OPINION

ROAD RAGE

WILL M ('19)

The aphorism, “secrets, secrets are no fun unless you share them with everyone,” rings true in almost every instance. Unless they’re your secrets that are being shared with everyone. I consider myself an open book. If you ask, I’ll tell you what I think. I’ve told people exactly what I thought about them on more occasions than I care to admit. However, in my book, there are a few things that I would rather not share with people, and this secret is one of those things. My secret is that, despite my outward appearance of being a quiet, mild-mannered person, I have an extreme case of road rage.

I’m guessing that some of you would never fathom this about me: during my day, I can deal with what comes my way in a somewhat calm, cool, and collected manner. Put me behind the wheel of a car, though, and I become a completely different person. I go from the happy-go-lucky guy dealing with the stresses of everyday life to an angry beast who would like nothing more than to pull over, scream at the person driving the car in front of me, and tell them that everything they are doing is wrong and that they should get off the road. One time, when I was pulling out of the Fairview Road exit of Country Day, a long line of stopped vehicles refused to let me out. Naturally, instead of being a responsible driver, I decided to yell as loudly as I could – I yelled so loud that the drivers in the cars on Fairview Road could probably hear me. Let me set the scene of my next instance of road rage: I am sitting at a blinking yellow turn arrow (mind you it is 95 degrees outside), and I decide to take a drink out of my water bottle. This lady behind me in her big Mercedes SUV decides that she needs to lay on her horn and tell me that I needed to turn. Well, I took my sip of water, saw that the light was about to turn red, and turned as slowly as I could onto the next street, making sure that the red light had stopped the lady in her tracks. I did all this whilst I opened the sunroof of my car and gave that lady a little wave with one of my fingers. And those were just two instances out of countless others; I have yelled at both moving and parked cars, pedestrians crossing the road (legally and illegally), stop signs, traffic lights, and animals that run out in front of me.

To further add to my story, I thought my reaction to these things was normal, because screaming like a maniac is obviously normal, and it took my sister of all people to make me realize that I was acting like a crazy person. Initially, I told her that she was the crazy one because she didn’t let other drivers get to her like I did, but after she recorded me one day driving home and showed it to me, I realized that I looked ridiculous. I was yelling at people who were simply driving past me, unaware of the anger they had, for whatever reason, provoked within me. There is nothing quite like taking a long, hard look at yourself in the mirror and realizing that you are wrong, and that is exactly what happened to me. I realized that there was no point in yelling at people who couldn’t hear me, and furthermore, when I did, it made me look like the lunatic rather than the person I was yelling at. However, as we all know, old habits die hard, and, while I don’t do it as much, I am still prone to small outbursts of road rage. My advice to you all is to not get angry at other drivers with passengers in your car because you want to keep up the image of being a calm driver, rather than show them the rage-filled monster that you truly are.

The Country Day Theatre Family, and Why You Should Join

HALL M ('21)

I sat in the lobby of the Gorelick Theatre on February 3 around 11 o’clock in shock. The seniors of our company, people who I had known for only a few months, were giving their final remarks after their last CCDS show. I could not comprehend that we had so little time together as a company, and that that time was coming to an end. It felt like I had known these people for my whole life. Needless to say, I cried. I have known that theatre was something that I loved since I was in my 4th grade class's production of "The Grinch." Others reflected on their time at CCDS regarding theatre with regret. Too many people said they wished they had more time and wish they hadn’t made the mistake of joining the musical their final year at CCDS. During the 3 months we shared as a cast we truly formed a bond that is unbreakable. Before the musical I barely knew any upperclassmen, and now I talk to a bunch of them every day between classes. I've told countless people, “We were at Country Day until 11 after the final show reminiscing and enjoying each other’s company." Most people are confused by this, but I always manage to help them come to the realization that Country Day theatre isn’t about having the most beautiful voice or advanced dance ability, it is about creating a tight knit group of people that put on a really great show. I encourage anyone remotely interested in the musical to audition next year. As a freshman, I wondered whether I was going to be accepted by those I did not yet know, and I found that it is truly the most welcoming and supportive group on campus. I implore anyone who wants to audition to come out next year because you could be missing out on something you will ultimately regret not pursuing earlier.

WHY I LOVE PRESIDENT TRUMP

JUDSON S ('21)

When I was approached by The Hook to do a political piece on my support for our president, I knew I could not turn it down. So, here I am, ready to publicly spew out my reasons for my political preferences to our whole school.  Now, it is no lie that Donald John Trump is an extremely controversial figure in the mainstream “fake” media, but maybe my opinion can help some of you with contrary opinions see it from a Trump Supporter’s point of view.

First let me introduce myself.  My name is Judson Stewart and I am a ninth grader here at Country Day.  I moved to Charlotte in June of 2017 from Birmingham, Alabama.  One main difference I have noticed in this city is that as a Trump supporter, a lot of the time I feel like I cannot talk without being ostracized for my political views or being told that I am racist, sexist, etc.  I feel that this article here is the perfect platform to get out everything I need to about my love and support for the businessman, TV show host, and as of about 3 years ago, political figure.

Let me take y’all back almost three years ago to Louis Pizitz Middle School in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, a suburb of Birmingham. Although my county went blue last election, my school was heavily conservative.  I was in seventh grade and it was primary time.  All of my friends and I were very invested in the republican primary and we looked at the democratic primary as an easy win for former First Lady Hillary Clinton over some socialist from Vermont (Sorry for offending any of those who are still "Feeling the Bern").  Anyways, there were many big names in the republican primaries at the time.  We had neurosurgeon Ben Carson (who had my support originally), Florida Senator Marco Rubio, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, the big man Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, and the list goes on and on.  Of all these big names, no one stood out and spoke out more than the billionaire businessman who just seemed to take up politics as a hobby, Mr. Donald J. Trump.

Now my initial thoughts on Trump were “That's so funny that Donald Trump is running for president” and “He won’t win he’s just a bored celebrity.”  However, as time went on, I got deeply invested in this primary and always made sure I knew when all the debates were and stayed up late to watch all of them.  When I knew my main man Ben Carson was not going to make it out alive in this race, I had to look at other options and no one stuck out more than, you guessed it, Donald Trump.  I had watched most of the debates and listened and something about Trump just had me hooked on supporting him.  Maybe it was his subtle roasts of other candidates, or perhaps his contemporary ideas on how to deal with national issues, but whatever it was, I loved it.

Time passed by, intense political debates went on at school, and before everyone knew it, Trump was winning big in the republican primary, something that would have come to a huge shock to people eight months earlier.  At this point I was on the Trump train big time.  I remember my number one thing for my 13th birthday I wanted was a heather grey Trump shirt from my grandparents and when April 28th rolled around and I was handed t-shirt all wrapped up in tissue paper, I was absolutely ecstatic.  I’ll tell you, I wore that shirt all the time.  I feel like half of the pictures of I was in from April 2016 to election day in November 2016 featured my Trump shirt.

That brings me to election day, November 8th, 2016.  I was having collarbone surgery that morning, so I walked into St. Vincent’s Hospital in downtown Birmingham sporting my Trump shirt and my Trump Pence sticker on my sling.  Fast forward about 12 painful hours later to 8 pm.  I had had surgery that morning, my shoulder was in great pain, I couldn’t eat because of my medicine, yet there I was in the old leather recliner in my living room, propped up watching the election broadcast on “fake news” central, CNN.  Now I don’t know if y’all remember, but Donald Trump was not supposed to win this election.  I distinctly remember MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow stating something along the lines of, “The question isn’t if Hillary is going to win anymore, but it is how much is Hillary is going to win by.” 

Coming in as the underdog, Trump got votes early, but I knew in this election, with big blue California still left to go, early votes for Trump did not mean anything yet.  As the night went on, though, Trump was still winning.  California had given it’s 55 votes to Hillary, Trump was still winning.  It was 2 o’clock in the morning central time, and it looked like Trump was going to pull off one of the greatest political upsets in history.  I was still sitting in the recliner, barely awake, all doped up on pain meds from my surgery, but I was not missing this victory. The moment Wolf Blitzer came on and announced that Trump was projected to win Pennsylvania and the Presidency of the United States, more joy felt my pain-filled body than when the Alabama Crimson Tide had won its 16th national championship in football earlier that year (If you don’t know me, that is saying a lot).

Anyways, enough with the backstory.  Let’s finally get to the point: why do I love Donald Trump so much? To be honest, it's pretty straight forward, I am a deeply rooted conservative and I love (most of) the things Trump stands for.  Now this is not a super sharp answer to the question so now I am going to break it down for y’all, issue by issue, and my thoughts on his actions so far as President of the United States.

First off, let’s cover one of the most standout issues on this past years election, illegal immigration.  Everyone knows Trump’s helping solution to this issue: Build a wall.  Now it’s pretty clear that building a wall across the entire southern US Border would be quite pricey.  According to Brookings.com, it could be anywhere up to 21 billion dollars.  21 billion is a YUGE number but it’s nothing compared to the 116 billion dollars that illegal immigrants cost tax paying citizens each year (source: www.fairus.org).  I’m not saying that building a wall is going to save us 95 billion dollars every year, but it would definitely help.  The wall would also aid stopping illegal drugs crossing the border from Mexico to the US.  Opioids kill 115 Americans a day on average (source: www.cdc.gov).  Even though a lot of opioid addictions start from Oxycodone or other painkillers proscribed by doctors, once someone is hooked, they turn to more dangerous, but cheaper, illegal opioids shipped in from the drug cartels across the border. I know the wall isn’t going to fix the opioid crisis in America, but it can at least greatly slow down or halt the entry of these illegal drugs into the US.

Next issue: Veterans.  There is no doubt in this country that the ones who have defended our country and our freedom are poorly treated in this country.  In January 2016, there were 39,471 homeless veterans across our nation (source: www.endhomelessness.org).  Trump has expressed great displeasure with the current Veteran Affairs program in the United states, claiming it needs to be updated with modern technology so we can give our veterans the best care possible, after all, if it weren’t for them we wouldn’t be as blessed as we are to live in a free nation.  Trump has also said he wants increase in support for female veterans as well as well as increasing funding in PTSD and suicide prevention aid services.

Of the issues I cover in this article, I feel that it is only appropriate to mention Trump’s specialty: business and economy.  Now I am in no way about to discredit former President Obama for pulling the US out of the recession, but I will give Trump credit for taking what was given to him by Obama and building off of it even more.  2.1 million jobs were added in 2017 which economists say is a very healthy number at this point in our recovery.  (source: www.washingtonpost.com)  The economy expanded 2.3% in 2017 compared to 1.5% expansion in 2016  (source: www.washingtonpost.org).  Among this, people are becoming more confident in our economy.  In a recent Quinnipiac poll, 66% of people said they feel the economy is doing “good” or “excellent”.  On top of all of this, the NFIB Small Business Optimism Index has not had levels of optimism exceeded this point since Ronald Reagan was president in the 1980s.

The last thing I want to talk about is the conflicts with Kim Jong-Un and North Korea.  As of right now, Trump is winning big time in Korea. North Korea has been a threat to the world since  the end of WWII, and I think we should all be thankful that Trump took action on this issue.  One of the biggest stories lately is North Korea denuclearizing themselves.  This comes after about 3 months ago, when  people thought Trump was going to pull us into World War III with North Korea.  Kim Jong-Un has started pulling cables from tunnels at nuclear test sites and has been releasing U.S. detainees at the demands of our president.  North and South Korea’s relationship has started healing.  On top of our Secretary of State meeting with Kim Jong -Un, South Korean president Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-Un had a one on one meeting with each other at the border, talking about furthermore healing the two nations wounded relationship.  Now if I haven’t convinced you that Trump helped big time with this issue yet, take it from the words of Moon Jae-in himself, “President Trump should win the Nobel Peace Prize.”

I would keep on going about the reasons why I love Trump, but this is an article and not a book. I understand that in writing this article, there will be backlash and people will be upset with me. But in my eyes it’s worth it.  I feel that a common theme that poisons today’s society is that people would rather see our president fail than our country succeed.  Personally, I think that this is quite sad, and I believe that even if any American does not love our president, they should still respect his position and only hope for the best in him and for our country.  Maybe some of you have a little more of a positive outlook on our president, or maybe this article hasn’t made you change your opinion at all.  Either way, I still feel that it was worth it to get out what I needed to say about President Trump so thank you for your time.  

MAGA

Survivor: The Ultimate Challenge

LUCY E ('19)

I'm not a reality show kind of gal -- never have been and (hopefully) never will be. I try to avoid conflict in my personal life, which I guess translates directly to my TV show selections. The screaming and crying and boyfriend-stealing just isn't appealing: reality TV has just never been really enticing. Though, I do have one exception: Survivor on CBS. Technically, this show falls under the reality TV show category which would mean an exception to my "no reality tv" rule, but trust me it's worth it.

 

"39 Days, 16 Castaways, ONE… Survivor!" That’s how each episode starts. My main man Jeff Probst, who has been the host of survivor for 18 years, yet somehow hasn’t aged a day, yells this over the montage of dirty, exhausted people running through mazes with their names flashing across the screen (the name montage is only really necessary for the first 2 episodes while everyone is still on the Island). Let’s start at the beginning. The goal of survivor is to be the last man standing after 39 days and win 1 million dollars. That’s a ton of money… so you see the allure. At the beginning of the season, all 16 people are divided into 2 tribes; on these tribes they compete in different immunity and reward challenges, form alliances and pretty much do everything with. They also sometimes do fun things to divide up the tribes like: brains vs beauty, millennials vs Gen-X, heroes vs villains (people from previous seasons have the chance to play again), or blood vs water (everyone came with a family member and started on the opposite tribe as them). The immunity challenges are grueling, typically involving some superhuman display of athleticism immediately followed by probably the worlds hardest puzzle. After each immunity challenge, one tribe is victorious, and the losing tribe has to go to tribal council that night where they will all have to vote out one tribe member. This happens each episode until the merge (where there aren’t many people left so the two tribes are dissolved and become one), where then players compete for individual immunity and all tribe members go to tribal council each night and vote out another player until there are three left. All players voted out after the merge then vote between the three remaining players on who will win the million dollars and the title of “Soul Survivor.”

 

If you’ve ever fallen victim to one of my Survivor speeches (sorry), you understand just how obsessed with this show I am. I’m pretty confident I couldn’t come up with anything more challenging that people have willingly done. When they use the term “castaway,” it is incredibly literal. Food is SCARCE on the island (we’re talking 2 bowls of rice a day and whatever fish you can catch with your hands), your only clothes are whatever you showed up in on day 1, you sleep on bamboo with a big leaf as your blanket, and showers just don’t exist. Not to mention that I'm curious as to what happens if you wear contacts, but that’s an issue for another day. The challenges are also no joke. I’m talking from hanging onto a skinny, little pole 15 feet up in the air for an hour to blindfolded life-size mazes where you gather keys then solve some ridiculous slide puzzle. Together, this show is the ultimate test and the most challenging game. You have to always be working your social game to avoid getting voted out by tribemates, but you also can’t be too good at the game because then you become a threat and you’ll get voted out pretty quickly.

 

Playing Survivor is at the very top of my long-term to do list. I legitimately cannot think of anything I want to do more than this. I’ve run through my strengths and weaknesses thousands of times, and I honestly think I could make  a good run. My personal aspirations aside, this show is probably one of the best to ever grace our television screens. Anyone who can last through the challenges that come with this show for 39 days has earned my utmost respect, and is probably one of the coolest people ever. Wednesday nights. 8pm. CBS. Be there. You will not be disappointed. 

DOGS

REID S ('19)

If you know me or know of me, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of my dogs and how wonderful I think they are, and if you haven’t you’re a part of my inspiration for writing this piece. I’ve always loved dogs, and I’ve lived with them all my life. When I was much younger we had a Rhodesian Ridgeback named Vegas, and a Yorkie named Abby. There was a gap however when we lived with no dogs, and that ended Ten years ago we got our Golden Retriever Gracie, and with Gracie started almost a family addiction to dogs and the joy they bring to our lives. 

Gracie is a Ten-year-old Golden Retriever with a white coat. Gracie enjoys many things: such as walks, meeting new people, sleeping on furniture and babysitting our two younger dogs as they’ve grown up. Gracie’s favorite foods consist of; sandwiches, bananas, carrots, and yogurt. Gracie loves to spend time near people and with everyone whenever she can. Gracie has been my best friend for the past 10 years, never failing to make me smile or brighten my day when I’m feeling down. Gracie is quite the social butterfly; she's always excited and anxious to meet new people and animals whenever she can. And whether I leave the house for school for hours or 20 minutes to go to the store, Gracie is always waiting patiently and excitedly at home for me to return. 

Oliver is our four-year-old Coton de Tulear, he is 18lbs. and has a white curly coat. Oliver enjoys sleeping in, barking at other dogs, sleeping on top of people, eating Gracie’s food, begging for our food. Oliver is a huge momma’s boy as he can constantly be found following our mom around. Oliver and Bear, our youngest dog, enjoy playing and roughhousing with one another, including but not limited to; chasing each other around, testing each other’s strength in an impromptu match of tug-o-war or seeing who can pin who first. 

And then there’s Bear. (Bear despite his name) is our 9 month old, 12lb, brown coated Coton de Tulear and the smallest of our three dogs. However, he often fails to realize that he is in fact the smallest of the three and enjoys challenging Oliver head on and launching himself at Gracie’s face hoping to get her to take another break from her relaxation and entertain him. Bear enjoys waking up as early as possible, tearing through water bottles like a razorblade, chewing on empty yogurt cups, trying to steal a morsel of Gracie and Oliver’s food, and, just like Oliver, Bear is a massive momma’s boy.

Gracie, Oliver and Bear are an inseparable trio who bring inestimable amounts of life and joy to me and my family's life. Whether the three of them are running laps around the yard of the house, dragging one of us along down the street, or simply sleeping on top of one another in a large pile, playing keep away with a literal piece of plastic, they never fail to produce an exciting moment. 

If you find this Entourage of Dogs cute and/or interesting…

check out their Instagram @gracie_oliver_and_bear !

GINGER OPPRESSION

MC J ('20) AND KYLE E ('20)

Have you ever wondered what your most noticeable feature is? If so, you’ve most likely spent time thinking about it. Maybe it’s your eyes or your nose. It could be your smile or your teeth, maybe even your laugh. However, if you’re like me, you know instantly. There is no doubt that the first thing people see when they look at me is the fiery orange locks that sprout from my scalp. There is no avoiding it. As soon as I meet a new person their immediate response to my “Hello” is “Wow! You have the most beautiful hair." I am constantly set apart from the “regular” people and reminded that I am different on the daily, but there are a lot of things that “normal” people don’t fully understand. Have you ever been pet before? By a total stranger? They just walked up to you in the mall and started stroking your head? Probably not. How much sunscreen do you put on when you go outside? Have you ever gotten a sunburn from standing in the sun for 15 minutes? When you go to the hair dresser, does every person in the place tell you to never ever color your hair? When you’re arguing with a friend do they attempt to roast you by saying “Well you’re a ginger?" These things are all part of the daily life of a ging. Every ginger has experienced all of these things way too many times to count.

The one thing that bothers me the most is the petting. What makes a person think that it is okay to reach out and pet a human being because they have a rare color of hair? And to coo over how beautiful it is while they do it? I understand that they are trying to give me a compliment but a simple, “pretty hair!” is sufficient. There is absolutely no need to grab chunks of my hair and stare in awe while you run your fingers through it. I guarantee this has never happened to any “normal” hair colored person. The sunscreen also gets to me. I spent the entirety of my spring break trip to Turks and Caicos under an umbrella on the beach and the one day that I exposed myself to the sun, I returned to my condo absolutely fried. Kyle Evans says the worst part about being a ginger is the restriction on the colors you can wear. I agree with this statement. White is usually a no-go because gingers are so pale, most pinks, reds, and oranges are a hard pass, and every time I wear green I feel like a walking Christmas decoration! Kyle Evans also says that people think it’s some huge insult to point out the fact that he’s a ginger. I have also experienced the hatred towards gingers but I know deep down y’all are just jealous of our naturally beautiful hair. We will never go gray, we will never spend hundreds of dollars coloring our hair, and we will constantly be complimented ‘till the day we die. As James Franco once said, “They hate us ‘cause they ain’t us”.

  • Mary Catherine Jeffries and Kyle Evans 

RELIGION

ELLIE D ('21) AND ADELE M ('21)

Hey everyone! If you happened to catch the last edition of The Hook, you would remember that Mimi Lamarre conducted an interview between Gus Benson and Romberg York about religion. Adele and I wanted to do something similar, except this time involving freshmen and more religious variation. Special thanks to our participants and their willingness to open up about their faith! Enjoy :)

 

Were you raised religious, non-religious, or somewhere in between? How did this shape your current religious belief?

 

Arjun: “I was raised very religious. My mom is more religious than my dad,  and I guess it kind of impacted my reasoning as to why things happen. I definitely look towards God for meaning in life."

 

Judson: “I was raised very religious; my mom, dad, and step dad are all religious. We go to church every Sunday, so it’s just become a part of my everyday life.”

 

Cal: “I was raised as a Christian. I went to church every Sunday and Sunday school. But, it wasn’t as much me wanting to go: my parents always went, so I just went with them. It shaped my beliefs because it's given me ideas and things to think about while wondering about some sort of higher being.”

 

Lilah Peck: “I believe that I was raised very modern; my parents didn’t have any specific view, they didn’t fall into any specific category of Judaism. As I grew older, my parents got divorced and my mom adopted what she calls "conservative Judaism." My dad became orthodox, meaning that he observes almost all of the Jewish practices. This is interesting for me because I get to see an orthodox Jew's daily life: it impacts what he wears, what he eats, even where he goes. On the other hand, I then see my mom, whose faith doesn't impact her nearly as much. So, for me I don’t have any particular identification on where I fall on the spectrum of Judaism."

 

Do you believe that religion is fact, belief or neither?

Arjun: “I believe that religion is belief. If you think about it from a historical standpoint, people from different places of the world believe different things, and there is no way that all of those religions can be solely facts.”

 

Judson: “I mean… yeah, its belief. The way I follow my faith, though, I feel like it is facts that I believe in.”

 

Cal: “I think that religion is based on belief, but a lot of facts are derived from faith because some people consider the Bible, the Quran, or the Torah as facts. But, it is all based on belief.”

 

Lilah: “So, I believe that it depends on the person. Obviously, that's not a black and white answer but for my dad, religion is fact. And for my mom who’s obviously conservative and less religious, is belief. So, for me I think it's somewhere in between and at one point your belief becomes your fact regardless of if that fact has evidence or whatever, if you believe in it strongly enough and you have faith in that system strongly enough then it will be your truth and your fact. I think religion is about finding your own truth.”

 

What thoughts and questions do you have about each other’s belief system?

 

Cal: “Well I know quite a lot about Christianity with Juddy, but I’m not really sure about Sikhism. Arjun, could you give me a little info?”

 

Judson: “Yeah we're yet to cover that in world history…”

 

Arjun: “The idea is that it is monotheistic, so it is belief in one god. It was developed kind of off of Hinduism because our prophets sought to find a deeper understanding because a lot of Hindu beliefs, at least during the time, did not offer a deeper explanation. The prophets also developed Sikhism in order to counter the growing popularity of Islam. We keep our hair for purity: that’s why I haven’t shaved and I haven’t cut my hair yet. We are supposed to pray every day and we basically have the equivalent of the Bible or Qur’an called the Guru Granth Sahib which is 2,000 pages and we are supposed to finish it by the end of the year. So, you start it at the beginning and finish it by the end of the year.”

 

Arjun: “Cal, how did you develop into your agnostic ways?”

 

Cal: In church, I always heard the stories and they all just seemed a little made up to me. And in my life, I’ve seen instances where it seems like there has been some sort of religious higher presence in our world, but Christianity, for me, doesn’t perfectly explain what is goin' on up there. There definitely is some sort of higher power messing around up there, I'm just not sure exactly what it is.”

 

After being in WHI, did your extent of faith change after developing a further understanding of religious history?

 

Cal: “I’ll start this one off. If anything, World History just added to my agnostic-ism. I just realized that there is so many different faiths and beliefs all throughout the world, and like Arjun said earlier, it’s not possible for all of them to be true. But I do believe that for all of these people to somehow believe in some sort of religious existence in our earth is proof that there is some sort of higher power."

 

Lilah: “I definitely do understand other faiths better; however, I can’t say that I understand them fully and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to say that! This year didn’t change me as a Jew because my Jewish education is very deep, maybe even unusually deep for my age one would say, I think many of the Jewish people in our grade (and no offense to them) don’t read all these things and go to all of these lectures because they are not as passionate as I am. I have always been rather educated and committed, and I think that this unit was less of me learning about my own religion and more of me getting to enjoy watching my peers learn about it.”

 

Judson: “I learned more about other religions, but my faith and my own religion is unfazed. Like, it’s here to stay so world history’s not gonna change my mind in that sort of way. But like, it’s good to know how other people believe.”

 

Arjun: “My knowledge of other religions and how they intercommunicate and interact has definitely grown. But to the extent of my own religious belief, it has probably not been altered. I understand now how, at least, other religions are interconnected, as you can see with Islam and Christianity and Judaism, but I don’t think that’s changed my view of my own faith.”

 

Have you ever attended a service of another faith, if so, what did you think? If not, would you be open to doing this?

 

Arjun: “My mom is very religious, so if she by chance was somewhere and they don’t have a temple, she’ll go to a church or a synagogue. She believes that a House of God is a House of God, that God is in the place. If the chance to go to church was given to me, I wouldn’t mind and I probably would take pleasure in doing so. {Does she go to a church service or just to go pray in a church?} I feel like she’s walked in on a church service before, but she hasn’t intentionally planned to go to one. But mostly she’ll just go to pray in a church if there’s not a temple.”

 

Cal: “I’ve been to some bar and bat mitzvahs, and those were interesting to see because like Christianity they have the Old Testament, but they also have all that Hebrew chanting. It was something I’ve never seen before. It was just eye-opening. Also, once I went to my friend’s Catholic church service and even that was different because before you walked into the pews you had to kneel and do a cross over your body with water. And that was kind of new to me.”

 

Judson: “Let’s see, I’ve been to a bar mitzvah after party, but I’ve never been to a bar mitzvah service. I’m- what am I- I’m Methodist, so I’m Protestant, and I’ve been to Catholic services before and they seem pretty strict so I’m content where I am. But I’d be open to go to another religious service just to see how people do their thing.”

 

Lilah: “So, I have never attended a service of another faith partially because in more religious Judaism it is not necessarily frowned upon to enter someone else’s house of worship, but in more orthodox circles doing so is not looked upon lightly. Which makes sense, but I don’t know how I feel about this particular rule. Why could you not go to someone else's house of worship just to observe? I would be open to it, but I don’t know how comfortable I would be with it simply because of this rule. I'm actually currently in a show being performed in a church. Me and my dad had a conversation about whether he can go to the show due to his own faith. I won’t be offended if he can’t go, but it’s interesting because it might stop him from being able to go."

 

How does your religion impact you on a personal level? Describe the extent of your faith or lack thereof in everyday situations. Ex: taking time out of the day to pray, going to services, reading faith-based material, etc.

 

Cal: “As an agnostic person, when I’m scared or want something I don’t really know who to pray to. So sometimes half-joking in my head I’ll just throw up a prayer to someone random. Sometimes, when I go hunting I send up a prayer to Artemis, saying "Please let me get a deer." And if I’m scared, I'm like, "Yo, if there is anyone out there, like, can you help me out?” It's partially as a joke, but it's also a pretty personal thing. That being said, when I’m hunting or outdoors, I see nature and I think that there’s just no way that all this beauty could have just happened somehow. I think that someone, something up there has made this for us to enjoy.”

 

Arjun: “Religion dictates a pretty large portion of my life. I pray every morning, I go to temple on Sundays if I can. When I was two or three years old, my mom made me make my own decision about my religion by asking, “Do you want to keep your hair?”  I decided that I really did want to. Every morning I go to our little prayer room and I do a quick prayer. And even in my signature I have Punjabi script that means "God is one," it's become a sort of habit. Our main holidays are our Prophets’ birthdays and Diwali is a major day for us. Sikhism was a small thing until it became noticed by all of India, when our Prophet was able to get the king to sit with him with all the poor people and have dinner instead of sitting in some royal place. And, to me, that was a big influential movement.”

 

Lilah: “My religion impacts me on personal level immensely. I use it as a way to guide my values and personal decisions,  like how I treat people and how I define what is right and wrong. For me it’s a way of writing a moral code. On a more specific scale, I don’t go to synagogue frequently only really when my dad wants me to.I feel like I can connect to God anywhere and frequently that means nature not a building. A big part of Judaism for me is finding God in everyday life. It helps me to realize that everything is going to be okay when it feels like it won’t and to be grateful for when things are going well. My favorite “religious” phrase is “This too shall pass." I think about that a lot when I’m down to know I can push through but also when I’m happy to remind myself to appreciate what’s in front of me.”

 

As Lilah, Arjun, Cal, and Judson opened Adele and I up to their own faiths, we hope you all also got to experience their faith (or lack thereof) in both a cultural and religious sense. Leading this interview helped us to see the religious depth of our school's melting pot, and the environment we have created as students and faculty to allow people to express themselves freely. Though we conduct ourselves as a secular institution and allow students to worship whomever or whatever they please, there is always room for improvement. Adele and I hope you all enjoyed this interview as much as we did conducting it!

-Ellie and Adele 

GUILT OR RELIGION?

RACHEL G ('19)

Everyone talks about their happy place. A lot of the time, this place is camp for tweens and teens. Camp has made a huge impact on my life and is where I was really introduced to God. Wait… there’s that big “God” word (this is when things start to get more complicated). Let me not get too far ahead of myself.

Being raised in a Catholic home did not affect my daily life much other than that mandatory church on Sunday mornings (which I got out of on rare occasions if I was lucky), followed my faith-formation at 3:00 on Sunday afternoons. I went to church, sat there, came home, and thought nothing of it year after year. Then, once about 4th grade hit and I started to have homework, sports, and extracurriculars, church slowly slipped away and camp fell into place. I started going to camp and I fell in love with it. Nothing made me happier than running around with my fellow 9-year-olds and doing whatever we wanted without parents for 2 weeks. Shortly thereafter, the cool counselors I loved so much started telling me about God, and I finally decided to listen.

Hearing the expectations that come with religion is when the guilt kicked in, and that is what I have the biggest problem with. 

As freely as I talk about “touchy” topics in my English class with Waples, often concerning race or sexual identity, I have realized religion is not as commonly brought up. This being said, I don't think this is something that is exclusive to my class. I think there is a huge issue with the connotations we have with religion in society today. The stigmas are everywhere (even in our own minds) whether we realize it or not. Simply the nurture of how you were raised plays a huge role in your perception of religion. Disregarding how well you know me, this is probably something you wouldn’t have guessed I would talk about (considering I never tell people about my religion because I often get self-conscious). Maybe it would make more sense coming from the leaders of Interfaith, but I have realized over my 17 years here on earth that this issue has played a huge part in my life and I’m tired of not talking about it.

Today I consider myself a Christian. I no longer consider myself Catholic and I no longer attend a church regularly. As simple as that may seem, admitting that to anyone who reads this article is still really hard for me. I frequently find myself embarrassed that I only go to church on Easter and Christmas Eve and that I don’t feel bad that I don’t go to church. It's all very complex and quite confusing to understand why I feel this way. I personally think that religion is something you can’t write down and create a concrete set of rules for every single person. That, right off the bat, goes against most religions and their ancient texts, but I really think religion is about a personal connection one has, and that can't be simplified into one set of “guidelines” for everybody. You also don’t have to be religious to be spiritual. I think there is a lot of value of finding what you believe in, whether you love the earth or the stars and using that as a vehicle for your spirituality. I definitely find myself on the more religious side, still referencing the Bible when I want to, attending Young Life regularly, doing devotionals, and being the YMCA Camp Counselor that I am, but I definitely wouldn’t consider my way of being connected to God “traditional”.

I am very aware that a many people think everything that I just pointed out is BS, which I am okay with. The fact that something thinks the way I think is BS is all the more proof that religion cannot be defined one way for everyone. I am also aware (or maybe just hopeful) that a few of you guys understand where I come from and maybe even had a similar experience with religion as I did. But, whether you are right there with me or don’t even believe in religion at all, I encourage you to reassess your spirituality and realize that your relationship doesn’t have to be like anyone else’s. I applaud people for the dedication to God or their confidence in their atheism. Whatever it is, be proud of what you think and don’t let other guilt you into feeling a certain way. 

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