A Custom Religious Wedding

All weddings are unique. Some are more unique than others.

When I first sat down with Joel and Kelly we had already rejected the wedding ceremony that I had created and used three times previously. It's an excellent ceremony, but they wanted something religious, and that one really wasn't. I didn't know how the meeting would go, but I knew that I wanted to be open to exploring the possibility of something custom made and tailored just for them.

The Bible offers a plethora of stories. Humans think in stories, and we live stories. They contain more of a comprehensive framework for interpretation and interaction with the world than can ever be processed in a less symbolic way. I thought I might be able to use that.

I wasn't sure if I could turn any story in the Bible into a wedding ceremony, but I was willing to give it a go. I was curious to see if it would work. If it did, then we would have an awesome wedding. And, if it wasn't working, then we could just switch to…

A Bilingual Wedding

I've given hundreds of speeches, but I never had one translated live. Until this wedding.

My friend Jelitza is originally from Puerto Rico. Her first language is Spanish. She's done very well at teaching herself English over the last few years, but some of her family still prefers Spanish, especially the ones who traveled from Puerto Rico to Michigan for the wedding.

Luckily Jelitza has a cousin that is fluent in both English and Spanish, who was also willing to speak in front of a crowd, Margarita. The core group of the wedding party met a few times before the ceremony so that we could figure things out. There were a few things that were different about this ceremony, such as the blessing done at the end by two of Jelitza's cousins from Puerto Rico who are ministers. But, the translating was the part that I was most concerned with.

Margarita and I worked out where I would stop and she would repeat what I had said. I gave her a copy of my ceremony so she could translate it…

A Rogue Flower Girl, and the Ring Bearer Follows

Something will go amiss at the wedding. It's one of those rare things that you can count on in life. Those are the things that you remember, and they are often the things that make a wedding unique.

At the rehearsal for my cousin Alexis and her then-fiance Josh almost everything went well. There was some hesitation about the flower girl and the ring bearer both being so young.

The prudent decision was made to have the ring bearer carry the box without the rings in it. When he was coming down the aisle in rehearsal I wondered if he was going to make it to me. Everyone had a guess on where he would end up. I figured he would break into a run to one of his parents at some point. I was completely wrong. People were directing him to come to me. So, he ran up to me and clung to my leg! Hahaha.

I assured everyone of a few things. One, if that happened during the ceremony then he would have successfully delivered the box. Two, that if anything went wild then I would be the one to step in …

Receiving Praise

It's a dangerous thing to read the comments on your writing. It's dangerous to your mental health. We often take comments that we receive online as if it were people talking to us. And, it's different. People are often willing to be insulting and threatening online when they wouldn't be in person. Even if that's not happening, it's difficult to communicate tone and such in writing, so things that would come across differently in person are lost when done in writing. But, sometimes it's great to read comments.

I've been debating things online for the last couple of decades. I've benefited from some of the discussions, but being able to ignore comments, or to read them and then not respond, is an even better skill.

Public comments are unique because there can be different intentions. Some people are honestly engaging with you and asking sincere questions or making sincere comments. In those cases I try to respond in kind.

Then there are all of the peo…

Fun Training for Short Answer Questions with Masha

I always found writing exercises in school boring and not useful. That's probably why I didn't become a writer earlier in my life. When I teach writing I therefore strive to avoid repeating that sense of agentic boredom that school propagates so well.

Let's do a little bit of deep thinking before we dive into our fun and creative writing exercise.

It's important to actually learn things. School is very bad for that, so you have to take care of that on your own. But, it's also important to be able to get through school. Most people think that school is important, they just don't really know why. It's for a couple of reasons. One, success in school selects for a useful form of conformity, i.e. a high level of conscientiousness and a low level of defiance. Thus, it acts as a societal filter. Two, school is a form of social approval. It's hard to know what's good, or real, or true. One of the two main ways that people determine these things is by lookin…

I Went to a Writing Group - March 11th, 2020

The world is gripped in collective fear of the Wuhan coronavirus right now. Our writing prompt hit that note on the head.

- - - - - - -

How would you (or your character) react if the whole world shut down for a virus?

- - - - - - -
Literature plays with the most important and serious subjects that humans encounter. Death, killing, abduction, violence, loss, lying, grief, deception, war, murder, law, medicine, politics, technology, love, etc. There's a reason that these are all common subjects in stories.

Cannibalism is a very rare phenomenon in real life, but it's fairly common in stories, e.g. zombies, Hansel and Gretel, the Three Little Pigs, vampires, werewolves, etc. These stories are playing at the fringe of human experience, and yet revealing important truths about human nature and the structure of existence.

Playing with virus stories during a virus outbreak is thus appropriate. Not to mention, putting any type of experience into a coherent narrative helps you to proces…

Good, Evil, and Art - The Rape of Proserpina by Bernini - Part 1

The Rape of Proserpina by Gian Lorenzo Bernini is the greatest sculpture ever made. There is the great technical skill in how he made the marble come to life. It even looks soft. But more important than that, he was able to capture the pivotal moral struggle from a mythical story in a single frozen moment of time. And he did it in 1622 when he was 23 years old, which is astounding.

Here's a quick overview of the story. I'm going to use the Greek version of the names instead of the Latin.

Hades is king of the Underworld. He doesn't have a wife, but he wants one. There are various deals and intrigues cut with the other gods, which we will skip. Persephone is abducted by Hades and taken to the Underworld where she becomes his queen. Another series of intrigues happens so that she only spends part of the year there, and that's what gives us our seasons.

Bernini's sculpture is the specific moment that Hades grabs Persephone and drags her away to the Underworld. What'…

I Went to a Writing Group - February 26th, 2020

Sometimes you get a prompt that you follow. Sometimes you get creative.

Analiese wasn't sure what to do for a prompt, so she asked a colleague at the library for a word. The response? "Zipper."

That seems like a decent challenge, to write a story in 30 minutes starting from just the word "zipper." Analiese wrote this on a whiteboard and put a squiggly line under it. The line kind of looked like a tornado, kind of. So I decided I would probably write a story about a tornado.

Just before we started to write, it came up in our square table chat that someone somewhere had once proposed the idea of writing about lightning without using the sense of sight. And of course, I could write about that too. Or anything else I want. The group is based on freedom and encouragement, so we're pretty open.

I sat for a minute or two thinking over the situation, and then I started.

- - - - - - -

Another cracking sound as something smacked against the window of the SUV.

Cindy j…

Fighting Local Government Corruption - Part 16 of ?

"A Republican can't win in Dalton Township." That's a statement that I've heard more than a few times recently. But, I'll show you why it isn't true.

The idea that a Republican can't win an election in Dalton Township has become so pervasive that it's literally turned into a local myth. I've heard the rumor that Dalton has a special law, a law that somehow makes it impossible for a Republican to win the election. I'm here to dispel that myth.

I could go through a lot of numbers, but I'm not going to do that. Just a few will illustrate my point. The last time a Republican ran for Supervisor in Dalton Township was in 2008. Things change over 12 years. And in Dalton, they have.

Look at the numbers from 2016. In Dalton more people voted for the straight-party Republican ticket than for the Democrats, 842 versus 826. In Dalton more people voted for the Republican Donald Trump than the Democrat Hillary Clinton, 2308 versus 1589. The people o…

Five Key Documents in the History of Freedom

Freedom has a long and hard fought history. There have been many steps, and the struggle continues. And it will continue, forever. There is no way to establish freedom once and for all. It's a value that has to be enacted anew from within each individual, in every place, in every generation.

When you study the history of freedom there are patterns that emerge. For instance, there needs to be a way to demand rights for people. That falls onto two main foundations. Either, people deserve rights because they are citizens; or, people deserve rights because they are humans. Citizen rights and human rights are always the foundational keystones.

Also, individual rights are usually gained in specific circumstances. When the general population is dissatisfied with corruption and abuse, when there are multiple strong leaders, and when some of the powerful and influential people realize that the best way to protect their own rights is to secure universal individual rights. When those things …

One Session as a Writing Coach

I'm going to reveal more of the coaching process in this article. Each student is unique, and each session is unique. So the process is never the same, but there still is a process to finding the way forward.

I never thought I would teach writing, or public speaking, or meditation. I'm even roleplaying out casting calls for an actress now. I've taught computer programmers, surgeons, rich business owners, young entrepreneurs, finance directors, project managers, and many students. All sorts of people.

I've talked with them about all sorts of things. One of the unique things about my sessions is that you can ask me anything, including personal health and finances, religion, politics, whatever. (I did have to start noting not to get mad about our differences though, because one person didn't like that I don't think Islam is a particularly peaceful religion. Which I think can change just like other religions have, but I'll leave all of that for another article.…

Donate to Jeff's Work