Playing with a Purpose

This is the post excerpt.

Hello, my name is Topher Grant and I am a freshman baseball player here at Lenoir-Rhyne University. I’ve been playing ball ever since I could walk and needless to say, baseball has been my life. From playing in little league and making all-stars, to playing in high school and making all-state twice, and now continuing my journey at the next level, this is a life that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Thousands of swings, hundreds of sprints, millions of ground balls, and the days upon days spent at a ball field have sculpted me into the player I am today, but being a part of the Christian faith has made me realize the true purpose for why we play.


Playing this game every single day makes me realize how blessed I am to play the game for as long as I have. In a game based off of failure, it can be easy to give up or give in, but that is when “playing with a purpose” kicks in. God has given me talents to take me to the next level and for that, all glory goes to Him. No matter how good or bad a game goes, at the end of the day, the purpose is simple, but not many understand. Play to glorify Him. This idea expands to more than just a sport or game, it pertains to daily life as well. As Christians, we have to live life in a way to show and share God’s love to all people, and praise him in success and failures. For all these reasons, the purpose of this game is to glorify the man who give me the talents to continue playing the game I love.

Galatians 1:5 “To God be the glory forever and ever!”



Did You Achieve Your Goals Today?

Did You Achieve Your Goal Today?

After visiting and revisiting many assignments and blog posts over the course of the year, it is clear to me that there are countless lessons that I have learned, and many goals that I have accomplished. Along with these lessons and goals, we have worked on a plethora of assignments, some more significant than others. However, from novels to plays, summaries to articles, and even fiction to non-fiction, we have covered a lot of topics, and all have aided my knowledge and critical thinking skills.

As the English 131 class began in mid-August, I had mixed feelings. As a student, I always hated English, it was never my best subject, and was far from my favorite. To me, English had all the intentions to stay the same way it always was. I had always been a sub-par writer, an average reader, and a decent student. However, the setting for this class was completely different than anything I had experienced before; I was now a college student and the class had a new potential that I had never seen before.


Much like a lot of college students, my year started off by making goals: become a better writer, improve comprehension skills, and become a better student. The first goal to tackle was by far my biggest, to become a better writer. Becoming a better writer doesn’t happen overnight and it sure isn’t going to take a couple minutes. I knew that this wasn’t going to be an easy task as college can make or break a student, and the ones that break seem to disappear in the crowds. About halfway through the semester, we started reading The Devil in the White City, and had to write an analysis on a quote early in the story. Erik Larsen wrote about “It was so easy to disappear,” (12) and it became clear to me I would disappear in the class with below average writing skills. This assignment, to me, was one of the most important and significant assignments we had all year as it opened my eyes to become proactive in my journey to improve my writing. If I wasn’t going to put in the work, my grade would suffer and I could fail miserably. To become a better writer, one has to write! All semester in English 131, we have written snail mail, journal entries, summaries, and analyses. Every single one of these assignments have turned me into a better writer than when I first walked through the door three months ago and I can confidently say that; goal one, check. Next on my goal list was to improve my comprehension skills. Through reading novels like, The Devil in the White City and The Underground Railroad, along with plays like, Our Town and Creature, or even articles such as Blogs vs. Term Papers, my reading comprehension skills were greatly improved. All of these readings required analyses at the end, aiding both my writing and comprehension skills. My favorite work of the year was the analysis on Our Town, on the quote in Donald Margulies foreword that said, “It’s a Wonderful Life owes a great deal to Our Town” (xi). This quote required me to comprehend even deeper than it seemed as we had to compare two stories and their themes together. We were making the transition from book to film and this element was one that isn’t used much nowadays. The different versions of readings and connecting the analysis to what we read strengthened my comprehension skills greater than I ever expected; goal two, check. Now, only one goal remained, become a better student. In high school, I never read or wrote. In college, I knew things would have to change or it would be a major disaster. English 131 flipped the script on all of these bad habits. I had to read, or my writing would suffer and I had to write or my grade would suffer. Needless to say, I have become a much better student since August; goal three, check.

With all three of my goals checked, there is no doubt in my mind that English 131 has been a successful course. From increasing my writing and comprehension skills to becoming a better student, the class that I hated turned out to be decent. Reading novels, articles, summaries, and analyses transformed me into a new English student, and I am glad I took this course. I leave you all with one last question, did you achieve your goal today?

Works Cited

Larson, Erik. The Devil in the White City. Vintage, 2004.

Margulies, Donald. Foreword. Our Town by Thornton Wilder. Harper Perennial, 2003, pp. xi-xx.

Wilder, Thornton. Our Town. 1938. Harper Perennial, 2003.

Capra, Frank, director. It’s a Wonderful Life. RKO, 1946.

Annotated Bibliography

Junod, Tom. The Falling Man. EsquireSept. 2003.

“The Falling Man,” by Tom Junod, was one of my favorite pieces that we read as a class. The article takes the point of view of jumping from the twin towers on the horrific day in September of 2001 and changes the way the common man views it. For most, they saw this as a way to escape the torture of the flames and destruction, but others saw a selfish act of suicide. However, when you read “The Falling Man,” it makes it seem as if those who jumped were graceful and were finding peace in no more pain.

Larson, Erik. The Devil in the White City. Vintage, 2004.

The Devil in the White City is a nonfiction novel that spans the years surrounding the building of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, also known as The World’s Columbian Exposition, and the storyline of serial killer H.H. Holmes and his psychotic scheme around the fair. When Holmes transforms a hotel into a murder labyrinth, innocent people become missing and eyebrows become raised. In the hustle and bustle of the city, Holmes was able to disguise and mask the murders, but before long, the truth would come out. In this nonfiction story, we get a true idea of how easy it is to disappear in any busy city and how easily a serial killer can be hidden close to us.

Maslin, Janet. “Add a Serial Killer to 1893 Chicago’s Opulent Overkill.” Review of The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson, The New York Times. 10 Feb. 2003, nytimes.com, Accessed 11 Oct. 2017.

In this review of The Devil in the White City, Janet Maslin tells readers about Larson’s extensive research and detail on the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and serial killer H.H. Holmes. Maslin argues that though Larson’s extensive use of descriptive and accurate facts give this story a real-life vibe. By using these facts and specific detail, The Devil in the White City became a very real story, one we could mistake as a non-fiction novel.

Schreck, Heidi. Creature. Samuel French, 2011.

In the early 1400’s, Creature is a play focused on the main character, Margery Kempe, and her encounters with a supernatural force of the devil. This turns out to be a major struggle for Margery and her family as this is something very rare and serious. The devil seems to be apparent in this play and the question of who to trust becomes very real.

Twenge, Jean. “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?”. The Atlantic, September. 2017.

Jean Twenge’s article discusses the different problems and issues that occur from the usage and over-usage of smartphones. In the article, Twenge explores the idea that too much screen time is leading teens to feel isolated and experience more depressive tendencies as well as, sleep deprivation. By using facts and case studies, Twenge brings the problem to real life and a focus we all should realize.

Whitehead, Colson. The Underground Railroad. Doubleday, 2016.

Set in the Southern United States during the slavery era, The Underground Railroad follows the story of a young slave girl named Cora and her journey to hopeful, and eventual freedom. After facing countless trials and tribulations, Cora does not give up, and will not, until she is free. Life is awful for these slaves, and following this protagonist point-of-view gives us an indication of how tough their lives were.

Wilder, Thornton. Our Town. 1938. Harper Perennial, 2003.

Our Town is a three-act play that tells the story of the fictional American small town of Grover’s Corners between 1901 and 1913 through the everyday lives of its citizens. In this short play, Wilder uses different characters, and even a character in the form of the stage manager, to give us an in-depth look at what is going on. Each act takes us through the different stages of life, and we follow Emily Webb to see this progression. The small, American town is the perfect example of small-town life, and through hardships and successes, we see how small-town life is portrayed.

Its All About the Small Things…

In Donald Margulies foreword to the play, Our Town, the claim is made that the film, It’s a Wonderful Life, was influenced by the early 1930’s play. Our Town, by Thornton Wilder gives a very vivid picture of what twentieth-century, small-town, American life was like. After the main character, Emily Webb, dies during giving birth and it wasn’t until the third act that Emily realizes where she went wrong. Emily never appreciated or realized how great life is until it was too late. This theme is just one of the similarities that Our Town and It’s a Wonderful Life have in common. Margulies foreword argues that Our Town influenced It’s a Wonderful Life because the two stories have similar themes, values, and even settings to drive a common message to the audience.

Before the play even begins, Donald Margulies states this subtle line in his foreword; “It’s a Wonderful Life owes a great deal to Our Town.” (xi) After giving this line a lot of thought, it is definitely not far-fetched that this can be a very true statement. Our Town is an early 1900’s play, set in Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire. A very small, “ordinary” town, typical of early America. The first main focus of Thornton Wilder’s play is the simple tasks carried out by the characters of the play. In one early scene, Emily is rushing through all of her morning routine to get to school on time. By skipping breakfast and running to school, Emily had already overlooked a very simple task, but it is something she neglected and failed to appreciate. Emily Webb was flying through life, as fast as she could, but in the moment, she did not realize what all she missed. However, Emily only realized all of this after she passed, in the form of a ghost. On page 108, Emily is reflecting on her past by saying, “I didn’t realize. So, all that was going on and we never noticed.” This overarching theme of not appreciating and realizing how great life is until it is over. The theme is apparent in both It’s a Wonderful Life and Our Town.

On the other hand of Our Town, It’s a Wonderful Life is set in a small town called Bedford Falls, a very similar scene when compared to Grover’s Corners. Another very simplistic, classic, early-American town that is the epitome of American life. However, after misplacing a huge loan, the main character, George Bailey, is sent over the edge and he decides he wants to end all of his problems. After living a pretty average and basic life, George thought that he wasn’t making an impact on the world because he didn’t get to do major things. As he’s about to commit suicide, an angel comes down and takes George to a place where nobody knows who he is, but all the people he knows are there. This angel shows George all of the things he couldn’t see, and all the lives that he impacted. Without him, his wife never married, had no children, his father’s company went bankrupt, and even his brother died. All of these negative events showed George how much he truly meant in the community and how hard things are without him. Much like Emily Webb, George Bailey was missing out of how perfect life is and how much of a gift it is.

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Our Town and It’s a Wonderful Life are very similar stories and have a lot of comparisons. With similar small-town settings, characters that dream of leaving the city, and the theme of missing out of life, the stories keep getting more and more related. Only when bad things happen are we able to realize how great life is, and this case remained common throughout both stories.

Works Cited

Capra, Frank, director. It’s a Wonderful Life. RKO, 1946.

Margulies, Donald. Foreword. Our Town by Thornton Wilder. Harper Perennial, 2003, pp. xi-xx.

Wilder, Thornton. Our Town. 1938. Harper Perennial, 2003.


Gone with the Windy City

In The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson,Larson uses a double entendre of the word ‘disappear’ to foreshadow the theme of mystery that would be prominent throughout the story, as well as, the symbol of how one can figuratively ‘go ghost.’ This subtle word sets up the murder and mystery that is set to occur as we follow the serial killer H.H. Holmes. During this time-period in Chicago, it was very easy to people to become missing with all of the hustle and bustle of the city, the various diseases, and the countless accidents that go on every single day.

IMG_0555.jpgLarson introduces this subtle word on page twelve where he writes, “It was so easy to disappear, so easy to deny knowledge, so very easy in the smoke and din to mask that something dark had taken root. This was Chicago, on the eve of the greatest fair in history.” Throughout the story, Larson reveals the very mysterious theme as we read along with the point of view of Herman Mudgett, or as we know him, the serial killer H.H. Holmes. This point of view gives us insight to Holmes’ psychotic plot during the Chicago World’s Fair. By constructing a murderous labyrinth disguised as a new hotel, and by having attractive looks with a very charming personality, Holmes lured his victims in and they were to never be seen again. With everything going on in Chicago at the time, Holmes had the perfect cover to carry out the cunning terror.

H.H. Holmes was a doctor, a pharmacist, and a business man, but when he set foot in Chicago, he knew his plan. The killer bought a building conveniently across from the location of the fair. However, this building was not like any of the others around it. Holmes was a smart man, fronting the murder maze as a retail store on the first floor to lure his women and children victims. For some reason, women and children were the victims of choice for Holmes as he murdered his girlfriend and plenty of other females along with kids after they were attracted to the retail store and the ‘hotel.’ The second and third floors of the horrific building were rooms where the residents could stay. Some other features of the hotel were, “a large walk-in vault, with airtight seams and asbestos-coated iron walls… other gas jets installed in the apartment rooms throughout the building,” (67) and even a kiln in the basement for disposal of victim bodies. Herman Mudgett had come up with the perfect disguise to take the lives of innocent women and children. With the hotel and a master plan, Erik Larson had placed the perfect setting in the arms of H.H. Holmes to carry the mysterious theme throughout the whole story.

As more and more people began to vanish, some question began to rise in the Windy City. After multiple investigations on the missing people, a detective ended up coming to the conclusion that Holmes was behind all of the murders. H.H. Holmes did end up confessing to his murders, but it is unsure what the total number of casualties was. This mysterious, psychotic, vanishing type theme reveals how evil and dangerous Holmes was and how simple it was for people to become ‘gone.’ His discreet and complex scheme aided in relaying the same horrific, but exciting, theme throughout the story. The White City had been turned red, but this story line gives a mysterious edge to keep any reader on the edge of their seats.


Work Cited

Larson, Erik. The Devil in the White City. Vintage, 2004.

Self-Conflict; More Than What Meets the Eye

The play “Creature” by Heidi Schreck follows the story of Margery Kempe and her husband, John Kempe, as they battle the conflicts of Jesus versus the devil in the 1400’s. Margery is facing devil encounters and is trying to find Christ through a priest to combat the evil woes. However, the conflict in this story isn’t just about Margery, it’s about John’s conflicts too. John Kempe has preferences for his wife and himself that do not seem to remain constant, forcing John to have conflicts with her and himself.

The play “Creature” has a very common ‘good versus evil’ conflict in the fact that Margery is facing Jesus and the devil, but John’s conflicts are much more personal. John Kempe is faced with man-versus-man and man-versus-self conflicts. The first conflict John faces is man-versus-self, as he lusts for Margery and begs to have his desires fulfilled. On page 29, John says, “Will you make love to me if I write it?” and “if I didn’t make love to you- would you allow my head to be smit off?” Both of these two quotes in the short scene reveal what John desires early on. Even though his wife isn’t in a great state, lust is more important than her health. Later on, in that same scene, Margery tells John that she “would love to have his head smit off before that act,” (31) which irritates John to the point where he rips up the letter and leaves. The next man-versus-man conflict comes up on page 51, as John wants to control what his wife wants to wear. John is convinced to make Margery stop wearing white-colored robes and dresses. In this scene, John states, “she’s not married to Jesus Christ, she’s married to me!” This single quote reveals another conflict of John’s; that Margery should listen to everything he says and follow his rules. The white robe is an embarrassment to John because the town laughs and mocks these dresses. As the play progresses, it seems apparent how self-centered Margery’s husband is. The last conflict that John Kempe faces is man-versus-man, when Margery will not eat. On pages 55 to 57, the nurse brings out a steak and John gives it to his wife. Margery is hungry, but her vision with God tells her to fast. In this late scene, John boils over more than he had in the entire play and he threatens his wife by saying, “[w]hy don’t you think about how long it takes to be burned alive.”(56) This isn’t John saying he will do it, but the townspeople will and this scare tactic may help John get some of the control he wants. However, the debate over the food was clearly man-versus-man and continues to push the Kempe’s to the edge.

The man-versus-man and man-versus-self conflicts shown in the play “Creature” are very similar to the issues today in the NFL protests. The NFL protests are man-versus-man and man-versus-self conflicts as the protests are based off political views. Political views are a self-conflict because they are all based off of opinions. Much like John Kempe had self-conflicts about his personal issues, the NFL protest can be a self-conflict because it is all based off of one’s personal views. These issues are everywhere in today’s world, but these are problems that only the individual can fix.


Work Cited

Schreck, Heidi. Creature. Samuel French, 2011.