Stories this week at WFU

By Jacob McConnico
December 7, 2005

HATCH, LEONARD CELEBRATE ADVENT AT HOME MORAVIAN CHURCH — Wake Forest University Divinity School Dean Bill J. Leonard will give the sermon, "The Wonder of Word(s)," during the 8:45 a.m. and 11 a.m. services at Home Moravian Church Dec. 11. Wake Forest President Nathan O. Hatch will serve as a worship leader during the 11 a.m. service, marking the third Sunday in Advent. The Rev. Dr. Craig D. Atwood, Comenius Visiting Professor of Moravian Studies in the Wake Forest Divinity School, will also serve as a worship leader during the service. The John Amos Comenius Scholar position at Wake Forest was recently created by Home Moravian Church and the Wake Forest Divinity School to honor Comenius, an influential Moravian bishop and educator who lived from 1592-1670. A contemporary of Galileo, Descartes, Rembrandt and Milton, Comenius's contribution to the Enlightenment was his belief that religion and science were not incompatible. The Comenius Scholar is charged with organizing and promoting continuing studies events that focus on the common good and issues of interest to the wider community, such as corporate responsibility, medical ethics, ministry in the 21st Century and pluralism. Atwood, the first Comenius Scholar at Wake Forest and author of the award winning "Community of the Cross: Moravian Piety in Colonial Bethlehem," also teaches courses in the Divinity School in historical theology and Moravian Studies. Atwood previously served as chaplain and the Clarkson S. Starbuck Assistant Professor of Religion at Salem College.

Contact: Jake McConnico, or 336-758-5237.

WHICH GYM MACHINE WILL BEST HELP YOU GET FIT IN 2006? — As the New Year approaches, many people will resolve to exercise regularly. Many of those same people will start their new exercise programs by using cardiovascular exercise machines at gyms and health clubs. But with gyms featuring stationary bikes, treadmills, stair climbers, elliptical trainers and rowing machines, figuring out which machine would offer the best physical workout can quickly become a mental workout. Michael Berry, professor of health and exercise science at Wake Forest University, says that while each machine has advantages and disadvantages depending on individual preferences and abilities, studies have shown that the treadmill is perhaps the best overall machine. "The obvious thing is, it's a type of exercise most people do every day," Berry said. "You can walk or run on a treadmill, so it's easy for people to use." Berry also said studies have shown that the treadmill offers the highest calorie burn as it forces you to support your own weight while you move. Among the disadvantages of the treadmill are it may be difficult or painful for those with joint problems, and you have to pay attention to what you're doing. "You can kind of zone out more on an elliptical trainer, stationary bike or stair climber," Berry said. "You can't really do that with a treadmill, or else you're likely to shoot off the back of it." For those returning to the gym after abandoning last year's resolution to get in shape, Berry recommends trying all of the machines and deciding which ones you can tolerate at a moderate level for 30 to 40 minutes a day, five to six days a week. "The best exercise machine is one that you will use everyday," Berry said.

Contact: Maggie Barrett, or 336-758-5237.

HOW TO WRITE THE PERFECT HOLIDAY LETTER — Year-in-review letters accompanying Christmas cards have become a popular way to maintain connections with friends and family who have fallen out of touch. As the trend has emerged, so has the fact that in an age of text messaging, e-mail and cell phones, many people today struggle with the art of letter writing. John Llewellyn, associate professor of communication at Wake Forest, says four "YULE" rules can help you compose engaging, thoughtful letters that loved ones will look forward to reading every year.

  • You care for these people. Make the love and caring — the spirit of the season — come through in the letter.
  • Use vivid language to tell your story. Let them "see" the special moments. This is not a drab inventory; it is a catalog of adventures.
  • Leave economic gloating for some other time, if at all. If your biggest problem is where to park the spare Jaguar, don't mention it.
  • Enough is enough. Two pages of news are plenty and may actually be read with interest.

    Contact: Maggie Barrett, or 336-758-5237.

    CAN BLENDED FAMILIES GET RIGHT MIX OF HOLIDAY TRADITIONS? — Whether it is going to the mountains to chop down a Christmas tree or attending a performance of the Nutcracker, holiday traditions can pose a challenge for newly blended families, says Samuel T. Gladding, professor of counseling at Wake Forest. Figuring out which traditions should be kept or discarded can either strengthen or divide stepfamilies. "In a blended family, you are always looking at what has been, what is and what can be," Gladding says. "You may need to slow down and get the pulse of the family in terms of what each family member wants instead of one or two people deciding and saying 'isn't that great'." He suggests making a "traditions" list of "what you especially want to do this holiday season that you don't have to do." Then, he suggests talking it out to settle on what the family would most like to do. "Being flexible and soliciting input from everyone" is important, he says. Gladding suggests keeping some of the old, but also being creative in coming up with new traditions to help the family forge stronger bonds.

    Contact: Cheryl Walker, or 336-758-5237.

    AS SEEN ON TV — SITCOM HOLIDAY CELEBRATED IN REAL LIFE — According to two new books and numerous media reports, Festivus, the anti-commercialism holiday introduced to America by the sitcom "Seinfeld," is being celebrated in real life. While Jerry Seinfeld's fictional neighbor Cosmo Kramer might home proclaimed it a Festivus miracle, Wake Forest assistant professor of communication Mary Dalton says it's a prime example of the influence of prime time television. "It's hard to downplay the effect TV programs have on us when you see something like the Festivus celebrations," said Dalton, co-editor of "The Sitcom Reader: America Viewed and Skewed." The book, published in October by State University of New York Press, is one of the first to take a critical look at the sitcom. Dalton says she does not celebrate Festivus, but can see why people are celebrating the holiday by airing their grievances, participating in feats of strength and erecting aluminum poles in their homes. "There is something refreshing about people rejecting the commercialism of the holiday season and embracing the disappointments in their lives. These ad-hoc celebrations smack of accepting and liking ourselves instead of continually trying to measure up to an unrealistic, external standard of success created by Madison Avenue."

    Contact: Maggie Barrett, or 336-758-5237.