About Me

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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Oklahoma History Center

Entrance to the Oklahoma History Center

Replica of Wiley Post's famous plane The Winnie Mae

Cat and I visited the new Oklahoma History Center on the State Capitol grounds. They did a very good job with the Center. It's a place that all Oklahoman's can take pride it. Cat and I spent 3 hours there and still didn't see everything we wanted to. I expect we will be coming back soon.

Monday, July 24, 2006

A Campaign Without Conscience, A Betrayal of

Andrew Rice with his wife, Apple, and their son, Noah

A Campaign Without Conscience, A Betrayal of Faith

I saw my friend, Andrew Rice, in church at Mayflower last Sunday. Andrew is running for the Oklahoma State Senate in his district in central OKC. He told me of a campaign tactic being used, in nearly all certainty, by the Republican Party which reveals a party operating without a regard for morality in its grab for power.

Several of the voters in Andrew's district, Oklahoma Senate District 46, have been getting phone calls whose callers claim that Andrew favors terrorism. First, you have to understand that Andrew and his family are one of the victims of the worst terrorist attack in American history. On September 11 2001, investment banker David Rice was killed when the World Trade Centre collapsed. Later, a group called Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation were contacted by the mother of the alleged 20th hijacker, Zacharias Moussaoui. She had a unique request. She wanted to meet some of the families of the victims and ask for their forgiveness. Andrew, along with several other victims' families, met with, this grieving Madame al-Wafi, who begged their forgiveness for her son's hatred. Andrew forgave her because he felt that to return hate for hate dishonored his brother's "spirit", and I feel Andrew knew he was following the commandment of the man from Nazareth who comanded us to forgive though we are wrong 70 times 7 times and who forgave those who were responsible for his execution.

This act, done in the spirit of Christ, is the very deed this smear campaign is trying to use against Andrew Rice. This damning abuse of our political process is being carried out by some group called RDI, headquartered in Cincinatti, Ohio, because they were paid $300,000 by a shadowy Republican organization. The cry that Robert Welch uttered against Joesph McCarthy echoes down to our time, "Have you no sense of decency?" You claim to be the party that defends the practice of Christianity in the public arena, the party of values, the party of morality. Where are your morals now? In Oklahoma, we have seen candidate after candidate in their political ads extol their Christianity, their time spent teaching Sunday School, their donations of land to build churches. I have no doubt of their personal sincerity, but I demand in the name of the one whom they claim to serve that they denounce this discipable act in no uncertain terms, that they honor this most Christian act of Andrew's, or all their claims of faith ring hollow to me.

Jesus once said, "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his own soul." I believe that this applies to this heinous political tactic. Those who have committed it have sold their soul to try to amass power. Shortly before his death from a brain tumor Lee Atwater, who employed these type of tactics to help elect Republicans like Ronald Reagan in an act of repentance, issued a number of public and written apologies to individuals whom he had attacked during his political career, including Michael Dukakis who was a target of several vicious, unwarranted attacks. Of course, by that time, the damage had already been done and it was too late to erase the stain he had foisted on the body politic. Whoever is responsible for this act needs to seek forgiveness and offer restitution before he or she meets a similar fate.

If you wish to read about Andrew's act of forgiveness, you can go to this link to read his remarkable testimony:The Forgivenss Project-Andrew Rice

Sunday, July 23, 2006

My Prayer This Sunday

Mayflower Church

To Learn More About Mayflower Congregational,UCC Church

Note: I was the worship leader this Sunday at Mayflower Church. Our pastor is away for his annual vacation, which this year includes a book tour promoting his new book. Former Oklahoma Governor David Walters was our guest speaker. This was the congregational prayer I gave.

God of all Creation, God of Many Names Honored in Many Ways

We pray first for your blessings on our pastor, his wife and child while they are absent from us. Grant them your protection during this time of rest and renewal. May we ever be mindful of the stresses that are a constant factor in the lives of those called to minister to our needs. May we seek to “Bear … one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”

We pray also for our wounded and bleeding world. We have grown too fond of war so much so that we have become numb to its terrible consequences. We have even invoked the name of the Prince of Peace to justify our indulgence in our belligerent nature. We ask for your healing touch on those whom we have called upon to fight our wars. God, forgive those leaders who fight wars with other people’s children and try pay for their wars from the resources of future generations.

We pray for our state, this land of rolling hills, vast plains, woods and rivers. In the coming elections in our state, give us the wisdom as we chose among those participating in our democracy in a personal way by becoming candidates. We honor their sense of devotion, their sacrifice, their labor, and their commitment to service. May we reject all appeals to our prejudices and make our choices based on the demands of justice.

We pray for our church that has become a beacon of hope in our community. We truly are as city set upon a hill. The eyes of all have been set upon us. May we provide a model for what a spiritual community ought to be. May we enjoy each other’s fellowship; make each others’ conditions our own; rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our community in your work, as members of the same body. May our unity be symbolized by our praying together the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever, Amen.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Don't Box Me In!

Dead Big Box Store

I got this from my friend, Anne Feeney, the Union Maid. She wrote it for a group fellow union maids attending the Midwest School for Union Women in Chicago:

I want to roam 'round a town where varieties abound


Buy something chic and unique at a neighborhood boutique


I like to have lots of options - merchants galore

I get Mallzheimer's in a big box store
Here in the Windy City we need more --


Don't want to cry when I buy those sweatshop goods from China


Don't want to shop where workers labor til they drop

DON'T BOX ME IN I want a living wage, and did I mention

A union, health care and a decent pension

City Hall - give me your attention and DON'T BOX ME IN!!!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Do you want fries with your season ticket?

There is a report out that the Seattle Supersonics have been purchased by a group of Oklahoma City investors who could move the team to our fair city as early as the 2007-2008 season.

If they do, I already have an idea for the team.

Change the name from the "Supersonics" to the "Sonic" in honor of one of the best know businesses in OKC.

Make the team mascot a large Cherry Limeade.

Have all the cheerleaders dressed as car hops and have them do their routines on rollerskates.

Oh the possibilities are endless!

Sonics' future in Seattle in doubt after sale

Monday, July 17, 2006

Impressions of Orlando, Florida

The View from Our Hotel
At the Kennedy Space Center
In the Gulf of Mexico
John's Pass Where We Had Some Terrific Seafood

Cat and I got back to Oklahoma on Saturday following our five day stay in Orlando for the High Schools that Work conference. I post my impression about the conference, which was very good, later. But first, my impressions of Orlando.

The people we met were very friendly. Most were not native to Florida. We met waiters from Cuba, hell staff from Brooklyn, toll booth operators from the Dominican Republic and tour bus drivers from Iowa. However, I believe the motto of the Central Florida area should be "You Wanted to Come here, and You're Gonna Pay for It!" It's nearly impossible to get anywhere in central Florida that doesn't involve toll roads. If you don't have some sort of turnpike pass, you have to stop every mile or so and pony up. Not only is it annoying, but it really slows down your time. Nothing in central Florida is very far away from Orlando, but you have to add 50% more time to your drive time than you normally would estimate in Oklahoma.

Another reason for this is that most of the drivers I noticed tend to drive much more slowly than we do in Oklahoma. It seemed that nearly everyone drove about 5 miles an hour below the posted speeds. Some of the drivers were senior citizens, but even the younger drivers seemed also to drive more slowly. I'm not complaining, but it's somewhat hard to adjust to this when I have been used to being the one everyone else passes on the Interstates.

Orlando seems rather artificial. I guess that's to be expected when pratically everything revolves around Walt Disney World. Everywhere there are amusement parks, "Halls of Fame", phoney pirate ships (pirates are really big now) Much of the time, I wondered if the palm trees were real. When we toured the Kennedy Space Center, I felt like I was in some type of grand commercial because most of the displays hammered home the need and importance of, well, the Kennedy Space Center.

The best part of our time there was when Cat and I snuck off for a little personal time on the Gulf Coast. We found a nice little motel on the beach and deal some swimming and body surfing in the gulf. The water was warm. We were even joined by two dolphins. Later at a restaurant called "The Friendly Fisherman" we had some fantastic seafood served by a great waitress named Lori who was from Maine.

Then we decided to drive up the coast a bit on state highway 699. Not a good idea. The coast in Florida is so heavily commercialized that you can't see a thing but hotel after hotel. The whole thing made me long for the Oregon Pacific coast where all of the beach is public property, and you can see everything.

All in all, we had a very enjoyable time in Florida. It's always nice to get away, but if I had my choice, I'd get away some place where that everyone else isn't there before me.

Maybe that's why I love Oklahoma as much as I do. I can still find places in this state where beauty can be enjoyed in isolation.

Monday, July 10, 2006

My Favorite Symbol


This is my favorite symbol. I have two T-Shirts that display this. The meaning of this symbol is readily apparent. If the little fish encountered the big fish individually, each would be lunch. Not one of them is strong enough alone to oppose the big fish. However, working together in solidarity, they are strong enough to put the big fish to flight.

Too many times I have heard people say, "Unions were okay in their day, but we don't need them any more. I wonder what these folks are thinking when they say this. Unions have never been popular with those in power. Organizing has always been an uphill battle. Workers who wish to organize face losing their jobs on some trumped up pretext. Companies claim threaten to close worksites where an organizing effort is taking place. Even when workers organize, companies try to ignore their union, do bad faith bargaining, or bring in scab workers to try to bust unions.

Is it worth it? You bet it is. I've worked non-union and I now work union. I'm never going back! A worker in a union has dignity and worth. A worker in the union has left the plantation and joined the human race!

So my sisters and brothers, don't just sit around and bitch.


In Solidarity,

Lynn Green
Oklahoma City-American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Son of a Preacher and His Wife

I grew up in a pastor's home, a preacher's kid. My father was always a full-time minister, my mother a full-time mother. Our church, The Church of the Nazarene, was and still is a rather small denomination, a little under 1 1/2 million members now, less than a million when I was a part of it. Then the Nazarene Church was quite conservative: no smoking, no alcohol, no movie theatres, and no social dancing.

Despite this, perhaps because of it, I feel privileged to have grown up in my environment. Even though I no longer observe most of the prohibitions of my former church, I like the fact that I escaped most of the problems many of those in my age group fell victim to during the 60's and 70's. Later, as I grew into maturity, I was better able to choose how I would live my life, and which habits I would adopt or refuse to adopt. I am a social drinker. I enjoy the movies. I have done a little dancing, but don't now due to some arthritic knees. I don't smoke, and glad I never started.

Growing up a minister's son had many other advantages. I grew up in an environment that took faith and spirituality very seriously. Though I am no longer an evangelical Christian, I still am a follower of the Nazarene. I no longer believe that salvation is a through the Christian faith alone, I believe that grace is real. I no longer believe that Jesus was God, but I believe that in Jesus we see what God is like, and that his life is a model for our own.

In my family, learning and study were important. My father and mother were constant readers. They encouraged my own love of literature. TV viewing was limited. Trips to the library were frequent. As a child, my mother subscribed to children's magazines. Once she signed us up for a children's book club. (I still remember three titles from that time: "Elephant for Rent", "On to Oregon!” and "The Perils of Pacifico".) Later as I grew up, my father shared with me books he enjoyed. He introduced me to C. S. Lewis who later became the topic for my M.A. thesis.

Of course, the study of the Bible was paramount. I took part if Bible contests coming in 2nd place in an international competition. The Bible is foundational to Western literature and thought. When I was in graduate school, my professors looked to me to make literary and theological allusions clear to them.

Growing up a preacher's kid encouraged my leadership skills. I was expected to take the lead in Sunday Schools, youth groups, and later denominational functions. I trace my political work to the fact that I was expected to organize programs for the various church functions such as our Sunday night youth program called the NYPS, Nazarene Young People's Society. Presenting Sunday School lessons, providing devotions, offering public prayers, honed my speaking skills.

There were downsides to parsonage living. We moved quite a bit, 6 times in a 9 year span. I had trouble forming fast friendships, and came back to Oklahoma to go to college feeling a bit rootless. I have lived here ever since, a total of 45 out of 54 years of my life. So I can say that I am a "Sooner born, Sooner bred, and (most likely) when I die, I'll be a Sooner dead"(lyrics from the Oklahoma University fight song).

At times, growing up in the church did feel like living in a fishbowl. To his credit, my father and mother never once said to me, "Son, your behavior is making us look bad to the church." This is not because I was a perfect angel. (I once got caught taking a swim in the church baptistery.) The effect came more from the fact that we felt the need to be the example for the rest of the church membership. Typically, we were the first to arrive at all services. I am astounded that mom accomplished this feat with 6 children whose ages covered an 11 year span. I felt I had to be willing to volunteer for any duty. My wife says I've carried this over into my adult years. (I am the recording secretary for 5 different organizations.)

However, I feel the benefits I have gained from being a minister's son are such that if I were given the option of repeating my experience, I would not hesitate to do so. Above all, I grew up in a home where I enjoyed parents of the highest character, who demonstrated genuine love for each other and for us. I grew up in a world where service to others was valued more than material gain, where we loved people and used things as opposed to the vice versa situation I see in so much of our world.

I am proud to say that I was the son of a minister and his wife, an equal partner in their ministry. I am thankful for the lessons they gave me and feel that most of the best part of me is a result of their nurture.

Friday, July 07, 2006

W Pays the Price for Going It Alone

Bush is seeking a unified response from the rest of the world community to North Korea's nuclear program and missile testing. Well, George, it's too bad you have destroyed any credibility you might have had after you cried wolf on Iraq and by passed all diplomatic challenges to play world cowboy.

"You know, the problem with diplomacy is it takes a while to get something done" while "acting alone, you can move quickly," Bush said. Yes, and the problem with "going alone" is that you are, well, alone. Right now the US is hard pressed to keep the tattered remains of the "coalition of the willing" together. Britain is the only ally that has troops of any substance in Iraq, and their withdrawal is simple a matter of time, months in all probablity.

Meanwhile, George appears hat in hand on the world stage pleading for any cooperation whatsover. George probably did not learn this while in the schools where he partied: Mendācī hominī nē vērum quidem dīcentī crēdimus. We do not believe a liar, though he speaks the truth.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

A Midsummer Bummer

Scene from A Midsummer Night's Dream

Well, the 4th has come and gone. We had some family and friends over to burn some weenies that day. We enjoyed our "Celebration Without Fireworks."

The day after the 4th is always the worst day of summer for me because it marks the mid-point of the summer vacation. That means that a teacher's mind inevitably turns towards the coming school year. Bummer.

Next week Cat and I will be flown to Orlando, Florida for a "High Schools that Work Conference" with about 50 other high school teachers from the Oklahoma City Public Schools. The conference will take up an entire week of summer vacation. I hope that this conference doesn't turn out to be as "Mickey Mouse" as Orlando's most famous occupant. Some others who have gone report that they got a lot of good from the workshops.

The main thing I have to fight when I go to these professional development activities is an inherent defensiveness. I will hear people get up and proclaim how much success they have had with one technique or another with their "at risk" students. I wish I had similar success stories to report, but I don't. Teaching in an urban school is tough going. I hear them talk about how they have triumphed in the classroom. I feel as if I am not measuring up.

So I want to find reasons to desparage their success and undercut their advice. I think things like, "it won't work with my students"; "their school is not like mine"; "if I had the resources and support they enjoyed"; "if they had to deal with our administration." Excuses are very easy to discover; however, this defensive has the unfortunate effect of blocking the good that I can gain out of their instruction.

One of the best pieces of advice my father gave me was to maintain what he called "a teachable spirit." Be open, he told me, to the ideas of others. Remember you are always in need of learning and capable of growth. Whenever I keep his advice in mind, I find that I do develop and grow.

There is a reason why a doctor says that she "practices medicine." I guess I need to realize that I am a practicing teacher.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

A Tribute to Clara Luper

On this 4th of July celebration where we laud those who have given us our freedom, we need to remember that not all fights for freedom are fought on the battlefield. Many are fought by those who take courageous stands in our communities, schools and businesses. Meet one such person, one of my heroes, Mrs. Clara Luper

During 41 years as an award winning Oklahoma educator, Mrs. Clara Luper taught history and made history. Born in 1923, Mrs. Luper grew up near Hoffman, Oklahoma. She graduated from Grayson High School and matriculated to Langston University where she earned a B.A. degree. Mrs. Luper received her M. A. degree from the University of Oklahoma and taught school at Taft, Pawnee, Spencer and Oklahoma City Public Schools.

Many know Mrs. Luper as the Mother of the Civil Rights Movement. She began the Oklahoma Sit-In Movement, August 19, 1958 when she led a group of students in a sit-in at an Oklahoma City lunch counter. This effort and continuing efforts resulted in restaurants in Oklahoma City and across the state opening their doors to African Americans. This was the first publicized sit-in in the nation. Mrs. Luper led the Oklahoma City Public School integration fight, participated in the historic March on Washington, D.C., Selma, Alabama and every major march in America. She was arrested 26 times in Civil Rights activities. She led with courage and persistence and taught that non-violence activism was the way to freedom.

Mrs. Luper also participated in the first teachers' strike in Oklahoma when she participated in the teachers' strike for a true contract in 1979. She is one of those who "Walked the Line in '79' that gave birth to the American Federation of Teachers union which remains the collective bargaining agent for the teachers of the Oklahoma City Public Schools. I have the honor of teaching at John Marshall High School where she taught for many years.