Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mama said

With it being Mother's Day, it follows that I should write about my mom in one way or another. Since she can't read this because of the whole site secrecy and all, I figure it's only fair that I write about the influence she's had on me. Because my allergies, something she also passed along, are killing me tonight, I'm going to limit my list to four qualities. Suffice it to say that the list surely would be longer than this.

1. She encouraged my interest in books, music, and the arts in general.

In college my mom studied music before switching to education. Her enthusiasm for listening to and playing music, as well as reading books and fostering other arts-related interests, probably rubbed off the strongest on me, her eldest child.

2. She taught me to apply critical thinking to what I encounter.

This kind of goes along with the interest in the humanities. Since she had some background studying music and books, they were treated as things to be consumed and analyzed. I had her as a long term substitute teacher in fifth grade, and I can remember asking if she'd assign book reports because I wanted to do them. I don't know that she always provided the best examples. I recall watching a video about hidden messages in rock music that someone loaned her, but I think the value taken even from that is to be a critical consumer of what one sees, hears, and reads.

3. She taught me to be curious and have an open mind.

My mom entered seminary around the same time that I was in college. It was interesting to see how the experience broadened her opinions while my views of the world were also transforming. In a sense I suppose it made it safer for me to become more liberal because she was shifting that way too. While both of my parents come from conservative backgrounds and raised us the same way, I never felt they were overly strict or politically ideological. To bring my dad into the equation for a moment, it has been exciting for me to see how intellectual openness and curiosity has allowed both of them to examine and adapt their views still today rather than clinging exclusively to what they were taught as kids.

4. She showed me how to be strong in the face of adversity.

As she embarked on a new career in ministry, my mom often ran into her share of resistance from congregations that were unwilling to accept a female pastor. This seemed patently absurd to me, especially when people would quote chapter and verse from Scripture to bolster their arguments against her. As I know she runs into some pushback even today, such attitudes continue to boggle my mind. Nevertheless, her persistence and success are a strong reminder to fight for what you want and believe to be right even when--perhaps especially when--rejections of you aren't based on anything rational.

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