Are you a language nerd?

English language nerd


A friend who cares

The friend who can be silent with us

in a moment of despair or confusion,

who can stay with us

in an hour of grief and bereavement,

who can tolerate not knowing,

not healing, not curing,

that is a friend who cares.

– Henri Nouwen

It’s about love

New York Times paywall comes down for Election Day

On Election Day, two U.S. newspapers are offering free access to their sites for 24 hours. The New York Times will drop its paywall.  According to a brief notice on the paper’s home page, the Times “will provide free unlimited access to election coverage on and its mobile apps, starting at 6 p.m. ET.”  The Wall Street Journal is also opening its site for 24 hours.  A banner on announces that its paywall will come down at 5 p.m. ET.
(Source:  Media by Sistrunk)

‘Her mouth was trash’

It was another night of grading papers, and I was getting a bit bleary-eyed as I read English reports from my students. I perked up, however, when I read one paper.  The student was reporting on White Princess, a movie he had seen.  He wrote, in part:

White Princess looks beautiful and handsome.  But she is very bad girl.
She said, “I kill you, a**hole.”  Her mouth was trash.

The asterisks are mine. After all, I run a family-friendly site here.  Students can be full of surprises, even when they’re aspiring pastors and missionaries.

Good teachers

Examining faith and fashion

When I’m not teaching English at a Korean school of theology, I provide support for our university’s English ministry.  My husband preaches each Sunday at the university church and teaches full-time during the week.

My husband and I have only been married for a few years.  I would never have predicted that I would become a preacher’s wife.   My husband was a retired pastor when I married him, but he was still active in the church’s small groups ministry, and I assisted him.

Shortly after we were married, I began to wonder how a pastor’s wife should dress.  I tend not to go with fashion trends, preferring classic looks.  Before I married my husband, I was accustomed to wearing casual clothes to church.  But on occasion, when I was in the mood, I’d wear a dress and heels.  I sought some advice from my husband on what to wear.  I added that I hoped that I wouldn’t have to appear dowdy.

My husband was amused at my question.  He assured me that I didn’t have to dress up for church and that he never wanted me to look dowdy.  He also told me that in California, casual is the norm, even at our nearby Presbyterian church.  Once my husband reassured me, breathed a sigh of relief.  I was happy to wear comfortable dresses and slacks, and blended in well at the contemporary service.

Ishmael Sistrunk

A couple of days ago, my mind turned to church and fashion again when I learned that my son, Ishmael Sistrunk, was publishing a new blog.  His site, Quest Alpha, will explore three topics:  God, sports, and technology.

Ishmael’s first blog post is titled Faith vs Fashion:  Should church have a dress code?  He thoroughly explores the topic, citing varying views and scripture.

Reading the post prompted me to think about our university church.  Many who attend, particularly Korean students, wear casual clothes.  Meanwhile, students from Africa and other Asian countries often come dressed in a suit and tie.  The pastors also wear business attire.

Students who come dressed in suit and tie say they dress this way to honor God.  I “get” that.  I was raised the same way.  I was in my 30s before I realized that God cared more about my relationship with Him, and less about what I wore on Sunday morning.  That said, I also know the importance of understanding the culture of your church.

I still recall one Sunday morning years ago, when I woke up, and decided I was too tired to go to church.  At the last minute, I decided that I should go.  I was running late, so I grabbed the first thing I could find — sweatpants, a sweater, and sneakers — all clean, of course.

I was glad I went to church that Sunday.  No one cared that I wore sweatpants.  The pastor preached a great sermon, and I went home spiritually filled.

I also remember the challenges of being a single mother.  My children grew in leaps and bounds while I tried to keep our expenses within my budget.  It was expensive to buy Sunday clothes and shoes for kids, only to have them outgrow the clothes in a couple of months.  Fortunately, I found a come-as-you-are congregation that welcomed us and provided excellent bible-teaching to children and adults.  It was in this church that my children developed their strong faith in God.  They are now young adults who are active in church ministries.

It’s no surprise, then, that I was intrigued when I read Ishmael’s take on this topic.  Faith vs Fashion: Should church have a dress code?, is a compelling read, and I think you’ll enjoy it.

By the way, feel free to share the customs of your own faith.  Comments are always welcomed.  I’m always interested in learning about other people’s cultures.


I’d like to think that this graphic doesn’t apply to any of my students.  I’d prefer to reserve judgment until I’ve finished grading all of the midterm exams and essays.   Time to take a break; I’ve seen enough for now.   o_O


For the second time in less than a week, Korea is observing a holiday.
October 3 marks National Foundation Day (Gaecheonjeol in Korean), an observance that commemorates the founding of Korea in 2333 B.C.  For many families, the three-day Chuseok (Thanksgiving) holiday extended to five days. Our university was closed on Monday, open on Tuesday, and closed again on Wednesday.

Traffic was crazy during the holiday weekend.  Highways became parking lots as more than 29 million of the nation’s 50 million people traveled home for family reunions and to pay tribute to ancestors.  Trains, buses, and planes were also packed.  My husband and I traveled by train on Sunday.  It seemed that nearly everyone was carrying holiday gifts.

Typically, Chuseok and National Foundation Day are separated  by several days.  However, Chuseok is a floating holiday, based on a lunar calendar.  This year National Foundation Day took a back seat to the Korean Thanksgiving.

What writers and poets can learn from ‘Gangnam Style’

I may be currently living in Korea, but when it comes to becoming acquainted with Psy, the pop music phenom, I learned a lot from a writer in Indonesia.  You might think that a writer and poet wouldn’t give Psy’s “Gangnam  Style” the time of day.  Think again.

Indonesian blogger Subhan Zein tweeted this:  “Music and writing may be two different kinds of art, but they apply the same general principles.”  Learn more.  Check out Subhan’s post.