EFordwrite

Monday, May 08, 2006

Since this job hunt is so painful, I have written a new cover letter:

To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing to express my keen interest in the Human Resources Management Trainee position Norfolk Southern advertised. I will be receiving my Bachelor of Arts degree in English this month, and I am eager to join a corporation where I can use my skills in writing, editing, research, critical analysis as well as communication skills. I believe that my educational background and communication abilities would be an excellent match for this position.
Through my academic work in English language, literature, communication, and writing, I am prepared to make meaningful contributions and function as a member of your Human Resource team. My volunteer and intern positions have provided me with experience communicating a variety of people, sales, marketing, and customer service. I am an outgoing, organized, creative, people oriented, hard working and driven person, who functions well under pressure and would contribute a great deal to any team. The writing and speaking skills that I developed through my background as an English major aid me in communicating with others.
Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon so that I may forward my resume to you.
Sincerely,
Emily A. Ford

Friday, May 05, 2006

Final draft of my Journal paper

Throughout high school and college George was a sought after man, quite popular with the ladies to say the least. Tall, dark, and handsome, he stood about 6’3’’ with an olive complexion and ice blue eyes that could mesmerize anyone. George enjoyed the popularity as a typical “frat boy” at a large university. After college, he returned to the small town of Franklin, Virginia, where grew up. George despised Franklin. He hated the people and the way they knew everyone’s business. He felt as though he needed to be in a metropolitan city, some where bigger, perhaps Philadelphia, Pittsburg or D.C. In the summer of 1976, George moved to Washington D.C., a move that was as symbolic as it was physical. He moved to a place where people could better understand him.
Despite his need to move away from them, George was devoted to his family. He attended the local Presbyterian Church with his parents, did odds and ends around the house, and made a great effort to see his three siblings and their families before his move. Shortly before his move, one afternoon while helping his father, Jack, in the yard George, rather bluntly, told his father that he was gay. Immediately his father was in denial, there was just no way was that George a homosexual, he was always popular with the ladies and was such a gifted athlete. Jack simply could not understand why his son chose to be a homosexual. Jack, George’s father led George to the garden and said, “Let’s pray”. It was his father’s hope that praying to the Lord for guidance, understanding, and forgiveness was the only answer, or the only thing he knew to do. George believed that praying was absolutely ridiculous; things weren’t going to change if they turned to God. It wasn’t like George was gravely ill or was dying of cancer... he was gay. God could not change George’s sexuality, he created him that way. The truth of the matter was that George never chose it; he had finally accepted this reality enough to share it with his father. Telling him was the most difficult decision he ever made. He felt that he was letting his father down, as though he was disappointing him in some way which would cause his father to be ashamed of him.
These were not the feelings George had several weeks prior when he had told his sister and mother. They simply accepted his sexual orientation. They loved him; besides what else were they going to do? The next challenge was to face his two brothers whom were older and had families of their own. He questioned how they would feel; they both had sons, would that be an issue? Would they not feel comfortable with George spending time with his nephews? How was he supposed to come out of the closet to tell his masculine older brothers? Initially, Bill and John were a bit taken back. John took the news a little more gracefully than Bill who was in denial, along with his narrow minded father. This secret came as a shock to his brothers; they simply could not believe it. His brothers and father never suspected his sexuality because he wasn’t the stereotypical homosexual. He was the ladies man, the star athlete and jock. He raised the question of how would his exposed homosexuality affect his relationships with his beloved nephews? He was assured that it would not, “how could it?” they told him. Unbeknownst to him, John’s wife, Betsy, would become his biggest backing and sounding board throughout life, when everyone including his religion turned their backs on him.
The Christian faith, in particular the Presbyterian denomination, has had a very difficult time dealing with the issue of homosexuality. George faced a faith that did not support him when he needed it the most, during this the most trying hurdle in his life. Yet, his belief in God, not the Presbyterian Church, kept him company when no one else did. The anti-homosexual parishioners share varying degrees of concern in situations such as George’s. Some argued that homosexuals shared similar morals and values of heterosexuals. Many of the anti-homosexual parishioners feel as though homosexual couples should not be welcome to worship among the others in the church. Homosexuals argue that they should not be discriminated against when all they wish to do is worship the God who they share with their neighbors, and feel as though the church should be a haven where they can be accepted despite their sexual orientation. The controversy continues to arise with many issues contributing to a deeper more passionate debate.
The Presbyterian Church, although not alone in their struggle with the acceptance of homosexual congregation members, is rather vocal about this issue they see as a problem. Keith Hartman, a social critic, wrote Congregations in Conflict: The Battle over Homosexuality in which he states, “homosexuality is the most divisive element facing the [Presbyterian] Church today” (Hartman vix). Meredith Ashbaugh suggests, in her article, Homosexuality in the Presbyterian church, that the Presbytery is “escaping from its previous morals,” and that the real issue at hand is not homosexuality, yet it is something else (Ashbaugh 1). There are always issues that affect the Presbyterian Church. It took the Presbyterian Church over seven decades to ordain women into ministry; with that thought, society must recognize that homosexuality in the Presbyterian Church has only been an issue since the 70s (Ashbaugh 2). Judging by the history, these types of issues are far from over.
The Presbyterian denomination is known for a non literal interpretation of The Bible; however a more literal reading has become increasingly prevalent in recent years (Ashbaugh 1). “Reinterpreting the Bible to meet the needs of…society” best describes the way the Presbytery applies the words of the Bible to life (Ashbaugh 2). According to Meredith Ashbaugh, homosexuals are among those who practice a more relaxed interpretation of scripture, due to their sexual preference. There are still those conservative members who do not wish to change or update the denominations policies and traditions. It is common for heated debates to arise over the decades, due to congregational fears of the Church wandering away from their stated principles (Ashbaugh 2). The denomination will not allow any Presbyterian Church to open its doors for a ceremony uniting a same sex couple in a civil union or marriage. When interviewed, some heterosexual parishioners claim that their struggle to accept homosexuals into the church community stems from their fears that accepting them would result in derogation of the traditional pillars of the Presbyterian ministry. After interviewing a number of both, conservative and liberal Presbyterians, I came to the conclusion that their views on accepting homosexuality in the church are based on their varying morality. Everyone has a different opinion, each with differing reasons. Overall it is necessary to say that their opinions are based upon their interpretation of morality, however others believe that opinions are based upon different reasoning.
Many scholars believe that Presbyterian congregations struggle with homosexuality in the Church due to “social and psychological reasons,” derogation of religion, “and informal reasons” (Scanzoni and Mollenkott 45). Homosexuals as well as Presbyterian ministers state that the fears of homosexuality from heterosexual parishioners arise do to their ignorance stemming from insufficient knowledge of this alternative sexual identity. Interviewing more conservative Presbyterians, showed that socially, they feel that it is inappropriate for their children to be exposed to homosexual couples interacting. They believe that it provokes the interest they wish for their children to not see. The argument made by anti-homosexuals is not concrete. Just like heterosexuals, not all homosexuals take part in public displays of affection Furthermore, most homosexuals are aware of the possibly of offending others through public displays of affection. The issue of affection is also discussed in Andrew Sullivan’s Same-Sex Marriage: Pro and Con. More conservatives open minded individuals could say that our society has long kept homosexuality as a quiet personal matter for a long time, and to now make it publicly acceptable is perceived by many as flaunting immoral behavior (Sullivan). This case against homosexuals is more concrete, which possibly reveals the truth behind the issue.
Other anti-homosexuals question why homosexual couples can’t worship in a more liberal environment, outside of the Presbyterian Church. Those who were interviewed felt that perhaps homosexuals would be more comfortable among those who openly accept their alternative lifestyle. Some believe that homosexuals have committed an ultimate sin, sodomy, and that if homosexual acts are accepted within the church, the Presbyterian congregation as a whole will “have lost [their] spiritual home” (Kirk, 13). Some of the more informal reasons that anti-homosexual parishioners have difficulty with same sex relations is because they may not understand why homosexuals are rocking their church’s world, and why they do not wish to worship in a place more accepting of their sexual orientation?
The most traditional parishioners do not wish to worship among homosexuals. These conservatives take their stance against same sex relations directly from the Bible. They say the Bible specifically states that homosexuality goes against God. Moreover, homosexual supporters argue against traditionalist, stating that the old rules are no longer applicable since Christ died for all of our sins. Parishioners who do not support homosexuality use the Old Testament as evidence to prove that homosexuality is an offense against God. Those who are not supporters should be frowned upon. They call upon Leviticus 18:22, which states, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination”. Furthermore, in Leviticus 20:13, it states, “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them”(King James Version). Many conservative parishioners refer to the chapter of Genesis, which supposedly condemns homosexuality, referencing 19:1-11. The description given in Genesis 19:4, “But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter” delivers a clear message with the intent of a homosexual rape. Homosexuals argue that this is not condemning all homosexual practices, it condemns such in “the context of gang rape, idolatry, and lustful promiscuity” (Scanzoni and Mollenkott, 111). Authors Letha Scanzoni and Virginia Ramsey Mollenkott have examined homosexuality from religious, sociological, and human sexuality views. They have provided sophisticated views from homosexuals who have dealt with tribulations regarding their sexual orientation. Among one of their contributors, a female homosexual minister, opposes arguments against sodomy, saying, “the scripture makes it clear in Genesis that God’s creation has unlimited variety, and we are part of that variety. God looked at his creation and saw that it was good” (Scanzoni and Mollenkott, 41). Indeed, The Bible states in Genesis 1:31, “And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good,” however this does not make settling the debate of homosexuality any easier (King James Version).
The difficulty with this debate arises due to the fact that there are so many divergent views on this topic. Some traditionalists feel that homosexuals come to the Church to make a statement, citing their discomfort with homosexual couples displaying their affection for each other while in church. On the other hand, homosexuals feel that if the world does not see them labeled by their sexual orientation, but rather by name and face, others would be more accepting of their sexuality. Homosexuals argue that the Church should be the last place where they should be discriminated against. One man who served as an elder in his Presbyterian Church believes that, “If the church is to fully do its job of reconciliation among people and between the human family and God, it must support gay people by helping them accept their sexuality and to express it lovingly. Needless to say, the church cannot do this without full acceptance of gay people themselves as healthy and complete persons”(Scanzoni and Mollenkott, 40).
After living in numerous major cities in the United States, George now resides close to a large city, where he went back to school to obtain his master’s degree in Education. He is now the dean of students at a prominent, private Catholic school in the heart of the city. George has immersed himself in the lives of children and their families who know nothing about his sexual orientation, nor do his co-workers. To them, he is simply George. Through many difficult and hurtful experiences, he says that he has learned that sometimes exposing yourself is not worth the battle, the hurt, and the pain. It is George’s preference that it’s better to keep his personal life very private; there are only a handful of friends that he can share his sexual orientation with. In an effort to separate his personal life from his professional life, George resides in suburbia about thirty minutes from his school. The fact that George’s sexuality is not flamboyant at all allows him to live a very discrete and satisfying life.
Gay rights are going to be an issue in states on an individual basis for a longtime to come. Gay rights has always been a taboo issue for many Americans, perhaps that is why America is split on their feelings involving gay rights. These issues have not only been addressed by the Presbyterian Church but also on a National and State level, which in many cases has led to action involving the Supreme Court. In many cases it appears as though the legislature is homophobic when considering homosexuals to have the partnership rights that heterosexuals do. The state of Virginia just passed a law banning unmarried, non related individuals to purchases real estate together. Furthermore, some states have put definitions of marriage into their state constitutions; in addition the federal government is attempting to do the same.
In addition there are plenty of legislative issues to be brought up in many states across the country. Some of the hot battles for recognition of gay partnerships are in New York, California, Maryland, New Jersey, Florida, Washington, Alaska, and Montana (www.aclu.org). There are however some states that recognize same sex couples, but do not honor same sex marriages or unions. Based on statistics from the “Human Rights Campaign”, “gay, lesbian, and bisexual employees can be fired on the basis of their sexual orientation in 34 states” (www.hrc.org).
How can churches discriminate against allowing homosexuals in the doors of their church, so that they can worship and find fellowship among other Christians? The Christian faith is being hypocritical, when they say that differences should be embraced and not reasoning for one of their brothers or sisters in Christ to be shunned. It seems as though resolution to this issue will land on the shoulders of each Christian and how we view it. It will also mean the all of the mentor in schools and in churches will have to help guide everyone into a better acceptance and understanding of homosexuality.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Finished review of Good by CP Taylor


C.P. Taylor’s Good, debuted last Wednesday at Randolph Macon College’s Cobb Theatre. Good was directed and produced by Randolph Macon’s own Joe Mattys. Joe is a professor of Theatre at the College. The title of the play ties into the central meaning of the play, which are the challenges that good people face in problematic times of distress and how good people can loose their sense of morality.
The production was not the typically tragedy, however C.P. himself, describes Good as “a play with music”. The setting took place in the early 1930s and stretches through about 1940 where it revolves around the horrors of the Holocaust. The main character, Halder, tells the story through his three voices, the voice inside his head, his outside voice, as well as through memories of the past. Halder is a brilliant man, who is a professor at a University; however he becomes mad with the sound of music constantly playing in his head. There are other elements in Halder’s life that drive him to a craze, his wife who cannot follow simple directions, cannot cook, clean or care of their children therefore she was not a productive member of society. Then there is his mother who is gravely ill and needed constant assistance to live, it is her wish to overdose on medications so that she is put out of her misery. The thought was, wouldn’t it be good to get rid of them, since they were no longer productive members of society.
It is his mother’s wishes that compel him to research the topic of euthanasia, which he later writes a book about. He believes that sick people should have the option to be euthanized if they do not stand a chance at living a good life. In a sense he believed that the ill should be put out of their misery. Soon after his book is published the Nazi’s learn of his theories, they began to form an alliance of sorts with Halder. The theory was in turn used to benefit the Nazi party during the Holocaust; they put Jews, and those who had economic power into bathrooms that had poisonous gas pouring out of showerheads. After these victims had marched off to Auschwitz, the Germans were in a position to rise to power economically and socially. Halder was directly affected by this; he gained his position chairing his department at the University because the previous chair was a Jew. As the audience we are not given a linear path of Halder’s thoughts which reflects the way every human mind works. C.P. Taylor takes the audience through Halder’s thoughts thought by thought, which leads us step by step in his journey of forgetting his original morality.
C.P. Taylor attempts to share the meaning of Good through the life of Halder, who is heavily influenced by the Nazi’s, who change him. Taylor tries to show that good people can get caught up in bad things when they justify others views. Though one may be able to justify, we may not personally agree with but somehow we can see the reasoning behind it. One can see why German people ended up justifying and Hitler’s views and following in his footsteps. Halder did not quite know what to think when he was standing at the gates of Auschwitz, looking at what all his theories had done to a country. He saw the man who ran the Concentration Camp, he showed no emotion. It did not affect one of Hitler’s men, who had to give up his duck dinner to go blow up a couple of Synagogues. He was not upset with the hundreds he would kill; he was upset that he would miss his dinner of duck. C.P. Taylor was trying to tell another side of the Holocaust, he wanted people to see how not all people who participated in it were bad people. Some of these people just got caught up in the views of Hitler and his promises to better their country and give them opportunities which they would have otherwise never seen. I believe that for some the meaning was easy to understand, but for others it was not. In order to fully understand the meaning of the play, it was essential to discuss it among a group of people or at least with someone who better understood Taylor’s reasoning’s for writing Good. It was certainly worth Taylor’s efforts to tell such a story, because I feel at though this element of the Holocaust is often overlooked because of the bitter and sensitivity of the era.
The structure of the play pertains to how Taylor tries to share the thoughts of Halder. He structures the play into the three voices we hear of Halder, just our brains work the plot jumps around his voices. Furthermore, Taylor ties in the theme of the play into its title. He focuses on the character of Halder, who was once a good man with solid and strong morals, but was later influences by the so called good ideas of Hitler. Taylor puts a strong emphasis on the word good in many different ways, but it is for the audience to notice it and analyze it in their own way.
I must confess that I did not enjoy the play as much as I have others. Though the storyline was admirable, it was not captivating like it could have been. I think that if there had been an appeal to the audience’s hearts it would have interested me a little more; however it was incredibly informative, though it was even more informative to discuss it afterwards. The plot was a bit difficult to follow and it was even more distracting for me because I could not clearly hear the actors.
It is my opinion that the production did not clearly reveal the meaning of the play. For many, it was not until after we discussed the performance in class, did they really understand the themes and meanings of the play. The only clear theme in the play was that good people can get caught up in bad choices that they carelessly justify. This theme was revealed generally in terms of these nice people carelessly justifying the beliefs of Hitler at the cost of innocent people. In my opinion there were not many elements that reflected or contributed to the meanings of play. Certainly the acting is what told the story, along with the background history that was offered to the audience. I suppose that some of the books, signified the research and book in which Halder included his euthanasia theory. The costumes of Hitler and his men showed that they were a part of the Nazi regimen, along with their red arm bands with black swastikas on them. The costumes and makeup of all the actors were very effective in establishing their age, profession, and social standing in Germany during the 1930s.
Furthermore, the movement and blocking of the actors was well thought out. Particularly, there was a good use of space in a constructive manner. The lighting on the other hand did not noticeably change until the end of the production when Halder was highlighted with the bright lighting. In the beginning of the production the lighting was much softer, warmer, and friendlier than at the conclusion to the play when it was a bright, harsh, and cool light. Though it was not noticeable, light fades were occurring about every three minutes throughout the production. For example, when Halder made a decision that took him to what the Nazis were saying the lighting became harsher. Overall the lighting supported the actions of the play. In addition to the lighting the sound played an important role in the production as well. The piano played when Halder was sharing his inner thoughts, here he would hear the music. His thoughts are scarce until the very end when the music stopped, which is when the band was real, the recorder came on and it was no longer the music played on the piano. This revealed that the piano music was in his head.
I have very mixed feelings about the performance of good. Though I am also an amateur theatre and especially critiquing it, I thought it was well directed. The biggest success of the production was the casting for Halder, Maurice, Helen, and Bok. I felt as though Freddie and Bouller could have been stronger actors, when the actor who played Anne could have toned things down a lot. I am not sure if it was the part of her character flaunt about the stage or not, but she surely accomplished it. I thought that Helen had a beautiful voice. The strengths of the play were definitely in the scenery because it was not distracting, it was simple, along with the casting, for they are what really made the play a success.
I was not really moved by this production, perhaps this is because I was lost a good amount of the time and was trying to figure out the meaning and themes. Since I was so sidetracked throughout the play I believe that is why I was not able to pay enough attention to be moved. However, the production did show me a different side to the Holocaust, one that I had never thought of before. It also gave me a new understanding of the ways in which the Holocaust victims were euthanized. I was especially surprised when Freddie and the piano player lit up in the first act of the play; it was incredibly distracting because of the smoke and appeared to be completely unnecessary. As a result of my frustrations I was unable to thoroughly enjoy the play and was just anticipating the end.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Starting on a review for C.P. Taylor's Good:

C.P. Taylor’s Good, debuted last Wednesday at Randolph Macon College’s Cobb Theatre. Good was directed and produced by Randolph Macon’s own Joe Mattys. Joe is a professor of Theatre at the College. The title of the play ties into the central meaning of the play, which are the challenges that good people face in problematic times of distress and how good people can loose their sense of morality.
The production was not the typically tragedy, however C.P. himself, describes Good as “a play with music”. The setting took place in the early 1930s and stretches through about 1940 where it revolves around the horrors of the Holocaust. The main character, Halder, tells the story through his three voices, the voice inside his head, his outside voice, as well as through memories of the past. Halder is a brilliant man, who is a professor at a University; however he becomes mad with the sound of music constantly playing in his head. There are other elements in Halder’s life that drive him to a craze, his wife who cannot follow simple directions, cannot cook, clean or care of their children therefore she was not a productive member of society. Then there is his mother who is gravely ill and needed constant assistance to live, it is her wish to overdose on medications so that she is put out of her misery. The thought was, wouldn’t it be good to get rid of them, since they were no longer productive members of society.
It is his mother’s wishes that compel him to research the topic of euthanasia, which he later writes a book about. He believes that sick people should have the option to be euthanized if they do not stand a chance at living a good life. In a sense he believed that the ill should be put out of their misery. Soon after his book is published the Nazi’s learn of his theories, they began to form an alliance of sorts with Halder. The theory was in turn used to benefit the Nazi party during the Holocaust; they put Jews, and those who had economic power into bathrooms that had poisonous gas pouring out of showerheads. After these victims had marched off to Auschwitz, the Germans were in a position to rise to power economically and socially. Halder was directly affected by this; he gained his position chairing his department at the University because the previous chair was a Jew. As the audience we are not given a linear path of Halder’s thoughts which reflects the way every human mind works. C.P. Taylor takes the audience through Halder’s thoughts thought by thought, which leads us step by step in his journey of forgetting his original morality.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Reaction to Chapter 17
Comparing and Contrasting Operas and Operettas


Many theatre lovers are familiar with opera, which was invented in the Renaissance era, however many lack the familiarity with operettas. An operetta is more of a “lighthearted musical theatre” and its meaning says it all, a little opera (299). Operettas were created to off set the sadness and complexity of operas.
The Italians are credited for creating the opera, which is sung from beginning to end and usually in a different language than the audience understands. Audiences do not attend operas to understand the story, though it’s always a plus, they go to experience and listen to the beautiful music that is sung by the most gifted singers. The scenery is always stunning and can usually tell the audience a lot, along with the body language of the performers. The music is always very complex with tragic plots based upon “ancient Greek or German myths” (299).
Contrastingly operettas are considered to be more comic; there is always humor involved that has the audience laughing hysterically. In addition the endings to the operettas are not sad and depressing like operas; they end happily and are uplifting. The languages of operettas are always translated so that the audience is sure to understand what the performers are saying, not to mention that some of the words are not sung but spoken. The music is not as complex as the music one would hear in an opera, it is more romantic and is often like a waltz. The plots of operettas tend to be more exotic and romantic than those of operas.

I was out of town on Sunday without internet access, here is my blog for Sunday, April 30th

Style Lesson 10: Ethics

In the Style lesson ten, Williams focuses on the ethics of writing, “we owe our readers to be clear” he tells writers (178). We must always write for others just like we would like for them to write for us. It is understood that not everything can be broken down into simple language; however it is the writer’s duty to not write ideas so complex that the reader has to work too hard to understand the ideas. If you do this, a writer can “risk losing what writers since Aristotle have called a reliable ethos- the character that readers infer from your writing” (179). A writer’s ethos is what comes to be their reputation. In Williams’ terms it is unethical to write as you would not wish to read. He cautions to not over simplify your writing because in that case it is rather insulting to the readers and you can loose the meaning of your ideas/words. Readers do not owe writers their time to decipher knowledge, that’s not why most readers read, they read to get the ideas that you are bring forth.

Complexity can arguably seen as both good and bad for readers. In a negative sense, it can cause the reader to not get the true idea of a writer and get lost in the attempts to understand the work. Positively, complexity can make a reader think outside the box and have a new understanding of ideas. The overall message that Williams delivers is “we write well when we would willingly experience what our readers do when they read what we have written,” this advice is the first rule for writers in ethical writing (198).