Easter in the Era of BLM

While attending church services the Sunday after Easter, also known as the Second Easter Sunday, I heard what was common for such on occasion and that was a sermon rooted in the New Testament story of doubting Thomas.  My pastor stated in his sermon that Thomas was the only one to whom Jesus revealed himself individually. When he took his seat, our co-pastor whispered to him, after the service my pastor made an announcement to the congregation that he had been corrected by our co-pastor, that Jesus first revealed himself to Mary following the Resurrection.  In my own mind, I immediately went to the Virgin Mary thinking Jesus revealed himself to his mother.  I went to the Scriptures and read, and it was Mary Magdalene.  Both held graduate degrees from Union Theological Seminary and Princeton Theological Seminary, respectively; however, it was the woman, and Princeton alumna, that did not overlook the significance of Mary Magdalene in the story of Jesus Christ.  Inclusion and diverse perspectives did not rewrite the Gospel but highlighted passages important to their own experience which gave us a fuller meaning to the Gospel.  This I believe, that pluralism and religious literacy have a symbiotic relationship, to which inclusion and allowing diverse perspectives enriches our understanding our own beliefs and those of others and encourages a more accepting, pluralistic society.

What would cause such a faux pas to occur? Both ministers were clearly well-educated individuals, so it was not a matter of ignorance. Each had related to the Gospel in their way by that which moved them. Gender differences aside, as it can only be an assumption this was the key factor, and maybe it was, one pastor was moved by the skepticism of Thomas whose faith was reaffirmed with a qualified revelation of the truth; whereas, the other pastor was moved by the woman whose embattled soul had been freed by Jesus Christ when he cast out seven demons, also a qualified revelation of faith based on seeing. The human experience of faith is a relative experience, even among clerics as this example demonstrates.Seemingly, we would think this is where the conversation begins but often this is where the conversation ends.

Multicultural and Anti-Racist Resources

Hello!  As a history and social studies teacher at a private high school, I help young people understand the evolution of the human consciousness and how to make sense of difficult questions of living in the social world.  I help students with the “hard yoga” — the flex-work, strengthening and breathing — of living in world.

Building diverse and inclusive communities, and undoing America’s legacy and racial inequality, will require more than virtue signaling with badges and memes or a selfie at a protest, it will take more passing the collection plate donating to a charity, and it will take more than “listening” and talking about how we listened, and “reading” and talking about what we read.   But these are all starts.  Allow me to share some of my resources and suggestions with you:

And this is just a start!  #blacklivesmatter

Be well!


Ramp Season and Foraging

It’s that time of the year again in the Hudson Valley!! I’ve been seeing buzz about ramps and fiddleheads in my social media newsfeeds. Not so gentle reminder, just because something appears to be in abundance, doesn’t mean it is. In fact, ramps, or “wild leeks,” or “wild onions” are listed as a threatened species in Quebec and a species of concern in the northeastern United States. Fiddleheads are not fairing much better. Also, these plants are host to bacteria and not only require thoroughly cleaning and cooking but when you do forage these plants you are altering the ecosystem in very real ways. Chasing dopamine highs with hedonic palette-pleasing has serious consequences for our environment. Plant. Cultivate. But don’t steal from our wild, natural landscapes.

Image may contain: plant, tree, flower and outdoor

(Picture of cultivated ostrich ferns at the Vanderbilt Mansion.)

#ramps #fiddleheads #ostrichferns #hudsonvalley #catskills#upstateny #escapebrooklyn #newengland #maine #quebec #foraging #foodie #wildedibles #wildmushrooms #ecosystems#environment

Good reads on this subject:

AppalachianMagazine. “Mountain Tradition: Eating Ramps in Springtime | Appalachian Magazine.” Appalachian Magazine (blog), n.d. http://appalachianmagazine.com/2019/03/10/mountain-tradition-eating-ramps-in-springtime/.
Millward, David. “Fiddlehead Rustlers Threatened with Jail as US State Tries to Curb Mass Foraging.” The Telegraph, n.d. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/04/08/hold-fiddlehead-rustlers-threatened-jail-us-state-tries-curb/.
Rayner, Jay. “Just Because You Can Go Foraging Doesn’t Mean You Should | Foraging | The Guardian.” The Guardian, n.d. https://amp.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/sep/10/just-because-you-can-go-foraging-jay-rayner?fbclid=IwAR0g8TluzOo1dE4dtbkpf5_yGAIb4dtHHesobdkrK2QyPX56CXnb1PMPyaA.
Rossiter, Kelly. “WTF Is a Ramp and Why Shouldn’t I Eat Them? | TreeHugger.” TreeHugger.com, n.d. https://www.treehugger.com/green-food/wtf-is-a-ramp-and-why-shouldnt-i-eat-them.html.

“This is my wish for you: Comfort on difficult days, smiles when sadness intrudes, rainbows to follow the clouds, laughter to kiss your lips, sunsets to warm your heart, hugs when spirits sag, beauty for your eyes to see, friendships to brighten your being, faith so that you can believe, confidence for when you doubt, courage to know yourself, patience to accept the truth, Love to complete your life.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

My Wish for You …

“This is my wish for you: Comfort on difficult days, smiles when sadness intrudes, rainbows to follow the clouds, laughter to kiss your lips, sunsets to warm your heart, hugs when spirits sag, beauty for your eyes to see, friendships to brighten your being, faith so that you can believe, confidence for when you doubt, courage to know yourself, patience to accept the truth, Love to complete your life.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Social Media Overload

I remember watching this powerful TED Talk by Sherry Turkle while I was taking a religion class one summer and, lately, I have been thinking of this talk again. I am wondering if I am “done” with social media.

Recently, this started with a follow I made on my Instagram account–I know! I followed a former coworker that I got along with most of the time but she could be wildly dramatic and over the top. When she sent me a follow request, because my account is private, I remembered why I blocked her on Facebook and did the same on Instagram. What changed in those few short moments was the realization that what I initiated was a superficial connection to someone who had put me off in real life, and that I had an internet presence that was disjointed from unplugged life.

Just as Turkle describes, I remember the optimism and excitement of the 1990s surrounding the nascent internet. I taught myself HTML and coded my own websites with a program called Hippie. I remember the chat rooms, which for a socially awkward teenager like myself were a lifesaver. The internet was a place to plug in, connect to share experience and wisdom, and build better lives in our unplugged worlds.

And beyond this one request, and beyond feeling connected but alone, I have felt disconnected and lonely. I felt more connected to the world on the day my daughter was born and I took one shitty picture with my shitty camera phone which I sent MMS to my real-life friends in my phonebook then I ever felt sharing a picture on Facebook. And I never lost friends because of politics. And the people I communicated with were real people with whom that I had real connections.

So my New Year’s Resolutions for 2019 is to return to that 1999 way of interacting. Shunning a digital life for digital tools to enhance my real life and smaller but more connected social circles.

“The New Colossus” in the Age of “Shithole Countries”

Jimmy Carter was President when I was born. He was the Sunday School teacher who wore sweaters when it was chilly, carried his own bags and had no real discernible ideology other than a commitment to peace. As a child, I don’t ever remember hearing, “That might be how President [George H.W.] Bush talks but that’s not how we talk in the house!” But here we are, six Presidents and forty years later, talking about “shithole countries.” This exact story might be new but this is by no means “new” news. This is the “grab ’em by the pussy” Donald Trump who “schlonged” his way to the White House. After the 2016 election, the principal of my daughter’s school held an all-school assembly after students taunted others with chants of “Build the Wall!” Yes, my daughter heard what I never had, “That might be how the President talks but that’s not how you will.” I don’t want to focus on Trump. I want to focus on the “rapists” who come from “shithole countries.”

My maternal grandmother’s parents arrived from Avellino, Italy just before World War I. They were also undocumented. My great-grandfather who conscientiously objected to compulsory service in the Italian army, promptly registered for the American draft because America was a “home worth fighting for.” All three of his sons served during World War II, and one of them with the 82nd Airborne that liberated his hometown. Yes, “dreamers” who were born in America, grew up American and proudly served their country, their home, the United States of America.

My paternal grandfather’s mother, left her “shithole” country of origin twice. She was the daughter of Irish tenant farmers who were so desperate, they gave her to her “rich” uncle (a coal miner) and spent her childhood in Pennsylvania. When her uncle died, she returned to Ireland. She was the first in her family to learn how to read and write. She was also a gifted painter. She brought her family to America herself, convinced that her children were too promising to stay in Ireland. Her daughters married well. Her elder son became a successful business executive, as did her younger son (my grandfather) who was also a wounded war hero.

My 2nd-great-grandmother arrived in New York from Scotland as a young single woman at the age of 16.

My earliest American ancestors were Puritans and Huguenots — like those seeking freedom from persecution.

Those fleeing “shithole countries” are fleeing shitty circumstances in search of the promise the American Dream offers, a peaceful and prosperous existence for our families, and a home worth fighting for.

So, this is how I leave you with the “New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus:

Las Vegas and “The Mindless Menace of Violence”

When I saw this on the news, I was as stunned and speechless as many of you.  And before the smoke even clears, the political debate begins with wild accusations and even crazier conspiracies.

I was a freshman in college when the Columbine shooting happened.  When the Sandy Hook shooting happened, and, yes, it really did happen, all I could think about was those poor children were my daughter’s age.

Assault weapons have no place in civil society.  High capacity magazines and after-market modifications have no place in civil society.  More guns do not make us safer.  I understand the fantasy, “the hero”, the “good guy”,that will save the day.  He was at Las Vegas, and he ran away.

So, I’ll leave with you with the words of the late Robert F. Kennedy speaking after the death of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.