Two Words


Two Words

Dec 25, 2016

CAMDEN, S.C. — When my wickedly witty father wanted to insult someone, he’d say, “I have two words for you — and they’re not “Merry Christmas.”

At least this is what he thought he might say because I don’t think he ever insulted anyone. Even in private, he spoke only favorably of others, which impressed me as a young girl. I liked that he expressed admiration for others’ better qualities — their intelligence, humor, honor, dignity, generosity, grace, erudition, and other attributes of the sort.

His wit — usually deadpan and dry — wasn’t for sissies, to borrow from his vernacular. His touch was light but his cut deep and true. My older brother and I became expert at the parry and the three of us spent many a night, often around Christmastime, galloping through gales of laughter and reveling in the rapport that attaches to those who’ve gazed upon the landscape of humankind’s collective consciousness and reached the same wordless conclusion.

Popsie, as I called our father, would simply smile, point to the heavens and lift his brow. Translation: It’s a joke.

Meaning, God’s playing one on us. While we humans hustle to and fro making plans and promises, vexing over life’s tribulations, most of which we create for ourselves, God wanders the clouds plucking raindrops for his soup, waiting.

One day, the creator of infinity must imagine that his most-dubious progeny eventually will recognize that meaning won’t be found in wars or profits, in sporting victories or headboard notches, or among the other trophies, trinkets and totems we collect to deflect the possibility that we are only nothings after all.

Religion, mostly, has filled the void of unknowing. If one looks closely, one sees the rituals, symbols, icons as the motions of a people ordering their anxieties much as obsessive compulsive people do. Nothing wrong with that. The mind — or at least my mind — can only get so far before it hits the void of the inconceivable and, therefore, the unknowable. You can either take a pill and hire a shrink or accept on faith that there’s something more. As a disciple of preparedness, I do both.

Because I was raised a Christian, Christmas is what I do.

If Jesus wasn’t precisely the literal Son of God — I’m very comfortable with metaphor, parables, symbolism and, frankly, not knowing — then he was certainly God incarnate in that he embodied the eternal truths that make life bearable.

His essential message was so simple: Love.

Love thy neighbor as thyself.

It would take a lifetime to list all the sonnets and songs written to love, an idea and ideal so compelling that the ancient Greeks had at least four words for the different kinds of love — “agape” (unconditional love between man and God, parents and children); “eros” (romantic or sexual love, encompassing physical attraction); “philia” (love between friends, based on common values and interests); and, finally, “storge” (rooted in fondness or familiarity, as well as acceptance, as in tolerating the king or tyrant). I had the same thought: Republicans have overdosed on “storge.”

Plato argued that eros can be understood as seeking spiritual truth. We love Plato. What he meant was that in connecting with another through desire, we recall beauty. Essentially, he was talking about transcendence, another path to which is surely laughter. Maybe it’s because laughing is a complete mind-body meld or because to laugh is to surrender.

When was the last time you laughed so hard you couldn’t stop? I’ll bet you’re smiling now as you think of it. As to Plato’s suggestion, confess sinners: When do you feel closest to God? In prayer, of course. That’s what I meant.

It’s funny but I only realized as I’ve been writing that what made those kitchen nights so special, in addition to excellent wine, was love. We three became transcendent together, our souls connected through laughter, yes, but something else, too. I’m not sure what to name it, but we had agape and philia wrapped up with a bow.

Those times are long gone, the moments past, never to be repeated. My father has been gone 20 years now. My brother lives alone on a boat, far from the buzz of yuletide. Ever the anchor, I’ve been feverishly decorating my house so that when a certain 3-year-old arrives, she will feel love and joy.

To all of you reading, I have two words and it’s no joke. Merry Christmas. And may your new year be filled with laughter.


Kathleen Parker’s email address is

(c) 2016, Washington Post Writers Group

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Using Scholarly Argument in your Literature Review

No ABD (All But Dissertation) for Me!

Literature Review is More Than a Summary of the Research Studies on Your Topic

Think of the literature review as a persuasive argument for why your study needs to be done. However, scholarly arguments are not like the persuasive essays you may have written in the past. Instead, you use facts, found in empirical research to show your reader what is going on in your field and within your topic. Your argument will be stronger based on the quality of the resources, how you organize the facts, and the logic you use to connect facts to your study.


However, there are a number of qualities that scholarly arguments should not include. The first is vocabulary that evokes emotion. While you should be passionate about your study, you are writing an academic, scholarly argument. The facts, not emotion should make the argument. Next, scholarly arguments should not be degree-indicating. Do not…

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Writing the Implications Section: Explaining How Your Study Contributes to Positive Social Change

No ABD (All But Dissertation) for Me!

Before writing the implications section of chapter 5, I suggest you go back and read your significance section from chapter 1. [Learn more about what should be in a significance section.] When you were proposing your study, what potential did you think the data may provide? Now that you have your data, has your perspective changed? You should touch on these themes in the implications section. It is also a good time to review your study alignment. Step back, remember the problem you set out to address. The problem aligned to the purpose, which led to your research questions then methodology. It is in the implication section that you finally share what your study means for society. You finally get to answer the question, “Who Cares?” in relation to your study results. This really is the fun part!

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As should be your habit by now, go to…

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Significance of Your Study Answers “Who Cares?”

No ABD (All But Dissertation) for Me!

With Walden’s positive social change mission, your dissertation research study must be more than simply a study of an interesting topic. It must make a difference. While it doesn’t have to change the world, you will need to carefully and accurately describe how your study will make an impact. Essentially you’re answering the question, “Who Cares?’

You will write an APA level 1 heading titled “Significance” in the prospectus and in Chapter 1 of your dissertation. If you follow the Walden dissertation checklist while writing the prospectus, once it is approved you’ll be able to copy and paste it into the dissertation template and confidently say, you’ve begun your dissertation!

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According to the Walden Dissertation checklist, under Chapter 1, you must address three areas related to significance.

  • Identify potential contributions of the study that advance knowledge in the discipline. This is an elaboration of what the problem addresses.

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Be the Glue: Writing Sticky Sentences

No ABD (All But Dissertation) for Me!

Have you ever received feedback on your academic writing that sounds like this?

This paragraph lacks cohesion.
Add more synthesis, please.
This is all summary.
Where is the analysis of these studies?
Why does this matter?

If so, its likely that you need to work on being the glue!


Hopefully you know about theMEAL plan. Walden’s Writing Center has done an outstanding job of providing a model for writing strong academic-toned paragraphs. Here is what MEAL stands for.

M = Main idea = Topic Sentence
E = Evidence = Facts from research studies
A = Analysis = You Be the Glue
L = Lead Out = Your voice summarizing

I find that once students begin to understand the importance of strong topic sentences and lead out sentences, most learn to use them consistently. However learning to do the analysis well is where most students struggle. I have started…

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Twitter as Teacher PD Part 2

No ABD (All But Dissertation) for Me!

In part 1 of my series titled “Twitter for Innovative Thinkers,” I shared a tutorial titled Educator’s Guide to Twitter: The Profile Page. In that video I provide an explanation of how Twitter is used by the movers and shakers in education, and did my best to convince you that Twitter is really a gold mine of professional development. I’m now introducing Part 2 of the series, and I’ve titled this one “Hashtags and other Twitter Terms I don’t know.”

In this tutorial, I walk you through the elements of a tweet, so that you can be an intelligent consumer of information you come across on Twitter. I also provide tips for when you’re ready to move into the contributing phase of social media and show you how to engage with tweets responsibly. By the end of this tutorial, You’ll be able to use hashtags to find new people…

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Twitter as Professional Development

No ABD (All But Dissertation) for Me!

As a PhD candidate, maybe you think you’re above Twitter. Maybe you’ve only seen it used for egotistical self promotion, or worse just to share with the world what someone ate for lunch. However, I’m here to say that Twitter is actually the best way to connect quickly with teachers of like-mindedness, as well as with teachers who will boggle your mind with what they do in their classroom. Twitter is a powerful learning tool for educators.

While George Couros, author ofInnovator’s Mindset, doesn’t say you HAVE to be on Twitter to be innovative, he has said, that many teachers who are innovative happen to be on Twitter. There’s just something about connecting with other educators around the world that helps us to have a more balanced and global approach to what we do in the classroom.

To encourage you to consider Twitter as a viable professional development…

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