defineDoing Research in the Age of Information

Leading high school students through the arduous process of writing a research paper leaves me feeling exhausted. Since the advent of the Internet, Google, Wikipedia, and social media, kids define cutting and pasting content from other sources as ‘research.’ I beg to differ.

And so we do things the old-fashioned-sort-of-technologically-advanced way in my classes. The students make photocopies of everything they plan on using that comes from a book. They print out web sources. And then they make notecards.

I try to explain the difference between writing in your own words and plagiarizing. Convinced that they understand, I give them highlighters, notecards, colored pencils, and the use of the stapler and sit back and watch them work.

When they hand their papers in, I either glow with satisfaction or shake my head in frustration. Sometimes, I just laugh. Yesterday I received this notecard from a student.


It made me question our current politically correct society and the need to define people. The original passage read:By far the largest group is the blacks, who, at times, also have been called Bantu, natives, or Africans. They number approximately 20 million…” The student, a Native American, evidently felt confused. Should he use the word ‘native’? Or should he use the word ‘black.’ In an attempt to honor my ‘don’t-plagiarize-or-you-will-fail-this-class dictum, the student chose to define the non-white residents of South Africa as ‘African Americans.’

Genius. Politically Correct. Only Not.

A New Way to Define Christian

It made me think of how the name ‘Christian’ has gotten a bad rap in the last few decades. Due to the radically unchristian acts carried out in the name of Christ (such as that church that traveled to military funerals to spew hate), the word has left a sour taste in many mouths. ‘Christian’ has become synonymous with right-wing-conservative-uneducated-hate-filled-lemming.

Let the cross define your life in such a way that being called a #Christian is a compliment, not a curse. #fmfparty Click To TweetLet the cross define your life in such a way that being called a #Christian is a compliment, not a curse.

In some cases, we might deserve the definition. I’d like to think that more often than not we as Christians have let those who claim Christ’s name spout their un-Christlike opinions without protesting vocally enough.

We cower in the corner, not wanting to rock the boat. And by default, those erroneous definitions of Christian get pinned on our backs. We need to take back our name.

Don’t think about staging a protest to do it. We don’t need to express anger or hate. Quietly, courteously, refuse to let the media define us as something we are not.

If Jesus truly lives in our hearts and we hunger after a relationship with him, no one would dare define us as bigots. No one would confuse our acts of love and service with screaming protesters tearing down God’s children.

We need to carefully consider before condemning (that’s God’s job, not mine) and convicting (the Holy Spirit’s job)—whether it be on social media or church. We need to live our lives in such a way that when someone bashes Christians, other non-Christians pause and say, “Wait a minute! My neighbor is a Christian and she would NEVER do that!”

Don’t let the world define us. Let Christ’s love define our every action. And when we mess up—fess up. “I’m sorry. That wasn’t very Christ-like of me. Will you forgive me?”

Q4U: What can you do to redefine Christian for someone in your life today?

#Christians, when we mess up—fess up! #IamaChristian Click To Tweet