Know a Teen Who’s Struggling?


After hearing a number of stories this week about teenagers and young adults who are struggling with what it means to live in a world that isn’t always kind to them, I’m posting again a blog from the winter of 2013. Please share it with a young person who feels out of place in the world, and please comment to add your own stories.

9th Grade

“How are you doing?” I asked a teenager this week.

In a moment of unhesitating honesty, she responded, “Well, everyone at school thinks I’m a freak.”  And then she paused.  “But I guess I’m okay.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about that comment—thinking about how many times a day we casually ask about each other’s well-being.  When we ask that question, “How are you doing?” we expect to be answered in a sound bite response:  “Fine. How are you?”  The niceties are out of the way, and we can get on with our busy days.  Sometimes we get the opposite extreme of the sound bite—the lengthy complaint—the one that stops us in our busy tracks and requires us to listen and pretend empathy for a litany of maladies that makes us wish we hadn’t asked.

Continue reading Know a Teen Who’s Struggling?

How Were You Brought Up, Rudy?


No stories today.  Just some questions for Rudy Giuliani:

Are you kidding me, Rudy Giuliani?? You have the right to disagree with President Obama for refusing to give ISIL a reason to say to recruits that the United States really does have a war against Islam.  But what the hell do you mean when you say to wealthy Republican donors, “He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country”?

Do you mean he didn’t come from wealth? You’ve got that right! Or do you mean that he wasn’t brought up well by his single mother? Or that he was brought up by a White mother as a Black man because your parents’ generation refused to see anyone who is biracial as anything but Black?  Of all the things I’ve heard Republicans say, this may be the MOST offensive yet for all that that comment insinuated.

What garbage! If you knew, as you said you did, that it was a “a horrible thing to say,” why did you say it?  Did it garner lots of money from your wealthy audience that keeps trying to protect the 1% at the rest of America’s expense?

I’m incensed!  And I hope my readers are incensed enough to comment with their own questions for you.

Is Not Having Children Selfish?

Ash 7.30.86

I didn’t want children. When the subject came up, as it almost always does among young adults, I had a ready retort: “I spend all day in a classroom with other people’s children. Why would I want to go home to them?”

So when Pope Francis commented in his catechesis this week that, “The choice to not have children is selfish,” I knew exactly what women who are childless by choice would say in response. The decision to have a child is a choice that we get to make, no matter what anyone thinks, least of all a religious leader who himself made the choice not to have children.

I wondered, though, about the context of Pope Francis’ remarks. Long experience with such judgments from others made me curious about his line of reasoning. Continue reading Is Not Having Children Selfish?

Do Christians Make You Squirm?

Pentecost w Artist Effects

It’s become one of the great ironies of my life that I feel compelled to share my experiences of faith. I’ve never been particularly comfortable with Jesus’ command, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15, KJV). Christians who raise their hands toward the heavens at church services as they sing and those who are quick to tell me when I first meet them that Jesus is the most important thing in their lives have always made me squirm.

That phrase “preach the gospel” makes me flinch the way I did as a child when my father reached his hand forward to strike me. The word “preach” has a negative connotation for me because it calls to mind the fiery preachers of my childhood whose every sermon instilled the fear that I was one heartbeat away from descending into the depths of hell. Continue reading Do Christians Make You Squirm?