NCU Speaks Recap

The second annual NCU Speaks featured a fascinating hodgepodge of speakers and topics. The FeMystique-sponsored event, hosted by Kimberly Snyder and club co-founder Chelsea Taylor, had a total of nine speakers (eight female and one male) whose talks ranged from fandom, sports, criticism, and the treatment of others.

To kick things off Chloe Combs gave an impassioned talk about the “Biblical Themes in Gladiator.” Chloe even dressed in a toga, leather sandals and a sword to match her topic. It was interesting to learn of the surprisingly high number of biblical parallels the film has, especially in light of the fact that director Ridley Scott is an atheist. Chloe’s analysis was quite thorough, and her closing shout of “Are you not entertained?” was so fierce I felt compelled to retreat to the back of the chapel. Maximus would have been impressed.

Next, Jean Mackey spoke on her love of music (“Music My Passion”) and how it has impacted her. Mackey, who was a student at NCU last year and now studies in Portland, made a return to feature in NCU Speaks for the second time.

Delia Evan’s “Defense of Kanye West” offered a lot of context for one of the biggest pop culture icons of our time. While primarily famous for his music and outspoken persona, it turns out there is a lot more to Kanye than meets the public eye. The man has gone through as much of a personal evolution as a professional one, which is no small statement. Kanye embodies words like innovator and performer, but after Delia’s talk, one might come to see words like “team player” and “vulnerable” to be just as accurate.

“A, B, Christ” was a testimony by newly-enrolled NCU student Tamer DeHart, who told the audience of a particular moment when God moved in the life of her and her mother when she was young.

The recent release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens has led to dozens of new fan theories regarding the identity of the newest villain and the lineage of the new heroine Rey. Keegan Nolan is one fan who, while patiently awaiting the next film’s release, endeavored to explain in depth a couple of the Rey theories. Obviously well-versed in Star Wars lore, Keegan’s love for the saga was apparent, and I couldn’t help but feel a slight urge to go watch all the films again, as I did leading up to The Force Awakens.

In “Preaching Diversity,” Kristyn Dodge spoke out against Christians who are too quick to slam the beliefs of other Christians that don’t align with their own. Dodge comes from a unique and multilayered faith background, making this an area she is more adept at noticing than many others. Her advocacy for theological diversity was something that was obviously very important to her.

The most intriguing talk of the night was certainly Becca Gritton’s, titled “Stereotypes.” Becca offered a series of responses to my independently-published article concerning Valentine’s Day, which can be read here. Becca endeavored to educate the crowd on the origins of Valentine’s Day, list rape victims in the Bible, bemoan the alleged epidemic of sexual assault that covers college campuses, dismiss the rise of STDs in recent years, and close by saying she defies the stereotype of feminists being characterized as “gaggles.” If her goal was to make her position on the topics known, then Becca’s talk was very successful. Her stance on the issues, and her opinion of those who disagree with her was quite clear by the time she left the stage. Her energy was commendable, though as the author of the work she used her time to critique, I couldn’t help but feel that my words were being misrepresented, and that much of her time was spent among straw men instead of responding to the arguments I actually made in the article.

“Benefits of Roller Skating” was the topic of Raechel Warren’s talk. A top notch roller skater who has competed on the national level and grown up in the roller skating world, Warren shared with the audience the reasons she loved skating. She talked about how roller skating helps keep families tightly knit, and how she has made some of her strongest friendships through skating, even with people from different generations. She outlined multiple health benefits as well, and did a great job of pitching roller skating as a worthwhile and fun activity to try.

The last speaker of the night was also the only faculty member on the roster. Special guest Dr. Nani Skaggs gave a speech titled “Use Your Words.” She spoke about her son and daughter, whom it was evident she loves dearly, and about some of the mean words they have had to endure in school from both bullies, and in some cases even friends. Skaggs talked about how the words people say can have serious ramifications on the recipient’s psyche, and lead to a crisis of conscious when all the person spoken to did was be themselves. Using words to build up rather than tear down was the overlying theme.

Fans of the NCU Speaks should be happy. The event had a good turnout and larger speaker list than it did in its first year. It’s safe to expect it to stay around, and likely continue to grow. It was all smiles at the end, and the verdict of success seemed to be unanimous.

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