Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Why English Teachers Die Young

Actual analogies and metaphors found in high school essays:
  1. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.
  2. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.
  3. He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.
  4. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. coli and he was room temperature Canadian beef.
  5. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.
  6. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.
  7. He was as tall as a six-foot-three-inch tree.
  8. The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife's infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge free ATM.
  9. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't.
  10. McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.
  11. From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.
  12. Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.
  13. The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.
  14. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.
  15. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.
  16. He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant and she was the East River.
  17. Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.
  18. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.
  19. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.
  20. He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.
  21. The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.
  22. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.
  23. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.
  24. Her eyes were like limpid pools, only they had forgotten to put in any pH cleanser.
  25. She walked into my office like a centipede with 98 missing legs.
  26. It hurt the way your tongue hurts after you accidentally staple it to the wall.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


Jesus gave this nickname to Zebedee's two sons, James and John. The word "boanerges" means "sons of thunder", which describes the character of two young men who, in their zeal for Jesus, once wanted to call down fire from heaven to destroy a whole city that did not welcome Jesus (Luke 9:52-56).

Significantly, Jesus did not politely and humbly decline their request -- He rebuked them for their attitude.
These are the same two, if you recall, who later got their mother to ask on their behalf about James & John getting the thrones on either side of Jesus once the Kingdom came in its fullness.

Again, significantly, Jesus not only declines their request, but rebukes their attitude and instructs ALL of the disciples that they were never to seek to "lord it over" other apprentices of Jesus (Matthew 20:20-28).

What is amazing to realize is that this same John (James was an early martyr, as described in Acts 12:1-2), is the apprentice who went on to write the Gospel of St. John, as well as three letters, and the apocalyptic Book of Revelation.

John is known primarily as the "Apostle of Love". His gospel and the three letters that he penned all stress the love of God, and the love that Jesus commanded His apprentices to have for each other.

Church tradition says that an elderly St. John, so frail that he had to be carried to gatherings of the Body, when asked to bring a teaching, would say over and over, "little children, love one another".

We don't know much about John's life between the time he was with Jesus, and near the end of his life when he wrote the gospel, the letters, and Revelation. What is fascinating to note is that the young man whom Jesus had once nicknamed "Son of Thunder" was now known as the "Apostle of Love". Obviously, a lot had changed in John over the years.

It would not be far-fetched to suggest that the "sons of thunder" approach of John Boanerges in his early years -- which Jesus repeatedly rebuked -- is a sign of spiritual immaturity. Conversely, the love that St. John stressed in his later life is a sign of his spiritual maturity; as he grew up spiritually, he became less of a fighter and more of a lover.

The question for me is: What kind of a man do I want to be known as? Boanerges or the apostle of love?