Thank You, My Students

Dear Houston Christian students, the number of letters I have received in the mail this summer from you, my former students, is unreal. The emails and private messages are so comprehensible and thoughtful. In checking my mail today and reading what another former student wrote is humbling. Hey students from Houston Christian –thank you. It means the world to read your thoughts and appreciation for our time together. To see and read about what you are doing or about to do now that many of you are out of college motivates me. Having you share your freedom to be you is gratifying. Some of you are now able to live in your identity: gay, lesbian, transgender, etc. Others are motivated to use your faith to do what is right for others. For some, our beliefs in religion and many other things are so vastly different, and yet reading your thoughtful notes is profound. I am really moved by you. I am glad we were able to spend time together…in and out of the classroom. Please know that I keep a rainy day file in my office. I have kept everything. Some of you have traveled to stay with me, dine and drink with me, and yes, continue to make fun of me. There are so many graduating classes I admire. In the end — I admire all of you. I hate weddings and rarely attend them, but I will be honored if you desire to travel to yours as I have done in the past. Having you dedicate your thesis to me and ask me to be in your wedding has been an honor. You are loved and missed.

Small Talk

After my last Saturday class was dismissed, I was in a great conversation with a student; he asked: what is a bad learning situation for a student? I stated being in a place that is insular and/or does not allow one to engage in diverse conversations with a number of people. It is hard to expand the mind in such a stagnant setting. He then asked: what is the best? I stated being in a place with diverse students and teachers. Ideally, a perfect place would have gay/lesbian teachers; black, white, Hispanic, and Asian teachers; Christian, Muslim, atheist, and others. The greater the perspective, the more intense the learning. This is a perfect setting.

Nice Honor to a Teacher

Lerin Rutherford, my former student and our Valedictorian at Houston Christian, acknowledging me in her bound thesis from Davidson College. This is why I do this. This image will go in my book one day on being a master history teacher. Lerin is currently in her second year at Baylor College of Medicine. We shared a number of great outings together — wine, very late dinners, coffee, you name it. And in doing so, I loved my conversations with her. Click on the images below.

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Great Students!!!

Okay. I must confess. I absolutely love the students that I teach. They mean the world to me. The class of 2013 is a personal favorite of mine. I have grown so much in my relationship with them. I am honored to be their speaker at commencement. I am honored to be called TEACHER by them. The two videos below made me smile and yes, cry a bit. What a great group. I will miss so many of them.

Below my students making fun of me:

I do use mucho too much.

Election: Do You Know Where Your Students Are?

I can honestly say I love my students. They are loyal and hard-core. Sure, they are a bit nerdy — but that is cool these days. Kelsey Deberry emails me a picture of her election night. If I could offer one piece of advice to underclassmen — it would be this: Take a Carson class. You have not experienced anything until you have sat around that table and conversed with madness. Oh, my students are texting, emailing, calling, and face booking me.

“Civil Unionism” and True Marriage Equality by Jack Detiveaux

This post was written by Jack Detiveaux, a senior student at Houston Christian. Jack was a student in my AP US  History course during his junior year, and is currently a senior enrolled in my AP US Government & Politics course. Jack will most likely be attending some New England university next fall. This blog post emerged from a class discussion regarding the extent to which government should regulate marriage. Jack, being a Libertarian, presented an interesting argument during one of our class discussions. I must state that I too agree with the notion that marriage should go unregulated except for contractual elements.

When looking at the issue of marriage inequality in the United States, it seems clear that under the Civil Rights Act, there is no basis for any legislation prohibiting homosexual marriage. As a conservative libertarian and Christian, even I realize this and understand that in the current system of marriage legislation, marriage equality is a must. However, the current system of marriage legislation by way of state-by-state regulation is completely unjustified upon closer inspection. Marriage is a cultural institution for which the only real justification provided for governmental recognition is taxation and census taking. To assert that it should be regulated violates the separation of church and state. This changes the question from ‘should marriage equality exist under the government?’ to ‘should marriage recognition (hetero- or homosexual) exist under the government’. The answer to the latter question is a firm no. However, one cannot honestly go about thinking that the idea of the unification of two individuals can or should be abolished, even in the eyes of the government. The answer to this lies within the system that many states have been passing off as a weak form of ‘marriage equality’ for years: Civil Unions.

When looking at marriage as an institution and its relationship to the government, one realizes a couple things. To start, it is rooted very strongly in religious precedent. The concept of marriage itself implies a spiritual union rather than just the physical. On this basis alone, the regulation of marriage should be deemed unconstitutional as a clear violation of church and state. However another thing one might realize is that the crimes of a marriage are not punishable in the United States. For instance, adultery is not illegal by any means although it clearly violates the implied cultural laws of a marriage. The enforcement of marriage should mean the enforcement of marriage laws but since one doesn’t exist, neither should the other. Lastly, one can see that the only real reason for recognizing the unity of two individuals in the government is for tax and census reasons, which is certainly not reason to violate church and state separation. Taking all of this into account, one really must ask the question of what is constitutional.

The answer to this lies within the Civil Union. Under ideal legislation, a civil union would only be used to identify those who are living together and are eligible for joint taxes as well as for census purposes. The key here however is that this would be the governmental representation of couples both hetero- and homosexual and each “couple” would be treated exactly the same under the law. From here, couples could be ‘married’ under whatever cultural institution they choose whether it be the Christian church or otherwise without government intervention or licensing. As far as this writer is concerned, this should eliminate all problems caused by marriage inequality today. Union-equality would be achieved. Theists shouldn’t be angry as the only true validation of a marriage they need is through their God. No more confusion regarding the definition of marriage. No more violation of church and state law. The civil union based society is truly the most constitutional answer to the current situation regarding marriage inequality.