October 2019

Vikings and Christians share the screen

History channel’s “Vikings”sparks healthy religious discourse

“Vikings”, created by Michael Hirst, has often been compared to “Game of Thrones”  due to its medieval themes, elaborate costumes, and violent battle scenes. Those similarities do hold true, but that is where the comparison stops.  As opposed to the shows that focus on spectacle and huge battle scenes, “Vikings” focused on themes of religious clashes, orthodoxy, and spirituality.

“Vikings” sets itself apart because of its historically based characters and events. Many of the people in the show did actually exist in the 9th century, such as the main character: King Ragnar Lothbrok. The show also features famous historical events, such as the Siege of Paris (885-886). Knowing that the characters in the show were real people who suffered and died evokes a stronger sense of empathy among viewers. In shows that are completely fantasy or fiction, the stakes feel less high.

According to Bishop Robert Barron, creator of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, Vikings is a must watch show.

Robbie Hill

The costumes and effects found in “Vikings” are, arguably, comparable to other top tier television shows like it. With a budget far less than production companies like HBO, the History Channel does a great job at producing a visually pleasing show. The costumes and makeup are fantastic to say the least. One can get caught up examining the details of the tattoos found on the skin of most of the viking warriors.

Aside from immersive visuals and historical accuracy, “Vikings” also deals with questions of theology. Throughout the series, a single question remains constant: who follows the right god? The Vikings are a polytheistic people, believing in many gods such as Thor, Odin, Loki, and so on. Their enemies in the show, the Saxons, are a monotheistic culture that strictly follows the Christian orthodoxy. Both cultures are strongly devoted to their gods and believe they are following the “right” religion. Viewers watch this pointless argument go back-and-forth for many episodes. Eventually, the Ragnar Lothbrok comes to a realization while speaking to a Christian Priest asking about the Norse gods.

“I hope that someday our gods can become friends,” Lothbrok said.

He does not try to convert the Christian priest, or tell him that he is following the wrong god; nor does he renounce his own faith in favor of Christianity. Ragnar, instead, wants people to listen and understand one another. Dualistic thinking is what causes division among friends, family, and cultures. For those always looking to win arguments and be “right,” they should take a lesson from Ragnar and try to be more open to healthy discourse.

The show has the violence and visuals to satisfy the “action genre” audience, but the show is absolutely covered by religion. Every character in the show is affiliated to some kind of orthodoxy. Both the Vikings and the Christians have a high respect for the spiritual realm. They live and breath religion. Many shows in 2019 do not make religion a central theme because it is almost taboo. Therefore, it has sparked a healthy discussion in both religious and non-religious groups.

According to Bishop Robert Barron, creator of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, Vikings is a must watch show.

“If you’re a bit tired of the dreary secularism that dominates so much of contemporary entertainment and politics, I might invite you to watch a program that makes religion—and Christianity in particular—the central theme,” Barron said.

 In Barron’s article titled “3 Reasons Why ‘Vikings’ is the Most Religiously Interesting Show on TV,” he reviews and discusses the different religious themes found in the show. 

“We find all of the confusion, fascination, explosive violence, and truly creative dialogue that we might expect from a real confrontation between faiths.While many might think that a Catholic bishop’s opinion of a show like “Vikings” would be negative, he praised the show and its creator for boldly dealing with the topic of religious clashing,” Barron said.
One thing no one can argue against is that “Vikings” is one of the most unique TV shows currently airing. It’s fresh look on spirituality and orthodoxy is a welcomed addition to religious discourse. For those looking for a well-made, historically based television show that offers thought provoking theological questions, “Vikings” is the show to watch.

On-campus population numbers have dropped

A smaller freshman class and fewer residents make for a different atmosphere on campus

The commuter population on campus has grown bigger than the resident population this year, which is a big change from the previous years. FPU has remained largely a commuter school for many years, but the numbers of commuters and transfers spiked recently. 

“This year we saw an increase in transfer residents, typically juniors and seniors, and a decrease in freshmen residents,” assistant director of residence life, Amanda Wall said. 

To be specific, FPU has a total of 373 students living on campus this year. 

“Our numbers feel down whether they’re not drastically down; but we have a lot of transfers living in our upperclassmen housing,” underclassmen women’s residence director, Rayna Harris said. “Housing is pretty full, which is pretty cool, because typically, underclassmen is what dominates housing, but right now we actually have very full upperclassmen living areas.”

“Many departments on campus are putting their heads together and are coming up with plans to increase our on-campus population, and we hope to have some exciting ideas to reveal soon.”

-Amanda Wall

Elizabeth Tornero, a senior transfer English major, has been a commuter for her entire collegiate career. Tornero believes that FPU serves her and the other commuters well. Having been at a school where it takes hours to find parking, she was glad to have found a school where that is not an issue.

“I’ve always been a commuter. So it’s nothing new for me. What I have noticed is this campus is a lot friendlier towards commuters, we have the commuter lounge and commuter house which has really come in handy, and parking is amazing here,” Tornero said. 

Commuter life has improved quite significantly over the last few years with the introduction of the commuter house and more commuter friendly events. While commuter life has appeared to improve recently, some residential students feel the emptiness of the campus more strongly. 

For one thing, there was a much smaller influx of residents coming onto campus this year in comparison to the last few years. The freshman class this year was much smaller and the number of junior and senior transfers was much higher. For some seniors, they feel the difference on campus. 

“It’s already a small school but it feels the smallest it’s been in all my years. FPU graduated its largest class and the campus is definitely feeling that. The cafeteria feels empty when it was once the localized area for friendships,” senior water polo player majoring in history, Nathan Olson  said. 

This change has been felt all over campus with the reduced number of overall residential students, but especially with the loss of the large and influential senior class from last year and the reduced energy from a smaller freshman class. 

While this new change is one that requires a lot of adaption by both students and staff, many are still feeling hopeful. The FPU community is coming together to adapt to the big changes this year, while also working on new ideas to encourage more growth next year. Wall especially emphasized this hope and cohesiveness.

“Many departments on campus are putting their heads together and are coming up with plans to increase our on-campus population, and we hope to have some exciting ideas to reveal soon,” Wall said.

The bean we need (or do we?)

The ups and downs of drinking coffee

Coffee has always been a part of some college students’ lives. From their morning to night classes, caffeine is running through their bodies, pushing them throughout the day. Getting a classic iced coffee can sometimes be a great idea, but the coffee bean has many drawbacks as well. 

According to Hopkinsmedicine.org, there are many benefits to drinking coffee that many don’t think of. Some of those benefits include decreasing the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart failure, protecting your liver enzymes, and preventing against breakage in DNA. These benefits, and many others, are why most people drink coffee each morning and throughout the day. They are making themselves stronger in more ways than one, and while doing so, they are getting energy from the caffeine.

“Although many students believe that they need coffee, there are those who do not drink coffee at all due to the health risks.”

Michelle Legatova

Anastassiya Barakhoyeva, a freshman student-athlete, explains how coffee has become a part of her everyday life.  

 “Coffee is honestly my saving grace. I wouldn’t survive without it in high school and even now, with all that I have going on, I need it. I drink it throughout the day and night to help myself stay awake and get through my studies and my practices or games,” Barakhoyeva said.

She also mentioned that the stress of possibly failing her classes is the main reason why she doesn’t sleep, and therefore needs coffee to do her daily duties.

Although many students believe that they need coffee, there are those who do not drink coffee at all due to the health risks.

Mikayla Kennedy, a sophomore student-athlete, is one of those who do not drink coffee due to the risks that it entails. Kennedy stated that when she first tried coffee as a freshman in high school, she noticed that she would almost immediately become jittery and anxious. She recalled sitting through classes, unable to focus due to non-stop movements, which eventually affected her play on the volleyball court.

 “I remember I was unable to focus while I was at practice, I kept doing things out of the ordinary. Yes, I was energized, but it was to a point that I couldn’t control. After that, I knew coffee wasn’t for me,” Kennedy said.

Cheryl Nichols, the nurse at Fresno Pacific University, explained how even professionals don’t agree on coffee. 

 “If you look online, there is a list of 25 reasons to drink caffeine, and then at the bottom it listed other articles and it was 25 reasons not to drink caffeine and some of them contradict themselves,” Nichols said.

She went on to explain that, for college students, it makes sense to drink coffee right before a test to be more alert, but there are alternatives to drinking coffee that are much healthier, such as getting a full night of sleep, exercising, and eating well.

 Nichols stated that doing everything in moderation is key, and that is part of being in college: finding a way to balance all of life’s struggles in a healthy manner.

Although coffee is a great way to get energy to make it through college students’ busy days, there are definitely benefits and downsides to coffee. For some, it’s a necessity to function every day, while for others it has no benefit. There’s also the concept that a good night’s sleep and a healthy diet can give you the energy you need to make it through the day without coffee’s negative side effects. Needless to say, coffee can be beneficial or harmful depending on the person. 

Escapism: Creative solution to hard times

Creates opportunity for positive self reflection

Throughout our time in college, we all face situations where we find ourselves stuck, and it feels as if we’re in our own burrows underground with no way out. Perhaps you’re in debt with student loans, your grades aren’t as great as you’d hoped, or you have done something else that you wish you would have done differently. If you can relate, then it might benefit you to learn about escapism. 

Escapism is one way to stop spending all those hours thinking about the stressors of life and find a way to escape. Google defines escapism as “the tendency to seek distraction and relief from unpleasant realities, especially by seeking entertainment or engaging in fantasy.” That definition undermines the utility we can make out of the concept of escapism.

Escapism isn’t a mere distraction for us to waste our time with; it could be a creative outlet for us to explore parts of ourselves that are yet to be discovered. For each person, the outlet of escape will be different. For some it could be activities such as writing, painting, drawing, performing, or reading. 

“Escapism doesn’t dismiss reality, but rather gives us the opportunity to explore our minds with creativity.”

-jesus Gomez

Of course, there are unhealthy forms of escapism that could result in the consumption of drugs, alcohol and other unhealthy methods. However, many forms of escapism can be healthy, and might help you succeed in other areas of your life.

I’m not implying that we all escape our current lives and make it be whatever we want, but we should consider that there are appropriate times for us to simply let go of what’s stopping us from living life to our fullest potential.

College for many of us is a time where we grow and realize the many constraints and freedoms we have as adults. While some aspects of growing up can get out of hand and make life feel like either a bane, or monotonous cycle, there are other aspects that help us realize that there’s more to life than those moments. 

For instance, maybe you’ll consider stepping out of place and exploring new territory. Living through a society that constantly tells many of us who we have to be can be pressuring and very conforming. Stepping out of place might help you escape this constraint and show you an aspect of life that might help you aspire to become something greater than you’ve ever considered yourself to be. 

Another aspect could include a new sense of joy. Often times joy is neglected because we rely too much on happiness. Both happiness and joy go in hand; however, the website Psychologies suggests that joy is more internal and personal, while “happiness tends to be externally triggered.” 

Escapism may be discouraged because it interferes with our reality, but if we use it well, it can be used to find the necessary strength we need to face the truth and manage our own lives. Escapism doesn’t dismiss reality, but rather gives us the opportunity to explore our minds with creativity. 

These opportunities come from the sense of relief to be able to have some time to do something that we’d like. Relief is an essential element to this concept because ultimately, that’s what we strive for when escaping. We know how it feels to be relieved after knowing that something horrible or concerning has got resolved, such as when a loved one gets better after being in a bad situation, or when it turns out an assignment gets a deadline extension and you had not started on it. Not being worried about something enables us to have extra space in our mind to think of something else for ourselves. 

When the world begins to feel smaller, and like we’re secluding ourselves from the million eyes around us, don’t cancel out your good feelings. They’re worth fighting for, and the slightest sense of hope can be the way that leads you towards an escape. Sit or lay down, and relax yourself; think of where you’d want to be anywhere in the world at that moment. Consider what you have to do to face what you are escaping, and after figuring it out come back to the real world and take action on it. 

Vocabulary.com defines the word escapist as “someone who doesn’t live in the real world, but dreams, wishes, and fantasizes instead.” Now that you’ve learned something about escapism, maybe you’ll consider yourself an escapist. Not because you’re running away from the real world, but because you can make a fantasy your reality. 

We’re not written manuals, we’re the narrators of our life, and while telling our story, we must not let things get too complicated to the point where we’re the protagonists in peril. Find your way to escape, while also staying grounded in reality. If it’s a dream you’re chasing after, utilize escapism to end the chase and accomplish that dream.

OSF and Athletics now under the leadership of Student Life

The offices hope to create a more cohesive experience for students

Shortly after the beginning of the new academic school year, President Joseph Jones made an official announcement during the State of the University Address that the Office of Spiritual Formation and Athletics would be merging under Student Life. 

“Effective this year, the Department of Athletics and Spiritual Formation will be reporting to Dale Scully in Student Life so there will be more co-curricular collaboration between those leaders,” Jones said.

The idea of merging the offices came about when it was realized that there was a lot of overlap in the work each office was doing individually. Once this realization was made, the offices began working together to figure out how they could create a more collaborative experience.

“Rather than having three different departments, with three different missions and philosophies, we began to consider how we could pull them together so that we can do more work collaboratively,” Dale Scully, Vice President of Student Life, said. 

The goal of this merger is to create a more cohesive connection between the co-curriculars offered on campus and to further allow for better collaboration between the offices. With these changes, there is a hope to create a better environment with more opportunities for students.

The goal of this merger is to create a more cohesive connection between the co-curriculars offered on campus and to further allow for better collaboration between the offices. With these changes, there is a hope to create a better environment with more opportunities for students.

“As we grow, we need for all of our programmatic responsibilities to be uniform. And through that we want to provide the students with the best experience they can have while here at FPU,” Angulus Wilson, University Pastor and Dean of Spiritual formation said.

Although OSF and Athletics will now be reporting directly to Student Life, the offices want to view it as working together rather than a fight for power.

“I don’t want anybody to think that Student Life is in any way shape or form going to usurp control over those things. We’re all going to work together and be more streamlined and systematic about how we do things,” Scully said.

In terms of how this change will directly affect students, the offices hope it will create a more cohesive experience where students have the opportunity to participate in co-curriculars, but also not have to worry about events overlapping one another as often.

“It’s always good when the student doesn’t have to make so many choices about co-curricular things. For example, one night, if I’m on the soccer team, and I want to go support the basketball game, I shouldn’t have to choose between that and Bible study, or a concert on The Green,” Wilson said.

Scully shared the same sentiment, stating that these changes will benefit all parties involved when planning and putting on events.

“I think the biggest thing that we’re hoping for is that we learn how to collaborate better as departments on key major events and make sure all three departments are equally engaged in order to make sure that our students are getting the best experience possible,” Scully said.

Although academics are at the forefront of the college experience, each of the offices hope that by creating a more cohesive experience, students will be more active participants in co-curricular activities that might help them learn important life skills. 

“There’s growth, there’s development, there’s problem-solving, there’s learning to work as a team, all of those things that fortune 500 companies are looking for, and industries are looking for in terms of skills, and abilities. There’s tons of learning that happens in the co-curricular and that’s there to augment the academic experience and make it stronger,” Scully said.

All three departments will be working collectively on decisions, events and activities on campus and look forward to the ways this merger will benefit both the students and the workflow between offices.

Aaron Henderson, director of Athletics, was contacted for this story but was unavailable for comment.

FPU’s sense of security

How students, staff and faculty feel about FPU’s safety

Outside of FPU’s walls, it’s no secret that there are all types of dangers. With this being said, FPU has been able to remain safe until recently, when there was a run-in with a potentially dangerous individual on FPU Property. Students were told to lock and secure themselves indoors, while Fresno PDworked to stop access to all roads around campus. The entire campus was on lockdown and access to campus was suspended for roughly 30 minutes. 

There is a clear trend that has been growing in America, and that  disgruntled students taking their personal issues into their own hands and becoming judge, jury and executioner for their peers.

Regardless of the community, students and staff are questioning their safety in schools and it is important to acknowledge their feelings of unease, especially at FPU.

After this incident, there was an increased inquiry and curiosity about students’ and faculties’ safety on campus. Billie Jean Wiebe, Associate Professor, Communication & English & Program Director of Communication who has taught at FPU for 27 years, said that she does feel safe on campus and that crime is not exclusive to one singular area.

“Crime is distributed all across Fresno” Wiebe said. 

She also stated that there is no guarantee when or where a crime will occur.

“It is almost impossible to protect against an active shooter but in the next few months Campus Safety will be teaching the community how to defend against attack,” Wiebe said.

This feeling of security is not only felt by faculty on campus, but by students as well. Marya Ghafur, a sophomore at Fresno Pacific, said that she has always felt safe on campus from the start.

 “I know that there are people looking out for us, we have campus security watching, and if there is a threat, I know the people at FPU will help each other. It’s a community here and I know that each of us will keep each other safe” Ghafur said.

She also stated that although she feels safe, her feelings slightly change at night. 

“Only when I am doing homework late at night and I have to walk back to my room do I feel slightly unsafe. I know what is around me. I just think it’s important to be aware of your surroundings” Ghafur said. 

It is important to note that for students who might feel uncomfortable walking by themselves at any point during the day, campus safety officers are always on-call to escort students to their cars or homes

It is important to note that for students who might feel uncomfortable walking by themselves at any point during the day, campus safety officers are always on-call to escort students to their cars or homes.

Officer Luis has been at FPU for about 3 years and has felt safe on this campus from the start. He believes that he is fully capable of handling almost any situation thrown at him due to his 20 years of experience in law enforcement. 

 “Most situations can be deescalated by conversation, using words to stop a potential threat is one of the greatest tools” Luis said.

Officer Luis is using his knowledge as the Emergency Coordinator to train staff and potentially students to defend themselves in case of potential threats on campus. He plans to have an open class for students who wish to learn to defend themselves in November and December. 

During the President’s State of the University speech on September 18, President Jones addressed the results of the Campus Safety surveys, which show that for three years students have continued to feel safe.

“For the third year, Campus safety has done a student survey, and for the third year, students reported that they feel very safe on all of our campuses,” Jones said.

It may be relieving to know that our campus continues to remain safe, and free of any adversary against the pursuit of our education. But even then, we must take responsibility as students and continue to stay aware of where we stand and take advantage of the safety measures that are given to us.

In the case of an emergency on-campus or to receive protective services such as being escorted to your car or home, call campus safety at (559) 453-2298.