Sticks, Stones, and Inconsistent Morality

Author Emily Dietle

My focus is on state-church separation & social issues. I'm an avid reader, and feel that one of our most valuable tools is the free movement of information and ideas. | @emilyhasbooks

From my bedroom window, there are four churches visible. Every Sunday, fancy hats and shined shoes sway to hymns, the bass throbbing through these old shiplap walls while I pull the covers ever tighter over my head. The noise continues well into the evening, these are devout Christians. One of the elder fancy hats lives a few houses away, and since living here I’ve spent several hours on her porch, listening to idle chatter about the history of the neighborhood, her opinions on “the gays” and how not to spoil children, while her grand-nephew and his friends play in the yard. It’s mostly bigoted and backwards, and though we do find ourselves in agreement about local politics and discussion about the under-served, I keep my dissent silent.

Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

On occasion, her grand-nephew and his friends come knocking, wanting to tattle on each other, have a dispute settled, or to talk about their school work. The boys are ten and fourteen, and are always surprised when I curse – giggling, they say, “Miss, you just said the ‘S’ word,” and I rant on about words, their power, and how there aren’t really bad words. This fascinates them, great aunt fancy hat does not tolerate “the devil’s words” in her home or on their tongues, and great punishment occurs if they are caught cursing, which is often where the tattling begins. Today, the boys came knocking to show off their new toys, great aunt fancy hat bought them two shiny toy semi-automatic handguns with realistic slide actions. She encouraged them to play cops and robbers, but “Lord God-forbid” they say a “curse word.”