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.

Why Athletes Become Heroes

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...

Anyone else feeling numb yet?

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...

Is violence just a statistic?

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...

The Discomfort with Dismantling

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...

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

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...

Fair trade is a critical first step.

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...

What I Learned from Real Fair Trade Farmers

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...

Can I still raise confident daughters?

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...

Teens and Tech: Have you done your homework?

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 ...

Prayer in Public Schools—The Laws Make Sense

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...

Putting Religion Back in Our Schools

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...

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

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...

Birth of an Activist

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’...

The Poverty Line

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 ...

Inevitable Poverty—What did Jesus mean?

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 guidance....

We need to change what it means to be patriots.

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...

A Quiet Act of Patriotism

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...

Spoiler Alert: Cancer Isn’t Just a Tragedy

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...

Ignoring racism won’t fix it.

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...

Grown-Up Racism

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...

Community—Have you found it?

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...

It’s just a thing…but I lost it.

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...

My Battle with Stuff

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...

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

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...

We’re Failing Our Planet

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 ...

National Geographic or Real Life

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 ...

Here’s a Wall I’m Okay With

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...

Raised Republican, Voted Democrat

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...

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

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...

Failing the Digital Age

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...

Making Peace with a Violent World

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 ...

Picture Yourself on a Grid

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....

What’s my convenience worth?

“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...

Defined by Divide: A Poem

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...

Ban the Backyard

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...

What if I’m wrong?

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...