Olivia, if you could fight one famous literary character, who would it be and why?
I feel like I have to answer Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter, because in terms of pure evil, Lord Voldemort doesn’t have anything on that woman. She is the purest evil in that book, so I would feel no qualms about it. She’s probably not gonna be able to do me much harm if there’s no magic involved, she’s pretty short and pudgy.
And pretty old.
The sensation of punching this old, evil, pudgy woman seems pretty appealing to me for some reason.
How did you find Agape?
I think before the org fair, even, I saw signs around campus that said “Agape,” and I thought “oh, that’s a Jesus thing- I think I want to go to that,” and so I did. I think what stuck out to me about Agape in particular is that everyone seemed kind of weird, which made them seem really real to me, because I think there’s this thing where sometimes you meet Christians and they’re really nice but you’re not sure if they have a real personality. I did not have that sensation whatsoever, and so I knew that I could belong there and that was really cool.
What draws you into the community?
I think that genuineness extends beyond people just being able to be themselves, but also being able to be vulnerable and I think we have the capacity to be real with each other. I think testimony time at Agape really speaks to that and I’ve just realized that it’s really rare to have an experience in college where you get to be that vulnerable and close to people; that’s a really difficult experience to find.
What draws you to Jesus?
I think some of the questions that I ask myself most often have been, “Is Christianity just a story that I tell myself to understand the world? If so, then is it just a form of escapism?” and I think that’s one of the most prevalent doubts that I’ve had. It’s not whether this is “true” or “real,” because I’ve experienced it to be real. Everyone has something that they use to explain the world to themselves. I don’t have a good explanation for that, except that I don’t think the universe could be an accident- it’s too intricate and too beautiful and too profound to be an accident. I also had a big realization about a year ago that Jesus is the opposite of escapism, and I think that’s why I’m so drawn to him- he’s a God of engagement, he became human, and I think he loved being human. Whenever I read the part of the Gospels where he’s praying and crying in the garden, I think he was sad to leave. He loved being on earth and being human and being with us so much and he was sad to leave. I think that shows something so profound about being a human, and there was no one else like that that was God and man, and I think that’s what draws me back to him.
What gives you hope?
I’m an Advocacy major, so it’s pretty necessary if I want to do the work I’m doing. I think it’s really cool when I meet people who have a lot of passion for that kind of work, who look at the world and see all of its ugliness sometimes and they don’t pull the blindfold back down; they roll up their sleeves. That’s the kind of person that I want to be, so seeing other people do that gives me a lot of hope. I also think art gives me a lot of hope, because I think it’s just cool when anyone creates instead of destroys. Creativity is such a huge part of God’s character that I think it’s a really incredible part of experiencing him. I say art and you think “drawing, dancing, painting,” but I mean I think everything can be art.
What breaks your heart?
I think also being an Advocacy major and learning about the entrenched and systematic sin problems in the world really depresses me, and if I don’t think about the other side of it, the hope, I get really down on the fact that there is some sin that is so entrenched in the world that it’s unavoidable. I don’t want to participate in any injustice, but I always am, no matter how much I try. It’s honestly impossible with the way the world works. That’s really hard to grasp sometimes.
If you could recommend one movie that everyone should see, what would it be and why?
I’m such a book person, so this is hard, but my favorite movie is The Royal Tenenbaums because it’s about this messed up family, but they all have redeeming moments, and you realized that people are really complicated. No one is at this point where they are hopeless. I think in that movie, there is a lot of redemption and I think that’s why I like it so much. Also, its just really quirky, and I like weird, quirky stories. My runner-up was any Hiyao Miyazaki film. I can’t even put words to why people should watch them; you just should. You shouldn’t look down on it because it’s a cartoon- they are just perfect.
Any parting words?
Something I’ve realized this year is that I’ve felt closest to God in seasons of joy and of suffering, but the farthest I’ve felt from God is when I’ve felt apathetic towards him. The opposite of apathy is love, and when I can’t care about God, I just feel so far from him. Even when things are horrible, I feel close to God, but I think it’s also best to recognize the spirit of joy that we have, and to try to cultivate that in ourselves as much as possible.