Taking Flight

I’m a Christian and I go to a public university

I’m one of the few. Let’s just say that. There weren’t many kids from my youth group or church camp who decided to go to a state school like I did.

I’m in my third year at the University of Oklahoma studying public relations. And I’m a Christian.

When I first told people that I was for sure going to OU, I got some mixed reactions from other Christians. I could tell by the looks on people’s faces and the silence or the few comments that followed that it wasn’t a choice everyone approved of and the disapproval had nothing to do with sports rivalries.

You can imagine that I started to have second thoughts even though from the start of my one and only college visit to Norman I knew it would be my home for the next four years.

There were times when I wondered if I was doing the right thing? If I was following God’s will by going to such a “worldly” place?

That was until a friend said the most encouraging thing anyone ever said to me when it came to my college decision.

“State schools need Christians, too.”

To this day, I carry that memory in my mind. Whenever I start to doubt OU as the right decision, I remember what she told me because, yes, state schools desperately need Christians.

They need Christians because we are called to be a light on a hill.

They need Christians because every semester there are countless men who call themselves Christians that yell at the students simply walking to class on the South Oval and tell them that they are going to Hell.

They need Christians because there are a lot of lost souls at a state school.

They need Christians because if there aren’t Christians on campus, then they only know the stereotype.

They need Christians because if there aren’t Christians, then the Bible-beating, Hell-fire-and-brimstone preacherman who stands outside of Dale Hall will be the only thing they know about Christ.

Though people never told me, I think there were a few who had expectations of me falling away or at the very least my faith not being a strong as it could be.

In some ways they would be right. I don’t start my day with chapel. I don’t have hundreds or thousands of Christians surrounding me in class or at extracurricular events. I don’t have professors who start class with a prayer or scripture reading.

Instead, daily Bible reading and study is up to me and me alone. I’m surrounded by people who curse and who think that the harder they partied and the more “turnt” they got last weekend, the more of a person they are. And I have professors who will straight up say I’m ignorant for believing what I believe and have no problem trashing those beliefs. But it’s because of all this that I am a stronger Christian. It’s a kind of strength going to a Christian school never could have afforded me.

(Photo courtesy of Kathryn Patterson)

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Books

The Twelve Year Struggle of Reading Harry Potter

CampusSunset

Classes have started back (Boomer Sooner!) and this semester is already packing a punch! My mornings start with getting up at 7 a.m. to get ready for 8:30 and 9 a.m. classes and from there I feel like I start a new marathon everyday. From class to strategically squeezing in windows of time for homework to going to meetings for PRSSA and Lindsey + Asp and going to Sooner Servants stuff, I find myself turning into a pumpkin around 10:30…and 11 if I’m lucky. All I can say is this week has been a whirlwind and this semester will probably be insane!

Speaking of insane and new happening in the life of Candace Hinnergardt, I had to get another blog for my PR publications class **cue eye roll** so if you’re interested in following the projects I’m doing in that class you can check out candacehinnergardt.oucreate.com because one can never have too many blogs I guess.

Now, to things I’d much rather spend my free time writing about: I FINISHED THE HARRY POTTER SERIES THIS WEEK!!!!!!! It was a 12 year endeavor that took multiple attempts, but I can say I powered through and finally discovered what all the hype was about.

Harry Potter

Yes, you read correctly. It took me 12 years to finally finish one the most popular series of our time and possibly of all time. I read The Sorcerers Stone in third grade and quite honestly I struggle through it. At that time I was a very particular reader and Harry Potter wasn’t exactly in line with my taste. I remember having to re-checkout the book multiple times before I finished it.

And then I went on an eight year long hiatus from the series until I decided to put on my big girl pants and pick up the series once again. At this point, I was 16 or 17 years old and most of my friends couldn’t believe I had never read all the Harry Potter books so the summer between my junior and senior years of high school, I buckled down and read books two through four…but then I started the fifth book, The Order of the Phoenix and you can probably guess what happened next…

I didn’t finish it. I read about 150 pages and I was done. This time Harry’s teen angst and bitterness about every aspect of his situation (though I recognize that he had a lot to be bitter about) just about drove me bonkers. Let’s just say I was lucky to get to 150 pages.

Now, fast forward about four more years to Spring 2015. I’m not sure when exactly I decided to make it my Summer 2015 goal to finish the series, but it had something to do with my travel study. Once I got back from the United Kingdom, I started looking for ways to drag out the magic of the trip and the excitement of seeing what I had only seen on TV before. Naturally, I started watching a lot more BBC shows on Netflix and I decided that I would read the rest of the Harry Potter series this summer. And I did! So YAY for goals and international travel that inspire you to make goals!

In hindsight, this is a series I would definitely suggest especially if you’re a parent looking for a series that will grow with your child. The first few books are very much geared for elementary aged children. They’re more lighthearted and fun and Harry, Ron and Hermione seem to find themselves in the craziest predicaments. As the series goes on, J.K. Rowling does some amazing things with the writing and the overall story. With each book, the story grows just a little bit darker and the writing structure becomes more advanced and sophisticated. It’s also a fairly clean series with valuable life lessons woven into the narrative about genuine love and true strength.

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