Student Scholarship | Fall 2015
At Covenant, students in every discipline dedicate a portion of their education to integrating their faith and scholarship in a senior project or thesis focused on an area, idea, or venture they are passionate about. Every year, we highlight senior integration projects (SIPs) that have been recommended by faculty and that provide a cross section of work being done in the arts, sciences, and humanities.
Weeping Humanity: A Psychological Examination of Tears
Cameron C. Anderson ’16 | Psychology
Tears are profound. They pervade our most intimate moments and are present amongst our strongest expressions. All of humanity shares in this unique expression of emotion. For my SIP I examined tears and weeping from a psychological standpoint. I explored the physical process and role of tears in our bodies as well as the theorized benefits tears have for humans. Psychological studies have provided insightful theories and empirically supported data concerning what role tears seem to serve humanity.
Stepping back from current psychological research, I then looked into what the Word of God has to say concerning tears and what purpose they serve. Solving the mystery of tears inevitably will produce profound insight into humanity and Jesus Christ’s humanity (and divinity) as well. I was led to the conclusion that tears are representational of our humanity and point to our seemingly hopeless condition. I learned that tears are beautiful—they are given by God to point us to Him amidst our happiest moments and our saddest. I have found tears to be the most powerful and beautiful expression of our humanity and most hopeful symbol of our eternity.
Producing Covenant College’s New Play Festival
Nina Brock ’15 | Theatre
For every theatrical production, there is a vision, and for every vision, there is a producer. The producer takes on the responsibility of finding the script to begin the process, deciding the director fit for the script, balancing and coordinating meetings and rehearsals, managing auditions and casting approval, fundraising, and so on. For this project in particular, there were ten different scripts, which meant ten different directors.
As the producer of Covenant College’s first-ever New Play Festival, I was given a role as a leader. I had the opportunity to use my creative ability to produce something beautiful and worthwhile. By stepping into this role, I got to uncover the importance of leading my fellow students with purpose, value, and integrity. Embracing leadership was an act of grace, a truly humbling experience that allowed me to see the value in simply serving through empowering others. Together, we got to glorify God through illuminating the truth of the Gospel through the act of storytelling, and it was awesome!
Brokenness and Respectability within the Body of Christ: A Theology of Oppression as Reformative to the Western Church’s Paltry Action on behalf of Sex Trafficking Victims
Bethany Davis Stout ’15 | Biblical & Theological Studies
As a biblical & theological studies major, I have been very interested in the role of women in the church. It soon became apparent that there was a plethora of literature written on this “hot topic,” but far less focus given to the Church’s role in the global oppression of women. The connection: if the Western church is solely concerned with the issue of women’s ordination and similar controversies, she is consequently turning a blind eye to the needs of most women around the world. The solution is not to dismiss the question of ordination, but to broaden our perspective.
Beginning with current statistics of the oppression of women, specifically surrounding sex trafficking victims, as well as Elizabeth Bernstein’s critique of the “New Abolitionism” movement, I outlined a theology of oppression based upon Genesis 1 and various teachings of Jesus from the Gospels on His concern for the oppressed. A subsequent study of Luther and Bonhoeffer developed my conclusion of the necessity of the Church’s active participation in fighting against the spiritual and physical oppression of women.
Food Pantry Manager
Scott Hoelsema ’15 | Computer Science
My SIP grew out of a project I worked on for a food pantry back home following my freshman year of college. This food pantry is closely tied with my church, and was having some software issues. Working with the people who operated the food pantry, I developed a desktop application for recording and managing information about clients, their households, and their appointments. The program also provides aggregate data such as the number of clients served and pounds of food distributed. Throughout my college years, I continued to fix bugs and add features, including encrypted DropBox backup.
My SIP consisted of polishing this program and making it available to other food pantries. To accomplish this, I released it as an open source project on GitHub. As an open source project, Food Pantry Manager is freely available to and modifiable by anyone. In many cases, however, pantries may want to try Food Pantry Manager out of the box. Accordingly, I provided detailed instructions for installation and configuration of the program in the form of a basic website. The work of my SIP was to make this tool accessible and understandable to technical and non-technical users alike. As such, it is my hope that this program will be helpful to food pantries in their service.
Evil and the Limits of Thought: Paul Ricoeur’s Critique of Theodicy
Brian Van Dyke ’15 | Philosophy
Christian philosophers are well known for coming up with theodicy arguments, which attempt to demonstrate how God could allow evil while still being perfectly good and all-powerful. Working from an essay by the French philosopher Paul Ricoeur, I argue that traditional theodicy arguments are inherently limited because they cannot adequately address the experiential aspect of evil—human suffering. While there is an appropriate place for abstract treatment of evil, we must be aware of its limitations and never allow it to come at the cost of tending to the needs of the people suffering from evil.
Ultimately, I recommend a broader notion of theodicy centered on the self-revelation of God in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Crucial to this biblical theodicy is reclaiming the importance of lament in holistic Christian worship. Particularly in the affluent American church where suffering may not be an everyday reality, it seems that we have forgotten the integral role that lament plays in faithful worship. As the body of Christ, we must learn to faithfully lament the brokenness of this fallen world, not just in a general and abstract sense, but in the very particular pains of our lived experience this side of the eschaton.
Les Femmes Maghrébines et la Loi Charia: une Perspective Chrétienne (Maghrébine Women and Sharia Law: a Christian Perspective)
Lauren Butler ’15 | French
In the Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia), women are gaining many rights, but much remains to be done in both law and practice. Women in Morocco and Algeria are ruled by the sharia, a set of laws based on Islamic religious texts. Tunisia alone is ruled only by civil law. In all three countries, however, shocking laws remain. In Algeria and Tunisia, a rapist may avoid prosecution by marrying his victim, even if she is a minor, and victims of domestic violence are not protected by the police, who consider it to be a family matter. In all three countries, women face discrimination at the workplace and in politics.
The Maghreb was not always misogynistic. Before the rise of Islam, Bedouin women had significant social power and could even practice polyandry. Muhammad originally instituted the practices of veiling and seclusion for his own wives only, and it was not until the Middle Ages that androcentric doctrines became prevalent. Hence, misogyny has not always existed in the maghrébine culture, nor is it necessarily a part of Islam. It is a product of an interpretation of the Qur’an that became a tradition. Although many consider the Bible to be similarly, if not equally, oppressive towards women, it is actually revolutionarily pro-women. The Christian church should be leading the charge to ensure that all of God’s children are treated with respect and dignity.