Take Heart – a word from Ben Hoekstra

I do not know how you feel as this new year ramps up to a beginning. As you accelerate onto the speeding interstate that is a year of college, perhaps you feel excitement. Or perhaps you feel fear. As your willpower pedal hits the metal, you may feel a sense of hopelessness—who will do all that needs to be done? Who will lead, provide direction for you and for those around you? Who?

The Honors Program has this year taken up a new goal: leadership formation. We are called to be formed as people who will show the way, enabling God’s people to step into the chaos of this life. And so as we begin a year and look for leadership, we look to those who will lead. These are the people who will lead the Honors Program when you and I and our classmates have moved on into God’s glorious plan for us after Trinity. These are the new 2014 cohort: the Kappas. The freshmen.

Dr. Mattson asked that I introduce this new cohort.


It may be somewhat fitting that I introduce them. After all, I had the privilege of getting to know them as one of their FYF mentors. To those 2014 Kappas reading this, I hope my introduction does you all justice.
My friends, I do not have the ability nor the words to adequately introduce the 2014 Kappa cohort. But in my feeble attempt, I will tell you three things. First, that they are beautiful different from one another. At Trinity we would call that diversity, but it is really just a uniqueness. In getting to know each of them more deeply, I see children of God that have beautiful, challenging stories full of adventure and growth and so much of God’s handiwork. They are the kind of people I am proud to say go to Trinity.

Second, they are courageous. In their brief time here already, I have seen them try new things, reach out to strangers, meet to talk about God, and be open and vulnerable with people whom they barely know. They are brave.

Finally, the most important thing. The 2014 Kappas are a group that I have come to love as brothers and sisters in Christ. They have so much potential, so much that God will do with them. They give me hope.
I challenge you that you meet these brave, unique individuals. Get to know them and their stories. For you Kappas, I challenge you to get to know those already here, who are ready to live life with you. And to all, I remind you of this—to hope. For God has done great things, and He has only just begun.

kappas 2014

Urgent Opportunity to Apply for Fulbright

Are you a junior this fall?  Are you a senior?  Look, folks! Open your eyes!  See in the message below that there are  20+ openings in Taiwan for ETAs (English teaching assistants).


Think about it:  you would spend a year in Taiwan upon graduation.  Taiwan.  Some Fulbrighters love it so much, they stay on another year.  What would you do in Taiwan?  You would teach English at the high school or college level. And, you know, English is a language with which you have some conversancy!  


How would you pay for it?  Well, Fulbright would.  They pay for transportation and room and board, as well as a stipend.


You want to see the world and not just be a tourist?  You want to be a traveler and a giver?  This is the program for you.  It’s a good, good way to spend the year or two after graduating from Trinity.  


When should you start applying?  This fall.  The fall semester is the best time for juniors and seniors (particularly seniors) to apply for this opportunity. 




Fulbright ETAs to Taiwan



20 + Awards Available


 The number of ETA  opportunities to Taiwan have been increased.  Over 20 awards will be available for 2015-16.


Please refer to the Taiwan country summary on the Fulbright US Student Program website for additional program and application information.


 Walter Jackson

Program Manager

U.S. Student Programs

Institute of International Education (IIE)

809 United Nations Plaza

New York  NY  10017-3580

Tel: 212.984.5327

Fax: 212.984.5325

Email: wjackson@iie.org


Encouragement to register for a sociology course

Here’s a plug to take the SOC 346—Advanced Urban Sociology course. Dr. Breems has indicated that academically gifted students could waive the pre-req.

This course will be taught Thursday evenings this fall, 2014 by a highly experienced and respected senior planner, Mr. Trevor Dick, from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.  SOC 346 offers deep analysis of Chicago regional planning, development, and their effects.  Anyone interested in the history, topography, ecology, social geography, and economic features of northeastern Illinois will find this course valuable and intriguing.

Looks like a course Honors Students should revel in!

I Am A White Man

From the desk of Trinity Honors Student Ben Hoekstra:

Sometime in the past few weeks, an article made its way to my laptop screen about social justice and the black population of America. It was published in The Atlantic, a piece titled “The Case for Reparations” by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Coates writes eloquently and powerfully on his point, citing one quote that gave me great pause: “‘It is in vain to alledge, that our ancestors brought them hither, and not we,’ Yale President Timothy Dwight said in 1810.” He speaks of a communal sin, something society as a whole did wrong.

Before I dive into this heavy discussion on communal sin, I would like to share an anecdote. A few weeks back I returned to my childhood hometown to visit old friends, and met up with one in particular. One night, we began a discussion. It was born out of a simple question about my high school. His mother asked if, given the choice, I would go there again. My friend, who is still there, proclaimed he would definitely not. He cited bad policies, hypocritical and lazy students, and a general lack of excellence. The conversation continued, evolving and shifting until settling on the issue of racism. My school is a part of the choice program, which allows inner city students to go to suburban schools (even private ones) on the government’s dime, largely due to a wretched public schools system in my city. I am from Milwaukee; The Business Insider ranks it as the most segregated city in the entire United States. Many of the students who take advantage of the choice program are black. The very real actions of some individuals at my school have led to a systematic reinforcement of negative racial stereotypes at my high school, as the students in the choice program who do not try or who cause conflict began a domino effect. The first to fall—all students in the choice program do not try or care. This is false. It is not universally true and it is not fair, but a full defense is for another time. The second—students in the choice program are taking advantage of the system. And third—all the students in the choice program are black and all the black students are in the choice program. Also verifiably untrue. Even so, these premises combine to train up yet another generation of men and women from my high school who buy into the horrible subconscious racism of American society.

As we talked, my friend’s dad brought up this point in a counter to my citation of a history of oppression and inequality for the black individual in America: Obama. For some, that name holds great promise. For others, great woe. Regardless, many a white individual has referenced his election as evidence that the tides have turned, that the minority has equal opportunity. Coates even referenced this in his article. He pointed out that the Obama’s are just one of many—the exceptional who have risen above the status quo. This is valid, and also brings to mind 43 other presidents whose complexions feel a bit closer to vanilla than coffee.

Regardless of all the debate, there is one thing that stuck with me. “It is in vain to alledge, that our ancestors brought them hither, and not we.” I am a white man. My people are the perpetrators of this atrocity. Directly? No. My grandfather’s grandfather was the first to arrive in the United States, long after the 13th Amendment. But this does not absolve me from my guilt. It is not white guilt, this cowardly awkwardness that knows something should probably be done yet waits for another to do it. No, this is a realization that there is red in my ledger! I have been given privileges and advantages spoken and unspoken for nineteen years. I have walked through neighborhood streets late at night and never had the cops called on me. I have worn a hoodie and never been followed by a neighborhood watch volunteer. I have grown up in the suburbs, I went to private school, I am in college. I have gotten awards and scholarships and almost every job for which I have applied. Yet this list doesn’t even scratch the surface of what I have been given. And I do not feel guilt for what I have been given. No, I feel guilt for others having been denied those privileges. I AM A WHITE MAN. I have the position of greatest privilege and power of any group on the planet. I have never had to break through a glass ceiling, I have never been physically objectified by someone on my first encounter, I have never been sexually harassed. I am not proud of my heritage. I stand here today, looking back on the long road of history ashamed. Some would point to the genius of men who invented airplanes and television and guns, the ingenuity of the men who wrote things like The Constitution of the United States or A Tale of Two Cities, the wisdom of men who created democracy and capitalist economics.But I see the blood of slaves dripping from those pages. I see the parchment on which our country began as gags in the mouths of women, the poor, and minorities. I see the miracle of moving pictures used to portray daughters and sisters as objects for physical pleasure and appraisal. I see a long legacy of hatred, oppression, bigotry, and pride.

So, no. I am not proud of my heritage.

I see generation after generation of proud men who have claimed to serve the LORD but have served their own interests. Who have used culture and circumstance and pen to shore up a collapsing house built upon the sand. I see the communal sin of the white man, and of the American white man. It is not just against my black brothers, but against all my sisters, against all those who don’t look quite like me.

Some of you may disagree with me. You may herald great men who weren’t like all the rest. You may point to the struggle of the Civil War (which arguably had absolutely no interest in the well-being of Southern slaves). You may say things are different now. Ok. Things are different.

But answer me this. Regardless of if you are also a white man, or if you were blessed by God to be a woman or actually have melanin:

Do you catch yourself thinking racist thoughts?

Do you catch yourself basing your opinion of someone’s trustworthiness or intentions or even wealth on the color of their skin or their gender?

I do. I will admit that as a shamefully broken human in need of Redemption. I do not excuse this, but I am fighting it. Every day, God helping me.

As long as this battle continues in our heads and hearts, it is not won in our streets. For we may be able to find statistics that relieve us of our burden, we may console ourselves with petty polite interactions as reversing the tide, we may isolate ourselves with those just like us. But we have a calling. Micah 6:8 says “What does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” To act justly. We are called to be just. The Old Testament prophets rebuked Israel for so many sins—idolatry, child sacrifice, ceremonial uncleanness, ect. But time and time again, the Word of the Lord came and said that the Lord hears the cry of the poor. Of the oppressed. Of the widow, and the fatherless. In America, that cry comes from our downtrodden brothers and sisters who have been refused equal treatment for centuries. Some have risen from the ditch in which we threw them to stand on level ground. But justice is not something that forgets. It has a long memory, spanning lifetimes.

We must decide what we shall do with justice in our little speck of meaning. We must choose this day whom we shall serve, and whom we shall repay.

Fulbright Scholarship Opportunities

The Fulbright Scholars programs is announcing two fully-funded, two-year master’s degrees in Korea and Taiwan.  Ten awards will be offered to Korea and 5 to Taiwan.

Complete program and application information can be found in the country summaries on the Fulbright website.

Questions?  Contact Jonathan Akeley, Program Manager, East Asia/Pacific (jakeley@iie.org).


Dr. Patti Powell forwarded this to me.  She notes, “It is almost a given that if you are not teaching English as a second language as a Fulbright Student Scholar, you are pursuing a master’s

degree.  The interesting thing about this post is that there were so few students applying to those countries so there was a much greater likelihood of be accepted.”





Worldview Lectures – 2014

Here are the Worldview Lectures for Fall, 2014

Monday, October 6–David Orr, Cook County Clerk

Cook County Clerk David Orr has been the chief election authority for suburban Cook County, one of the U.S.’s largest election jurisdictions, since December 1990. As County Clerk, Orr has earned a reputation for responsible budgeting and government efficiency by modernizing elections and returning millions of dollars to Cook County’s coffers every year.

Monday, October 13—Thomas Gouwens, organist

Thomas Gouwens, associate organist at Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago, will perform in concert. He has served as a faculty member at various colleges, a university organist, and dean of the Chicago Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.

Monday, October 20—Nontombi Naomi Tutu, race and gender justice activist

Naomi Tutu is the third child of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nomalizo Leah Tutu. The challenges of growing up black and female in apartheid South Africa have been the foundation of her life as an activist for human rights. In her speeches she blends a passion for human dignity with humor and personal stories.

Monday, October 27—Tim Gregory, actor

Tim Gregory, founder of Provision Theater in Chicago, will be performing his one-man show “Redeemed: Rise and Fall of Chuck Colson,” about the life and conversion of Chuck Colson. Gregory has directed and acted in numerous productions. Some of his writing credits include world-premiere adaptations of Corrie Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place and Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. 

Vander Velde Junior Scholars Announcement

Today, the winners of the prestigious Maurice Vander Velde Junior Scholarship Awards received notices of their successful applications. These five scholarships support outstanding junior or senior students in collaborative research with a Trinity professor in their chosen disciplines.

Please congratulate the finalists for 2014-15 as you run across them on campus:

  • Susannah Strange – Dr. Aron Reppman (Philosophy) – Relationality and Reason in Reformed Philosophy
  • Cassandra Nelson – Dr. Mark Peters (Music) – Chanting the Church Year: Theology and Practice
  • Joe Andringa – Dr. Clay Carlson (Biology) – The Effects of Vitamin D on Breast Cancer Cells
  • Anna Bos & Jonathan Koonce – Dr. Michael Bosscher (Chemistry) – Enhancing Lanthanide Binding Affinity and LRET of Proteins
  • Patrick Page – Dr. Bob Boomsma (Biology) – The Effects of Oxygen Levels, Serum Concentration, and Heat Inactivation on mRNA Expression of Paracrine Factors in Mesenchymal Stem Cells

For those of you applying for Vander Velde Awards next year, it may help you to know that the Honors Committee deliberated about which proposals to support according to these criteria: 1) whether or not the student demonstrated awareness of the project’s relevance and context as well as of the specific background knowledge and/or abilities required to undertake; 2) how ambitiously and realistically, the student articulated his or her project (e.g. with a clear focus, purpose, and agenda); and 3) how strong and articulate the support was from the sponsoring faculty member.

- Dr. Mattson