Some Thoughts on Academic Dishonesty and Instructor Clarity (or possibly the lack thereof)

True story: the first time I ever dealt with plagiarism in the classroom, a student plagiarized something from my own blog (the same one you’re reading this on, incidentally. Link to follow, below). It was a course on New Testament, and I had assigned a novel called The Shadow of the Galilean to give students a bit of a different perspective into the historical Jesus and Roman-occupied Judea. (It’s a delightful book, by the way, and you should read it if you haven’t.)

The assignment was relatively open ended. I told them I wanted to “review” this book. That’s it. “Review.” At that point in my career, I believed an assignment as unspecific as this one would allow students the freedom to explore, and to focus on aspects of the book that they found interesting. I was so incredibly wrong.

The day after I gave the assignment, a number of students showed up at my office asking what they were actually supposed to be doing in this assignment. They had been reading the book for the past few weeks and so had a good grasp of what was going on in it. They simply didn’t know what I meant by “review.” So we chatted about the types of things that go into a review: give a brief summary, point out some of the good, some of the less-than-good, and give you assessment. This seemed helpful to most who stopped by.

(Important reminder: I’m currently describing an assignment that I now consider bad.)

The due date arrived, and students came to class with their essays. I sat down that night to grade a portion of them, and one of the first that I picked up began: “Gerd Theissen’s Shadow of the Galilean is one of the finest books on Jesus that I’ve read.”

My first thought: how many books on Jesus have you read?

My second thought: this sentence sounds eerily familiar.

As it turns out, it was familiar to me because it was taken from a blog post that I had written a few years previous. The title of the post is The Shadow of the Galilean (review), and I discovered that (at the time) if you did a Google search for “Review of Shadow of the Galilean,” it was one of the first results that appeared. My student had unknowingly plagiarized his professor. 1*Rit-GtU_K_aEsV06_x-Ilg

I e-mailed the student, and we set up a time to chat the following day. As I told him what I had discovered, he sat staring at the ground. I asked him if he had anything to say, and he responded (paraphrasing):

“Honestly? I fucked up. I had no idea what you wanted us to do in this assignment, and I was afraid that asking would make me look stupid. So I went and found a review and I used it. I’m embarrassed that I didn’t even realize you had wrote the review I found, but obviously the situation wouldn’t be any better if I had copied something else. It’s my fault.”

I appreciated the student’s willingness to own up to what he had done, of course, but more than that I actually appreciated his willingness to implicate me. The assignment that I gave wasn’t clear, and while I didn’t force him to go and copy and paste something from the internet, my lack of clarity contributed to a thought process that ultimately spiraled to this place. Saying that to my face took some serious chutzpah, to be sure, but it was a good learning opportunity for me.

We come up with all sorts of reasons to make sense of why students plagiarize: they procrastinate and run out of time, they’re lazy, they lack a sense of self-efficacy, etc. But in my experience we are generally not willing to be self-reflective enough to share some of the blame, at least on occasion. Maybe a student turns in someone else’s work because they have no idea what you want them to do in an assignment? Maybe your expectations are vague. And maybe, just maybe, you aren’t nearly as “accessible” to students as you think you are.

I’m thinking about this today because as I’m working on prepping my “HyFlex” courses for the fall semester. And as I’m going through assignments that I gave the last time I taught these classes, I’m realizing how much I depend on in-class time to go through assignment details and clarify expectations. I circulate handouts for all writing assignments, of course, but because I have that time in the classroom to go through them, I don’t have a whole lot of motivation to be super precise on every point. But in a HyFlex model, the time we spend together in the classroom is even more precious because there’s less of it. And so we have to be far more intentional about how we use it. And if we’re using it to explain assignment expectations, we’re wasting it.

I’m also thinking of ways that we can make sure students know that we are available in a  hybrid context (or, for some, a fully online one). After all, those conversations that happen after class, in our offices, or over coffee will be less common this semester. So how do we remain available? And how do we make sure that our students know know that asking questions about assignments is ok. That’s why we are here: to answer questions, to give feedback, and to guide the learning process. Yes, that’s the case even if you ask a question that’s answered in your syllabus. Oh, and speaking of your syllabus: how clear do you imagine that puppy actually is? But that’s a post for another day.

(If you’re curious, the student referenced above rewrote the assignment for partial credit and did a fantastic job. He finished the semester strong.)

I Asked Twitter About the Bible, and It Responded.

This past Tuesday, I posed a question to Twitter: “What’s your favorite example of something that people see in the biblical texts but that isn’t actually there?” Forty eight hours later, and that tweet has been seen over 65,000 times, and has garnered thousands of responses. As I write this, the conversation is actually still going.

In my tweet I gave two of my favorite examples of things that people see in the biblical texts but that aren’t actually there: an apple in the Garden of Eden and the image of Moses floating down the Nile River as a baby. A couple words on those.

In Genesis 3, where we find the famous story of the “fall” of humankind, the author does not specify that the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil produces a specific type fruit, much less an apple. But, thanks to a number of factors (artistic, linguistic, etc.), when people read the story involving the tree, they often see an apple because that’s what they’ve been conditioned to see.

Likewise the story of Moses: nearly every Hollywood production involving Moses begins with his family floating him down the river in a basket. But if you read the story in Exodus, you see quite clearly that Moses’s mother doesn’t float him down the river; she places him near the bank of the river, among the reeds. People see Moses floating down the river when they read the story because that’s what they’ve been conditioned to see by the cinema and, more likely, their children’s Bibles.

These are two relatively insignificant examples, of course, that in the grand scheme of things have little impact on really anything. They’re favorites of mine because I see them pops up regularly in my classrooms.

But I was curious to see what other examples people could come up with, hence my tweet. My question gained a lot of traction quite quickly thanks to two commanding voices on Twitter. First, Nyasha Junior responded with what I continue to think is probably the best response to the question: white people.

And second, the tweet got the attention of Chris Stroop, who then amplified it to his 40,000 or so followers. The past couple of days have been busy to say the least.

When tweets becomes as popular as this one did, it’s easy to lose control of them, and to lose track of who’s responded and what those responses were. But as I’ve been scrolling through the thread, I’ve been struck by a number of responses that seem to appear over and over again. There were two in particular that stuck out to me: one doctrinal and the other moral. A few words on each of those, beginning with the doctrinal.

By far one of the most common responses to my question was “the Trinity.” And there’s nothing terribly controversial about this. After all, the theological definition of the doctrine of the Trinity did not occur until the early fourth century, long after the texts of the New Testament had already been written. As such, those who find the doctrine of the Trinity spelled out in clear terms in the New Testament are wishful thinkers at best. But it’s also interesting to note the extent to which the ideas that would lead to the doctrine of the Trinity are present in someway in the New Testament. Relevant here is David Yeago’s important distinction between “judgments” and “concepts.” While the concepts of the Trinity and the eternal coexistence of the Son with the Father are not present in the first century, the judgment that Jesus is somehow God most certainly is, at least in some New Testament texts. One does not have to read too deeply in John’s Gospel, for example, to see this spelled out relatively clearly. So while the Trinity is certainly not present in the New Testament, I think that it’s important to acknowledge that the seeds that would grow into this doctrine almost certainly are, at least in some form.

Another extremely common response to my question was “condemnation of homosexuality,” or some variant of it. This one struck me because it is really only a half truth (don’t go anywhere – keep reading). There are, in fact, a number of places in the Hebrew Bible and New Testament where homosexual acts are spoken of in less than positive terms. The most famous of these is found in Leviticus 18:22: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination” (NRSV). But Paul also probably had a few things to say about it (see Rom 1:26-27, 1 Cor 6:9-10).* So in one sense, the idea that “the Bible” doesn’t condemn homosexuality is untrue.

But, on the other hand, the statement that the Bible doesn’t condemn homosexuality is also actually quite true. Because while the biblical authors do have some things to say about homosexual acts, none of them probably have any conception of sexual orientation, our understanding of which developed in the twentieth century. Would Paul’s thoughts on the topic have been different had he had a concept of orientation? Maybe, or maybe not. It’s a fascinating question that is relatively impossible to answer. The bottom line regarding this and other moral/ethical issues is that it’s unwise to presume that the authors of the biblical texts are necessarily addressing the same issues that we (in the 21st century) are.

In addition to these common threads there were also a number of responders who revealed through their responses that they had spent little time actually reading the texts themselves. One gentleman, for example, responded: “the idea that God is love.” Well, regardless of whether you think that to be true, that’s a claim that the author of 1 John makes. Others responded with: “the idea that the gospels are written by eyewitnesses.” My own opinion as a biblical scholar is that the gospels were not, in fact, written by eyewitnesses. Luke goes so far in his prologue by distinguishing himself from eyewitnesses (Luke 1:2). But at least one of the evangelists (John) does claim to be an eyewitness account. Does this mean that it actually is? Of course not. A claim is not necessarily true just because an author says it is; to think otherwise is madness. But, if the question is “what do people see in the texts that isn’t actually there?”, then in order to answer that question, you first have to be aware of what is actually there in a plain sense. The question of whether you “agree” with or “believe” what’s there is a question that you answer later.

At any rate, those are some thoughts on the last 48 hours. And now that I’m finishing this post up, I see that the original tweet has been retweeted by Rachel Held Evans, so it looks like things will get more interesting before they get less.



* Some have suggested that Paul’s language here and elsewhere is meant to address exploitative sexual relationships like pederasty rather than homosexual relationships more broadly. See, for example, the work of Victor Paul Furnish, Dale Martin, and Robin Scroggs, among many others.

Why I Started Having Students Schedule Office Hours

Where I teach, most students do not like visiting faculty during office hours. Athletes who need progress reports signed will typically approach faculty before or after class, and random questions about course material or assignments will often be posed during random run-ins with students in the library or coffee shop. Most of my colleagues have experienced the same thing.

During my first year of full-time teaching, I met with ten students in my office. (I know this because I keep track of every student who comes to visit me; it’s a quirk.) During my second year, that number rose to twelve. At the end of my second year I started asking students in my classes why they don’t use faculty office hours more. I received two answers time and again:

  1. They are afraid that when they just “drop by” that they are going to be interrupting something, and
  2. Many of their professors actually aren’t in their offices during office hours to begin with (presumably because not many students stop by, because of the reason noted above).

As I entered my third year I decided to try something different: set aside office hours as I had always done, but request that students make an appointment before dropping by. To
accomplish this, I used a scheduling app called “YouCanBookMe” (see image, below). There are a few other options out there, but this one is free and it works well enough.

Screen Shot 2018-08-22 at 7.34.39 PM

With this app, you set up what times you want to be available, connect it to your iCal or Google Calendar, and then anyone with access to your scheduling link can reserve a meeting time in ten or fifteen minute increments. When they set a meeting, the app adds the event to your calendar and sends you and them a notification e-mail. It works flawlessly and instantaneously.

The first semester I used this app, I met with over forty students over the course of the SEMESTER (compared to a total of twenty two over the previous TWO YEARS), and many of those came to meet with me several times. The second, third, and fourth semesters that I used this app brought the same or even better results.

At first, a number of my colleagues expressed concerns that having students set appointments for office hours would make me seem less “accessible.” But the data would suggest the exact opposite: this practice makes faculty more accessible, not less. I’ve since converted a number of colleagues to this app, and every one of them has seen similar results.

Nowadays, my office hours availability is posted on my course homepages so that students can check, week by week, when I’m going to be available to meet with them. On the first day of class I show them how they app works, and I have a few students set fake appointments during class while I broadcast my calendar page on the classroom projector. They like seeing how the process works, and it affords me the chance to emphasize that I want them to stop by, and that this makes it easier for that to happen.

I still advertise “drop in” office hours on my office door, and I’m always clear with students that they are more that welcome to stop by unannounced. But I remind them that the best way to ensure that they have my undivided attention is to give me a heads up that they’re coming.

I Deleted My Twitter Feed (on Purpose)

For the past few weeks I’ve been noticing more and more people on Twitter talking about wiping out their Twitter feeds and starting over. At first I considered it a ridiculous idea. Why would anyone do such a thing?

But the more I thought about it, the more it fascinated me. I started on Twitter back in 2011, and at first I used it as a means of just promoting blog posts; I didn’t really interact with anyone for the first year or so. But since then I’ve used it for a number of different things: networking with colleagues, sharing news, communicating with students, ranting about politics, etc. Suffice it to say that my Twitter history was a bit of a mess.

What finally pushed me over the edge the other day was an anonymous troll who responded to a post I made two years ago. That’s right: someone that I don’t know tried to pick a fight with me over a random post that I made two years ago and had totally forgotten about. To be fair, the post was pretty inflammatory (it was political), so I guess it got the reaction that I had hoped for initially. But I had no memory of writing it, and it got me thinking about how much else I had posted that I had forgotten about.

Rather than wade through ca. 14,000 tweets and delete one every now and again, I decided to just wipe the slate clean and start over. Like ripping off a bandaid.

There are a number of ways to do this. I ended up using a service (recommended by one of my Twitter colleagues) at It worked perfectly.

They recommend first downloading an archive of all your old tweets and then uploading that archive – something about the Twitter database limits them otherwise to only wiping your 3,000 most recent tweets. I did this, clicked go, and watched my history disappear. The process was remarkably quick and entirely painless.

I’ve also just discovered another service called Tweet Delete that keeps your history clean by deleting old tweets when they reach an age that you specify (3 months, 6 months, 1 year, etc.). I’m considering setting this up as well.

Curious to hear if any of you have done similar things.

I Made a Bible Bot: How and Why?

I’ve long been fascinated by Twitter bots — those seemingly-autonomous bits of
programming that retweet, follow, compose and respond to messages, etc. Truth be told, I’ve always wanted a bot, but since I have little to no knowledge of coding/programming language, I always assumed that creating my own was just a pipe dream. Turns out I was wrong.

In this post I’d like to first introduce you to my bot and then I’ll tell you how I made it.

After experimenting with a few different iterations over the weekend, I launched a “Bible bot” that is currently alive and well in cyberspace, tweeting its little digital heart out and gathering followers (an impressive amount so far, actually). What is it tweeting, you ask? For the most part, just gibberish that it puts together at random from the text of the King James Bible. But occasionally it comes up with something that (unbeknownst to it, of course) is really pretty clever. Here are a few examples:

I’m not sure what, if anything, I will do to hone or improve the bot in the future. It is currently doing exactly what it was designed to do, namely, amuse people in general and me in particular. It’s only been live for a few days now, so I suppose we shall see what the future holds for it.

So how did I set it up?

From start to finish, the process was actually much easier than I thought it would be, mostly because I found someone else who had already done the “heavy lifting.” That someone is Zach Whalen, an Associate Professor of English, Linguistics, and Communication at the University of Mary Washington.

Thanks to a push in the right direction from another of my Twitter pals, I stumbled upon a helpful post on Zach’s blog where he walks you through creating a Twitter bot using a Google spreadsheet that he designed. (Note that this sheet will only allow you to create a bot that posts; if you are interested in building a bot that can retweet, respond to tweets, or follow accounts, you will need to look elsewhere.) Zach’s post is remarkably clear and detailed, so I will refrain from reproducing a step-by-step here (if I can follow it, then trust me, so can you). All you need to get started is a Twitter account for your bot and a Google account for the spreadsheet.

After the initial linking up of the spreadsheet with Twitter (which can be a tad tricky, but stick with it), there are only a couple of parameters to set: frequency of posting and “data sheet.” Frequency is straightforward: how often do you want your bot to post? Every hour? Twice per hour? Once per day? Etc. “Data sheet” refers, essentially, to how you want your bot to compose its tweets.

lfmU5E0pThere are a few different options in this data sheet category, all of which are useful depending on your goals. I chose the “markov” option, meaning that my bot uses an algorithm to generate random text from a supplied body of text. The supplied body of text can be anything. The spreadsheet comes with the full text of Sense and Sensibility so that you can experiment before copying and pasting in your own text.

The text you supply the markov algorithm can be pretty much anything (I think). Because my bot is a Bible bot, my text is the Bible — King James translation. I chose King James for two reasons: 1) because I thought (rightly) that it would be funnier; and 2) because I found the King James Bible in spreadsheet form online, which meant that I could copy and paste the whole thing in about twenty minutes. Win.

With all of the text inputted, I set my bot to post a new tweet every thirty minutes (every fifteen minutes strikes me as excessive, and I got impatient having to wait an hour to see new content) and hit “start.” The results so far have been quite amusing.

And that’s why and how I made a Bible Twitter bot! Follow (or just observe) it on Twitter by clicking here.

And follow me by clicking here!

Hauerwas Goes to the Movies (Week 5)

This post is part of a series on teaching religion in film using the work of Stanley Hauerwas. You can get caught up on our progress so far by reading the posts from Week 1Week 2Week 3, and Week 4.

For this week students read the fourth chapter in Hauerwas’s A Community of Character — “The Church and Liberal Democracy: The Moral Limits of a Secular Polity.” This chapter’s central claim is that Christianity and Liberalism are characterized by competing and irreconcilable ideologies. I therefore anticipated that it would generate some pushback from students, and it did, but not to the extent that I had feared (or hoped?). Discussion at the start of class was fruitful, and I found that many students seem to appreciate the line that Hauerwas draws.

One of the things they seem to have found most compelling in this chapter is its analysis of Liberalism’s emphasis on personal freedom and self-interest as cardinal virtues of sorts. Hauerwas notes that in the early days of Liberalism (liberal democracy in the United States, specifically), the assumption underlying liberal ideology was that people were, in fact, virtuous. Yet as time progresses, the situation will change. Now, Hauerwas argues, “people feel their only public duty is to follow their own interests as far as possible, limited only by the rule that we do not unfairly limit others’ freedom” (79). “Liberalism,” Hauerwas maintains, “thus becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy; a social order that is designed to work on the presumption that people are self-interested tends to produce that kind of people” (ibid).

Below is a word cloud generated from student essays on this chapter.

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Over the past few weeks one of the things I’ve noticed in essays and in our class discussion is that students have started asking serious questions about what precisely Hauerwas envisions when he speaks of “the church.” In a previous post I mentioned that one student went so far as to argue that he seemed to be advocating for a sort of “secret clubhouse” mentality.

As we’ve moved further into the book, questions about the relationship of the church to the world have become increasingly more common. Many found the section at the end of this chapter on contrasts between Liberalism and the church to be helpful, and we spent some time at the start of class going over this section.

After some preliminary discussion we watched M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village (2004). To be honest, I actually don’t care much for the film; it’s quite tedious at points, and it’s far from Shyamalan’s best work (in my opinion). But it’s a fantastic illustration of what a truly sectarian society looks like in practice, and in my mind it is a perfect antithesis to how Hauerwas conceives of the church.

“The Village” is made up of people who seem to be living in the late-nineteenth century, deep in the forest and far from civilization. The woods that surround them are said to populated by vicious monsters who are drawn to the color red. Toward the end of the film it becomes clear that these monsters were created by “the elders,” the group of people who started the community. The stories of the monsters function to keep people in the community and to keep them at peace with one another.

At first glance the village seems like a suitable analog for the church. The people are loving, peaceful, and faithful, and they consider money the root of evil and don’t use it in their society. It is only when you consider the means by which the society is maintained that the serious issues with it become clear. In contrast to Hauerwas’s insistence that the church be formed and sustained by narratives/stories that are “sufficiently true/truthful,” the village is a society built on a series of elaborate lies.

What is more, the story of the monsters is in fact contrary to the values that the elders wish to instill in their progeny. They want their children to be peaceful and loving, but they teach them to be peaceful and loving people by surrounding them with threats of violence: “The monsters are drawn to the color red, so if you cause someone to bleed the monsters will come and get you.” Even though this threat of violence is intended as a preventative measure, it nevertheless instills in the people the belief that violence is a legitimate way to solve problems. And this ends up having disastrous consequences for more than a few characters.

Our post-film discussion was rich; students seemed to enjoy the film, and I was impressed at how effectively they were able to grasp its mythology. One of the critical differences they identified between the village and Hauerwas’s conception of the church is that the former in no way benefits the world that it has chosen to exist apart from. The elders seek to build a society of faith, hope, peace, and love, but they do so in radical isolation from the world that they perceive as violent. The church, on the other hand, seeks to cultivate similar virtue in its members, but this is always done in the context of the world. The church is an alternative to secular polities, but if it is to be a true alternative, then it must exist within sight of the polity to which it is serving as an alternative.

More next time!

How I Force My Students to Read Their Bibles

A post I wrote a few weeks back for TheoDepot.


Half of my teaching load is a survey of the Bible course. Genesis to Revelation in one semester. Fun, right? For the most part, it is. The most challenging part of this course is not the pace; it is convincing my students to complete the readings.

The majority of my students self-identify as some variety of Christian (whether they are practicing or not is a different question). Most come from relatively conservative backgrounds, and many will use language like “inspired and literal word of God” in reference to the biblical texts. This is to say that a good portion of my students enter my class with the conviction that, somehow, God wrote the Bible. Literally. It’s interesting to me, then, that with such a lofty view of the words on the page, they seem so resistant to actually reading them.Unknown

This semester I am trying an experiment that is…

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Teaching Textual Criticism to Undergraduates


A prominent and passionate textual critic once described his field as follows: “Textual criticism may be the only approach to the biblical text where the difference between ‘rod’ and ‘staff’ is significant. It has the capacity to be uniquely boring work, more so than any other critical method.”

With that being said, I spend an entire day in my Literature of the Bible class (a freshman-level survey course) teaching textual criticism. To the utter shock of my colleagues, this is frequently one of the most enjoyable days of the semester, and many students speak fondly of it in their course evaluations. Here’s how I approach it.

I set the stage by describing the transmission of biblical texts as a game of written telephone that involves thousands of writers over thousands of years. Because these texts were copied by hand, I explain, small errors (variants) were introduced over time. I introduce textual criticism as the process…

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Another Apple for Wittgenstein

Those familiar with Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations will chuckle at the title of this post while they are reading it. Those not familiar will not get it, but they will still enjoy the post.

Wednesdays at our house, at least this semester, are “papa days.” That is, they are the days that I stay at home, all day, with Jane, the rambunctious two-year-old that I’m proud to call my daughter.

This morning we were hanging out in the living room after Ellen left for work. I started going through what we had to get done before it was time for her nap. “We need to go to Trader Joe’s to pick up some dessert for tonight, and then we are going to the Apple Store to pick up a special cable for my laptop.”

You know, of course, that the Apple Store is the place you go to covet all those shiny computers, phones, and tablets. But if you had never been there before, and you had never even heard of such a place, you may imagine that it is a store that sells fruit.

And that is what Jane thought it was: a store that sells fruit.

We hopped in the car and I said, “Where are we going?” She responded, “The Apple Store!”

The whole way there she sang in the back seat (to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star), “Apple store, apple store, apple store, apple store” (go on, try it – it’s adorable).

When we got to the Apple Store her enthusiasm waned. “Here we are,” I said. She looked at me with the saddest face I’ve ever seen. “Where the Apples go?”

It was only then that I realized my mistake. I had spent the last hour getting my daughter excited about going to a store filled with one of her favorite foods. She began to cry, so I picked her up and promised that she could have as many apples as she wanted for lunch. I then offered to buy her an iPad. She said no.

Language is powerful. So is innocence.

Goodbye, but not Forever


Today my family gathered to celebrate the life of my Grammy, Wilma Vanden Eykel, who passed away on the evening of Friday, May 3. The funeral was a beautiful and moving experience.

Anyone who knew her knows that she had a way of seeing the good in nearly everyone she met, and was able to brighten almost every situation she encountered. The daughter of a Dutch-Reformed pastor, she was a woman of profound faith and not easily shaken. As we mourned the loss of my grandfather almost a decade ago, she remarked to me, “Of course I’m sad … I wouldn’t be a person if I wasn’t. It’s always hard to say goodbye. But I know that this isn’t goodbye forever … it’s goodbye until the resurrection!”

In matters relating to faith, Grammy spoke with a resolute certainty that I’ve yet to encounter in anyone else. The first “theological” conversation I ever had was with her. I can’t remember how old I was … maybe eight? I asked my mom what happens to us when we go to heaven, and she said, “We had better call your Grammy.” We did, and I posed my question. Grammy replied, “We go to be with God!” Not satisfied with such a vague answer, I asked, “But what do we DO when we get there?” She repeated, “That’s what we do … we go to be with God.” I remember expressing concern about being bored (I was hoping that she would say something about playing or driving cars), and she said, “Trust me, you won’t be bored … God wouldn’t let that happen.” We then proceeded to talk about whether or not we would have wings (can’t remember what we decided).

I remember listening to her play hymns on her organ and being at least somewhat embarrassed when she sang too loud in church (she didn’t actually sing too loud — I was just easily embarrassed). I remember hearing about the El Camino she used to have (she loved that car), and about how she used to spin her wheels in the neighbor’s driveway (seriously). I remember how she adored her husband, her children, her grandchildren, her great-grandchilren, and her dogs (not necessarily in that order), and I remember that her stories (some true, some fictional, some a combination of the two) were always lively and entertaining. I remember that every time I visited her she would be reading something new and would be eager to tell me about it, and that she was always interested in what I was studying.

The picture at the start of this post is of her and my daughter, Jane. It was taken just over two months ago, while we were in Dallas celebrating my other grandmother’s birthday. I am sad that Jane will not have the opportunity to know Grammy, but I am grateful that she got to meet her, even if it was only for a short time.

And now we say goodbye, but not forever.