Visiting Writer’s Series at LR: Nadia Bolz-Weber

On Thursday, March 5, author and pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber visited Lenoir-Rhyne for the Visiting Writer’s Series. I was able to attend her presentation at 12:15 pm on that same day. I would like to reflect on her performance and summarize the content of her presentation.

Her brief talk consisted more of her describing her religious beliefs and career as a female pastor, or “pastrix” as she likes to call herself, than her actual writing. However, I was not totally left empty-handed; I was able to experience a very interesting discussion about religion in a way that I’ve never heard before.

Her views on religion, even as a pastor, are very open-minded and radical. She tends to mix traditional religious traditions in the church with modern ideas of acceptance and realizing to hate the sin, not the sinner. She welcomes many members of the LGBT community into her conjugation and believes that everyone sins but still should be accepted into church. She is knowledgeable of the fact that even though she’s a religious figure, she is not perfect or free of sin and she will never be.

I was somewhat disappointed that I was unable to hear her discussion about her writing, but I was still very satisfied with her presentation. Her talk was able to help me see another end of the spectrum of the issue of having different religious views and beliefs.


Visiting Writer’s Series at LR: Paul Muldoon

Recently, author Paul Muldoon graced Lenoir-Rhyne’s halls with his presence for the Visiting Writer’s Series. As an assignment, I chose to read his poem titled Hedgehog and analyze it in a blog post.

Hedgehog begins with its first stanza describing a snail and how it openly describes its secrets. Next, a hedgehog is introduced; it is portrayed as being a closed-minded secretive creature who trusts no one or no thing with its secrets. The poem changes point of view midway; ‘we’ are introduced as trying to reassure the hedgehog that his secrets are safe with ‘us’. Finally, the last stanza takes a sharp turn, depicting a god that wears a crown of thorns who no longer trusts the world.

Upon reading this poem, one would find that it is saturated with a strong metaphor and simile. The simile is used to compare the snail to a hovercraft and the metaphor, undiscovered until the very last stanza, portrays the similarity between a god and a hedgehog. However, the meaning of a poem, such as this one, can be left up to the interpretation of the reader.

Even though one can come to a conclusion as to the meaning of the poem, there are still many questions that are left unanswered by the author. Who are ‘we’? One can understand that ‘we’ are most likely people of the world, but what kind of people? What is the relationship between the snail and the people of this world? Are ‘we’ all snails?

Visiting Writer’s Series at LR: Katherine Howe

On February 12, author Katherine Howe visited Lenoir-Rhyne University for the visiting writer’s series. I was unable to attend so instead I read and reviewed an excerpt from her work, Conversion.

The excerpt consisted of the prelude of the story, set in Salem, Massachusetts in 1706; the time period and setting suggests the time to be set right after the famous Salem witch trials. The point of view is in first person as a girl named Ann. She appears to be waiting to speak with the Reverend Green; she is very nervous to be there and feels out of place. The author uses imagery and creative writing to describe Ann’s surroundings, the people there, and how Ann is feeling. At the very end of the excerpt, we discover that Ann is there to confess her sins to Reverend Green. At this point, the audience does not know what she wants to confess but one may guess with the time period and setting, Ann may have been involved with the wronged convictions of women who were believed to be witches.

While reading this excerpt, it was very easy to get lost in the image that the author painted. Her incredible use of description easily led me to feel as if I was actually Ann; I actually felt tense and nervous for her. I found that this imagery was very useful to me as a student. One aspect of my writing that I would like to improve on is my descriptions using creative writing.

Visiting Writers Series at LR: Jesmyn Ward

On January 19, 2015, author Jesmyn Ward visited the Lenoir-Rhyne campus during the Visiting Writers Series. Sadly, I was unable to attend. For our alternative assignment, I designed to read an excerpt from her most recent novel The Men We Reaped.
The Men We Reaped was written in the style of a memoir; the excerpt contained the prologue of the novel. Ward depicted the lifestyle in which her and her family lived in at the time of her pre-teen years. She grew up Southern, poor, in a broken home, the eldest of the children, and surrounded by white classmates at her school. Her depiction of her hometown and where her father lived (she grew up in Mississippi and her father moved to New Orleans after her parents divorced) portrayed a love-hate relationship she may have with these places.
Upon reading the excerpt, I did not know until afterwards that this was a memoir of Ward’s life. However, her writing style suggested that it was personal information given by the author. So the question that stemmed from my mind was, “How much of an influence did her personal life have on her work?” Nonetheless, after I finished reading, I did some research on Jesmyn Ward and discovered that in fact, it has everything to do with her personal life.

Benefits of Learning a Foreign Language


Infographic on the benefits of being bilingual. (Illustration by VOXXI)

Sally is vacationing in her favorite city in the world, Tokyo. Sally has always wanted to visit Japan and experience Japanese culture and cuisine. She visits a restaurant in Tokyo and sits down at a table. She wants to order sushi, but when she looks at the menu, she realizes she does not understand the words written in Japanese nor does she know the Japanese word for sushi. Sally relies on the fact that English is a widely known language and hopefully the waiter can understand her. When the waiter appears at her table to take her order, Sally realizes that he cannot speak English, and she definitely cannot speak Japanese. She later realizes that one essential necessity she forgot to bring with her is the knowledge of and ability to speak Japanese.

            Many people, like Sally, do not realize how important it is for a person to be able to speak a second language. Most English-speaking people rely on the fact that English is a language known worldwide and assume foreigners can speak it. However, not everyone will be able to speak the same language as you; it would be safe to assume foreigners do not know English and learn their language first before interacting with them. Besides enabling you to communicate with locals, learning a foreign language has other benefits. These benefits include more job opportunities, strengthening the brain, acquiring foreign friends, developing a broader perspective of other cultures, and so much more.

            I, myself, am a college student learning Mandarin not only to quench my thirst for obtaining knowledge of a foreign country and culture but to also broaden my career opportunities. I have seen the results brought forth by my interaction with the Chinese language. My appreciation for China and its traditions and culture has allowed me to have a broader mindset in understanding a foreign way of life. I hope to use this knowledge to aid me in my search for a career. In her article, “Benefits of Being Bilingual: Why We Should Learn a Second Language,” Veronique de Miguel claims that “globalization makes bilingual individuals more valuable in their future search for work.” Her reasoning behind that is “as companies become more international, there is a greater need for employees who are fluent in more than one language.” In the United States, today, many large companies, industries, and corporations conduct business with other countries, such as Japan and China. Thus, a higher demand for people who can speak these languages and can act as translators or interpreters will enable highly-valuable bilingual speakers to command higher salaries. Also, job opportunities expand tenfold for people who want to obtain a career in a foreign country. An English-speaking bilingual college graduate could easily attain a job as an English teacher in another country, seeing as how the English language has become global.

            As the United States globalizes, our access to foreigners expands, allowing us to interact with people from other countries through the use of technology. For example, I have obtained pen-pal friends from China for the purpose of having friends to help me with learning Mandarin. One pen pal in particular I have developed a deep friendship with, and we communicate almost daily, both in Chinese and English. My use of social networks, such as Wechat and QQ, to communicate with foreign friends directly corresponds to what Trudie Longren has to say in her article “The Advantages of Learning Foreign Languages.” She describes how “on social networking sites, members speak many languages and live all over the globe; knowing another language permits you to reach people who would not necessarily be in your network due to the difference in language.” This can, as she goes on to write, enlarge “the geographical scope of your relationships and enables you to expand your business and personal contacts.”

            In contribution to obtaining a job due to fluency in a foreign language, this knowledge can also lead to boosting brain power, such as enhancing communication skills and benefiting cognitive health. Dan Roitman states in his article, “Your Mind on Language: How Bilingualism Boosts Your Brain,” that “learning a second language can develop new areas of your mind and strengthen your brain’s natural ability to focus, entertain multiple possibilities, and process information.” In other words, the very process of learning a second language improves your brain, making it smarter, faster, and stronger. Learning a second language can in fact enhance your ability to learn a third language. Also, as Veronique De Miguel puts it, “your English will be enhanced as you are more aware of language structures, grammar, literacy and language skills.” A person may gain strength in his or her communication skills and be able to easily learn more languages.

            So then, where does one begin? Anyone can learn a second language, and there are many languages in the world for a person to choose from. The challenging part is figuring out when a person should learn. Many researchers believe that the best time when people should learn is when they are a child. Ilisa Cohen correlates to that idea in her article, “Bilingual Babes: Teach Your Child a Second Language,” by saying “the best time to teach your child a second language is the same time she’s learning her first one.” At a young age, children’s minds are able obtain and grasp onto knowledge; exposing children to multiple languages at once when they are young allows them to permanently insert this knowledge into their brains.

Works Cited

Cohen, Ilisa. “Bilingual Babes: Teach Your Child A Second Language.” Parents Magazine, n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2014.

Longren, Trudie. “The Advantages of Learning Foreign Languages.” Everyday Life. GlobalPost, n.d.Web. 28 Apr. 2014.

Miguel, Veronique De. “Benefits of Being Bilingual: Why We Should Learn a Second Language.” Voxxi RSS. Interactive One, n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2014.

Roitman, Dan. “Your Mind on Language: How Bilingualism Boosts Your Brain.” The Huffington Post., 11 Sept. 2013. Web. 28 Apr. 2014.

A One Act Play: Healthy Eating: Is it for Everyone?

Character Guide

Radley Balko: A senior editor for the monthly magazine Reason and a columnist for  He focuses on investigative writing on civil liberties and criminal justice issues, and he depicts himself as a “small-l” libertarian in his blog The Agitator. He has also contributed to other publications such as the Washington Post and Playboy.

Mary Maxfield: She graduated from Fontbonne University in December 2010 with a degree in creative social change and minors in sociology, American culture studies, and women’s and gender studies.

Michael Pollan: A professor at the University of California at Berkeley. He wrote six books, including The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (2006), Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual (2010), and In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto (2008). He was also named one of Time magazine’s top 100 Most Influential People in 2010.

David Zinczenko: The editor-in-chief of Men’s Health magazine and author of numerous best-selling books, including the Eat This, Not That and The Abs Diet Series.

Radley Balko, David Zinczeno, and Michael Pollan are sitting in a restaurant eating a healthy lunch together. They are waiting for their friend Mary Maxfield to arrive. She then enters the restaurant and joins the group. She sits down at their table with a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts in her hands and offers them to her peers.

Mary Maxfield: Hey guys! Sorry I’m late. I had to go to Krispy Kreme and pick up some doughnuts. Anybody want one?

Michael Pollan: Are you kidding? Why in the world would you bring doughnuts? They’re so unhealthy for you!

David Zinczenko: Yeah, why would you bring those? You know I don’t eat any kind of fast food or processed foods.

MM: Come on guys. They aren’t so bad. We are all adults and “adult human beings are allowed to eat whatever and however much they want” (446). It couldn’t hurt to eat just one doughnut.

MP: Yes but we should only eat what is good for our bodies. “In order to eat well we need to invest more time, effort, and resources in providing for our sustenance, to dust off a word, than most of us do today” (439).

Radley Balko: Michael is right, you know. “We’re becoming less responsible for our own health, and more responsible for everyone else’s. Your heart attack drives up the cost of my premium and office visits. And if the government is paying for my anti-cholesterol medication, what incentive is there for me to put down the [doughnut]” (396-397) if I choose to eat one?

DZ: Yeah, “I learned how to manage my diet” (392) and what I eat all on my own. However, “I tend to sympathize with these partly fast-food patrons, though. Maybe that’s because I used to be one of them” (391). The problem with certain processed foods, like doughnuts, is that “there is no calorie information charts on fast-food packaging, the way there are on grocery items” (392-393). Fast-food companies need to work on informing people on what exactly they are putting into their bodies, maybe even provide healthier food options in their restaurants.

RB: You are quite right David but did you know that “Senator Joe Lieberman and Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, among others, have called for a “fat tax” on high-calorie foods[?] Congress is now considering menu-labeling legislation, which would force restaurants to send every menu item to the laboratory for nutritional testing (396). Instead of manipulating or intervening in the array of food options available to American consumers, our government ought to be working to foster a sense of responsibility in and ownership of our own health and well-being” (396).

MP: That is an interesting way to think about things Radley but you have to realize, these fast-food companies are what the Western diet is composed of. “To escape the Western diet and the ideology of nutritionism, we have only to stop eating and thinking that way (437). In other words instead of worrying about nutrients, we should simply avoid any food that has been processed to such an extent that it is more the product of industry than of nature” (438).

RB: Yeah sure, I guess you’re right. All I’m saying is that “we’ll all make better choices about diet, exercise, and personal health when someone else isn’t paying for the consequences of those choices” (398).

MM: Okay everyone let’s all calm down and end this debate. I do agree that “we are a nation stricken by heart disease, diabetes, and cancer” (444) and “our diet of processed foods makes us sick and fat” (444). But you should “trust yourself, trust your body, meet your needs” (446). Eat what is right for your own body. So let’s all enjoy the rest of our lunch eating what we feel is right for our own selves.

 DZ: Well then you eat what you want and I’ll eat what I want, but I’m definitely not going to touch those doughnuts.

Everyone at the table laughs and continues on eating their lunches together.

Works Cited

Pollan, Micheal. “Escape from the Western Diet.” “They Say/I Say”: The Moves That Matter in     Academic Writing: With Readings. 2ND ed. Ed. Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein, and Russell Durst. New York: Norton, 2012. 434-441. Print.

Maxfield, Mary. “Food as Thought: Resisting the Moralization of Eating.” “They Say/ I Say”: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing: With Readings. 2ND ed. Ed. Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein, and Russell Durst. New York: Norton, 2012. 444-447. Print.  

Balko, Radley. “What You Eat Is Your Business.” “They Say/ I Say”: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing: With Readings. 2ND ed. Ed. Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein, and Russell Durst. Ney York: Norton, 2012. 395-399. Print.  

Zinczenko, David. “Don’t Blame the Eater.” “They Say/ I Say”: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing: With Readings. 2ND ed. Ed. Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein, and Russell Durst. Ney York: Norton, 2012. 391-394. Print.

Interview of Sherman Alexie

On Friday, March 28 I attended the interview of Sherman Alexie at Lenoir-Rhyne University. I did not know what to expect of the interview. Before attending, I somewhat expected Sherman Alexie to be a professional and intellectual author due to the success of his fiction and poetry. He is actually quite the opposite. He is very entertaining and very amusing. During the interview, he made humorous remarks that made everyone in the audience laugh and feel comfortable asking him questions. He described himself as not being an expert on Indians but was rather an expert on 1990’s poetry and NBA basketball. He touched bases on the ideas of race and social ideas that make people uncomfortable to talk about. One of the things he said that I found the funniest was that Native Americans shouldn’t be called Native Americans or Indians, they should be called Here First-ians, because they lived in North America before the white people came. I thoroughly enjoyed attending this interview and would definitely attend another one if Sherman Alexie would ever return to LR.

Importance of Learning a New or Foreign Language: An Annotated Bibliography

My first paper, an annotated bibliography, focuses on the subject of learning a different language. Personally I feel that this topic is highly underrated and its importance should be stressed to more students. There are additional benefits and opportunities for those who can communicate with more than one language, such as obtaining improved levels of communication, advanced mental skills, and having additional opportunities to acquire high salary jobs.

For my first and second semester at LR, I decided to enroll in a Chinese language class to challenge myself to learn something new. I have studied the Spanish language and encountered French and Korean before but never the Chinese language. I quite enjoy my time in my Chinese class, and I strive to teach others the importance of learning a new language and culture and to broaden their horizons.

Annotated Bibliography

Hitti, Miranda. “Being Bilingual Boosts Brain Power.” WebMD. WebMD, 2004. Web. 16 Feb. 2014.

In Miranda Hitti’s article “Being Bilingual Boosts Brain Power,” she concludes that learning a second language at a young age can allow the brain to develop enhanced skills, more so than those who were monolingual. She explains terminology related to the brain, such as how the brain contains two types of visible tissue known as gray and white matter. The gray matter consists of the most nerve cells and is not only associated with language but also memory and attention span. Studies have shown that children who learned a second language before five years of age contain a higher level of gray matter, thus containing advanced communication and brain skills.

Miranda Hitti is a graduate from Duke University and earned a bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology. She works as a senior medical writer for WebMD and is also the author of Life Lessons: A Guided Journal.

Dean, Jeremy. “10 Superb Psychological Advantages of Learning Another Language.” PsyBlog RSS. N.p., 12 Sept. 2013. Web. 16 Feb. 2014.

Jeremy Dean discusses in his writing, “10 Superb Psychological Advantages of Learning Another Language,” the key benefits of being acquainted with more than one language. The obvious advantages, of course, are exhibiting improved language and memory skills; he also states that experiencing a new language can aid a person in improving his or her first one. Above all, he mentions that an additional language can serve to open one’s eyes and experience different cultures and ideas they might be unfamiliar with.

Jeremy Dean works as a psychologist and author of the online PsyBlog. He is also the author of “Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick.”

Longren, Trudie. “The Advantages of Learning Foreign Languages.” Everyday Life – Global Post. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2014.

Within her article, “The Advantages of Learning Foreign Languages,” Trudie Longren deliberates on the value of acquiring knowledge of a foreign language. She also gives evidence of how becoming bilingual at a young age boosts brain function and healthy growth. In addition, she gives examples of how comprehending a foreign language can be beneficial for job opportunities, making and obtaining friends from other countries, and acquiring higher salaries.

Trudie Longren has a bachelor’s degree in international politics and an LL.M. in human rights; she has worked as a teacher and legal writing professor. She began to write for legal publications in 2008. Besides English, she can also speak Spanish and French.

April 2023