Three Things #1

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1. A word.

The gender-neutral pronoun “hir” is one of more than 650 words just added to the Oxford English Dictionary. Other OED additions attempting to “grapple with or avoid the vexed question of gender language” were “Latin@” to reference both the feminine and masculine, Latina and Latino; “peoplekind” in place of mankind; and “misgendering,” when you get it wrong.
 
Also big were new dog breeds, Scottish expressions and cannabis derivatives. Interesting lens through which to view our current times, isn’t it? Doesn’t it seem like yesterday we added the internet and all things web (initially in uppercase) to the lexicon? The OED publishes four updates each year. From what I could gather, Merriam-Webster updates annually. It added more than 840 entries in September.

2. A tip.

Ever wonder whether (or not) you should use “or not” after “whether”? Most of the time, “or not” is redundant. According to NYT blog After Deadline, “whether” stands alone when its clause is functioning as a noun, but not when the clause is serving as an adverb. Another way to think about it: “Or not” is necessary when the phrase “whether or not” means “regardless of whether.” His father will base his decision on whether the car has been repaired. (The clause is the object of on.) Whether the car will be ready depends on the mechanic. (The clause is the subject of depends.)They will play tomorrow whether or not the car is repaired. (The clause modifies play.)

3. A recommendation.

It’s been a tough year to keep the faith in our leadership – and even in each other and our societal values. But I say there’s always plenty of wisdom, compassion, courageousness and generosity to be found if you make a point to look for it. A good biography also can be a rad source of inspiration.  
 
The life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the words of Eric Metaxas in Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy opened my eyes, fed my soul and changed my view of the world. Bonhoeffer rejected “cheap grace”—a term he defined as belief without bold and sacrificial action – when he joined the German resistance against Nazi Germany (which Churchill refused to acknowledge) and then a conspiracy to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Admittedly, I’m late with this one; it was published in 2010. But because of the role Bonhoeffer played in history, as well as the brilliant research and poignant storytelling by Metaxas, this incredible work will be pertinent for decades more. It’s one of my top five books of all time and it will remain close by. (Thanks to the friend who thought to send the book’s riveting foreword my way.)

“If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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