Category Archives: Humanities

A Poem by Katie Krulak

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Night.

A time for dark, dastardly deeds.

Light and warmth fades to cold shadows

While the wind picks up,

Running its icy fingers along your windows,

Setting them to rattling, clattering,

Before tearing the leaves from the trees

And driving them into the sky.

In this world human sound is forbidden,

A violation of the solemn peace.

The moon’s light washes everything

Silver and blue,

Struck by a deathly pallor.

Night.

When the mundane becomes extraordinary.

The mind distorts the world,

Projecting illusions onto the backdrop of darkness.

Dogs become wolves; each breath of air a ghost.

Shadows creep like living entities

Shrouding phantoms and ghouls from view.

Floorboards squeak and creak as whispered

Voices, half imagined, beckon you to wakefulness

Calling you to share in the mystery,

To lurk in the darkness, and howl at the moon;

To revel in the song that a church bell tolls,

To fade into oblivion.

Night.

 

The Field Museum (Lauren Hoaglund)

By | History, Humanities, Uncategorized | No Comments

The Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois is home to some of the most famous artifacts worldwide. Their collection includes: Sue, the most complete tyrannosaurus rex skeleton ever discovered; Lucy, the oldest known skeleton of a human being; a massive collection of Viking and African artifacts; and one of the largest collections of Egyptian mummies both animal and human.  My family and I visited this museum and many more in Chicago over Labor Day weekend.

I like to think of myself as something of a museum connoisseur because museums happen to be my first priority in visiting a new city. Though my mother had read the list of artifacts at the Field Museum to me several times before our arrival, I could not fully grasp their complete glory until I was standing in the replica of an Egyptian tomb with twenty mummies, their sarcophagi, and tablets of Hieroglyphics surrounding me. I was awed by the fact that the mummies were not only right in front of me, but also that they were so well preserved. They still had the jewelry and the papyrus scrolls with instructions for the afterlife in their sarcophagi with them. 

In the next room was a large wooden boat. Archeologists speculate that this boat was used in a funeral ceremony for a pharaoh or nobleman. I stared at this particular boat for about ten minutes trying to comprehend what I was seeing.

The Field Museum does a spectacular job of maintaining these artifacts and collecting more from different areas of the world. I would love to go back, and I would recommend it as a must see for anyone who is traveling in, to, or even near Chicago.

Greater Than (A poem by Katie Krulak)

By | Culture, Faith, Humanities, Literature | No Comments

Fingers fly across the keys,

     Playing a clattering staccato song,

Gazes glued to glowing screens,

     A shadows move from short to long.

Pictures scroll before our eyes,

     With lines of type below,

How different are the lives described,

     Compared to the ones we know.

Online we create an elaborate mask,

     Of what we want others to see,

But the person behind the screen,

     Is the true you and me.

Nobody’s world is perfect,

     Or completely put together,

Nor is it always easy;

     Free from life’s stormy weather.

Many have made their identity,

     Into a list of numbers,

And all these likes, retweets, and comments,

     Have given me cause to wonder.

Why do we care so much,

     About what others see us as?

Why do we treat each Internet post,

     Like a test we have to pass?

What if we stopped making,

     Our Internet selves a lie?

Perhaps our friendships would grow stronger,

     It wouldn’t hurt to try.

But in the end it doesn’t

     Matter if people like what you post,

Because your affirmation and your worth,

     Comes from the One who matters most.

Poetry: To Define or Not To Define

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By Mackie Benson, Class of 2017

Throughout time, people discover different stories: tales of sorrow, adventure, love, and religion.  They label the majority of these poetry.  So what exactly is poetry?  Webster’s Dictionary defines poetry as “writing that formulates a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience in language chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through meaning, sound, and rhythm.”  This definition seems to cover the meaning of this art, yet is there not so much more to it?  For example, Homer’s Iliad is one of the most famous poems of all time.  It has the elements of war, honor, mythology, and betrayal woven together into the tapestry of the Trojan War.  The tale has remained with humanity for years.

As much as this epic is beloved, the rest of  poetry cannot be confined by a definition formed with one poem.  With all of these differences among the poetic arts, there seems to be no way to cleanly define poetry.  Poetry is more complex than a few words used to constrict a style.  Good poems grasp emotions and bend them to the author’s will.  Some people find peace by telling stories from their own imagination.  Some of these people find a way to keep their art around for decades like Robert Frost, Homer, and King David.

Poetry paints a picture through its rhythm and words.  It lights a spark in the imagination, setting our thoughts ablaze with inspiration.  A little girl finds her escape and creates beauty.  The old man tells his stories that have been with him through the years on a small piece of paper with an old ballpoint pen for future generations.  Poems could be loud like thunder or quiet like a whispering wind.  They are for the young and the old, the hated and the loved.

So what exactly is poetry?  In the end such a beautiful art must refuse to be limited by any single definition.

 

New Teacher Profile: Mr. Brewer Ames

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By Carter Lemons, Class of 2015
Over the past few years, and this year specifically,Westminster has grown significantly.

Fortunately, we are still a tightly knit community, but as I walk the halls, I find myself seeing students and teachers whose names I do not know. This is a problem because community is a key part of Westminster. The goal of this new column is therefore to introduce new teachers to the student body and help maintain the intimacy of the Westminster community.

First up: Mr. Brewer Ames. Until recently I had never spoken a word to him in my life. I approached him in the Atrium during lunch one day. He greeted me with a warm smile and a handshake. Originally from Montgomery, AL, Mr. Ames attended Trinity Presbyterian School, a school fairly similar to Westminster. This is the same school we compete against in soccer, track, and cross country. After high school Mr. Ames attended Auburn University, majoring in Management Information Systems (MIS). After this he attended Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and earned his Masters of Divinity. His hobbies include “anything and everything outdoorsy,” to put it in his own words. He especially enjoys hunting and fishing.

Next time your downstairs, take a minute to drop in an get to know Mr. Ames.

 

Thesis: Worth the Journey

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By Daniel Richardson, Class of 2015

One of the crowning achievements for both juniors and seniors at Westminster is the completion of the thesis assignment. Students take the entire year to pick a topic that interests them and research it for the purpose of writing a comprehensive paper. But things don’t stop there. Once students have completed their paper, the class moves on to presentations. Seniors in particular are asked to give a speech on their topic to the entire Upper School. A daunting task, put to it

The thesis class provides students with an opportunity to be able to dive into a interesting topic and then present those findings to the Upper School. It is rare to find such an endeavor in a high-school curriculum these days, and most students do not get the chance to write or present a thesis until well into college. Although the process can be difficult, overcoming the stress of thesis truly does benefit our students in the long run. They are taught how to think critically, devise an argument, and finally present and defend that argument in front of a large crowd.

These skills are bound to serve them well later in life, and while some will tell you they might not enjoy thesis now, they will appreciate it farther down the road.

Don’t Believe the Hype: Violence Not Tied to Video Games

By | Hermeneutics, Humanities, Knightly Herald, Logic | One Comment

By Daniel Richardson, Class of 2015

On September 16, 2013 at approximately 8:16 am, Aaron Alexis opened fire with a Remington shot gun in the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. Before the bodies of the victims had even been buried, media outlets had already cast violent video games as the real culprit. The Telegraph, for instance, ran the following headline less than twenty four hours after the shooting: “Aaron Alexis: Washington Navy Yard Gunman ‘Obsessed with violent video games.’” Video games also took a hit after the Aurora Theatre and Newtown shootings of the past year.

Although the media has already chosen its side, not everyone is sold on the evils of violent video games. Christopher J. Ferguson, a professor at Texas A&M University, for one, dissents. In his article “The School Shooting/Violent Video Game Link: Causal Relationship or Moral Panic?” Ferguson argues that there is no definitive relationship between violent video games and mass shootings.

Ferguson begins his argument by providing an overview of the current research done regarding violent video games and then breaking that research down into two separate categories: experimental and correlational.3 Experimental research, the most common, typically amounts to taking subjects and exposing them to violent video games, then having them complete a series of tests to evaluate for aggressive behaviors. It is often unreliable and has only yielded mixed results. Correlational research. on the other hand, is even weaker due to the fact that it often does not take into account third party factors such as the subject’s upbringing. Those correlational studies that have tried to account for third party factors have determined that there is no link between violent video games and mass shootings and in some cases that violent video games actually reduce aggressive behavior.

Ferguson then addresses the data on school shootings over the past several years. He focuses primarily on an FBI report put out in 1999 and a Secret Service report completed in 2002. The FBI report concluded that violent video games can have a negative effect, but only if the participant was mentally unstable. Ferguson states that the results of the Secret Service report were even more striking: “Only 59% of perpetrators demonstrated ‘some interest’ in violent media of any kind, including their own writings. For video games, the figure was even lower—only 12%.” These reports are interesting because they are so contrary to the conventional wisdom conveyed by today’s media.

Lastly, Ferguson tackles the issue of why popular news media has turned video games into a scape goat the last few years. He attributes it to a moral panic that has resurfaced many times throughout history. In his own words, Ferguson defines a moral panic as one that occurs “when a segment of society believes that the behavior or moral choices of others within that society poses a significant risk to the society as a whole.” For example, media cried foul when the popular board game of the 1980s Dungeons & Dragons was released, with some researchers claiming it would lead to violence and Satanism. The same issue occurred in the early 19th century when journalists and misguided researchers claimed women would suffer from reading novels. Ferguson proceeds to reestablish his thesis that no evidence connects violent video games and school shootings, giving another more evidence showing shows that in the recent years while violent video game numbers have skyrocketed, youth violence has declined dramatically. Ferguson suggests that in a few years once it comes out there is no real evidence supporting claims that video games lead to shootings, they will eventually fade away.

In conclusion, according to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) 68% of American households own a gaming console, and millions play violent video games every day. Aaron Alexis was one of those millions, but his gaming habits did not cause him to shoot up a government complex any more than playing the Legend of Zelda makes me want to start mixing potions.

Lincoln and the Strategy of Emancipation

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By DeAnna Lockett, Class of 2017

For Abraham Lincoln the Emancipation Proclamation was primarily useful in providing a political and military advantage in the Civil War. But it was slavery, Lincoln believed, that had divided the country: “I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction or its advocates will push it forward till it shall become lawful in all the states, old as well as new, North and South.” For Lincoln there was no middle ground. Either the North would prevent the practice of slavery from spreading any further into the West and eventually eliminate it in the entire country, or the South would fight until the practice of slavery was acceptable everywhere in the country including the North. The conflict was inevitable. There was no way to win the war without eliminating slavery.

Although Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation mainly as a military tactic, he strongly despised slavery. Lincoln made the claim to Stephen Douglas, that he believed blacks were equally deserving of the “right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, which included the right to the fruits of their labor.” Lincoln also believed blacks were entitled to the right to pursue their interests and indeed strive for the American dream.

Ironically, though he believed in the equality of the races, Lincoln seems not to have been a true abolitionist. In a letter sent to Horace Greeley, the editor of the New York Tribune, Lincoln stated, “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union.” Abraham Lincoln’s primary goal in fighting the Civil War was to reunite the country. However, slavery was the main cause of the South’s seceding from the Union. Therefore, there was no way to win without abolition.

A Prayer

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By Katie Brooks Boone, Class of 2014

 

Love is gone and gradually I am drifting.

Into this hole I am slowly slipping.

I am cold and dead inside,

Emptiness in my mind.

What is the hole?

Is it even real?

It is a lie.

I am alone.

But You enter.

You open the door,

Make me whole once more.

Make me alive again. You free me.

I now have peace because of You, my King.

Sympathy with the Devil: Andrew Jackson and the Indian Removal Act of 1831

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By Maddie Hoaglund, Class of 2017

Andrew Jackson stated, “The lower country is of too great importance to the Union for its safety to be jeopardized.”Andrew Jackson stated this in relation to the Indian Removal Act. He thought America desperately needed peace with the Native Americans or the Union would not be able to function. Solving the conflict proved to be incredibly difficult for the growing country. With no clear option in sight, the country desperately needed a leader in the conflict. Therefore, Andrew Jackson became the forerunner in the various conflicts with the Native Americans. Although Jackson’s Indian Removal Acts were not justified, he perceived that they would benefit the country by allowing the country to expand, protecting both the Native Americans and settlers from further bloodshed, and preventing disagreements between both governments. In summary, Andrew Jackson firmly believed that his policies helped the country progress.

Andrew Jackson lived from 1767 to 1845. He was born in the South and served in the Revolutionary War as a young boy. Later he became a lawyer, politician, and general. Jackson fought in many wars and through his many successes became a war hero. Eventually, Jackson was elected president and during his presidency he signed the Indian Removal bill in 1831. This bill forced the Native Americans to migrate from their homeland to the less fertile lands in the west. Many Native Americans refer to the journey as the Trail of Tears because of the hundreds of people who died.  Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal bill forced the Native Americans to move westward.

Andrew Jackson perceived the benefits to America with the Indian Removal Act because America needed room to expand. He stated in a letter to Congress, “It will relieve the whole state of Mississippi and the western part of Alabama of Indian occupancy and enable those states to advance rapidly in population, wealth, and power.” Jackson saw the Native American removal as beneficial to the southern states. The property owned by various Native American tribes contained incredibly fertile farm lands: “The region was accessible because of its rivers and dark, clayey soils that were well suited to the plantation style cotton production.” The pre-Civil War southern states had a mostly agricultural economy and relied on cotton as their main crop. The states were always in need of more farm land to support their rich economy. Although the lands were near other southern states, they belonged to the Native Americans. With Jackson’s policy in place, the southern states were given more land to farm which strengthened their economy. Finally, the Native American territory included a vast expanse of land. Alabama alone spanned over 52,000 square miles. The Native American territory was a wild country in which people were unable to settle. The Americans could not live anywhere near the Native American lands for fear of being attacked which pushed them farther west. This was a hindrance to expansion because it interrupted the natural flow of settlers. The settlers were forced into the dangerous and less accessible western lands. Andrew Jackson believed all these advantages to the people of America and desired to make the best decision for the country.

Next, there was much wealth in the Native American territory: “They (the Cherokee) could not stop the settlers’ push for possession of the Cherokee territory, especially when gold was discovered on their lands in Georgia.” The United States government was almost always in debt and therefore, in need of any gold. When gold was found, the government turned a blind eye to the Cherokees. For the sake of the U. S. economy, the Cherokees were forced out of their homes. Although this is immoral, it was necessary to benefit America.

Furthermore, Andrew Jackson passed the Indian Removal Act to prevent future conflict between the Americans and Native Americans. Jackson stated, “It (The Indian Removal Bill) puts an end to all possible danger of collision.” Andrew Jackson was referring to the many wars and skirmishes between the settlers and the Native Americans. As the settlers moved farther and farther into Native American territory, these skirmishes became increasingly violent. For example, in 1813 part of the Creek tribe attacked Fort Mims: “Almost 250 whites were butchered in the quickest manner.”This instance was especially gory and showed that the conflict between the Native Americans and the settlers could no longer be ignored. The brutal event discouraged many American from settling in hostile territory. In retaliation, Andrew Jackson led his men to the warring village of Tallushatchee. Davy Crocket who was present at the battle reported, “We shot them like dogs.” Jackson massacred the Native American village with the same brutality as the Battle at Fort Mims. This demonstrates the desire for both people groups to destroy each other. Moreover, in 1817 Jackson forcibly took the Seminoles’ land and moved them westward. The Seminoles, refusing to obey the Indian Removal Acts, were attacked and conquered by Jackson. Eventually, Jackson had a decision to make. He believed that the only way to protect the Native Americans and settlers from conflict was to forcibly remove the Native Americans west. Therefore, they would come into less contact with one another. Jackson believed that moving the Native Americans west was the only way to avoid any more conflict.

Lastly, the Indian Removal Acts, in Jackson’s opinion, were for the good of the country to prevent government disputes. Since the Native Americans were not American citizens, they had their own government which led to confusion. In his message to congress, Jackson stated, “It (The Indian Removal Bill) will free them from the power of the states; enable them to pursue happiness in their own way.” Jackson believed that the state government was a hindrance to the Native American government because of the amount the states interfered with the Native Americans. Also, there were many instances when the governments clashed. For example, the Cherokee tribe appealed to the Supreme Court. The Cherokee appealed because they passed a law in their territory which forbids the selling of any Cherokee land. However, Georgia declared their law null and void in 1828. “John Marshall decided in Cherokee Nation v. Georgia that the Cherokee were not citizens of the United States and therefore had no right to appeal to the Supreme Court.” The Cherokee went to John Marshall who declared in 1832 that Georgia had no power in Cherokee lands. This is a prime example of the two governments disagreeing. No one knew how to handle the two governments in the same land. Neither government could properly function with the other in such close proximity. Therefore, Jackson thought was best to relocate the Native Americans. In short, Jackson believed that the Indian Removal Acts prevented further government disputes.

Even though Andrew Jackson claimed the Indian Removal Act was for the benefit of America, one might say he was acting out of his own prejudice. Prejudice is undermining or degrading another human being. For example, Jackson ordered his men to destroy an entire village in the Creek War; “He slew 186 braves and brought back to Jackson’s camp 84 women and children.” Savagely, Jackson ordered his men to annihilate the village and tear apart many families. Killing over 100 men without a thought, demonstrates how he had no regard for their lives. Clearly, Jackson demonstrated prejudice in destroying an entire generation of men. However, Jackson did not act of his prejudice because he truly believed strong retaliation was necessary to protect future American settlers. A few months before the battle, the Creeks had massacred Americans in the Battle of Fort Mims. The fighting became so gruesome that the Creek leader even attempted to stop it.The Native Americans fought just as brutally as Jackson. Therefore, Jackson did not purposefully destroy the village because of his prejudice, but because the country needed forceful retaliation to feel safe. The Battle of Fort Mims was terrifying to settlers, but Jackson retaliated harshly enough to protect future settlers. Both people groups should not have thrown life away. Although Jackson was not justified, he did not act out of prejudice.

Andrew Jackson stated, “The lower country is of too great importance to the Union for its safety to be jeopardized.” Jackson’s Indian Removal Act left an incredible impact on the country. Although the act was unimaginably difficult on the Native American, Jackson believed it was the only option. The settlers and Native Americans grew increasingly violent as the Americans pushed the boundaries of their territory. To save the lives of countless people, Jackson decided to pass the Indian Removal Act. Andrew Jackson was a firm leader who took action against for the benefit of America. In conclusion, Andrew Jackson passed the Indian Removal Bill to benefit the United States of America.

Bibliography

Flynt, Wayne. “Alabama” (July 9, 2008) Encyclopedia of Alabama. www.encyclopediaofalabama.org. (accessed November 17, 2013).

Jackson’s Message to Congress on Indian Removal. Andrew Jackson. PBS. http:pbs.org/kcet/ andrewjackson/edu/primaryresources.html. Accessed November 12, 2013.

Mitchell, Charles. “Agricultural in Alabama.” Encyclopedia of Alabama. Accessed November 17, 2013. www.encyclopediaofalabama.org.

McGill, Sara Ann. “Indian Removal and the Trail of Tears.” Indian Removal and the Trail of Tears.(September, 2009):1-2. History Reference Center, EBSCOHost  (accessed November 13, 2013).

Remini, Robert Vincent. The Life of Andrew Jackson. New York: Perennial, 2001.