Napolean Dynamite Night

Where can you find a live llama, a 20 lb. bunny rabbit, some students yacking up milk and trying to step around the congealed puddles that form around them, and a cafeteria, that, for a change, is adequately providing its hungry masses with healthy food such as tater tots and quesadillas? The answer is, the same place where you can draw a Lyger, or create a bracelet, or do some karaoke to Disney songs.

In an attempt to create a tribute event for the film, Napoleon Dynamite, the SGA, on February 25th, threw a celebration that would make even the greatest skeptics mutter in a low monotone accent and say, “Garwsh!” As the events took place, I talked to the SGA vice president, Emily Ambrose, and asked her who had the imaginative brilliance to come up with this activity. She very humbly informed me that it was a group effort of all the members of the SGA.

From the student center lounge to the dining hall, the night was filled with reminders of the highly intense comedy. In the lobby, there was karaoke singing. Though all of the song selections were Disney tunes, the students didn’t seem to mind. From there, the curious student could spend their time imitating Deb and making their own colorful bracelets, or drawing a Lyger, the mythological creature of Napoleon’s design, or watching the grisly excitement of the milk drinking contest, situated outside.

If that wasn’t enough excitement, students shared the privilege of petting an obese bunny rabbit, or the disgruntled llama, or some chickens, or a goat, in the petting zoo. Ambrose informed me that the animals were courtesy of a Toccoa Falls alumnus who has connections at a facility called Wildlife Wonders. We would have had them to thank if the llama decided to run amuck through the dorms and attack students, but unfortunately it behaved. However, although the llama was peaceful the students were not.

There were the violent sounds of regurgitation outside of the steps headed towards the library. Four brave students decided to enter themselves in the milk drinking contest, Nick Egbert, Quinn Angel, Andrew Ether, and Matthew Sanders. The goal was to simply see how much milk one can drink, and though there may have been one definite winner, all of the students that witnessed the bright white milk splashing out into the concrete came out enlightened in some way.

From there however, the contest winners in the events were debatable. Some attending thought The Deb look-alike contest was clearly won by Amanda Anderson based on the greater applause, and better costume, but Crystal Hankin was declared the winner by the SGA member in charge.

However, this was barely noticed as students gathered into the dining hall with their trays filled to the brim with tater tots and quesadillas. There was a large projector and the movie played smoothly, with only one glitch, and students loved the movie as if it just came out. So despite it all, the Napoleon Dynamite event was a supreme success. Evidence of the fun will be drying in the sun Monday morning near the steps to the dining hall.

Showing Genuine Faith to Unbelieving Friends

“Someone asked, ‘Will the heathen who have never heard the Gospel be saved?’ It is more a question with me whether we — who have the Gospel and fail to give it to those who have not — can be saved.”
-Charles Spurgeon

I remember long ago in my life to the days of high school, thinking to myself, if I am a Christian, shouldn’t I be drawing people into the gospel. I thought, I have friends who don’t know God, but it seems as if none of them are becoming Christians. I thought then, perhaps I must learn how to save. I wanted to be a competent Christian. I must learn how to evangelize. I wondered to myself, what is it that is missing that causes me not to be able to get my friends to want Christ? I could give them the pamphlet and lead them through the Romans Road, but that seemed to work the best in overseas short term mission trips. What then was the answer?

Toccoa Falls College is home to a vast array of students. Some come from rich homes, some from slightly poorer. They are students versed in the Holy Scriptures, months into their spiritual walk. These students who are in all different walks and pursuing different life goals, how do they answer these questions? To find this out, I asked a couple of students various questions. Some of these included: “how do they perceive you and your Christianity,” “what do they think of God,” and various others.

Gabe Martin is an everyday student at Toccoa Falls College.  In his life story, he talks about having three or four close friends who do not know Christ. This is not a number of people who are unsaved that he knows, but strictly a number of close friends who he says he can interact with.

He began talking about how his friends viewed God. He said a lot of them are not quite sure if God exists. Gabe said he felt that it was intellectual reasons holding them back. Like most of our culture today, it seems as if many people hold intellectual reasons or the hypocrisy in the church against it. Martin said that his friends respect him and his views. He said that they view his faith as genuine. Even if the answers are not quite as cut and dry as a text book, he is open to addressing them. He said, “[its] not always easy answers.” Due to this, his friends see his faith not as a result of upbringing or environment, but genuine.  Because of this, they now see that God does not have just bad apple.

Martin said it was awkward in the beginning. He said for one of his friends, he started by talking about the book, Blue Like Jazz. For those of you who haven’t read the book, I’d recommend it. It’s funny, and at the same time insightful. During a coffee grab, one of Martin’s friends told him he was atheist. He didn’t let that bother him or make him cast judgment. He was a friend to this kid. In his coffee shop endeavors, he emphasized separating Christ from bad Christians. His parting remarks on speaking to unbelievers were this, “have no anger, have civility in your conversations.” He spoke of showing kindness and not living your life in a dichotomy.

Student Tyler Spence echoed these ideas. He said, “[people] are no different than people here. They’re asking the same questions we ask.”He felt that respect and understanding were key. His friends viewed his Christianity not as hypocritical, but as genuine. His conversations with people who don’t know God usually hinged around asking the questions, “why would a good God allow this or that to happen?” His parting advice, stay focused on lost friends. He wants them to not feel forgotten.

Student Kelsey Hardin has also had some interaction with unbelieving friends. She said they respected her, and also tried to be careful about the language they used around her. They knew she was a Christian, and respected that. Since knowing her and her family, she says her brother-in-law is more open to the Christian point of view. The advice she gave was about letting your actions speak, and live out your faith.

So what is the answer? If we are Christians, does are faith cause others to want what we have? What does our love do? Do we have agendas when we love? Do we live out two lives, one in church and one at play? Does our faith promote hate, or does it promote love? Do we live out our faith because our subculture has made it appropriate? Do we live and love by the same culture that withdraws from the other? Do we read our Bible of a God full of love for us and use the same Bible to judge and perceive ourselves as better than others? If we are the light to the earth, why is our light not shining? They say that those who are the closest to us truly know who we are. You can fool a stranger, but it is much harder to fool a friend, a brother, or a loved one. Is your faith genuine? How are you improving in Christ? How are you achieving self-betterment? When our schemas, desires, self-fulfillments, and social spheres are taken away, is what’s left still praising God?

Perhaps it rests in love. We are all in this race called life together, and are all made in the image of God. Martin has changed the views of a handful of people. Imagine if every Christian on earth lived out a life of love? Imagine if your life caused just three others to want to be more like God. Anyone can hand out a pamphlet and take five minutes to talk to someone, but are we strong enough to take a lifetime of commitment towards our fellow humanity, God, and ourselves?

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one” – John Lennon

Autonomy Day is Here

If you don’t have a boyfriend or girlfriend yet that you know you are destined to marry , welcome to TFC new students. It is pervasive though, isn’t it, the feeling of loneliness that can sometimes be overwhelming in a place where God seems to be sprouting up couples like weeds. Okay, bad term, perhaps turnips, beets, radishes, I don’t know. And now there is Valentine’s Day coming up, so those of us who are single have to be badgered by that, and blinded by the gleaming smiles of those that are holding hands, and skipping our way after classes.

What is the solution the single people clamor and ask? It does not lie in those internet Christian dating sites thinking you are talking to Sally, a blonde twenty one year old worship coordinator with a heart for God, when really it is Sal, a bloated, veiny, fifty-seven year old factory worker who has a heart for National Lampoon movies and a pet python named Bellmont. That’s beside the point. The main point I was trying to make was, for the single person, Valentine’s Day can be intolerable at best, and torturous to those that cannot express the romantic and poetic surges of love to a blushing rosy face.

It was something that drove me into fits of discouragement where I would huddle in the corner and listen to the music of fat bugs splattering against my ceiling fan. Then, one very depressed Valentine’s Day, I started thinking about the past, and how great things were without the adult presence and pressure of needing some significant other as an avenue to happiness.

I thought of one particular Valentine’s day, still the best I have ever had, where my parents were gone, and I watched Terminator  and I had mounds of candy, bags of chips, plates of pizzas (okay, only one plate), and was perfectly content as a young whimsical lad spending Valentine’s Day alone. In fact, it was a supreme pleasure.

So reflecting on that, and comparing that with my current state, I asked myself, why should couples have all of the holidays to their grubby selves? Why should that fun that I experienced as a boy not filter out into my manhood state where scripture even commends single-hood? So I invented Autonomy Day…a day that people who are single, alone, smelly, etc. can enjoy the pleasures of doing whatever they want..depending on what state or country you are in you may be prosecuted.

But there is freedom in Autonomy Day! Celebrate this day with me and many others and revisit your childlike joy, the same joy you realized when your parents were going away, and you could shoot paint-balls in the house, or, like some of you, listen to The Adventures Of Odyssey. It is a day where we realize our freedom and not listen to the disparaging propaganda that you need to have a guy or a girl to be happy.

Here are the guidelines to Autonomy Day. You wake up. Then you do whatever you want. Imagine the bondage that the rest of the world is going to be in as you roller-skate down the highway clad only in a diaper. Think of those poor saps that have to pretend to be romantic, and who have to spend the day walking on egg shells, uttering words that will be used against them in the next argument, and watching hard earned dollars swallowed up in the forms of those little square chocolates. It is almost sad really. While they are in chains, we will be free to experience Autonomy Day.

Do not listen to the internet names. Single Awareness Day…like it’s a disease. Something online said, “Forever Alone.” That is too depressing. We don’t need that negativity in our lives.  Autonomy. Autonomy…what a word, what a name…what a holiday. Let us take back some of these holidays starting February, uh, I don’t know, whenever Valentines Day is, the 14th maybe.

Toccoa Falls College: Name Game?

A few Wednesdays back, on January 25th, 2012, Dr. Bellefeuille announced in chapel that the board was hoping to embrace the non-usage of coining TFC as a ‘Bible College.’  Without too much explanation, this may have stirred you up.  Hearing that this would be for the benefit of the school, and particularly those outside of TFC, you may have been thinking; ‘Why are we changing for someone else? What does this have to do with us? Is this Biblical?  Is it worldly? etc.’  After having spoken with Dr. Bellefeuille in further detail on the matter, we are aiming to clear all miscommunication of what exactly this means.

Bellefeuille started with the explanation that it was forty years ago that TFC board members were under the impression that Toccoa Falls would not have ‘Bible school’ in its name.  At one point, TFC was to be called Toccoa Falls Institute, but forty years ago it was decided to stick to just ‘college,’ and we became Toccoa Falls College.  It has remained that way since.

Recently, however, “word has been spreading through the community; when hearing about Toccoa Falls College, many people have the automatic response of ‘the Bible college.’”  Bellefeuille continued on to say that though “we are very proud of our ministry programs, we are not limited to strictly those alone.  TFC also offers education, business, and science programs, along with others.  So while we are not embarrassed by being known as ‘the Bible college,’ and our roots have been and will continue to be Biblically planted, we would like to be recognized as a college that offers more opportunities.”

Wrapping it up, Bellefeuille concluded that the Bible is still being used to define Toccoa Falls College, and “we are not changing anything about the college itself; all of the same programs and activities will be offered on campus- but we would like to not be narrowed by the definition of the typical Bible college,” only offering ministry opportunities, so we are asked to not use the label of a ‘Bible college’ as our only defining feature.  In this way, we hope to handle the confusion of the coining phrase and what TFC is truly about.

Sewing on Our Shadow: An Interview with the Man Behind the Blog

I have been privileged recently to be in contact with the man who calls himself “Shadow;” a man who, for some, has become a menace to our small campus society, and whom others view as a brother who is reaching out in search of Christian love. His blog and hacking have caused significant controversy on our campus, eliciting a wide variety of both callous and forgiving responses. Many of you may have taken advantage of the opportunity he extended to email him via his blog, but only The Talon has been granted an interview for publication.

DISCLAIMER: I do not know who Shadow is. Please do not ask me. I respect his privacy just as I respect anyone else who would wish to remain anonymous, for the sake of my own integrity, and for the integrity of The Talon.

Talon: When did you first get the idea to hack?
Shadow: The idea first came to me towards the end of last semester. I had happened across a website that somebody had hacked in a humorous way, and I thought to myself, “I bet I could figure out how to do that.” Curiosity killed the cat, so to speak.

T: How long have you been hacking, and where did you gain the skills?
S: I have been “hacking” since I got the idea, late last semester when I first hacked into a Facebook account here at the college. I’ve always had a decent bit of computer knowledge, but it’s not actually something I’ve ever done before until very recently.

T: What was your purpose in hacking the networks on campus?
S: I think it’s important for people to understand security, and to be aware when their information is not as safe as they think. But honestly, the real reason that I did what I did was just to have fun! I did not realize the stir that my actions would cause, I had originally thought of posting secret Facebook statuses as being akin to, say, sliding a secret note under somebody’s door. Obviously I was wrong in that regard.

T: Are you solely responsible for the mischief on campus lately, or do you have comrades?
S: I am not fully aware to what extent mischief has been happening on the campus lately! I know that there plenty of mischievous people on campus besides me. If a prank is not mentioned on my blog, then I most likely was not involved with it.

T: What kind of attention, if any, did you hope to attract by hacking/pulling pranks?
S: I’ve always found pulling pranks fun. I think that people need a diversion, some excitement, every once in a while. I’m not looking for attention for myself, though, I much prefer remaining anonymous.

T: How did the response differ from what you had hoped to get?
S: Oh, my. As I said, I did not know that my hacking was going to be construed as anything more than innocent fun. There are some wonderful people who understand and who have been forgiving, but for the most part, people have been in an uproar over what I did. That was not the response that I had hoped for at all. I stopped hacking as soon as I found out that it was hurting people.

T: Care to share which pranks you have been involved in, and which are the works of others, perhaps trying to frame you?
S: If somebody does a prank using my name and it is *not* on my blog, then I 100% had nothing to do with it. And if I do a prank, of course I will use my name so you know it was me. Based on the possibility that other people may try to use my name to cover up their crimes, I will post some clarification like this on my blog soon!

T: What is the significance of a villain suit?
S: As all good superheroes or super-villains know, a suit is a necessity. It keeps one’s identity safe. It is also a lot of fun to wear. Besides, if I did not have a villain suit, nobody would be running around campus convinced that I am Darth Vader.

T: Are you the student masquerading as Darth Vader? If not, are you connected in some way to him?
S: Nope, I’m not Darth Vader – I don’t know who he is either.

T: What made you cease the hacking?
S: I ceased hacking because I found out that it was bothering/offending/hurting/scaring people. Jokes aren’t supposed to hurt people. Christians aren’t supposed to hurt people. I was also told that what I was doing was potentially illegal, and that influenced my decision too, although I had not confirmed whether or not that was true when I made my apology.

T: Did you learn anything from this experience?
S: I have not learned so much in a long time! Mostly, I learned that I need to be much more careful when I act. In the future I will be asking opinions and doing research so as to not risk another fiasco like this one. I will make sure that everything I do is truly the innocent fun that I intend it to be. I also learned through this experience that there are a lot of awesome, loving, forgiving Christians on this campus. Thanks for sticking up for me y’all.

T: How do you feel about the explosion of comments on your blog?
S: Obviously people could be less judging and condescending, and more forgiving. But people have always been that way, and people’s attitudes are always amplified on the internet, where everybody talks without thinking, and where everybody is more willing to be offensive and rude. Based on my knowledge of how people act online, I wasn’t taken aback by any of the comments I received.

T: What do you hope that other people will take away from this experience?
S: As for what I think people should take away from the experience – it would be vain of me to act like I am worthy of teaching everybody a lesson, or anything like that. Everybody did some crap right, and everybody did some crap wrong. I think that God puts all sorts of people through all sorts of things, and that whoever we are, on whatever side of the issue, we can all use those things to learn and to grow closer to Him in our own personal way. Eh?

T: What are your future plans as a member of the TFC community?
S: I would certainly like to use my skills to help the TFC community at large. Knowing how the internet works, and how to take advantage of that, can be useful. A missionary in China, for example, might want to learn how to keep the government from tracing his/her online activity. We cannot underestimate the power of the internet to help – and hurt – our Christian lives and individual callings.