Phi Alpha Theta, 2018

Reinhardt’s chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the history honor society, inducted three new members yesterday: Paige Oglesby, Hannah Hale, and Madeleine Gray. Congratulations!

Paige Oglesby, Hannah Hale, Madeleine Gray, Jonathan Good, Sasha Volokh. Photo: Jeff Reed.

Sasha Volokh of Emory Law School was our guest speaker, and he gave a very interesting talk about the importance of historical research as it relates to the practice of law, particularly what words were understood to mean at the time that the laws were composed. One audience member remarked that it was the most edifying speech by a lawyer that he’s ever heard – and even more pleased that it didn’t cost him anything.

Alumni News

I was pleased to chat with Reinhardt alumnus Andi Demçellari ’06 when he stopped by earlier this week. An Albanian by birth, Mr. Demçellari now resides in London, Ontario, where he works for Wolverine Industries (tagline: “we tackle your most complex aluminum projects”) and enjoys it very much. Business travel frequently takes him to Wolverine’s head office in Decatur, Alabama, and he was able to squeeze in a visit his alma mater this time.

Alumni News

Be it not said that our history majors lack a sense of entrepreneurship!

1. History major Jed Martin Mills ’12 started blacksmithing a while back, and with a friend has opened J and P Forge, where “we mix traditional coal forges and modern gas forges to heat steel and work it into functional items for the home, yard, or whatever else you can imagine. Everything is handmade with anvil and hammer!” He writes that “we started getting a lot of requests to do custom projects for folks so we figured we would give a small business a try.” Visit the J and P Forge Etsy shop to purchase items like these.

2. History major Trevor Rhodes ’12 stopped by last week. He and some friends have also started a small business: Gearcraft Holsters. If you want to pack in comfort and style, you could do worse!

3. Dual history and business major Alex Bryant ’15 has founded Sarcraft, a “wilderness skills school and outfitter that empowers people with the knowledge, confidence, and gear to prevail in whatever circumstances they may find themselves in, come what may.” Check out their website, where you can sign up for their courses or purchase gear.

All Hail the Humanities

Dartmouth religion professor Kevin Reinhart says something I happen to agree with:

The Dartmouth Review: As a professor of religion, a department in the humanities, what do you think is the role of a liberal arts education in today’s pre-professional society?

Kevin Reinhart: Well the short answer to that is simple: people who do pre-professional work, someone who comes to Dartmouth and just does economics all the way through, I think are being trained to be middle-management. It is a luxury to be one of the people who, to use the business cliche, can see around corners. People who can draw on a wide variety of, not just American but also world cultural features —  history, languages, so on and so forth — have that kind of ability. They are the ones who are going to be leaders. The ones who do solely pre-professional work may be well compensated, but they will not be leaders. To that end, I would point to the fact that two of Dartmouth’s most successful graduates in finance, one the head of the Fed and one the Secretary of the Treasury, both studied subjects other than finance. One was a history major and one was an Asian Studies major. It is a shame that students feel discouraged from taking advantage of a liberal arts education when, in fact, that is both what will benefit them and what Dartmouth is best at.

Joseph Asch adds: “I agree in spades. Over the years, whether in dealing with managers or lawyers or even architects and other professionals, folks with a liberal arts background understand larger issues which people with only technical training just can’t comprehend.”

Alumni News

1. After working for several years in Los Angeles for DeBlase Brown Eyerly LLC, Reinhardt history major Tyler Lemen ’13 has returned to the area and is now an owner and manager of Rice Sushi restaurant. He will be marrying his fiancée Kaydee Whipple this week in Mexico.

Photo: Tyler Lemen

2. History major Dan Audia ’08 worked for the Office of Admissions and then the Office of the Registrar at Reinhardt. In 2014, he accepted a job in the admissions department at Georgia Gwinnett College, and in 2015 he got an offer he couldn’t refuse to work as an admissions counsellor and STEM recruiter at Kennesaw State University. Since then he has been promoted to Admissions Director for MBA Programs at the Coles College of Business at KSU.

Photo: JG

I was pleased to have dinner with Mr. Audia in Kennesaw last night – and especially pleased that he credits his success to the skills he learned as an undergraduate history major!

3. History major Lindsay Taylor ’10 taught at Dorchester Collegiate Academy, a charter school in Dorchester, Massachusetts before moving back to Georgia in 2015. Since then she has been teaching history at Wheeler High School in Cobb County. Last fall, Ms. Taylor was inducted into the Marietta Athletic Hall of Fame for her achievements as a soccer and basketball player for Marietta High School (two sports she continued to play at Reinhardt).

(Click on the link for a photograph from the Marietta Daily Journal.)

4. History major Lance Patrick ’06 recently received a JD degree from Emory Law School. He worked for the Office of the District Attorney for the Appalachian Judicial Circuit, and as of last year is now with J.M. Heller Law Firm of Canton, Georgia. His practice areas include criminal defense, bankruptcy and debt relief, and wills and trusts.

Photo: Heller Law Firm

Half-Staff

Another mass shooting, another round of flags flying at half-staff (or “half-mast”… I am inclined to say “half-pole” myself). Here is a view of the Waleska Post Office this morning:

At least this one was ordered by the President – one of my pet peeves is how people are all too willing to lower the flag – everyone’s flag – to half-staff because they have suffered some private loss. But the national flag should only come down during times of national mourning – let the state governor order the state flag down, the mayor order the city flag down, the college president order the college flag down, etc.

But I think that half-staffing of the national flag happens way too often anyway. It’s like the standing ovation: “Formerly reserved for those rare instances when mere applause seemed insufficient, the standing ovation morphed into just another hollow social obligation some time ago.” And anyway, the desire to participate in Media Events is juvenile and should be resisted.

Apparently this is a problem in my homeland as well. Colby Cosh wrote a blog post that has stayed with me over the years:

Yeah, I’d say flag protocol has gotten a little sloppy in this country.

As I understand it, tradition and correct procedure permit Canada’s flag to fly at half-mast only when the Sovereign or one of her representatives dies, and only for thirty days at a time. But aggressive idiots–the kind who say things like “How dare you tell me how to express my love for Canada?”–have ruined the ceremonious pleasure of the flag for everyone; when in private hands it now dips, routinely and almost universally, to honour cirrhotic disk jockeys or police dogs. In fact, try finding a Canadian flag not on a government building that ever flies at the top of the mast; it’s not as easy as it sounds.

I guess I thought the abuse of the flag had lost its power to annoy me–but have a look at this photo from the grounds of Woodhaven Middle School, which is performing a ritual act of patriotic obeisance on behalf of an outstanding employee.

Steven Bradley Smith, 31, was found hanging by paramedics who were called to his home at 19035 46 Ave. in Edmonton before midnight. … charges against Smith, laid by Spruce Grove RCMP last month, include sexual assault, sexual interference, inviting sexual touching and sexual exploitation involving… two girls. Smith was also charged with making child pornography and shooting digital video footage of one of the girls while she was nude, as well as having anal intercourse with her. Police alleged the incidents took place between Sept. 1, 2003, and Oct. 30, 2005, and said both girls were under 14 when the alleged assaults began.

Er…. A nation mourns?

St. Augustine

Another Wikipedia discovery, under “Flatulist“:

There are a number of scattered references to ancient and medieval flatulists, who could produce various rhythms and pitches with their intestinal wind. Saint Augustine in City of God (De Civitate Dei) (14.24) mentions some performers who did have “such command of their bowels, that they can break wind continuously at will, so as to produce the effect of singing.”

Adam Smith

A Wikipedia discovery, entry for Adam Smith (note 1):

In his fourth year, while on a visit to his grandfather’s house at Strathendry on the banks of the Leven, [Smith] was stolen by a passing band of gypsies, and for a time could not be found. But presently a gentleman arrived who had met a gypsy woman a few miles down the road carrying a child that was crying piteously. Scouts were immediately dispatched in the direction indicated, and they came upon the woman in Leslie wood. As soon as she saw them she threw her burden down and escaped, and the child was brought back to his mother. [Smith] would have made, I fear, a poor gypsy. (John Rae, Life of Adam Smith,  [1895])

Ashoka

Something I did not know: both the state emblem and the state flag of the Republic of India refer to Ashoka the Great, who ruled the Maurya Empire from 268 to 232 BC. This empire was founded by Chandragupta Maurya in 321 in the wake of Alexander the Great’s visit to the subcontinent; Chandragupta’s grandson Ashoka is widely regarded as one of India’s greatest emperors. Legend has it that he converted to Buddhism after witnessing the great destruction of the Kalinga War, and his Edicts – which prescribed benevolence, kindness to prisoners, and respect for animal life, among other things – may still be read on pillars set up throughout India. One of these, at Sarnath, is topped with a sculpture of four Asiatic lions standing back to back; this was adopted as an emblem by the Dominion of India in 1947, and retained by the Republic in 1950.

The State Emblem of India and its model, the Lion Capital of Ashoka (Wikipedia).

For some reason I thought that the emblem at the center of the Indian flag was supposed to be Gandhi’s spinning wheel, but in fact it’s a dharmachakra (dharma wheel). This one has 24 spokes and it appears on a number of edicts of Ashoka, including the one at Sarnath (see the base that the lions are standing on).

Wikipedia.

(The eight-spoked wheel of Buddhism is another dharmachakra.)

I suppose that Ashoka’s Buddhism makes him someone that both Muslims and Hindus can admire.

Greek Letter Societies

It is a quaint American custom that university societies are often known by a combination of two or three Greek letters. Reinhardt has announced that “Greek Life” is coming to campus: the fraternity Kappa Sigma and the sorority Zeta Tau Alpha are now recruiting members. Of course, not only social societies take Greek letter names, but honor societies as well, and a number of these have existed at Reinhardt for some time. For no real reason, here is some commentary on the uses of Greek by these organizations:

If you must use Greek letters, then you should really follow the example of Beta Beta Beta, the biology honor society, or Pi Gamma Mu, the honor society for the social sciences. Their names stand for Greek mottos that describe what they do. “Blepein basion biou” means “to seek the basis of life,” as biologists do, and “Politikes gnoseos mathetai” indicates “the study of the social sciences,” something that political scientists do. This is how you’re supposed to do it! Phi Beta Kappa, the organization that inaugurated this silly custom (but of which no chapter could exist at Reinhardt right now), stands for “Philosophia biou kubernetes,” that is, “Philosophy, the helmsman of life.”

Slightly downmarket is a motto composed of three discrete words all in the nominative, as though it is difficult for people to compose a grammatical sentence. The history honor society Phi Alpha Theta stands for “Philia anthropos theos,” meaning “Love, humanity, God.” I suppose these are good words but they could apply to any society, not just one dedicated to history. Alpha Chi, our version of Phi Beta Kappa, stands for “aletheia character,” that is “truth, character.”

But that is better than the next category of name, which consists of the initials, in Greek, of a motto in English. Kappa Delta Pi is simply the first letters of “Knowledge, Duty, and Power,” suggesting that its founders knew no Greek beyond the Greek alphabet. In a similar vein, Phi Beta Lambda is simply the Greek equivalent of F.B.L., for “Future Business Leaders.”

The music fraternity Pi Kappa Lambda commemorates its first member, Peter Christian Lutkin, by rendering his initials in Greek (in which case they should have been Pi Chi Lambda, as “Christian” derives from “Christos”).

But worst of all was the Dartmouth custom of simply walking up to a slot machine, pulling the lever, and picking whatever comes up on the three reels.

Do “Zeta Tau Alpha” and “Kappa Sigma” mean anything? I assume they do – ZTA was founded in 1898, and ΚΣ in 1869, back when people knew Greek. The mottos of social societies (along with their grips, rituals, and the meaning of their insignia) are generally secret, and expulsion awaits any member who reveals them to outsiders, but a little googling reveals that the sorority’s motto is “seek the noblest,” which could mean that ZTA stands for “zeteite ta arista,” and that the fraternity:

evolved from an ancient order, known in some accounts as “Kirjath Sepher”, said to have been founded between 1395 and 1400 at the University of Bologna. The story says that the corrupt governor of the city, one-time pirate and later papal usurperBaldassare Cossa, took advantage of the students at Bologna, one of Europe’s preeminent universities which attracted students from all over the continent, by sending his men to assault and rob them; this motivated one of the university’s scholars Manuel Chrysoloras to found a secret society of students beginning with five of his most devoted disciples, for mutual protection against Baldassare Cossa. (Wikipedia)

I must say that I strongly approve of a fraternity’s theme being medieval (even if it’s highly doubtful that there’s any institutional continuity between a society founded in fourteenth century Bologna and one that became public in nineteenth century America – just as the Freemasons are not actually descended from the Knights Templar). But its name is not Greek – Kirjath Sepher was a settlement in Canaan allotted to the tribe of Judah, whose name might mean “City of the Book.” (And for extra style points, Kappa Sigma could become the first American social fraternity to be known by a pair of Hebrew letters, Qof Samekh, or קס.)