Regarding Black History Month

For the past two years, I’ve decided to wile away the dark months of deep winter by diving into a personal learning project for Black History Month. Elsewhere known as February.

I light candles in the fireplace, grab a blanket, and plunge into books by African Americans on less celebrated aspects of American history. Because my syllabus contains some dense reading, I try to start in mid-January at Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.


Last year, I was enjoying myself so much that I extended my learning into March. Here’s what I read: Continue reading “Regarding Black History Month”

On Justice and Lament

In my early twenties, I had a room-mate who was a PhD student in Space Science. Kandis-Lea was an unexpected mix of folksy and scholarly. She would return from her lab late at night and unwind by watching Touched by an Angel; when I rolled my eyes, she would just giggle. Her research was on the moon of Jupiter called Io, and though I attended her dissertation defense, I could not have told you one thing about it, even an hour later. It all flew straight over my head. To this day, Kandis-Lea closes all her emails to me with “Love you dearly.” We have not lived together since 2001, but she is one my most loyal friends. Should I ever be in grave danger, I am confident the Holy Spirit would alert her and she would throw herself into praying for me. Continue reading “On Justice and Lament”

Book give-away: how to fix America’s problems

America has a number of problems. Despite what he insists, Donald Trump does not know how to solve them.

I recently discovered a book that contains answers to a handful of our national issues. It unveils how to lower rates of asthma and obesity, how to decrease auto fatalities, how to pull kids away from computers and TVs, how to situate the elderly so they can thrive without assistance late into their lives, how to draw young people and new talent into struggling cities, how to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and how to increase interaction between the poor and the upper classes.

What book could answer all these questions? What single solution could possibly address all these issues?

Continue reading “Book give-away: how to fix America’s problems”

American parenting: are we worrying about the right things?

If you pay any attention to the news, the past month has been a particularly scary one. From terrorist attacks in Paris to a shooting rampage at a Christmas party in California, there appears to be nowhere you can go and be safe.

Is this true? Are we living in a particularly dangerous moment? People who study the actual numbers say no.

I have been reading a book called Free Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy. Continue reading “American parenting: are we worrying about the right things?”

Book Review & Give-Away: The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way


I will read anything that’s well written.  I like words, and I adore well-crafted sentences.  Good thinking and fresh insight delight me.

This book, The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way, combines all of these things. Amanda Ripley is a talented journalist;  her research is thorough and her insights profound. Continue reading “Book Review & Give-Away: The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way”

Of Rainbow Fish and Cookie Exchanges (part 2)

In  Part 1, I argued that The Rainbow Fish implies that we can only have friends if we are willing to be exactly like them, and that friendship requires giving away all of our special attributes if our particular giftedness makes others feel jealous or uncomfortable.  I talked about how I disagree with the story in its suggestion that there is a small and finite amount of beauty and giftedness in the world, and that for there to be any equity, the beauty must be parceled out equally until there are only little bits of sparkle here and there.  No, I wrote, the sea is full of beautiful fish, each shimmering and vibrant in a unique way.  And part of the fun of life is to learn to truly enjoy others’ shimmering gifts.  The trick is not only to figure out what your unique gifts are, but also to choose celebration rather than jealousy when others are gifted in ways you are not.  It is not only okay that we are not all exactly the same;  it is deeply good.

Unlike many of my friends, I am not gifted to enjoy cookie exchanges.  Continue reading “Of Rainbow Fish and Cookie Exchanges (part 2)”

On Rainbow Fish and Cookie Exchanges (part 1)

rainbow fish

There is a popular children’s book called The Rainbow Fish.  It is actually a German story that has been translated into English.  The book’s popularity likely comes from its beautiful art as much as from its message about sharing.  The art is indeed eye catching and vibrant.  Given its popularity and the beauty of its illustrations, I was quite surprised when my husband snorted in judgment and declared it a terrible story after reading it to our oldest daughter when she was two.  Why would Rick, a usually generous guy who is rarely tempted to censorship, have such a strong reaction to this story, a standard in the current pre-school canon? Continue reading “On Rainbow Fish and Cookie Exchanges (part 1)”