Lauren Lucy Caddell '23
We all know about January 6 - the worst act of terrorism to be inflicted since 9/11. But not all of us understand the significance of such an act on our current political landscape. The rebellion started when Donald John Trump called to the thousands gathered to “refuse to take it any longer.” FIGHT FOR TRUMP! they screamed back, and they did: five dead, 138 injured, 2.7 million dollars in damage. They went into it with no organization or pre-ordained plan, only the blind hatred planted within them. The masses were like Republican robots, programmed only to obey the orders of their master. Search, kill, destroy. What ideology has dictatorship as its central pillar? Fascism.
In her 1951 book The Origins of Totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt argues that citizens living under a totalitarian regime often harbor no true vicious instincts but are coerced into blind evil. She used the example of Adolf Eichmann, who organized the concentration camp system in Germany. At the end of the war, he was tried for war crime and pleaded guilty, arguing that he had simply done what he was told by the totalitarian regime and had not thought for himself. He was found guilty and executed, but not before Arendt turned him into a case study.
For her, Eichmann represented the idea of the “banality of evil”: the same right-hand men and underdogs of totalitarian societies that we think of as the worst of the morally worst are nothing more than blank canvases that paint whatever horrors their superiors direct them to. In this way of thinking, Eichmann was not a sociopath but instead an unremarkable, complacent man who followed orders to succeed in his society. And indeed, Arendt’s account of meeting him before his execution describes a plain, friendly man who just happened to have the lives of five million people on his conscience. Followers of a dictator are puppets, putting up no resistance to the atrocious acts they carry out.
For four years, Trump was the puppeteer controlling the nation, and Republicans were his willing figurines. Protest! Destroy! Fight! were their slogans, but did they even know what their movement meant? They shouted for democracy while invalidating the people’s vote that removed their totalitarian leader. They were boring, mundane people who heard their leader’s call and answered without a second thought. Yet even after the dethroning of this malicious king, Trump constantly threatens to return and recreate the nightmare he developed over four years. We are a nation on the brink as we head into midterm elections: a political landscape torn between dictatorship and the familiar and unfailing government, for the people, by the people.
We are moving into a dark period of our history, a time when 9/11-like terrorism is acceptable and the Right controls the White House. As American men and women, we cannot sit back and watch as the democracy we stand for is destroyed before our very eyes. Those who control our democracy harbor secret longings for a return to the world of Trump, the world of storming the Capitol, the world of rampant racism and discrimination. The Left is democracy, the Right is fascism. We cannot let America become the new Russia. Boys, we must fight!
Note: this article is a satirical work and does not reflect its author’s true beliefs.
Henry Brown '23
Scientology. You’ve probably heard the name. You’ve likely seen their extravagant buildings. And maybe you’ve even wondered if it’s the secret to why Tom Cruise, an ardent follower, doesn't age. Scientology is arguably the United States’ most secretive, most out-of-the-box, and most bizarre religion, and yet its philosophy closely mimics that of Enlightenment philosophers and Christian theologists. While many laugh at its absurdity and scam-like nature, few understand why Scientology is so appealing to the many thousands who have joined its ranks.
The story begins with a man named L. Ron Hubbard. Born in Nebraska in 1911, Hubbard developed a career as a writer during the Great Depression, authoring horror and science fiction pieces for local magazines. He briefly served as a naval intelligence officer during World War II, but ended up in the hospital after developing several ailments. His stay catalyzed within him deep, philosophical ruminations about human suffering, and Hubbard sought to ameliorate those issues by uncovering the “science of the mind.” He went on to write Dianetics in 1950, which outlined his philosophy and serves as the foundational text of Scientology.
Like many philosophers, Hubbard argued that “survival”—or the eternal perpetuation of life—is the foremost principle of human existence. There are eight “dynamics” of survival, as he dubs them: one's self, family, nations, humankind, life, the physical universe, the spiritual universe, and higher powers (there is no strict “God” figure in Scientology). Actions that support the survival/continued existence of these dynamics are “moral,” and actions that are “countersurvival” are “immoral” and “perpetuate negative states.” Hubbard believed that all humans have an internal consciousness—the “analytical mind”—that can make such survival-oriented judgments. A “free” human, he would argue, would always make moral decisions that prioritize survival over decline in condition (e.g., picking health over injury, sickness, or death for the first dynamic, or choosing loyalty over treason for the third). Hubbard seems like the anti-Immanuel Kant, if you will.
When humans do not make survival-oriented judgments, Hubbard blames “engrams.” Engrams are memories of traumatic events that, when humans are reminded of them, evoke emotions of guilt, shame, or embarrassment. The medical establishment would say that Hubbard goes off the rails here. These painful emotions trigger the unconscious “reactive mind,” which in turn takes hostage of the survival-oriented analytical mind and induces countersurvivalism, which may include mental and physical ailments. In Dianetics, he blames the reactive mind for health issues like asthma, high blood pressure, and allergies. In essence, engrams (i.e., bad memories) do not perpetuate the life of the first dynamic, one’s own life, because they cause illness. Thus, to be free and moral, humans must learn to suppress or eliminate the reactive mind/engrams and discover their true spiritual essence: the analytical mind.
This is the philosophy of Scientology. This account is vastly simplified, but explains their approach to religion. To practice Scientology, one must participate in auditing—expensive one-on-one sessions with church officials that help to eliminate engrams. The Church of Scientology uses machines called E-meters to accomplish this, which claim to measure emotion and identify engrams. By paying for hundreds of auditing sessions (this costs many thousands of dollars), one can finally achieve freedom from the countersurvival reactive mind. This is why Scientology is dubbed the religion of the rich.
Scientology has been at the center of many controversies over the years. The Church has engaged in criminal behavior, threatened “enemies” of the Church and encouraged members to shun family members who are antagonistic towards the Church, sued search engines that display secretive information relating to the Church, and even neglected its follower Lisa McPherson, an ill Scientologist under the Church’s care, so much so that she died. The organization has also been subject to investigation regarding allegations superiors physically beat their employees. Regardless, nearly 25,000 Americans are still part of the cult-like Church, and membership continues to rise.
Scientology is a chaotic religion. Its supporters believe that a galactic emperor named Xenu placed humans on the planet seventy-five million years ago (though you have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to access this information). Yet, why is the religion so appealing to its followers? Maybe the paid aspect gives confidence that the treatments are working. Maybe it’s a roundabout way to escape guilt and shame, which plague all humans. Or maybe it’s pure deception by a man who just wanted to make money. What it teaches us is that the human mind is incredibly susceptible to deceit, and even the most obvious truths can seem wrought with fraud to those who are misled.
Henry Brown '23
“Stride out,” yells Coach Ehrenhaft as I emerge onto the clearing. I’ve just completed hill loop number five at Tregaron Park, my eyes are blinded with sweat, and I’m just about ready to collapse. Yet, a voice inside my head urges me on, “Henry, you can complete one more lap. Hill workouts are the most important part of cross country.”
But are they? Pushing through pain instills a persistent mentality, one might reason. But maybe it’s the long-easies we do every Sunday to build our aerobic capacity. Or perhaps it’s the cultivation of comradery, of positivity, and of tenacity on the team. For decades, the STA cross country program has shown that a combination of these factors—hard work and a supportive team—is what leads to success. But neither of these would be possible without the grounding of something even more vital to participation in this sport: the shoes you run with.
Let’s go back to the summer before my Freshman year. When I stepped on the bus that would take the team to our camp in Vermont, my main concern was the sheer volume of running I would have to endure over the next few days. Whether intentionally or not, I had “procrastinated” my training over the summer and was pretty unprepared for the respective 6 AM and 4 PM runs each day. Pressure may make diamonds when it comes to school work, but certainly not for cross country.
But as I soon learned, running would actually not be the greatest challenge that week. Anyone who has traveled up to Camp Abnaki would tell you that Coach Ehrenhaft’s cabin inspection is the most rigorous procedure known to humankind. If your bag is not fully zipped, one point off. If there’s a single wrinkle in your sheets, two points off. We once got points off because someone left a blade of grass on the floor.
Knowing this, my cabin mates and I cleaned our cabin to perfection. We tucked in our sheets, straightened the clothesline, and even created a playlist with both Gregorian Chants and Bruce Springsteen to appease “Judge Ehrenhaft’s” music tastes. When Coach finally did arrive, everything seemed to be going perfectly—until he discovered that my running shoes, tucked neatly under my bed, were still tied. I was shocked. How could I, normally an organized person, cost my cabin a perfect score?
You see, in cross country, it is absolutely vital that you untie your running shoes before you take them off. Regardless of how tired or sore you are, kicking off your running shoes without undoing the laces can lead to disaster later in the season. Over time, the stress placed on the shoe’s inner structure by such an action essentially breaks down the shoe to a point where it cannot provide adequate support, leading to injury … or shin splints, every runner’s worst nightmare.
Upon realizing my error, I quickly adopted this habit and we miraculously achieved a perfect score later that week. And since then, I still untie my shoes a solid … 95% of the time.
Today’s reading offers a parable about how mustard seeds, which are just a millimeter in diameter, grow into massive plants and provide a sanctuary for birds and other types of wildlife. For me, the act of untying my shoes after a run is like the planting of a mustard seed. Such a small, seemingly inconsequential act can ultimately play more of a role in shaping your season than hill workouts or team support. Shoes often determine how your muscles build strength and how your cardiovascular endurance develops. And a shoe-induced injury may take you off the trail for the entire season. Never underestimate the role of the shoe.
Throughout our lives, even on a daily basis, we face challenges. These can be big, such as an approaching final exam or a conference championship, or they may be small, like a tough lunch table question. Regardless of their size, challenges occupy our thoughts, they govern our actions, and they determine our emotions. But too often in our pursuit of accomplishing these feats, we abandon the “little actions,” as I call them, like untying your shoes, that can actually be more consequential in the long term. Take schoolwork, for example. In my life, I’m quick to run upstairs the moment I get home so I can get started on my homework. Over my time at St. Albans, though, I’ve realized how little time I actually spend with my parents on weekdays. When they get home, I may say hello, but I rarely spend more than a few minutes with them. I, as well as everyone else, play a zero-sum game with time in my life. There’s no shame in focusing on the big challenges that face us. Parents seem like they will always be there, and not dedicating even fifteen minutes at the dinner table can seem like a low cost if school is getting really tough. But recently I read a statistic that opened my eyes—when we turn 18, we’ve already spent ninety percent of the time we will ever spend with our parents. Ninety percent of the memories have already been made, ninety percent of the stories have already been shared. … You can say the same of friends as well—once you graduate, apart from at reunions, how many of your classmates will you regularly see again? Five? Ten? We call ourselves a brotherhood. But are we truly brothers when, all too often, we are blind to each other? When, all too often, we fail to appreciate the stories of those who sit beside us? When, all too often, we say “Oh well, there’s always tomorrow.” And the days pass by, and soon enough, … tomorrow itself begins to slip away.
Now is the time; today is the day to sacrifice just fifteen minutes of studying to spend time with your parents or truly listen to your brethren. The bond you possess will be stronger for it. And you certainly won’t regret not studying fifteen extra minutes.
When I think of “little actions,” as I’ve been calling them, an Ernest Hemingway quote comes to mind which Mr. Robinson has used in the past. The quote reads, “Today is only one day in all the days that will ever be. But what will happen in all the other days that ever come can depend on what you do today.” Twenty years from now, you may not remember anything that happened today. But your life will be unique because of the “little actions” you took today.
I used to find it difficult to grapple with how easy it is to forget entire days. You may remember really important events in your life—from family weddings, to performances, to the birth of a cousin. And you may remember what was for lunch last week. But I’ve lived over six thousand days on this planet. How many of these do I have no memory of? Returning to the mustard seed parable, if nobody knows who sowed the seed, who will the birds thank for the home in which they reside?
Over the years, I’ve tried to come up with solutions to this dilemma. I’ve dedicated several notebooks to recording one fact about each day, but have given up after two weeks. I’ve tried to take photos of mundane events, but it’s too much work and kind of awkward. I’ve also tried to take what essentially are mental snapshots of events in my life, but have realized that, as hard as you try, one cannot conquer fading memories with memory. Little moments, “little actions” are inclined to slip out of our fingers, and not even the strongest of will can fully capture the memories that fade as we move forward in life.
I’ve grown to accept this natural ebb and flow of “little actions” from our memory. We aren’t supposed to remember every conversation. We aren’t supposed to remember every time we untie our shoes. There is often no one to thank for the blessings in our lives, … and that is the nature of the world. “Little actions” are meant to be little. Their repercussions are meant to reap the attention the action sowed, not the past action itself. So let the memories fade, and focus on today.
Untying your shoes is hard. Not physically—of course. You just pull a string. Finding the willpower to not kick off your shoes at the end of practice—that’s the real challenge. And so is finding the willpower to untangle the knot of past, present, and future that strangles how we lead our lives. Sometimes a double, even a triple knot stands in our way of listening to the stories our companions tell and truly savoring the moments we share. But untying that knot is our duty to friends, to family, and to ourselves.
As we look forward, we need to stay true to the “little actions” that govern our lives. They are powerful, they are broad reaching. But do not dwell upon the past… and leave no room for regret. We live for the present and the present alone.
Now go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
For more chapel talks from St. Albans students and faculty, be sure to check out Grace 2022-23 at the culmination of the school year.
Kacey Fredrick '24
We are going to talk about conscience today, one of our 4 core values here at NCS. For me I define conscience not as doing the right thing but what guides us to act on something, why we decide to do what is right. But what clicks in us, what goes off that makes us take that act? For the good Samaritan in today’s reading, it was empathy.
What does empathy really mean, being able to understand how someone feels and share their emotions. We often hear the phrase stepping in someone else’s shoes but it’s much easier said than done. When trying to find a personal anecdote to tell you all about, I struggled, and understandably. It’s hard to feel empathy, and often times we fail to go that deep.
When I was 10 doing a lemonade stand with my brother he fell and started having a seizure, in that moment I didn’t know what to do, the situation was so scary to approach, he was unresponsive with no control of his body, shaking with his eyes rolled back. I had no idea what to do, not even that, I didn’t think there was anything I could ever do to help him if this happened again. I struggled to understand how I could feel empathy when I would never experience what my brother did. I realized that we did have a shared experience that day and did share the same emotions of fear and helplessness, maybe just from a different view. So, I would challenge the assertion to be in someone else’s shoes, that’s a rare occurrence, but sharing emotions happens more often than we think.
In the story, the good Samaritan wasn’t able to be in the man’s shoes that got robbed, no one could, but they had a shared experience where both of them were caught in a moment full of fear and uncertainty on what was going to happen next. The intense emotions the Samaritan shared with the man was enough for him to take action and make a difference.
In the moment with my brother, I thought I couldn’t have empathy for him but looking back on out shared emotions and redefining empathy was my conscience telling me to figure out a way to stop and help, like the Samaritan did when he saw the man on the side of the road.
Another important idea this story brings up is the idea of what is a neighbor. A common value is the bible is helping your neighbor, in the story the Samaritan challenged himself and stopped for a stranger, and made a difference, his action went above and beyond and alter the man’s course of life. The Samaritan’s actions teach us that our neighbors are not just a friend or a family member, the story challenges us to not only reach out to those we know but also to those we may not, as they are neighbors as well. This year at ncs I am challenging myself to embody our core value of conscience to its core and invite you, if you see someone In need, have a shared experience, or share emotions, with someone on the close, stop and make that difference that the good Samaritan is. Everyone on the close is our neighbor, so I’m trying to go beyond my boundary of friends when that empathy strikes my conscience and I’m guided to act, I encourage you all to do that too.
Aarushi Hill '23
Jaldee karo baachas! My mom yells from downstairs, signaling my brother and I to hurry up so we can start the puja. I reluctantly slip on a kurta over my head, trying not to rip the top as the embedded-sequined pattern scratches my face. I put each of my legs into my salwar, adjusting it with the string as it awkwardly sits along my waistline, annoyed, because I hate the way it fits. Lastly, my mom places a bindi on my forehead, only for me to overanalyze whether it’s centered or not in the mirror.
Diwali is a Hindu celebration that commemorates the victory of light over darkness. Many celebrate at night and light incense sticks, known as agarbatti, and walk around their home with them as a ritual part of the puja, or prayer, performed during this celebration. The reason for celebrating within the household with family is to highlight not just the importance of this victory, but also this sense of homecoming afterwards.
Upon starting the puja each year, my mom asks if I want to light the agarbatti and be the one to circle it around the house. I’m sure many kids with divorced or absent parents can relate, but this idea of not having the hallmark picture perfect family can be especially difficult during the holidays, when it seems that everyone else around you does. I know it’s pessimistic to say that my dad’s absence growing up was the extinguisher to my light, but I thought love was supposed to be unconditional, yet he showed me it never persists. Therefore, I wasn’t as inclined to participate in this family-oriented celebration and refused to light the agarbatti.
However, fast forward a few years later, I began to talk less with him and instead focus on spending time with my mom and brother. My mom referred to us as “mismatched puzzle pieces that somehow fit together”. Whether it was making fun of cheesy romance scenes in Bollywood movies or fighting with my brother to take his clothes out of the dryer, I realized I’d rather come home to mismatched puzzle pieces than no one at all. I needed to soak in the smell of sandalwood that permeated throughout my house for my remaining time left before college. Not only did this realization become more apparent for me the older I got, but my appreciation for Diwali has only grown deeper.
This year on Diwali as I wrap my saree around my waist and drape it over my shoulders, I walk to my mom’s room so she can place the bindi on my forehead one last time. This time, looking at my reflection in the mirror, the placement of the bindi is irrelevant. Instead, I see the little girl who thought the darkness would always be her haven. Finally, I light the agarbatti for the first time in seventeen years, followed by walking through each room in the house reciting prayers to bless our home and family. I realized the little girl was just looking for an appreciation for the light all along but couldn’t have found it without navigating her way through the darkness and removing the extinguisher first. Now, I no longer fear this darkness knowing I have a light to come home to. And the way I know I’m home is from the all too familiar smell of sandalwood.
Sigrid Drefke '23
My name is Sigrid Drefke, and I’m a senior. I came to NCS in 4th grade but was familiar with the school before then through my two older sisters, who were already students here. Once a year, on a fall Friday, I would watch my sisters pull out baskets of gold accessories that every year became increasingly full. I would stare at those baskets and imagine what I would wear if I went to NCS in a couple of years. I decided on gold beads and gold shoes and a gold tutu, and maybe a gold cape. When I finally had my own first spirit day, it did not disappoint. I loved every second. Walking into school seeing everyone decked out in purple and gold brought me so much pure joy. Every year since, I have probably been the main contributor to the increasing mounds of gold accessories living in my basement.
As I got older, spirit day expanded into spirit week. While I still love dressing up in gold and screaming across Woodley road on the Friday, I began to look forward to seeing the different themed outfits each day and watching the skits on Friday. Seeing peer leaders in Hawaiian shirts attempting British accents and the field hockey team dancing to Rake It Up fill me with a sense of community. I love seeing the spirit each person brings and learning more about different communities within NCS through the skits.
Spirit week makes me feel closer to other students as we dress for the same themes, prepare for our skits, and all celebrate not having classes on Friday. So, as I stand here in an inflatable dinosaur costume talking about love of spirit week and spirit day, I hope you all feel closer to me, because seeing you all in your wildlife outfits has already made me feel closer to you. Thank you!
Sascha Hume '23
In his classic work Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville remarked, “There is no country in the world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America”. It certainly makes sense that a nation founded in large part by groups like the Puritans, who were essentially religious zealots, would have an intensely Christian character.
Christianity has always played a pretty major role in American politics, but was more influential in certain periods than in others. The pre-Revolution Northeast was dominated by the aforementioned Puritans, as well as Quakers and other Protestant sects. Anyone who has read The Scarlet Letter knows the influence these Christian groups had on colonial American politics: they essentially ran several of the first American towns and imposed their strict moral codes on the citizenry. The deism and rationalism of the Founding Fathers caused religion to briefly recede somewhat from the political arena, before returning in full force during the Second Great Awakening of the early 1800s. This Christian revival during the antebellum years drove many of that period’s reform movements, and contributed greatly to the growth of abolitionism. Christianity remained hugely influential in American politics throughout the 20th Century. It is striking how, as Christianity’s influence declined dramatically in Europe following the Second World War, America’s church membership rate held strong at around 70% until the turn of the century. Notable moments included the black church’s role in the Civil Rights Movement, and the Evangelical “Moral Majority” that determined the social conservatism of the Reagan Era.
In the twenty-first century, however, things are beginning to change. That 70% church membership statistic has declined significantly over the past twenty years, and today less than half of Americans belong to a church. The effect that this dramatic shift is having on American politics is twofold. First, the political clashes between different Christian denominations is becoming less significant than the broader fight between Christianity and secularism. While certain church congregations are still instrumental in driving their members to vote Democrat, like in Georgia, the Democratic Party itself is strongly secular, while the Republican Party holds on to Christianity as a defining characteristic of America. The question of whether or not the United States is a “Christian nation” defines the divide between these two perspectives. Second, Americans’ declining faith is increasing their political polarization. Party affiliation filling the vacuum left by religion is largely responsible for the quasi-religious way in which many Americans now approach politics. Just think about the way Trump supporters describe their president, or how impassioned liberals remember Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Ultimately, while Christianity will continue to play a smaller and smaller role in America, the religious zeal that has long animated American politics will remain, albeit serving a different master.
Jay Chadwick '26
We definitely went to church a lot, once or twice a week when I was growing up, not counting Sundays. We did that until we moved to DC and started at STA.
(Now that we have chapel services during the week, we aren’t as active during the week at our current church, St. Alban’s parish, as we were at the places where my mom had served as a priest).
Having a parent as a religious figure is part of what enabled me to have the chance to go to St. Albans. Without my mom accepting a job at St. Albans, I probably wouldn’t have known about the school (or thought of it as a good place for me). I would have stayed in Reston at my old school, or, if I had applied, I would have had to commute.
I didn’t realize until my mom interviewed here that my grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-uncle went to St. Albans. I’m grateful that I ended up here and for the friends that I have. I don’t feel that people make assumptions about me at STA because of what my mom does. It seems that they even forget about it sometimes.
What are the pros and cons?
Pros: I already know the hymns, and I get to know what will happen next in the service
Cons: Spending 2 hours every weekend going to church & Sunday school—that’s 104 hours over the course of a year—in addition to weekly chapels.
What do you like best about the religion you grew up with?
I like the stories—the ones in the Old Testament are especially interesting (like where Moses raised his arms up in the fight against the Amalekites and they would win as long as his arms are up).
What does religion do for you unrelated to your parents?
It provides calm during the week of chaos.
Before the pandemic, my religion enabled me to help people. At my church, the youth did Grate Patrol—it’s an event where we get together to make meals and deliver them with the Salvation Army to people who are homeless in DC. We go to a building and make the food, we eat dinner, then go out on a bus for about an hour to specific stops and give people the food.
Other things going to church has done for me is that I’ve made friends in the youth group and for a time, before the pandemic, it let me see a friend I hadn’t seen before going to St. Albans.
Jack Marino '23
I come from a family with both Catholic and Anglican roots. From my Father’s side (from which the Marino name comes), I have a long history of Italian-Catholic roots, while on my Mother’s side I have a complicated network of Anglican and even Puritan ancestry, some of which date back to the Mayflower. So here I am, like many of my fellow students on the close, facing a religious identity crisis, a struggle between family history and my own individual beliefs. Agnosticism and Atheism (I’ll call them A & A for short) are seen as the absence of any religion or religious heritage, rather than a religious heritage of their own. But I am here to tell all of you A & A members of the close that there is heritage in these beliefs.
While checking over one of my college applications, my mother was surprised to see that I labeled myself as agnostic.
“You’re agnostic?” my mother asked.
“Yup” I responded.
From then on I considered Agnosticism as part of my identity. I realized that A & A are like any other religion. For these reasons, I dove into ancestry.com, expecting to find no trace of Agnostic heritage. However, to my surprise, I realized that I am related to one of the most prominent agnostics in history.
In the mid-1700s, the Marino family/clan lived in rural Tuscany, just East of Florence. However, when one member of the family, with the name Agnosticus, questioned God’s existence, he was banished from his immediate family. In response, he sought refuge with a distant cousin in nearby San Marino (a small kingdom known for its religious toleration at the time). Agnosticus was eventually taken into the nobility of the kingdom after proving his loyalty through his service to the kingdom’s lower classes. Agnosticus built public baths, gave out bread, and administered shelters for the homeless, granting him the admiration of his peers. While (the now Sir) Agnosticus was reticent to openly proclaim his beliefs, he gained a small following of local A & A that helped him through his service. In contrast to how the Episcopalian church looks at service through a religious lens, Sir Agnosticus of San Marino viewed service as a civic duty to those less fortunate because they cannot simply expect to be saved by god. Thus, Sir Agnosticus went on to become the namesake for Agnostics around the world, as his charity and good deeds earned him a strong reputation among the people of San Marino and the surrounding kingdoms, whether they were Christian or not.
Therefore, I urge all close Agnostics and all close Atheists to read up on their heritage. I urge all close A & A to arrange a meeting with their fellow nonbelievers. I urge all members of the close to follow in the footsteps of Sir Agnosticus of San Marino and treat A & A not as the absence of religion but, rather, as a secular calling to do good for the community, in essence, a secular religion.
Jacob Fife '23
I should’ve expected this, but I’m a little disappointed. Recent Drake releases have been boring and lazy, two attributes that shouldn’t belong to an extremely wealthy artist with access to the best producers in the industry. These projects usually contained a couple good songs—for example, “Nice for What” from 2018’s Scorpio or “Jimmy Cooks” from this year’s Honestly, Nevermind—so the hope that Drake can release a good record is never fully out of the question. As for 21 Savage, while I’ve not listened to much of his solo work, I can recognize his talent through his feature on JID’s “Surround Sound” or through modern classics like 2018’s “a lot.” Being the optimist I am, I figured that these two artists could pull together an entertaining collaboration album. And, while Her Loss isn’t terrible, it fails to excite.
Let’s start out with what I liked. Firstly, “Rich Flex” is a decent opener, and Drake hyping up 21 is fun and charming. Secondly, many of the beats on Her Loss are great. The slick R&B sample on “Spin Bout U” compliments the flirtatious tone of the track, the Daft Punk sample on “Circo Loco” is nice to hear for the sole fact that it’s Daft Punk, and the beat switches on “P***y & Millions” and “Broke Boys” go hard. Travis Scott’s feature on that last track is better than most of the rapping Drake and 21 do on the rest of the album. Looking back at “Spin Bout U,” some of Drake’s flirty feminism is hilarious, especially his “eight words when I think about us is…” (I’ll let you fill in the rest). In fact, “Spin Bout U” and “P***y & Millions” are my favorite tracks by far on Her Loss because they do what I want from a Drake and 21 collaboration album: be fiery, fun, and fresh.
Some of the most interesting lyrics in the album are 21's “I can’t right my wrongs, but I can still write these hooks.” To this I ask, where are these hooks you speak of? If by “hooks,” you mean repeating a phrase in a monotone voice until it becomes numbing, I’m afraid you don’t know how to make a song catchy. Both “Major Distribution” and “On BS”—the second and third tracks on Her Loss, respectively—are both boring songs whose “hooks” aren’t going to catch any fish because they are so dull and flat. I want this album to be good, but most of the songs are either boring lyrically, boring productionally, or boring in both manners. The worst culprit of invoking boredom is the track “Hours In Silence,” which I would consider the worst song on the album. Drake whining into a microphone with an ambient instrumental for six-and-a-half minutes is one of the least appealing things Drake can do, and he made “Way 2 Sexy.” Finally, with the album being an hour long, I find it difficult to sympathize with Drake’s heartbreak in the final track because I’d rather hear the music end.
Drake and 21 Savage, I hate to sound like an angry school teacher, but do better. While hope remains for 21’s career, I can’t see Drake as anything more than a corporate product whose sole purpose is to make profit. While, yes, this album might be better than most of Drake’s recent works, it fails to convince me that Drake cares about his identity as an artist. If this album were my child, I’d say to it, “I’m not mad, just disappointed.”
However, realistically speaking, I’ll still give Drake’s next album a chance.