i have no need for anger with intimate strangers

i did a lot of traveling this summer. a lot. and when you’re on the road (or in the air) as much as i was, you talk to people–people you know, people you don’t. and you never know who you’ll meet or where the conversation will go.

i went to kyiv, ukraine on a mission trip with a group from my church. we spent a week at the ark, half the team doing construction work, the other half spending time with the 24 children currently living there. i was with a group of people, most of whom i did not know before this trip, nor did they know me.

we boarded the big plane (the flight to munich where we would connect to kyiv) in charlotte and were not the only group going to ukraine to do “mission work.” i (and part of my group) was seated next to a woman (alyson) from the “brown shirt group” (one of the other groups had on brown t-shirts as they traveled as a team), and across the aisle was the team leader for that group, named ted.

well, we all get to talking: who are you, where are you from, what are you going to do while you’re in ukraine and the like. alyson, upon learning we were from raleigh, asked later on if i’d attended the greg laurie event that was at the rbc center earlier in the summer. “noooooo. i was actually out of town while that was going on” (shit, it’s gonna be a long flight) and sure enough, the conversation among the brown shirts was along the more conservative, evangelical line. i didn’t say much; i didn’t really even pay that much attention to the conversation all the time. until.

ted finally made the comment that there was a group of christians who’d recently published a new version of the bible that referred to God in gender-neutral language.
“can you believe that?” he said.
“actually,” i answered, “i’m glad someone’s finally done that.”
after ted recovered from that apparently heretical statement he asked, “why?”
“because God is BOTH masculine AND feminine and to deny the feminine aspect of God denies part of who God is. at the same time, God transcends gender.”
“but Jesus referred to God as Father.”
“and Jesus was operating within a patriarchal society”
“but we’re all created in the image of God”
“we are. and just as you and i have both masculine and feminine parts to ourselves, so does God. otherwise, how could i, as a woman, authentically relate to God?”
“oh. so you’re one of those.”
“yes, i am.” (i didn’t bother to ask which one of those…i was just happy to be able to say this is who i am)
“well let me ask you this… (i’m sure you can guess which topic was coming up next…) do you think the church should ordain homosexuals?”
“i think the church should ordain anyone who’s been called by God” (i wasn’t thinking fast enough or i would have said that we don’t need to ordain anyone because if you’ve been called by God…hell, if you’ve been baptized…you’ve been ordained)
so then he moved on to another, more typically “evangelical” question and i just stopped trying to give my viewpoint because it wasn’t going to get us anywhere. and ted didn’t say anything else to me for the rest of the flight.

what i hate most about that type of situation is the fact that i come away feeling like i’m wrong for thinking/believing the way that i do…like it’s wrong to be “one of those


labor day: the best holiday for students ever!

say what?

there are many wonderful “student holidays” or “breaks” in the semester. and i am a huge fan of them all. let’s face it, by the time fall break rolls around, you need a couple of days to find the surface. thanksgiving gives you some time to be with family and eat and again find the surface. christmas break is better because the semester is over and you get way more days off than you did as a child. spring break is pretty cool because it’s actually a whole week and you might even go somewhere (to escape the cold because it can hardly be called spring at the time of the break). good friday’s a freebie (and i’ll take it). and then we get to summer, which, again, is way longer than you had as a child. so what’s the big deal about labor day?

given that we are nearing that holiday, you’d think my reflective side would think a little more about, oh i don’t know, sabbath or something. and believe me, i do plan to sleep. but here’s the thing. i have finished the first week and a half of my first semester in this ph.d. program (enter oh, shit face here) fairly unscathed (just a couple of paper cuts from all the articles i have printed and read/am reading). the challenge has been to find my rhythm and i’ve yet to really do that, due to a combination of things. consequently, i am already below the surface in terms of reading or knowing which end is up…though not so far that i can’t find the top. the good news is, i have a few days this weekend to regroup and figure out what lies ahead for the next couple of months.

my point is this: labor day comes at a great time in the semester. you’ve (hopefully) gotten past the initial shock of the beginning of school (and beginning is loaded here) and you now have a few days to regroup and get to it. a week and a half and you get a little break. it’s beautiful.

modern day colonialism

so a month and a half ago, i had a conversation with someone who spent the summer in costa rica. and he brought up how costa rica has become very much like america because all these corporations are doing business or opening offices or just the amount of american tourism that goes through there and has influenced everything…such that it was like being at home, only they spoke spanish everywhere. he was somewhat frustrated by that, i think, because he seems to be somewhat nomadic himself and wanted to get away from the system we have here.

that got me thinking…what about places like iraq where we are not only imposing potentially our economy, but our whole system of government as well…and it’s not well-received…but we keep trying and doing and making our presence known anyway.

and what about multiculturalism? how does that play into things? i did some great reading at the end of the summer by a somali-born muslim woman who addressed the issue of multiculturalism in her books. essentially, she pointed out that we need to be very careful when we wave the banner of multiculturalism, because there are parts of every culture that we should in no way embrace. from her experience and context as a muslim woman, the practice of female genital mutilation was accepted along with the rest of their practices when so many muslims immigrated to europe in the mid-late 90’s. and it shouldn’t be so. if we think it’s a barbaric practice, chances are, it probably really is.

but what about the barbaric practices we, as a “highly civilized” society, endorse or carry out ourselves when we thrust ourselves into these modern-day colonialist practices? who will judge us? will we have to wait for the historians, or will we finally stand up and say “enough”?

book market crashes…

and i’m to blame. see, in may i decreed that i would not purchase any books for myself (apart from what was required for school) until i finished my ph.d. it seems as though book sales have dropped by at least 30% in recent months.


change of focus

so i just registered for my first marathon. for those of you questioning my sanity, note that i did not say “i just registered to run my first marathon.” i hope to run a good chunk of it, but i’m certain i will walk a fair amount, too. and i’m ok with that.

i started training this past week after our return from mexico and it’s nice to have an actual goal for working out…beyond the usual of stress relief and general health. in fact, it feels good to be focusing on what my body can do instead of how it looks. really good.

so if you have nothing better to do on sunday, november 4, beginning at 7:00 am…line the route and cheer us (yes, us…al is doing it too and so’s robin) on. we’ll be out there for awhile. but we all hope to finish in 6 hours or less…

to be continued…