Monthly Archives: May 2015

Short Post

   

This will be a short post.  Last night I had one of the worst headaches I’ve had in months.  Medicine and sleep didn’t phase it all day yesterday.  I’m hoping it will be better today.

The good news is that I am giving my last exam today.  If they all pass the class, I will have no more students until August 12.  I still have a teacher workday tomorrow, but that’s just taking care of some administrative loose ends.  I am so glad that this year is over.  I’ve had some of the worst students I’ve ever dealt with this year, and luckily, most of them are graduating tomorrow night.


Omar Currie: A Story of Courage

Three weeks ago, Omar Currie, a 25 year-old third grade teacher at Efland-Cheeks Elementary School in Efland, North Carolina, overheard some of his students calling one of their male classmates “gay” and “a woman.” Instead of sending the bullies to the principal’s office, Currie took a different approach: He read his class King & King, a children’s fable by Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland that features a same-sex romance.

Currie, who identifies as gay, said that he wanted to have an honest conversation with his students — whom he affectionately refers to as his “kids” — on how to treat people who may seem different.  Sometimes the best approach to dealing with our “kids,” as I also refer to my students, is to give them a different perspective and a new way of looking at things.  I often play devils advocate with my kids when an issue of ignorance comes up in my classroom, but I deal with teenagers not third graders.  My kids have realized that I’m the school’s liberal, and they are learning what provokes my sermons about their ignorance.  I try to be diplomatic at times, but often I end up getting angry, because I think they should have learned this much younger, which is why I find Mr. Currie such an inspiration.

According to Currie, there was a group of boys that had been referring to the child as a girl or a woman, saying “OK, woman,” or “OK, girl.”. He stepped in and addressed the issue, he said, but then it happened again. It was obvious that this particular child was being bullied and was very upset.  To address the issue, the following day, Currie read his class King & King, a picture book whose main character, a prince, must find a suitor to marry. After meeting with a succession of princesses and feeling no spark, the prince eventually falls in love with another prince. The two wed, becoming kings together, and the book ends with the two kings kissing.

When one student said that it made them uncomfortable, because they’d never seen two men marry each other, Currie said: “Well, it’s normal to feel uncomfortable when you feel something new, but what is the moral? The moral is to treat people well, no matter who they are.”

Currie’s decision was not without controversy. At least three parents filed formal complaints against him, leading to a meeting at the school last Friday to determine whether the book would be banned. About 200 people showed up to the meeting, with the majority of community members supporting Currie’s decision.  “The experience was very overwhelming in terms of the amount of support I received,” he said.

However, a number of parents said they were dismayed to find out that Currie had read King & King to his students.  “[You’re] infiltrating young minds, indoctrinating children into a gay agenda and actively promoting homosexuality to steer our children in that direction,” parent Lisa Baptist said at Friday’s meeting, according to WRAL.

“The comments that were most difficult were the ones from parents and community members saying that my kids can’t handle this conversation,” said Currie. “These people are underestimating my kids. I know what they’re capable of, how intelligent they are and how passionate they are. To say my kids couldn’t have a conversation about bullying was very disgusting to me, quite honestly.”

Currie said he knows all too well the pains of being bullied at school. He said the classroom should be a safe environment for all children.  “Every single day in middle school I was called a faggot,” he said. “I was called that in front of teachers and no one ever stopped to address the problem. It gave me an understanding that it must be fixed immediately when it happens.”  I think many of us faced similar circumstances.  Middle school and high school were hell to me.  I turned to my books and studies harder hoping to get far away as soon as I could, and education was going to be my ticket out.

The school board committee ultimately determined that the book would not be banned, but that in the future, teachers must inform parents about every book they plan to read for their class. I think the school board’s decision is one of the most ludicrous I’ve heard of in a long time.  Why should a teacher have to inform parents of every book they read their kids.  It just adds more work to already overworked and under appreciated teachers.  Currie said he disagrees with the school board’s decision, but appreciates the love and support he has received.  “Three weeks ago, after I read the book, it was a very lonely experience, because I felt like I was standing by myself,” he said. “On Friday, it wasn’t just me standing up for what was right, it was all of us. That was powerful.”

I wish all teachers cared about their kids the way Currie does, and I wish I were brave enough to be able to do the same thing if I were in his situation.  However, while teaching at a small private school may afford me great freedom in the classroom, it also keeps me in the closet and forced to deal with the politics of a small minded community.  Teachers like myself have to work with what we have and change minds in small incremental ways.  It’s a slow process, but I do see minds changing, if ever so slightly.


Theories of Time and Space

  

Theories of Time and Space
By Natasha Trethewey

You can get there from here, though
there’s no going home.

Everywhere you go will be somewhere
you’ve never been. Try this:

head south on Mississippi 49, one—
by—one mile markers ticking off

another minute of your life. Follow this
to its natural conclusion—dead end

at the coast, the pier at Gulfport where
riggings of shrimp boats are loose stitches

in a sky threatening rain. Cross over
the man-made beach, 26 miles of sand

dumped on a mangrove swamp—buried
terrain of the past. Bring only

what you must carry—tome of memory
its random blank pages. On the dock

where you board the boat for Ship Island,
someone will take your picture:

the photograph—who you were—
will be waiting when you return

I’ve never been further north on U.S. Highway 49 than Jackson, Mississippi, but I have driven the stretch from Jackson to its beginning in Gulfport, Mississippi, too many times to count.  North of Jackson at the junction of US 49 and U.S. Route 61, was where blues singer Robert Johnson is said to have sold his soul to the Devil.  But it is Gulfport that I am more familiar with because it used to be a short drive down to the beach when I wanted to get away from the stresses of graduate school. I’ve walked those man-made beaches and taken the boat out to Ship Island to see Fort Massachusetts.  If you are ever in Gulfport, or on the Mississippi Gulf Coast for that matter, you’ll probably be there for the casinos, but you really should go out to Ship Island and take a picnic lunch, explore the fort, and lounge on the beach on the south side of the island.  

The first time I went to Ship Island, I remember standing on top of Fort Massachusetts and feeling history come alive.  Having the only deep-water harbor between Mobile Bay and the Mississippi River, the island served as a vital anchorage for ships bearing explorers, colonists, sailors, soldiers, defenders and invaders. The French, Spanish, British, Confederate and Union flags have all flown over Ship Island.  French explorer Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville charted Ship Island on 10 February 1699, which he used as a base of operations in discovering the mouth of the Mississippi River. The island served as a point of immigration to French colonies in the New World.

In the War of 1812, Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane anchored between Ship Island and Cat Island with a fleet of fifty British warships and 7,500 soldiers in preparations for the Battle of New Orleans and the island was used as a launching point for British forces.  I remember standing on top of Fort Massachusetts and it was almost like I could see the fifty British warships as they prepared to attack New Orleans nearly 200 years before.  It was one of those magical moments historians sometimes have.  We are standing in a historical place and suddenly we are transported back to a significant moment.  The present world disappears and the world of the past emerges before your eyes.

“Everywhere you go will be somewhere you’ve never been.”  So if you ever find yourself in Jackson, Mississippi, try heading down U.S Highway 49 through Hattiesburg and past the beautiful campus of the University of Southern Mississippi down to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, hop on the boat out to Ship Island and let another world take you over. 


The End Is Nigh

No, I’m not predicting the apocalypse, but two other things are coming to an end this week.  One good; one bad.  The good news is that school ends on Thursday.  Monday is our last full day, and the rest of the week consist of half days for exams.  I’m so excited.  This has been one of the rougher school years, and I can’t wait for it to be over.  However, my week with my boyfriend as I house sit is also coming to an end.  The owners of the house come back on Wednesday.  I will miss sharing a bed with my boyfriend at night.   So this week will be one of hose weeks where it’s out with the bad, but also out with the good.  However, I do have a vacation coming up in a few weeks with my boyfriend that should be quite wonderful.

I hope you all have a wonderful week.


The Mesaage

 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. 
John 1:1, 14

 A few weeks ago, I used a Biblical quote from The Message, a different translation of the Bible than I usually use.  Most often I use the English Standard Version, but I have always been partial to the King James Version.  I love to read the Bible in the KJV Elizabethan English, for its beauty, but it can be a bit difficult to fully comprehend at times unless you are an Elizabethan scholar.  It’s one of the reasons I love teaching my literature students Shakespeare. However, sometimes I want to read a version that gives a close word-for-word correspondence between the original languages and English. 

The Message was written by Eugene Peterson and to best understand this particular biblical translation, here is what Peterson himself said: “While I was teaching a class on Galatians, I began to realize that the adults in my class weren’t feeling the vitality and directness that I sensed as I read and studied the New Testament in its original Greek. Writing straight from the original text, I began to attempt to bring into English the rhythms and idioms of the original language. I knew that the early readers of the New Testament were captured and engaged by these writings and I wanted my congregation to be impacted in the same way. I hoped to bring the New Testament to life for two different types of people: those who hadn’t read the Bible because it seemed too distant and irrelevant and those who had read the Bible so much that it had become ‘old hat.'”  Eugene Peterson recognized that the original sentence structure is very different from that of contemporary English. He decided to strive for the spirit of the original manuscripts—to express the rhythm of the voices, the flavor of the idiomatic expressions, the subtle connotations of meaning that are often lost in English translations.

Language changes. New words are formed. Old words take on new meaning. There is a need in every generation to keep the language of the gospel message current, fresh, and understandable—the way it was for its very first readers. That is what The Message seeks to accomplish for contemporary readers. It is a version for our time—designed to be read by contemporary people in the same way as the original koin Greek and Hebrew manuscripts were savored by people thousands of years ago.

Some biblical scholars have denounced The Message because they say that Peterson did not just translate the Bible but changed portions of it to fit his on biblical beliefs.  Other critics declare The Message to be not a paraphrase of what the Bible says, but more of a rendering of what Peterson would like it to say.  However, I would have to disagree.  Peterson captures the Word of God like no other translation I have ever read, but sometimes he does seem to be a bit too idiomatic.  The goal of The Message is to engage people in the reading process and help them understand what they read. This is not a study Bible, but rather “”a reading Bible.”” The verse numbers, which are not in the original documents, were left out of the original print version to facilitate easy and enjoyable reading, but have since been added so that readers can compare biblical versions. The original books of the Bible were not written in formal language. The Message tries to recapture the Word in the words we use today.

Here are a few comparisons between the King James Version, the English Standard Version, and The Message:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John 1:1, 14 (KJV)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.  John 1:1, 14 (ESV)

The Word was first, the Word present to God, God present to the Word. The Word was God, in readiness for God from day one. The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.  John 1:1, 14 (MSG)

In the instance of John 1:1, 14, there is not a great deal of difference, but I want to give a few more examples of passages where I think many modern translations have gone astray and Peterson has brought back the intent of the Word.

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.  1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (KJV)

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV)

Don’t you realize that this is not the way to live? Unjust people who don’t care about God will not be joining in his kingdom. Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don’t qualify as citizens in God’s kingdom. A number of you know from experience what I’m talking about, for not so long ago you were on that list. Since then, you’ve been cleaned up and given a fresh start by Jesus, our Master, our Messiah, and by our God present in us, the Spirit.  1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (MSG)

If you read the three different versions, you will see that modern translations, such as the ESV, translate arsenokoitai as homosexual, most true scholars realize that the world was one that was created by Paul, and we can be fairly certain that this is not the meaning that Paul wanted to convey. If he had, he would have used the word “paiderasste.” That was the standard Greek term at the time for sexual activity between males. Add to that the fact that homosexuality was not a word or a concept of sexual orientation in ancient times, and there is no doubt that the modern translations of “clobber passages” are incorrect.  We can conclude that Paul probably meant something different than people who engaged in male-male adult sexual behavior, for which I think Peterson translates better than most.

There are numerous examples of translational differences, but I think that Peterson creates an imminently readable translation of the Bible.  I agree with Peterson that it is not a study Bible but a reading Bible.  I think that the most important aspect of Peterson’s translation is that he writes with the intent of the Word, and it makes it a beautiful translation, at least in parts.


Moment of Zen: Foreplay

 
I don’t think this one needs further explanation. 


Lying in Bed

 
As I was lying in bed waiting for boyfriend to join me, I was trying to figure out what to write, and I finally decided I had no idea what to write.  Then my boyfriend came to bed, I completely lost interest in writing a blog post.  So please excuse me.  I was a little bit busy last night.


The Way to a Man’s Heart…

   

The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.  I really do believe this old adage.  Growing up, I loved to watch Mama and Grandmama cook.  I learned so much from them, and then I expanded my knowledge by Food Network and experimenting with different flavors.  By experimenting and learning what spices are best used with what and how t blend flavors, I can often eat a dish once and then replicate it.  My cooking skills is something that I take pride in, even though I know pride is one of the seven deadly sins.

I love cooking for others.  I have had the tremendous joy this week to be able to cook for my boyfriend.  We are getting to spend time with one another while I am house sitting.  My boyfriend makes me so happy.  I’ve been able to to cook each night for him, and he’s so appreciative of my cooking.  It seems to make him happy, which is always my goal when I cook for someone.

I’ve hear all my life what a good husband I will make, but when I cook, I do so because I love it.  I truly do love to cook, and I love to experiment and am especially happy when trying something new pays off.  I don’t know if any of you love cooking, but it’s a wonderful pastime.  And most importantly, it makes other people happy.


Thinking with Your Penis

  

Guys, have you ever noticed that when you have an erection that you think differently?  Maybe it’s just me, but if I have a hard-on my mind can have some pretty dirty thoughts.  I find things I wouldn’t normally find attractive/sexy, I find irresistible when I’m already turned on.  Urban Dictionary defines “thinking with your penis” as cognition which is tainted by horniness or when a man makes decisions intended to satisfy the short term goals of his penis and fails to consider the long term consequences.  So do you think with your penis?


Field in Spring

 
Field in Spring

By Susan Stewart

Your eye moving 

left to right across

the plowed lines

looking to touch down

on the first

shoots coming up 

like a frieze

from the dark where

pale roots

and wood-lice gorge

on mold.

Red haze atop

the far trees.

A two dot, then

a ten dot

ladybug. Within

the wind, a per-

pendicular breeze.

Hold a mirror,

horizontal,

to the rain. Now

the blurred repetition

of ruled lines, the faint

green, quickening,

the doubled tears.

Wake up.

The wind is not for seeing,

neither is the first

song, soon half- 

way gone,

and the figures,

the figures are not waiting.

To see what is

in motion you must move.

 

About This Poem

“This poem is from a series of studies of the same field in sequential seasons. Is there anyone in the northern hemisphere who isn’t trying, in these days, to read the signs of spring?”— Susan Stewart 

Susan Stewart is the author of numerous books of poems, including Red Rover (University of Chicago Press, 2008). She is a professor of English at Princeton University.