Maybe it’s the first sheep, the third king, or the accents the kids have, but I really love this rendition of the Christmas story. Merry Christmas, everyone!
I am so blessed. I cannot say it enough. Today I had coffee (which really should have been lunch because we were at the coffee shop from 10:00am to 2:30pm) with two of my friends from high school who I rarely get to see because we’re always at our respective schools. For over four hours we talked about everything from classes to our favorite politicians (shout out to John Marty, Elizabeth Warren, and Nathan Blumenshine) to our idealistic desire to change the world and never make money. I love my friends at Swarthmore. Don’t get me wrong. I would have gone crazy writing papers during finals if I hadn’t had a roommate to talk about Ryan Gosling with, and a best friend who was crazy enough to agree to tape up a poster of Justin Bieber in the dorm lounge without laughing. However, I think I often forget how grateful I am for my friends back home, who agree (even recommend) that we meet at a fair trade coffee shop, and who want to talk to me about social justice. So happy.
I am also very happy because I think I found the perfect opportunity for this summer. I have no idea if I’ll be admitted, but it’s called the Summer Communities of Service. It’s run through the United Church of Christ and Alliance of Baptists. Essentially, it’s an opportunity for 19-30 year olds to live in intentional Christian communities throughout the U.S. and serve in a variety of direct-service, community-initiated agencies. More information can be found here: http://www.ucc.org/volunteer/SCOS/. I have been praying for God to give me a way to serve and live in intentional community without having to fundraise for living expenses, and I think this could be it. I am also extremely grateful for the mentors in my life. The three who I emailed last night to ask recommendations from all emailed me back before 2pm today saying of course they would write a recommendation for me as soon as possible.
Furthermore, when I asked the director of the Crozer Library if she could write a recommendation for me, she not only agreed to do so, but shared that:
1) Giant (a grocery chain) gave the library a $250 gift card for the afterschool program. (What??????)
2) The kids (and parents) can’t wait for the program to start again.
3) The Friends of the Library made $610 at their first auction. (So great!)
4) There’s another possible (highly tentative) location for a satellite library being discussed. (Really????)
God is so great.
What?????? Really, Rick Perry?
Normally I try not to get too upset over Republican political ads because I don’t think anything constructive can come out of not seeing the Light in others. Just as Liberals aren’t the devil, Conservatives aren’t the devil either. I can understand (to a certain degree) where Conservatives are coming from, and that it’s a matter of how large or small the government should be, free markets vs. regulation, Biblical authority vs. societal tolerance, etc. but this ad makes no sense. None.
First of all, where’s the logic? How do these two issues even relate to each other? Repealing “Don’t ask. Don’t tell” had no relation to or effect on the issue of whether or not Christian children can openly pray in school or celebrate Christmas. In fact, repealing “Don’t ask. Don’t tell.” had nothing to do with religion (or schooling), but rather with human and civil rights. So why is Perry confounding this sort of “liberal social policy” with “a war on religion,” and bringing Obama, who is Christian, into the whole mess? What’s the link?
Second, when did the heart of Christianity become school prayer and Christmas? I’m pretty sure Jesus is not quoted as saying go pray publicly in the street (or in school), but rather “when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:6). Yeah, that’s right. Jesus wants you to go pray in secret. And as for Christmas? Don’t we celebrate it enough as a country? I was at the Target near Swarthmore yesterday, and the back of the store was stocked full of “Christmas” related items, but only had one aisle of “Hanukkah/Chanukah” themed stuff. I can guarantee the majority of Americans can probably recite at least part of the Christmas story, but have no clue about the story behind Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or any of those “other” December holidays, religious and cultural. The reason “liberals” want to keep Christian prayer and Christmas out of school is because it’s undemocratic to support one religious perspective over another. Simple as that.
Third and foremost, Christianity ≠ an excuse for bigotry. I really wish certain Conservative Christians would stop making it into such. I think the reason this ad frustrated me so much is due to the fact that it gives Christianity (and Christians) a really bad reputation. I am not shy in expressing my religious beliefs, but the Christianity I believe in is not about condemning openly gay soldiers (some of whom are Christian themselves, Rick Perry), but about loving and respecting everyone, just as they are. I really wish more Christians who are involved in politics could have a perspective similar to this guy: http://www.blumenshine.org/why_respect.html.
Right now, I don’t think I’m freaking out enough. In fact, I know I’m not freaking out enough because if I were, I wouldn’t be writing this blog post.
I feel like this semester has turned into one really long paper about silencing, building peace among the Christian groups on campus, and figuring out why eighth graders in a Progressive classroom ask the questions they ask. In other words, my life has become social science…which is good to the extent that I now have a more nuanced view than I did at the beginning of the semester about different aspects of society, and I know more now than I did in September about who I want to be as a teacher and what I want to do with my life outside of the classroom. However, sometimes I just want to go in a corner, eat a bar of (fair trade) chocolate, and say, “Enough with theory, where’s the practice?”
I think that’s why I have valued having the afterschool program so much this semester. I feel like experiences can teach you so much more than theory ever can. Also, I really like kids.
And now, let me show you pictures of cute animals. (This has nothing to do with community organizing.)