Thoughts on Boston…

I have a week vacation from student teaching and I expected to spend this afternoon applying for teaching jobs. With the idea that writing one’s thoughts can be therapeutic for author and reader alike I offer some thoughts about today.

Patriots day is arguably the best weekend of the year to be a resident of Massachusetts. Celebrating the anniversary of the battles of Lexington and Concord and the start of the Revolutionary War, it is a great weekend filled with events, patriotism and fun. It is like a version of July 4th specifically for Boston. Monday is the cap off with a mid-morning Red Sox game and of course the Boston Marathon.

Most people might think of a marathon as fairly unexciting for anyone who is not running in it or knows someone who does. Growing up near Boston though this event is the talk of the town. It is the oldest continuously run marathon in the world. It is televised from start to finish on local TV. Terms like Hopkinton, heartbreak hill, Wellesley, and Boylston St. are well known markers and subjects of conversation. I always watched it when I moved back here in middle school. When I became a runner in high school, I dreamed of running it officially. Many of my high school friends ran it as unqualified “bandits.” My dad had run it a number of times when he was younger. Boston loves its marathon.

To qualify you have to run an entire other marathon in a fairly competitive time based on your age and gender. In 2009 I qualified and successfully ran in the Boston marathon. Friends and family were at various points on the course. My mother and her best friend were in the bleachers at the finish exactly where today, 4 years later, the first explosion ripped through.

My finishing time would have me safely on the way home with my mom at that point but that gives me little comfort for the pain and destruction wrought today. I hate that this happened. I hate that it destroyed such a wonderful celebration of this city and our country.

I ran a road race today in Lexington. I did warm up strides on the green where the “shot heard round the world” occurred. I ate ice cream and relaxed in the beautiful sun off main street afterwards. And then I got in my car, turned on the radio and heard that two explosions had occurred.

I have heard back from as many family and friends as I can figure might have been there and all are safe. Of course some people are not. Tonight we will pray for them, think of them and grieve for them. But no matter how awful today has turned out I still love this weekend and this marathon and all it represents. May we be given peace in these thoughts at least.

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A Disconnect

Anyone on Facebook last week surely noticed as profile pictures changed at a rapid rate to the red-tinged logo of the Human Rights Campaign. I was actually confused at first thinking that perhaps this was an anti-gay marriage move simply by virtue of the color motif. In fact it was in support of gay marriage, provoked by the Supreme Court hearing arguments on two cases related to the issue. This phenomenon got me thinking (and reading) about many of the issues surrounding this subject. I find one argument put forth by anti-gay marriage folks to be particularly striking as a teacher and a Christian and this is what I address here.

The argument relates to how the legalization of gay marriage will effect education. Conservative people (mostly Christians with a background similar to my own) are recognizing how the existence of gay people is changing and will continue to change how homosexuality is addressed and considered in the classroom. The clearest word I can use to describe their worries is “indoctrination.” That is, children will suffer indoctrination at ever younger ages about sexuality and its proper role in society. Homosexuality will be (and now is in many places) normalized and along with it, gay marriage.

This concern highlights a massive disconnect that many conservative people and Christians are facing with the rest of society. What they see as indoctrination is seen as fairness and justice to an ever growing majority of society. If Conservatives and Christians do not figure out how to properly process this disconnect quickly I see very little good coming from it.

Homosexuality needs to be taught and accepted in schools not to indoctrinate children but because it exists at the very core of many of the children that in only a few short months I will be professionally responsible to teach. Some students are gay. Some students have same-sex parents. Am I supposed to ignore, separate or disparage their existence in the classroom because other students (or their parents) find them to be morally offensive? It would be unethical, unjust and (for me personally) unconscionable to do so. For good measure it would be unconstitutional and illegal as well.

This ultimately is not a question about the Bible, or sex, or even morality. It is about what is right and just. It pains me to say it but the conservative Christian who cries “indoctrination!” is on the wrong side of this argument. Christian leaders and pastors need to take a step back and seriously consider these issues again before spouting off ever more violently incorrect and hurtful rhetoric.

Some might read this and ask loudly, “But what about OUR children?” All I can say to that is, “Indeed, what about them?”