Blog: Society

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The THRED blog has one central purpose: to start conversations. We don’t all agree. We don’t have the same views and experiences on life and faith. But if one person is brave enough to say what they think, then we have the opportunity talk about it and learn something.

Every post on this blog is just that—the start of an open and honest conversation, and an opportunity to learn. THRED doesn’t endorse all the views expressed here. But we believe they all matter, and they are part of an important dialogue that will help us all grow. So pick one out, share it, and continue the conversation in the comments. Because your voice matters too.


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Seeking Meaningful Holiday Celebrations Seeking Meaningful Holiday Celebrations

Seeking Meaningful Holiday Celebrations

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Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. I remember the childhood magic of unpacking our Christmas decorations every year, the anticipation of eating the candy cane cookies that my dad and I twisted into perfect pink and white hooks, and the joy of finding at least one special present under the tree. For years, I told my parents that someday I would get married at Christmas; eventually I ful...


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Compassion for the Holidays Compassion for the Holidays

Compassion for the Holidays

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It’s been a tense year, to say the least. Political polarization is at an all-time high and people on both sides are angry. Many people don’t just disagree with the other side’s views anymore; they think the other side’s views—and the people who hold them—are abhorrent. It can be hard enough to navigate political differences with strangers and acquaintances. But what are we supposed to do when the...


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If you’re not first, you’re last. If you’re not first, you’re last.

If you’re not first, you’re last.

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Before we jump right in, I have a confession to make. Prior to 2016, I paid just about as much attention to football as I did to politics – ahem – almost none. In my mind, both American pastimes were just fuzzy activities that existed in my periphery as I fumbled my way through life as a twentysomething (I’m sure many of you can relate). Whenever I got together with “the guys” to watch...


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The Art of Becoming Politically Mature The Art of Becoming Politically Mature

The Art of Becoming Politically Mature

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The political landscape has changed. And I’m not just talking about the results of another election. I mean that the attitude and atmosphere surrounding politics in our country has shifted dramatically. Growing up, I dreamed of pursuing a career in politics. It was the age of The West Wing, when being a part of the American government was something prestigious, a great way to serve our country and...


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Generosity and Our Tribal Hearts Generosity and Our Tribal Hearts

Generosity and Our Tribal Hearts

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We often think of generosity as being willing to give our money to others. But this is a narrow definition. A wider definition of generous is, “having a kindly spirit.” Through the years, I’ve discovered many ways in which my spirit has not been so “kindly” toward others. But here I want to share three things that have made me a more generous person. And I think that’s a good thing. CONNECTION has...


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Community is Generosity Community is Generosity

Community is Generosity

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I think when we have found community, then we have found generosity. Sharing yourself and your time with those around you is the essence of both of these ideas. I see small generosities every day at my job and in the world. People will give up their seat for someone else on the bus, drop some change into a musician’s case, or offer a hug and a friendly ear. These simple kindnesses are all around u...


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When Fall Doesn’t Come When Fall Doesn’t Come

When Fall Doesn’t Come

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I am a California baby raised primarily in the northern Midwest. For most of my life, fall meant a clear change in the seasons. In childhood, fall meant leaving the city for field trips with my Detroit classmates in the orchards of the Michigan countryside, driving through different northern regions to see the colorful changing foliage, and jumping into leaf piles that my dad created in our front ...


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Fighting for Justice in a Selfish World Fighting for Justice in a Selfish World

Fighting for Justice in a Selfish World

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It seems as if every time we turn around another scandal is being brought into the light.  With high profile cases such as those indicting Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein for sexual crimes, along with the #metoo and #churchtoo movements, we have seen hundreds come forward to say they were harmed—and that things were covered up when they tried to report it. The question I am asking today is, “If we...


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Bingeing, Self-Control, and the “Great Life-Waster” Bingeing, Self-Control, and the “Great Life-Waster”

Bingeing, Self-Control, and the “Great Life-Waster”

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I’d like to take a moment and consider the word binge.  According to Webster’s dictionary, a binge is “an unrestrained and often excessive indulgence.”  Another definition is “an act of excessive or compulsive consumption.”  Of those definitions, I find the word “compulsive” to be the most significant and the most frightening.  The implication is that if I’m binging, I literally cannot stop myself...


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Failing Friendships and Learning to be Kind Failing Friendships and Learning to be Kind

Failing Friendships and Learning to be Kind

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I’ve heard it said that, even more than their lessons, educators teach who they are as people. Students learn about their teachers’ passions, annoyances, available buttons to push, and amount of care they hold for their pupils—perhaps even more than they learn about their coursework. As a teacher, I have seen this happen. As a former student, I’ve learned that the most important person a student c...


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45 Lessons I Didn’t Learn in School 45 Lessons I Didn’t Learn in School

45 Lessons I Didn’t Learn in School

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We have all had levels of “education,” but I’ve found that I consistently learn more from what is not on the syllabus than what is. I discovered more about myself in between the lines of my formal education than I ever did sitting at a desk. A recent poll of my closest friends and relations made me feel like I wasn’t alone. I asked about their top “informal” lessons—here are some of the highlights...


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More Than Just a Pretty Face More Than Just a Pretty Face

More Than Just a Pretty Face

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Celebrities are an interesting bunch. Some are ridiculously good looking. Others can jump insanely high or run incredibly fast. There are even a few who are famous simply because of their families. No matter what they’re known for, they all have one thing in common: They’re human, just like us. It’s way too easy to forget this when we see them on our TVs or smartphones. When they’re sailing throug...


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Celebrities and the Gift of Imagination Celebrities and the Gift of Imagination

Celebrities and the Gift of Imagination

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Why am I looking at pictures of Meghan Markle’s (oops, she’s now officially the Duchess of Sussex) hats? Who cares what she wore to the Royal Ascot? I scold myself as I take a break from work. But I can’t help myself. She’s beautiful and charming, and so clearly in love with her new husband – Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex for those of you who may have been orbiting the earth on the Space Statio...


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Growing Up White in America Growing Up White in America

Growing Up White in America

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“This teenager was arrested for not giving up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama…” The emcee at the Dr. Martin Luther King workshop paused his cadence to let the audience think of an answer. I missed the teenager clue and mentally filled in the blank with Rosa Parks, when he continued into the microphone, “…nine months before Rosa Parks.” My smug smile washed away. In my mind, Rosa Parks was...


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The Palpable Tension of Race Between Us The Palpable Tension of Race Between Us

The Palpable Tension of Race Between Us

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It’s a rainy day in San Francisco. The kind of rainy day when grey clouds blanket the world and her emotions. Umbrellas, rain jackets, and storefront awnings hide faces. The fog tangibly separates us. And we are connected only by our collective reflections on our individuality. I step out of the SF Museum of Modern Art, where I hadn’t made it past the top floor and it’s dramatic, diverse depiction...


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Nice vs Kind Nice vs Kind

Nice vs Kind

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One of the many unintended side effects of becoming a parent is that you’re forced to develop a completely new relationship with the English language. I don’t mean that you’ll instantly gain an understanding of homophones, homonyms, and homographs – no such luck. What I mean is that you’ll learn that “sit on the couch” can mean a multitude of different things – ranging from the traditi...


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Conspiracy Theories and the Gift of Imagination Conspiracy Theories and the Gift of Imagination

Conspiracy Theories and the Gift of Imagination

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As humans, we need reasons behind everything. Every decision, every event; we’re like perpetual toddlers asking “why?” All. The. Time. Growing up in the information age, it’s hard to stop at the face value of anything. We must constantly pull at the threads, and they often lead to more questions and fewer answers. Questions such as: Why are we here? How much does our life truly matter? What ...


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Sympathy for Conspiracy Theorists Sympathy for Conspiracy Theorists

Sympathy for Conspiracy Theorists

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I asked my phone to define “conspiracy theory” and it said, “What conspiracy? There’s no conspiracy. Who told you that?” Actually, it told me that a conspiracy theory is “a belief that some covert but influential organization is responsible for a circumstance or event.” I have a confession to make. I am not a conspiracy theorist, but I have sympathy for co...


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Call Me Old-Fashioned Call Me Old-Fashioned

Call Me Old-Fashioned

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Call me old-fashioned, but I think technology is a little overrated. Yes, we can have pretty much anything we want delivered to us without even putting on pants. Yes, we don’t have to go through the hassle of making real friends when we can easily connect with people online. Yes, we don’t even need to know where we’re going before we get in the car. But just because we have unlimited power at our ...


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Combatting Hate with Simple Relationships Combatting Hate with Simple Relationships

Combatting Hate with Simple Relationships

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For Dawud and the Muslim American Society’s mosque in Katy, Texas, it all started with pig races. Soon after the group purchased land in the Houston suburb in 2006, their neighbor, Craig Baker, began hosting pig races and selling tickets to his friends and members of the public. In time, some 300 spectators showed up every Friday evening corresponding precisely with the jummah prayers—the holiest ...


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Immigration and Identity Immigration and Identity

Immigration and Identity

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Who are you? What do you do? Where are you from? These are all questions of identity. How you answer these questions is the bedrock for how you see yourself, how you make decisions, and ultimately how you interact with the world. I’m a daughter. I’m a mother. I work in a non-profit. I’m from a rural community. I’m American. In my circles, in my community, those are acceptable answers to the questi...


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Living in a World of Mutual Display Living in a World of Mutual Display

Living in a World of Mutual Display

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The philosopher Charles Taylor once said that we live in a world of “mutual display.” I’m more and more convinced that he’s right. Whether I like it or not, I’m stuck and complicit in a system that encourages me to judge others according to what brands they’re wearing, what causes they’re supporting, how happy they look, and so much more—all in comparison to myself. And it forces me to ask: am I g...


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Looking Back at Islam & the West Looking Back at Islam & the West

Looking Back at Islam & the West

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In our post-9/11 world, the relationship between the “West” and “Islam” is often misunderstood. Perceived contrasts and persistent stereotypes often have nothing to do with reality, and tensions continue to increase in our polarized world. As these biases against, and fear of, others becomes deeper ingrained, it is more important than ever to take a look at our shared past to consider how we might...


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Knowing Our History Without Repeating It Knowing Our History Without Repeating It

Knowing Our History Without Repeating It

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The release of the video of the tasing and arrest of NBA player Sterling Brown –over a parking violation. The Black Lives Matter movement. A decision by National Football League owners to mandate that their players on the field stand for the singing of the national anthem. We’d like to believe we have left slavery and its legacy behind. But I wonder, as I read these stories, how far behind we have...


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Talking Bias Talking Bias

Talking Bias

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Understanding implicit bias can be an extremely difficult task for most people. It requires a degree of self-awareness and a willingness to admit that, sometimes, many of our daily interactions with other people are colored by prejudice, even when we mean well. Nobody wants to own up to assuming that a person is less intelligent because of their hair color, or less capable because of their age, or...


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Stereotypes & Perspective-Taking Stereotypes & Perspective-Taking

Stereotypes & Perspective-Taking

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When people look at me, they generally don’t wonder if I’m a criminal. I’ve never had a security guard follow me around a store afraid I might steal something. I’ve never had a police officer mistake my cell phone for a gun. If I were on trial for a crime, I would be less likely to be convicted and, if I were convicted, I would probably get a lighter sentence. As a white woman from the suburbs, I’...


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Tolerance of a Deeper Sort Tolerance of a Deeper Sort

Tolerance of a Deeper Sort

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As I grew up, I learned that respect comes in different forms. I’m supposed to respect my elders (age has its privileges; assume the older are also wiser). I’m supposed to respect the American flag (don’t let it touch the ground). I’m supposed to respect the wilderness (leave it as if it were untouched). One of my challenges—and perhaps not only mine—is that I have a hard time separating respect f...


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Conservation or Convenience—A Matter of Context Conservation or Convenience—A Matter of Context

Conservation or Convenience—A Matter of Context

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Summers in Northern California were truly incredible. It was always hot enough to go swimming, rarely so hot that you needed AC, and there was always something to do. You could wear shorts during the day and sweats at night. My hometown of Richmond, CA is a WWII industrial town just minutes from Berkeley, San Francisco, Oakland, and Marin County. We were on the water, in the heart of the ‘hood, an...


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Thinking Beyond Checkpoints, Fences, and Armed Guards Thinking Beyond Checkpoints, Fences, and Armed Guards

Thinking Beyond Checkpoints, Fences, and Armed Guards

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I grew up at the tail end of the Cold War, watching the Berlin wall fall down when I was ten. My mom told me stories about safety drills in the 1960s, when she and her classmates would hide under desks in the event of a nuclear attack. Fortunately this was not my reality, and I was able to blissfully continue on with my childhood as if big threats were a thing of the past. Over the next 20 years, ...


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Watching Our Heroes Fall from Grace Watching Our Heroes Fall from Grace

Watching Our Heroes Fall from Grace

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What has happened to all the role models? It seems like they’ve started dropping like flies. In light of the recent sexual assault allegations in particular, it feels like the “good” ones are being proven just as bad as anyone else. In other words, they’re not who we thought they were. Have you heard the saying, “never meet your heroes”? Meeting your heroes humanizes them—their capes come off and ...


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The Superpower of Representation The Superpower of Representation

The Superpower of Representation

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When I was in the third grade, a film came out and my classmates and I couldn’t have been more excited. This film was the latest installment in a series that our moms and dads grew up with. It took place in a far-off land. There were epic battle scenes, fun characters, and who could forget the score? The film was Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. I know the prequels get a lot of vitriol and...


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The Consequences of Not Making a Difference The Consequences of Not Making a Difference

The Consequences of Not Making a Difference

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I was eleven when I first read Number the Stars, my first introduction to the 20th-century atrocity known as the Holocaust. I was fourteen when Schindler’s List won the Academy Award for Best Picture. I was sixteen when I watched it for the first time, finally receiving permission from my parents to watch it with my AP US history class. I was nineteen when my World Civilization professor preached ...


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The Content of Haitian Character The Content of Haitian Character

The Content of Haitian Character

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Add me to the list of people bristling over the recent words of the President of the United States of America. I don’t consider myself an especially political person; I did not vote for Trump or Clinton. My thoughts today are a discussion of human dignity and human rights as much as they are a response to an insensitive statement made by the leader of the free world. The people of Haiti were broug...


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Missing in Action—The Voices We Don’t Hear Missing in Action—The Voices We Don’t Hear

Missing in Action—The Voices We Don’t Hear

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Last month, I researched a story on churches and the problem of sexual harassment and assault. As I proceeded, it became clear that voices were missing in the national dialogue we were having; those of African-American women and other minorities.  (I reached out to a prominent African-American scholar to ask why – but that’s another story!) Ironic, isn’t it, that while a black woman launched the #...


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Sexual Harassment, Culture, and Healing Sexual Harassment, Culture, and Healing

Sexual Harassment, Culture, and Healing

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Matt Lauer. Charlie Rose. Representative John Conyers. Garrison Keillor (!) One by one, our cultural icons seem to be falling to a wave of allegations (and carefully sourced stories) of sexual harassment brought by women who, in some cases, seem to have kept their secrets for decades. Whether it’s the force of the #MeToo movement, a reaction to the election of a President who is himself accused of...


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Is all the noise worth it? Is all the noise worth it?

Is all the noise worth it?

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Advertising really bothers me. I try really hard to tune it out. I know I’m not the only one, because we’ve watched Google make their sponsored results (their ads) blend in more and more with their normal, organic results over time—to keep us from tuning them out. And each time they make the distinction more subtle, we learn to recognize the difference and ignore the ads. So they try again. Advert...


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Nobody “just likes stuff.” Nobody “just likes stuff.”

Nobody “just likes stuff.”

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Consumerism: I’m the problem. When I told my wife that I was working on a piece about consumerism, I was met with laughter. Not a chuckle. Not a giggle. But the full-on rumbling roar that accompanies a genuine belly laugh. I wanted to feign pearl-clutching shock, but the only thing I could do is laugh right alongside her. See, I’ve known my wife since we were both barely teenagers and my unquencha...


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Why Athletes Become Heroes Why Athletes Become Heroes

Why Athletes Become Heroes

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Mediocre. That is how I would describe my athletic prowess as a child. But that didn’t prevent me from wanting to play in the majors. I started playing baseball at age six, and my dad coached our team for five or six years. I cherished the time we got to spend together, but baseball wasn’t the only sport we enjoyed—we watched all of them. As a child of the 90s, I grew up in an era of legends. Bret...


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Anyone else feeling numb yet? Anyone else feeling numb yet?

Anyone else feeling numb yet?

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I don’t know about you guys, but I’m numb. There’s just…too much. Maybe it started with the Columbine shooting. Maybe it was 9/11. They seemed to compound from there. There was a loss of this generation’s cultural innocence in those early days when we saw that bad things don’t just happen to other countries but they happen here. When the September 11th attacks occurred, we were all in a state of s...


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Is violence just a statistic? Is violence just a statistic?

Is violence just a statistic?

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Late Sunday night, a gun opened fire from a room in the Mandalay Hotel, killing at least 58 people attending a country music concert of around 22,000 on the Las Vegas Strip. More than 500 people were wounded. When police got to his room, suspect Stephen Paddock had killed himself. According to police reports mentioned in the New York Times, he had at least 10 rifles and hundreds of rounds of ammun...


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The Discomfort with Dismantling The Discomfort with Dismantling

The Discomfort with Dismantling

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A few years ago, my husband and I began exploring the possibility of moving into a new home. Having done a bit of research, we identified neighborhoods and entered our preferences into an online search bar, along with our price limits. We were disappointed by how few homes met our qualifications, but were excited to find a single, promising, slightly suspicious possibility: a spacious home, in a t...


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Black lives don’t matter because my kids are black. Black lives don’t matter because my kids are black.

Black lives don’t matter because my kids are black.

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Black Lives Matter, because black lives matter…because black lives matter…because black lives matter. I am a white woman, and I have two little girls whose skin does not match mine. Their father is black, and my girls are beautifully bi-racial. If you didn’t know I was their biological mother, you’d see them as two curly-haired, brown-eyed black girls, and not notice the particular markers I added...


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Fair trade is a critical first step. Fair trade is a critical first step.

Fair trade is a critical first step.

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Looking out at seemingly endless miles of coffee trees near Taratung, Indonesia, baking in the sun, I was transfixed by the workers slaving away, drenched in sweat, and only paid a pittance for their work. I thought back to the cooperative I visited earlier that morning. There in the shade, a family had been processing cherries and drying the beans. They laughed. They shared stories. They had me t...


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What I Learned from Real Fair Trade Farmers What I Learned from Real Fair Trade Farmers

What I Learned from Real Fair Trade Farmers

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No matter where you go on the good ole’ interwebs, you’re bound to find opposing views on fair trade practices. Fair trade was implemented with the intention of protecting the little guy—the small farmer, the artisan, who didn’t have lots of money behind their craft. The point was to put a fair amount of money in the producer’s pockets. Whether or not it works is, and always has been, up for debat...


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Can I still raise confident daughters? Can I still raise confident daughters?

Can I still raise confident daughters?

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I think the future of social media should scare new parents. In the future, this culture of constant comparison, façade of perfection, and desire to get endless reactions from those around us will be placed into the hands of our children. These perfect little people who have had each month of life documented with chalk board art and details of their every behavior. Children who unknowingly have em...


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Teens and Tech: Have you done your homework? Teens and Tech: Have you done your homework?

Teens and Tech: Have you done your homework?

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Last night I stole all of the technological devices in the house. My parents are traveling for a few days and I’m the adult daughter visiting home and playing “mom” for my three younger siblings. They’re all teenagers. School, basketball game, forensic practice, church, dinner, laundry, grocery store, “clean your room”, homework help, basketball game again. I have a whole new appreciation for how ...


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Prayer in Public Schools—The Laws Make Sense Prayer in Public Schools—The Laws Make Sense

Prayer in Public Schools—The Laws Make Sense

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Every year of high school I met with my fellow Christian classmates and friends during the designated Wednesday in September. We met to pray for our country. We met to pray for our school. We met to pray for each other. We met to prove that the First Amendment still gave us the right to profess our faith, even if a Supreme Court decision said we could not have school-wide corporate prayer. Most of...


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Putting Religion Back in Our Schools Putting Religion Back in Our Schools

Putting Religion Back in Our Schools

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It’s about time we put religion back in our schools. Now, hold on…I’m not talking about what you think I’m talking about. The separation of church and state is important. I truly believe that prayer, theology, and religious practices are not meant to permeate the boundaries of our secular institutions—school, the halls of government, etc. But that doesn’t mean we should take religious education—te...


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I’d like to say I’m surprised by Charlottesville. But I’m not. I’d like to say I’m surprised by Charlottesville. But I’m not.

I’d like to say I’m surprised by Charlottesville. But I’m not.

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Writing a public piece on social justice, in our current climate, during this moment in history feels like a weight—one I have not yet earned the right to carry. Yes, I’m alive in this moment watching, alongside the rest of the world, to see how our country navigates our way through the minefield of systematic, historical, covert, and poisonous racism. But the topic is complex, possessing a histor...


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Birth of an Activist Birth of an Activist

Birth of an Activist

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I’m willing to bet that at least a few of you have yelled nasty words at me while wagging your clinched fists, and damning me to hell for making you late for work. No? Don’t remember me? I can’t say that I blame you. At the moment where we locked eyes, I was probably just another link in a human chain or another hastily drawn sign held high above a crowd of surly rabble-rousers. Yup, that’s me. I’...


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The Poverty Line The Poverty Line

The Poverty Line

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I am poor. I have food, I have clothing, I have shelter. I have a job. I just financed a car. I have a kitten, I donate to the ACLU and I am still paying off my student loans and a credit card. On paper it all looks ok, but I know the truth. I am fighting every day for these things. Let’s say I lost my job tomorrow or I was injured and became unable to work. I don’t have enough saved to last me a ...


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Inevitable Poverty—What did Jesus mean? Inevitable Poverty—What did Jesus mean?

Inevitable Poverty—What did Jesus mean?

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There’s a lot of talk right now about how to make a difference in the lives of the poor. Some people say that the government should give citizens a leg up. Others speak of personal responsibility. Some thread a gingerly path down the middle.  When you’re trying to work out how to approach poverty, and how to best help those in economic distress, it’s a challenge to know where to turn for guid...


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We need to change what it means to be patriots. We need to change what it means to be patriots.

We need to change what it means to be patriots.

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It was our first Sunday attending church in our new city. We were in a city with many Lutheran churches, so we had our pick, but we decided to start with the church right down the street. It was Fourth of July weekend. The worship service was patriotic, complete with Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American.” And this politically moderate Lutheran was ready to run out of the building. It’s not tha...


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A Quiet Act of Patriotism A Quiet Act of Patriotism

A Quiet Act of Patriotism

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It’s really hard to listen. Sure, if your best friend needs to talk about their terrible day or your partner needs to vent about their boss or their commute, you can probably handle that kind of listening. All of us need people in our lives who can hear our petty griefs and existential trials. But when it comes to people with opposite political beliefs, things get dicey. Most of us choose to avoid...


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Spoiler Alert: Cancer Isn’t Just a Tragedy Spoiler Alert: Cancer Isn’t Just a Tragedy

Spoiler Alert: Cancer Isn’t Just a Tragedy

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You know that special kind of radar that turns on when you buy a new car? That 6th sense that draws your attention to every other dandelion-yellow Kia Sorento on the road? Yeah, that. That thing that won’t let you ignore that fact that the vehicle you just purchased, whatever it is, is most certainly the most popular vehicle in the entire world. Cancer survivors develop a similar sense, only inste...


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Ignoring racism won’t fix it. Ignoring racism won’t fix it.

Ignoring racism won’t fix it.

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When I was six, I lived next-door to one of the most bigoted people I have ever encountered. There was a public field behind our houses, and if we walked through his yard to get to the field, he would come outside to yell at us. He even put up a one-foot high garden fence between our houses to show us the division. One day I made the mistake of walking through his yard. I was headed toward the fie...


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Grown-Up Racism Grown-Up Racism

Grown-Up Racism

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I’m sure that every black American can tell you about the first time they encountered real, grown-up racism. Grown-up racism is different than the run-of-the-mill n-word enthusiastically yelled from the window of a passing car, or being followed through a store by the occasional overzealous security guard determined to catch you in the act of theft. Grown-up racism is the kind of racism that you e...


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Community—Have you found it? Community—Have you found it?

Community—Have you found it?

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Recently, I interviewed an administrator for a coalition of churches in another state struggling with an enormous drug problem. “How can churches be useful in tackling a drug crisis?” I asked him. Frankly, I was a little skeptical. In many parts of the country, churches are treading water, along with other social pillars we used to take for granted: volunteer charitable organizations, bowling leag...


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It’s just a thing…but I lost it. It’s just a thing…but I lost it.

It’s just a thing…but I lost it.

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I had arrived early (not NORMALLY my style) to my weekly yoga practice. I decided to take advantage of one of our first truly warm spring days of the season and walked around the studio’s parking lot to de-fog my brain from a busy day. I helped get the studio set up for class and took some time to focus as the workout began. In the middle of my flow from Downward Facing Dog to Plank and back to Do...


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My Battle with Stuff My Battle with Stuff

My Battle with Stuff

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It was stupid, really. Our family had recently moved from Detroit, Michigan, to a much smaller town in northern Illinois. I vacillated between anger and sadness as I watched my parents put an offer on an attractive older home away from my new friends’ neighborhoods. It was a home that clearly identified us as lower middle class. I hated that house when I compared it to my friends’ nicer, newer hom...


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You and I impact the environment—in any political climate. You and I impact the environment—in any political climate.

You and I impact the environment—in any political climate.

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Christian teachings say that God’s children are to be stewards of their environments. Some subgroups even go so far as to label themselves “Green Christians,” who practice “creation care,” which basically means caring for God’s creations. The bible repeatedly tells us to rule over the land and all living things in it, but reminds us that it is not ours to keep. Just as you are supposed to return s...


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We’re Failing Our Planet We’re Failing Our Planet

We’re Failing Our Planet

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As noble as the idea of stewardship is, where’s the evidence that it’s working for us? For decades, we’ve been relying on the notion that we can be effective stewards of our world. Let’s examine that assumption. What do stewards do? They are responsible for something—in this case, keeping the air, water, animals and earth clean and healthy. They are accountable to something or someone—if you’re a ...


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National Geographic or Real Life National Geographic or Real Life

National Geographic or Real Life

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The Moment The smell in the air is a combination of someone burning leaves on a fall day and something I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s confusing me. The images that the smell creates in my mind don’t match up with the heat and humidity my body is experiencing. My arms are wrapped around a man I’ve only just met. I’m sitting on the back of his motorcycle as we twist and turn through a maze of ...


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Here’s a Wall I’m Okay With Here’s a Wall I’m Okay With

Here’s a Wall I’m Okay With

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Borrowed from Baptist theologian Roger Williams, the phrase “a hedge or wall of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world” has become a well-recognized description of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Officially adopted on December 15, 1791, the First Amendment prevents the government from passing any legislation that respects an e...


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Raised Republican, Voted Democrat Raised Republican, Voted Democrat

Raised Republican, Voted Democrat

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I am a typical millennial. November 8th, 2016 marked only the second presidential election in which I was eligible to vote, and the first presidential election in which I was adequately informed in my vote. Four years ago, I watched about thirty minutes of one of the presidential debates between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney, I googled the platform issues for each candidate the n...


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When it comes to religion, we’d better get an education. When it comes to religion, we’d better get an education.

When it comes to religion, we’d better get an education.

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The famous American playwright Wilson Mizner is attributed with saying, “I respect faith, but doubt is what gets you an education.” Given America’s current lack of “religious literacy”—the knowledge of, and ability to understand, both your own religion and that of others—Mizner may very well be correct. Several years ago, the Pew Research Center put out its Religious Knowledge Survey. They found t...


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Failing the Digital Age Failing the Digital Age

Failing the Digital Age

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When I woke up this morning I had three texts, several Instagram notifications, a Snapchat message, six Facebook notices, several other app notifications, and umpteen e-mails. It was 6 a.m. Ridonculous. Do you ever wake up in the morning overwhelmed by the state of your digital life? How about mid-afternoon when the e-mails have piled up? Or at night when you feel you need to scroll through anothe...


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Making Peace with a Violent World Making Peace with a Violent World

Making Peace with a Violent World

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The world is pretty violent. Gang violence, foreign wars, police brutality, bullying at school, the death penalty, violent entertainment, road rage, domestic violence…you name it, we’ve got it. What can we do? How can we fight violence and make peace? Good questions. There should be an unease when it comes to the prevalence of violence. Indeed, more and more people are sensing that this isn’t the ...


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Picture Yourself on a Grid Picture Yourself on a Grid

Picture Yourself on a Grid

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A google maps view of your life in relation to neighbors, if you will. Some you know. Most you don’t. Most you wouldn’t even recognize if they came to your door and said “I live a block a way and I need help.” But they’ll never say that. We never do. Unless a child is in a life or death situation, we tend to just hunker down with our needs and our loneliness, our lacking and our unrealized dreams....


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What’s my convenience worth? What’s my convenience worth?

What’s my convenience worth?

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“What’s my convenience worth?” It was a seemingly simple question from my friend Aaron, but an inquiry with some pretty significant implications for the way I discipline my day, treat others, or deal with things. We live in what you might call a convenience culture. Drive-thrus and free refills, fast food and grocery delivery, e-mails and easy returns, microwaveable meals and to-go containers, air...


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Defined by Divide: A Poem Defined by Divide: A Poem

Defined by Divide: A Poem

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Today I tried. To understand the other side. Tried to cross the divide. A conversation overheard- offensive in almost every word. How to respond? With attack and hate? with protests, with rallies, with satire that deprecates? But you see, I know you- you love people, you serve my God, we may even agree on a thing or two. But with these words, these ideas, these fears nationwide, it is easier to de...


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Ban the Backyard Ban the Backyard

Ban the Backyard

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There is a common myth in America that what a happy family needs most is a Big Backyard. (This is similar to the myth that happiness increases in direct proportion to square footage, but that’s a post for another time). Those who do not live in homes at all, or live in homes with little or no yard, envision the big American backyard as some idyllic paradise where romping and ball tossing and havin...


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What if I’m wrong? What if I’m wrong?

What if I’m wrong?

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During the Soviet-Afghan war (1979-1989), a group of U.S. special forces—operating undercover—were captured by Soviet special forces. On searching the U.S. soldiers, the Soviets found large amounts of U.S. dollars—funds designated for their covert mission. It was a ton of cash. The Soviets were baffled to realize the U.S. soldiers were carrying out their mission willingly. Why would you be fightin...