Showing posts from 2013

Who Stole "Halloween" from Whom?

Finally, a voice of reason: “The idea that Christians “stole” [Halloween] from pagans, therefore, seems pretty far-fetched. In fact the evidence seems to point the other way: the neopagans seem to have unintentionally “stolen” it from the Christians….”!

Lunch in the Park

I’ve started taking my lunch in Retama Park on Maple Avenue.  It’s a three minute walk from my office…and few people are ever there in the middle of day.  This park has become a delightful escape from the technology, air-conditioning, and straight lines of the office. Today, as in other days, I sit on a bench towards the center of the park, the only bench that’s actually in the shade.   A large water-oak spreads it limbs to block the harsh south Texas sun.  In the shade, the constant breezes making their way from the Gulf make the spot perfect for reading, thinking…or dozing. I’m reading a novel—Tony Hillerman ( The Walking Wind ).  Out of the corner of my eye, a person comes into view…a boy…a young boy…a BIG boy…maybe 10-years-old?  He has his basketball.  He makes his way onto the concrete courts where the netting is half torn away from the baskets.  He begins to dribble and shoot—duip, duip, duip, duip….plunk!...duip, duip, duip…. I return to my novel.  Short
A really good read for our days and times: Cheers!

Are We Born Good or Bad?

Often times in my classes, we begin to discuss those questions that deal with ‘worldview’ and ‘ultimate reality.’  The questions usually begin to surface when I suggest that our perspectives and understandings of the world are built on the foundation of our ‘presuppositions’—those underlying beliefs that we bring to every situation or question.  For instance, we have all have presuppositions about humanity.  I ask my students, “Are people, humans, basically good or basically bad?” How we answer this question will inform how we deal with others, what we expect of people, how we raise our children, etc.  If I presume humanity to be basically good, then I’m horrified at the Columbines, Auroras, Newtowns and city buses of New Delhi; if I presume humanity to be basically bad, then I’m not terribly surprised by the horrors of humanity (or at least I shouldn’t be!) But, is there another option?  After we have debated and fleshed out the good or bad perspectives in my classes, I rai


Youth is not a time of life—it is a state of mind; it is a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions, a predominance of courage over timidity…. Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years; people grow old only by deserting their ideals.  Years wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.  Worry, doubt, self-distrust, fear and despair—these are long, long years that bow the head and turn the growing spirit back to dust. Whether 70 or 16, there is in every being’s heart the unfailing childlike appetite for…the joy of the game of life.  You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope; as old as your despair.  So long as your heart receives messages of beauty, cheer, courage, grandeur and power from the earth, from man and from the Infinite, so long are you young. -copied-

Living Well…Writing Stories

The decisions we make today will define the stories that get told about us… we are all writing a story with our lives.  ~ Josh Becker That’s a sobering thought.  And, I might add, it’s a thought we should have from time to time…just to remind us that we do not live unto ourselves, that people around us are watching us and listening to us.  They tell our story and will tell our story, whether we want them to or not. Near our home in Lance aux Epines, Grenada, when I was growing up, two old women lived together in a small house.  We really never knew them.  In fact, we couldn't get to know them because every time we got close to their home, they would come out and threaten us—“Get away from here or we’ll call the police!”  We didn't even have malicious intentions…well, not in the beginning anyway.  They continued to over-react and threaten us for seemingly no reasons at all.  So, we began to push back.  And, then Halloween came around.  Of course, we had to trick-or-

Finding Home

For me, it’s a well-worn theme related to the great “who-am-I?” quest.  Where is home?  What serves at that anchor for me when I need to know that I have a past?  The older I get, the more important it is to me to have a place called home.  And, while there have been shifts and so forth through the years, “home” really has not ever changed for me.  Some of you will have read my various “Third Culture Kid” ( Pt.1 , Pt.2 , Pt.2.5 )entries in the past—the story of my moving and traveling around as a child/teenager…and the sense of homeless that has often accompanied that.  Even with all the travels and culture ‘basket-turn-over,’ the real place that is home for me is Grenada in the southern Caribbean.  I lived seven years of my life there (1975-1982).  You may be thinking, “Just seven years??”  Well, consider this:  Seven years in Grenada is almost twice as long as I have lived anywhere else…ever!  Add to that the fact that I spent the most formative years of my life (besides my

What We Do & Who We Are

In a perfect world, what we do and who we are fall into a beautiful alignment. Even in our imperfect world, there are those who find this alignment…some for a season and a few for a lifetime. My job title is “Institutional Effectiveness & Assessment Analyst.” Seeing my title, you might actually think that I am an analyst. But, you’d be mistaken. You see, in my heart, I am a teacher, an educator. A set of circumstances in the last year moved me into this position, but I’ll save that for another time. Suffice to say, what I do is not in line with who I really am. I don’t love that, but it is what it is. However, in my position as an analyst, I do have the freedom to teach a course each semester at our college. The Office of Institutional Effectiveness & Assessment ‘owns’ me for eight hours a day, but before or after those eight hours, I am free to do as I wish. And, thanks to a wonderful English department chair and a constant need for adjunct instructors, I get to teach an eve

Ever Changing…Yet Unchanging

Yes, there is something rather contradictory about such a title, but I have come to find this seeming paradox quite true.  In our culture at large, we come to value the unchanging, the steady, the constant.  I have heard someone say of another, “Oh, Mr. So-in-So…he is as steady as they come; you count on him like you can the sunrise.”  That’s a pretty high complement…one I've often wished to overhear being said about me…but probably never will.  That’s because I’m not in the ‘steady’ or ‘constant’ crowd.  I’m more likely to hear something like, “Oh, Jon…there he goes again…so fickle...chasing another dream….” I am a human…alive...and that means change.  Yet, in the midst of change, there ARE some constants.  For example, one unchanging aspect of my life is the love I have for my wife.  But, how I EXPRESS that love is ever changing.  At times, this love is expressed in a very physical way, through a closeness that I experience with no one else in this world.  At other times,


Inside my office...sitting, working...;      Outside...walking, standing, stretching, breathing deeply. Inside...clear, clean air goes unnoticed;      Outside...a hundred smells--some good, some bad, all noticed-- tickle my nose           with smells of life. Inside...walls of light grey, ceiling of white, carpet of faded, speckled purple; eyes feast on the palette of God's creation--colours of the rainbow in           a thousand hues. Inside...a steady 75 degrees;      Outside...cold mornings give way to warm afternoons which fade into cool evenings. Inside...seemingly unmoving air hums overhead incessantly, unchanging;      Outside...winds from off the Gulf rise and fall whispering in different tones as they pass through           leaves of live-oak...palm trees...the rubbery stuff of banana trees. Inside...four silent florescent tubes light my space;      Outside...the star at the center of our solar system licks my skin, sharing warmth and

What Am I Reading?

Reading, reading, reading!   Can't stop...won't stop--got to keep learning and keep the mind active. My present intellectual diet: The Next 100 Years: A Forecast of the 21st Century - George Friedman Brother Roger of Taize: Essential Writings Experiences in Translation - Umberto Eco Under the Unpredictable Plant  - Eugene Peterson I hope that you are reading also.  If you've found a really good book, share the title with us in the comments below. Hoping you all are off to a good New Year! ~Jon~

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all!  I hope that you are as happy to see this year beginning as I am.  2012 was a pretty good year…but this year will be even better! I wish you and yours the very best in the days, weeks, and months to come.  May we live well, live to the full, and live lives that impact others. More to come…!