What Do I Say to Arizona Christians?

Pentecost

Though I usually try to make my point through story-telling, I’ve been reminded of Dr. King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail as I’ve read recent reports about people who believe their religious freedom is under attack.  I feel compelled to follow Dr. King’s example in speaking out to those who share my faith.

My Dear Fellow Christians:

While living here in the shadow of our nation’s capital, where many of us choose vocations that protect our freedoms, I often listen to reports of your statements claiming that Christianity is under attack and that we in the Washington area are out of touch with the values of Americans.  Seldom do I pause to respond to statements so at odds with my own understanding of the world.  If I did not dismiss most such comments that I read in the news and social media, I would have little time for anything other than argument in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work.  But since I feel that you are people of genuine good will and that your fears are deeply troubling to you, I want to try to respond in what I hope will be respectful and reasonable terms.

Continue reading What Do I Say to Arizona Christians?

Not a Joiner?

Wordle 2.23.14

Image made at www.wordle.net

Laughter and gasps following in his wake, he strode down the hallway of the shiny new building, wearing one of the cobalt blue tee-shirts that had been given to the entire student body on the opening day of the brand new school.  Typical of such gear, the shirt bore the name of the school above the fierce snarl of the school mascot.

But this student had given his shirt its own creative twist.  In indelible black ink between the name of the school and the mascot, he had scrawled the word SUCKS!  Continue reading Not a Joiner?

Masculine? Feminine? Neutral? Or Just Confusing?

He She Wordle

I want to apologize today to the hundreds of students whose papers suffered my red, and later purple, ink to note an error in pronoun agreement for the use of the plural they instead of the singular he or she.

Having grown up with parents who spoke a heavy Appalachian dialect, I was forced to learn Standard English as a second language when I decided my freshman year in college that I loved language and literature and wanted to share my passion for great writers.  When I decided to become an English teacher, I worked hard to make the rules I’d learned from my high school English teachers a part of my spoken language.  The first time I went back home for a break, I practiced my new dialect…until one of my friends said to me, “Will you stop with the i-n-gs!  You sound like you’re readin’ out of a book.”

That was the moment, years before I heard the term, that I learned to codeswitch—to shift back and forth between the dialect I’d learned at home and the language I needed to use in the English classroom.  Continue reading Masculine? Feminine? Neutral? Or Just Confusing?

How Heavy is Your Backpack?

Ash's Grad

This blog is dedicated to Ashley, who shouldered the burden of my illness her entire senior year in high school.  I love you, Sweet Angel.

Standing in the hall by my classroom door as students changed classes, I watched worriedly as teenagers carried backpacks that forced them to lean forward, their backs stooped by the burden.  I once voiced my concern to a petite girl and asked why she didn’t leave some of the books in her locker.  She told me that she didn’t even remember her locker combination because she never used it.  When I raised my eyes in astonishment, she explained that in middle school she learned that leaning down to her bottom locker and turning her back to the hoards in the hallway was more dangerous than just carrying everything with her.

Continue reading How Heavy is Your Backpack?

Is It Love or Charity?

I Corinthians

I believe that all faiths arise and endure because they have something to teach us.  Today’s blog is the last of a three-part reflection on my own faith. If you come from a different religious tradition, please consider sharing what you’ve learned from your own faith in the Comments section at the end of today’s blog post.

Is It Love or Charity?

“And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”  I Corinthians 13:13 (New Revised Standard Bible)

Though I’ve heard the “love chapter” read at many weddings with the last word in this verse translated as love, I first heard this chapter with the words faithhope, and charity.  I was given my first bible, a King James New Testament, on the first day of first grade by my first favorite teacher, Mrs. Fenny.  (The blurring of the line between church and state of giving out bibles in public school is a blog for another time.)

Continue reading Is It Love or Charity?

What is Hope?

 

I believe that all faiths arise and endure because they have something to teach us.  Today’s blog is the second of a three-part reflection on my own faith.  If you come from a different religious tradition, please consider sharing what you’ve learned from your own faith in the Comments section at the end of today’s blog post.

What is hope?

“And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”  I Corinthians 13:13 (New Revised Standard Bible)

Of the three abiding spiritual gifts, hope is the one I find most challenging.  Though sometimes God seems distant to me, the Presence I’ve always felt in my most joyful and challenging moments sustains my faith that God exists.  And love?  I’ve seen the face of God in the faces of the people who love and care for me too often to question that.

But hope?  Hope is elusive.  Continue reading What is Hope?