The Top 3 Reasons Christians Should Study Spanish

Peruvian children

“If you speak to people in words they don’t understand, how will they know what you are saying? You might as well be talking into empty space.” 1 Corinthians 14:9 (NLT)

If you’re looking for motivation to study Spanish, there are numerous top 10 lists out there to help you out (here, here, or here for example) Most of them hit the usual points: it’s good for your career; it opens up travel opportunities; studying a second language makes you smarter. All of these are true, and are good reasons to take up Spanish. However, as Christians, there are three more important motivations for us to spend time learning a language integral to the Western Hemisphere. (These are applicable to learning any foreign language, but as a Latin Americanist, I’m obviously a bit biased.)

  1. Seeing the image of God in others: We all want to be respected and valued, but how often to you think about your monolingualism as disrespecting or devaluing someone else? You don’t do it out of hate or mean-spiritedness. You just don’t speak Spanish (or French, or Dutch, or…). Yet, the common refrain “but everyone speaks English” communicates a great deal to those who have to accommodate themselves to our language. Taking the time to learn the language such a large portion of our country speaks, (13% given the latest Census data, and it rises to 37% here in Houston), communicates that we value those members of our community as they are, and that their inherent worth is not dependent on what language they speak. Leviticus 19:34 (NRSV) speaks directly to us today in this regard: “The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself… .” Whether alien or citizen, we are to love those living alongside us, and treat them with dignity. A first step is learning their language.

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The Revenant: A Savage Grace

campfire

As a child I felt the call of the wild.  Jack London’s book sat on my bedroom bookshelf and every so often I would take and read.  Or rather, I would drink it in, as I did all of my favorite books, living moment by moment Buck’s eerie transformation from favored pet in sunny Santa Clara to wolf fiend of the Arctic.  Why did I love the tale?  Its cruelty held no charms for me, but its stark beauty captivated me.

One day my friends and I found a small, hurt animal – mouse, bird, I no longer remember what.  When one girl wanted to rescue it I spoke frostily of the law of club and fang until she protested, “Well . . . jeepers!”  That gentle “jeepers” sank its fangs into my soul.  Why would a Christian girl love The Call of the Wild? I decided I had overdosed on wolfish creatures (“They were savages, all of them . . . ”) and read London no more.

This past Christmastide I heard an NPR review of Alejandro Iñárritu’s The Revenant and knew that I had to see it.  I had a professional motive, besides.  As a history professor specializing in the early nineteenth century, I did not want to be mauled by a student who had seen this film when I had not.  So, one fine Friday before the spring semester hit, I took myself to see The Revenant. Continue reading

Silver Stars: An Epiphany Story

Xmas Star 2015

There is a street I pass on my daily commute called Tanglewilde.  I’ve never driven down it, but the name pretty well describes my home life for the past half-year.

Things got dicey on Memorial Day when the rain came down in such torrents that the street in front of my house became a river.  Around midnight I noticed a shallow puddle spreading across my living room floor from under the baseboard. I stayed up most of the night, sponge in hand, defending my house from water intrusion.  I thanked my lucky stars that I had decided to purchase flood insurance the previous summer. Continue reading

Choosing Love Over Fear: U2 in Paris

 

Now that the Fall Semester is over, I finally got a chance to watch the return of U2 to Paris after their concerts were cancelled in the aftermath of the terrible, November terrorist attacks.

All…I…can…say…is…WOW!

 

Peace4Paris.svgAs you know, I earlier took issue with the boys from Dublin because of the automatic Songs of Innocence music download that went onto everyone’s Apple devices and  their apology.

After watching this concert, I admit “mea culpa”. This may be the best concert I have seen. Ever.

Bono summed it up perfectly at the beginning of the HBO broadcast: “Every night we go on stage there is a feeling of anticipation. But, this night, this night is different. There’s a time to cry. There’s a time to pray. There’s a time to shout. This night we choose love over fear.” In the following 2 sets and an encore completed in over 2+ hours, U2 illustrated what love over fear really looks like. Continue reading