Lutheran? Catholic?

I’ve come to notice lately, especially with Easter just passing, that there is a lot of diversity in religion. Now, this is an obvious statement. Of course religion is diverse, the Jewish do this, Buddhists do this, and Christians do this. Is that what you were thinking? I am not just talking about the obvious differences. Instead, I am talking about diversity within certain religions.

There are different branches within one religion. While these religions have the same main beliefs, there are differences within the religion. The difference that really hit me was those who participate in Lent. It is a common misconception that only Catholic people participate in this activity. I have noticed that people are surprised when they find those who are non-Catholic giving an item up for Lent.

I have also noticed conversation between people of different religions about what they do on a daily or weekly basis. One example is confession. I have heard some comments about how they do not think it is necessary to confess or how they think it is weird. There are people on the other side of the argument that find it necessary to confess in order for God to forgive them.

There are a lot of different ways to practice religion. Being nondenominational, we are more of a “laid back” religion and we are not a super involved branch of Christianity. On the other hand, there are private Catholic schools that students attend to not only get an education, but to deepen their learning of their religion simultaneously.

I found it interesting that there is so much variation within one religion.

I also have heard people describing themselves and others as a “good” or “bad” Christian. My question here is who gets to decide? What makes one person more qualified to judge another person’s actions and then continue to classify them as either good or bad at a religion? In reality, there could be a “bad” Christian calling a “good” Christian bad just because they behave differently from one another. Then again, why does it matter to anyone else who is or is not a “good” Christian? Isn’t that between the person and God? Isn’t that something they need to work on?

I also find it interesting how many people that attend Wartburg, a Lutheran college, are not Lutheran. I almost attended a Catholic high school, but I admit, it was a little bit intimidating since I did not quite fit in. I have not gotten that intimidation factor here at Wartburg at all, and I think it is because there is not just one religion across the entire campus. Obviously some are more common than others, but I know that there is a wider variety than the high school I almost attended.

I think it is fascinating, as I stated previously, that we all believe in the same overarching ideas, but there are still so many difference in what we do, not only in church or for holidays, but in our everyday lives as well. It makes me wonder if some parts of other religions mimic the same one as mine.


The Problems with “Brave the Shave”

As many know, there was a fairly large charity event on campus this week for St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a pediatric cancer charity. Let me begin, I am not at all against advocacy or raising awareness for cancer charities. St. Baldrick’s deals with their money very ethically. All proceeds go into funding for pediatric cancer treatments. So, I do not mean this post as an attack against St. Baldrick’s or those who participated in the Brave the Shave event. However, I, and many others who have been diagnosed with cancer, find a serious problem with some of the methods used by cancer charities, including St. Baldrick’s. First, one of St. Baldrick’s main methods in fundraising is stating that pediatric cancer receives the lowest amount of funding from the greater cancer fund. While this is technically true, it is misleading. Yes, the pediatric fund is the smallest, but children diagnosed with cancer also receive funding from the specific diagnosis funds (e.g. Leukemia, lung cancer, etc.). This is not to say that the pediatric fund is not in need of support, but I believe it is misleading to market it the way that St. Baldrick’s does. My main issue is with the Brave the Shave event. While initially the event may seem to be in support and solidarity of and with those going through chemotherapy, it is viewed as insensitive and offensive by those in the cancer community. While I myself have not yet gone through chemotherapy (and hopefully never will), I must agree with this. Seeing people smiling and laughing while shaving their heads is deeply hurtful and seeing those who have shaved their heads everyday is just an additional, persistent reminder of what they have, are, or going to have to go through. Losing your hair while going through chemotherapy is not a choice you get to make; it is a symbol of the illness they are experiencing and symbol of their own mortality. The Sun did a story about an almost identical event hosted by the Macmillan’s foundation ( Here are some of the accounts they collected:

But people who have lost their hair to the condition have taken to Mumsnet in fury, accusing the cancer charity of being out of touch with patients.

One user wrote: ‘I can barely articulate how completely distasteful it is,’ while another added: ‘Completely agree about it being distasteful. I meet women suffering from cancer on a regular basis and none of them are happy about losing their hair from chemotherapy.’

Another shared her hair loss story and accused the charity of offending other cancer sufferers.

She wrote: ‘I hate these campaigns. I didn’t lose my hair with my previous chemo, but now I’m clinging to the last wispy bits covering my head.’

‘It is not just about ‘braving the shave’. It’s facing up to the reality that even if/when my hair starts to grow back, I’m unlikely to live long enough that it’ll ever be this length again.

‘My hair falls out everywhere. My scalp is all tingly and sore and flaky. The experience of just shaving off your hair for a laugh is just not comparable at all.

‘All the big cancer charities seem to have completely lost touch with the actual experience of cancer patients.

‘I know they need to make money, but why can’t they do it in ways that don’t upset or offend the people they want to support?

‘Though it’s partly about public demand I suppose.

‘Often the most vehement supporters have absolutely no cancer experience.”

Another sufferer made the point that shaving your head does not ‘make you brave’.

She wrote: ‘I try not to watch these adverts. It actually hurts my head – from the ghost pains of when my hair was coming out during chemo.’”

I want to make it clear that I do not believe that anyone who did shave their head as part of this event had any ill-intent nor am I claiming that this is the opinion of every person with cancer, but I do wish people would put more thought into how it might affect people. There are plenty of ways to show support and stand in solidarity with those going through something as tough as cancer, because ultimately, Brave the Shave is not support, but rather hurtful parody. 

What Doctor Are You?

For this post, I decided to take a personality quiz to see which Doctor I match with the best. I found this on the BBC America website, link here: ( With the rise of media companies BuzzFeed and PlayBuzz in the internet age, fans have no shortage of quizzes they can take to determine what characters they are most like. This particular quiz ask questions such as “What is your dream car?”, “What do you look for most in a companion?”, and what strategies I would use given a scenario where daleks take over my neighborhood. As I made my way through the quiz, I found some answers to questions that were obviously tied to a particular Doctor. At the same time, there were some where I had absolutely no clue what Doctor went with each answer. In the end, the quiz told me that I was the Eleventh Doctor. This is its description: “You’re truly one of a kind. They not only don’t make ’em like you any more, they never did in the first place! Somehow, even the most mundane of things can be transformed into a unique statement in your wayward hands. Your ability to raise eyebrows everywhere you go – while still somehow being entirely admirable – is unparalleled. OK, sometimes you make bad decisions and perhaps you’re too keen to let your reputation speak on your behalf, but you are a hard person to forget, and that is how you have come to have a reputation in the first place.” I have always thought personality tests are very much akin to the descriptions of horoscopes. The descriptions are always just vague enough that they can really apply to anyone. Spoilers, the way the stars happened to look when you were born does not contribute or shape your personality. I think this rise of personality tests and the revival of horoscopes is simply the need for people to be affirmed in some sort of identity by an outside source. Even with the Myers-Briggs test, which, admittedly is more specific and intensive than other personality tests, feeds into the ambiguity in identifying people. There are a lot of different personality types in Myers-Briggs, but it is still finite. I think the categorization of personality takes away from the nuance of individualism. When asked what my Myers-Briggs personality type is, I often respond with “Don’t put me in a box!” then eventually admit that I’m an ENTJ. So, do I think a Doctor Who personality test is harmful? No. However, I wish more people understood that though you may be categorized as a Cancer, or an ENTJ, or the Eleventh Doctor, that personality is not a concrete thing that can be categorized, no matter how questions you answer.

Diversity in the YouTube Community

Social Media platforms have enhanced our generation’s methods of communication immensely. YouTube in particular is one of my favorite platforms. YouTube allows anyone in the world to post anything they want (okay, within reason) online for the entire world to see. Anyone who isn’t a millennial may be asking themselves, “Why the heck would someone do that?” Many YouTubers have come out with statements about feeling like they never belonged, what better way to meet others than to put yourself on the internet and open yourself up to the entire world? This being said, I feel that YouTube has developed into one of the most diverse forms of social media we have seen thus far.

YouTube offers a wide range of content areas-there’s something for everyone! Here are just a few of my favorite YouTubers ranging from a wide variety of content areas!

Safiya Nygaard

Safiya began working at the popular channel, Buzzfeed but recently left to pursue her own career. She posts “Buzzfeed” style videos where she tries wacky clothing items, takes fan suggestions, and does clothing hauls from sketchy websites. Her channel has recently sky rocketed and her quirky personality is sure to keep you entertained!

Shane Dawson

Shane is one of YouTube’s OGs and the content on his channel has ranged from eating videos, to conspiracy theories, to documentary style short films. Shane allows his viewers to follow him on his journey of self acceptance and discovery (See “I’m Bisexual” and “My Body Dysmorphia Disorder”) Shane is both funny and relatable and I highly recommend checking out some of his 2018 content!

The ACE Family

The ACE family follows family vloggers Austin McBroom, Catherine Paiz, and their daughter, Elle. The couple recently announced their second pregnancy and they are some of the cutest family vloggers on the internet!

Danelle Hallan

Danelle’s channel has been growing immensely since starting YouTube! She is part of a unique community on YouTube where people cover true crime video, Missing Persons cases, and Criminal cases. She is a great start if you have any interest in criminology!

Jenna Marbles

Jenna is another OG YouTuber and is known for her changing hair color, funny personality, and cute dogs. Jenna creates very unique content and has a huge fanbase. She is overall hilarious and takes the cake for one of my favorite “comedian” YouTubers.

Alex Aiono

Alex is a member of the music community on YouTube. If you love mashups, original music, and covers in general- Alex is the man for you!


Better known as Adande, Swoozie began the illustrated storytime trend on YouTube. He tells hilarious stories about his life through cartoon images. I would definitely recommend checking him out if you are interested in a good laugh!

Casey Neistat

Casey is another very popular name on this list. With some of the most high quality content, Casey takes his viewers on his everyday adventures and is a part of the daily vlog community.

Tyler “Ninja” Blevins

Ninja has been blowing up since recently playing Drake on the popular video game, Fortnite. Dubbed as the best player in the word, Ninja is a huge contribution to YouTube’s ever powerful gamer community.

Gigi Gorgeous

Gigi is a huge name in the beauty community on YouTube and is also very well known for being on of the first transgender YouTubers. She’s a great role model for people of all demographics to look up to!

Channel Links

Safiya Nygaard-

Shane Dawson-

The ACE Family-

Danelle Hallan-

Jenna Marbles-

Alex Aiono-


Casey Neistat-


Gigi Gorgeous-

Diversity in My Life

Throughout the year I have talked about diversity in the United States, in gender, as well as in Doctor Who, and in this blog, I am going to bring the span of diversity down a little bit. I will be writing about how diversity. Honestly, I am not sure if my life has been that diverse, but I think that through school and sports I have experienced the most diversity.
I think the first time I ever experience diversity was through sports. I have been involved in sports for as long as I can remember and through all the games and events I have met a countless amount of people. All these people come much different back round than me and some of them could be poor or rich. As well as maybe being African American or women that were at the events helping run them. The thing is though that even though that everyone at these events were different and had different back rounds everyone always had one goal. The goal was to win and become best at what they do and very few ever achieved both of those but we all tried our hardest anyways.
I also had some diverse experiences with school, and from kindergarten to 7th grade I went to a private catholic school and from 8th grade all through high school I went to a public school. I think those two schools where completely different experiences because of more how they are structured as well as taught. I think it was structed differently because we did not have exactly eight periods a day and it wasn’t fifty-minute periods or however long each period was. I thought they were taught differently too because everyone had the same class period at the same time. Since the class size was small we had two grades for two class rooms and the teacher would have to teach two levels of the course in one class period. The more cultural diversity I experienced was that at the private school there were around twenty-five girls and two guys including me. Which is very unique growing up and only having one guy in your classes to talk to. On the cultural side I had never had an African American classmate till I was in high school, but I did have Latino classmates in grade school. Overall though I think me experience in diversity growing up has shaped me to be who I am today.

Diversity of RE 101

As a religion major, I take many courses that focus on questions. Living with Death asks the question: What does our life look like despite the fact that we all, in the end, will die someday? New Testament Studies of Paul asks: Who is Paul and what does his identity mean in terms of Christianity and the Bible. While all classes start off with a question, religion classes have a knack for asking questions that make people uncomfortable.

RE 101 Literature of the Old and New Testament do this in a way that I think needs to be done in our society more often. I often explain that RE 101 is one of the most important classes for Wartburg students to take here. The Bible is everywhere. Throughout ones life they will encounter at least one person that has an intense relationship with the Bible or at least the God of the Bible (who is also the God of the Quran). Because of this I think it is so important that students learn about this ancient text and what it actually says.

Since everyone has to take this class here there are students from all backgrounds in the class. There are Christians of all sort, Jewish people, atheists, agnostics, Muslims, Hindus, etc, in this class. This makes for an interesting class period. Some come into it thinking they know everything about the Bible because they grew up heavily involved with their church back home. Others come into the class afraid to say a word because they know absolutely nothing about this book and the religion that created it.

This class makes one treat their belief system like a machine. RE 101 makes one take apart their machine, part by part, and examine the parts that comprise it. It makes them ask the question: Why do I believe this and what does that mean exactly? After the class is over the goal is that hopefully one has started from where they were and broken everything down to the bottom and then started to rebuild what it is they believe. Sometimes it is exactly the same machine, part for part. Sometimes it is a completely new machine, none of the same parts, Sometimes it is a machine that looks similar but has some new parts added and some old parts subtracted.

Everyone has to deal with religion in some way during their lifetime. I think it is important to try an understand where people are coming from since religion can be such a huge part of their lives a well as the whole society. Even though it is a Bible class, it allows for so much interfaith conversation to happen as well as shines light on a religion that many claim are ruining society while others claim will save the society.

Diversity: Plants’ Interest and Interaction

The World is a diverse place comprising of different people, places, animals, plants, things, events or ideas. The diversity of the world and it occupants stimulates a variance in every individuals interest and interaction. In other words, diverse people, plants or animals may have partially or totally dissimilar interest in how or what they interact with.

As for the plants, we see diversity in them and their species in many ways. The ecologists say that the species diversity of plants vary from one biome to another depending on their exposure to certain climatic conditions such as insolation, precipitation and so on and so forth. These amounts of sunlight or rainfall that reaches a habitat or an ecosystem are some of the factors that affect the soil content and other physical conditions necessary for plants to survive.

Notwithstanding, as plants survive, there are some other unnoticeable diverse interactions with both the biotic and abiotic features within the environment. With the biotic, plants interact with animals such as humans through the mutual exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the breathing process. Plants interact with other plants within the same species or ecological niche by competing for food and other limited resources. The interaction between plants and the abiotic factors can be seen through their growth. For instance, plants respond to the stimuli of light with the incentive of adding to the green pigment called chlorophyll — the energy necessary for plants to absorb light and make their own food through a process called photosynthesis. This phototropism in plants allows them to move towards the presence or source of light, making it of great interest to the plant.

Another form of interaction between plants and the environment is the sense of gravity. On the other hand with phototropism, gravitropism in plants allow them to move or grow away from gravity until they reach a certain height. This happens in parts of the plants like the stem, trunk, leaves, branches etc. However, there is one part of a plant that is barely able to move or grow away from gravity. It’s the root. Most roots stay beneath or spread about the soil surface. This results in a diverse physical growth in another group of plants called tuber crops. These types of crops (or plants) tend to grow a little bit towards gravity.  Some of these tuber crops are: cassava (yuca), sweet potato, yam etc.

However, some of these plants referred to as tuber crops do grow in both ways. For instance, the cassava plant, which is mostly found around the tropics, can grow in both ways: towards gravity and towards light. Plants like cassava are normally well diverse and versatile in terms of purpose and use. For example, in some African countries like Sierra Leone, the tuber crop is normally peeled off, cooked and eaten to provide carbohydrates. The leaves are cooked as a green sauce, providing vitamins and other needy nutrients. The stem and other parts are used to provide medicinal herbs. The peeled skin is also used by farmers to feed their animals like pigs.

In short, the diversity existing in plants species and interaction is affected by some natural conditions and point of interest. As every individual plant/species response to diversity in different ways, so the values and purpose vary. Individuals or plants who have multiple interests or willing to interact in multiple ways normally grow in diverse manner that can benefit themselves and others species.

Cassava plants showing leaves, stems and it roots (tubers).

Photo credit: David the Good — The Survival Garden

Women in Conducting

A huge topic of discussion today is the disparity between men and women in careers and the workplace. Women on average make around 77¢ for every dollar a man makes in the same career and position. Not only that, but men are often favored when seeking executive positions. Unfortunately, music is no different. There is a huge gap between the amount of male and female conductors and how they are treated in the profession.

When looking at raw numbers, one can see the difference. The following graphs show the difference in the number of conductors of each gender in orchestras across the U.S. The more prestigious the level it seems, the more disparity there is.


It seems that, overall, the treatment of men and women careers is beginning to be more equitable, albeit a slow process. However, in the field of professional conducting, at least in recent years, there is not much improvement. The following graph shows just how little growth there has been in the number of women conducting orchestras.


Further evidence of the patriarchal structure of professional music can be shown in the words and actions of many of the men in the field. Vasily Petrenko, principal conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic orchestras, put his blatant misogyny on display in public comments, “[O]rchestras react better when they have a man in front of them,” going on to say, “a cute girl on the podium means the musicians think of other things.” The examples are not limited to Petrenko’s comments either. It is not unusual for some male concertmasters to refuse to perform under a female conductor.

In addition to this, there has been a wave of sexual assault, harassment, and abuse allegations made against some of the field’s most prominent male conductors. Most prominently is the accusations against former principal conductor of the Metropolitan Opera, James Levine. The allegations made against Levine led to his resignation from one of the most prestigious positions in music. Levine allegedly used his power as maestro to abuse and harass young musicians. Because Levine was so influential in their careers, the victims felt trapped and hesitated to come forward. As we observe the #metoo movement unfold across the nation and the world, stories like these are far too common. Levine is not the only prominent conductor to be accused of these atrocities; he is joined by Charles Dutoit and fellow Met conductor Joseph Colaneri.

As a music educator, it am disturbed by the behavior of men in the professional realm of music and by the treatment of women in the field. I constantly strive to make music an inclusive and safe environment for my students and it breaks my heart that these things are happening in the musical field. Just like every other field, I and the other men in music must use our privilege in the field to strike down the the misogynistic tendencies of our colleagues and make constant effort to strike down those same tendencies within ourselves.


Minority Depictions in Fan Art and Fiction


Scrolling through facebook, I occasionally come across posts or articles of fan art from various fandoms that reimagines characters as minorities. For instance, there’s an artist I love on Tumblr called wingedcorgi who does Harry Potter fan art, and she draws Harry and James potter as Indian and Hermione as black. When I see her art shared on Facebook or anywhere outside of her own blog, people often get upset at the interpretations of these characters. They argue that the books don’t describe them that way. The same thing happened when a black actress was cast as Hermione in Cursed Child.

People react similarly when they see two male or two female characters who are canonically straight being portrayed as in a relationship. I think that the people who complain about that kind of thing don’t really understand the point of fan art or fan fiction. It doesn’t need to be a hundred percent accurate to the original source. Artists and writers are free to make artistic liberties and write or draw those characters the way that they envision them, or the way that they want to see them.

That being said, I think there is a moral difference between making characters into minorities and whitewashing or making a character into a majority. For example, mods in video games can be another form of art, and sometimes mods will change a dark skinned character into a light skinned one or make it so that gay characters can romance women as well as men. The reason I think this is different is because the intent is different. When giving a character a minority trait, the intent is to create more diverse characters so that more people can have characters who are like them that they can look up to. Whitewashing or erasing a minority trait in a character in turn erases diversity, and implies that the artist or writer is uncomfortable with the minority that they are erasing. Of course, fans are still free to do what they want when drawing or writing an interpretation of a character, but I think that if a character is representing a minority, it’s best not to change that.

Our Past Shapes Our Present

The recent talk about gun control across the nation has sparked an idea about diversity. It made me realize there is a large range of diversity in the experience and such with guns.

Being from Colorado, we have had quite a few memorable tragedies. Columbine was the first big school shooting and the entire nation was tuned in as more updates were being broadcast. Students and teachers were stuck in the school until late at night when first responders were finally able to get to them. This changed the way first responding teams entered school buildings in situations like these. Now schools lock their doors and typically have some type of security among the grounds. Columbine changed protocols for schools across the entire country.

More recently, the Aurora theater shooting shook the states yet again. Midnight premieres are no longer offered and costumes are usually not allowed anymore.

A lesser known event occurred the following year. There was another school shooting in Colorado at Arapahoe High School. One girl died 10 days after being shot during the incident. I remember being in a lock in because of the situation.

There is a slightly different atmosphere surrounding everyday activities in Colorado, at least where I am from. We did not have class on April 20 for many years in fear of copycat attacks. When we scrimmage at Columbine’s field dedicated to Dave Sanders, my mind can’t help but wander to him and the rest of the victims. We held a fundraiser for Claire Davis, the victim in the Arapahoe shooting. I think about her and the tragedy it was every time I put the shirt from the fundraiser on. I remember watching a movie and being paranoid the entire time, simply because it was a Batman movie in a theater near Aurora.

I’m not saying that we are the only people who have experienced terror like this, but there is definitely a difference between those who have gone through something like this and those who have not. April 20 is just another day for most students around the country, but when we began holding classes on that day again, I know I attended each one in fear. Some people have not experienced something like this, just as I have not experienced what students who attend Columbine or Arapahoe have experienced, or those who go out of their way to avoid going to their regular theater since it was attacked.

Everyone has a different experience or exposure to incidents like these, or just to guns in general. Some may have grown up in a hunting family where they are very comfortable in the presence of guns, and others may have grown up in a dangerous city where they are very fearful of guns.

All of us have our reasons for liking or disliking guns, and most of these probably stem from their experience with guns. We should all consider the reason behind their opinions rather than just noticing that they are different and dismissing them. You would want them to listen to your rationale, wouldn’t you?