Just CrumbsESSAY BY WILL CONNELLY, MTS2photographs by Adam Collin Sayler, MDiv’02It’s ten minutes after ten on a fall Fridaymorning in the Vanderbilt DivinitySchool Common Room. After a week ofattending lectures, participating in discussiongroups, and conducting research, DivinitySchool students convene with the facultyand administration at this time each week toannounce upcoming community events, toconverse with colleagues, and most importantly, it seems, to partake of bagels, doughnuts,coffee, and tea.The goal of this gathering is to foster anddevelop a sense of community among studentsand faculty within the Divinity School bybringing them together at a common time.Once bodies are fed, minds are primed toplan and discuss activities that shouldbecome physical manifestations of the ideaspresented in the classroom. Through theseactivities, students and faculty have opportunities to answer the question, “So what?,”a question that prompts and reminds us thattheories—no matter how complex, impressive,and intriguing—are as useless as lead lifepreservers if left in the mind and not appliedin the real world.It’s Þfteen minutes after ten, and theCommon Room is now bustling with people.On one of the larger tables, containers ofcream cheese and boxes of doughnuts sur-18explain that classroom theory meets actionwhen they provide pastoral care for membersin their churches or faith-based organizations.I continue to wonder about what it means“to minister” and when, or if, I will Þnd aministry.My bagel and coffee compete with theserather rudimentary questions until a tallman, holding two jars of seeds, stands infront of the group. Someone obviously didn’ttell him that food was provided at this function. He proceeds to tell everyone in theroom that he liveson a farm, and he“See how small they are,” he observes. “They’re likewants to start acrumbs, but that’s all it takes to feed a lot of people.” hunger-relief program called “JustCrumbs” that makesIt’s twenty-Þve minutes after ten and timehigh-quality organic foods available to thosefor announcements. A student reports onwho struggle with hunger. He adds that itplans for a spring gala. Others voice prayeronly takes tiny seeds, small amounts of land,concerns; student leaders announce meetingand a few volunteers to produce large quantimes and venues for their respective organitities of food. He Þnishes his brief announcezations; and others inform the assemblyment by saying that farming is spiritual laborwhen and where they are preaching andand those interested should meet with himministering this Sunday.when the announcements conclude. I set myI am honestly not interested. I have beenfood on the table. That’s it! It is all about food!sleeping, eating, attending classes, studying,It’s forty minutes past ten, and my life isand writing, for the past two months andabout to change. When announcements end,have nothing to show for it save a few lessI walk over to the tall man and introducethan stellar marks on my academic record. Imyself. I discover the man’s name is Freddiewant to do something, and I need to doHaddox. He immediately embraces me withsomething before I become apathetic anda handshake and a smile and proceeds togain ten pounds. Many of my colleaguespour about ten seeds into my hand.round a mountain of bagels. I pour a cup ofcoffee, grab a bagel, and locate an emptychair. Instead of chatting, I focus on my food.By following such a strategy, I feel justiÞed innot engaging in conversation. Other peopleappear to have adopted the same practice.Then it hits me. This is all about my food! DoI really care about the “community?” Do Iwant to ponder the questions “So what?” or“How do I apply my studies?” The questionis, rather, “Is this the fat-free cream cheese orregular?”T H ES P I R E“See how small they are,” he observes.“They’re like crumbs, but that’s all it takes tofeed a lot of people.”I rotate the seeds in my hand. They arelight, fragile, but immeasurably powerful.Finally, I have something real, somethingphysical to work with that actually has thepotential to give and sustain life.Freddie puts the seeds back into the jarand tells me that planting begins in thespring after the Þrst frost. I am now a novicefarmer; perhaps farming will become myministry and the hungry will be those towhom I can minister.The setting for the Just Crumbs hungerrelief initiative is Freddie’s farm in Franklin,Tennessee, land tilled in the 19th century byhis ancestors who were slaves of a landownernamed Winstead. When Winstead died, hebequeathed in a handwritten will the entirefarm to his slaves instead of his own family.This inheritance gives Freddie inspiration daily,as he claims, “Even then, during slavery,there were good people with good hearts.”The slave owner’s gesture also motivatesFreddie to retain the natural beauty of theland despite weekly offers from land developers who claim that Freddie is “hinderingprogress.”In response to this allegation, Freddiewants to show people his idea of progress.Progress is designating a portion of his farmfor an organic method of cultivation called“nature farming” as a model for feeding peoplewho struggle with hunger. Ideally, Freddieand those involved want to streamline thismethod of farming so that other people, people who have smaller plots of land, can replicate it easily and become ministers. Theprocess of nature farming allows this replication to occur in backyards and other smallerplots of land across the globe. By focusing onthe nutrition of the soil instead of externalfertilizers, pesticides, and other unnaturalgrowth stimulators, nature farming allowsfarmers to narrow space between plants. Theresult is the maximization of growth andyield in a minimal area of land; consequently,a rather small area of land (25 x 25 squarefeet) can produce large amounts of produce.Nature farming is the method of agricultureadvocated by Mokichi Okada (1882-1955), anaccomplishedJapaneseentrepreneur,painter, calligrapher, and poet, who becamespiritual leader of the followers of Johrei(pronounced “joe-ray”). Okada taught thatby practicing Johrei, the word he used toFall 2002describe God’s healing light, one can cleansethe body of impurities and purify the soul toachieve a state of health that allows one tolive fully in accord with God’s will.As a deterrent to adding impurities tofood, Okada encouraged people to growvegetables using only the natural componentsof soil and water and to refrain from addingchemicals, manure, or compost. Vegetablesand grains produced in nature farming Þeldsare denser, have longer roots, and areRight: As soon as this young kid is weaned, themilk from Haddox’s goats will be used for making cheese. The dairy product will be donated aspart of the Just Crumbs hunger-relief projectorganized by Haddox.Above: Divinity School students Will Connelly and Freddie Haddox survey the land that will betransformed into plots for nature farming, an agricultural method that uses only natural componentsof soil and water and avoids the use of chemicals. The farmland in Franklin, Tennessee, was inheritedby Haddox’s ancestors during Reconstruction.19

How the Poor Evangelize UsReflections on an Urban ImmersionBY KURT GILBERT SCHREIBER, MTS2Immersion trips are designed as intense opportunities to gain Þrsthand knowledgeof different societies and cultures. The Church in the City Immersion, a courseoffered at Vanderbilt University Divinity School during Maymester 2002, was antypical immersions in foreign locations, the urban setting was Nashville.Tstronger against blight and high winds. Tocomply with the strict practices of naturefarming, Freddie irrigates the plot of landwith mineral water he draws from a well. Hetransplants wild blackberry shrubs from thehillsides in the virginal soil. Milk from hisgoats will be made into cheese.The harvest from the Just Crumbs initiativewill be distributed through the Society ofSaint Andrew, an ecumenical Christian ministry established in 1979 by United Methodistpastors. Dedicated to the principles of goodstewardship, the Society of Saint Andrewcollects produce that would otherwise go towaste and delivers the food to the hungry.The Þrst frost has passed and progress isevident. Generous volunteers have plantedseeds, built fences, constructed a newentrance to the farm, and even bottle-fedbaby goats. Others who have not visited thefarm have also contributed to the effort. FangGuo, MTS2, donated money to buy threecherry trees; a jar of pennies collected byMarLu Scott, MDiv3, provided the funds forpurchasing a plum tree; and P.K. Bramlett, anattorney in Nashville, is doing pro bono legalwork for the organization. Every single contribution and effort is a solid step in thedirection of progress.If you are interested in becoming part ofthe Just Crumbs initiative, please e-mail WillConnelly at [email protected],or call Freddie Haddox at 615/485-3665.The essayist, Connelly, was graduated in 2001 fromthe University of Rochester where he studied religionand classics. Photographer and Divinity Schoolalumnus Sayler is studying for the doctorateof philosophy in the sociology of religion atMarquette University.20Above: Haddox prepares the soil for transplantingwild blackberry shrubs. The fruit will becomepart of the Just Crumbs harvest distributed tothe hungry.Above: Connelly weeds a tract of Haddox’s farmbefore planting fruit trees purchased with donations from Divinity School students Fang Guoand MarLu Scott.T H ES P I R Ehe Þrst task was to open our eyes tothe city. We began with a “sensoryjournaling” exercise in which the 13students were divided into four groups thatwere sent out to explore different quadrantsof the city. We were to note the conditions indetail. The premise was that most people, inmoving from point A to point B, truly fail tonotice the conditions and the people betweenthese points. Our job was to see and to hear.Three of us drove over to south Nashvilleand then began walking down the streetswhile observing sites that I had overlookedduring the six years I have lived in the city.We ate at a burrito stand and found ourselves sharing a table with a man who sleepson the steps of a church. He manifestedgrace, faith in God, and appreciation for othersin his community. I began to realize that inmy determination to get from point A topoint B, I had overlooked many of those whodo not Þt neatly into the domains of my professional life and charitable giving. I remembered Jesus’ description of those who heardhis parables: “For this people’s heart hasgrown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing,and they have shut their eyes; so that theymight not look with their eyes and listenwith their ears, and understand with theirheart and turn ” (MT 13:14, 15)As the two weeks of the immersioncourse progressed, it became clear that thiswas indeed an opportunity to gain Þrsthandknowledge of different societies and cultures.Our schedule was full—meetings with government ofÞcials, ministers, church members,social workers, teachers, and a statistician—lunches with the homeless; a meeting withformer prostitutes in a sanctuary program;and a conversation with refugees. From allthese experiences, the highlight, for me, wasFall 2002NEIL BRAKEexperiment to explore expressions of church in an urban setting, but in contrast to“I began to realize that in my determination to get from point A topoint B, I had overlooked many of those who do not Þt neatly intothe domains of my professional life and charitable giving.”discovering how intervention programs inNashville treat participants truly as “theimage and likeness of God.”In an educational program, ProjectReßect, teachers emphasize the inner purityof children who are from economicallydeprived backgrounds and who are failingacademically. Instructors are taught to focusonly on the positive and the good; they are toignore what is “incorrect” and reteach, therebygiving the children skills to become architects of their lives so they can carry out God’screation in them.Former prostitutes in Magdalene, a recoveryprogram are also treated with respect. Theyare given the responsibility of living withoutsupervision in group homes. They are able totalk frankly about their past addictions andbehaviors because they understand that theyare now free to progress. In the program’sÞve years, only one woman has returned to alife of crime. It appears to me that these ministries “mark the perfect, and behold theupright;” and the end does, indeed, appearto be “peace.” (PS 37:37)A refugee father, his 16-year-old daughter,and his niece had moved beyond the traumaof their past. In 1988, he had preserved hisfamily in the face of warfare by uprootingthem, carrying his three children, and helpinghis pregnant wife over snow-covered mountains in northern Iraq. After three years in arefugee camp, they arrived in Nashville withtheir only possessions—their clothing—intwo plastic sacks. They were greeted andassisted by a local congregation. Since thenthe father has worked steadily, and the childrenhave progressed in school; today, they wouldreturn to their former home “only to visit.”As I reßect on these experiences, thewords of one of the former prostitutes cometo mind. She said that reformation camewhen she Þnally realized that there weremany wanting to help, with hands extendedto her, but that she needed to reach out andgrasp one of those hands if she were tochange her life. Like one of Jesus’ parables,this image has implications I did not expect.The immersion certainly showed me newways in which to reach out to offer aid to othersin need. But just as important, it opened myeyes to ways in which the poor and marginalized are reaching out to me. They arereaching out, not only for aid and justice, butalso as sources of lessons that I need—lessonsin humanity, faith, and fellowship—if only Iwill look, reach out, and grasp their hands.As the director of a program for the homelesstold us, “We must also focus on receiving fromthe poor, because the poor evangelize us.”The essayist was graduated from Cornell University where he earned a baccalaureate in economics;he earned the doctorate of jurisprudence from theUniversity of Michigan Law School and holds acertiÞcate in international law from the City ofLondon College. He is an active member of theChristian Scientist faith community.21

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.—Matthew 5:48 NRSVA decade has passed since Shelli Renee Yoder sang “This is the Moment” from Jekyll and Hyde duringthe talent competition in the 1993 Miss America Pageant. This year marks the ten-year reunion of herpageant experience, but Yoder elected not to attend the celebrations commemorating her journey fromShipshewana, Indiana, to Atlantic City, New Jersey. Instead of reuniting with the nine Þnal Þnalistson the runway, she decided to remain in Nashville and compose an essay on the violence of pageantry.fourth cousins—once removed. Suddenlylife became a celebration, day after day afterday. The crown became more than a stack ofsterling silver embedded with rows ofsparkling rhinestone. We shared laughstogether as men and women, young and old,Amish and English, tried on that stack ofsparkling silver and paraded around likeroyalty and imitating the stylized MissAmerica wave—long, long; short, short. Theexperience was so novel and out-of-the-ordinary, but those days were sacred. Togetherwith my community, a positive experience ofMiss America was shared.Before enrolling at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, Yoder was educated at Purdue Universitywhere she earned a baccalaureate in interpersonal and public communication and at Indiana Universitywhere she was graduated with a master’s degree in counseling and human services. She attends Brookmeade Congregational Church and is currently preparing for ordination in the United Church of Christ.IPursuing a Crown of PerfectionA Journey from Atlantic City to Vanderbilt University Divinity SchoolBY SHELLI RENEE YODER, MDIV’02, CERTIFICATE FROM THE CARPENTER PROGRAMIN RELIGION, GENDER, AND SEXUALITY, AND DOLLAR GENERAL SCHOLAR22T H ES P I R Ealways am uncertain how to respondwhen someone who discovers I competedin pageants offers, “Really? You don’tseem the type.” Usually I enjoy engaging theother person, and together we discover ourown stereotypes and ambiguous pasts. Butthere are those days when I am in no moodto discuss the subject, and I retort, “Well, Iguess I am the type.”Unless I am willing to ridicule my ownexperience, I usually refrain from disclosingmy pageant past. I keep the lessons learnedfrom those experiences locked away in thedark along with my Miss Indiana crown.Occasionally, and with people I trust, I bringout the crown, brush off the dust and holdthe crown and the experience up to the lightfor closer examinations. Talking openlyabout the good, the bad, and the in-between,is like reuniting with an old friend. My pageantpast is multilayered and peculiar—completewith big hair and oddly enough, a signiÞcantamount of gratitude.I stumbled into pageantry at the close of mysenior year of high school when I participatedin a small Youth for Christ choir called Skywatch. We were asked to sing during the MissNortheast Pageant, a preliminary pageant tothe Miss Indiana title. As contestants changedfrom swimsuits into evening gowns, we sangsongs about Jesus and the glory of God andhow we all need the Lord and the grandeurof heaven’s streets of gold. Such peculiaritydid not register with me immediately.Fall 2002Following the pageant, one of the judgesapproached me and suggested I enter a localpageant. She offered the name and telephonenumber of the person to contact. I called thedirector of the pageant, and two weeks laterI participated in and won the Miss Limberlosttitle which qualiÞed me to compete in theMiss Indiana pageant. Over the next sevenyears, I competed for the crown of Miss Indiana three times. The Þrst trip resulted in myÞnishing 26th in the top 26 places. Duringthe second time around, I Þnished in secondplace. Finally in 1992, I won the crown ofMiss Indiana and competed in the MissAmerica pageant.Long, Long; Short, ShortThe days leading up to my departure toAtlantic City are among my most cherishedmemories. In my home town of Shipshewana, Indiana, the 500 citizens, predominately Amish and Mennonite, exercised norestraint in celebrating my being crownedMiss Indiana. Welcome home parades, community gatherings, exquisitely handcraftedgifts, horse and buggy rides, endless telephonephone calls, mountains of homemadebreads, cookies, pies, and homemade Amishpeanut butter were aplenty. An outpouringof love and support encircled my family; ourhome resounded from the constant activity.Neighborhood children, family, friends, andcurious strangers were welcomed guests. Imet for the Þrst time my second, third, andImpressionistic ViolenceBut what cannot be ignored or denied is theobjectiÞcation imbedded in the phenomenonof Miss America, a reßection of the broaderculture. This certainly is not news for veteranfeminists. But for a novice, who also happensto be a past Miss Indiana, the misogyny is moredifÞcult to name, more painful and shameful.I am not merely reßecting critically on anabstract phenomenon; I am scrutinizing personal experience and acknowledging howunpleasant life becomes when we look inward.Reßecting on my experiences of pageantsis like trying to look at an impressionistpainting with my nose against the wall.Gaining distance from the wall, from thepainting, from pageants, I begin making outimages of an unusual violence againstwomen. Maybe the violence is not physical,but the message sent to women of all ages,especially the young, leaves an unusual kindof scar. As we compete against each other tobecome the ideal woman, as we struggle toalter our own body shape to achieve a culturally deÞned image of beauty, as we volunteer within our community not necessarilyfor our community’s sake but to win favorfrom our peers, a violation of the soul occurs.Perhaps these scars are not visible to theeye; nevertheless they are etched into thesurface of the heart. This objectiÞcation ofwomen scars not only women but all creation.It is a violation which keeps us disconnectedfrom each other and imprisoned in harshand critical self-judgment.The inherent danger in this violation isthat it is couched in terms of women’s liberation. Great lengths to change the image ofMiss America from a beauty pageant to ascholarship program have taken place overthe past decade. Miss America is now mar-23

Poor Clares Mourning the Death of Saint Francisca. 1296by the Master of the ObsequiesfrescoSan Francesco, the Upper ChurchAssisistruggle to alter our own body shape to achieve a culturally deÞnedimage of beauty, as we volunteer within our community not necessarilyfor our community’s sake but to win favor from our peers, a violationof the soul occurs. This objectiÞcation of women scars not only womenbut all creation.keted as the world’s leading provider ofscholarships for women, but Miss America’srelationship with education creates mixedmessages of women’s liberation and sexualobjectiÞcation. As long as women are able toname and claim the conditions, the misogynyis no longer labeled as objectiÞcation but earnsthe dangerous label of women’s liberationvia empowerment. But I ask: Whose deÞnitionof the ideal woman are we embracing?Just as our bodies are manipulated inpageantry, so is the message regarding violenceagainst women; this violation againstwomen is subtle but contributes to our society’s objectiÞed gaze upon women. Height,weight, hair color, skin tone, intelligence, talent,sense of style, posture, composure, wit, andpersonality—women are walking checklistsbased on a male model of perfection. Frommy experience, the 21st-century Miss Americaideal is a “liberated” woman complete withan education and a career; she is smart, talented, heterosexual, and remains on displayfor the male gaze.24The Prescription According to MatthewIf being a novice feminist who also is a pastbeauty queen is not enough to raise eyebrows, being a Mennonite and a beautyqueen certainly will. Either of the seemingcontradictions can provoke eyebrow raisingon its own, but combine the two paradoxesand entire faces begin to contort. Discoveringmy feminist voice would come years later,but I was a Mennonite when I enteredpageantry, and at this interval of my life, thepageant ideal and my religious sensibilityseemed compatible: abide by a list of rules andmorals; dress according to strict guidelines;and by adhering to these codes, salvation—or in this case success—was sure to follow.There was no gray ambiguity. For me, religionand pageants seemed more similar than different. Legalism stood Þrm. Religion andMiss America seemed to embody the pursuitof perfection. To become Miss America wasto become America’s ideal, God’s ideal, or soI thought. The possibility of achieving perfection arrested me and seemed to clarify theVirtue, CheckWhen my dream of becoming Miss Americaended, I was left with a big, gaping hole ofemptiness. The checklist of perfection, thatso narrowly deÞned how I should andshould not be, failed to produce a sense offulÞllment or spiritual transformation. Whatwas God if not perfection or power? Evenmore perverse, what was God if not male orAmerican? The emptiness left me searching.I would like to say I was searching for a wayto confront and begin living into the emptiness I felt inside; however, I searched for areplacement checklist, a new inventory of“dos and don’ts” to deÞne who and what Ishould be.I still longed to be the ideal, virtuouswoman. I got married. Check. I got religious.Check. I started graduate school. Check. Idecorated my house for every national andreligious holiday. Check. I bought shoes tomatch every individual outÞt. Check. Afterall, a virtuous woman has all her boxeschecked off, for only then is she “far moreprecious than jewels” (Proverbs 31:10).Check. For the ideal woman, perfection isnot just the destination; it is her way of travel.While fulÞlling the criteria of the check-T H ES P I R Elist, I was “getting religious” and at the sametime working toward my Þrst master’sdegree in the Þeld of counseling. During mystudies, I discovered a book by Murray Bodotitled Clare: A Light in the Garden. Neitherbiographical nor a spiritual meditation onthe life of Saint Clare of Assisi, the story tellsof Clare’s relationship with Francis of Assisi.Reading the book proved to be a transformative experience. I was not comforted bythe story; I was angered. I became furious. Iquestioned. In the middle of my anger andquestions, my idolatrous belief system andfettered spirit were exposed. Just as Clare’slife was deÞned and understood through herrelationship with a man, I realized this patternwas how I valued and understood my ownlife—through a male deÞnition of perfection.In the middle of my questions and throughmy relationship with another woman’s story,700 years removed, I experienced the holy. Ina rush of emotion from anger to feelings ofsolidarity with a woman such as Clare, Iquestioned “destination perfection.”Clare’s commitment to peace, her abilityto recognize the Beloved in all creation, herunderstanding of the connectedness in theworld, her contemplative heart, her courageto walk away from wealth and 12th-centuryexpectations of the virtuous woman,inspired me to begin delving beneath thesurface of my own reality. What or whowould I Þnd beneath the mask of ShelliYoder, second runner up to Miss America?Where would my questions lead?The path of seeking is more circular thanlinear. I began noticing the endless shades ofgreen found in creation, the unique shape ofeach individual eye, mouth, and nose, thedifferent ways children laugh and the manyways we experience silence, my bare feettouching the earth, and the overwhelmingpresence of homelessness in a country ofafßuence and resources. I noticed how little Iknew about the beautiful gift of my sexuality—how fear and ignorance kept me fromexploration instead of inviting me to agreater awareness—how the Divine Spiritdwelt within one. I began paying attention.Ten years have passed since I was MissIndiana and second runner-up to MissAmerica. During the decade my thoughtshave ßuctuated from “What was I thinking?”to offering up a whispered “Thank you.” Iam grateful for the unique perspective thisexperience provided, and I am thankful forthe kind and generous people my chosenFall 2002path encountered. Most deeply, I am indebtedto my experiences at Vanderbilt UniversityDivinity School.People whom I met during my reign asMiss Indiana continue to correspond withme. Their words are encouraging. There aremany others from whom I have never heard.I am sure meeting a beauty queen in a St.John’s knit ensemble, wearing a glitzycrown, talking about accepting and believingin your self regardless of the circumstances,was bound to foster questions as well as createdistance. The decked-out beauty queen talkingabout self acceptance is a rather hypocriticalimage, an image of my past I live with daily.I have been told I am only responsible foractions I deliberately perform, that it is theintent of the heart that really matters, andbecause I did not intend to do harm, I am notresponsible.I disagree.If I embrace the theological tenet of theconnectedness of all life, and I do, I amresponsible, or rather accountable to myneighbor and not just the ones deÞned ashuman. We are connected and accountable tothe hermit crab, the missel thrush, the woodsorrel, the air we breathe, the ocelot, theprairie, and the weeping willow. We standaccountable to the twelve year old girl dyingto be thin, the man on death row awaitingexecution, and the Afghan refugee without ahome. My choices have consequences. Suchprivilege demands critical reßection, justresponses, and an unfettered spirit embodyingthe Love of God.With a list of “dos and don’ts,” we canconvince ourselves we are granted a specialdispensation from life’s asymmetry. Perhapsthat’s the lure of such a phenomenon as MissAmerica. The pageant sweeps the messinessof life under the train of an ermine-trimmedrobe and projects a contrived image of perfection. It helps tie up the loose ends. Butwhat is reality if not loose ends? Life isscarred and ßawless, broken yet whole. Perhaps in opening ourselves up to the questions,embracing unconditional compassion, andstanding accountable to our neighbor, we areas close as we possibly can be to what itmeans to be perfect.The cut-paper stained glass window was created by CathleenQ. Mumford who serves on the faculty of the Renaissance Center in Dickson, Tennessee. The artist was graduated from theSchool of Visual Arts in Manhattan.PEYTON HOGEAs we compete against each other to become the ideal woman, as weGospel of Matthew’s prescription, “Be perfect,therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”The Miss America image of perfectionchallenged the guessing game in life. I wasaddicted to the control I thought I had inpageants. Competing, achieving, and winninggave me a sense of self-worth, a self-worthdeÞned externally and not internally;“knowing thyself” was not a priority. I usedthe Miss America program to deÞne whoand what I was and would become. Insteadof learning the skill of critical thinking, I onlyhad to imagine: WWMAD? What wouldMiss America do?This mythical, superheroic Þgure put GodÞrst, followed the Ten Commandments,committed no acts of misconduct, smiledand looked attracted, and performed gooddeeds for her neighbor. Follow such a listand behold—a excursion down the runwayof gold was certain. Such a pursuit of perfection served strictly as an external check andbalance system. Never mind about listeningwithin for the voice of God. God was thechecklist of America’s ideal. Become MissAmerica, and God’s favor would bebestowed upon me.Shelli Renee Yoder, MDiv’0225

“ when I’m contemplating the mystery of God, I am alwaysI dwell in Possibility—discovering the unexpected, and each disc

Connelly at [email protected], or call Freddie Haddox at 615/485-3665. The essayist, Connelly, was graduated in 2001 from the University of Rochester where he studied religion and classics. Photographer and Divinity School alumnus Sayler is studying for the doctorate of