Love, Marriage, and Tattoos

By Rachael Overholt (Texas)

I had heard Dr. Matt Anderson speak once before at a Summit’s Student Conference, and when he came to Summit Semester this year I remembered liking what he had to say for the most part. For our classes with him here at Semester the classroom was set up in a giant U-shape.

It was nice to be able to see everyone’s faces.

The first night we started with the question of whether or not it was good to die. Over half of the class said yes. This caught Dr. Anderson a little by surprise and we discussed death for the remainder of the evening.

The next day, tensions rose as Dr. Anderson lectured on marriage and tattoos. Dr. Anderson proposed that the underlying cultural mindset of individual autonomy that shapes our attitudes towards tattoos is the same mindset which has made gay marriage culturally acceptable. But the idea was not flushed out in its entirety, which led to some misunderstandings. What Dr. Anderson meant was that, in certain cases with tattoos, people believe that their bodies are simply tools for them to do with what they will and that their bodily autonomy is so complete that it does not matter what they choose to do with their body as long as it is their own choice and it does not harm anyone else.

Gay marriage assumes the same view of bodily autonomy. Gay marriage does not truly acknowledge that person and body are one and assumes that whatever is morally permissible as long as it is freely chosen and does not harm others. We also talked about traditional marriage, and we spent a hefty amount of time discussing divorce.

We argued through topics such as the qualifications for divorce (if any), the causes for divorce, and the likelihood of divorces for ourselves because of circumstances in our own lives, to name a few.

That night in class we read the entirety of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was one of the most fun and amazing readings of Shakespeare I have ever participated in. Dr. Anderson was an excellent Bottom the Weaver. The next morning the class discussed what we had read and begun a long discussion about love and all its facets.

I learned much about what it means to fight for love, what having a real love for someone means, and what that real love will require from you regardless of another’s reciprocation of love. We discussed the tenets of love, such as loyalty, and the different types of love, such as agape and phileo.

Anderson’s final lecture was my favorite. He spoke about the body and how posture affects attitude, and therefore affects how one interacts with the world. After that, he spoke on music, its dangers, joys, and transcendence. I couldn’t write fast enough to get all the notes I wanted. In our required reading, we were assigned Book 5 of The Odyssey by Homer and were to listen to Bach’s Mass in b minor. I had read The Odyssey before but had not listened to Bach’s Mass. At the time, it was just an assignment, but after hearing Dr. Anderson lecture on the beauty of music it made me reconsider my initial judgment. Overall I enjoyed listening to Dr. Anderson very much and hope to continue to ponder and remember his lessons as I continue in Semester and beyond.