Published Monthly

Classroom Clash
by Michelle Duy

“Okay, everybody. Here’s the moment you’ve been waiting for,” Dana Hodges announced one November morning, as she pulled a stack of papers from her desk drawer. The talkative class quieted down immediately.

“Overall, I was pretty happy with these persuasive essays. Most of you improved on your grades from the descriptive writing.”

The young Lakewood High school teacher thumbed through the papers, then handed several essays to the first person in each row.

“I really think this was one of the most important assignments you’ve had so far,” she said. “Persuasion is a powerful tool. We use it every day, whether we know it or not. More importantly, other people use it in relation to us—even against us.”

The students looked over their results as Dana continued. “Politicians want to convince you they know what’s best for the country. Advertisers want to talk you out of your hard-earned money in exchange for their products. Everywhere you look, somebody’s working hard to influence you. Sometimes they have your best interests in mind, sometimes not.

“Just think about the times you were the one sticking up for an idea,” she said, delivering the final stack of papers to the last row. “Everybody gets into an argument now and then. Some of us more than others,” she added, smiling tolerantly at a well-known jock.

“At one time or another, you’ve all had to defend our viewpoints. And guess what, you’ll keep doing it for the rest of your lives. That’s why I gave so much weight to the persuasive essays. The skills you learn in this unit are really practical outside of school.”

The bell rang, signaling the end of third period. As her students streamed out of the room, Dana returned to her desk and began paging through her daily planner.

“Miss Hodges? Do you have a minute?”

She looked up into the worried face of Scott Radcliffe, a lanky blond junior. The last few students straggled out, leaving her alone with him. “Sure, what’s going on?”

“It’s my grade,” he said, holding out the stapled, typewritten paper. “How come I got a D? I worked really hard on this.”

“Well, I explained in the margins whenever I took points off—”

“I mean, okay, a couple words were spelled wrong,” he cut in. “But a D just doesn’t make sense.”

Dana turned a few pages of the essay, skimming her own remarks. After she had read dozens of papers, the specifics of who wrote what became fuzzy. But this one left a more memorable impression; she remembered fretting over the need to critique it. Already in her limited teaching experience, handling the topic of religion made her feel like she was tiptoeing through a minefield.

Scott looked at her expectantly.

“Basically, the line of reasoning in your paper wasn’t very strong. Remember when we talked about the common logical fallacies in class? Like the ad hominem attack, the straw man, slippery slope, all that fun stuff?”

“I didn’t do any of that!”

Unwilling to meet his gaze, she glanced back at the opened term paper.

“All right, take this part here. ‘Everywhere in the world, most people throughout history have believed in God.’ In itself I’d say that’s a true statement. Belief in God is widespread, but you’re only saying it’s popular, not necessarily true. Really, the reason you implied is ‘everybody else is doing it.’ That’s the bandwagon fallacy I talked about.”

He switched the arm he used to hold several textbooks. “Look, all I know is I stuck to the truth and the word of God.”

“Which would be fine, if you wrote a sermon instead of a term paper.” Dana longed to end the conversation quickly before it got any more dangerous. She flipped the pages back, handed him the essay. “Scott, I wrote out why I took off the points. It’s all in there. That’s all I can tell you.”

He glanced at the cover, then at her. “Well, I don’t think I can settle for this. My mom won’t be too happy.”

"If she wants to talk to me about it, that would be fine.”

“Okay, she probably will.” He turned to leave, adding “See you tomorrow, Miss H.”

Before long, Dana let other matters crowd the grade dispute from her mind. She didn’t expect to hear further protests, despite what Scott said. She didn’t expect the phone to ring that evening during her solitary supper of a teriyaki stir fry and salad.

“Hello, is this Dana Hodges?”

“Speaking,” she answered, setting down her glass of water.

“This is Eileen Radcliffe, Scott’s mother. We need to talk about my son’s essay. The grade just isn’t acceptable.”

“Oh. Oh, well, certainly we can talk about it,” she said, caught off guard by the woman’s sharp tone.

“I was hoping to discuss it in person."

“Sure. We could arrange a time after school—”

“How’s tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow?” Her mind ran through Friday’s schedule; no excuses came to mind for the hour after school. “That’ll be fine. Why don’t you meet me in my classroom at four o’clock? I’m in 308.”

“Perfect. I’ll see you then.”

Dana replaced the receiver with a sudden heaviness in her hand.

A polite description of Lakewood’s English teachers’ lounge might include the term “lived-in.” All four walls were wallpapered with taped-up cartoons, Xeroxed announcements and calendars. Opposite the door, a ten-year-old white refrigerator had also been completely covered with Far Side and Dilbert comics. Years ago an anonymous teacher had donated a beige sofa that now looked sunken and grubby. The staff kept a constant supply of chocolatey sweets on at least one of the three tables.

On Friday, Ms. Hodges made a beeline past her seated colleagues for that day’s

chocolate treat: nut-covered brownies brought in by a Home Ec teacher.

“Oh, good! Brownies are the best comfort food,” Dana said to nobody in particular, scooping one of the treats into a napkin.

Her friend Christine looked up from an Avon booklet. “Tough classes?”

“Nah, I’m just nervous about tonight. I have a meeting with an angry mom.”

“A kid wrote his paper on Christianity, right? Well, it had all kinds of mistakes, so I gave him a D. Now he and his mom think I’m anti-religion.”

The older woman clucked her tongue and teased, “Uh oh. You haven’t been assigning Lady Chatterley’s Lover, have you?”

“Not this semester,” Dana laughed, pulling up a chair beside her. “A kid wrote his paper on Christianity, right? Well, it had all kinds of mistakes, so I gave him a D. Now he and his mom think I’m anti-religion.”

“Sounds like a fun one. Who’s the student?”

“Scott Radcliffe,” Dana said between bites.

“Oh my God! Not Eileen.” Christine slapped her forehead. “What a headache.”

“You know her?”

“Know her? The whole staff knows her. She’s the ringleader of the church ladies.” At this, she turned around toward the three women chatting at the next table.

“Hey guys, Dana has a meeting with Eileen Radcliffe tonight.”

The chorus of groans from the other table signaled their familiarity with the name.

“You poor thing.” A popular, middle-aged teacher named Joanne shook her head at Dana.

“Somebody should tell that bitch the Crusades are over,” muttered a redheaded freshman comp teacher.

“She’s that notorious?” Dana asked.

Joanne nodded. “Last year she put up a stink about The Scarlet Letter. What was it before that? Some Judy Blume book in the school library?”

“Probably, I don’t remember." Christine shrugged.

“Then there was the whole Romeo and Juliet debacle,” the redhead chimed in.

Dana’s brownie-laden hand stopped halfway to her mouth. “What’s wrong with Romeo and Juliet? Too violent?”

“It glorifies suicide and teenage sex,” Christine informed her. “And that reference to the ‘maidenhead’ didn’t score points, either.”

“Good God,” Dana moaned. “What am I supposed to do? What do I say to this woman?”

“Tell her the truth. Show her the rubric you used-that might help,” said the third staffer, a soft-spoken woman in wire-rimmed glasses. “Just explain you were totally neutral in grading it. You know, try to reason with her.”

“Uh, have you met Eileen?” Christine snorted. “It’s a little hard to reason with someone who already thinks you’re one of Satan’s minions.”

“You’re not helping,” Ms. Hodges grumbled to her friend.

“Oh, come on, it’ll be a learning experience. Don’t worry, you’ll get through.” Christine winked and added, “We’ll pray for you.”

The classroom’s white clock read three fifty-five when Dana heard a knock at her door. She opened it to find an attractive, thirtysomething blonde in a blue floral dress, a large handbag slung over her shoulder. Her big, toothy smile resembled Scott’s. She held

out her hand, which Dana shook warmly.

“Mrs. Radcliffe, so nice to meet you—”

“Please, call me Eileen,” said the woman. “I’ve heard so much about you. Scott really enjoys your class.”

“Well, he’s a delightful student.” Dana gestured to a student’s chair-and-desk combination that she’d pulled up to face her desk, and Eileen slid in somewhat awkwardly.

“I appreciate your taking the time to go over this with me,” Mrs. Radcliffe said, producing the folded-up essay from her bag. She smoothed out the paper almost lovingly and placed it on the desk between them.

“Sure, no problem. I, uh, understand your concern.” Dana felt an icy coldness deep in her stomach.

“Yes, it’s not like my son to bring home such a low grade. I might not mind so much, if the subject matter were different. But this isn’t your average term paper.”

“No, it’s not,” the teacher agreed. “I have to hand it to Scott. He was pretty ambitious in picking a subject for this paper. He set out to cover a lot of ground. In fact, it probably would’ve helped him to narrow down the topic a bit.

“I mean, his overall theme is Jesus Christ as the one, true way to God. But in the course of making this argument, he pretty much defends the whole Christian worldview. You know, that God exists, He inspired the Bible, Jesus and God the Father are one—see, that’s even a premise within a premise. The doctrine of a three-person Godhead—”

“The Trinity,” Eileen murmured.

“—the Trinity is a given here. Then he goes on to argue that Jesus is the only way to the Father.” She nodded, clearly impressed. “That’s a huge case to make in only fifteen pages.”

“Well, persuasion is a two-way street,” Mrs. Radcliffe said. “Some people need more convincing than others. I’m sure lots of people would’ve found his ‘argument,’ as you call it, very compelling.”

When Dana blinked, she let her eyes stay shut a bit longer than usual. “I told the class to write with a specific audience in mind. They were supposed to gear their papers toward average readers, just the kind of everyday folks you see walking down the street. In other words, the audience wouldn’t be overly hostile to their message, or too easily accepting. Strictly middle of the road types. That’s who they were addressing in the essays.”

“So you feel you judged his work like the average reader would?”

“Yes, I think I was very fair and unbiased.”

“Miss Hodges, my son has never gotten a D in your class before.” Her voice held a note of challenge.

“Let me assure you, the D had nothing to do with his beliefs,” Dana said. “It had to do with his compositional mistakes and, more importantly, his logical errors.” As she spoke, the teacher found herself gesturing busily with her hands, an old nervous habit.

“Logical errors.” Eileen raised her eyebrows inquisitively.

“That’s right. For example, I pointed out the use of circular reasoning. Scott supported his argument that Jesus is God by quoting Bible verses to that effect. However, you have to admit not everyone considers the Bible a source of authority. So how did Scott deal with that? He turned around and quoted Jesus’ sayings about the trustworthiness of Scripture. In other words, Jesus is God because the Bible says so. And the Bible is trustworthy because Jesus, who is God himself, says so. You see what I’m getting at? It’s a textbook case of begging the question.”

“So what you’re saying is you aren’t convinced that Jesus is God, or that the Bible is divinely inspired.”

“No, I’m saying Scott needs to work on improving the case he makes, both for Jesus’ divinity and the Bible’s divine inspiration. No matter what I do or don’t believe, I have to point out when a student argues in circles. That’s one of the assignment’s objectives—to use clear and consistent logic.”

“I see,” Mrs. Radcliffe said. “You know, why don’t we just get right to the point? I think you’re judging Scott’s work too harshly, maybe because of the sensitive subject matter. Did his essay offend you?”

“Not at all,” Dana said coolly.

“If you don’t mind my asking, are you a Christian?”

“Actually, I do mind your asking,” she replied. “I won’t discuss my personal views with you; they’re irrelevant.”

“Oh, I don’t believe they are. They affect your teaching, which affects our kids. Surely you won’t argue with that.”

Dana answered with a tight smile, “I take great care not to let my own opinions get in the way of fair teaching. I’m a professional educator in a public school.”

“Yes, a public school. They never let us forget that, do they?” Eileen returned the rigid smile. “Whether it’s over prayer or evolution or questionable reading materials, they love to remind us that the school is a secular institution.”

“Well, there are alternatives to a public education. Private schools, home tutoring—”

“Both options we considered,” the blonde cut in. “But after lots of prayer our family realized God was calling our kids to the public school, as a mission field.” She leaned forward with an intense gaze. “I believe God put my son in your class for a reason.”

“To be honest, I’m more concerned about the obvious reason he’s in my class,” Dana said. “Which is to learn English skills.”

“Yes. Well.” At this, Eileen seemed to refocus on the term paper in front of her. She flipped through a few pages and stopped at an especially marked-up passage. “I did want to bring up one specific remark…Here it is. ‘This evidence isn’t empirical or verifiable.’ You just completely dismissed my son’s personal testimony.”

Dana paused for a deep breath. “I told the class at the start of this assignment that they should think in terms of presenting a court case. But Scott took the approach of preaching a sermon.”

“I don’t see what’s so wrong about describing his personal walk with the Lord.”

“Eileen,” Dana began in a soft voice, “when someone has a deeply ingrained worldview, like we all do, he tends to take it for granted. Obviously Scott has very strong faith, and maybe he hasn’t had much need to defend it. He’s probably not used to looking at these issues with a critical eye. While he has every right to believe as he does, the fact is he didn’t follow the instructions. He made all kinds of assertions without backing them up. The few arguments he did give were weak, quite frankly.”

Mrs. Radcliffe let out a disbelieving half-chuckle. “You think God’s work in his life doesn’t count for anything?”

“No, you’re misunderstanding me—”

“Let’s take another look at this insignificant evidence.” With her voice getting stronger, Eileen began to read aloud. “‘All my life I’ve known God’s love is as real as the sunshine. In junior high, I felt God start working in my heart to help me grow into a godly Christian man. He is so good and awesome, He fills me with joy and strength when there are problems.’”

“Listen, I’m not saying—”

“‘Just like God touched my life, He wants to touch everyone and save them from the power of sin,’” she continued over Dana’s protests. “‘Jesus Christ set me free from the sin that enslaved me, so I could reach others’—” Suddenly she flipped the pages closed. “Miss Hodges, my son bares his soul in this paper. And you’re telling me, what? That it’s not convincing enough?”

“That it’s not objective enough!” Leaning back in her chair, Dana forced herself to stare out the classroom window for several moments. She had to stay calm and composed, somehow. The rubric! I should’ve brought it out a long time ago, she thought while heading to her desk to grab a manila folder in the right-hand drawer. Her nerves steadied somewhat as she busied herself, flipping through the folder’s contents without a word or glance at the woman watching intently.

“Let me show you exactly how I graded the papers.” With an air of triumph, Dana pulled out a dog-eared chart and brought it to Scott’s mother. Eileen studied the sheet as the teacher explained: “We call this a rubric—it’s just a chart to make grading easier. Basically, it lists all the criteria that make up a successful paper and rates them. So you see the traits like quality of information, organization, mechanics and so on down one side. Then you’ve got the scale of one to four…” She trailed off, grateful to have something concrete and extrinsic that clearly backed up her grading decision.

Eileen glanced back at the essay’s last page, where the number fourteen appeared in red. “Okay, let me get this straight. The seven areas have four points each, totaling twenty-eight points max. Scott got only half that.”

“That’s right, he averaged two points per criterion.”

With a sigh, the blonde pushed both papers back toward Dana. “That's all well and good but all I'm saying is my son, who’s normally an A-B student, came home the other day with a D. Now it just so happened that in his D paper, he took an unpopular and politically incorrect stance on spiritual matters. Are you really saying that’s a coincidence?”

So much for the coup de grace, Dana thought bitterly. “I’m saying I graded his paper fairly. You can see for yourself how I measured his performance, point by point. That’s all I have to tell you.”

“Somehow,” she said, “I don’t find that too convincing.”

A sharp edge showed in Dana's voice. “Then you’ll have to take it up with the principal. I stand by my decision.”

“Very well, I’ll do just that.” Eileen stood up and grabbed her handbag. “Thanks for your time, Miss Hodges. This has been…informative.”

As they headed for the classroom door, Dana couldn’t resist getting in a swipe: “Yes, it has been for me, too. I think I see where Scott gets his dogmatism.”

Holding the door open, Mrs. Radcliffe glanced back through blue eyes of ice. “You haven’t heard the last of me, you know. Have a good night.” With that, she was gone.

Dana always looked forward to fourth hour, her daily down time. Every teacher had at least one “prep period” a day, giving them time to plan classes, catch up on grading, relax in the lounge, or socialize with the other staff. That Monday she planned to spend fourth period alone in her room, unwinding with a Dean Koontz novel.

But first she stopped by the busy school office, where wooden mail shelves covered one long wall. She found her mailbox and pulled out some brightly colored memos, the weekly newsletter and an announcement about Mame, the upcoming school play. As she flipped idly through the papers, her boss approached. A cheerful, balding man in his fifties, Doug Jerrard had an easygoing personality. But Dana also heard whispers through the grapevine about his brusque, temperamental side—and the unlucky staffers who saw it firsthand.

His voice broke through her thoughts. “Ah, Ms. Hodges. Just the person I wanted to see.”

She turned around uneasily. “Good morning, Doug. What’s going on?”

“That’s what I’d like to know, too,” he said in a mild tone. “Why don’t you come to my office? I’d like to talk to you.”

“I got a phone call this morning from a rather disgruntled parent,” Doug began, shuffling a stack of papers on his desk. He set down the straightened pile and leaned forward. “She says you graded her son’s work unfairly because of its religious content. She also says she talked to you personally, but you wouldn’t budge on the issue.”

“That’s true.” Seated across from his desk, Dana twisted the strap of her purse to have something to do with her suddenly restless fingers.

---“Eileen Radcliffe is active in our community—politically conservative and quite influential,” he went on. “She’s what you might call a frequent flier. This isn’t the first time she objected to something in our educational system.”

“No, I’m sure it’s not.” Dana started to chuckle, but one glance at her boss’ serious face and she sobered immediately.

“She thinks our staff has an anti-Christian bias,” said Doug. “And the latest evidence, according to Mrs. Radcliffe, is the D you gave her son on an essay. She gave me quite an earful this morning.”

The teacher’s shoulders stiffened as she imagined Eileen ripping her apart, with none less than her boss as an audience.

“So now that I’ve heard her side,” he said, “I want to give you a chance to respond. Tell me your version of what happened.”

She smiled, hoping he would naturally sympathize with a staff member. “Well, her son’s a good student. But nobody’s perfect, and this time he didn’t seem to grasp the goal of the assignment. I told the kids to argue their points like lawyers making the best case possible. Scott’s pretty outspoken about his beliefs. But I guess he’s not used to looking at them objectively. He made lots of unsupported claims, and he also used circular reasoning and anecdotal evidence.

“It’s like I told Eileen, he has every right to his beliefs. I mean I wouldn’t dream of attacking a student’s religious views. The fact is I told the class what I expected beforehand, and I graded the papers fairly. If you want to see the rubric or the essay itself, I’ll get it for you.”

“That’s okay, it’s not necessary. Have you said anything in class about religion? Maybe just an off-the-cuff comment—something that got a bad reaction?”

“No, no, I haven’t. It hardly ever comes up and if it does, I’m always impartial.”

“I see.”

Doug drummed his fingers on the desk, lost in thought. The quietness made Dana squirm. She couldn’t tell if he took her side as an educator, or Eileen’s side for public relations’ sake. He might be a Christian himself, she thought, one she had unwittingly offended. Maybe he didn’t believe that she had no irreligious agenda. Her mind flooded with possibilities to fill in the blanks his silence made. What kind of clout did Eileen have, anyway? she wondered. Dana herself usually shied away from the pious types. Her greatest exposure to religious belief came through the bumper stickers she read in slow-moving traffic: “My Boss Is a Jewish Carpenter,” “God’s Last Name Isn’t Damn,” and a campy personal favorite, “This Blood’s for You,” complete with two gory nails.

Finally Doug spoke. “Sometimes I wonder if Mrs. Radcliffe has kind of a persecution complex. I looked into her last couple of complaints and I really didn’t see any validity to them. But at the same time, we have to be careful to tread lightly. Religion is such a sensitive topic, and it tends to bring out the worst in people. We don’t want to stir her up unnecessarily.”

Dana nodded, unsure of what this meant.

He cleared his throat with an air of importance. “You know, I believe you. You were just trying to do your job as an educator—”

“Absolutely,” she said with relief.

“—so I’ll tell you what. I’m going to give Eileen another call myself. We’ll straighten this out as best we can. In the meantime, you should completely avoid talking about Christianity. We want to be extra careful not to step on any toes. Okay?”

“Okay, great.” Standing up, she smiled for the first time in the whole conversation. “Keep me posted, Doug.”

“Will do.”

After gladly handing over the matter to her boss, Dana returned to the usual rigors of teaching. She immersed herself in the daily routine—instructing class after class, wading through paperwork and attending the requisite dull meetings. Scott, too, seemed to put the incident behind him. A sharp student, he participated in class discussions and completed his work without further complaint. By all appearances, the term paper argument was forgotten.

One morning during her prep period, Dana sat reading Education Weekly on the grubby teacher’s couch. Christine poked her head into the nearly empty lounge. “Hey you,” she chirped. “I figured I’d find your lazy butt in here.”

“You know me,” Dana said good-naturedly, putting aside the magazine.

“Thought you might be interested.” Joining her on the couch, Christine handed the younger woman an editorial page of the local newspaper. The bold-typed header of one letter caught her eye: “Christians object to school bias”:

My son Scott is a senior at Lakewood High, where secular humanism runs rampant. As a Christian, Scott has gone through many trials at school. Fellow students tease and mock him. Teachers, too, make it more difficult to follow Christ. Scott has protested the teaching of evolution in biology class and the permissive attitude toward sex that characterized a unit of his health class.

However, the greatest challenge comes from his English teachers. It’s bad enough that they make godless tripe their “required reading.” But now they also punish students who express their faith!

When Scott wrote a thoughtful essay about his Savior, Jesus Christ, the teacher gave him a D. She felt his beliefs were “unreasonable” and “illogical.” Although her response was regrettable, it should not surprise us Christians. The Bible says, “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.” Indeed, Scripture says the world’s intellectuals are actually in the dark: “Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” (1 Corinthians).

The world’s wisdom is actually folly, and what the world sees as “folly” is true wisdom. Scott’s teacher gave him a low grade as if his testimony were nonsense. Meanwhile, she and her colleagues promote the “philosophies of men,” believing them to be the truth. What sad irony!

Now more than ever, we need God in our schools. We need truth taught, instead of secular falsehood. Will Americans continue to defy their Maker, spiraling further down into destruction? Or will we repent and let Him heal our land?

I pray that we make the right choice.

Elaine Radcliffe,

Concerned Christian Citizens

“Wow,” Dana breathed. “Unbelievable.”

“Bet you didn’t know you were speeding up the decline of civilization, huh?” Christine said.

“She makes us sound so sinister.”

“Yeah, that’s how she sees us.”

“What do you think? I mean, was I being unfair? All I wanted was for the kid to back up his points with something besides Bible verses!”

“I think you were doing your job. You laid out the ground rules, he didn’t follow them, he got the consequences. You didn’t do anything wrong.”

“Then why do we look like scumbags?” Dana crumpled up the opinions page, tossed it at the wastebasket by the door and missed.

“Come on, don’t take it so personally. Everything’s black and white to these people. You’re saved or you’re damned, there’s no in between.”

“Well, now we look like the bad guys to everybody reading the paper.”

“Tell me something,” Christine said. “Are you a Christian?”

Dana eyed her suspiciously.

“Relax, I just want to know.”

“No, I’m not,” she said. “I was raised Methodist, but in college I got fed up with organized religion. Now I’m not much of anything.”

“Except for a secular humanist who’s corrupting the children,” her friend teased.

“Yeah. Right.”

“So why does it bother you so much what the Eileens of the world think? You don’t buy into their religion. Why don’t you just consider the source?”

“Because this woman’s smearing our school,” Dana sputtered. “First of all, if her son wrote a logical essay like I asked, his grade would’ve been fine. Secondly, if she wants him to get a religious education, she should send him to a religious school. Period.”

“Hey, you’re preaching to the choir here.”

“‘Bias’ my ass.” Dana shook her head. “How are we discriminating? Tell me that. By not using the taxpayers’ dollars to promote religion? Maybe we should just forget about the whole church-state separation—is that what she wants? Sure, we’d piss off the Jews and atheists and all them. But what do you expect? They’re ‘perishing’, so it all sounds like foolishness to them anyway.”

“Now you’re gettin’ the picture!”

“Give me a break.” Dana rolled her eyes. “If God likes ‘folly,’ she must be his favorite.” She checked her watch. “Hey, I’ve still got half an hour. Let’s go to the cafeteria and get some coffee. Four more periods—I could use the caffeine.”

“You’re on, scumbag.”

As they headed for the door, Christine asked, “So do you think there’s coffee in hell?”

“I don’t know. They might have the cheap instant decaf. But I guess we’ll find out, huh?”

“Speak for yourself, girl. It’s not too late for me.” Grinning, Christine grabbed the balled-up newspaper page off the floor. “And I know just who to see…”

Michelle Duy is an Illinois native who grew up in a conservative church, obtained a degree in biblical studies and now considers herself a militant agnostic: "I don't know and neither do you." She works as a medical transcriptionist and enjoys drawing, writing and drinking Starbucks coffee by the gallon. She welcomes feedback on her writing.

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