© 2008 -- 2011 the Grandpa at The Word Mechanic. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

More Words I Like

My first nominee for words I like is "Kindness Bandit." You should drop by and check it out.

When S and I lived in Birmingham, we joined the only Unitarian Universalist church in town. It wasn't S's but it was my first time living in the south, and finding the UU community was like finding a safe place while learning a new culture. Now Birmingham is a good place to live. The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is a marvelous tribute to the people who struggled and are still struggling for justice and for treating people the way they should be treated. You get a real sense of what happened there throughout the city's history, not just during the fifties and sixties. And there are fabulous (and some not so fabulous) galleries spread throughout the city and multiple arts festivals with some really great artists and juried shows throughout the year.

But there are things that aren't so great. The company that S was going to work for moved us, and the realtor was chosen by the relocation company. We only had a few days to be there and find a house and moving down from New Jersey we were impressed by two things. The first was the size house we could buy for the money we had, and the second was how integrated the neighborhoods are -- at least the neighborhoods in the price range we were exploring. So at lunch on the second day, I asked about how race relations had evolved, given Birminham's history. The realtor's response was there really is no problem and things were never the way they were portrayed by the media. She said things were good and there wasn't any tension now. Then she added, "There are issues. But I don't understand what they have to complain about. They own all of downtown." We let the remark go -- I know, we shouldn't have. We did, though, because we needed to find a house and didn't have time to find another realtor. But we moved off the subject of race. Then the realtor saw a friend whom she invited over to the table and introduced us to. The very first question he asked us was what church we belonged too. And the next thing he did was invite us to attend his church when we came back to town.

There are two questions you hear all the time in certain circles in places like Birmingham: "Who's your mother?" ("mama" actually) and "What church do you belong to?" Now that second question gets asked a lot of different ways, and sometimes kids who don't go to church get targeted by their classmates. It's almost like a contest to see which classmate can get the unchurched kid to join his or her church.

Which brings me to the second set of words I like. We joined the UU church and then were invited to a reception for new members hosted by the church board. At one point we were all out on the patio of a beautiful home of an artist who belonged to the congregation, and the president of the board suggested we take turns introducing ourselves and say something about how we came to be a UU. As we took turns, a board member gave her name and talked very briefly about her religious upbringing and her growing away from the church. Then she explained how she had had happened to join the Birmingham UU community:

"I became a UU," she said, "because I got tired of telling people I home churched my kids."


  1. Actually, Hubby, they didn't ask, "where do you go to church. .." they asked, "Where do you church?" Church was a verb.

    :) S

  2. Ahh the bible belt, I know what you mean. I am asked all the time what church I attend. When I tell them the great outdoors, I get some of the strangest looks.

    "I home church the kids" Now that is a good one!

  3. My father is a pastor. I think that brings new meaning to the term "home church."

  4. Loved this post, Grandpa. I've been traveling around your very plentiful site, enjoying all of your observations.

    I've been looking for some thoughtful people to help me with a small project. I thought you might be a good choice. This account of your values clinches it.

    I'm teaching a social justice class using 5 popular culture films and I'm seeking suggestions for discussion questions. Hope you'll come over and comment with a few during the next five days. The first post is at http://halfirishrover.blogspot.com/2009/01/first-of-five-days-of-my-leeching-off.html

    Oh, and please tell S and your friends that they're welcome too! :)