History Lives

One of the things that stuck with me most during my trip to London last year was the incredible diversity of the city. Anglo-Saxons, Indians, Sikhs, the whole nine yards. People from seemingly everywhere came to live or work in the English capital.

All of this makes sense for those who know anything about British History. Everyone comes to live in Britain because the British basically controlled everyone at one time or another. The Battle of Hastings in 1066 eventually led to Pax Britannica and an empire so large that the sun very literally “never set on the British Empire.”

That empire began to crumble when a war fought against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan for the freedom of the world revealed the inherent contradiction between colonialism and self-determination. When the Japanese Army swept across Southeast Asia, it showed the world that Europeans were not invincible.

From this history of cultural imperialism and exchange comes the incredible diversity of London. There, I saw the impact of history. History walked up and down the streets. History took the Tube every morning. History stopped at Greggs for a terrible-for-you, but so-dang-good breakfast roll.

Somehow it felt like London was doing it right, or at least better than Minneapolis. Minneapolis is certainly diverse, but it also feels divided in ways that London did not. Continue reading

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Island

(Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by friend of Nothing But The Rain and blogger extraordinaire Kelly of Adventures in Poor Grammar. I’d recommend checking out her blog post-haste.)

It’s been a weird day.

September 11th, 2013 finds me in church.

To be precise, September 11th, 2013 finds me in a Quaker Meeting House.

I like the Quakers. They don’t give a damn if you believe in Buddha, Baby Jesus or Carl Sagan. They’re just happy that you’re there. And they don’t ask anything aside from silence from you while you’re there. That kind of worship is perfect for an atheist who is, in fact, probably thinking about Carl Sagan while she’s sitting there.

It’s not unusual to find me in a Quaker Meeting. I try to attend when I can.

Something about today just made me need . . . what exactly? Community? God? Reassurance?

I can’t think of an American born prior to 2001 who doesn’t feel a tiny bit of dread as the September 11th approaches, but personally, my dread has less to do with what happened on 9/11/2001 and more to do with the past twelve years.   Continue reading

New History

(Editor’s Note: This is a slightly updated version of something posted as a Facebook note several years ago. Also, I got the house!)

Many of you know that I am buying a house. Last Tuesday, I paid a home inspector to check out my (hopefully) future abode. After he looked it over, he asked me what I did for a living. I told him I was a history teacher. Without missing a beat, he asked, “You’re not teaching that ‘new history,’ are you?” I charmingly told him that I teach the truth and nothing but the truth. I didn’t think about it again until today. Continue reading