Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A restorative response to the Veishea riot

From Toledo, IA
Not a new problem, apparently. (ISU student paper, 1940s ed.)
I'll never forget the Sunday afternoon during high school I came back to Iowa from a youth retreat in Kansas, and my dad telling me one of my high school classmates had been murdered at a party during Iowa State University's annual celebration, Veisha. It set off the most intense week of my entire high school experience, where every day felt like living in slow motion. That was 17 years ago.

But for the past 30 years or so, ISU's Veisha celebration has had a bit of an identity problem. What started out as a celebration of education at ISU had turned into an excuse for people to come from across the state, crash in their friends'/siblings' dorm rooms or apartments, and get really, really drunk. Riots have occurred enough times at Veisha for them to no longer be a surprise. - So when I heard this morning that there was yet another riot last night at Veisha (I didn't even know it was going on), I thought "Hmm," and went back to sipping my coffee.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

By the rivers of Babylon?

From Toledo, IA
"By the Waters of Babylon" - Evelyn de Morgan, 1882-1883 (via Wikipedia)
When I was in high school the band Sublime was cool. I graduated the year after their lead singer died of a drug overdose just weeks before their major label album released and became wildly popular. The summer after high school the rock band I was in with my friends, Honnold, played a number of shows with a punk band from southeast Iowa, Blank Skeme, who often played "Rivers of Babylon" by Sublime at their shows. I loved that song (still do).

Little did I know then (despite having grown up in the church), the song was based on another "song," Psalm 137, a lament by the people of Israel who were exiled to Babylon in the sixth century B.C.E. The people are asked by their captors to sing a song of Zion, which only brings to their mind images of Jerusalem burning. The people can only sit down and weep.