On Teaching (and Activism)

When I was a kid, the first day of class was all about the school supplies. Saying goodbye to summer seemed less dreadful with a fresh box of Crayola crayons and a Trapper Keeper in my backpack. Throughout my days as a student, this excitement of the first day of class was always a constant in my life. When I was in high school and too old to buy crayons, (ok, that’s a lie, I still bought crayons) there was the excitement over AP classes or meeting new friends. In college and grad school I couldn’t wait to get see the syllabus on the first day and learn what tasks and readings would fill my semester. With the exception of a few math classes I’d like to forget, I’ve always loved being a learner.

Man of Steel: Apocalyptic Eco-Justice?

When it comes to superhero allegiance, our house sides with the Justice League. From the time my partner was given a Superman cape as a 5-year-old, he has always been a big fan. I bought him a Superman tattoo for Christmas the first year we were married. Ten years later when our daughter was born, we decorated her nursery with Wonder Woman posters and paraphernalia. We wanted her to look up from her crib and see a character created as a symbol against Patriarchy — a strong woman who (mostly) used reason rather than violence to bring about justice. Just to be sure the image was safe, we skipped the weak 1960s incarnation of Wonder Woman as Diana Prince working in a clothing boutique!

Bless All the Dear Children

At the Christmas carol and candlelight service our family goes to each year, I had a hard time singing “Away in a Manger.” The very mention of children, the image of a baby in a manger, reminded me of Newtown. The third verse of the song was where I had to stop singing:

Bless all the dear children in thy tender care, and fit us for heaven to live with thee there.

Climate Change and Setting the World on Fire

It was Earth Day, 1988. I was in my fifth grade “Earth Science” class, a place where one might expect to talk about the importance of caring for the earth. But this was not what we were talking about that day. At least, we weren’t talking about it until one student asked our teacher about the hole in the ozone layer and whether or not she should stop using hairspray. Our science teacher replied by saying that hairspray wasn’t a problem because the end of the world was coming and the whole earth would be consumed by fire anyway.

2 Samuel 11:1-15: The Story of Patriarchy and HIV/AIDS

This week, more than 20,000 people are meeting in our nation’s capital for the 2012 International AIDS Conference. Activists, doctors, people living with HIV and AIDS, development workers, theologians, social scientists and all kinds of folks are currently attending this event.

In the 31 years since the discovery of HIV and AIDS, nearly 30 million people have died from the virus with 34 million peoplecurrently living with the disease. The epidemic is at its worst in sub-Saharan Africa, and women are affected the most. In fact, 59% of people living with HIV and AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa are women.

Statistics like these are mind-numbing. Though necessary, they can nearly cripple our response as they point to the inefficacy of our actions. This is why, when I teach or write on HIV and AIDS, I prefer to tell stories. And as people of faith, we need stories, both ancient and new, to help us navigate our response to social issues such as HIV and AIDS.

Chicken Nuggets and Family Values

I have one fast food weakness — an eight-pack of chicken nuggets in a white and red box. I could go years and never crave a fast food burger, but I’ll admit I have a deep kinship with Chick-fil-A’s version of fast food. As a kid growing up (Christian) in the south, Chick-fil-A has always been part of the good food I loved. They donated free sandwich coupons to our church fundraisers, and as a teenager I attended community prayer breakfasts that met at our local Chick-fil-A. True story: I’ve even dressed as a cow to get free food.