Letter from the Editor
Think of the last time you cried in a movie theatre.
I will admit that in the anonymity of a dark room full of strangers, I often succumb to a well-timed swelling of a score or a heartbreaking moment of truth that finally reveals itself onscreen after 90 minutes of excruciating buildup. I empathize with the characters that I am now connected to, imagining how I would navigate the twists and turns of the plot. And in the end I can’t help but be moved by how the story plays out.
Something in me changes—the way I think, the way I feel. It’s no surprise that there is a science behind this phenomenon. These emotional responses that have reduced me to laughter and tears have been strategically invoked by the experts behind the scenes who know just how to speak to my psyche.
In our cover story, “Under the Influence,” we learn that adjunct professor Christian McGuigan at the School of Public Policy enlightens students in the ways in which media influences culture—and policy—by reaching a single person through impactful storytelling. For decades TV, film, and digital and social media have singlehandedly influenced major cultural movements and sentiments just by determining what viewers see, and especially what they remember.
I hope you are moved by the stories in this issue of Pepperdine Magazine. I hope you are empowered by the story of alumnus Chris Howells, an army psychologist who has dedicated his life to serving those who cannot endure the lingering effects of trauma for one more day. I hope you are encouraged by the trials and triumph of alumna DeDe Duncan-Probe, the first female bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York, after years of dreaming an unsupported dream.
In her fantasy novel Night Circus, author Erin Morgenstern writes, “You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul... That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words.”
I hope the stories in this issue of Pepperdine Magazine make you think and feel differently, and I hope that when you put down this issue you walk away inspired by the Pepperdine story.