Can Any Good Come Out of a Mob?

Mob /mŏb/ n. – a large crowd of people, especially one that is disorderly and intent on causing trouble or violence.

Have you ever been in a mob?  Or at least in a large crowd of people at an event, maybe a sporting event or a festival or some sort of celebration where there are bunches of people that you don’t know?  I’ll bet everyone has.  Sometimes these groups are exciting and fun to be a part of.  There is energy and a sense of community.  This sense of community come from having a shared purpose or goal and can provide confidence, assurance and a kind of congregate power.

Large groups can, when united, come together and accomplish a great deal.  Generally speaking, there must be organization to the group and a plan to operate.  Large groups can, also when united, cause great destruction. Then they are generally known as mobs.  Mob mentality is not a positive thing at all.

Let me share some of my experiences with groups of people coming together.  As a baby boomer raised in the 50s and 60s, I went to college during the anti-Vietnam War movement.  There was much protesting and marching.  People would rally outside of large auditoriums (where classes were held) and picket, generally stopping and greatly discouraging students from attending classes.

Now, for the most part, I would have to say that back then I considered myself peace-loving, anti-war (after all, who could be said to be for killing?) and I wanted to make an intelligent look into the matter before I jumped in and protested.  I spoke with the people protesting and asked about their reasoning for demonstrations.  They all said pretty much the same thing.  War is evil, wrong and we want it to stop.   So I asked them why our country was in the war in the first place. (I had no understanding of current events myself. I was occupied with more immediate matters of becoming independent from my parents and getting through college.)  I listened to many people on this question of why we were involved in Vietnam and none of them gave me any reasonable answer short of the United States is meddling in another country’s affairs for whatever reason.

I even attended a couple meetings of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), a student activist organization which seemed to advocate sit-ins, strikes and other forms of civil disobedience.  When I walked into their organization, it was rag-tag and managed by a couple of young men with very charismatic personalities.  They accepted me, but when I did not enter the premise already a willing supporter, I was pretty much left to my own.  I looked at their placards and posters, picked up some of their literature and had a few discussions which basically were the same old, same old I’d been getting from the other protesters.

No one knew why we were there in Vietnam.  The protesters just didn’t want war. And they were not happy when students like me didn’t want to rally with them.  They didn’t like us continuing to attend classes.   When they protested, they found safety and security in numbers.

I finally elected to not join a group with no distinct analysis for its actions.  As I put myself through college, I concluded the matter wasn’t worth throwing away a semester’s tuition to skip classes to protest.  I found tunnels and back doors and kept on going to classes.  I endured hurled insults and taunts but I went to class anyway. I even survived a tear gas attack on a building where I was in class.

I was not impressed with the people in the protest groups.  They had a mob mentality and had no coherent message or rationality.

Let me tell you about another mob experience I had.  This is a much different scale, contrived, but astonishingly powerful.  My husband and I were choir members in a large church that was putting on a passion play at Easter.   Choir members make good ‘extras’ on stage and soon my husband and I found ourselves becoming townspeople.  One of my roles was to be a part of the crowd when Pontius Pilate addresses the crowd, asking whether Barabbas or Jesus should be freed.  The entire crowd was instructed to yell for Barabbas. Then Pilate asked us, “What should I do with this man, Jesus?”  The entire choir was to yell “crucify him” except for the sopranos who got to yell “Free him.  He’s done nothing wrong!”

Well, I was an alto and so disappointed not to be yelling on behalf of Jesus. I nevertheless got into my role and yelled for Pilate to crucify Jesus.  Naturally, we weren’t loud enough the first time.  We had to practice it.  I stepped up to the role. But what really astonished me was how easily and swiftly I was caught up in the mob’s intensity and urgency in yelling, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”  I went home shaking.  And this was just theater, not reality!

Our God is a God of order, rationality and good. First Corinthians 14:33 states: “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.”  Let us remember this when faced with the rule of a mob.  The Enemy can make good use of a mob.




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Thoughts on Empty Nest

Precious Daughter

Marcia pulls up my jacket on my bad shoulder for me as I dial the cell phone.  “Emma,” I say.  “We can’t find the car in this garage.  Do you remember where we left it?”  Now this is a remarkable situation.  All those years that I conveyed my children from one spot to the next, all that driving and how did it come to be that I need advice from my youngest on how to get out of the parking garage?  When she began driving, she was the one who usually got lost (and I was so thankful for cell phones).

Now I follow my daughter’s advice and am able to get out of the garage.

For a lifetime I led and she followed.  That is what mothers do.  I chose her clothes, picked out sheets and matching coverlet for her bed.  I chose camps and activities for her: Girl Scouts, horse-riding, singing lessons, CYT.  I homeschooled her and taught her etiquette (start your letters with something nice you like about the gift – do not start with ‘thank you for’).  I cuddled her every morning for too many years (we had to stretch out on a recliner as she grew taller and taller).

“Someday you’ll grow up,” I used to whisper to her, “and stop hanging out with Mommy.”

“Never!” she’d tell me so adamantly that my heart clenched.

Now I watch as she races out the door.  “Sorry, Mom, no time to talk.  I’m late.”

She is growing up and ever faster and faster.  The gulf between us grows.  This is how it should be.  How it must be.  I know that.  Yet watching her flip her hair out of her jacket and grab her keys and purse make me want to time-travel back to the days when Emma would catch my eye and smile at me, blatantly in love.  I was so wise then.  So funny.  My stories were interesting enough to listen to over and over.

These days I stand at the bottom of the stairs and yell up to her room, “Want to watch Survivor with me?”

“I’m on the phone,” she answers.

“Can you spend 15 minutes talking to your old mom?” I ask when she comes home from work.

“Can’t,” she tells me.  “Bible Study tonight.”

As some girls are, Emma is sweet and thoughtful.  Sometimes she plops down on the sofa next to me and orders me to put down my book.  I do.  And we spend glorious moments in girl-talk, until a text-message happens on her phone and she is gone again, into her new world, where mommy does not rule as queen.

Emma and I have been best buds since forever.  She always trusted me and clung to her family, even through those scary times in Africa.  She held my hand numerous times when I had to have another surgery or even have blood drawn.  She was brave, smart and goofy, just like we liked her to be.  Time passed and Emma grew into a beautiful young woman—still brave, still smart, but now, spunky. And we love her even more.

I watched in admiration as my adult daughter (working at my husband’s dental office) led an anxious patient into the operatory, soothing her fears and comforting her.  When did she stop being a child and become this responsible, caring adult?  I continue to watch as she dutifully cleans up another operatory, setting out the instruments my husband will need for the next patient.  As I work, I hear laughter between them and including the patient.  In wonderment, I realized that she has become all that I intended for her.

“You’re a good dental assistant, everyone says so,” I tell her.  I want to add: You’re a good daughter. A good person.  But I know better than to gush.  Worse, I might cry if I actually say what I am thinking.

The next day I pick her and her fiancé up at the airport.  We take him to his home and then she and I plan to eat lunch together.  “Mom, I am so glad to be home.  I missed you so much,” she begins.  Then she concludes, “You’re the best mommy in the world!”  And my heart soars again – maybe life won’t be so bad as an empty-nester after all.







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Nuts and Bolts of Writing – Part 1

Today 5 points on grammar.  Most of us did not learn these points of grammar in high school, but they’re very necessary for continuity in your story.  Readers tend to expect that the same literary devices are in place so they know how to understand what they’re reading.




-Paragraph break occurs between exterior action and interior monologue (thoughts)

-No spacing breaks between paragraphs unless a shift in POV (point-of-view).  Example from Cutting for Stone

     On the plaster above the desk my mother had tacked up a calendar print of Bernini’s famous sculpture of St. Teresa of Avila.

     Why this picture? Why St. Teresa, Mother?

-No spacing breaks between paragraphs unless a shift in POV (point-of-view) or a length of time has passed.  An example from A Thousand Splendid Suns (first POV is Rasheed’s, then a switch to Laila’s POV):

     Rasheed’s mouth opened, then spread in a yellow, toothy grin.  “Eager,” he said.

     Before Abdul Sharif’s visit, Laila had decided to leave for Pakistan.  Even after Abdul Sharif came bearing his news, Laila thought now, she might have left.

Thoughts (interior monologue):

-When writing direct thoughts (quotes), use italics:  Is this actually true?

-Indirect thoughts: He wondered if it were true after all. (See A Thousand Splendid Suns example above)

-Good to have mixture of direct and indirect

-Long thoughts—use 1 sentence direct interior monologue and rest indirect interior monologue.


-With standard tag (said or variation), use comma.  “Hello,” Jane said.

-With action tag (other than expression of ‘said’), use period.  “Hello.” Jane smiled at her.

-One set of stutters and then say he stuttered.  “Y-y-you’re here,” he stuttered.

-On the nose dialogue is useful dialogue, not boring.

“How are you?”

“I’m fine.”

Exclamation points

-Limit use of exclamation points.  Tends to reflect youthful/juvenile writing.  Show excitement (exclamation points tell; they don’t show). Only 5 per novel.

Page numbers

-Center on bottom

(Many thanks to Mr. McDonough, Randy Ingermanson and Kat O’Shea for their help to me and now I pass it along to you.)


Next time I’ll address how to create strong writing.






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