Our Common Table

by Joshua Sparks

We must zealously protect our First Amendment rights in the wake of President Trump’s Muslim travel ban.


The suspension of travel to the United States imposed by President Trump’s recent executive order has sparked controversy, and the recent court decision scotching implementation likely has not diminished frustration with what amounts to a ban of Muslim immigrants. Trump’s order blocked travel from several predominantly Muslim countries, (with the notable exception of Christian refugees), stranding many at international airports, turning away others, separating families, slowing travel times, and affecting students and even people who assisted the U.S. military. Talk of priority for Christian refugees has led to the assumption that there will be an enforced religious test for prospective travelers, which is forbidden by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The initial confusion and distress caused by the order may have passed, but the Trump administration’s vow to continue to fight for this ban provides an opportunity to candidly discuss the First Amendment and its protections.

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Riffed and Ripped: 2016’s Best Guitar Rock

by Joshua Templin

Photo of Angel Olsen by Bruce

Last year was an incredible year for guitar-based rock music, despite its minor presence on the pop charts.

With the Grammy Awards now in the past, last year might go down in history for the many ways in which pop and R&B artists became agile again, while the industry played catch-up. The nominees of Best Rock Song and Best Rock Album were mostly awful, proving that the Grammy judges were as clueless about good rock as they were good pop and R&B.

A True Record

by Amanda O’Donahue

Manipulating our photos can create a false impression of who we are.

Photography, although a wonderful medium for art and an excellent form of documentation, has been pushed to new extremes. Instead of photographers using the camera to capture glimpses of real life, they are staging and manipulating the photos to the point of actually altering the appearance of life itself. This intentional act of posing photos can distort our view on life and our memory.