Dr. Crouch “whispers” words of wisdomBy TORI BACHMAN-JOHNSON
We live in a noisy world. Georgetown College President William H. Crouch could tell you a thing or two about noise—he recently stood next to the speakers at a Kenny Chesney concert. Yet in all the noise, God whispers to us, and He has a lot to say. President Crouch spoke about this on Tuesday, Dec. 8 in the final Chapel Service of the semester.
He had a tough act to follow; after Sophomore Sarah Carey opened with a word of prayer, GC’s gospel choir, the Joyful Noise Singers, took to the stage. The choir, lead by Pamela Young, filled the John L. Hill Chapel with beautiful harmonies as they performed “Higher Lifted Up.” Their movement, energy and enthusiasm captured the audience. Immediately following, the audience joined with the choir in singing the congregational hymn, “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The Chapel Brass ensemble provided accompaniment, as did the organ. While the brass ensemble performed “Angels from the Realms of Glory,” offering was collected for the Salvation Army. Then came time for the main event.
Before President Crouch began his sermon, however, he recognized two GC groups—the Women’s Soccer Team, who played for the conference championship against Lindsey Wilson, and the Women’s Volleyball Team, who played for the national championship. Though both teams lost their games, they advanced quite far in their tournaments. No GC women’s athletic team has ever before played for the national championship. These two teams taught President Crouch to never give up. He presented them with orange and black M&Ms—his favored treat for himself when he has accomplished something.
“I want to talk to you today about whispers.” With these words, President Crouch began his sermon about the things that God whispers to us that we may be too busy to hear. Whispers are small, quiet proclamations. Someone might whisper to share a secret, because they are tired or sick, or because the noises around them are so loud that their usual speaking voice sounds like a whisper. The Bible is full of whispers. Samuel heard a whisper and thought it was his mentor, Elijah, but in reality, is was the voice of God. In Acts 10:10, God speaks to Peter in a whisper, and on the road to Damascus, Paul hears a voice that no one else can hear. Yet, said President Crouch, “We live in a noisy world.”
He drew a cell phone out of his pocket to demonstrate, walking across the stage and pretending to text. Distractions like phones, music and television prevent us from hearing God. God is still speaking, however, and according to President Crouch, He is whispering three things to us. The first of these messages is, “I love you.” “The most important condition of our human existence is that we are loved,” said President Crouch. Many people in the audience, he continued, have lost loved ones to death, abandonment, divorce or illness, and these losses leave holes in our hearts. “If we don’t fill those holes, then we’re not living up to the potential that God gives us,” he explained. God is able to fulfill our need for love.
The second thing God whispers is, “Fear not.” “It’s a scary world…professors, papers, tests…,” said President Crouch, eliciting some laughs from the audience. People can also fear death, hurt and illness. Fear keeps us paralyzed and prevents us from reaching our potential, but in the Christmas story, the angels tell the shepherds not to fear. God tells us not to be afraid, but instead, to rejoice. This is his third whisper— “Rejoice!”
President Crouch explained that people look for happiness in all the wrong places—in money, drugs, alcohol and illicit sex—when in fact, we have everything that we need to be happy inside of us. Here at GC, the faculty and staff want students to succeed, parents make sacrifices for their children to attend the college, and miracles happen so that young men and women can become GC Tigers.
In closing, President Crouch reminded the audience that 2,000 years ago, God spoke in a whisper, and that whisper was the Baby Jesus. Instead of using a natural disaster or some other grand display of power, he sent his son in the form of an infant. “On Christmas,” said President Crouch, “shut off your phones and listen.” The Chapel Service then ended as the entire audience joined hands and sang “Joy to the World.”
Dr. Dummer studies social penetration theoryBy VICTORIA ENGELHARDT
Georgetown College’s Faculty Forum is a chance for faculty to get to know what other faculty are doing in the world of research. Once a month, a faculty member will present their findings to their colleages over dinner. The faculty member chosen for December was Dr. Susan Dummer. Dr. Dummer received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas in Speech Communication and then got her Masters and her Ph.D. of Communication from Texas A&M University. Dr. Dummer is in her fourth year at Georgetown College as an Assistant Professor of Communication and Media Studies, where she teaches Communication Theory and Research Methods, Group Dynamics, Gender Communication and Senior Seminar, just to name a few. Her husband, James, teaches middle school and is an assistant football coach here at Georgetown. They have two children.
Dr. Dummer’s research project began because she is interested in the ways in which relationships develop and grow. While browsing Facebook, she realized that many of her students and friends had things on their profiles that they may not have intended for her to see. (She would like to clarify that she does not add students as friends on Facebook unless they send her a friend request. She feels that requesting students as friends could be uncomfortable to the students because of power differences in their relationship with one another.) After observing the information on her friends’ profiles, she realized that in some ways it was changing the dynamics of her relationships with those friends. Because she is a relationship scholar, she wanted to see if there was some way she could explain it. After thinking about all the theories she teaches in class, she realized none of them got at the heart of what she was experiencing. She then decided to do research to see if she could apply those theories, and she concluded that a new theory needs to be conceived.
On Monday, Dec. 7 at 6 p.m. in the Hall of Fame room, Dr. Dummer presented her research on the Social Penetration Theory, which was developed in 1973 by Altman and Taylor. They argue that our relationships develop when we engage in three levels of self-disclosure: superficial, social and core. The superficial level is comprised of the very basic information such as where we are from, what our major is, where we work, etc. The social layer is more intimate, including things such as our likes and dislikes, good things that have happened to us in the past, and also our aspirations and accomplishments. The core layer is made up of our deepest hopes and wishes, things that we are ashamed of, things we are afraid of—the most intimate information is in the core.
Dr. Dummer said, “Altman and Taylor understand self-disclosure as me telling you something about myself—to them, disclosure is always a verbal thing.” “Facebook relationships don’t work with this theory because the levels or topics of disclosure have changed. We have all filled out our Basic Info section, and the topics in that section are actually social or even core levels (religious or political beliefs) of self-disclosure according to the theory. The fact that we are suggested to put info there suggests the way we are supposed to disclose on Facebook.” Another reason that the theory doesn’t work for these relationships is “The Changing Nature of Levels of Disclosure.” Before Facebook, people said self-disclosure was only verbal, but on Facebook it can happen through verbal exchanges like wall posts, private messages, status updates and comments but also non-verbally through pictures that are posted, group membership, the applications you choose to display, such as bumper stickers and flair.
“Twilight flair and Obama bumper stickers say something about you, so does you joining a pro-life/choice group.” Another type of disclosure that happens on Facebook is third-party disclosure. When other people post something on your wall, that is a form of disclosure. One thing the theory argues is that self-disclosure in relationships assumes a norm of reciprocity—I tell you something and you tell me something that is a similar level of intimacy. But the norm of reciprocity is not important at all because what you put on your profile isn’t based on how much your friends are posting.” Finally, the theory only talks about managing one relationship at a time, but on Facebook you are managing multiple relationships at the same time—and what is appropriate in one may not be appropriate in others. Pictures, status updates or wall posts, for example, may be appropriate with one person but not with a teacher— it can change your relationship with people. The theory is not prepared to manage the relationships when there is more than just the intended disclosee. Dr. Dummer has discovered this and much more, and though she has yet to figure out a new theory about the levels of social penetration, she is working on it and hopes to open a new dialogue in this area.