Category Archives: Nathan’s Essays

Our Apology: An Open Letter to Christian Ladies

Enter Wonderland


forgive us, your brothers in Christ.  forgive us the times we outright sin against you, call us out, but forgive us.  forgive us the times we fall short of the life to which we are called.  our hearts are desperately wicked, who can understand them, and they work against us and victimize you.  like Paul in Romans, we do what we do not want to do.

forgive us the times we see you as no more than a pretty something to be looked at.  you are so much more.  you are daughters of a true King, you bear the image of the author and creator.  you have souls which deserve nourishment and protection, not cheap attention.  you are our sisters, whom we should guard in all righteousness.

help us, and understand the sway you have over us.  see that we are easily led astray and distracted from the path. …

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And of These Chains

Enter Wonderland

This is San Juan de Los Reyes, a monastery in Toledo.  On one wall hangs shackles and chains, a monument erected to symbolize the freeing of Christians during the battles of Malaga and Almeria against the Moors.  During this same period, the Spanish monarchy was instigating the Spanish Inquisition.  The irony is as real as the cold, hard bolts that secure them to the wall.

I don’t like to judge persons with the advantage of hindsight, but it seems that perhaps humanity should take more time to introspect.  It isn’t wrong to celebrate the hand that brings freedom, but perhaps we should take care to make sure we aren’t overlooking great injustice in the other hand.

“With a grace that takes the place of chains”

– Disciple, Beautiful Scars

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Big Brothers Big Sisters

After a long hiatus, Nathan is back to once again bore readers with his insensible drivel!  Hopefully, however, this time you can take something from it, particularly that you might become interested in learning more about or even becoming engaged with Big Brothers Big Sisters in your own region, whether that’s here in northwest Missouri or far away.  As a sort of background, I became interested in BBBS by way of my campus minister, Jim Davis, who serves on the board for BBBS of Nodaway County.  After speaking with several Bigs and others involved with the organization, I took a fancy to helping out.  When I received an assignment to use reading and writing to engage an issue, I knew immediately what my topic would be.  What follows is a result of that assignment.  I hope you enjoy!


According to an oft-repeated adage, it takes a village to raise a child.  Yet is that entirely true?  Sometimes, all a child requires is one or two adults who are willing to listen and care for them.  For many children, these adults are their parents, but some children are not so lucky as to have a stable family environment at home.  Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) is a nonprofit organization that connects children in these less than desirable situations with adults who serve as mentors to those children, giving them a friend and confidant.  By helping these children, called “Littles”, Big Brothers Big Sisters makes an incredible difference in the course of our communities and although I am unable to take on the time commitment required for volunteering as a mentor, I will contribute by spreading awareness of the cause, this paper included.

Childhood is a pivotal time in a person’s development, and family instability and lack of role models can lead to problem behaviors and negative academic outcomes in children and adolescents.  In America today, only 68 percent of children live inscreen-shot-2013-04-23-at-8-10-55-pm a two-parent household, and even then, that number includes non-traditional households such as unmarried, step-, or cohabitating parents (Sandstrom 24).
Non-traditional households are not all to blame, however, as divorces among traditional couples also contributes to family instability.  To counteract this, BBBS attempts to provide a foundation for children in these unstable environments to help them overcome these negative effects.  In this, the
organization has been effective, with drastic decreases in illegal drug usage, alcohol usage, academic absences, and other delinquent behavior (Big impact – Proven results).

So how can a member of the public contribute?  The largest way one interested in supporting BBBS can contribute is by committing time to serve as a mentor, or “Big”, to a child enrolled in the program.  Even though the Big may not believe they have any special characteristics or skills to offer the program, just donating time to listen and pay attention to a child who is lacking that relationship in their life can make a difference.  According to a study by Public/Private Ventures cited on the BBBS of Greater Kansas City’s Website, “…what mattered to the children were not the activities. It was the fact that they had a caring adult in their lives. Because they had someone to confide in and to look up to, they were, in turn, doing better in school and at home.” Because of this, BBBS encourages anyone who has the ability to listen to volunteer – no special experience required.

The relationship betwe494_bbbs-1en Littles and Bigs often goes beyond one of friendship, sometimes to the surprise of the Big.  Jim Davis, Chairman for BBBS of Nodaway County, says, “many Bigs come in with no expectation that they are going to form lifelong bond with the child.  They may anticipate a solid lasting relationship.  However I am not sure that all Bigs realize how deep that relationship can and most likely will become over time.  It’s a family relationship.”  It is important to note that this is a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy, as matches that do not form this family-like bond and seem more like tutorship are less likely to endure, although they can still positively impact the academic performance of the enrolled child (Big Brothers Big Sisters [BBBS]).

If a member of the public is unable to make the commitment to mentoring a Little or serving in administration, one can still contribute through a variety of means.  One of the most important ways is simply to help the organization spread the word about their mission.  Word of mouth is important to raise awareness of the organization’s presence in the region.  They can invite BBBS to present in churches, clubs, even to a group of friends (Davis).  Like many nonprofit movements, BBBS relies on this word of mouth publicity to promote their cause, so while this may not seem an important contribution, doing so truly can make a difference informing people who may not have heard of the organization previously and giving them the opportunity to volunteer.

Few arguments can be made against supporting BBBS, as the evidence of the positive impact the organization has on communities and individuals is very clear.  Even a common argument against many charitable organizations – that they overpay administrators – does not seem to apply to BBBS, the national branch of which, BBBS of America, spent only 8.5% of their budget on management (Big Brothers Big Sisters of America 4).

In conclusion, I find supporting BBBS to be one of the simplest and most potentially rewarding charitable activities possible.  Because of the benefit they bring to a region and the variety of ways in which a citizen can be involved, almost anyone can and should contribute to their local branch.  If the reader is already involved or has been in the past, consider sharing your experience with the organization.  According to Davis, “there is amazing power in the narrative of a life changing story,” and telling those stories could truly change the life of someone else.

To contribute now, you can visit BBBSKC’s Web site and volunteer or donate.

Works Cited

“Big impact—proven results.” Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City, 2010. Web. 20 Apr. 2016.

Davis, Jim. Email interview. 19 Apr. 2016.

Sandstrom, Heather and Sandra Huerta. “The Negative Effects of Instability on Child Development.” Low-Income Working Families Discussion Paper. 3. (2013): 24-28. Web. 22 Apr. 2016.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Audited Financial Statement. Tampa, FL: Crowe Horwath, 2015.

“Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS).” University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, 10 Nov. 2015. Web. 25 Apr. 2015.

An Argument for Insourcing

Nathan’s Here:  Now, following a long delay, it is finally here!  I actually held off on publishing this because I couldn’t decide whether I should or not.  To be honest, before the week of research I spent before writing this essay I didn’t know very much on the topic of outsourcing.  What I did know, however, was that I was very strongly set against it.  Now, after that week of research, I still oppose outsourcing, but I have a better understanding of how little I know on the topic.  That said, here’s the argument essay I wrote in favorite of “insourcing” jobs back into the United States.

Today more than ever, current and future professionals must face the prospect of their jobs being sent overseas.  In 2004, the U.S. Department of Labor and Forrester Research, Inc. estimate that between 2003 and 2015 over 3 million jobs would move offshore (Young).  No longer is it only low wage manufacturing jobs that are being threatened, but also white-collar positions, from call center operators to paralegals.  As a nation, we must recognize the detriment this “offshoring” trend represents for both our economy and future generations of workers.

With the advent of modern modes of communication, even white-collar jobs previously thought safe from offshoring are being threatened.  From call center operators to informational technology jobs, roles which once could only be filled by domestic employees are now being replaced with much cheaper foreign equivalents.  And it’s not just jobs that require low skill or education levels that are being moved.  Alan S. Blinder, a respected author on the topic of offshoring, comments on the lack of correlation between the required education level of a job and how “offshorable” it is, “… it is easy to offshore working in a call center, typing transcripts, writing computer code, and reading X-rays.  The first two require very little education, the last two require quite a lot” (Blinder, par. 14).  Even employees who don’t face the offshoring of their positions can find themselves being forced to train foreign replacements being brought in from other countries, often on a temporary work visa such as the H-1B visa, or else forfeit their severance package after their inevitable release (Greenhouse, par. 6).

This trend of white-collar jobs being sent overseas also has severe implications for job seekers.  Shortly after the recession of 2008, Don Peck, deputy managing editor for The Atlantic, described the challenge of recovering from the job losses in that period, “Because the population is growing and new people are continually coming into the job market, we need to produce roughly 1.5 million new jobs a year … just to keep from sinking deeper” (Peck, par. 13).  This means that Forrester Research’s estimate of 300,000 jobs offshored every year represented 20% of the job growth needed to prevent the recession from getting worse!  However, the economy has since recovered, and new jobs are being created, though as Gary Burtless, a labor economist at the Brooking Institution notes, “In a sense, every time someone’s laid off now, they need to start all over.  They don’t even know what industry they’ll be in next” (qtd. in Peck, par. 16).  The increasing variety of jobs which can be done remotely means that higher education is no longer a cure-all, and that many people who spent time and money obtaining a degree now find themselves out of their chosen career field.  Alan Blinder suggests that “the kind of education our young people receive may prove to be more important than how much education they receive” and that “looking forward over the next 25 years, more subtle occupational advice may be needed” (Blinder, pars. 16 & 17).  Where once it was common for students to go to college automatically, now students must consider future career options or else they risk joining a pool of terminally unemployed or underemployed career seekers burdened with student loans.

Offshoring jobs also has the dual effect of diminishing the skills of the talent pool in the U.S. and imparting those talents on workers in foreign nations.  Persons who find themselves displaced by offshoring can find it difficult to find new work, because as Peck asserts, “As a spell of unemployment lengthens, skills erode … leaving some people unqualified even for work they once did well.  This can be made even more difficult by the other effect of offshoring: leveling of the playing field with foreign workers.  As jobs and equipment are sent overseas, those nations receiving them become more competitive with their American counterparts.

Proponents of offshoring argue that importing low-wage, low-skill services (sending those jobs overseas and importing the fruits of the labor) allows companies to streamline their services and creates more opportunity for high-wage, high-skill positions.  J. Bradford Jensen and Lori G. Kletzer, senior fellows at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, speak of a threshold above which jobs tend to be safe from offshoring, stating “Most employment in tradable service activities is above this threshold and thus most workers in tradable service activities are unlikely to face significant competition from low-wage, labor-abundant countries any time soon” (Jensen and Kletzer, par. 7).  They argue that a majority of employees in tradable jobs in the U.S. are above this threshold and hold a “competitive advantage” over comparable employees in those low-wage nations and as such it benefits the economy as a whole to allow those jobs which fall below the threshold to be sent overseas.

While their position is currently true and well-supported, it fails to take into account the trend of higher-wage jobs moving overseas.  Blinder describes this trend, saying, “Offshoring is no longer limited to low-end service jobs.  Computer code can be written overseas and emailed back to the United States.  So can your tax return and lots of legal work …” (Blinder, par. 9).  Where offshoring was once limited to basic services, modern communication has allowed more complex work to be completed in other nations.  How long before this trend surpasses the “comparative advantage” Jensen and Kletzer say protects U.S. jobs which are already considered tradable?

In an era of globalization, it is impossible to prevent at least some jobs from being sent overseas, but if we hope to avoid losing away our economic status and employment base, we must recognize the damage being dealt to the economy by offshoring and find a way to reverse the trend.

Works Cited

Blinder, Alan S. “Outsourcing: bigger than you thought: the outsourcing wave is about to hit the service sector.  To keep good service jobs, we need to prepare the workforce and understand the jobs.” The American Prospect. 17 Nov. 2006: 44+. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 14 Apr. 2015.

Greenhouse, Steven. “Offshore Outsourcing Will Cost Americans Jobs.” Outsourcing. Ed. David M. Haugen. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2009.  Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. From “Offshoring Silicon Valley.” The American Prospect. 19 Jun. 2008: 18-20. Opposing Views in Context. Web. 14 Apr. 2015.

Jensen, J. Bradford, and Lori G. Kletzer. “Offshore Outsourcing Can Favor Some High-Skill Service Providers.” Outsourcing. Ed. Jenny Cromie and Lynn M. Zott. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2013. Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. From “Fear and Offshoring: The Scope and Impact of Imports and Exports of Services.” 2008. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.

“Number of U.S. Jobs Moving Offshore.” Free Trade. Ed. Mitchell Young. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2009.  Opposing Viewpoints. Opposing Viewpoints in Context.  Web.  13 Apr. 2015.

Peck, Don. “The Recession Has Caused the Highest Rate of Unemployment Since the Great Depression.” Jobs in America. Ed. Debra A. Miller. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2011. Current Controversies. Rpt. From “How a New Jobless Era Will Transform America.” The Atlantic. Mar. 2010. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.