Sunday, January 30, 2005

No, buying tablecoths is NOT overkill...

We’re planning the fellowship dinner at my church, and people are signing up as “table sponsors.”

It’s weird how the moment someone mentions something like this, the Bree Van De Kamp within comes out.

I’m already thinking about table decorations. I can do place cards, and some spiffy centerpiece. Cloth napkins absolutely.

What? It’s for the church…

Report from Murder Mystery Night

Three people guessed who the murderer was and they had a drawing for the prize. One of the three was the CSO and the one who won was a little kid who was sitting near us as we talked about the case. (Not that I’m accusing the kid of anything… but come on…)

Regular readers of my column on Coffee Hour know that I have, shall we say, a certain romantic enthusiasm for detectives of all varieties.

It was a good night to be the CSO, and we’ve said that murder mystery nights may become a semi-regular habit for us.

My friend who appreciates high school boys didn't come. Physically, I don't think he would have been disappointed, but having taught SAT classes, I have a general idea of what most high school kids are like to talk to and I can't say I share his taste. (Though I don't consider myself in a position to judge as when I was in high school, older men was where my tastes ran and in the final analysis, most of those mistakes were worth making.)

CC

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Gotta love this religion...

I was telling a friend of mine tonight that my church’s high school youth group was putting on a “Murder Mystery Night” to benefit the UUSC Tsunami relief fund.

“So, this is, like, theater, right?”

“Yeah,” I said.

“So there will be gay guys there,” He said, his eyes lighting up.

“I suppose…”

“And in high school, so they will be cute?”

“Yeah,” said she who had always erred on the side of dating guys who were much older.

“But they’re Unitarians, so the gay high school guys won’t be all fucked up and depressed, they will have accepted themselves and be cool.”

My pride in my faith swelled. As did my resolve to keep an eye on him if he does tag along.

CC

Friday, January 28, 2005

I guess we're just friends now, huh?

Ever had a “work boyfriend?” I have one, or really in all practical sense, had one. His last day is next Friday as he’s leaving for a new job and a $15,000 raise.
Having a work boyfriend is a wonderful thing. Now I’m not talking about freaky sex on the copier. TheCSO wouldn’t approve, and judging by what I’ve seen, I’m not my work boyfriend’s type. But somehow, when he and I met, we just clicked in a fully professional, fully platonic sort of way.
It took me awhile to really get the hang of things when I first started. But within a month or so, working with this guy was like dancing with someone who moved to my rhythm. Who got the credit for a given project had more to do with who needed to look good for the boss than who did 51 percent of the work.
He’s attractive, a good salesman and ridiculously efficient, I’m dreamier, but write and design things. I’m an INTP, he’s an ESTP. It worked beautifully.
Can’t say things were perfect, in my relationships they never are. He had some personal problems in our time working together, so did I. BUt we helped one another through them, mostly by quietly being there and keeping one another's work lives as stress-free as we could when we needed it.
When I think about my freaky little friends, an ex-frat boy in AA is certainly an outlier, but somehow, we made things work in a really amazing rhythm.
Oh well. There are other fish in the sea…

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Blog Reviewlets

I'm having a short-attention-span MTV-generation sort of night, so the reviews are short today.

At Boy in the Bands the debate over the place of atheism in the UU church continues. It’s a cool discussion. Check it out. Weigh in. The Left Coast Unitarian has.

Rich has a rather poetic post about the moon in Facilitating Paradox

Will has a bunch of writing advice in It’s All One Thing

Phil’s little blog on the Prarie is looking into the future.

At Unity, Adam comments on the crucial SpongeBob issue.

Ever heard anybody say I’m not religious, I’m spiritual?" Yeah, Peacebang has too.

The Socinan is a new blog, and it rocks.

CC

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Even a humanist can't stop reading....

A cranky humanist must have some guilty pleasures. Rob Brenzy's writing is one of mine. Can't say that I believe, but I never tire of the way he puts words together.

Brezny Prays

CC

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Duh.

Death theme of this blog aside, I do not actually favor death. Possibly more importantly, a guy who can't prepare a legal brief properly is an incompetent lawyer.

So I am against the Gonzales nomination. Like every other blogger I know


CC
who hates talking politics, but come on.

Just like looking in a mirror...




I needed a picture for my profile page.

Someone of whom I used to be quite fond one compared me to Titian's Venus with a Mirror so it seems a logical choice.

The CSO prefers Barnett Newman

CC

Useful Information

Accomplished Abby told me the other day that Interlochen, where my father went to school, is a 24-hour orgy of parties and freaky sex.

Now that just sort of sounds like the sort of information that will come in handy someday.

CC

Sunday, January 23, 2005

That Goddamned Utopia

So, I’m sitting in a coffee bar, typing away on Enrique* and thinking about a conversation I had with Jennifer Beautiful** two nights ago.

I told her about my Island.

When I was in high school, my friend Eric and I decided that we were going to buy up an island someplace, move there, name it “that Goddamned Island” and secede from the Union. Thus we would get to hear Tom Brokaw say:

“And tonight, we have a report on the situation on That Goddamned Island.”

Eric has probably long forgotten this, but I still think about that Island. You see, when I was telling my friends about this initially, they all wanted to move to my island. So I started inviting people, telling them they could pick their jobs. The joke expanded. My large number of professor friends meant that TGI got an institution of higher learning: “Goddamn U.”

Religion flourishes on TGI. Among my friends, we have religious leaders to run “That Goddamned Presbyeterian Church,” “That Goddamned Baptist Church” “That Goddamned Unitarian Church” and “that Goddamned Synagogue.” Somehow, I don’t see us getting a Mormon temple, but that’s a good start.

I could go on about this for quite a long time, but the point is, for over a decade I have been carrying around in my head the idea of an island where all my friends live and work.

In real life, my friends live literally from one end of the country to the other (Mary-who-Dances in New York to Melani-of-Honor in LA.) But on that Goddamned Island, Mary’s Presbyterian Church could be just down the street from Melani’s candle shop and used bookstore.

As I think about it, that TGI is still in my head, and people have been invited as recently as two days ago may be my attempt to reconcile the non-Geographic community that I have (with regular beliefnet readers knowing me better than members of my own church) with the ideal of a Geographic community.

A woman gave a talk in church today about Geographic and interest-based communities and it really set me thinking. I’ve moved back to my hometown and don’t feel any more a member of the community than I ever did. This may be my fault. I am sitting in a coffee bar, my nose in the computer, working on a blog for a readership from all over, by nature of the activity ignoring the people around me.

I look around and I’m not the only hermit. Some people are here with friends. But a good half dozen people are just typing away, islands in geographic community, but perhaps right then taking advantage of membership in a vast society.

There are big advantages for having friends all over. I have a place to sleep in all of America’s top five cities except Houston. But at the same time, it would be cool to walk down the street and see people I knew.

I would love to live on an Island with all my scattered friends, though I can't swear that they would all love to pull up roots and go live there with me.

But that's probably never going to happen.

Oh well. Maybe I will join my high school class’ reunion committee after all.


*Enrique is the laptop I write most of my posts on. I used to tease the CSO that I’d run off with someone named Enrique, so the laptop gets that name in recognition of the fact that it is the real drain on my attention.
**I responded to the person who asked, but I’ll go ahead and write that Jennifer Beautiful gets her name because the first time I saw her I noticed she was beautiful, then as I got to know her, I got used to her looks and forgot. I was out with Accomplished Abby (who graduated from school and went directly to the top of her field, thus her clever nickname) and we ran into Jennifer Beautiful and chatted for a minute. Later on, Accomplished Abby said “Boy, Jennifer is beautiful.” So I named her Jennifer Beautiful so I wouldn’t forget again.

Gathering the Why

I’ve had a long, weird night, kids, and then I was awoken by a wrong number calling my house at 3:30 a.m. and have been up since.

Normally, after some effort, I would have gotten back to sleep, but tonight I’m left awake, thinking about the connections we have with one another and how fragile they can really be.

I’m not writing about my own marriage here, I promise, but some things I’ve heard tonight in conjuction with a movie I saw have left me thinking about divorces and firings and the similarities there.

The CSO, who knows a lot about corporate things, reports that because of lawsuits it is now a common practice to “gather evidence” to justify a firing. So the fired person is offered at the firing a file of reasons they were fired.

And any divorced person knows a thousand reasons why they are divorced.

But like what we think of as a thousand different causes of death can be summed up as “cardiac arrest,” our reasons for firing and leaving all boil down to “I’ve lost faith in you.”

At what point do we give up on the connections we have, our employees, our spouses, and just start gathering evidence?

“When finding a replacement is easier than keeping them, “I suppose is one answer.

“When there’s a catastrophic event” is another, though I don’t think that’s actually very common.

Legally, as far as I know, every state is a right-to-work state when it comes to marriage. We can break up for any reason. But when there’s a divorce, (or a firing) the people around always want to know WHY.

One can take a judgemental view and assume it is just snoopishness, but that’s not really it to me, I don’t think. If someone is fired at my company, I want to know why so I can amend my own behavior. If they were fired for being late too often, I’ll be much more careful with my own timing, for example. If they impregnated the boss' wife, I can be relieved.

Tonight, my friend talked about leaving her husband, who has no idea this is coming. I’ve been mulling over what she had to say, tongue-across-a-mouth-sore-style, and I think that what has me doing that is that her reasons boiled down to “my husband is an inconsiderate, indecisive, pain in the ass.”

She’s right, I’m sure. Yet like the prosecutor on cross-examination, my mind wants to go “But was he this way when you married him? If so, why leave now?” I know this guy. To have met him is to know that sensitivity is not necessarily a real strong point. He has a romantic Don Quixote quality, but whether his Dulcinea is a believer likely doesn’t often occur.

So what makes that intolerable now? I actually do have some idea in her case, and I’m not saying her actions aren’t justified. They likely are. And even if they weren’t justified enough for me, that’s none of my business. This is a right-to-work state.

Probably in the end, my worry boils down to the fact that I am an inconsiderate, indecisive pain in the ass sometimes. My husband is, too. Will he be the one gathering evidence in ten years? Will I?

I am bemused that I find myself a bit resentful over my friend’s explanation. Couldn’t she come up with something BETTER? Couldn’t he have poisoned the cat? Or cheated on her and given her an STD? Or something?

Something catastrophic, something dramatic. Something that would give me the chance to sidle away from the idea, thinking to myself “But the CSO would NEVER do THAT…”

I do think that sparing our friends such pain, as well as justifying our already-decided-upon actions to ourselves, is why we gather the why.

But it must be an awful thing to have to do.

CC

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Responding to Philocrites

Peacebang mentioned people at weddings who grate on her by saying they are “spiritual but not religious.”

I’m thinking “spiritual but not religious” is to a minister what “I don’t know much about art but I know what I like" is to an art historian.

Here’s Katy-the-Wise’s take

CC Theology 101

From Beliefnet UU Debate

As far as I know, Nontheism consists of Buddhism, Deism and me.

I'm closer to a deist than a Buddhist, but I'm not a deist.

Like a deist, I believe that there is a God, but that humanity is basically on its own. Unlike a deist, I don't believe that God was a creator who then left the world alone. What I do believe is that God is here and with us, but is a transcendent force.

Tillich says that everything one says about God is metaphor. My chosen metaphor is gravity. Gravity is everywhere, always pulling on and effecting things, but we don't notice it most of the time. Gravity is a wonderful thing, a miraculous thing, we couldn't survive without it. But it works itself so seamlessly into our reality that only physicists and engineers think about it much. It's just a part of "the way things are' for us.

Likewise for God, our transcendent force for good. You can chose to work against gravity if you want to, but doing so really just makes life a little harder.

Now this theology is all well and good, but it does present a few practical problems. I don't "worship" God in any real sense. A being that enjoys worship by beings that don't understand it doesn't seem very-worship worthy to me, and gravity doesn't care if you worship it or not. Petitionary prayer is even more ridiculous from my perspective.

I suppose "My gravity bless you and not send you flinging into space" can be said, but I always feel a little awkward suggesting that God should bless people just the same. In my view, God doesn't give people special blessings. God's there. Pay attention and seek attunement or don't.

Theistic services tend to make me sit there and go "God is watching over me, you say? Well, sort of, but, well, not really, no."

If I wanted to sit in church and disagree, I could, but if I'd wanted to do that, I could have saved my parents some anguish and remained a Presbyterian.

Thus my athiest and humanist sympathies. I prefer athiest and humanist congregations not because I necessarily agree with athiests but because they really talk about how to life a life in tune with God, though they don't use the same language I do. And they do a lot of social justice work. I don't believe that social justice work is a replacement for religion, but if you elieve as I do that God doesn't directly feed the homeless or free the oppressed, the need for human beings to take care of each other becomes glaringly apparent.

I don't use much theistic language myself, unless I'm using it to make the point that I am actually far more religious than people tend to give me credit for as I've done recently, and I don't quite understand other peoples' need to hear it all the time. To me, if we're talking about taking care of one another and living thoughtfully and faithfully, saying that we're going it because we seek the highest and best in everything is not really any different than saying we do it to glorify God.

I think of theistic language as a language. I can translate it easily enough, but I don't think it's any of our place to try to pressure people for whom secular language is a native tongue to speak theistically just to please us, or just to recruit more members or what have you.

But funny, all that doesn't fit in B-net's little "statement of belief" box

CC

CC the political refugee

I’m at the coffee bar last night with Jennifer Beautiful, and I get up to go to the bathroom.

When I return, she confronts me.

“You know, Suz, I had doubts about you when you started working for Republicans. But this is it.“ She held aloft an issue of Town and Country that she had pulled out of my totebag. “You’re OUT of the Democratic party.”

“But..”

“If it had been Harpers, that would have been excusable. Even Vogue. But Town and Country? That's the pinnacle!"

I think the subscription label is really what got her.

Oh well.

CC
Who got it free with frequent-flyer miles and only reads it for the articles, she swears...

How to post a comment

I love my funky little blog, but it makes me nuts that comments don't appear. You have to click on the pound sign beneath the item to comment on it and the front page doesn't show previous comments.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Overheard

Said of yoga...



Stretching and breathing...it's the new drinking and smoking.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Words to live by

Sigh.

The author of this post is right on just about everything, I'd say, I'll make it an aspiration.

CC

Good news/bad news

Good news:

Martin Bryant mentioned on B-net UU debate that about a third of a percent of Americans are UUs.

Well, two members of the house and one of the senate are UUs.

Three divided by 535...

Wahoo!

UUs are better represented in Congress than in the general population.

Know any other minority of any sort of which this is true?

Bad news:

I discovered in editing my last post that MS word's spellchecker does not recognize "Tillich," "Pagels," "Buber" or "salvific."

Such the philistine, that Bill Gates.

Just call me Buffy, for short

Now, most of y’all know me as mild-mannered Chalicechick, peaceful and sweet.

Little do you realize that when UUism is insulted, I have a bad habit of turning into “Buffy, the Logical Fallacy Slayer.”

I don’t know, I just really don’t like to see UUism insulted, especially by people who don’t seem to know what they are talking about. So I have quixotic little verbal battles.

I had a really bad day and got into is over at B-net UU debate tonight. I gave you a link, but don’t look it up, kids, it’s just lame.

Anyway, as things were dying down, someone asked me why I do that.

Best answer I could think of:




Because I was a really screwed up person before I found it.

I knew there was more to life than what I was seeing, but I couldn't accept what my Presbyterian upbringing had taught me. I couldn't stomach a faith where people told me what to believe, and I had a sense that there was something beyond my understanding, but was an atheist in some ways purely out of self-protection.

I found UUism's focus on reason salvific. Once I began refining belief through reason and making a conscious effort to look at the world objectively, I found things made a lot more sense and my behavior became a lot less self-destructive and a lot more productive.

I hadn't had an easy childhood, and for a long time, I believed that forces more powerful than I was were forever ready to sweep chaos in and destroy any plans I might have made. Finding UUism was a vital part of taking control over things and realizing that I really do have the power to shape my life.

Eventually, I came back around to the concept of God. My UU friends were always there for me, happy to help out, but asking enough pointed questions to keep me from making God in my own image.

I'm still deep in my Tillich and Pagels and Buber, trying to figure out God's place in my life and my own place in the world, but I do find I've made progress and I've become a more stable, sexy, interesting human being along the way.

So basically, I defend UUism because it saved me.

Goodness, seems like the least I can do.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

My professional life

One of my co-workers said recently

"Fundraising is like an ugly cheerleader, they only love us when we put out."

I think everyone's job is like that, though.

CC

Friday, January 14, 2005

Hmph

On Philocrites, Chris wrote of Peacebang's blog

You are the wickedest new blog in the Interdependent Web.


Well. We'll just have to TRY harder now, won't we?

Thursday, January 13, 2005

CC writes blog reviews while watching CSI

From Coffee Hour

CC is feeling rather peckish, so she apologises in advance if her reviews reflect that. She’s just getting over the flu, her husband is about to go out of town, etc, etc and soforth. Insert more bitching here.

The best I can do for happy news is that CSI just showed a really bitchin’ slow motion shot of a car windshield shattered by a bullet. I love those CSI-cam things.

Anyway, onto the reviews:

At Call and Response Anna is thinking over confirmations.
CC had one herself as a 12-year-old and often wonders if she should blame that for the fact that she still feels she looks at UUism through Christian eyes sometimes.


Is it just me, or does the new CBS show about the FBI agent and his mathematician brother who solve crimes together look really good? No, really, I honestly think it sounds cool.

At Ministrare Sean answered last week's questions about being a minister in a town full of Mormons. CC actually works for Mormons, and when she first took the job, a wise B-netter said Mormons were, on the whole, “very nice people who believe very strange things.”

On the whole, I have found both to be accurate. My experience with conservative Christianity has been largely in the south, where the congregants are often ex-fundamentalists. I’m delighted to read what Sean has to say, because, comparing Sean’s experience to my own, it seems that his congregants handle ex-Mormonness with a great deal more aplomb than the ex-fundamentalists I know have handles what I assume are similar experiences.

I also get what he says about ex-Mormons being great congregants. My Presbyterian mother pretty much walks into her church, sees what needs to be done, and does it. I’ve noticed similar patterns in my own behavior.

Oh… Grissom and Sarah are having a “relationship” talk. Sarah just said “sometimes, I look for validation in inappropriate places.” You and me both, sister.

Ok, reviews, reviews, sorry.

At Facilitating Paradox David asks of the four CBS staffers fired over the swift boat vets news story: “Why should they get dragged through the mud and not the producers of the Swift Boat Veterans ads, or all the people involved in assassinating President Clinton's character?”

Well, because the CBS producers were journalists who were had. They allowed lies to show up on CBS’ flagship news show and made CBS look stupid. An independent report said the error came from the news departments’ “myopic zeal.”

By contrast, the producers of the swift boat veterans ads were basically paid propagandists who did their jobs. The people who “assassinating Presidents Clinton’s character” were telling the truth. The man had a zipper problem and lied to the country to cover it up. Ask me if I think that was worth millions of my tax dollars for an impeachment trial, I’m gonna say “no,” but getting hysterical will not help liberals retake the country.


Oooh! Oooh! That creepy little girl from the Brittany Murphy movie and that Cat-in-the-Hat thing is in a horror movie. That kid was scary in PG-rated movies. I bet she’s really good in a horror flick.

Reflections has something good for the wayside pulpit.

"I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: 'O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.' And God granted it."

—Voltaire

I have two words for the resolution of the plot about old people on tonight’s CSI: Justifiable Homicide

Unity is proving me wrong. In my blog awards nomination, I said it wasn’t updated as often as Prophet Motive. Needless to say, Unity has now been updated like four times since Prophet Motive last was. Shows what I know.
Adam reports that Christmas was nice, but that his congregation seems happy to be back to their usual routine. My favorite Presbyterian minister once wrote a sermon on “ordinary time,” those times in the Christian calendar when nothing is officially going on.

Well, well, CSI is over and Grissom, with his inexplicable mystery-solving-hotness, is gone for another week. Well, really only until 7pm tomorrow night, when Spike TV shows reruns.

Thank goodness.

CC

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

More Random Opinions

From Beliefnet.com


The recent changes to the SAT, which make it depend more on things that can be easily tutored, like math and verbal questions, and get rid of analogy questions, are bad.

Ditto for getting rid of the analytical section of the GRE.

If I go back to school, I'm submitting an LSAT score to prove that I can still think.


------

More overrated and underrated things:

Overrated Virginia College: William and Mary. Everybody I know from high school who went there arrived in Williamsburg a cool person and left four years later a snotty, preppy creep who seemed to honestly think they were now better than their old friends. Really. And we're talking like five people. And their academics really don't publish that much.

Underrated Virginia College: George Mason
It's so close to home everyone where I live turns up their nose, but it is really a great school and has several nobel prize winners.

Overrated: Jackie Robinson
Underrated: the first black lawyer, the first black doctor, the first black judge, and every other minority achiever whom we cannot name off the top of our heads.

Overrated: Undying love forever
Underrated: friends with benefits.

(Yeah, I'm a hypocrite.)

Overrated UU service component: Joys and Concerns
Underrated UU service component: sermon talkback.

Overrated Holiday: Christmas
Underrated Holiday: Thanksgiving

Overrated 1980s high altitude project: SDI
Underrated 1980s high altitude project: Nuclear-powered rockets for space travel.

Overrated: Jessica Simpson
Underrated: Christina Aguilara

Who's who in the beliefnet UU debate Round Robin?

This whole post refers to the B-Net Round Robin.

Ever read a web comic like Sluggy? If so, the structure of the UU debate round robin story will be obvious enough. CC initially tried to give the RR a plot, but people kept killing them, so she has now resigned herself to a verbal web comic, where people write their own short stories and story arcs, but there isn't an all-encompassing story arc. And of course, like many unplanned things, it seems to work beautifully.

The story proceeds roughly in real time, though the inauguartion day episode was posted the day after the inauguration so we're not fundamentalists about it.

Though not that many people do write for it, everyone is welcome to. Please do try to keep everything in character and roughly realistic. Writing around people who have made the characters say and do strange things has thus far been possible, but it's kind of a bitch and I think I can safely speak for most of the regular writers when I say that I'd rather work on my own stories than mend someone else's plot holes.

Characters

This stuff is cannon. Please don't violate it unless you have a
reason for doing so, and if you do have a reason try to explain it
quickly.

In order of speaking

Craig: A new UU. He's from an unspecified place "down South" and is
attracted to both Laura and Rachel. He's young and was raised Christian. He's a good guy, happy to help with building projects and tolerant about being the butt of practical jokes. CC imagines him being a lot like Nick Stokes from CSI.

Peggy: A feisty old lady, Peggy is the first member of the church Craig meets. She's a humanist and is never shy about making her opinions known. She grows tomatoes and is not immune to the charms of handsome men.

Laura Blythewood: A beautiful, but troubled girl from another part of "Down South" She's a redhead and her accent makes Craig think of home. She's a skilled piano player and an all-around charming human being. He major flaw is that she has a hero-worship-type complex toward the Reverend Blythewood, who is her father. It's not straight-up Electral, it's just that her mother died when she was very young and as an adolescent, she watched a church fire her father nastily. Since then, she sees herself as her father's protector. She's not exactly mentally ill, but girlfriend has issues. Craig is attracted, but scared. So is Laura.

The Reverend Cornelius Blythewood: The church's senior minister is
ardent humanist and all around imposing human being. He's Laura's father and puts up with her protecting with as much dignity as he can. He is often buried in his books and has little patience for fools, so criticisms of his pastoral skills are probably to some degree justified, but he is at heart a deeply good human being. He's temperamental, but a lot of his anger comes from fear that the world is changing around him and he fears that soon there will be no place for him or the brave little congregation that he has nurtured. He remains as devoted to his dead wife as Laura is to him, but never speaks of it. He's committed to UUism as an institution and has been privately accused of being CC's alter-ego, which she took as a huge compliment.

Evans Cummington: Fresh out of Meadville-Lombard*, Evans is an impressionable, young Christian UU minister. He's a little wet behind-the-ears and given to big mistakes in the pulpit. (Like panicking that church is running over and not preaching a sermon.) He probably means well, but the other characters haven't been very nice to him and he's sort of bitter now. He's right that the The Rev doesn't treat him with the respect he deserves. His attempt to drive a wedge between Laura and Craig must have been simple mischeif-making as he reserves his affections for Rachel.

Pedro: A baseball player of some renown. His appearances are light
metafiction.

Wilhelmina Goshen: An old lady with a long memory, Wilhelmina remembers how UUism used to be and doesn't understand why it can't just go back. In her own church, she sees Evans as a vehicle for getting there. Peggy implies at one point that Wilhelmina knows everything about everyone. She is known for making long speeches about the Rev's insensitivity toward her in the face of her husband's infidelity. Church gossip debates whether Wilhelmina was wanting The Rev to comfort her in unpastoral ways, but it is just as likely that the Rev. told her she might better minimize infidelities by losing twenty pounds and making love to her husband more often, or something like that. The Rev does not take her at all seriously, which may be a mistake on his part. For awhile Evans was taking her seriously, but then one day he could see through her. So no one takes her seriously now, but I don't think there are enough people who respect her left for her to create real trouble. She does run the "focuys on spirituality group" that meets Wednesday nights to discuss flaky things.

Omar: A guy about Craig's age who is of Arab-American descent, Omar is a troublemaker given to practical joking. He runs a bakery near the church where the characters sometimes hang out. He sees himself as an American UU, but has had to put up so much crap about crazy Arabs and fundamentalist Muslims in his life that he makes fun of them in ways that would be really politically incorrect coming from anyone else and are only borderline coming from him. Although Allpoints introduced
him, CC writes for him thinking of a guy named Mohammed she went to high school with whom on the day of the Oklahoma City bombing watched the building go down on TV and declared "Fucking Arabs!"

Rachel Silverthorne: A lovely if somewhat wifty pagan woman who is in charge of RE at the church. She has strange views, but so far seems to be
universally liked. She has a son, Matthew, who has MS. Right now, at least, Craig doesn’t know what to make of her. Evans is in love with her, or at least in love with the woman he imagines her to be. She reminds the Reverend Blythewood of his dead wife so he finds her a little bit difficult to be around, but he never shows it.

Charles: Laura gave Craig a shock by throwing her arms around a handsome, young guy at one point, but it turns out he has a boyfriend.

Jorge: Charles' boyfriend.

Ed Worthington- Thus far the only member of the cast who is newer to the Church than Craig, Ed Worthington is a handsome older widower from
Arizona. Peggy seems interested, especially since he's revealed that he plans to join the church.

The Reverend Andrew "Drew" Thursday- A close friend of the Rev's from seminary and the only one allowed to call him "Neal," Drew is a committed UU himself but has become a fundamentalist minister of some sort as he felt the best way to help the people of his remote town in Appalachia was by giving them something to believe in. He now travels around the country with some of his congregants, picketing UU churches that perform gay marriages. The Rev disagrees with his position, but respects his friend for his intentions and what he has dome for these people. Drew is dying of cancer.

*Note on Meadville-Lombard. The RR story is a bit merciless toward Meadville-Lombard in places. This is purely irresponsible humor. The church in the story is somewhere in the northeast, so it makes sense that an intern there would likely have gone to Meadville-Lombard or Harvard. CC wrote this passage and her favorite UU minister went to Harvard. Out of respect for her, CC wrote Evans as coming from
Meadville-Lombard. As far as we know, nobody who writes for this story has ever been to Meadville-Lombard. Jokes on Meadville Lombard should probably be taken as jokes on clich├ęs of seminaries, seminarians and UUism in general.

** Note on Columbus. None of us have ever been to a UU fellowship in Columbus. We assume it is a nice place that would treat the Rev well if he were there. The guy who decided that was where the Rev used to be picked the location at random.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Sparing the Rod

In response to something on Philocrites about "Sparing the Rod and Spoiling the Child."

The way we use the word "spoil" linguistically has shifted so much to mean "shower someone with unearned gifts" that when I was a kid, I assumed "spare the rod and spoil the child," was an instruction, not a warning.

Thus little CC thought that it meant "Don't spank your kids, just shower them with presents" and was fully in favor of it.

I was AT LEAST twelve before I figured out the intended meaning.

CC
who prefers it her way to this day

Sunday, January 09, 2005

My nominations for the UU blogging awards

Best UU-themed blog---Prophet Motive (Even when Tom writes about politics, I enjoy it. This is saying a lot.)

Best Non-UU Themed blog— A Virginian UU in King George's War (To be honest, the theological writings are often nothing new, but when he just writes about his daily life, I'm riveted.)

Best UU themed community— FUUSE

Best writing— Unity (Unity was a hair away from "best UU blog." I had trouble deciding, then went with PM because it is updated more.)

Best links-- MyIrony (MyIrony is neither a uu blog nor a non-UU blog, really, but I still really like it and it sends me really interesting places.)

Best design--- Ibeth wins because of the photos. I like good photography, but Beth doesn't just run photos because she can. There's always a point. (Though Presbyopic Myopia always looks nice, too)

Best Religious writing: Unity's Advent series

Blog that makes me feel like I'm sitting in a bar next to the writer,
who has had just one too many and is ranting a bit, yet I'm having a
great time: Boy in the Bands

Best source of GA workshop ideas: Adventures in Small Group ministry

Best single GA workshop idea: Expanding on Adventures in Small Group ministry's post on discussion groups and tragedy into a workhop on services in response to tragedy, especially one that focuses on practical issues.



Best overall commentary on everything: -- MyIrony



Best blog that claims to be a UU blog but is really a politics blog,
but I read it anyway even though I tend to bitch about blogs that do
just that: Rick's Rants.

Best blogs/communitys that really deserve awards, but that I didn't vote for
because I think it would look like conflict of interest: Philocrites , Coffee Hour and Beliefnet.

Best Wayside pulpit:
"" Alone, we can only move buckets. But if we work together, we can
drain rivers. ""
--The Brady Bunch Movie
(Which never appeared in any blog, I just like it)


Best new blog: Ministrare.

A secular religion?

On CFUU.org, the Conservative Forum for UUs, a poster named Gail posited that UUism's problem is that it is a "secular religion" and there's really no such thing. Another poster mentioned buddhism and she didn't seem to know what he was talking about, so this is me explaining:

I suspect what he means is that Buddhism is, by many people's standards, secular. (Especially western Buddhism. Eastern buddhism has a lot more dogma, superstition and ritual.) Buddhism, like UUism when practiced at its best, is a holistic thing.

I know lots of religions where one seemingly lives a religious life (where one focuses on God, typically lived on Sundays and in times of crisis) and a secular life (where one focuses on right action and just getting through the day, typically lived the rest of the time.)

For Buddhism and lots of UUs, the important part is the secular, where one isn't thinking about God, one is just behaving oneself morally and doing one's best to take care of other people.

Bill Clinton seems a good example of a man who misbehaves, then begs God for forgiveness. (If he's the sex addict some claim he is, then he's probably truly remorseful between affairs, yet like an alcoholic, he keeps going back.)

As a guy who repeatedly sins and then repents, Clinton is a perfectly reasonable Baptist. He'd make a crappy Buddhist, though.

Buddhism is functionally secular. Worshipping God isn't the point. Yet Buddhism is also considered one of the world's major religions.

Random Opinions

From Beliefnet.com



"Weird Revolution" was the best album the Butthole Surfers ever did, and had greater influence on the avant-punk movement than any of its critics will admit


List of things that are overrated:

"The Scarlett Letter" - Even HAWTHORNE got the cliff notes.


Dave Matthews band.


New Orleans - Yeah, I know you had fun when you went there for a week in college. Try living there.


Andy Rooney- He talks for three minutes a week and that's his job and he calls my generation lazy. What a tool.


Garrison Keillor - What is it about this man that makes me think of the guy at the party who stands next to the snack table thinking the girls are coming over to talk to him when all we really want is a carrot stick or two?


Lingerie as outerwear (which is in this season)- Or maybe I'm just pissed because I know that by the time I'm to a point where people want to see me in lingerie, sexy clothes will be out and all the real hipsters will be wearing the hijab.


Any movie with word "Matrix" in the title.


Micheal Moore- What a maroon.


Ann Coulter- See above.


Clockwork Orange


Ayn Rand - The works of Ayn Rand easily rank as the philosophy most recommended by the least reliable people that I've ever encountered.


The Roswell Crash


The Nobel Peace Prize -- Make a rule that if you've ever promoted a war that killed a million people people you can't win, and this means you Henry Kissenger, and THEN come back and talk to me. Also-Haven't like five people won for bringing peace to the middle east? You'd think the middle east would be safer than Starbucks.


Oh yeah, and:

Starbucks.






Ian McKellen, despite the fact that he is gay and rather old, is somehow kinda hot.

Except when he's Gandalf.


"Dude, where's my car" was a MUCH better movie than it gets credit for.

Ditto "Joe Vs. the Volcano."



Much of what is screwy about the world is a giant cultural freakout in reaction to chaos theory.

People are so desperate to believe in a mechanistic universe that they will believe ANYTHING that promises them one.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

January 6 blog reviews

From Coffee Hour

A belated Happy Birthday to Nancy Johnson, a Congresswoman from Connecticut who is one of only three UUs in Congress. (The others being Rep Pete Stark from California and Senator Kent Conrad from North Dakota.) Johnson is a really cool woman, and a fabulous example to pull out when someone accuses UUism of
not having any Republicans. Johnson turned 70 on January 5, but looks fifty tops.

This was a really excellent week for blogs, BTW. There’s some seriously good stuff out there. Good call, kids.

Facilitating Paradox has a “litany of Goodbye 2004, hello 2005” It’s an interesting thought, though the litany as written cheats one out of the opportunity to say goodbye to Paris Hilton, something lots of us would like to do.

It really gets me that I don’t even like children, and people talking about their children usually bore me, but I always read Ibeth with great pleasure. Must be because it is typically very well-written and insightful. Her anecdote about her kids writing on the driveway alone is worth the price of admission.

On B-net last year, we made an abortive attempt at a Round Robin story about a guy joining a UU church. As far as I can tell, I killed it by giving people writing advice and thus making them self conscious. Maybe I should have just linked to It’s all one thing instead. His advice is just as good as mine was.

One of the better new blogs recenty, in my unhumble reviewer opinion, is Ministrare the blog of Sean Parker Dennison, a UU minister from Salt Lake. As he’s answered questions I’ve posted here before, I’d like to ask some more.
“What’s it like to be a UU minister in a town full of Mormons? Do you have a lot of pissy ex-Mormons in your congregation? How does your congregation view the Mormon church?”

Phil’s Little Blog on the Prarie continues the ongoing discussion on the place of marriage within the UU church. These posts are not the first I’ve read that use marriage terminology in metaphors about faith. For years, I’ve thought of people who switch religions every few years as “beliefsluts,” to give my crudest yet most amusing example. What Phil has to say is good here, emphasizing the importance of commitment and connection in all aspects of our lives.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

A White Chick Looks at Kwanzaa

From Beliefnet


Had a Kwanzaa discussion with the CSO and came up with the following analogy. If I'm wrong, tell me so.


Kwanzaa is basically like St Patrick's day. It sounds religious, but is basically cultural. It comes out of one culture, and sometimes involves things that people from another culture might think are sort of odd. (Green beer? Come on...)

If you're Irish, you can participate in St. Patricks day or not. That's between you and your Irish buddies.

If you're not Irish and you want to participate in St. Patricks day, hell, go for it. Just try to follow what the Irish folks are doing without adding too many of your own flourishes.

If you're not Irish and you don't want to participate in St. Patrick's Day, OK, don't, but there't no need to be an ass about it. Giving a big speech about how you think St. Patrick's day is "not a real holiday" in front of an Irishman is constitutionally allowed, but is really sort of stupid and really sort of rude.

If you don't believe in St Patrick's Day and a cheerful Irishman wishes you a happy one, just smile and say "You have a nice day, too, Sean!"

If you're Irish and think St. Patrick's Day is sort of dumb, and someone wishes you a happy one, smile and say "Gee, thanks!" They mean well.

Some UU churches, especially ones with Irish members, will do a service about St. Patrick's day.

Lots won't.

If my church got a kick out of the St. Patrick's Day service, but asked me to do it every year because my last name was "O'Bannion," which it's not, I would probably get tired of it, but I'd try to be nice about it because, after all, they mean well.

CC

Saturday, January 01, 2005

In Praise of Conservative UUs

from CFUU.org

Having just come from the AUC page a.k.a. the National Homepage of UUism's bitter ex-husbands, and read my thousandth "Boy, doesn't it suck that UUism doesn't work the way I want it to" post by a beliefnet poster who quit UUism a decade ago and thus has done nothing to improve things, I am finding myself feeling appreciative of Republican UUs who stay in UUism and stick it out and work hard to make UUism better for everyone.

Thinking back over the many UU churches I've attended, I find that some of my favorite members have been the Republicans. There's a certain cast of characters to UU churches and one of my favorites is the older man who is a Republican and a free thinker and doesn't care what anybody has to say about either. (Not that older UU Republican women don 't exist, but they seem less common and less proud of themselves.)

Is life always easy for UU Republicans? Of course not.

The majority of UUs are liberal and we decide a lot by voting. UU Republicans can easily get screwed if they end up ostracizing themselves. The interesting thing is that most of them don’t. They make their views known, but they work alongside everyone else for common goals.

In UUism, politics is preached from the pulpit more than I like to think about, and those politics are almost always liberal politics. This is possibly forgivable in a lay-led sermon, but inexcusable in services led by a minister. Truly, a UU church’s commitment to free thought can be judged by how it treats its conservatives.

I’m torn on political questions because while I really don’t believe that politics has a place in the pulpit, I have in the past belonged to a church in a very conservative state where the people came and talked about politics because they didn’t feel comfortable doing it anyplace else. I am loath to take that away from those people.

Now there were conservatives in that church, and they seemed pretty understanding about the need, say, an elementary school teacher might feel for a place where she can talk about her passionate belief in gay rights.

I’d love to believe that in liberal states, there are UU churches that are tiny bastions of conservatism, but I don’t.

I think we as UUs sometimes forget that there is no commonly accepted moral standard by which we can judge the morality of the political parties. To say that a good UU is a political liberal is to pass a judgment that UUism does not ask us to make.

If I want to take care of the poor through job training and daycare programs, and the guy down the street wants to take care of the poor through support for big business that will create jobs, I think he’s wrong about the way he’s going about it, but morally, we’re equal and he has just as much a place in my church as I do.

That having been said, I also think that one of the finer things about the Republicans at my old southern church was that they were aware they weren’t the majority and were willing to suck it up a bit. When, for example, you’re the only non-Christian in your office, you can jump up and down and cry discrimination when the office throws a Christmas party, or you can just understand that you’re not the majority and be gracious about it.

So I guess my answer to the issue of political diversity in the UU church as follows.

Liberals should:

1. Never let conversation become a monologue.
2. Accept that there are many ways to the top of the mountain and some conservatives are very good people who have chosen a different way.
3. Seek to learn from Conservatives. At the very least, they will improve their own arguments.
4. Try to keep politics out of the worship service itself. A political action group that meets Wednesday nights is one thing. A sermon on the evils of trickle-down economics on Sunday morning is another.
5. Remember that there are lots of kinds of Conservatives. A Bush voter can still be Pro-Choice, for example. It’s just probably not their first priority.

Conservatives should:
1. Accept that they are not the majority, and roll their eyes. If some old lady gives a sermon every year about how awful the Republican party is, make like a humanist on Beltane and pick that Sunday to try a different church or go to an art museum rather than making a fuss about it.
2. Join the worship committee and make your voice heard. Seek balance.
3. Speak up in discussion groups. You’re hard to demonize if you’re sitting right there and sometimes people who are strongly on one side really haven’t thought the other side’s logic through. Present that logic and you will be making a bitch session into a conversation.
4. Remember that there are lots of kinds of liberals. If there’s one loudmouth liberal and a four people nodding in agreement, that’s not five people attacking your position, it’s one. And the people nodding may only half-agree anyway. Sometimes it’s easier for a moderate liberal to smile and nod at the radicals than to argue out the finer points.

Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks for sticking by your faith and making it better.