Public displays of faith

by Honolulu Mother

This 538 article discussed an interesting survey of what public or shared displays of faith make nonbelievers uncomfortable, versus what public or shared displays of faith believers *expect* to make nonbelievers uncomfortable.  Sometimes the differences are striking:

libresco-publicprayer-2

Then again, perhaps the true explanation is that for each category, the survey only questioned those believers who regularly engage in a given act — in other words, only the approximately 1/3 of believers surveyed who routinely ask people to pray with them were asked to predict nonbelievers’ comfort level with the request. Perhaps the believers who expect nonbelievers to be made uncomfortable by such a request are among the 2/3 who don’t regularly ask people to pray with them!

Do you see ways in which religious believers and nonbelievers misunderstand one another? And is that necessarily a bad thing?

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245 thoughts on “Public displays of faith

  1. I am pretty uncomfortable with public displays of faith. But this is mostly directed towards evangelical Christians who have a long history of trying to convert. My culture doesn’t believe in conversion so I’m still baffled by this idea of ‘my religion is the only one and everyone should follow it’

  2. It reminds me of when I worked in the deep south and they prayed before meetings. It wasn’t so much the display of faith but the presumption to ask God’s help to do something they can easily could do and they and in fact are paid to do.

  3. I see misunderstandings even among believers. I am uncomfortable with let’s pray together if it is people I don’t know well. As a specific example, my daughter’s middle school cheer coach emailed the parents to ask if we were okay with her leading the girls in prayer before the game. She is much more conservative religiously than me, but did not want to make my daughter stand out so I did not reply. I grew up in Catholic school- we prayed st the start of class (my favorite: Lord, you know how much each of these students has prepared. We pray that each gets exactly what he deserves. Struck fear in my heart!), and before sporting events. I stood with the girls during the prayer, and she prayed that God would bless them with a victory. So, whatever – that works for her. But I feel passionately that you do not pray for selfish things, and that is something not all that easy to make kids understand. So on the drive home from the game, I have to talk to my daughter about how “in our house, we don’t believe that God picks favorites in middle school football games. And when you win, it doesn’t mean God likes you better, and when you lose, He does not like you less”. So in my opinion, unless you share very specific beliefs, it is better not to ask those outside your family or church to pray together. I don’t want to disrespect anyone else’s beliefs, but I will reiterate to my kids what the adults in our house believe and what we’d like them to think about.

    In general, Houston is so multi-cultural that info not encounter this much. My SIL is Buddhist, and my brother leans closer to Buddhist than Catholic now. So at family gatherings, those who want to go to Mass go, and those who don’t stay home and meet us at a restaurant later. I am actually less uncomfortable at public religious displays from non-Christian faiths because I am interested to learn. Public displays from Christian faiths make me aware of how different beliefs can be under the Christian umbrella.

  4. The only time I have heard a request/call to prayer is in church. NEVER in a school or public setting. Thus I bless the Northeast. :)

  5. I am not comfortable with attempts at conversion, but I don’t mind the praying part. I try to take it for the good will in which I believe it is intended. When my son was in the hospital, the spouse of a family member went to her church and lit a candle for him daily for almost 3 months. I found it remarkable and a lovely thing even though we are not the same religion.

  6. I’ve been asked to pray a few times at work with patients. It makes me very uncomfortable, but I realize that it is not the right time to share my beliefs (or lack thereof) or educate the masses on why they shouldn’t make assumptions about others. I hold hands, bow head, and move on as quickly as is kind.

    It does make me realize how sheltered some people’s world are that they think that any ‘good’ person would like to hold hands and beseech their god.

  7. I spent many years working among conservative religious people in the South, and I never encountered a prayer during company time there. When I worked for a NY company our big conferences often had a prayer and a pledge of allegiance during opening and closing.

    I can see where asking others to pray with you would make them uncomfortable. I think the only time I’ve encountered that is when I’ve been asked to join in prayer before a meal.

    Although I grew up VERY Catholic, now I find the ashes on foreheads on Ash Wednesday to be a little jarring.

  8. I am non-religious. I expect when I go with DW/family to church, I will be asked to pray, so I actu respectfully. At the kids’ Catholic elementary and not just Catholic but Jesuit HS, all meetings begin with a prayer. That’s just how it is, and I respect that.

    But I’m certainly not the type to embrace “we’ll say a prayer for you” upon hearing e.g. bad news healthwise for someone. Others want to pray for a speedy recovery, fine. I’ll think good thoughts, and I wish everyone well, but praying is not something I do.

  9. DH and I both grew up Catholic but prayer wasn’t really part of my growing up so my natural inclination is to be uncomfortable with public displays of prayer. But we live in the south and we have several dear friends who are very Christian so when they come to our house we say grace with them before meals, etc. and try not to be uncomfortable about it. I do find praying at work crosses the line and that most definitely happened at my old job.

    My two younger kids are going to a church based preschool so they go to chapel every week. DH and I aren’t particularly religious but I think it’s probably a good thing that they’re being exposed to it a bit. In prepping my DS before his first chapel I was trying to explain who God was and he looked at me very seriously and said “so God is like Mufasa?” (in the Lion King). Yup, exactly.

  10. Is that a 538 write up or Honolulu’s approximation of it? I have no problem with someone praying in public. But asking me to pray with them is an entirely different matter. The two should not be conflated the way they are in that description.Praying or doing whatever your thing is, where ever you are is fine. But trying to coerce someone else to join you is not acceptable.

  11. I grew up with a multitude of faiths and many of them were non attendees at their houses of worship. At school prayer was more like a two minute silence deal. If you were invited to a friend’s house for a festival related to a different religion you dressed up, attended, ate the sweets, participated in the cultural aspects and neatly side stepped the more religious aspect. And you wished them for whatever festival it was.
    In the U.S. at work or outside church/church institutions there has been no prayer.
    I don’t think I have felt or been pressurized. I have my beliefs and whether people call upon me to pray or not I am who I am and that’s not going to change.

  12. MBT just summed up why I’m uncomfortable with group prayer outside of church. Its the prayers that God will bless a selfish request that drive me crazy. I really dislike the Hoffman’s on Gold Rush because of their prayers to bless them with gold. Prayers to keep them safe I’m okay with.

    I’m not one to ask people to pray, but I will admit recently asking my extremely Catholic friend to say some prayers for another friend of mine who was very sick and almost died due to a freak infection.

  13. I’m Catholic, my family is Catholic, we go to church and are raising the kids Catholic.
    I am very uncomfortable with the public prayers at sporting events. Asking someone else to pray with you without knowing that person very well and having some idea that you have been invited into their religious life is presumptuous.

    Like MBT,

    “in our house, we don’t believe that God picks favorites in middle school football games. And when you win, it doesn’t mean God likes you better, and when you lose, He does not like you less”.

    We have had this sort of conversation on the way home from games.

    My son had a Little League coach who had a public prayer with the kids before and after games. I didn’t like it, but I didn’t feel there was anything I could do with repercussions to my son. I don’t understand the mindset that thinks that there is only one path to God, and that any person actually knows what the one right path is.

    For some reason, I find that asking for a blessing before a meal is different.

  14. Growing up, some (public school) teams had a group prayer before the meet/game. Always hated that.

    There are a few Jewish holidays where men carrying palm fronds will come up to me and ask if I am Jewish. When I politely say no, they move on. I’ve never figured out exactly what they’re doing.

    On the subway, you will see all sorts of people reading their book of faith or praying quietly to themselves. You’ll also get the occasional loud speaker trying to convince the folks in the subway car to accept Jesus.

    At my kids public school, some parents wanted to exchange Christmas gifts and didn’t really understand why others did not want the class to participate. The class had a book exchange instead, but those who wanted to celebrate Christmas still had their feathers ruffled.

    The many seemingly random days off of public school due to religious holidays have begun to irk me, mostly because its a PITA to arrange childcare. The kids love it of course.

    I don’t mind the usual public displays of religion, and am not bothered by someone asking me to join. I am bothered when the person does not take no for an answer.

  15. we don’t believe that God picks favorites in middle school football games.

    Is there any doctrinal foundation for such beliefs?

  16. On FB I recently saw a picture of the SE coast of the US with a “hand of God” next to it, indicating God had saved it from Hurricane Matthew. In the meantime, over 800 people in Haiti died from that storm. People were commenting on how the storm would have been so much worse, save the grace of God. I found the post and mindset behind it shameful.

  17. Yes I also have a big problem with the i won this game so god must love me scenario. I have no problem with you individually praying for whatever you want but I have a problem when you want the whole group to do so.

    And I love the holidays-because i like pretty decorations and sparkly lights. But I get really upset when people insist on forcing Merry christmas down people’s throats. I think a lot of it is that there are some people who truly believe that their way is the only way and it’s mind boggling that people might feel differently.

  18. “Its the prayers that God will bless a selfish request that drive me crazy.”

    Agreed. I’m an atheist but I love the idea of God with a desk and several in boxes with different labels:”Football Games”, “Wanting Money”, “Math Tests” and “Stuff that Actually Matters.”

    @Kerri – I agree with you. I’m always amazed at how much God seems to favor the rich and caucasian amongst us. He’s gotta be a white guy.

  19. Rhett, the whole old testament is about God having favorites, giving them the victory while smiting the others.

  20. I feel comfortable in settings as Fred describes where you are in a religious setting – a place of worship, a ceremony that is either religious or has a religious component, or at a school or other activity that is run by or sponsored by a religious organization. It is a place to be respectful regardless of whether our beliefs align. I also feel comfortable in secular settings where a prayer is offered that does not reference a specific diety or when it does reference a specific diety it is part of an intentional learning experience. An example of the latter was a program at the library about Diwali and included an example of prayers offered at that time.

    I am not uncomfortable or offended if other people show their support or compassion for me or my family by praying for us or partaking in a religious practice they believe in.

    I feel most uncomfortable in settings that are not religious AND where people expect that the only religion practiced by the people in attendance is Christianity AND the diety prayed to is Jesus. i am very uncomfortable when there is discussion that prayers to any other diety but Jesus cannot be participated in (meaning they can’t even sit/stand in silence) by Christians, but those of other religions are expected to be respectful while Christians pray.

  21. Rhett, the whole old testament is about God having favorites, giving them the victory while smiting the others.

    But life and death battles deciding the fate of nations, right?

  22. Austin, I noticed that this survey focuses exclusively on Christians. I find that odd. Many of the things that non-believers are OK with that Christians found problematic are things that Evangelicals don’t do.

    Rhett, sports writ big.

  23. I find interesting the survey’s divide between Christian (Protestant and Catholic) and atheist/agnostic, ignoring practitioners of other religions. Presumably a higher proportion of the Christians would understand that asking a practicing member of another religion to pray with them, Jew, Muslim, Witness, Hindu, etc. would make them uncomfortable. Or maybe not. And that those who have a defined religious identity might actually be offended by the typical invitation to Christian prayer, even watered down Christian prayer without express reference to the Savior, or the requirement in a public meeting to bow heads at someone else’s idea of nondenominational spoken prayer, but still comfortable with and even happy to offer their own silent devotion in a civic “moment of silence”. Allowing a devout family with children to say grace before a meal in your home is a courtesy to your guests, one which we always circumvented doctrinally by having the table hold hands and sing the first verse of the Disney Johnny Appleseed song, Oh the Lord is good to me.

    I always found it an excess display of public piety to bow one’s head and fold hands at a restaurant meal as someone at the table reaches for the bread basket. You can say grace silently with your eyes open and hands in your lap before taking your first bite. And believe me, I reserve my greatest disdain for no-touch fundamentalist Jewish men who believe that their free exercise of religion means that the airline must kick a woman out of her seat on a plane (and the airlines do it).

  24. @kerri there was a west wing episode that had a scene about this! Where people were talking about thanking god for the americans being safe but the africans being killed were an afterthought.

  25. The one thing I appreciate about my DD’s Catholic High School is that the prayers are more for things like guiding them to make good decisions, for having good sportsmanship, for protecting all the players (not just their team) from injury versus a selfish outcome.

  26. Working at a Catholic institution, I have had to get used to prayers before meetings. I even had to lead one once. At least Catholic academic prayers are fairly bland and innocuous.

    What I hate is when something bad has happened in my life, and people say “I’ll pray for you”. No. Please don’t.

  27. Prayer is a big part of my life but I would never ask a stranger to join me in prayer. When evangelical Christians do so, I respect the intention even as I wonder how a non Christian would reAl

  28. CoC said “Although I grew up VERY Catholic, now I find the ashes on foreheads on Ash Wednesday to be a little jarring.”

    I largely grew up in places that didn’t have many Catholics, at least not many practicing Catholics. I had never seen the ashes until I moved to the Northeast for college. I remember being very intrigued.

    I think there was exactly one Jewish kid in my graduating class, so that was another group I had to get used to. My freshman year roommate was Jewish from the Carribean. I went to Rosh Hashanah service with her to see what it was like,. I remember asking her what page we were on since the service book was in Hebrew, and she whispered back that she had no idea, that at home all the services were in Portuguese!!

  29. If I think it would be appreciated, I do tell those facing life challenges that I will pray for them. I have never had anyone object. Going through cancer treatment, I often found myself talking with patients much worse off than I.

    Anyone who watched Last Chance U — amazing how the coach led the team in an Our Father at practices that was barely understandable. At a public college.

  30. I live in an area with a lot of evangelical Christians. I often hear “God is good!” as a response to some good news, which makes me crazy. For example, when a neighbor tested cancer-free, she received endless “God is good!” responses to her news. But, you’d never hear “God is awful!” if the news goes the other way.

  31. I have no problem with certain public displays of religion like ash on forehead, or the Sikh turban. But at the same time, I find wearing of hijab SNL sign of subjugation, whether the women has willingly embraced that subjugation or not under whatever guise.
    I detest evangelicals and when I see people praying at their table in restaurants, I get vary because usually such people are evangelical. Like meme, I do pray before a meal but silently and with my eyes open so no one knows it.
    When greeted with merry Christmas, I reply with Happy holiday! I do not have a problem with people saying merry Christmas because after all Christianity is the dominant religion and I don’t expect people to curb their enthusiasm about their holiday by worrying about whet the person hey are greeting is Christian or not.

    I would definitely have a problem with public meetings or games being led with a prayer. So far at law firms, I have not encountered prayers before a meeting. My kid does not go to school yet or play in a sport, so we haven’t had a chance to see if indeed there would be a prayer before a game etc.

    Right now I have mixed feelings about town sponsored Santa ride through the neighborhood.

  32. I have read about but never seen the folks from Chabad asking people on the street whom they think might be Jewish whether they would like to more fully practice their faith. How do they know whom to approach?

  33. In my family of atheists I think it’s interesting how the different generations handle this. My parents, who are atheists will even cross themselves and go along with the prayer in order to not “out themselves” as atheists. I will bow my head and try not to stand out but I remain silent and don’t cross myself. My adult kids don’t encounter this much. But they just stand there, without the bowing of heads, and later they will say that it irritated them.

  34. What about stepping forward to allow others to practice their faith? One of the teams my kids were on, and that I drove for, had contests on Fridays during Lent that extended late into the night so that we generally stopped for a meal on the way home. Catholics refrain from eating meat on Fridays during Lent. About half the team was Catholic or Cathlicish. I.e. I don’t know how observant the teenagers were about keeping Lent, nor would I expect any of them to tell me. The coach was a member of a Christian denomination with different traditions.

    I would ask that we could stop someplace with a vegetarian option, but it seemed odd to have to do this. At times I would think, really, half the team is Hispanic, we live in an area that has some kids from an East Indian background, how hard is a little cultural literacy to understand that stopping someplace with a vegetarian alternative avoids a lot of awkwardness?

  35. Hoosier, I have the same reaction. As a person striving to live her faith, my challenge is to see ALL that happens to me or to others as coming from God. Being able to react as did Job to tragedy is my goal. Not there yet for sure. I know too many people who have gotten the bad scan or lost a child, and they are always on my mind when I hear praise for God when people get good news.

  36. “I have read about but never seen the folks from Chabad asking people on the street whom they think might be Jewish whether they would like to more fully practice their faith. How do they know whom to approach?”

    They seem to approach mostly Caucasian women. In my neighborhood, there’s a decent probability that a Caucasian woman walking down the street is Jewish.

  37. I have decided to interpret the God is great stuff/asking for stuff from God as those people acknowledging grace as opposed to some sort of favoritism by God. It makes me tolerate religious people who say that kind of stuff. And I know they just say it as a coping mechanism because it is very hard to acknowledge that we don’t have that much control to stop the bad stuff.

  38. Houston, I agree! I had a medical Mis-diagnosis that had me worried. The doctor followed up with the lab and determined that it was an error. I told my friend, and she exclaimed “it’s a miracle!” No, it’s s correction of an error.

    On people who insist their way is the one true way – I do secretly wish to see a lightning bolt come down and put an end to that talk.

  39. They make a good guess based on appearance, or if the target is in a group how expressively they are talking, etc. They, like other proselytizers, are not afraid of rejection or being wrong or giving offense. I am only half Jewish, but I get still get people who care about such things asking me if I am from New York or other well known placeholders for a direct question after a couple of minutes of conversation. On my lily white cruise last month when I was talking with an elderly blue blood seven sisters grad I mentioned I was from another one of the colleges, and she said oh, a nerd. She was not just talking about my intellect but confirming my bloodline.

  40. Kate, that is a very generous response that gives the folks in question the benefit of the doubt. Most people are not trying to offend when they pray in public or make assumptions about others — not everyone has had the opportunity to encounter religious diversity.

  41. I will saying seeing a women in a full burka at the playground was new for me. I felt sorry for her, since it did seem to isolate her. Other parents and caregivers did not approach her in casual conversation. Her kids played with the other kids in the nearby sandbox. Some of her family or friends (similarly dressed) soon joined her and they seemed like any other group of friends.

    All in all not so different from other social barriers – not speaking the same language, hanging with a group of only your race/ethnicity.

  42. “I have read about but never seen the folks from Chabad asking people on the street whom they think might be Jewish whether they would like to more fully practice their faith. How do they know whom to approach?”

    One of the things I love about this blog is exposure to other ways of life. I would never have dreamed such a thing occurred.

  43. I was surprised at all the posts against prayer, and then I remembered the demographic. As MBT mentioned, our city is fairly multicultural, so there is not as much public prayer here as when I grew up.

    That said, I will pray with anyone, and I think that if someone says a prayer for me, it’s a good thing. It means that they care. I am of a minority religion, but I will happily sit through a church service, and find them to be peaceful.

    There are 2 Witnesses who come around every Saturday morning. I know them by name and we have wonderful conversations. I read the literature and find it interesting.

    The only part of religion I don’t like are the coercive aspects. If you can’t treat me equally because I’m of a different religion, that’s bad.

  44. Hmm, I don’t recall seeing men approached. And it is only Jewish men asking approaching women. If anyone can explain what this is all about, I’d love to know.

  45. Being able to react as did Job to tragedy is my goal.

    And the Lord spake and his voice thundered: “Must I who created heaven and earth explain my ways to thee? What hath thou created that thou doth dare question me?”
    “That’s no answer,” Job said. “And for someone who’s supposed to be omnipotent, let me tell you, ‘tabernacle’ has only one l.”

    (Without Feathers – Woody Allen)

  46. “The Last Jews in Berlin” described how Jews managed to live underground during the war. Those who didn’t look Jewish to non-Jews had an easier time but even some of them were betrayed by their fellow Jews who were spying for the Gestapo.

  47. Dell, you would not like my campus because there are women in hijab all over the place. I don’t mind at all. Most of these women are smart, capable and comfortable with themselves.

    What is your feeling when you see ultra Orthodox women who wear the wig and the extremely ugly conservative clothing? In the neighborhood where I work, they are pretty common, although not as common as across the river in Rockland County.

  48. “What about stepping forward to allow others to practice their faith? One of the teams my kids were on, and that I drove for, had contests on Fridays during Lent that extended late into the night so that we generally stopped for a meal on the way home. Catholics refrain from eating meat on Fridays during Lent. About half the team was Catholic or Cathlicish. I.e. I don’t know how observant the teenagers were about keeping Lent, nor would I expect any of them to tell me. The coach was a member of a Christian denomination with different traditions.

    I would ask that we could stop someplace with a vegetarian option, but it seemed odd to have to do this. At times I would think, really, half the team is Hispanic, we live in an area that has some kids from an East Indian background, how hard is a little cultural literacy to understand that stopping someplace with a vegetarian alternative avoids a lot of awkwardness?”

    This is why pizza is the perfect food.

  49. “I always found it an excess display of public piety to bow one’s head and fold hands at a restaurant meal as someone at the table reaches for the bread basket.”

    One time at a family lunch (with relatives of my DH, whom some of us didn’t know well), one of the other guys asked my DH if he would lead us all in saying grace. Not sure if DH has ever said grace before meals in private or public. DH was most taken aback. He told the guy, that if the guy wanted to, *he* could lead the big table in prayer. And mind you herding that table was not easy with most people chatting, drinking, kids distracted etc.
    I have to tell you my cousin’s version of grace – God give plenty, my belly is empty.

  50. I really strive not to take offense at most things and would never be offended if someone asked to pray for me, I see it as a nice gesture. Grace at dinner is really fine and I think the sentiment is nice even though it’s not something our family does. We’ve even been asked to go to church with other people and just politely declined. Church is just a regular part of life here (in fact I’m often picking DD up from sleepovers early on Sunday so the family can go to church) and so people assume you go.

  51. Folks who know me, know that I am active in my church and that every Sunday, my ass is bolted to a pew for an hour of solace and reflection. I, in fact, do pray. But I truly believe my religion is a matter among three “people” only: my God, my kid and me. That’s it. I won’t even discuss what I believe with my pastors.

  52. Atlanta, I’m surprised you don’t invites. When we moved to S Ga and to the ARD panhandle, people often asked “where do you go to church?) as one of those very i teoductory questions, al a “what kind of work does you do?” “do you have kids?” etc. When I said we didn’t, the answer was almost always an invite to theirs. Some people followed up a couple times. That was fine with me, because no one tried to cthe nvm nice us. It was, as you say, an assumption. And as Ada mentioned, it probably shows the size of their world.
    If anything, I have spent enough time in a couple varieties of Christianity and know the Bible well enough that I get pissed off when people try to explain it that me. A childhood going to Mass every Sunday will do that to ya, unless you have an entirely wooden head all the way through. And then Evangelicalism and Quakerism on top of that, with a serious dose of Muslim friends telling me about their faith.

  53. I should know by now to proofread when I’m on the phone. Sorry.
    Atlanta, I’m surprised you don’t get invites. When we moved to S Ga and to the TX panhandle, people often asked “where do you go to church?” as one of those very introductory questions, al a “what kind of work does you do?” “do you have kids?” etc. When I said we didn’t, the answer was almost always an invite to theirs. Some people followed up a couple times. That was fine with me, because no one tried to convince us. It was, as you say, an assumption. And as Ada mentioned, it probably shows the size of their world.
    If anything, I have spent enough time in a couple varieties of Christianity and know the Bible well enough that I get pissed off when people try to explain it that me. A childhood going to Mass every Sunday will do that to ya, unless you have an entirely wooden head all the way through. And then Evangelicalism and Quakerism on top of that, with a serious dose of Muslim friends telling me about their faith.

  54. We’ve gotten invites but it’s really been a pretty long time. It was more when we first moved here (the well meaning older associate type that my husband worked with) before we had kids. My good friend has taken my oldest caroling with her with her Catholic church and I don’t have a problem with that. My dad is very into going to mass every week again and respect that it’s important to him. I do want my kids to have some exposure even though I personally don’t want to go and am glad they’re getting a little bit at school (even though it’s not Catholic).

  55. I opened this post in Panera while I was waiting for my friend at the table. There were three women praying at a nearby table before they ate lunch. They did this for a few moments before digging into their salads. I’ve never seen this before in Panera, and I thought it was an odd coincidence.

    I am total religious overload right now because I went to synagogue so many times in October for the holidays, and a bar mitzvah. I am going back today for our first meeting with the cantor about the planning of the religious study for my daughter.

    I was not raised in a religious household, so I know very, very few Jewish prayers. My husband and my daughter seem to know everything so it is a little strange to be unable to sing the same songs with them when we attend services together. I have no desire to return to school to learn even though adult education is offered, and I am just hoping to absorb some of the songs and prayers since I will be going so much in the coming 12 months.

    The Chabad approaching people thing only happens in certain neighborhoods. Even within Chabad, there are certain groups that will never approach. They are really orthodox, and they won’t bother with people that they know are not really serious. My neighborhood has what I will call a “liberal” Chabad because the culture is very welcoming to reformed Jews that don’t really observe. They are not trying to convert you to Orthodox Judaism, but they just want your kids to be able to celebrate the holidays and learn as much Hebrew as possible. It really depends on the local culture of area, and the rabbi of the local Chabad. I think only some Chabads in Brooklyn and Rockland county are a little more aggressive about recruitment. Many of my friends have started to join Chabad because it is essentially free. You are supposed to sponsor events, or make a donation instead of paying outright for Hebrew school and temple dues. I think this is a form of selling out because they don’t believe a lot of the stuff, AND their girls can not read from the Torah. They even have to sit in a separate area from their husbands, or sons. The reason that so many reformed Jews in my area are going to Chabad is that it can save $4000- 8000 per year depending on how many kids you have to send to Hebrew school. I understand that this is a lot of money, but when they don’t treat women equally – I think it is a load of crap unless you grew up that way and really believe in it.

  56. When you are not familiar with other cultural norms or religious beliefs, you will not know what is acceptable or not. For a long time, it seemed like most Muslims in our area were vegetarian. But, when attending an event at one of their homes, I noticed meat in a dish. I was then introduced to the concept of halal and in a way similar to Jewish kosher, it is sometimes easier to avoid things than to figure out if it was prepared in a permissible way.

    I deal with meal planning/cooking for some Girl Scout activities. I always ask if there are any food restrictions or preferences. Almost always, I get about 10 percent vegetarian. Less often I get nut allergies, egg allergies or dairy allergies.

  57. I’m genuinely curious why some people find it offensive when someone says they’ll “pray for you”. The atheist in the article said “If I say, ‘Thank you,’ I’m legitimizing their religion,” I guess I kinda see that. I don’t pray, but I like it when people pray for me. I see it as a gesture of kindness. and caring. (Our maid used to pray over our kid’s messy bedroom. Yes, it was that messy!)

  58. Cordelia, I love that example of giving people space to practice their faith! It doesn’t have to be hard or announce itself loudly. The sisters who first taught me about Islam (one of them is kind of a big deal on twitter these days) loved Taco Bell. Growing up in Kentucky, they learned many quick ways to translate their religion. When asked the meaning of “insh’ Allah”, they always said “God willin an the crick don rise” with a smile. That did more to communicate common humanity than an hour of preaching ever could. Surprisingly, they found the bluegrass more hospitable than Southern California, where their dad had been called a monkey while praying in an area off to the side at work.

  59. I know of a few people who changed religions. Most of them started out, going with their friends families to church. At first it felt that they were just close to their friends and liked hanging out but later on they decided to take the classes and convert.
    I also know women who converted on marriage. This doesn’t happen as much now but in my parents’ generation it was a huge deal. Many of these women also changed their first names as well which I found quite disconcerting.

  60. I am curious, too, as to why people find others praying for them offensive. I don’t pray and am not very religious but I attend services and like the cultural/community aspect of my religion. I feel like when others say they will pray for you they are acknowledging a crappy situation and wishing you the best.

  61. We are agnostic, but sent our children to Lutheran elementary and middle school. If you are a church member, you get a hefty discount. Granted, they assume you are giving the difference to the church, but that is a deductible contribution where tuition is not. I found it offensive when I was asked why we didn’t join the church to get the discount. I felt that to be unethical.

  62. I’m fairly religious, so asking me to join in prayer, or respecting other people’s public displays of piety isn’t something that would ruffle my feathers. I just expect the same in return. That whole “do unto others…” mindset.

    When my son was diagnosed with IUGR and then born early, I think DH’s entire family said prayers, novenas, rosaries, and practically held an intervention with God. I was, and still am, comforted by their collective good. It’s something I have to remember for the other aspects of life.

  63. CoC, “I’ll pray for you” only bothers me when it is said with an air of superiority or in response to a request for help, instead of doing any real thing.

  64. I find it puzzling when people pray in a setting where people likely have diverse beliefs. I’ve never lived anywhere that is common. I was shocked last month when the rural electric cooperative at which DS1 was presenting the flag as a Scout prayed “in Jesus name” prior to their annual meeting. I believe in God, in whom we live and move and have our being, and that electrons dance according to His Will, but I realize that other people don’t attribute electron motion to God and that for electrical power purposes, it is enough to understand HOW the electrons move.

    I rarely tell Christians I will pray for them and I never tell people I suspect to be non-Christian that I am praying for them. When I pray for people, it’s both a way of asking God’s blessing on them and reminding myself to reach out to lighten their load.

    I agree that in group settings, slight changes (vegetarian option on Fridays during Lent) are appropriate to allow people to practice their religious beliefs. This didn’t occur to me until I was meeting with my Muslim engineering partners during Ramadan, when I was in college. It’s best to let them eat as soon as the sun goes down, and so we shifted our meeting time to accommodate that. Now I think about that with Muslim colleagues, but growing up where I did, I wouldn’t have thought of it if they hadn’t requested a meeting time change. I recall a professor letting a class out at 4:40 on Ash Wednesday instead of the usual 4:50 so that several students could attend the 5 PM Ash Wednesday service. This seemed like an appropriate accommodation.

    When I’m with other Christians, especially my family, in a restaurant, we pray together. I wouldn’t ask to pray with people I didn’t know to be Christian, but I don’t think anyone (Christian or not) must curb his religious practices because (s)he’s in public.

    I remember talking to my specialist about the decision process after the baby with a lethal abnormality was born. He was politely curious because we had previously made very religiously conservative choices, such as limiting the number of embryos transferred to avoid the need for selective reduction, which is a very expensive choice. Like Ada, he worked hard to respect and accommodate people’s religious beliefs and he assured us he only used his medical judgment to limit the number of embryos people would transfer, not to pressure them to transfer more than they thought was appropriate. His nurse practitioner was less subtle about her personal disagreement with our decision, but she, too, never pressured us to change it. I explained to him that I thought Christians suffered from biological problems (cancer, pregnancy loss) in the exact same way that non-Christians did, so while I was sad to have a baby with a lethal abnormality and watching her die was emotionally painful, it didn’t change my core religious beliefs. He discussed how hard it is to go through that as a physician, and I felt comfortable sharing that I was happy I’d wind up having 3 ultrasounds as confirmation, because of the religious significance of asking 3 times. It’s as far as I’ve ever gone in sharing my personal religious beliefs with a physician. (I suspect he is Jewish.)

    I annoy some Christians because I am so private about my beliefs.

  65. I really can’t wrap my head around religious people. It just doesn’t compute. I can sort of understand making up stories to make one feel better about things one can’t control. But, that people actually in their heart of heart believe it? I can’t imagine what that’s like.

  66. It reminds me of WCE’s friend who said she didn’t have the mom chip installed. I just don’t have the faith chip.

  67. On the flip side, how do you feel when people ask you to pray for them, a family member, or someone they know?

  68. A colleague’s wife has cancer (God wasn’t very good to her…) She is an athiest, and has asked people to refrain from saying “I’ll pray for you” on her Facebook wall, as it isn’t meaningful to her. A good friend, who is Catholic, says she DOES pray for my colleague’s wife, because it makes HER feel good, but she sees no need to tell the colleague’s wife about it. Both seem reasonable to me.

  69. I am not exactly sure why the “I’ll pray for you” annoys me when there is something serious going on. I guess partially because it is a platitude, but it is a platitude that feels a little sanctimonious, like maybe I have done something wrong or need to be fixed. It was most bothersome when my brother killed himself. It really felt judgemental.

    A simple “I’m sorry” is a better platitude

  70. I think it is kind of weird and presumptuous to ask someone to pray for you if you don’t know if the person prays, but I don’t take offense to being asked. I interpret it more as asking for good wishes. Maybe if I were more religious it would bother me more.

  71. ” I just don’t have the faith chip.”

    So what are your views on taking your hat off and standing to sing the national anthem? Isn’t patriotism just another kind of faith?

  72. I think of “I will pray for you” more as to be thinking of that person, wishing them well. I know several people in my family who say that in good times and in bad, so I don’t see it as only a bad time thing. It was also said by several elders in my family to kids leaving home. This was again a thinking of you, wishing you the best, missing you all rolled into one. I will probably say this to my kids as they leave home and I think they will know what I mean.

  73. So what are your views on taking your hat off and standing to sing the national anthem?

    That’s just being polite. I wouldn’t shorts in the Vatican or wear shoes in a mosque either.

  74. We have many friends like Rhett, but along with the atheism, there is often a soupcon of condescension toward the religious (similar to the condescension toward people that you perceive as not very bright) that I find objectionable.

  75. but along with the atheism,

    Oh no, I think it’s entirely likely that there is something “up” there.

  76. When I’m asked to pray for someone, I often wish I could, but I don’t lie to the person and pretend belief I don’t have. I usually try to come up with something comforting to say about peace, strength, happy memories, or whatever. If there is something I can do, I will I try to ask how the person is doing on anniversaries, or to go genthem a chance to vent when they are having a rough day.

  77. ““I’m sorry””

    Mooshi – I get your thought process re: “i’ll pray for you”. I think about that phrase too. But, “I’m sorry” implies that the person speaking it did something wrong. In the case your referring to, that person did nothing wrong. I know it’s a common use of our language, but one that has always bothered me.

    I can’t think of a better phrase that describes the sentiment though. Something along the lines of “that horrible and I wish you peace during this trying time” comes to mind, but still is awkward.

  78. My child has a illness that can be debilitating at times and will probably stay with him his whole life. When it first came up and we were learning about it as fast as possible, family members actively intervened to make access to treatment more difficult. To this day, they insist that prayer is what would help. Makes me so angry!

  79. But, “I’m sorry” implies that the person speaking it did something wrong.

    When I went to my first funeral as a kid I was told that the polite and correct thing to say was, “I’m sorry for your loss.” Which, in this context means pretty much, “that’s horrible and I wish you peace during this trying time”

  80. Rhode, how about I’m sorry to hear that/sorry you’re going through this/so sorry about your loss….Those kind of expressions locate the thing you’re sorry about outside yourself. I’m probably a little less sensation to the implication you mention, because I’ve been infected by the German “das tut mir Leid”. Directly translated, it means “that does me sorrow”. I often interpret American “I’m sorry”s that way.

  81. I’m in the outwardly non-religious northeast and find it incredible that there are ever prayers at meetings or sports games, as it’s so far outside my experience.

    The only time I’ve seen people praying during my workday was in court waiting for criminal verdicts to come in, and then we were all praying whether we believed in a higher power or not!

    I really like the evangelicals I meet here because it takes a lot of courage to say anything outside the mainstream, and they do it anyway. It’s the inverse of being an outspoken atheist in the Bible Belt. My closer friends do invite me to church, and I will go and bring the kids. I grew up going to Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and Muslim services and think it’s important to show the kids other traditions so that they have a better understanding of what their friends believe.

    MM, what do you want people to say to you when something really awful happens? When someone I know commits suicide, I do tell the family members I am praying for them because (a) it’s true, and (b) I haven’t got anything else I can think of to say.

  82. “My child has a illness that can be debilitating at times and will probably stay with him his whole life. When it first came up and we were learning about it as fast as possible, family members actively intervened to make access to treatment more difficult. To this day, they insist that prayer is what would help. Makes me so angry!”

    I feel the same way. My family is very religious and they insisted and still insist on praying for my child. The prayers never helped, but the medicine did. The whole illness really damaged my relationship with God. That said, what else is a grandparent supposed to do? They cannot be helpful in any other way. So they pray and I appreciate their prayers. Kind of.

  83. Do your parents/in-laws also tell you that your lack of faith prevents the child from getting better? I would find it easier to accept prayers graciously if they came without recriminations. The rejection of science startles me too.

  84. Rhett and S&M – I do use those full sentences/phrases. It’s just the word “sorry” in the sentence. It bothers me, but I cannot fix the English language so I deal with convention and politeness.

  85. But, “I’m sorry” implies that the person speaking it did something wrong.

    No, I don’t think so. I think it’s an expression of empathy with the speaker, to convey that (I) wish this had not happened to them, that they did not have to go through / deal with the illness/death/rough times.

  86. In Spanish it’s “Lo siento” for I’m sorry, but literally translated is “I feel it.”

  87. I don’t mind anyone who prays for me or for my family when we have troubles or are experiencing grief. I don’t mind if they tell me they are doing it, and if I share something worrisome with a friend who would pray over it, I thank them in advance for their prayers. When my child was sick many years ago all prayers and good thoughts were welcome, and after she died there were trees planted in Israel and Masses said.

    But my intimate experience with an aggressive evangelical family member who actively prays for hard times to fall on each of us so that we can have all stripped away and turn to Christ makes me personally wary. And there is a regional component as well. Here in the reserved northeast, unless the speaker is an older Catholic who attends Mass regularly, an unsolicited I’ll be praying for you is borderline impolite or personally intrusive.

  88. Today’s post reminds me of two favorite quotes.
    One is from the movie “Bruce Almighty”, when now-Almighty-Bruce asks God how to make someone love him without violating free will. God responds, “Welcome to my world.”

    And Rhett’s comment about not having a faith chip reminds me of C. S. Lewis when he stated, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen- not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

  89. “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen- not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

    I’m trying to understand what he’s saying. To me he seems to be saying that the sun is a fact and Christianity is a story made up by man to understand his place in the world.

  90. Rhett, he’s saying that his faith is so central to his life that he sees everything else in his life through the light of his faith, just as he sees everything in the world by the light of the sun.

    I think you would find more entertainment in this quote:

    “With regard to religion, finally, it may be briefly said that she believed in God in much the same way as she believed in Australia. For she had no doubts whatever as to the existence of either; and she went to church on Sunday in much the same spirit as she would look at a kangaroo in the zoological gardens; for kangaroos came from Australia.”

    ― E.F. Benson, Queen Lucia

  91. Here’s a clumsy analogy (I’m really good at those): My dad was prescribed Zantac by his doctor. His discharge papers from endoscopy said “continue ranitidine” (the generic name for Zantac), and in another place it said to “start Zantac”. My mother was convinced he needed two different pills, even though I explained that they are identical products (and I’d been a practicing physician for 5+ years). She said, “Well, I’ll just ask the doctor’s nurse, she’ll know what to do.” I was super-annoyed at her appealing to a “higher power” that I don’t recognize as a legitimate authority. “I’ll pray for you” has echoes of that.

    I find it a little less annoying than my mother, however. Perhaps I should meditate on that.

  92. Re: having faith tested, a friend’s mother was the only non-Catholic member of friend’s family. My friend’s much-beloved brother died tragically at the end of high school. A number of priests came to the house, and one attempted to comfort the mother with “its God’s will”, and like a switch being flipped, that was the end of her belief. My mom had a less strong but similar reaction when my cousin’s young wife, mother of 4 kindergarten age and younger, died of cancer. My mom continues to go to church with my dad, but it dramatically altered her faith. I hope to never have to find out how I would handle it.

  93. How about, “my thoughts are with you,” or, “I’m hoping for the best for you,” as alternatives to, “I’ll pray for you?”

  94. Anon 1: The grandparents are all doctors, so there was no dismissal of science or thought that prayer alone would help. However, they are religious and it was a way they could *do something*. I hate the helpless feeling of having a sick child. If they blamed me or DH for the illness due to our lack of faith, we would have reacted very negatively (i.e. kicked them out).

    DH managed to keep his faith. I now still pray regularly, but God and I have a more distant relationship.

  95. Sky and SSK, I can’t hear the slow portion of the Moonlight Sonata without thinking of Lucia! Have you ever read the later-written “sequel,” Lucia in Wartime, by Tom Holt? It’s out-of-print and hard to get, but worth seeking out.

  96. “their free exercise of religion means that the airline must kick a woman out of her seat on a plane”

    I’ve never heard of that before. What’s the religious basis for that?

  97. Although I do not practice any region and would consider myself agnostic, I grew up going to a mainline Protestant church, which makes me feel comfortable in a Christian church setting when it is called for (e.g., weddings, funerals and baptisms). When I go to Catholic services, I stay seated politely rather than doing the call & response with kneeling and all that jazz, decline Communion, and never cross myself. I will pass the peace and am comfortable receiving blessings and wishes from others, but I never offer my “prayers” or “blessings” to anyone as it would not be genuine since I do not pray. I mostly think people have good intentions when they say things like that, so unless there is evidence to the contrary, I take it as a good wish/thought.

    I can’t think of many instances where I have been offended by other people’s religion or felt pushed to participate in something outside of my comfort zone in that area. I’ve never been asked to pray at work, even when I was in the South. I specifically have avoided religious schools for DS for elementary school, but would consider it for high school. I feel like at that age, he is old enough to make up his own mind, and it will be healthy for him to question his faith or lack thereof at that time.

    I don’t mind at all, and sometimes even appreciate, when there is something sort of generic like a “moment of silence”. I think that is a nice way to honor a tragedy without bringing Jesus into it.

    I think being mindful of vegetarians is pretty standard even outside of Lent or religious diversity, but I guess that tells you the ‘bubble” that I am in!

  98. Honolulu mother – No, I haven’t, but I’ll look around for it. Thanks for the suggestion!

  99. A family member lost what was left of his faith after similar ‘It was God’s will’ responses to a tragedy. That’s one where the people offering it as comfort clearly don’t at all realize how it sounds to those affected.

  100. “I get really upset when people insist on forcing Merry christmas down people’s throats”

    That doesn’t usually bother me, because I think Christmas in the US has evolved to having a secular facet as well as a religious facet, and assume people are typically referring to the secular facet, just as it doesn’t bother me when people talk about Christmas shopping.

  101. I just broke down and used Rhett’s favorite cleaner, Kaboom, in a bathroom that had gotten that bad. Good heavens! WCE, which will be eaten through first, my plleurae or my skin?

  102. People of faith respond in different ways to tragedy. I haven’t heard of people calling it God’s will. People I know have gotten closer to God or more distant/left their faith. The strangest was one distant aunt who left the Catholic Church and became an evangelical Christian. She felt she had been supported by the group who came to visit her in the hospital and prayed for/with her. She recovered completely but the change in her was profound. It talking/laughing woman we knew was gone and replaced by a serious very religious unapproachable woman.

  103. Finn, one of my Hindu colleagues expressed his agreement with your opinion that Christmas is largely secular in kind of an amusing way. His family celebrated Diwali and he explained that in India, that’s the holiday on which you give gifts to the mailman, etc., but his family gave Christmas gifts here in the U.S. The fact that THEY celebrated Diwali didn’t mean he wanted to stiff the mailman.

  104. saac, Kaboom is a cleaner best used on one’s shower, not one’s hands. Wear gloves.
    Depending on the composition of your soap scum/dirt layer and your shower surface (fiberglass, with/without ridges on floor), you may have better luck with Comet.

  105. HM – I can’t hear the Moonlight Sonata first movement without singing “Do you know something Schroeder” (from the Charlie Brown show). :)

  106. WCE, I find it amusing that some Christians take offense at Christmas being treated by many people as a secular holiday, like their religion is being diminished because so many people are celebrating their religious holiday in a manner not to their liking.

  107. Kaboom ingredients:

    https://wercs.churchdwight.com/webviewer.external/private/results.aspx?productName=kaboom&productName_option=d__value~&productID_option=d__value~&language=d__EN&hidRequiredList=ConcatedValue%20=&queryString=language=EN

    Shower tub & tile ingredients include water, glycolic acid, citric acid, sodium octysulfonate, sodium polyacrylate, fragrance, and denatonium benzoate.

    Is any of that stuff especially nasty or not removed by sewage treatment plants?

  108. Finn, that search site looks to be run by the company that makes my usual cleaner, one that is so mild I do use my hands, without gloves or rags, to clean with. But this afternoon, my bathroom and my nasal passages are especially clear.

    On the seating thing–members of numerous religions have requested to have seat mates moved. I can’t begin to understand why they think the onus is on someone else, instead of going someplace else themselves.

  109. My ex husband’s spiritual advisor and surrogate father preached that our daughter’s death from cancer was God’s sign to the local church (in the purist non institutional sense) a wake up call to the local church and its leadership. If I have little use for his chosen religious practice I may be excused.

  110. I don’t understand why the airlines think the appropriate response in such situations is to make the woman move, rather than to move the man making the request. It does seem likely that they’ve gotten away with it for a while due to people being trained not to make a fuss when traveling by air and offering vouchers to those who complain, but that if this issue moves into the lawsuit zone “move the woman at the last minute” isn’t going to hold up as the default alternative when options such as asking the man making the request to check the ‘requesting for religious reasons not to be seated by a woman’ box when making the reservation. The airline already knows whether passengers are male or female so the seat reservation computer should be able to deal with this.

  111. I think a suicide is so fraught that the best thing you can do is leave your own personal religion out of it when trying to comfort the family, UNLESS you are from the same faith tradition. I understand that one can be left struggling for words, and conventional platitudes are a good way to go in that situation. I use them myself. But when it is a particularly difficult situation – suicides, drug overdoses, etc – I think it best to stay simple : “I an so sad/sorry/heartbroken for your loss” is fine.

    I think offended is too strong of a word for the way I felt. But my family all agreed later on, when we were discussing this stuff, that the offers of prayers didn’t feel helpful.

    On the pediatric cancer families mailing list that I read, there was a thread once, started by a mom who had lost her kid, but picked up by others, discussing how much they hated it when people said “your child is in a better place”. The original poster said “No, she is not in a better place. The place she wanted to be was right here with her family. That is the better place”.

  112. “I can’t begin to understand why they think the onus is on someone else, instead of going someplace else themselves.”

    Arrogance? Self-centeredness? A-holiness?

  113. HM, I agree that’s how it should be done, but in my experience making reservations, I don’t get to see the gender of the occupant of the seat next to me, if already reserved.

    Perhaps the airlines need to upgrade their software to opaquely show any available seat next to a female as being unavailable to someone who requires a seat not next to a female.

  114. don’t understand why the airlines think the appropriate response in such situations is to make the woman move, rather than to move the man making the request.

    What if the only other open seats are next to women? That will require multiple people to move. And if it’s a full flight, then someone else will have to move as well.

    The solution, IMO, is that they should make a general announcement asking for volunteers to switch, and if they do not get people located in acceptable locations to move, then the guys are stuck.

  115. On our most recent family flight, there weren’t seats anywhere near each other on one leg of our trip. I was impressed with how either the gate agent or the airline reservation computer handled our family- we got 5 seats across the back row, which weren’t available when I made the reservation. Based on the number of other families in back rows on other flights, I suspect the airline computers have an algorithm to put reservations that include children in those (reserved?) back rows.

  116. This may be a silly question, but do religious women ever cause a scene by refusing to sit next to a man? Or perhaps they are not allowed to travel unescorted so the issue never comes up.

  117. If someone wants to control who sits next to them on a airplane, then they should buy the extra seat next to them. If someone buys the seat, then the airline shouldn’t be able to put someone in it without checking with the person. So if a man needed a seat and you wanted to sell it back to the airline for a full refund then great otherwise the person has controlled their seating preference without infringing on anyone else.

  118. Finn, selfish self-centeredness & arrogance explain why the man would want to force someone else to move, but not why the airlines go along with that. It’s his request; let him deal with it.
    WCE, I agree that those rows seem to be informally reserved for people with small kids. I think it’s an awful policy, bordering on discriminatory to consistently stick them (or any one group) in the seats that may not have any window, where the bathroom door opening and latchIng and all the motion in the aisle make it very difficult to sleep, and which are easily reached by the stench of bathroom activities. But I do appreciate the help of flight attendants in locating seats for us together. Children under a certain age–I can’t remember if it’s 10 or 12–are not legally permitted to sit by themselves. I let that drop a couple times, in the sweetest way possible. That won’t get two adults seats together, but does make sure your kids are ok.

  119. “If someone wants to control who sits next to them on a airplane, then they should buy the extra seat next to them”

    Yes!

  120. If someone wants to control who sits next to them on a airplane, then they should buy the extra seat next to them.

    Damn straight.

  121. I flew overseas with one DS when he was 11. We had to rely on the kindness of strangers to be seated together. The airline has no problem seating us in different rows.

  122. I am a regular church goer, but I’m private with my thoughts. Often, though, I’m asked to pray with someone or for someone. The prayers are usually not for a specific outcome, but for grace, guidance, wisdom, courage, etc. We have a close family friend (a scout leader, a father, a guy with a good job) that has fought drug addiction. Even though he hasn’t used in years, he says he will ALWAYS be an addict. He prays frequently, always before meals, and I’m willing to support him in whatever way I can if that’s what he needs. My father is from a very religious, Catholic family. He went over to the dark side when he married my mother (a non-religious Protestant). He goes to church with us when he visits. Growing up in NYC, I’ve been exposed to a lot of different religions. I find it very interesting. Several of my college profs were orthodox jewish women with the wigs, heavy stockings, conservative dress.

  123. Scarlett – I suspect that the kind of religious women you are referring to would always be escorted and would reserve seats together.

    I had never heard of not wanting to sit near a woman. I have travelled on planes in very busy international sectors and it is very difficult to reseat people as the planes are packed. Lots of families with kids traveling which they try to accommodate. The rest, able bodied travelers have to suck it up.

  124. I pray for the day that the airline separates my children from me on a flight. I am ordering a cocktail, inserting some ear buds and will see everyone at the destination gate!

  125. Kate, eventually they will just read or play games on their devices during the flight and you can just look up from your book and smile reminiscently when you see a harried parent walking a toddler up and down the aisle.

  126. Kate – One day they will play on their iPad, watch a movie, read a book, be able to say their own meal choice, use the bathroom by themselves, not spill their drink while on a flight.
    That will be the day, you become separated from them on a flight ;-).

  127. Are we the only ones who actually select our seats when we buy the tickets so we can pick seats together? What am I missing that everyone has so many problems getting seats next to their kids?

    There were two times we had issues with reserving seats. One was because it was a code share so we couldn’t select seats when I booked the tickets. When we checked in, the gate agent actually moved people out of their reserved seats to get us seats together. The other time was on United and there were only single seats left in regular economy when I bought the tickets, so I didn’t select any seats. When we checked in, they upgraded us to economy plus to get us seats together.

    WCE, I agree that those rows seem to be informally reserved for people with small kids. I think it’s an awful policy, bordering on discriminatory to consistently stick them (or any one group) in the seats that may not have any window, where the bathroom door opening and latchIng and all the motion in the aisle make it very difficult to sleep, and which are easily reached by the stench of bathroom activities.

    Uh no, this not the case at all. When you buy your tickets, you can select any available seats you want regardless of the age of your children (aside from the exit rows). If you have this perception about it, it is probably because people with small kids are the ones who need to sit together, and these are usually the available seats for the reasons you mentioned.

  128. Kate, teens find plenty of ways to stress you, but by golly can they ever take care of their own bathroom needs.

  129. We also reserve our seats at the time of booking. The issues have arrived with last minute flight plans with under two weeks notice. These are usually work trips back to the state where all our family is so I’ve taken my two sons along. Many times at the gate, the flight attendant will try and put us together but a couple times my older son has been seated in the middle seat in front of me or in the row across and the youngest was seated next to me. On one of those occasions the guy in the aisle seat in my row moved for my son into the middle seat. But my oldest can handle himself better then the youngest can and its always been within my eyesight and not several rows away.

  130. I have had problems even when reserving a month or two before flying. A number of airlines now make you pay extra for aisle and window seats. So I go to select my seats, and discover that I will have to add $50 for the window and $50 for the aisle seat, if we want all 3 seats together. I often end up paying it, but it POs me no end.

    I have also booked flights a month beforehand where there were only scattered single seats left. And the most annying one is when they change the aircraft a day before. Suddenly, the seats you booked are no longer there, and they end up stuffing everyone in every which way. When we flew home from China with baby DD, this happend – we all were put into scattered single seats, including baby DD. We had to run around begging for seat changes, I don;t think anyone really wanted to fly next to an unaccompanied baby DD, or just as bad, my at the time 6 and 4 year old boys,

  131. I remember one time, on a flight to Chicago, we got delayed for 45 minutes because someone had put a parent and a child mistakenly into the same seat. I think the mistake was in assuming that the child booking was a baby being carried – but it wasn’t – it was a 6 year old boy So the flight attendants had to inform the family that the kid could not ride in the mom’s lap, and then they had to find a seat for the kid, and then shuffle everyone around so that the kid could end up near his family.

  132. Kate – on one family trip my husband sat with our 2 kids and offered to let me sit alone and enjoy my book. My seat mates were two young girls who were trying their best but spilled their sodas and needed my help for a number of things. Totally not relaxing. When we landed, their mom appeared from first class to retrieve them, smelling pleasantly of alcohol. If I’d still had my drink I would have spilled it on her very-relaxed self.

  133. Tangent: We had a big storm in the Pacific Northwest, with coastal rainfall in the 8-12″ range and a high of 20″ in one location in Washington. Winds were less than expected but hit 100 mph on Mary’s Peak. This is unusual for October but not for a winter (December or January) storm. An improvement to Hwy 20 completed many years behind schedule due to drainage and land stability issues. Engineers estimated that during a storm last winter, 5 million gallons of water/day was coming through the drainage system along one section of highway. (And yes, this was another “challenge of managing government projects” issue, along with the state health insurance, discussed at SWE.)

    What sorts of rainfall totals do eastern coastal areas see with a hurricane? I’m trying to understand to what extent hurricanes are news because the infrastructure isn’t set up to handle large volumes of rain the way it is here.

  134. “If you have this perception about it, it is probably because people with small kids are the ones who need to sit together, and these are usually the available seats for the reasons you mentioned.”

    I’m also guessing that passengers in those seats are among the most likely to be willing to give up their seats, and so the flight attendants will ask those passengers first when trying to find a group of seats together for a family.

  135. “And the most annying one is when they change the aircraft a day before. Suddenly, the seats you booked are no longer there, and they end up stuffing everyone in every which way.”

    Not just a day before; we’ve had this happen at different time points before the flight. Sometimes we’ve caught the change far enough in advance to contact the airlines and get our family back seated together.

    But in these cases, it’s the airlines that creates the seating messes and their responsibility to clean them up.

  136. Finn, very few people would look at my family and cling to their back row, middle seat rather than swap. :)
    The people in the back of the plane with us usually don’t mind being in the family section. I sat by a great-grandfather from Eau Claire, Wisconsin (I recognized the accent!) who was next to Baby WCE and in front of another one year old. He said if either baby were fussy, he’d just turn down his hearing aids- he’d raised five children himself.

  137. I’m trying to understand to what extent hurricanes are news because the infrastructure isn’t set up to handle large volumes of rain the way it is here.

    My guess is that hurricanes are news because most of the population of the U.S.lives on the east coast. Otherwise, who wouldn’t prepare for an event that occurs every.single.year.

  138. WCE,

    The geography and topography on the east coast is also different. This, for example, is 13′ taller than the highest point in Florida.

  139. One could also ask why many parts of the country are unprepared for snow and ice, something that changes in weather patterns have turned into yearly events. Extensive News coverage of cities paralyzed for a week at a time for routine events in the Northeast is also perplexing to us. The number of individuals and property values affected by hurricanes as opposed to other severe and usually more sudden weather events are much highbecause of population density and geographic features, and there is long advance warning coupled with a fairly high degree of uncertainty as to the county by county impact and severity of a hurricane. Death tolls were much higher before modern prediction methods, in my lifetime even. For some of the other weather events, it is impact and aftermath that receive coverage because of the suddenness of the event. And long duration events such as the reversion of the west over many years to a dryer climate than when the area was first opened to settlement and developed are chronically newsworthy, not part of the acute cycle.

    There is East Coast bias too, of course, as in almost all so called “national” media coverage. The bias is based on location of the major networks and their apparatus, dollar value of damage to be reported, timing of the prime time news cycle.

  140. It may not seem like it, but I’m pretty sure that, over the past decade, we’ve had significantly lower-than-normal tropical activity (fewer hurricanes).

  141. It’s the wind forces, hurling debris, and the storm surge combined with rainfall causing flooding with felled power lines threatening huge population centers. Definitely newsworthy!

  142. With hurricanes on coastal areas (and I mean true coast, not VT or upper parts of NH), the issue isn’t the amount of rain, it’s the wind + storm surge from the ocean. High and low tides happen every day, twice a day. But if a storm pushes the water inland and the same time as a high tide (or, even worse, a full/new moon high tide), the amount of water pushed inland is significant (6-10, even 20 ft in some cases). That water has no where to go but in basements, rivers, streams, and other low lying areas. The Hurricane of 1938 drove right up the CT River valley (like Irene), but the direction the storm was turning coupled with the topography pushed water so far inland that debris from the beach was found 1-2 miles inland. Sandy did much the same thing, though she was far bigger, and technically not a hurricane (that’s why her name is Superstorm)

    In those inland areas, the amount of water falling from the sky is definitely more of an issue.

    Cordelia – hurricanes actually don’t happen every single year in the same place. Yes, they do happen every single year, but in most years only 5 storms become issues, most stay out to sea. Yes, it’s predictable, and yes we know more about hurricane paths and where they are likely to go, but we still don’t know enough. Look at Matthew. We were prepping for a direct hit in NE. But the track wobbled and he struck FL, and we got remnants. I don’t think that area of FL had a direct hit since Hurricane Andrew ~20 years ago. It’s hard to be prepared for something that truly only happens once every 10-20 years.

    I also think people get fatigue. We talk about hurricanes every news cycle – where the storms are forming, who’s watching them, etc. So you never believe it’s real. It’s a chicken little story.

  143. A number of airlines now make you pay extra for aisle and window seats. So I go to select my seats, and discover that I will have to add $50 for the window and $50 for the aisle seat, if we want all 3 seats together. I often end up paying it, but it POs me no end.

    If the kids are old enough to sit by themselves (and I would say a good objective cutoff would be the age at which the airline allows unaccompanied minors) then I see no problem with having to pay the extra fees. I agree they should waive it for younger kids who can’t sit by themselves. If the website can’t handle that, then I would call immediately after booking and explain the situation. I’ve found airlines are usually very reasonable in cases like this.

    I flew on Frontier with DS in the spring, and I was buying one ticket with miles and the other with cash. There was no way to link them on the website, they had to be separate reservations, and it kept wanting to charge me the unaccompanied minor fee for DS. I called and they took care of it, and waived the phone reservation fee before I had a chance to ask them to.

  144. ” we’ve had significantly lower-than-normal tropical activity (fewer hurricanes).”

    Milo – you are correct… except the strength of the storms has increased. So fewer storms, but those storms pack a punch.

  145. We were watching The Parallax View the other day. In one scene, Warren Beatty just follows the bad guy onto a plane, sits down, and when the flight attendant comes by she charges him $65 in cash for his seat.

    1974. Within my lifetime.

  146. RMS,

    On the other hand, actual travel was a lot more complicated than it is now. There was no e-ticket so you’d need a paper ticket and then at the airport you’d have to wait in line to check in to get your boarding pass. And to get the paper ticket, you’d have to go to a ticket office or a travel agent or (I assume) you could call the airline and they’d mail you a ticket*.

    * I don’t actually know how that worked.

  147. Rhett – my kids have free play time almost every day and on the weekends. So, for me the article wasn’t a revelation. Our set up here may not be so fancy but we have swings, trampolines, zip lines and lots of outdoor toys scattered about in the neighborhood garages which the kids can use. DH is a big advocate of free play for kids.

  148. “One could also ask why many parts of the country are unprepared for snow and ice, something that changes in weather patterns have turned into yearly events. ”

    Interesting. I thought the amount of snow and ice has actually declined, but I’m not sure what the exact annual pattern has been. I suspect it has more to do with increased media coverage. I remember horrible icy events back years ago in the south, but there was no Twitter to report the latest news.

  149. “A number of airlines now make you pay extra for aisle and window seats. So I go to select my seats, and discover that I will have to add $50 for the window and $50 for the aisle seat,”

    I really dislike that I don’t know what these charges are until the last point in the ticket purchase process. I shop partly by price, but I guess I should know by now to add $100 per flight for aisle seats.

  150. “I shop partly by price, but I guess I should know by now to add $100 per flight for aisle seats.”

    OTOH, these charges seem to come up randomly, not necessarily tied to how far in advance I buy tickets. I know airlines release available seats over time, and sometimes plenty of aisle seats are available at the last minute.

  151. Rhett they didn’t have boarding passes. You used your ticket the stewardess st the gate took the ticket and tore off the perforated . you checked your bags iat a counter, and they stapled the receipt to a paper sleeve with the gate hand written on it. The ticket was inside.. Short haul runs, most notably the eastern shuttle, appeared that allowed business folks to walk on and buy the ticket on the plane. But I think something similar had been going on earlier on intrastate flights like sf to LA.

  152. Meme,

    you checked your bags iat a counter, and they stapled the receipt to a paper sleeve with the gate hand written on it

    I’m going on the explanation Ada Quonsett gave in the movie Airport. She said the paper sleeve with the gate written on it was the boarding pass. In the late 90s, I seem to recall having to check in as you couldn’t get through security with just a ticket*. You needed to check in with your paper ticket and get a boarding bass. But, my memory is a little fuzzy on that step.

    * This is where they asked you if you packed your own bags.

  153. The south doesn’t prepare for snow/ice because it only happens every 3 or 4 years (so maybe we’re due this year). We don’t have plows and the topography of Atlanta is very hilly so you’re basically stuck until it melts. My dad was here in 2014 during that first storm when everyone had to sleep in their cars on the highway and he was in complete disbelief. He got around when he was here because he has 4 wheel drive but no one has that down here either.

  154. Rhett – the lack of security persisted into the 80s. We went to FL to visit the grandparents and they would come right out onto the tarmac to pick us up, maybe 50 ft from the plane.

  155. This summer on Delta I was trying to book a rt ticket for myself and a one way for my DD (we’d be on the same outgoing flight). I couldn’t book it online so I had to call. It took 45 minutes for them to correctly issue me tickets and waive unaccompanied minor and seat fees. It was ridiculous. The agent kept telling me that they were two reservations and they couldn’t be connected. Once we got that settled, they then told me it would be an extra $50 to seat us together. Since the age of DD requires her to sit next to me I had to fight to get that fee waived.

    Delta’s latest is that they offer a cheap ticket but you don’t get a seat until the day of the flight. I’ll book my family on those cheap tickets. The last few times I’ve done that my kids were placed in single seats through the plane, so I have to make the airline move other passengers to get us together.

  156. The south doesn’t prepare for snow/ice because it only happens every 3 or 4 years (so maybe we’re due this year).

    Everyone down there says this, but it seems like at least once every year in Dallas and Atlanta there’s snow/ice storm that shuts down the airports and completely messes up air travel through the whole country. I guess the definition of “infrequently” is in the eye of the beholder.

  157. On Rhett’s article, I agree with a lot of what that guy says. I disagree with him on the “let the kids form their own society” stuff. What I’ve found is that the people who promote the “boys will be boys” mantra were at the top of the hierarchy when they were kids. They have no idea how miserable things were for the kids at the bottom were and how deep the scars can go.

  158. Rhett – that is an interesting article. I especially loved the part about how kids stop what they are doing and get quiet when an adult comes into the room. I remember that so well from when I was little!

  159. We may have the once a season snowstorm too. Here, I noticed the city got a hold of brine spraying trucks which they deploy in advance to combat icy roads. But basically everything shuts down for a day or two. Everyone counts on the snow to melt in that timeframe. If we get a freeze we are truly Frozen in.

  160. Denver – you would think the airports would be able to function a bit better but really, the last time we were home due to snow/ice was 2014. Dallas may get hit more than we do (I seem to remember my husband saying the Dallas office was closed due to snow in the last year or two). The bigger mistake made in 2014 was having school when the storm was scheduled to start in the early afternoon. Then they overcorrected a few weeks later and we were home when it was raining.

  161. Denver, I agree absolutely about the pecking order. Also, I am old and remember those days. You didn’t get to jump on trampolines unsupervised. And if you climbed up on the roof, you got yelled at and you got your butt swatted and maybe you got grounded.

    He reads as such a typical Silicon Valley Libertarian Asshole® . That’s one part of Palo Alto that I don’t miss, and it’s only gotten worse.

  162. Rhett, our boys went to a school sort of like the backyard described in your linked article. As a risk-averse mom I was horrified at first to see boys swinging branches around like swords and climbing trees but it was really a great experience. It reminded both DH and I of our unsupervised childhoods.

  163. Instead of swords, my neighbor got a bunch of pool noodles so there was a lot of fighting with pool noodles. In the summer, the sprinkler slip and slides are popular. My neighbors are careful with their small inflatable pools because we do have some small tots mixed in with the older kids – they don’t want a drowning accident.

  164. That guy was profiled in that book by the Stanford dean. I agree with him on the basics (kids need free time to play by themselves outside without parents hovering,etc.) but there is no way I would ever turn my backyard into a play emporium for my children. My husband might get to building them a tree fort in the next year or two and other than that they can make their own fun in the yard.

  165. “In the late 90s, I seem to recall having to check in as you couldn’t get through security with just a ticket*. You needed to check in with your paper ticket and get a boarding bass. But, my memory is a little fuzzy on that step.”

    See, I remember specifically in my early young professional days when I traveled a lot, going directly to the gate to get my boarding pass. If you didn’t have to check bags, you could just walk through security with your carry on. No ticket needed. Needing a ticket to get through security was a post-9/11 change. Before that, anyone could walk around the airport concourses – no need to be a traveler. This is where people would come meet you at the gate, go to the airport just to watch the planes (see, Kramer going to the airport to bet on the times the planes would arrive, etc).

    I also remember going to the airport to purchase tickets with a check (!) in the mid-90’s. The options were the airport counter, a travel agent, or a ticket office. The airport was closer to my house than a ticket office, so I went there.

  166. I seriously miss ticket offices. They made life so much simpler. I remember getting stuck at the airport in a blizzard, looking at the insane crowds and lines and realizing I had to change my flight, and just leaving the airport for the nearby ticket office where I got my ticket changed, no problem.

  167. “What I’ve found is that the people who promote the “boys will be boys” mantra were at the top of the hierarchy when they were kids. They have no idea how miserable things were for the kids at the bottom were and how deep the scars can go.”

    I agree. I think all the focus on bullying in schools is good. My impression is that while there is more discussion about bullying, the actual bullying is much less frequent and MUCH milder at DS’s ES (or even in his sports teams & activities) than in mine or DH’s in the 80’s. The anit-bullying discussion and talk about inclusion is actually working to promote a better environment for kids.

  168. They made life so much simpler. I remember getting stuck at the airport in a blizzard, looking at the insane crowds and lines

    Now you get a call and e-mail that you’re flight has been canceled and then you get an e-mail saying you’ve been automatically rebooked.

  169. I used to fly on the Eastern and Pan Am shuttles with a little coupon book from the firm. One of the lawyers I travelled with had a goal of never stopping once he got out of the cab. Straight to the gate and onto the plane. Security was minimal. But smoking was allowed on the plane.

  170. I remember one time back in the 80s that I managed to turn in the rental car and not break stride until I got on the plane.

  171. Delta’s latest is that they offer a cheap ticket but you don’t get a seat until the day of the flight. I’ll book my family on those cheap tickets. The last few times I’ve done that my kids were placed in single seats through the plane, so I have to make the airline move other passengers to get us together.

    That’s on you and IMO the airline should leave it up to you to get other passengers to move if you want to sit together. You are making a decision to buy tickets that you know are not guaranteed to have adjacent seating because you don’t want to pay the higher cost to have that. It’s completely unreasonable IMO for you to expect the airline to accommodate you.

  172. Needing a ticket to get through security was a post-9/11 change.

    The NY area airports started that back in the mid to late 1980s.

  173. We grew up an hour from the airport, so notices of late flight weren’t much help. I remember picking my grandma up at the gate, and going to wave to her from the roof after we’d dropped her at the gate on her way home.

  174. Denver, I reserve seats if it’s free. If only lousy ones are left, I’ll wait and get assignments at the gate

  175. I was flying on my own as a teenager by 1967 and took my first plane ride at the age of 2 weeks coming home in adoption parlance. So in the way of senior citizens of any era, talk of 1985 as prehistory is amusing.

  176. In spring of 2001, I surprised DH (we lived in separate states) with a visit. He was told by co-workers that he needed to meet some business associate at the airport, and met me at the gate. I think it was 9/11 that led to security requiring a boarding pass to get through.

    I refuse to pay for seats to sit together. I book and if we can’t be placed in a row, I don’t choose seats and make the gate agent deal with it. United is the worst for this. I’ve never had a problem, and like the child-ghetto at the back – people are more relaxed about wiggly kids, someone’s kids are behaving worse than mine, and the engine noise is loudest. Perfect.

  177. “What I’ve found is that the people who promote the “boys will be boys” mantra were at the top of the hierarchy when they were kids. They have no idea how miserable things were for the kids at the bottom were and how deep the scars can go.”

    Yep. Still dealing with those scars. Meme pointed out once that a reason they are so deep is the very clear message he got from teachers & school admin that he wasn’t worth taking care of. It gives me a very weird set-up for parenting. There are all sorts of things that my kid handles just fine, apparently better than a lot of kids, so I never worry about them. Otoh, he can be overwhelmed by social/emotional issues that other people don’t even recognize as a thing, so I get very involved with them. He is learning there, but proceeds very cautiously, so not very fast. My concern in a “dangerous” playground isn’t the objects, it’s my kid’s response to the other kids.

  178. The NY -DC shuttles were awesome. I once left home in DC and got to National in 12 minutes. I lived right near a bridge to VA. Ran to plane and door shut behind me. I paid on board and then my mom picked me up in NY. I think it was a 2 hour trip door to door from DC because my mom was only 25 minutes to LGA with no traffic. The key was no auto traffic, but you could run on to those shuttles at the last second. They would actually roll out extra planes if they were full just to compete with each other once Eastern wasn’t the only game in town.

  179. “Needing a ticket to get through security was a post-9/11 change.
    The NY area airports started that back in the mid to late 1980s.”

    I also remember needing a ticket to get to the gate at SFO well before 9/11.

    I’m also old enough to have certain memories of air travel:

    -The stewardesses, as they were called back then, passing out Chiclets to all passengers to help with ear popping in unpressurized cabins.

    -Passengers getting dressed up for plane flights.

    -Having to weigh (passenger + baggage) in at check in. There was a limit on total weight.

    -Air sickness being a regular occurrence– it seemed at least a few barf bags were used on every flight. The stewardesses usually had some smelling salts.

    -Most of the luggage was boxes tied with string. Lucky Lager beer boxes were especially popular as luggage.

  180. They still give pins on several airlines, but it seems to depend on a nice flight attendant or pilot.

  181. Was just asked this morning if I was Jewish. I meant to ask more about this practice but was late for work and didn’t have the time.

  182. “The NY area airports started that back in the mid to late 1980s.”

    I went to the gate at JFK to pick up my boyfriend in 1998.

  183. “Having to weigh (passenger + baggage) in at check in. There was a limit on total weight.”

    Isn’t this a small plane thing? I remember doing this when I took a prop plane once, and they still have scales at the gates that have the small planes that go to Key West from SW Florida & Miami.

  184. It used to be such a bfd to make *sure* you had the tickets when heading to the airport. I remember when it first became possible to call it up by reservation number — they still gave you what looked like the normal paper ticket, but there was all this verbiage about how it was actually an e-ticket and the paper ticket wasn’t magic and the important thing was the e-ticket number.

    Once when my sibs and I were young, my parents had a tense moment at the airport when my mother thought she’d given the tickets to my father and he thought she hadn’t. It turned out she’d given them to my two-year-old brother, who was still dutifully clutching them. I guess traveling with little kids wasn’t any less crazy-making back in the day.

    We were on a smoking train car for a few minutes last week before getting straightened out that there was a no-smoking one available heading for the correct destination (it was one of those trains that splits up midway), and my kids griped *so much*. I told them about the bad old days when you’d be in the non-smoking section of the airplane, in the row immediately in front of the smokers. I’m not sure they really believed me.

  185. HM, I distinctly remember getting stuck in that row on a shuttle flight because the partner traveling with me didn’t want to wait an hour for the next shuttle. Had to take that lady lawyer suit to the cleaners before I could wear it again. Just a few months later, smoking was banned on short flights and it was such a relief. And they still had a huge selection of free magazines and newspapers to grab as you boarded.

  186. Just catching up:

    “For some reason, I find that asking for a blessing before a meal is different.” — Perhaps because grace before a meal is giving thanks for the blessings bestowed upon you, while praying for your team to win before a football game is inherently selfish and self-important (as it implies that you think that God has nothing more important to deal with than making sure your special snowflake is victorious).

    @Rhode: “I’m sorry” is non-specific. It could mean “I’m sorry I did X to you,” which clearly implies that X is my fault. But it could equally well mean “I’m sorry this crappy thing happened to you,” which is expressing empathy, not fault.

    I try to look at all of the “prayers” etc. as people trying to express care for you. I do have my own personal beliefs and preferences (e.g., knee-jerk negative reaction to requirements that women cover/hide their faces, hair, bodies, etc.), but it’s also not my business how others exercise their religions. So just as I hope others don’t try to foist their beliefs on me, I try not to foist mine on them and to take those sorts of thing in the spirit of good wishes, empathy, etc.

    The hard part of this exercise is when it comes to dealing with evangelicals. It is a fundamental tenet of their religion that it is their responsibility to spread the good news, just like it is a fundamental tenet of my belief system that people should do their own thing as long as no one gets hurt. So when someone strikes me as a little too in-your-face (but in a nice way), and I’m feeling pressured/uncomfortable, I try to frame it up in my mind that this *is* part of how they exercise their religion and smile and nod.

    What does bug me is overt worship that seems designed to call attention to the greatness of the worshipper (e.g., the “the good Lord blessed me with this awesome ability to score touchdowns”) or, as discussed above, the particular obliviousness of “God spared us because he loves us [UMC white people] so much.”

  187. “Isn’t this a small plane thing? I remember doing this when I took a prop plane once”

    Small is relative, but I definitely remember the weigh-ins for DC-3 flights. Those are prop planes, but I imagine they’re bigger than the prop planes you’re thinking of.

  188. “God apparently has it in for the northern Philippines just now.”

    And apparently has many times in the past.

  189. I googled DC-3, and that is the type/size of plane that I was thinking of for my own flight. Seated about 20 maybe? Smaller than a regional jet, but not the kind where there are only 2-4 passengers.

  190. That SV dad is terrible. The reason so few kids die from falling off roofs is because normal parents don’t let their kids walk on them. And his boys will be boys and moms making them in to sissies attitude is kind of gross and sexist. And the idea of building a super expensive playground in your backyard so that your kids will want to be there while simultaneously mocking helicopter parents is quite special.

  191. I went to the gate at JFK to pick up my boyfriend in 1998.

    Then maybe it was just Newark And LGA. I never flew out of JFK.

  192. I permit my children to climb trees as high as the roof of our second story house and on top of the swingset regardless of gender. I just happened to have all boys (first) that wanted to do those things.

    We’ll see if Baby WCE wants to.

  193. What Kate said. I always love arguments about how you just don’t hear about [insert behavior with potentially fatal consequences here], so therefore it must not be a real issue. When the reality is (i) most right-thinking people don’t intentionally encourage their kids to do things with potentially fatal consequences, and (ii) the folks who took that bet and lost aren’t here to say, well, umm, hey, it didn’t really work out so well for me. Idiot.

    On the plus side, someone will likely get hurt and he will get sued (since, last I checked, eye-rolling disdain for tort suits does, in fact, convey immunity from such suits). Except he won’t actually learn from it — it will all get written off as more proof of the pervasiveness of the helicopter-industrial-parenting-complex.

    I really don’t think it’s asking too much to say, “hey, you kids, get the hell off the roof.” And actually mean it.

  194. Kate, I just read the article, and whoah, the misogyny oozing out of that guy. He’s like a more successful version of the Balloon Boy dad.

    It’ll be interesting to read his op-ed on the need for tort reform in a few years.

  195. LfB,

    Though I agree that asking God for a football victory is probably not a good prayer, IMO it’s not because God is like a busy CEO who has more important things to do. That is a reasonable objection but it essentially puts human limitations on God’s power and love. Someone once pointed out to me that the first miracle performed by Jesus in the Gospel of John was not curing the sick or raising the dead but changing water into wine. In response to a request, which amounted to a prayer. So it’s ok, in my view, to ask God for material things so long as we are also wanting to do his will rather than our own.

  196. the first miracle performed by Jesus in the Gospel of John was not curing the sick or raising the dead but changing water into wine.

    Wasn’t He really annoyed that His mother asked Him to do it?

  197. I admired the commitment to free play of my daughter’s friend’s mom who, even after said friend broke her arm falling out of a tree, did nothing to stop her from continuing to climb trees once the arm had healed. There’s still a rope ladder on our ginormous lychee tree from those years.

  198. (It wasn’t our tree that she fell out of, though! But my daughter and friends had divided the lychee tree up into “rooms” so they’d each be perched up in their own section of it, pulling the ladder up to keep out intruders.)

  199. My parents and inlaws were fond of saying, in response to our insistence on car seats or baby monitors or safety straps in strollers, “well you kids didn’t have any of that and you all survived.” Yes we did but other kids sadly did not, which they never seemed to grasp.

    Now I hear DH complain about having to put the grand babies to sleep on their backs and it’s like Deja Vu all over again…..

  200. our ginormous lychee tree

    YOU HAVE A LYCHEE TREE?!? With actual lychees that you can eat and and make into shakes?

  201. What I’ve found is that the people who promote the “boys will be boys” mantra were at the top of the hierarchy when they were kids.

    Possible. I also wonder if he was super meek and nerdy as a kid and this is his way of overcompensating.

  202. Rhett, for a nonbeliever you know your Scripture!! I’m not a Scripture scholar but have read that his response “Woman how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come?” was not nearly as disrespectful in the original text as it seems to modern readers of the translation.

  203. Scarlett,

    WCE was told He was turning it into grape juice. The interpretations do seem to vary quite a bit.

  204. Wasn’t He really annoyed that His mother asked Him to do it?

    I always thought the way the story is portrayed in the reading is that He is really annoyed and does it anyway.

  205. I always thought the way the story is portrayed in the reading is that He is really annoyed and does it anyway.

    Which right there is probably proof of divinity.

  206. Rhett, it’s not lychee season right now, but yes. We also have avocado, mango, starfruit, calamansi, surinam cherry, guava, and strawberry guava. And breadfruit, but it’s a young tree and has yet to bear.

  207. “WCE was told He was turning it into grape juice.”

    Then someone else had to turn the grape juice into wine?

  208. HM, what are you going to do with the ulu when the breadfruit tree starts to bear? Do you know a way to prepare it that makes it appetizing? I’ve tried a number of different preparations and not liked any of them.

  209. First, use it when it’s still green. The very tastiest is to slice it into wedges about an inch thick and fry it (pan with half inch of oil, flip it) and salt it. But I usually cut it into 1-2 inch cubes and toss it with olive oil and salt and high-heat roast it on a baking sheet instead. Everyone comes by to sneak pieces off the baking sheet before it’s officially available.

    If it’s starting to ripen already but not too ripe, you can cut it into thicker wedges and roast it skin-on. It’s kinda hard to peel if it’s already ripening.

  210. I’m so ono for fried breadfruit now . . . I guess it’s getting on for lunch time.

  211. “how you just don’t hear about [insert behavior with potentially fatal consequences here], so therefore it must not be a real issue.” That’s the argument that says that Oba,a has increased racism in this country.

  212. “DS has been at college over 8 weeks, and so far I have resisted the temptation to look at to see what he’s doing.”

    Just about a year ago, I was talking to another dad while we were watching our DDs’ softball game. His son had just started college, and he showed me how he, “like any good helicopter parent,” could track his DS’ phone. He started the app, and we watched as his DS apparently left his dorm and walked to the dining hall.

    “which meningitis B vaccine was he supposed to get”

    I’ve heard that either is OK, but they both involve a series of shots and it’s important to stay with one or the other.

    BTW, BenL and Cordelia, I appreciate these little snippets of life when kids fly the nest for college.

  213. Rhett, I went to CCD too but learned only how to glue felt doves onto burlap banners. And we did sing Kumbaya and other period guitar ditties.

  214. Scarlett, you’ve said before that you went to CCD but didn’t learn anything. I never understood why.

  215. @Scarlett: good point about the human limitations – I guess since I am human, that is my natural filter. ☺️ But the part that bothers me is the concept of praying for your team to win, which by definition means you are praying for the other team to lose, even though they probably worked equally hard and are just as deserving. OTOH, I have no problems with prayers like “please help me to work hard and give it my all to support my team,” because it doesn’t seem as selfish as asking for God to pick you to win and someone else to lose. But maybe that’s just me.

  216. Rhett, I went to CCD too but learned only how to glue felt doves onto burlap banners. And we did sing Kumbaya and other period guitar ditties.

    Scarlett, you went to St. Ann’s in Palo Alto? How remarkable! I used to go with a Catholic friend sometimes. The stuffy traditional Catholics went to St. Thomas Aquinas.

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