Posted by: Carl Magruder | June 18, 2009

Learning Is Fun!


Have you ever noticed how once a person has been a schoolteacher for a while, they never stop being a teacher? They lecture on whatever topic is at hand, using a sing-song or droning voice. They expect you to think that whatever they are talking about is fascinating because they are so used to having a captive audience that they have forgotten the skill and necessity of actually being fascinating if they want people to listen voluntarily to what they have to say. Well, luckily, I didn’t teach for long enough to have a truly terrible case of the Didacts, but I do have a mild tendency…

Today we are going to learn about three simple things that are good for everyone to know about. Even better, I am going to tell you about only one of them, and then the geeky kid from the A/V department is going to roll his squeaky cart in here, thread the old often-spliced film through the ratatatat projector, we are going to pull the blinds and turn the lights off, and you will have the opportunity to watch some movies. I might notice if you fall asleep, though, so don’t put your head on the desk…

Our first topic for the day is HWJD? We are going to skip the whole silly question of “What Would Jesus Drive?” because it is abundantly clear that any technology that kills 50,000 Americans a year, necessitates paving the planet, isolates you from the community, is only affordable to the rich (on a global scale of wealth), which kills millions of wildlife, is warming and destroying the Earth’s ecosystems, and which is a root cause of wars over diminishing resources is not a technology that Jesus would have anything to do with at all. He wouldn’t drive. No, not a scooter or a Prius. Lay not that unction to thy soul. WWJD? JWD an ass, a sailboat, skateboard, bicycle, kick scooter, roller skates, hang glider, skis, a kayak, or he might just levitate himself around. In all likelihood, though, I’d say, Jesus would drive some sandals. In a cooler climate, he might wear socks with his sandals. (Is Jesus a geek?)

So, HWJD? How would he drive? Suppose that a person less perfect than Jesus wanted to drive according to the spirit of Christ? Well, they’d carpool, and combine trips, I suppose. They’d drive a fuel efficient vehicle, follow all the traffic rules, and never get road rage. In particular, how would they drive around bicycles?

You may not know this, but except in a very few backward parts of the United States, bicycles are legally considered vehicles in their own right. They have a right to take the full use of the traffic lane, and they are obligated to follow all rules of the road, just like an automobile. It is illegal and very unsafe for bicycles to ride on sidewalks in most places. Cars do not have right of way over bicycles, though they may have “right of weight.”

Now, you may wonder why bicycles are so far out in the roadway that you can’t get around them. The answer is simpler than you may think. Where there are parked cars, there is a great risk to the cyclist that a car door will open without warning, and the cyclist will run into the door, sustaining serious injuries such as a broken collarbone, concussion, loss of an eye, severe damage to the groin area, loss of teeth, and even death. Therefore, savvy cyclists ride at least four feet away from parked cars. This may mean that they are using so much of the lane that it is awkward for you to drive around them. This is o.k. They have a right to be there, and you don’t have anywhere you need to get to that is more important than loving your bicycling neighbor by giving them some time and space.

I’m pretty sure that Jesus would never honk at a cyclist. It doesn’t help. Cyclists are giving you as much space and going as fast as they can. It is absolutely terrifying to have a car just behind you honk at you when you are riding. This explains the gestures that are usually elicited from cyclists by honking motorists.

Jesus would use his turn signals. He would realize that he might not see a cyclist, and that therefore his use of turn signals would at least give the unseen cyclist an opportunity to anticipate what he might be doing next so that they could take appropriate action, even if he never saw them. So, remember that cyclists are your neighbor, whom you are charged to love, and treat them accordingly. If you are in D.C., one of them is me.

Now for the movies:

The Story of Stuff:   Where does our stuff come from? Where does it go? Why is so much of it so toxic? What can we do about it? This is a fun, short animated/live action movie that you can watch at Kids love this movie.

The Disappearing Male: This is a fascinating film about endocrine disrupting chemicals. It features NCC Environmental Health Program champion Pete Myers. See it here. There is a note that says that the full-length feature is only available to folks in Canada, but it seems to be quite available in D.C…. Could be tricky for kids.

Crash Course: This film is about a great opportunity for Christians all over the world to come together to create a future that more fully manifests God’s love and the abundance of God’s Creation. It is fairlylong and  in depth, but you can watch it in segments. Just click on the “Crash Course” button at the upper left hand corner of this page: Nothing inappropriate for kids, but they are unlikely to stay the course, and if they do, may ask questions that you have no answers for whatsoever.



  1. Carl–this is brilliant! I’m laughing because I came to work one day last year (before I started training/busing) with the idea that I should start a driving school called HWJD? Now I avoid all unpleasant, un-neighborly thoughts by avoiding the drive. And Minnesotans wear socks with their sandals, so I hope Jesus would fit right in here in the geeky upper Midwest. Bravo. You are a great teacher–never stop, and never apologize.

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