A taste of Malibu's
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way · 6
acai bowls &
burritos · 13
it’s ok not to
be ok · 10
Meet miriam · 19
lifestyles · 23
Field trippy · 27
undefeated · 37
from farm to
fork · 43
our place · 49
focus · 55
corner · 58
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
Territorially, Malibu is where the spectrum of the California
Dream ends. But what happens when you put a college in one
of the most enviable real estate markets in the country?
As cultural-ambassador Kendall Jenner tweeted back in January
2012, “Malibu is the happiest place on earth lol.”
According to Jenner, we have already peaked in terms of
reaching the last frontier. This notion becomes truer the moment
your eyes set on the cliffs dropping into the Pacific’s horizon
from your perch on campus. As life-long Waves, the ocean
forever will serve as metaphor for the future. It is impossible for
us to ignore the tacit impact the ocean and the Pacific Coast
Highway has had on our education and personal growth.
In my application to Pepperdine, I wrote about Joan Didion’s
“Slouching Toward Bethlehem,” as the archetypal Californian
collection of essays, and its impact on my Angeleno adolescence.
She remade the California that I’d always seen but never
understood. She painted devastating and stylish portraits of
Malibu, Los Angeles, and California, and in turn, commented on
the modern-American condition.
Didion, who lived with her writer-husband and daughter in
Malibu in the ‘70s, reported on the people in Malibu and her
experience with the fabled coastal town.
While acknowledging some committable cardinal sin of letters
from the editor, I will now quote my college application: “It’s special
because California was a myth before it was a state. Millions
of dreamers fled to my home: at first for land, later for gold,
and eventually for fame. Every day I wake up I’m living someone
Pepperdine only amplified this notion of living the dream.
Hashtags and Instagram posts alone can attest to this fantasy.
In a journalistic compulsion to come full circle in my narratives,
I want to bring my journey back to Didion. Like my literary idol,
I used my homegrown skepticism as a way to not get sucked
into the illusion.
teeming suspicion that we will always be outsiders looking in.
With our diploma comes a fluency in PCH’s roadside vernacular.
Malibu, a 27-mile stretch of coast synonymous with fame,
luxury, and affluence, belongs to the daily puns of the Reel Inn
Fish Restaurant and Market, the Crazy California-style Mr.
La Salsa, and the multi-million dollar homes we will never see
behind great walls of shrub. A drive down PCH often felt like
escape from a home that was never really ours.
In preparation for this issue of Currents Magazine, I read every
article of every issue I could find in the Morgue (the Pepperdine
Graphic Media archives). From chronicling the day-to-day
operations of a fledgling campus radio station and its ragtag
group of operators to the sorority-indoctrinated Ring-by-Spring
phenomenon to countless debates dedicated to “Pepperdine
walking the line between academics and religion,” Currents has
served as fodder to the student body’s creative ambition and
curiosity. My research led to the conclusion that this magazine
has one job: to capture the zeitgeist.
For this issue, we hoped to do our job with an emphasis on the
personal narrative. While still reporting on the local flavors and
idiosyncrasies, we uncovered internal testimonies and stymied
dialogues. We wanted to put a spin on the problems and conditions
of the college student today.
We let the outsiders do the writing. We captured images that
express the paradoxes of fashion, art, and nature in Malibu. We
had fun with every process, and we hope that shines through
Unlike Kendall Jenner or Joan Didion, I haven’t figured out what
Malibu means to me. I only have a host of memories and associations
that hopefully this magazine helps to preserve.
As Malibu transplants, Pepperdine students cannot escape the
Currents Assistant/Social Media Correspondent
Advisors: Elizabeth Smith, Courtenay Stallings
BY CHRISTOPHER CHEN
ART BY GARRISON WRIGHT
There are at least four decades worth of people who
were practically raised on video games, since video
games were popularized in the 1970s. For me, I remember
a time when video games were just something
that I talked about with friends on the playground.
Video games in general were considered
more of a childish past time than a serious medium.
My parents did at one point or another ask me when
my interest in video games would stop. I didn’t know
back then to be honest, but I also had a feeling that
my interest in video games would wane with time.
As a child, I always viewed adulthood as being a sudden
transition. I figured I would find video games and
cartoons boring from the moment I became an adult.
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I was naive; my love for video games
never left, even as I got older. And
why should it?
I would wonder when my collection
of games would vanish. But with
each new game on the shelf or review,
I always found something new
to hold over my obsession. Regardless
of the end quality, I remember
every time I put in a fresh disc and
the first hour that followed, which I
Unfortunately, I don’t think I can
ever replicate that feeling ever
again. Like an addict, I will forever
search for that first high. I suddenly
feel old, like I can no longer
grasp the changes that are occurring
I stopped using an Xbox One, or
Playstation 4, or Wii U, which is a
sign that I have not aged beyond the
previous console generation.
It could just be that I don’t have the
time to commit to amassing a collection
for a new console. However,
there is another reason why I decided
to stop using Wii and Playstation
3 — I didn’t want to depend on
Internet connection just to be able
to play games.
Part of the reason is because my
consoles are in a place that gets
very slow Internet reception (in my
dorm on campus). But there might
be a more psychological reason to
At this time, I am a minority. I still
cling to my physical copies while
others are more than willing to purchase
codes to get downloadable
content beamed directly into their
systems. In an age where people
amass huge backlogs of games from
shopping sprees on the Playstation
store, it’s easy to spend more time
buying add-ons for your game than
the actual game-playing. I haven’t
bought a single game in two years,
let alone from a network store.
I have much less free time than I
have in the past.
The truth is, I generally
to depend on something
other than a physical store.
We are living in an age in
which physical stores are fading
away, and the Internet is
taking over as the place where
everyone shops for everything.
The closing and decreasing revenue
in brick and mortar stores, like
Borders and Best Buy, are evidence
enough of the growing dominance
of the online shopping industry.
Furthermore, progressively more
games are locking players out of
full-access to game content, requiring
additional payment just to
get the whole experience. I became
a gamer at a time when the entire
game was available to me immediately.
Expansions were reserved
only for computer games at the
time, which I felt I didn’t need to
These days it feels like consoles are
closer to being glorified PCs to the
extent that I can barely make a distinction.
For these new systems, an
Internet connection matters more
than ever to get the full experience
out of any game.
While everyone else around me has
adapted to these changes with little
issue, I feel that I can never fully
adapt to this new era of technology.
I just feel uncomfortable with the
thought of physical discs eventually
fading out of existence.
And that is one of the reasons why I
no longer make any real purchases.
I know that I will no longer be able
to get the full experience. Rather, I
will be constantly bombarded with
patches and updates for games that
were shipped out before they were
remotely polished. Most of all, I
don’t want a console that prioritizes
linking me to the Internet over
doing its job and simply letting me
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Call me sentimental, but similar to print
books, I find more accomplishment in
seeing my game physically handed to me
rather than downloaded on my console.
There is that sense of commitment to
buying a game physically, as if I am now
obligated to play it immediately.
I can’t replicate the same joy that I had
when I was a child.
My attempts at sticking to physical releases
are ultimately futile. Digital distribution
is almost everyone else’s go-to
method for purchasing video games. In
the end, someone like me will never be
able to experience the same kind of joy
It just frightens me to think that the way
of life I had grown so accustomed to will
eventually fade away. And I feel like I’m
the only one with these emotions.
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BY NATE BARTON
PHOTOS BY ALEXANDER HAYES
We are consumers of stability caught in a rabid
evasion of dissonance. We blast party pop
on full volume — hands lifted into the air we
think we own and the darkness we refuse to fear.
We smile and chirp about the shiniest celebrity
amid the sunlit orb of our perfect lives, unable to
recognize this vital and necessary reality:
It is OK to not be OK.
Based solely on Instagram posts and the talk of
beaches and Lamborghinis, it would seem that
Pepperdine has the uncanny ability to manufacture
unending moral happiness. Perhaps it is
cultural. Perhaps it is affected by the PR campaign
designed to show prospective students
that Pepperdine is a beachside Eden (where
Adam has a $100 haircut) or to convince freshmen
they should go abroad their sophomore
year (“It ... will change ... your LIFE,” they say
with no advertising schema whatsoever). But
the fact is that 64 percent of Pepperdine students
report being lonely, according to a 2011
survey by the National College Health Assessment.
That is seven percent above the national
average. Perhaps there is more to the ocean than
It is high time we recognize that the sunniest
fields have shadows too. When will we allow
ourselves to experience the breadth of human
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be happy is a
fallacy. It sets
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emotion without this complex brew of anxiety
and guilt? When will we realize that
this life is not a commercial and that it is
OK to be unhappy at Pepperdine? Why the
That is not to say we should be pathetic, ungrateful
or scared while receiving a prestigious
education in the hills of Malibu. Pepperdine
truly is one of the most remarkable
places on Earth. The purpose of this article
is to validate the immense gravity of fear
that pulls on the ribcage and fills, with bees,
the thoughts of those faculty whose brain
chemistry or relationships have betrayed
them, those freshmen whose radiant sunbeams
of excitement at the acceptance letter
have fallen into the prism of alcohol abuse
and depression, those law students whose
tired compass whizzes in every direction,
those transfer students whose mother just
died, those staff members whose marriages
curdle like old milk — those whose darkness
is darker than the Malibu sun is bright.
Do not settle. Do not arrive.
The life-posture that accepts absolute, hurried
stability at the probable death of empathy
and depth is part of the knotty culture
of shame we perpetuate. Some call it the
“Pepperdine face,” in which real problems
are shouldered in silence behind $600 sunglasses.
In this way, the “Pepperdine face” is
a performance for the sake of appearances,
not a reflection of reality.
How are we supposed to react to the idea
that we should always be perfect, happy and
indefatigable? How are we supposed to deal
with real problems when they are pushed
away like something shameful or dirty — a
blip on our newsfeeds?
Pepperdine cannot save you. The blueness
of the ocean and the whiteness of the sand
are not Amazon-packaged deliveries of
contentment and joy. Yes, we live in Malibu,
California. Yes, it is where they filmed Zoey
one-oh-freaking-one. But we are still people
and our faults and fears are just as real.
Tell this to people back home in Ohio,
China or Texas and you risk being labeled a
thankless pessimist. They — whose crooked
idea of joy relies on the sandbox in your
backyard — may never understand that
“paradise” has its graveyards and pretenses.
A look at assumptions
Gazing from the expansive vista of Hero’s
Garden, the universe seems whole. Perhaps
it’s the marbled romanticism of grace that
sees rock faces and distant waves as the
harmonious tinkerings of God. Look to the
ground and tell the cannibalistic, half-eaten
microcreatures that the world has order.
Look to the sky and tell the stars — caught
in the reverie of a supermassive black hole,
draught in the cyclic tension of spacebits,
aflame, — that nature has order, that the irreverent
prejudice of God allows the death
of star systems without eulogy.
Happiness, constancy and peace are not
built-in features. Only romantics assume
fulfillment. To crave wholeness while recognizing
fault is to transcend. Finding this
tenuous intercourse of hydrogen and time
— such terrible chaos ballasts a terrible
peace. Catastrophe is in here: the gravity
and melody of assumption and blind faith.
The notion that students at Pepperdine
should always be happy is a fallacy. It sets
up expectations that dismiss real problems.
It standardizes disappointment and sterilizes
But perhaps like Kafka, Cornel West and
Hannah Montana, we should understand
that every good narrative is dynamic in part
because it begins with catastrophe. “Life’s
what you make it.” It is what happens in the
ashy gray of the bombsite that defines character.
True joy requires an understanding of
the hollow depths of pain and the brilliant
intoxication of redemption. Constant happiness
Art, said Rumi, is flirtation with surrender.
Dying, therefore, plunges into the art
of surrender — the one true mold. All art
loves death and therefore transcends it. Art
is when your lungs heave like an iPad in
the dryer and, like a dying star, cave in on
themselves — pulling you into the petroleum
reverie of love. A tiny white strand of
ego lost in a deep blue gaze.
This is the radical appeal to our shared humanity.
This is the tired belief in authenticity
and truth: it is OK to not be OK. It is not
your responsibility to be happy — it is your
joy to be human. Now is that so cynical?
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acai bowls & breakfast burritos
PHOTOS BY ALEXANDER HAYES
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A blend of banana,
blueberry, apple juice,
almond milk topped
with granola, hemp
banana, and coconut
banana, ice, apple juice,
coconut oil, topped with
granola, fresh banana,
blueberry then drizzled
mixed berries, guarana,
bananas, and shredded
and apple juice, topped
with coconut flakes,
sliced almonds, granola
Malibu’s treasured Sun Life Organics took the cake in
this competition because of the unique acai blend and
the use of almond milk brought the bowl together.
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Eggs, ham, potato,
cheese, peppers & onions
Bacon, cheese, potato &
Bacon, sausage, and
ham, plus scrambled
eggs and lots of shredded
pepper jack and cheddar
Beans, cheese, bacon,
and eggs & the famous
You’ll miss it if you blink while driving down PCH, but Malibu
Country Kitchen stomps the competition. It’s something about
how all the ingredients melt in your mouth.
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BY JOAN DALY
PHOTOS BY MARISA PADILLA
It was about five minutes past midnight
in the HAWC when Miriam
rushed over to me. This was her
lunch break. I tried my best to wipe
the sleep from my eyes and appear
just as perky and lively as the Sodexo
employee was. I was about to interview
the most enthusiastic, popular
and beloved employee at Pepperdine
and didn’t want to miss a beat.
Miriam is stationed at the HAWC
cafe, the late-night agora that serves
as a campus watering hole, and as she
sat down, she apologized for running
a few minutes late — she had been
catching up with a student. Miriam
loves the students, and they love her.
She generously offered to share her
dinner as we settled down, which I
obliged, as it was a midnight snack
for me. And we quickly eased into
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Currents: Miriam, you’ve been at Pepperdine for a few
years now. Have you always worked this late-night
shift in the HAWC?
Miriam: Yes, I have. I’ve been here for three years. I
usually work 6:30 p.m. to 3:30 a.m.
C: How do you feel about working this night shift?
M: I love it. It works out great for my schedule and me
with my three kids Anthony, Carmen and Arturo.
C: That’s amazing. In the years that you’ve worked
here, do you have a standout, favorite memory from
M: I don’t think I can pick just one. I would have to
say that as a whole, its been incredible to watch the
students here grow up. They come in as freshmen and
learn a lot about themselves, and I see them year from
year growing more mature. It’s so nice to see the same
students every day, how they’ll come into the HAWC
all stressed out from their day, and then leave relaxed
after some food, some company, and some talking.
C: And I’m positive that the students look forward
to seeing you each night, too. Do you have a favorite
thing about the HAWC and working here?
M: Definitely customer service. I love being able to
help the students out and be accommodating to them.
Sometimes just being friendly and helpful can make
C: You probably see a lot of crazy things that students
do go on in the HAWC. Do you have one memory
that sticks out to you?
M: Mmm, yes. One time, a girl dropped a glass bottle,
and it went everywhere. I didn’t want her to feel bad
about herself, so I helped her clean everything up, and
CURRENTS · 20
I wasn’t angry. I think she was surprised. I sprayed some perfume to freshen
the HAWC up and told her not to worry.
As we chatted, a young man slid into the seat next to Miriam and hugged
her, and I could tell that he was one of the students she was referring to
when she said she loved watching us grow up. It was clear they had known
each other for a while. He introduced himself as Jared Jackson, and I decided
to involve him in our conversation as well.
C: Jared, I can tell that you and Miriam are pretty close. How did this happen?
Jared: I don’t know, I guess I would just stop by the HAWC a lot, especially
during my freshman year. Just like, in the middle of the day to chat and to
relieve stress. She’s comforting.
C: Miriam, students here truly value your presence at Pepperdine; Jared is
just one testament to that. How does that make you feel?
M: Well, when kids come to college, they’re away from home. They’re homesick.
I just act like a mom to these kids, when they come in late at night, tired
and stressed. I talk to them and listen to what they have to say. I wouldn’t
have a job if it weren’t for the students; I am thankful for them.
C: How do you think Pepperdine would be without the HAWC?
M: The kids would have no place to really hang out. There would be no place
to get food at night and just be with your friends. Huge crowds of kids come
during Greek Life rush weeks and Songfest season since they all have late
nights. They would have nowhere to go and relax after a long day. We need
the HAWC for their sake.
C: Do you think that your time at Pepperdine has taught you anything?
M: Definitely patience. Patience and tolerance. Everyone is coming from a
different place with a different story; all of the students are away from home.
I’ve also learned to not take any rude comments personally. I just ignore
those things; again, you don’t know what that student is going through.
C: Miriam, you are considered one of the most beloved members of the
Pepperdine community. Everyone either knows you or wants to know you.
Would you like to comment on that?
M: Well, I just do my job, and that job involves being around people and
being considerate of their wants and needs. I always say to treat people the
way that you want to be treated. I use that philosophy here in the HAWC.
C: And now, one last question for you Miriam; what is your favorite food at
the HAWC? And what is the student favorite?
M: Ahhh, well, I love the chicken ciabatta sandwich. It’s my favorite. But I
think that students love the chicken tenders. We always run out of those on
21 · CURRENTS
Miriam had finished her dinner, and it
was just about time for her to head back
to work. She was beaming by the end of
the interview. She told me to stop back in
soon to chat. It might’ve been past midnight,
but I could now see why students
were crazy about the HAWC at hours
like this: they had Miriam to brighten up
their days (or rather, nights). Miriam was
worth being a night owl for.
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THE MALIBU WAY
PHOTOS BY SAFEENA PADDER, SHAWN JONES & ALEXANDER HAYES
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A PHOTO STORY BY
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BY ALYSHA TSUJI
PHOTOS COURTESY OF PEPPERDINE LIBRARIES
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No One Believed in Them
Among the already established powerhouse football
schools (USC, Loyola University, UCLA,
Whittier), Pepperdine was nothing but a blip on
The team started in March of 1946 with about
15 guys, according to George Pepperdine College
(GPC) alumnus Harry Nelson (’50). By August,
the roster nearly tripled in size. Nelson said the
increase in numbers was mostly because guys began
walking over from nearby Washington High
School — not because of any newfound popularity.
When a friend first told him about Pepperdine,
Nelson said, “Is that a disease or a sandwich?”
As a 34-acre campus nestled a few miles south of
Downtown, right around the heart of Los Angeles,
George Pepperdine College didn’t have a
stadium. With an enrollment of just over 1,000
students, it didn’t have a huge fan base, either.
Within that inaugural season, no one expected
much. However, the team expected much out of
themselves. The 1947 squad steamrolled the competition
— even knocking out coveted Loyola
University’s football team in the third game —
and ran all the way to the Will Roger’s Bowl in
Oklahoma City on Jan. 1, 1947.
Following the shocking Loyola upset, one sportswriter
wrote in his column, “Why We Downed
Loyola’s Lions,” which was in “Pepperdine: The
Football Years,” by Jay Roelen and Jerry Roelen:
“Even the GPC coaching staff didn’t expect such
CURRENTS · 38
a convincing outcome. The only one’s that
were not too surprised were the team members
Pepperdine stands as the only college with
a football program that advanced to a bowl
game in its first year in existence.
From then on, the team carried itself with
pride. “We used football to prove that
Christians weren’t sissies,” said John Skelly
(’56) who played on the team from 1954-
But Pepperdine’s athletics budget wasn’t
limitless, and football fell to that reality.
According to Dave Grenley’s four-volume
publication, “The History of Pepperdine
Football,” in 1961, “the Pepperdine College
Board of Trustees conducted a detailed
study on the feasibility of the football
program moving forward. They found the
heavy cost of continuing to field a competitive
team was too great … The decision was
not a reflection of the football team’s performance
Although, the current lack of a football
team doesn’t diminish the uplifting stories
of former players.
39 · CURRENTS
“Thank You, Sir”
From birth, 92-year-old Nelson said he
has felt God’s hand guiding his life. He
was born with pyelitis kidney disease, and
the prognosis didn’t look good. His mother
told him, “Doctors kept me alive by feeding
me a teaspoon of what she called ‘whiskey’
two times a day for two weeks.”
“I think the good Lord up there looked
down on me and said, ‘Oh, no, no, no, it’s
not his time yet. We’re going to have to
make things up for him,’” Nelson said.
He told the story of how he ended up in
the Coast Guard by chance. At the service
recruitment office, he happened to walk
down certain hallways and turn into an office
that saved him from spending service
time in more dangerous positions.
Then, while serving his three years in the
Coast Guard, he recalled several instances
in which they shot down Japanese kamikaze
planes in close proximity, or in which
he witnessed German underwater missiles
narrowly miss hitting their ship.
Each time he recalls one of those moments
in his life, he glances upwards, points to the
sky and softly says, “Thank you, sir.”
In 1946, as a war veteran, Nelson wanted
to gain the experience of playing for a
collegiate football team. He said he first
approached the football coach at Whittier.
The second he revealed he had no prior
football experience, the coach said, “We
can’t use you.” Undeterred, Nelson went to
USC, but he said the campus overwhelmed
him and caused him to feel out of place.
In his final attempt, Nelson entered the
Pepperdine administration building early
one morning. Upon arrival, Nelson could
tell the dean wasn’t impressed with his academic
background. However, for whatever
reason, the dean decided to let Nelson
“About a week before starting [the quarter],
he told me to enroll in a full load of classes,
and if you can prove you can do the work,
we’ll allow you to continue,” Nelson said.
“I never studied so hard in my life, but I
That happened to be a commonality among
GPC football players: The jocks extended
their passion for sports to an appreciation
Dale Miller (‘50) said when he first got to
Pepperdine his academic mindset was to do
just enough to stay eligible for football. He
ended up transferring to a community college
because of an injury, but he said that
attending Pepperdine taught him “to reach
down inside myself and see something that
was of interest to me.”
Miller went on to find a career in higher
education. Positions on his resume include
taking part in the creation of Golden West
College as the Dean of Students in 1965,
and serving as the President of Shasta College
for eight years.
Skelly said he “had no business going
to Pepperdine. [They] gave me a break.
Throughout my life, I passed it on. I passed
On the football team, Skelly said he became
the unofficial team chaplain, leading
prayers and discussing God with his teammates.
On campus, Skelly served as the
Vice President of SGA his senior year.
After graduating, Skelly went on to earn his
doctorate in the Science of Theology. Over
the years, he has been a Presbyterian minis-
CURRENTS · 40
ter, the Vice President for Public Relations
and Development for Pikeville College
and the President of the nonprofit Pacific
“Without Pepperdine, I would not be me,”
From One Battlefield to Another
While today’s college football teams are
packed with kids who have grown up striving
to secure scholarships and maybe push
to the NFL, the mid-20th century football
teams painted an entirely different story.
In 1947, two years out of World War II, the
GPC football roster was stacked with war
veterans, some as old as 27. Alongside the
basic information of height, weight, position
and year, the roster sheets included a
column for “war service.”
Nelson emotionally recalled how special
GPC’s football team’s situation was — they
were a brand new team made up of men
freshly out of the service. “It’s just an honor
that we have,” he said. “Everything turned
out nice. It’s a reflection on the school.”
Pepperdine’s football teams were consistently
a ragtag bunch of players. Skelly,
the team leader and chaplain who had
spent two years in the service but was still
a younger one at 19 years old, remembered
praying for his teammates and building relationships
with them: “It was a precious
group. These guys were married and worked
at night at the bakery … there were longshoremen
with families … a lot of these
guys were veterans.”
The Legacy Lives On
Although the program itself has died, the
former players continue to carry on its legacy.
As one of the 38 from the 1947 National
Championship team, Nelson joined
together with several other football alumni
to pool funds for a Football Players Scholarship
“We wanted to let later students know that
we had a football team and it did achieve a
few things,” Nelson said.
In addition to winning, as Skelly said,
“Football was more than football. Football
was my anchor.”
Jay Roelen (‘58) who played QB from
1954-57 said he learned many life lessons
from being on the team about chaos, control,
discipline, teamwork and “all those
valuable traits you get from participating in
Roelen went on to teach Physical Education
for 45 years. He and his wife also put
together four volumes of books filled with
roster sheets, photos, game programs and
newspaper clippings, titled, “Pepperdine:
The Football Years.”
The books can be found at and checked out
of Payson Library.
In the same capacity that the former players
hope students remember and learn about
the golden years of GPC football, they hold
onto a hope that the football will make a
return — from South LA to Malibu.
Miller said his only regret is that Pepperdine
gave up football. Many former players
expressed sadness at its nonexistence.
“Let’s get it back,” Roelen said.
The 1947 small college championship banner
hangs in Firestone Fieldhouse. While
Title IX, budget constraints and other
issues may prevent another Pepperdine
football team from being snapped into existence,
the banner is permanent. And the
impact the players had on Pepperdine’s
campus and beyond is perpetual.
41 · CURRENTS
BY CHIRAG PATEL
PHOTOS BY CHIRAG PATEL MALIBU FARM
& SHAWN JONES JUNE LOUKS’ GARDEN
It’s a brisk morning as I walk upon the storied wooden planks
of the Malibu Pier, overlooking a striking emerald-blue
ocean full of choppy waves courtesy of the Santa Ana winds
from the previous night. I pass by giggling children and lazy
fishermen toward the twin structures that adorn the end of
the pier, in particular the quaint eatery on the right with the
extraordinary ocean view.
I’m here to meet purveyor Helene Henderson, and as I enter
the building full of boisterous patrons enjoying their breakfast
I find her tucked away to the side working on a laptop.
She greets me with a smile and we sit to chat about how her
restaurant, Malibu Farm, has come to occupy the prime real
estate that is the Malibu Pier.
Henderson was born in the north of Sweden,
where she grew up learning about farming
and foraging in the surrounding forests
near her family cottage. Her mother
was a waitress, and Henderson became
familiar with working in a
professional kitchen at an early age.
“I knew about cooking, but I didn’t think of cooking as a
professional path,” said Henderson, who after moving to the
United States “with a one-way ticket and only $500,” worked
in design before moving back into the kitchen purely by accident.
Filling in for an injured friend who was cooking for a
private party, Henderson made a strong impression with her
dishes and was invited to cook again.
“Other people from other places wanted me to cook and
then all of a sudden I had a catering company,” laughed
Henderson, who would go on to run her own company for
nearly 15 years, in addition to spending time as a personal
chef. Henderson admitted she didn’t have a clear vision for
what she was doing and was unable to explore her culinary
creativity when forced to tailor her dishes to clients who had
a stringent set of needs.
Henderson would eventually purchase a home in the Point
Dume area that needed a lot of work, a property that would
43 · CURRENTS
ecome her own private farm. She bought some
goats to clear the land, planted some vegetable beds,
added a vineyard and a chicken coup, restored a hidden
fruit orchard and brought in a pet pig named
As her private farm grew, friends would ask her to
host cooking classes where they would pick fresh
fruits and vegetables from the property to make a
unique farm-to-fork meal.
“My cooking class had a rule … it had to be fun for
me,” said Henderson, who developed the class into
a unique exploration of simple, organic meals. She
shunned developing recipes beforehand and instead
looked for in-the-moment inspiration in the garden
to create the meal for the day, blogging about it afterward
for those interested in recreating what they
“Everything just grew from that point on, and suddenly
it was 20 people taking the class, then 100
people taking the class, then people calling in saying
they’re coming in from New York asking how they
can take the class,” Henderson said.
The classes turned into hosted
dinner events around Malibu,
allowing guests to try a number of
dishes tied in to local organic foods —
dishes designed around fresh produce found at
a number of farms in the community. The growing
popularity of these events brought Henderson to
the attention of the master
concessionaire for the Malibu
Pier, who offered Henderson
the opportunity to host a
pop-up style dining experience
in the historic space.
“It required a lot of work,” said Henderson,
who had to redesign the entire location and reacquire
the necessary permits to get the old structure
at the end of the pier in working condition. “It was
me and two Pepperdine students and two line cooks
who we hired … people were laughing. The rent was
super low because even the landlord was laughing,”
But it worked. Henderson brought in produce
picked fresh from her own farm to cook the meals.
As business grew, she partnered with local growers
to supply the demand, sticking to her belief in only
sourcing local, fresh and organic foods.
“My philosophy for any food is just to keep it as simple
as possible,” Henderson said. “I don’t like things
that are over thought … my basic thought is to just
get a really good piece of chicken … or a really good
tomato and do nothing to it.”
Henderson is a strong believer in producing quality
food, allowing natural flavors to take center stage.
No additives, no processing, no freezing — just real,
CURRENTS · 44
“The worse the product you get, the more you have to do to it.
The better the product you get, the less you have to do to it,”
What was once envisioned as a temporary pop-up is shaping
into a permanent cafe on the pier, with Henderson working on
expanding the reach of the business with longer hours, an online
blog at www.malibu-farm.com and future events to showcase
her unique and healthy dishes.
I leave the pier and head north on PCH to a quiet ocean-side
neighborhood near Paradise Cove. I arrive at a beautifully designed
rustic home and am greeted by my host, who takes me
around back to explore the hidden garden on the other side.
She walks barefooted through an ocean of green, as she guides
me nimbly past vegetable beds, a green house, compost heaps, a
lively chicken coop and a bee colony surrounded by the sweet
aroma of natural honey. There are bananas and guavas and mangos,
an assortment of growing herbs and berries, citrus fruits and
vegetables. It’s a forager’s paradise full of color, mouth-watering
scents and the sounds of chirping birds.
We stop at a tree bearing an odd looking bud, a large and fuzzy
green pod that my host picks off and begins to tear open. The
inside of the pod houses a ghost white fruit that is soft, watery,
sweet and incredibly delicious. The Inga tree has been growing
for nearly three years now, and we have just taken the first ever
taste of its fruit, referred to as the “ice cream bean.”
The quarter-acre sized garden is full of similarly exotic foods
alongside more traditional American staples, and we continue to
pick and eat fresh produce as we explore. The garden is the work
of my host June Louks, a local supporter of organic living in
Malibu and the author of “A Malibu Mom’s Manifesto On Fresh
Whole Foods,” a cookbook and healthy lifestyle guide.
Louks suffered a health crisis a few years back and made a shift
in her life to eat healthier and live better, an example she shares
with her four daughters and other interested members of the
“I had no interest in growing my own food. This was supposed
to be a paddle tennis court,” said Louks. “But then I had this
health crisis which was very humbling. I came face to face with
death, and when you have those moments you look at the larger
Louks started to look into healthier eating, and began to learn
about the benefits of eating organically while simultaneously
learning about the struggles associated with procuring and producing
She learned about the importance of soil cultivation and com-
45 · CURRENTS
CURRENTS · 46
posting when she first started to build her garden, and of the damaging
effects of pesticides in the growth process. Even more surprising
was the mis-handling of the term “organic” itself, where Louks discovered
that products labeled as organic are often times misleading
and flat out false.
“Anytime food is grown for profit, it’s not going to have the value,
the love, the nourishment as something that we can grow in our own
backyard,” Louks said.
Over the course of six years, Louks has continued to grow and diversify
her backyard garden, creating a truly unique and wholly sustainable
environment from which she can grow quality foods to make
“This is a total labor of love,” Louks said. “We play every day out
here. We craft and we are having a blast. But it’s definitely an investment
Her book came about from her desire to impart her health habits
onto her kids, a struggle in and of itself. It’s a guide for other families
who are looking at developing better eating habits based on the
experiences of her own family.
“Getting the kids to eat [healthy food] in comparison to a Snickers
or an Oreo cookie … those hydrogenated fats that are so addictive
… I had to figure out how to sell it to my kids,” Louks said. “It was
out of that passion, that love for them that got me to figure out great
recipes from a ton of research on all these great, healthy, traditional
In addition to her book, Louks has founded the Malibu Agricultural
Society, an organization of like-minded local farmers and organic
health advocates who meet once a month to discuss their experiences
and share their expertise on sustainable living.
“It’s been a venue for anyone who moves to Malibu and is interested
in growing their own food,” Louks said. Many of the members have
also been involved in advocating for local community and health ordinances,
including labeling GMO’s, marine protection, rodenticide
bans and moderating chain stores in the community.
It’s a wondrous undertaking that Louks seems to hold dear, and
one that she hopes will continue to grow as the local community
becomes more invested in healthier eating. Her garden is a unique
example of how a little ingenuity and hard work can make a huge
difference in the way we approach our eating habits.
“There is an incredible joy that comes from being in the garden and
working in connection with nature that money can’t buy,” Louks
said. “I think that is important for people to know.”
47 · CURRENTS
It’s past mid-day when I take my leave of the garden and my host.
It’s been an interesting adventure meeting these two unique individuals
who embody the farm-to-fork movement to the fullest. It’s a
modest endeavor with a massive payout, and a small taste of the full
plate that is Malibu’s food culture.
A PHOTO STORY BY
“LOVE IS A PLACE”
ART DIRECTION BY ALEXANDER HAYES
love is a place
& through this place of
(with brightness of peace)
49 · CURRENTS
CURRENTS · 50
51 · CURRENTS
yes is a world
& in this world of
CURRENTS · 52
53 · CURRENTS
Go to pepperdine-graphic.com and
apply for jobs under the contacts tabs
55 · CURRENTS
BY JB MAZA
ART BY GARRISON WRIGHT
The one word in the English language
that causes smoke to come out of my ears.
Even typing the word causes me angst.
Due to my attention deficit disorder, or
ADD, I struggle with focusing, which affects
my everyday life. Everything takes
me two times, three times or even ten
times longer than the average person.
And by everything, I mean everything.
From household chores to completing
homework assignments. It takes me up to
six hours to clean my dorm room, which
is a mess due to forgetting to carve out
time to clean. Frustration is an emotion
I am all too familiar with. A simple fivepage
paper can take up to 12 drafts to ensure
clarity and flow. I constantly forget
things. I forget to do assignments, where
I parked my car, if I ate breakfast or what
someone just said to me five seconds before.
Growing up with ADD led me to be
an angry person who was lost in her
own thoughts. The tangled web of my
thoughts get stuck into a bind of confusion
because my brain tries to process
everything at the speed of light. There is
a sense of guilt and anxiety when dealing
with others who don’t have ADD. Conversation
and social interactions can be
extremely difficult. I can look you right
in the face, give you eye contact and even
nod like I’m listening and not get a single
word you just said. Conversations go in
one ear and out the other. I always feel
like I’m being rude asking people to repeat
Some people are not very patient and
take serious offense to my lack of attention.
What they do not understand is the
guilt I feel asking them to accommodate
this thing my brain does without my
control. I live with that constant guilt for
my learning disability causes anxiety and
My pediatrician first introduced the idea
of ADD to my parents when I was in
middle school. My mom wanted to try
more natural approaches to my ADD. I
took fish oils and a variety of vitamins.
Lactose milk and all dairy were removed
from my diet. I still struggled to put away
a basket of clean clothes in fewer than
four hours. Homework that was supposed
to be only two hours would take
seven hours. My typical day growing
up was wake up at 7 a.m., go to school,
participate in sports, come home, then
start homework immediately. It was always
me against the clock. I could handle
shooting a free throw that would decide
the basketball game better than I could
the hours of homework I was forced to
endure. I hated sitting at the kitchen table
doing work. I was under my mother’s
careful eye to make sure I focused (there’s
that word again). To this day, I cannot do
homework at a desk. It just brings back
memories of frustrations and tears. Yes, I
cried over homework.
I didn’t learn to read until third grade
due to my ADD. My teachers didn’t have
the time or energy to sit down with me
and force me to focus on the words. I
struggled with my own native language
English. It is embarrassing sometimes to
try to formulate a cohesive sentence in a
language I’ve spoken since the age of 3.
I had various tutors. I remember specifically
my writing tutor who was actually a
speech therapist. He created this booklet
about how to write a paper and organize
your ideas. He introduced me to the software
Inspiration, which is basically like
spider-webbing essay planning on your
computer. But that’s not all. I completed
the whole Hooked on Phonics program.
My mom forced me to read a chapter
from any book and write in my journal
every night. She always made sure to say
that she would never read my journal, but
merely flip through the pages to see that
I had written. I hated this with a burning
passion. I thought books were torture devices
meant to teach children to sit still
for long periods of time. I despised the
written word and everything associated
with it. I just wanted to watch TV and
be left alone.
After years of this punishment, I looked
back at some of my old journals. I noticed
a change, the sophistication of my writing
style. I was completely shocked. The
concept of progression was new to me. I
was used to trying so hard and straining
every last brain cell to just make it by. It
changed my view of language. I saw that
I had power. I possessed an ability to
CURRENTS · 56
grow and ultimately be successful. I knew
it would be an uphill battle, but there was
now an actual possibility.
For those who may not quite understand,
here’s the metaphor I use to explain. Imagine
you are trying to run a mile in fewer
than seven minutes. Every day you try. Every
day you fail. Each day you go by, you try
harder. More effort is exerted. But everyday
you are 10 seconds slower. No matter what
you do or who encourages you, it seems like
an impossible task. Imagine experiencing
drive, hope, struggle and failure for years.
People tell you to just try harder. They yell,
“Focus! Just Focus!” Imagine there are other
people on the track who just whiz right
past you without skipping a beat. There is
no sweat on their brow nor are they out of
breath. All hope of success is lost. This was
my struggle until the clearest day of my life.
The Clearest Moment
Success was a concept introduced to me
when I was 16. My mom and I agreed to try
ADD medication to help me. My frustration
and anxiety was getting exponentially
worse. The thought of going to college
was completely crippling. If I struggled so
much on a daily basis, how could I move
away from home and be successful? How
could I be worth the investment my parents
would have to make?
57 · CURRENTS
The very first day I took my
medication was the clearest
moment of my life thus far.
I will never forget that day. I
remember every single detail
of that day, which is an accomplishment
I remember getting up on that
morning looking at the pill
bottle of Concerta. I thought,
“Well, here it goes.” Then I went
to school and about my daily life. It
wasn’t until lunch, that I had already
finished a homework assignment during
my free period. An entire assignment was
completed in just 55 minutes. Never before
had I experienced this feeling, a feeling
of accomplishment. At the time, I just
thought it was a fluke until I got home that
day. I got home and changed as I always did.
But then I sat down and did my homework.
I actually did my homework. I finished a
three-page reflection paper, answered some
science questions after reading the whole
chapter and began to study for an English
test I had the following week. All of this
happened in two hours. Two hours. In 120
minutes, I accomplished more than ever in
my entire life. My eyes began to fill with
A huge weight had been lifted. I realized I
had time to work on my Girl Scout Gold
Award, which had fallen to the wayside due
to my lack of time. At this same moment,
my mom walked through the front door,
ready to tell me to focus on my homework.
She saw my project and scolded me for not
working on my homework.
“It’s done,” I told her.
“What do you mean done? I know you
have a test next week ...”
“I already started studying for it. It’s done.
I’m working on my Gold Award project.”
Her brow furrowed and jaw dropped. This
concept of sitting down and accomplishing
a task was completely new to her, too. I
then remember asking, “Is this what it’s like
to be like everyone else?”
Even after the clearest moment, I still
struggle with ADD. It is something that I
will struggle with for the rest of my life. I
will have to ask people to accommodate me
while learning to structure my life around
my learning disability. The difference from
then and now is I own my ADD. I share it
willing with others. It is not some hidden
secret that should degrade my intelligence.
It doesn’t define me. It is just a part of me
just like my brown hair.
For those who believe that ADD medication
is addictive due to its ability to change
a person’s state of mind, I say it can be. But
it’s not the drug that is addictive, it’s the
sense of achievement. Being able to accomplish
tasks in a reasonable amount of time
is a serious boost to self-confidence and
sense of worth. However, with all medications
there are side-effects.
Some of the side-effects of Concerta are
drowsiness, loss of appetite, dizziness,
nausea, fast heartbeat and chronic trouble
sleeping. I have experienced each of these.
The more severe side-effects are joint pain,
excessive sweating and even heart attack.
But in my experience, the side-effects of
life without medications are much worst.
Loss of motivation, depression and a decline
in self-confidence can become your
whole world. It becomes easy, without the
medication, to get lost in your own jumbled
train of thought. Trying not to forget assignments
or meet up with a friends cause
severe anxiety. Loosing a few hours of sleep
and keeping a pack of saltines on me is a
better trade off than the latter.
Today, I have a system for basically everything
I do. I have a teacher’s style planner
that is huge, but I wouldn’t be able to survive
without it. I learned that I just have to
do things differently than others, but that
doesn’t limit my abilities. It is what just
works for me. I color code my classes.
My notebooks, folders and even how I
write them in my planner are each a specific
color. I keep important things in the same
place. I always put my keys in my purse or
on my kitchen table. I set my coffeemaker
up the night before. I pack my bag for
school the night before so I don’t forget
anything. I set everything up so I can be
successful. I struggle with focusing. Now, I
know to push through that.
It is my limitation. Life has caused it to be a
focus in my life, but it doesn’t consume my
life or define The building blocks and tools
I have learned from my ADD have taught
me that I will be successful in anything I
The Eagles Nest
BY STASIA DEMICK
Laced up boots ready to walk
Ascent upon compact dust
No physical struggle wrought
From curiosity intoxication
BY LAUREN DAVILA
Hills rise without slopes
Thighs burn in dull fervor
No reprieve until the top
A perch aware of solitude
gold glitter brightens
lapis lazuli irises
set above apple pink cheeks.
Rock surface sustained in full
Shrubbery guard thinnest path
Hands meant to feel stone firm
Rest upon rigid edges old stone
Reprieve in dark beyond home
Eagles nest away from strife
Gaze upon the city lights
To recall grandness forgotten
rollers out of curled hair for
frizz doesn’t have a home near
her sea-foam dress —
teeth fire lip stain.
so on point it could cut.
CURRENTS · 58
for her batman shirt under the bed
says what the words floating through her head
can’t as they strain to burst through society’s glass ceiling.
but for now, hanging on his every word.
he longs to feel more than
eyebrows raised in derision.
he feels only heat.
the wandering in a desert,
can’t breathe it’s so hot
hellfire is better than this
kind of heat.
Heat glazed eyes behind opaque windows
he concentrates on
anything but her tittering,
counting the flames licking
his toes and fingers
until they melt off like
dripping, dripping, dripping.
there is no cold no heat
no ice nor fire
no love nor desire
not her laugh nor her light
as he falls, sinks
melts further into the
59 · CURRENTS
BY CAROL ALBAN
There’s something ominous about 18.
Maybe it’s the way the loops curve,
Making a prison of infinity;
Maybe it’s the stark contrast
Between the strictness of soldier one
And the playfulness of juvenile eight;
Or maybe it’s that
I don’t know what I’m doing.
I’ve spent eighteen years
Watching, learning, growing,
But there’s no rulebook in the game of life,
There’s no manual to fix a broken-down soul.
And yet I keep on trying.
Because one day
Something’s got to stop the crying
And the dying and the lying
And the tear-filled goodbying.
There must be some connection I always skip
Or a switch I forget to flip.
If only I could patch all the holes and tighten each screw,
Then the world would have a brand new view
On hunger, on pain,
On illnesss, and selfish gain.
But my hands are too small
For all my best intentions
And I’m much too short to reach
To pull down the North star
To give to the lost souls
Searching for its light.
And I’ve yet to learn that some things
Just don’t want to be made whole,
That I can never fix
What doesn’t want to heal.
So while I may be an adult
In the eyes of the world,
In my eyes of a child,
I’m still a little girl.
I still don’t have the answers
To all the questions posed,
And I’ve yet to find the windows
That opened when some doors closed.
18 marks the end of innocence and second chances
But looking back,
That happened long ago,
So there must be some things I already know,
Like the warmth of sunlight
And the beauty of snow,
The power of laughter
To chase dark clouds away
And the strength it takes
To face another day,
Hugs and mugs (of tea, that is)
With books, curled in nooks create peacefulness
But still comes the call:
“World Peace! Fight Hunger!”
The greatest lesson I’ve yet to learn
Is that I don’t have to do it all.
So come 18 with paradoxes and parodies,
Perhaps another year will answer all of these.
A man sat on his plastic chair waiting
for the group to arrive. He twiddled his
fingers, crossed his legs, uncrossed them.
The man often facilitated these kinds of
support groups but never had he been so
fortunate to work with such important
people before. That is why he twiddled
his fingers so vigorously and couldn’t sit
still for more than a few seconds.
The room was in the basement of an old,
forgotten bar and just as easily could have
been the location for one of those illegal
gambling operations you see so often in
the movies. For the support group’s particular
needs however, the man had the
room touched up a bit — to give it a
more comfortable feel of sorts. The lone
dangling light bulb in the middle of the
small square room, for instance, had been
removed entirely and replaced with a
simple tabletop lamp placed in the middle
of the desk they were to congregate
around. Where there were cracks in the
wall, the man covered them with abstractly
inspirational paintings and posters
of birds, flowers and the like. Instead
of the old, decaying wooden chairs that
had been there for years apparently, the
man brought in five plastic, red chairs. It
was all rather simple and slightly familiar
but of course, that was the goal — to
give these great men a space where they
could share their stories and frustrations
without thrusting them into a forced
The man took a good, long look at the
clock on the wall. The hands indicated
that it was four minutes to 9 p.m. His
anxiety was beginning to lift as he looked
around the quaint room and concluded
silently to himself that this would more
than suffice these men’s worldly needs.
Some coffee and donuts were carefully
laid out on the desk in the middle of
the red chairs. The man went to grab for
the lone jelly-filled donut when the door
to the room swung open and the first
member of this exclusive support group
He was a darker man and the support
BY ELLIOT BASSILE
group leader immediately recognized
him. As he slowly unraveled his turban,
Muhammad opened his mouth to speak.
“Damn, there’s nothing like taking this
thing off at the end of a long day man.”
The support group facilitator jumped up
to welcome the prophet.
“Hello, my name is Ron. It is an absolute
pleasure and honor to meet you and work
with you tonight Muhammad. I can call
you Muhammad right?”
Muhammad gave a short, corner-of-themouth
smile as he shook Ron’s hand.
“Of course you can, surely you wouldn’t
be able to pronounce the whole thing
now, would you, Ronald?”
Ron nodded his head, half in agreement,
half in shame. This Muhammad guy really
is as intense as they say, he thought
“Yes … yes you’re right about that. Well
take a seat please, Muhammad. Grab
a donut, a cup of coffee, make yourself
comfortable, and we’ll give the others
some more time to show up.”
At this, Muhammad picked up the final
jelly donut and devoured it as he stared
Ronald in the eyes, as if he knew of the
minor torment he was causing his host.
Mere seconds later, and to Ronald’s utter
relief, the next man walked through
the door. Again, there was no mistaking
him for anyone else, it was Shiva. He had
a snake draped around his neck and was
wearing a tank top one could find at Urban
Outfitters. Ronald, half expecting the
snake, was more taken aback by the tank
Shiva wears wife beaters, Ronald thought
to himself incredulously. As if reading the
slight shock on Ron’s face but mistaking
its source for something else, Shiva addressed
Ron in a soft, apologetic tone.
“Good evening, I am Shiva, and this is my
snake Vasuki. I hope he does not frighten
you too much. Parvati, my wife, is out
with her friends tonight and couldn’t care
for him as she usually does, and we only
had enough money for the kids’ babysitter.
I could not find a snake sitter at an
He paused as if waiting for a reaction
from Ron and Muhammad but they just
stared. Then Shiva broke down laughing
at his own joke, sputtering about how ridiculous
an idea a snake sitter was. Ron
joined in to make the mood slightly more
bearable, but Muhammad kept eating his
donut, eyeing Shiva up and down.
“What’s with the tank top, bro?” Muhammad
finally said, jelly stuck in the
corner of his lips and all.
“What do you mean?” Shiva answered
somewhat taken aback.
Before anything could escalate though,
Ron stepped in.
“Um, I believe that Muhammad was only
inquiring about its brand, Shiva.”
Muhammad shot Ron a dirty look but
did not press the matter. Instead, he
reached for a napkin and cleaned his face
of the jelly that had so generously been
spread across it.
“Damn, that’s a great f------ donut,” he
Meanwhile, Shiva was beginning to address
the subject of his tank top but was
interrupted by Jesus’ arrival.
Ron, a fervent fan of his work, jumped
up when he caught sight of the illustrious
“Wow, what a pleasure! I wasn’t sure if
your schedule was going to allow you to
make it, Jesus, but welcome. And I must
say it is quite the honor meeting you.”
CURRENTS · 60
Jesus was wearing dark blue slacks and a plain
white dress shirt with a tie just barely hanging
off it. He almost looked like an intern returning
home from another difficult day at the office.
Ron struggled with his next words,
“You are much more…” he began but quickly
ended, realizing the somewhat boorish words
that were about to come out of his mouth.
“Brown?” Jesus finished his thought for him.
Ron’s face lit up red as shame engulfed his body.
“I’m so sorry, Jesus, that was inconsiderate of me,
I …” Ron began.
“Be calm my child, you did me no harm. I am
pretty brown. It can be a little shocking if you
grew up with the pictures of me with the fair
skin and blue eyes and all that. You are forgiven,”
he declared as he made the sign of the cross over
“I bumped into Siddhartha on my way in here.
He’s sitting below that big tree outside with his
eyes closed. Says he needs ‘to be in a compassionate
state of mind before sitting down with
everyone.’ I really love that guy.”
Almost on cue, the door opened one more time
to reveal the chubby, smiling man known as the
“Speaking of the devil,” Ron exclaimed. He was
finding it more and more difficult to conceal his
The Buddha spoke,
“Oh, please don’t tell me the Devil is coming.
I’ve tried leveling with that guy a few times, but
he’s such a downer.”
“No, no, I only meant it in a manner of speech.
This is everyone for tonight’s session,” Ron clarified.
The men sat quietly for a few minutes. Through
the shuffling of feet and the mild uneasiness
however, these strong leaders slowly ramped
up the volume as they exchanged pleasantries,
while others caught up after years of not talking.
Eventually, after taking the time to watch and
gauge the situation, Ron spoke up,
“Hello everyone, once again, I am Ron, and I’m
so happy to see all of your brave faces here tonight.
I’m sure you are all well aware but I just
wanted to reassure you that this is a safe space.
I want you guys to feel comfortable in sharing
whatever needs sharing. Tonight, you no longer
support everyone else, you now get to support
For some reason, Ron had expected an explosion
of applause and howls of unity but the men
just looked around at each other in mild dismay.
Hampered yet motivated, Ron continued,
“OK, that sounded a lot better in my head, but
you guys get it. It can get tiring carrying the
weight of the world on your shoulders, so tonight
we can chill out and discuss your own issues.”
A hand shot up.
“Yes Jesus, go ahead,” Ron said.
Jesus wet his lips before speaking.
“My biggest issue recently might seem simple or
a tad ‘meh’ to everyone, but I feel like I’ve reached
my limit with it. People really need to stop using
my name as a curse word or as a way to verbalize
their bewilderment. Whatever happened to
‘never use the Lord’s name in vain’? I mean, I
may not be the Lord, but I am his son after all.”
Before Ron or anyone else could answer with
some kind of advice or comfort, Jesus continued.
“Like … Ron what’s your last name?”
Ron opened his mouth.
“OK, so you are Ronald Howard,” Jesus continued
without waiting for an answer he already
had. Ron kept his mouth closed despite Jesus
getting his name slightly wrong. “Imagine if
every time someone got caught in traffic they
shouted ‘Ronald Howard!’ with so much venom
mind you. It’s unsettling to say the least.”
Muhammad spoke up.
“I second that!”
“What do you mean,” Shiva replied “I’ve never
heard anyone shout ‘Muhammad!’ while in traffic.”
Muhammad eyed Shiva up and down again,
pausing at the tank top that, so visibly to the rest
61 · CURRENTS
of the room, grated at his sensibilities.
“Yes … I know this Shiva but my issue is
similar. I’m tired of people taking property
over my name and image.”
“Yeah. Those ‘South Park’ guys were so
mean,” Buddha calmly commented. Sitting
next to Muhammad, Buddha reached his
arm out to pat him on the shoulder.
“Actually, I was talking about the people
who complained about that. It’s flattering
to even be on TV; I feel like a pop culture
icon for once and I gotta say, it feels nice.
I mean, look at Jesus and Buddha, ‘Family
Guy’ has you,” Muhammad pointed at
Jesus, “performing magic tricks and adventuring
with Peter Griffin while Buddha’s
brand has exploded in recent years. With
this New Age boom in the West, no offense
Buddha, but a fat, bald guy from India is
now practically a sex symbol for thousands
and thousands of beautiful, flexible yoga
The Buddha gave a wry smile,
“No offense taken” he said.
“I don’t know. It’s just frustrating, man. To
be this famous Last Prophet and only get
mentioned when discussing fatwas and jihadists
is really depressing.”
“On that same token,” Shiva began “why
does Buddha get all this reverence for the
yoga craze? I mean I was doing yoga before
he was even born. And — and … while you
were growing up a prince and screwing all
the women in your kingdom, you know indulging
the senses, I was still doing yoga.
No offense by the way.”
“None taken whatsoever” Buddha said once
more with a cheeky smile on his face. Ron
noticed that he seemed to be enjoying this
meeting more than the others.
“Thank you three for sharing your complaints.
As you can all tell, you share similar
struggles but now you can stand up and say
‘No more!’ No more supporting the people
of the world only to be marginalized,
simplified or ignored. In this space, we love
ourselves, we support ourselves. You are
beautiful and fantastic religious leaders.”
“Here, heres” could be heard around the
room. Though it was only the first meeting,
Ron thought this was going splendidly. He
was actually helping these amazing men
who had helped so many others. He turned
his attention to Buddha.
“Buddha, do you have anything you’d like
to share or discuss?”
The Buddha began,
“Well, I would just like to thank Muhammad
and Shiva for the kind words.” For the
first time, Muhammad and Shiva seemed
to connect on a decent level as their eyes
met while they simply shook their heads
“and to you Jesus — bravo! I am a fan of
your work. We should collaborate sometime.
With your preachings on forgiveness
and my expertise in compassion, we could
be the next Bert and Ernie!”
“… interesting comparison, to say the least,
but I thank you all the same, o’ enlightened
one,” Jesus kindly replied.
Ron felt the need to interject once more,
“I am sure everyone here appreciates the
kind words, Buddha. Do you have any issues
though that you’d like to discuss?”
“Well, I hope this doesn’t offend, but what
the hell were you thinking with that tank
top, Shiva? It’s just incredibly difficult to
take you seriously with your chest hair
crawling out from beneath what little you
have on and staring me in the face.”
A “here, here” could be heard from Muhammad’s
side of the room.
“I mean we’ve all been known to don a good
robe now and again but this is supposed to
be a comfortable space for everyone. Not
just for you and your incredible chest hair.”
Shiva, somewhat taken aback, replied,
“To be honest everyone, I thought I was
making a solid fashion statement that just
went hand in hand with what we are trying
to achieve here, but I get it, point taken.
Vasuki tried to warn me before we left
tonight, but I just said, ‘You’re just a snake,
what do you know?’ I guess he knows more
than I thought.”
Vasuki, now sunning himself by the lamp
in the middle of the table, simply hissed in
Jesus consoled the Hindu god,
“Don’t fret my child, you are forgiven.”
For the final time of the night, Ron spoke
“Thank you, Buddha, for bringing your
issue to the rest of us. While not exactly
what I was intending when I said ‘issue,’
it’s good to see that you all can air out your
differences in a kind, gentle manner. Now
to wrap up our first session, I’d like to go
around the table and have everyone give us
one word to take away from this meeting,
something that will hopefully help us stay
strong until next week’s gathering. Shiva,
we’ll start with you.”
Still a little shaken but sitting proudly he
And Muhammad said,
With that, the group split. Ron was happy
with the first session and felt a certain confidence.
He believed that, with continued
meetings, he could get them all to follow
his own Church.
L. Ron Hubbard chuckled to himself as
he climbed into his spaceship and thought
about Jesus mistaking him for a successful
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