Reflections on the Last First Week of Class of my Undergraduate Career

This week has been full of emotions… haha who am I kidding.  No it hasn’t.  The only emotion I have experienced is the emotion that many would call “senioritis.”  However, my primary vocation and job at this time is to do one thing: graduate.  I have quite an interesting class schedule this semester.

I have learned many things so far from these courses.  Some of them I am about to share with you, along with my opinions of the classes (if there’s nothing interesting).

  This quote was taken from my Life After OU class, a class which pretty much does what the course title says.  The goal is to promote awareness of issues that many students do not know about, such as taxes, healthcare, etiquette, etc.  It seems to be a great class so far.  Best of all, it’s a 3 hour pass/fail.  Yippee!

Next comes from a required reading from my Adventures of Digital Humanities course (a course that is Presidential Dream Course at The University of Oklahoma).

The Internet represents the ascension of yahoos, a victory lap for plagiarists, the end of culture, the beginning of the dark ages inhabited by glassy-eyed chronic masturbators who judge truth by the number of thumbs up, wisdom by the number of views, and knowledge by whatever is most fun to believe … Our task is to learn how to build smart rooms – that is, how to build networks that make us smarter, especially since, when done badly, networks can make us distressingly stupider.

-Prologue, Too Big To Know by David Weinberger, pp. xii-xiii

Hmmm… Weinberger uses some harsh words.  But you know, he’s right!  Many of us both hate the people that this describes, yet fall into it ourselves.  I have been known myself to be proud of the fact that something I posted on Facebook got 209 likes (true story, by the way).  Our world is so full of self-gain, it’s hard not to get caught up in it.

Economic Geography is a geography requirement for graduation.  The course, taught by Dr. Travis Gliedt, is not the most interesting class it seems I am taking, but will help me understand even more about the geography field.

My Origins of Christianity class seems to spur my interest as much as (or more than) my geography classes (go figure, I’m going to seminary after all I guess).  The class is taught by Dr. Kyle Harper, a classical culture historian and Provost of the University.  We have assigned Bible readings, including from the Maccabees (!), The Golden Ass by Apuleius, and Confessions by St. Augustine, among others.  While it is not exclusively from a Catholic perspective, I feel that this class could deepen my understanding of the roots of the Church.

My Capstone project is Representing China Through Late-Night Humor. The project focuses on popular geopolitics and humor. The importance of this project can be seen by looking at the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris this month. The popular geopolitics field is growing by leaps and bounds and will continue to grow. Expect to see more about this project on my Geography
page.

Overall, it looks to be a fun semester, but a busy one as well. Between applying to St. John Vianney, March for Life (be looking for a new blog post on that soon), presenting at the Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting in Chicago this April, and, of course, graduation, I’ll probably be pretty swamped. I only need to remember this: only 15 weeks keep me from obtaining a degree from the University of Oklahoma. Boomer!

Advertisements

The End of the Christmas (Break In Name Only) Break

Well, it is the Thursday prior to the resumption of classes for the spring semester.  Christmas Break has been fun, but there’s been one thing that has been missing: the break part.

Over the past four weeks, I have been taking an online Intersession class that makes it where I don’t have to take 17 hours in the Spring.  The class, Hot Topics of Wildlife Conservation, has been pretty easy but has been chock-full of busy work.  Each day, we had to write a 2-page reaction paper to an article or group of articles, compose two posts in the discussion board, respond to three other posts, and read all of the posts.  There have been 16 days of “class,” while we had Christmas Eve, Christmas, the Day After Christmas, and New Year’s Day off.

Saturday evening, I plan on returning to Norman.  Monday, classes resume.  The following Tuesday, I might finally get the break that I have been wanting, as I, along with a few other OU Catholic students, will be traveling to Washington, DC, for the March for Life.

Anyway, I’m going to call it a night, as I have to take a final tomorrow.

Out With The Old, In With The New … Year

2014 has been a great year full of so many exciting things.  I had a great job over the summer that really helped me discern whether or not I should apply to seminary or not.  I settled into my new major splendidly.  I have made some great new friends that will be my friends for the rest of my life.  My Mom remained cancer-free.  I TURNED 21! I was accepted as a Seminarian for the Archdiocese of OKC.  OU beat Alabama.  So many awesome things and blessings have happened this year.

2015 will bring some huge changes, but I am excited to see what God does.  In May, I will graduate from my dream school (The University of Oklahoma).  In August, I will move to Denver, CO and begin seminary studies at St. John Vianney.  These are obviously huge milestones, and I am sure that there are even more milestones that will occur.

With that said, I have decided to put my New Year’s Resolutions online, in attempt to actually succeed in my goals.  (You know, the Internet doesn’t lie…)

  • Get more healthy and lose weight
  • Continue to grow in my faith
  • Blog more (and probably port my blog to a WordPress.org account)
  • Run a 5k
  • Get more organized (class, room, car, etc.)

As I come up with more resolutions, I will update the post!

May the Lord abundantly bless us into the New Year!

God Qualifies the Chosen

“God does not call the qualified, he qualifies the chosen.”  This is something that over the past several months, I have had to remember.  I am not perfect, nor will I ever be.  I’m an ordinary person.  Some might try to make me sound or feel more qualified than I truly am, while others (including Satan) will try to tell me that I am a wretched person who has no future.  Neither of these are true.  While I can be striving for greatness, I am not there yet.  There is only so much I can do outside of an environment conducive for formation.

Last week, I was accepted as a Seminarian for the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City.  I have been assigned to attend St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, Colo.  I will begin studies there in August.  Since many might wonder what the next step of the journey is, I thought I would try to explain things to the best of my ability.

Next year, my first in seminary, I will go through a Spirituality Year.  A few things that highlight this year include a technology fast and an Ignatian 30-Day Silent retreat to conclude the year.  These will be the biggest challenges for me.  As my brother seminarians have told me, SY is the “Best year you never want to do again.”

Following Spirituality Year, I will go through two years of philosophical studies, which will give me the proper foundation for the following four years of theological studies.  If it is God’s will, I will be ordained to the priesthood after my fourth year of theology.

Your continued prayers are requested over the coming years, as I seek to do God’s will.

Photo courtesy of Zak Boazman (Archdiocese of Oklahoma City)

St. John Vianney Theological Seminary, Denver, Colorado.  Photo courtesy of Zak Boazman

Rosary from Nowhere

Over Thanksgiving Break, something really interesting happened. My Uncle Matt from Florida came to visit, which was not out of the ordinary. He was married to my aunt (my Dad’s sister) and Godmother, who passed away from lung cancer in January of 2005.

According to his story, my aunt had bought a rosary for me that she intended to give me for Christmas in 2004, just a few weeks before she passed away. It was one of the first times in several years that they had not traveled the long journey to McAlester for Christmas.  He found the rosary in a drawer. Anyway, fast forward 10 years. I am a senior at OU preparing to graduate in May and discerning the priesthood. In fact, I have completed the application process to become a seminarian and am playing the waiting game. Out of the blue, I receive a rosary from my Godmother!  Of course, I have several rosaries already. Why would I need another one?  For some reason,  it really got my attention.

Sure, this could very easily be a coincidence, but I don’t feel like it is. I am in a very important stage not only in my faith journey, but in my educational journey as well (it is Dead Week right now).  Somehow (obviously), God knew that I needed that rosary now rather than then.  But he didn’t want me to just have, he wanted me to use it, too.

Moral of the story: talk to Mama Mary. She can help you through all of life’s triumphs and tribulations.
Mary, Mother of God, Pray for Us!

image

Reflections on Capital Punishment After an Oklahoma Botched Execution

Oklahoma State Representative Mike Christian told reporters this week that “he doesn’t care whether inmates are executed by injection, electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or “being fed to the lions”.” Rep. Christian is also calling for the impeachment of the Oklahoma Supreme Court because they wanted to halt the executions. I find this deplorable. Number one, he is sworn to protect the Constitution of the United States. Yes, that includes Amendment 8 and the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. Number two, the system of government we have here in the United States results in a “checks and balances” model, where one branch (in this case, the judicial branch) can intervene to block another branch from abusing its power. Over the past week, I have heard many people comment on the (botched) execution of Clayton Lockett by saying “rot in hell,” “he deserved it,” or “he didn’t suffer enough,” among many others.

Capital punishment in this country was never instituted for the purpose of revenge, as that is immoral. Rather, it was instituted when the United States was a developing country and did not have the ability to adequately protect the population from evildoers. In his letter to the Romans, St. Paul says “Beloved, do not look for revenge but leave room for the wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says The Lord” (Romans 12:19 NABRE). We must trust in The Lord to judge and not take matters into our own hands. The Catechism of the Catholic Church has this to say about Capital Punishment:

CCC 2267 Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.
If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.
Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically non-existent.”

“[The cases] are rare, if not practically non-existent.” I looked up both condemned men’s DOC records. Neither of them had committed any other crimes while in prison. It seems to me that it is not an “absolute necessity” to execute these men.

Finally, The Lord said in the Gospel of St. Matthew that “Stop judging, that you may not be judged” (Matthew 7:1 NABRE). How are we to know that these men did not repent, and come in faith to God? Isn’t that the ultimate goal? We are all sinners! Sure, some people are capable of much more heinous offenses to the people and to God, but God forgives all sins, not just the meager ones. Also in the Gospel of St. Matthew, The Lord says “How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:4,5 NABRE). Finally, in St. John’s Gospel, we hear Jesus say But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7 NABRE).

Are we really perfect enough that we can adequately judge whether someone is guilty or innocent? Much less whether or not they should be executed? I urge everyone to stop playing God and focus on “removing the wooden beam from your own eye.” Oh, and pray for the souls of the victims as well as the condemned.