist of one member but of many. […]  But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.  If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body” (14,18-20). We were made unique but not for ourselves. We were made a unique individual, so we can contribute to and help build up the Church.

So, in this, we can walk with confidence. I encourage you to enjoy what you enjoy – basic or unlike anyone else. Go ahead and drink a pumpkin spice latte if you like them, or if the music you like is crazy out there, keep listening to it! If you have put your faith in Christ and received the Holy Spirit, you can be assured that you are both unique and also belong to something much greater than yourself.


ESV Bible






Written by: Courtney Stone

Courtney is a Business Administration: Digital Marketing and Advertising major. She enjoys writing for the blog as a way to explore relevant topics and grow in written communication.

Relationships Done Different

April 19, 2021

Throughout this past year, we have faced countless changes, but one thing that has not changed is our desire to be known. Although we have been introduced to new barriers to relationships because of the pandemic, we still have this strong desire to be known in a relationship. Relationships were one of the first covenants God made with mankind. He gave us community on this side of eternity that reflected His love for us, and the love He has for community.

As Christians, we can tend to think we have it all together, but what if I told you we have been getting aspects of dating wrong this whole time? What if I told you the world had been getting certain traits of dating right that we have been ignoring as believers? I mean we are called to walk in humility, and humility calls us to step down and listen to all people. So, what if there are things we still can learn from society, or being good Christians doesn’t always make you good spouse material? Here are a few lists of things I have learned from others that have helped me step out of the utopia of dating and back into reality.

Step one: Drop your list.

Growing up, we would fantasize about the perfect spouse. He or she would come into our lives and love us in a way that leaves us speechless. They would have the perfect body, the perfect personality, and then on top of that, they would love the Lord better than anyone else we know. The unfortunate reality is this perfect person just does not fully existence. I am not saying there are not great options and some people come close, but no one can check every box. I know I am guilty of this very thing. I tend to be a “Type A” personality, and I love my mental lists, but we have to remember that the beauty of loving someone is loving each other through the shortcomings… it’s what Jesus did for us. In Single, Dating, Engaged, Married: Navigating Life and Love in the Modern Age by Ben Stuart, he says it this way, “I have found that peoples’ descriptions of their ideal dates’ attributes are really just idealized versions of themselves. But you don’t want to date you… You want to date, and marry, someone who complements you.”

Step two: Find the one that complements you.

I have found that most single Christians struggle with this one. Talking with Jonathan Pokluda, a pastor and author in Texas, I asked him for advice in relationships. He told me, “Complementing each other is more important than having chemistry with each other”. He clarified and stated that you still want to have chemistry, but that can develop more as time goes on. Then on the other hand you cannot develop the way a person complements you. As young Christians we look for chemistry but that does not help because it really only narrows it down so much before you realize you can have chemistry with a lot of people. Let’s think twenty years down the road. The fun newness of chemistry has worn off, and you still feel unsupported in your passions and you are trying to raise a family while still honoring God with your life, but they could care less about complimenting the other skills and passions. This leads to a lot of issues. A lot of people out in the world have gotten this aspect right. They look for someone that will help their career, support their family well, love them for who they are, and they do the best to equip their spouse to be the best version of themselves. Find someone that compliments your traits in life. They should make a great life partner that will help affirm who you are in Christ, not question it.

Step Three: Look for a home, not a hobby.

The final step of advice that has been passed on to me was stop overthinking it. Many singles tend to get in their own way. All too often we look for good ministry partners while neglecting to look for good homes. We look for the person that can quote the most Scripture, wears the big smile, and has the nice paycheck that will be able to support our dreams and ministries. I know I have been guilty of these things, and people have come into my life to remind me it is much simpler. When we think of a spouse, we need to understand that they are not just a ministry partner they are a life partner. If you need Scripture that backs up this idea, then look back to the first relationship with Adam and Eve. God did not command them to be church planters or anything ministry related. God actually commands them to make a home. In Genesis 1:28 “God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it…’”(ESV, 2011). God puts the home in high regard and in this life, it is important that you find someone that you can be yourself around. Find someone that you know you can build a home with while being who God created both of you to be in whatever beautiful or crazy way that might be.

When reading this please know that if you feel called to singleness there is nothing wrong with that. The Church has done a poor job of supporting singles in today’s churches but know that if you do feel drawn towards walking through this life with another person it is going to take work. We can trust God, and we should use the Bible to help us throughout this process but never neglect the wisdom you can learn for the people God has placed in your life.


Written by Riley Anderson

Riley is a junior majoring in Christian Leadership and Church Ministry with a minor in Biblical Studies.