Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The most beautiful words in the English language

are "that's what insurance is for" from your significant other when you've done something stupid.

(Didn't hit anybody with my car. Did either leave my cellphone in the ladies room of an office building and/or leave my bag where somebody could take my phone.)

On a related subject, there's something especially evil about taking someone's phone. Take my cash, I don't like it but I understand it. You can get as much use out of a twenty dollar bill as I can. But take my cellphone? I have international calls blocked. T-mobile is putting a hold on my phone number as we speak. Whoever took it got something like an hour or two of use out of it, and it will be really annoying to replace. I called my number and politely offered money if the cellphone was returned. I think I heard breathing on the other end, but no response. That phone is next to useless to anyone but me. Taking a cellphone is like taking somebody's prescription sunglasses or their prosthetic leg.

What's the point?

who agrees that, yes, the prosthetic leg comparision was a tad over the line, but I really liked that phone.

CC wakes up

Just woke up a few minutes ago from a bizarre dream. An old lady was going on an extended trip (though it was implied that she was dying) and wanted to hire me to take care of her brother. I wouldn't take that job in a million years in real life, but I really wanted it in my dream.

The brother was crazy and lived in a mansion built like a giant funhouse maze, with all sorts of trapdoors and weird slides and that sort of thing. There was even a funhouse mirror that made me look like a completely different person. I was cuter in my reflection. Ah well.

The crazy old guy thought it would be funny to escape from me, so I start chasing him, but as I run through spinning rooms and go down slides, I started to feel really nauseated. I'm chasing him through the house, feeling sick, but determined to do my job and keep him out of trouble.

I corner him in an office and then I step the wrong place and the floor goes out from under me, dumping the contents of the desks as well and I'm falling down a hole like Alice in Wonderland, with peices of paper (that are all blank, I guess it was a fake office) falling down with me.

And then I woke up.

Pretty weird, huh?

Oh well, back to sleep.


Monday, January 30, 2006

Current Voting Results and more discussion of the nature of the "Fixing UUism" contest

I intended to update voting results every two days, but tomorrow is looking like the mother of all busy days, so I will go ahead.

With 4 votes apeice, member ratification of GA resolutions and developing a mission statement are tied. The moratorium on GA complaints and putting social justice issues in a religious context have three votes apiece. Most of the remaining proposals have one or two votes apiece.

Seven people have voted so far. I will vote sometime midweek.

Ok, now a word on the contest.

Though UUA reform ended up being the general gist of most of the suggestions, much as government reform was the theme of the Sliced Bread Competition, the contest on which this was based, I didn't necessarily start it thinking that would be the result.

To be honest, I didn't think much about it at all. As I've written other places, I pretty much saw the sliced bread contest and thought "Gee, we should try that for UUism!" and went with it. My big worry was that nobody would want to participate and I'd look stupid.

I may look stupid other ways sometimes, but I surely can't complain about the level of participation in this contest and the level of enthusiasm I've seen.

A Catholic friend of mine checked in on my blog this weekend and was just amazed by what she saw. People in most other faiths just don't feel free to sidle up to a blog and say "I think X is a problem with what we're doing as a religion and we should do Y and Z to fix it."

We do.

And yes, it was no doubt cheeky of me to put this up, and probably somewhat disrespectful to those who do this for a living, though being told how to do their job is probably nothing at all new to people who work in religious fields. It sure isn't in the political ones.

But at the same time, I can't deny that I am proud to belong to a faith where saying "Hey, there are problems, and we should fix them!" is not a particularly revolutionary statement.

That said, I've been keeping an eye on Left Coast Unitarian's thread about what people love about UUism. I'm always confused by those who assume that people who are criticizing something don't love it.* (A sentiment represented in on LCU by James' statement When I miss church and read UU blogs all too often I get the impression that there is so little love for Unitarian Universalism among my co-religionists.)

To me, the people who see an institution and want to improve it are exactly the sort of people (Robertson Davies called them "strivers-after-better-things") that I want to hang out with and they are showing a great love for their institution. In her response to James, Jess talks about UUism as a living, breathing, evolving institution. I agree, and I see conversations like this one as part of that process.

Could I have handled this better? Sure. "Improving UUism" would have been a better title for the whole enterprise, first of all. People seem to resent the idea that UUism is broken. IMHO, institutions we love are always like Toyotas. First the radio doesn't work quite right,then the door handle on a passenger door breaks, but you never think of giving up the car because you love the car and it still runs OK. But there are still little things that can be fixed to make the driving experience more pleasant. That's all I meant by it.

I just love the word "fixing." It has such a powerful, hands-on connotation. And I think it speaks well to my point that we love our car that, as Chutney noted, almost no complaints here are about the practice of UUism. Nobody says "refining belief through reason has to go" or complains about the water communion. Nobody even rallies to get rid of Joys and Concerns, a proposal I would have rejected on polity grounds but soundly agreed with in principle.

Steve Caldwell is right that there should be some way to vet the rules against UUA bylaws. As I am loath to get into interpretation arguments about what they mean, I didn't choose to disqualify rules on that basis, but having a mechanism for doing so would have been a good idea. (If I ever do this again, I may recruit religious professionals to serve as anonymous judges.)

Anyway, that's all I wanted to say. No malice toward my beloved faith intended. Keep those votes coming to chalicechick at gmail dot com.

Love and kisses,


*After all, I will complain about the hippies and activists I run into protesting a lot of different ways, but you will never see me questioning their patriotism. I don't. If they didn't basically believe in the American system of government, they would stay home.

Hello, readers

If you read the ChaliceBlog and you appreciate what I write, I'd really

appreciate your vote in the UU blog awards. The Chaliceblog is a labor of love, but

it would mean a lot to me to win something.



Ps. If you haven't checked out The Happy Feminist, please do. It rocks.

The ChaliceMom vindicated

As a kid, I always ran around with my shoelaces untied. My mom always said that if I didn't tie them, someday there could be terrible consequences.

Who knew she was so right?

glad she mostly wears boots and pumps these days

This is my bank, kids.

BB+T has vowed to not loan money to building projects that got their land by taking it away from private citizens under eminent domain. As the article points out, the stand will in the end probably be profitable for them, but I will take my friends where I can get them.

The Supreme Court screwed the pooch big time on this one, IMHO. I'm sort of amazed that the liberals were the ones who voted for it as opening things up to abuse by large businesses is usally more the conservatives' racket.

Here's the story of an LA furniture maker who was kicked off of his property so the city could build a new animal shelter on it. $17,000 in campaign donations from a competing furniture maker later, the land is being sold to the competing furniture maker. At a cost of millions to the taxpayers.

Suffice to say, I'm happy to be a BB+T customer this morning.


Sunday, January 29, 2006

Voting on your favorite "Fixing UUism" Idea

Shoot me an email at chalicechick at gmail dot com with your top five choices. I will announce regular tallies of how things are going and will declare a winner on Friday. A runoff is a possibility if there are a lot of choices that are too close to one another.

If you want to tell me why you voted for each choice or for your favorites, go for it. I might quote some people talking about how great the winner is.

The choices are here

If you want to campaign for your idea on your blog, you can, of course, but please don't email a ton of your friends and tell them to vote for your idea just to do it. I have a suspicion this has been done in other contests recently, and it's just a tacky way to behave.


Mystery Nerds

Longtime readers of this blog (a relative thing) will recall that my church does an annual Murder Mystery Night sponsored by YRUU. Last night was “Murder in New Orleans.” It was great fun and the kids were wonderful actors, though the mystery (which they had bought from a game company) was not well written.

Few people over eighteen were into it, but TheCSO and I were, especially me. I questioned suspects, I talked over the clues with my friends, I was even the one who found evidence that a will was faked. (The signatures didn’t match the same people’s signatures on other documents.)

In the end, we didn’t even guess the right person who did it because the whole thing was really cluelessly put together by the game company. (e.g. The fact that one lady misspelled her own name in a signature on another document was not relevant to the case, just a typo on the game company’s part.)

The CSO and I had great fun, and we came up with a more interesting solution to the murder than the one the game company had provided. Also, their solution didn’t actually make any sense if you know anything about the mechanics of garroting someone to death, which, embarrassingly enough, we do.

This all goes way back for me. When I was three years old, my mom would read me two chapters of a Nancy Drew mystery every night. Nancy Drew mysteries always end chapters on a cliffhanger and I literally taught myself to read because I wanted to know what happened to Nancy before the next night. (Though I didn’t admit I could read until I was six or seven because I was afraid my mom would stop reading to me. She knew, though, and would sometimes point to a word and ask me what it said. “Parade!...I mean…I don’t know!” I would respond. For a kid who could read at three and a half, I sure wasn’t very smart…)

I am such a geek for mysteries. I have friend who is a biologist who once actually wrote to the writers of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” offering to vet the scripts for biological fact error free of charge. (Apparently TNG’s early scripts had a lot of problems in that department.) I can so see myself being one of these people. I used to LOVE “Monk” but I quit watching in frustration when the solution to the mystery didn’t actually make sense one too many times.

I know I said this last year, but theCSO and I really have to go to a murder mystery dinner theatre someplace else some time where we can be around mystery nerds of our own kind.


Friday, January 27, 2006

Where were you?

I will have a mechanism for voting (even if it is just emailing me your top five choices,) set up over the weekend. But right now
The Happy Feminist is asking where people were when historic events occurred. I'm answering hers and adding a few of my own.

My answers:

Deaths of John Lennon and Elvis, Iranian Hostage Crisis, Shooting of President Reagan: Not born yet, or I was unaware of them.

When I heard that the Challenger exploded, I was in Ms. Allen's third grade class watching it on TV. I don't particularly remember it as having been traumatic at the time, but I've had dreams about it and often thought about it, so I guess it probably was.

The OJ verdict. I was in english class. It was a very diverse English class with a teacher who had gone to the Citadel. Mr. Levin made it clear he was taking no crap from any of us and that there would be no fuss from anyone, no matter what happened. When the verdict was read, we were perfectly silent and remained so for the rest of class.

I was at the teen club where I worked when I learned that Susan Smith had drowned her kids. I felt a certain kinship to her for reasons that are obvious to those who know me well. That one hit me really hard.

I heard that Princess Diana died from my college advisor. He was a great kidder and I assumed for two days that it was a joke. (My college was really insular and I didn't watch much TV.)

The Monica Lewinsky story broke when I was in India with a group from my college. I went tearing all over Bombay buying up American magazines and trying to figure out if she was related to Mike "the Chicken Man" Lewinsky, a guy I'd gone to high school with. Yep. They were brother and sister.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was in North Carolina and at work. I called my mother in DC over and over until I got through to the low-income housing project she manages in Anacostia. When I did get through, she said "Of course I'm fine. Nobody bombs poor people!" and hung up on me.

When I heard Katharine Hepburn died, I had just returned from a vacation to see linguist friend. I was pretty upset and wore black for a week. She was my childhood hero.

Added later:
Oh yeah, and at my senior prom, the DJ played this weird song and my friend Kylie went "Oh! There's a dance to this song, I learned it on a cruise. It's called LA MACARENA!"

By mid-summer, the whole country knew how to do Kylie's dance.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

Fixing UUism is off to a kickass start

The Fix UUism contest is off to a great start. Now every entry is a separate post, so we can discuss their merits individually. Keep sending those ideas to Chalicechick at gmail dot com.

Click here if you don't know what's up.

Here are the ideas so far:

A couple of notes:

1. I'm going to go through and add links to the blogs of bloggers who submitted ideas.

2. Addenda to the rules:
A. Generalized opinions are not plans. (e.g. "We should have more diversity" is not a plan. I'm sure Sinkford would love to have more diversity and would gladly snap his fingers and make that happen were that an option. "We should have more diversity and here's how we should get it..." is the beginning of a plan.) People who write to me suggesting more diversity, a central core to UUism or making the UUA more Christian without a plan for getting there will be diqualified under "Rule A." Yes, Robin Edgar's thing about reducing hypocrisy is probably a violation of this, but I'm grandfathering it in as I thought of rule A after reading it.
B. This is a tricky one and I'm afraid it will largely come down to a judgement call on my part. The plans should in some sense be yours. I accepted Jamie Goodwin's idea about changing the name as changing the name is not a plan associated with one specific person and he came up with a voting mechanism. I accepted the UU Monastery idea Indrax submitted because the lady who thought of it is actually another poster on my blog. (UUism is a frightfully small world.) So far, I've rejected a plan that the Commission on Social Witness came up with. In general, if there's already a large movement to put your plan into action, it doesn't need to win theChaliceblog's hinky little contest.
B-2. Addendum to rule B. Ideas that come straight from a famous UU are not eligible to win the contest. But I will gladly put them on the additional ideas page.

3. You people seriously need to sleep in on the weekends. I got some 15 emails with comments, ideas and rules questions between the hours of 4 a.m. and 9 a.m., both eastern time.

4. Philo has posted his own idea which is slightly different in scope. It sounds good to me.

5. Steve suggests everybody review the relevant UUA bylaws before posting something to keep things the UUA is already doing from coming in as suggestions. While I recognize that this is in some ways a good idea, I do not want to get into fights over iterpretation of the bylaws and I also kind of like the "brainstormy" nature of this activity.

My solution is this: Steve seems to be enjoying telling people how wrong they are immensely. So I propose that when it comes time to vote, you read the comments on each proposal you are thinking about voting for. If Steve says the UUA is already doing that proposal and you agree with his interpretation of the bylaws, don't vote for that one.

6. Clyde Grubbs has some interesting things to say about the pseudo-corporate structure of the UUA. Neat stuff. Check it out.

7. I will set up a system for voting over the weekend.

Now, let's talk about the ideas!


Fixing UUism: Focus on the Freedom

Julie Baumler

I think a lot of the problems of UUism would go away or decrease if all of
us were more focused on a "free and responsible search for truth and
meaning" as a positive value. We spend too much time picking apart the
services, theology, political issues, those of us who are or aren't
sufficiently politically correct, ... Congregations and members need to
explore for ourselves, how a person and a congregation that suports a free
and responsible search for truth and meaning acts, thinks, speaks, reacts,
etc. I believe that some of the current curriculum materials address this
issue, but not in a specific manner. I think to impliment some sort of
"reflective congregation" and "reflective member" program and award
(similar to Welcoming Congregations) to specifically address this and put
out a challenge in the World to members to answer the question themselves,
much like Sinkford (IIRC) did with the elevator speech idea.

Even those who disagree with this principle (and I'm sure there are some),
could be encouraged to flesh this out as a basis for their disagreement.

IE We shouldn't look for a free and responsible truth and meaning because
it allows things that are bad or false to be proclaimed unchallenged.
Someone who believes in a free and responsible search for truth and
meaning would ask a speaker during coffee hour to clarify how they came to
some idea they presented in the service - was the search free and honest?
- rather than telling everyone right then and there that they were wrong.
Disagreement with wrongful ideas and values should happen immediately so
no one is misled.

Fixing UUism: Figure out what would make UUism "not UUism"

By Paul
"Engaging Our Theological Diversity" says (slightly edited) ...

Starr King president Rebecca Parker asked this: "What features of Unitarian Universalism, if you took them away, would leave us with something that is no longer Unitarian Universalism?

I would love to have that question answered. Some group in the UUA could be charged with doing so.

In which CC loves and loses the UUA. .

Hat tip to CUUMBAYA where Joel pointed out the disclaimer at the bottom of the letter to the congregations about the recent UUA objection to the Alito nomination.

Please note that the UUA does not represent or claim to represent the views of individual Unitarian Universalists or individual congregations, but the Association as a whole, as defined by statements approved by the General Assembly. Also, lobbying related to a nomination is an IRS-sanctioned activity for non-profits.

I've argued for the UUA to put a statement like this underneath its political missives for some time noting that (a) it's the right thing to do and (b) the ACLU does and nobody confuses them with shrinking violets.

At CUUMBAYA, Joel wonders if our voices are being heard. Actually, as I read it I almost hoped not, because if somebody at the UUAWO thought of their own accord "Wait a second, maybe we shouldn't imply that we are speaking for absolutely everyone" then that would signify a change in thinking that I think could be really wonderful.

I actually felt warm things toward my faith tonight. I can't tell y'all how good it felt to think that some people at the UUAWO actually gave a shit that UUs don't all feel the same way and made an effort to not speak for me.

Of course, then I noticed that it is only in the letter to the congregations. The press release mentions that fundamentalists can't speak for everyone of faith but fails to see the irony of not mentioning that the UUAWO can't speak for everyone of the UU faith.

So, the UUAWO doesn't speak for all UUs, but that's a secret that we only tell our member congregations. In front of the press, we hide all those pesky dissenting opinons.

And then seeing that the flyer for congregations is actually encouraging people to PREACH on JUDICIAL NOMINATIONS broke my heart all over again.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Hot Tip for Veronica Mars fans

A friend of a friend of a friend is the mom of the guy who plays Duncan. Apparently Duncan may be off the show after tonight's episode.

Heard it here first.


Fixing UUism: Come up with a mission statement of shared values

by SCUniversalist

We force ourselves to come up with a report on our shared values -
- and then issue (and vote on) a mission statement (with an escape clause if neeed be),

- which shows folks that we do stand for something,
that we dont just believe anything,
that as nice as we think we are, we might not be for you...
and the tough message of - you will hear some stuff in the pulpit that you may not personaly believe, but hopefully you will be inspired by the rest of what is said

Monday, January 23, 2006

Fixing UUism: Dissolve the UUA and hold a new 'constitutional convention'

by fausto

Dissolve the whole darn national organization, and then hold a GA of congregational delegates to decide how much of it to reconstitute, and in what size and form. Presumably that would help solve the problem of congregational apathy! (Pursuant to one of the other suggestions, the GA recommendations would be subject to congregational ratification, of course.)

Fixing UUism: Build an Association of Free Faiths


Why not build a association of free faiths? Instead of seeking to
merge with groups like the United Church of Christ, Society of
Friends, Reform Judaism, or Community of Christ, we could seek to
ally with as many of them as would have us in a marriage of equals,
each partner keeping its name and habits while sharing resources.

The UUA could offer to be the initial host, rather like the US giving
the UN a place to grow. But, unlike the UN, the Association of Free
Faiths could seek independent headquarters within a few years,
ideally in a convenient location in the midwest.

This association would give great autonomy to individual
organizations and communities while letting them share all they can.
No one would have to sacrifice identity, but those who wanted to
identify themselves simply as part of the Association of Free Faith
could do that.


As I've mentioned in the past, I really hate her Desperate Housewives character, but Felicity Huffman seriously rocks here.


Fixing UUism: Real Outreach


Real Outreach
Unitarian Universalism needs to start seriously evangelizing. I'm not
talking about ads in Times Square, or 'Principles' wallet cards. We need
to give every person in America a basic idea of what we are about, as a
first step.
This would require much more advertising, or very much more personal effort. I don't think going door
to door is in the cards, we need to find our own style, but we need to
do it in bulk. This is worth a whole other brainstorming contest.
Then we need to start being present and talking to people about why the
things that we value are important, and why a church is a good way to
promote those values. We need to look to groups that would be
sympathetic (homosexuals, minority religion members, environmentalists,
etc.), and also to groups that we have not appealed to in the past. (The
poor, the uneducated, the bigoted, and even the fundamentalists.) We
need to give everyone in America a Personalized 'Elevator Speech' as a style="font-weight: bold; font-style: italic;">second step.
Then we will be ready to start a real outreach.
While we are doing that, we can use what we are learning to look into
evangelizing overseas. Of course, we should NOT link our charitable
services with conversion, or probably even evangelism, but that does not
mean we can't present our faith as an option to people overseas, and
help them establish churches. Unitarian Universalism is about some very
powerful and useful ideas. People dedicated to those ideas being present
woudl be very helpful to the rest of the world.
During WWII Unitarians in Germany adopted the Flaming Chalice as a
secret symbol to help Jews and others escape. Unitarian Universalist can
not help people escape genocide if there are no Unitarian Universalists
in the country.

We are not good at evangelism, and many of us don't even like the idea,
but it will give us new blood, more numbers, a better presence, and a
stronger voice. We can promote
our principles without violating them.

Fixing UUism: Abandon our History

by Indrax

Abandon our History
Wicca started out in 1954 when Gerald Gardner published the book style="font-style: italic;">Witchcraft Today. It has since grown
dynamically and is (for better or worse) a cultural icon. Some would
argue that Wicca is in fact much older, but this is not relevant to my
point because Wicca ACTS like a
new religion. It spreads quickly from person to person, it adapts and
mutates easily, it knows how to handle being a minority religion, and it
doesn't have a centralized bureaucracy.
Unitarianism started in the 1500's, and Universalism in 1793. Both
claimed roots back to Jesus. Most Unitarian-Universalists think that we
are an old religion with a rich history. For this reason we style="font-style: italic;">ACT like an old religion. We are hard
to explain, and slow to change. We lost our minority religion stance
when we had Unitarian Presidents, and we are centered in Boston. These
things need to change.
Unitarian-Universalism was created in 1961. It is vastly different from
any religion that has come before. It is accepted by less than one half
of one percent of the population of America, and is virtually unheard of
elsewhere in the world. We are a new and small religion, and we need to
act like it. We need to simplify our message, so that people can learn
about us more easily. We need to be less attached to traditions, and
more encouraging of adaptations. (And more apt to style="font-style: italic;">adopt adaptations) We need to learn
to use our smallness, instaed of trying to bark like a big dog.

Fixing UUism: Inreach to the "Unchurched"


Inreach to the "Unchurched"
Somewhere around two-thirds of Unitarian Universalists are not members
of UUA congregations. Some of these are probably active but not
'signed-the-book' members, but why aren't the rest coming in? We need to
find out what is keeping these people away, change it, and let them
know. These are people who already consider themselves UU, they should
require relatively little convincing. This could be an easy way to
triple our numbers.
Yes, it is herding cats, but that just means we need a can-opener.

Fixing UUism: Rewrite the Principles and Purposes

by Indrax

Rewrite the Principles and Purposes
It has been decades since our congregations adopted the href="http://www.uua.org/aboutuua/principles.html">Principles and
Purposes. It is my understanding that these are supposed to be
revised from time to time, and I think it is time to start. This s
something it may not be best for the UUA itself to do. To me, the
Principles feel like they were written by a committee. Don't get me
wrong, I like them, but I think it would be nice to have what we stand
for stated in a way I can comfortably quote in an elevator speech.
People find "Unitarian Universalist" intimidating and "style="font-style: italic;">The right of conscience and the use of the
democratic process within our congregations and in society at
large" is not much more comforting. I do not think that this is
the best way to present to people the higher, abstract concept that that
principle represents.
The best religious guidance is simple and clear. Generally, this is done
by individuals. Some editing would probably be needed for wide
acceptance, but this should ideally be done by the individual or small
group that wrote the original.
The UUA should encourage UU's to begin thinking seriously and writing
about 'What UU's believe' with an eye towards a revision of the
Principles and Purposes. YOU need to start writing. Someone will create
a new document that resonates with us.
Regardless of the method used, we need to talk a good look at our
current document, and find ways it can be improved upon.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Fixing UUism:UUs need to minister to new immigrant groups

I'll add another idea to this discussion. UUs need to minister to new immigrant groups. For example, many Haitian immigrants are middle class. That makes one less boundary for the typical UU to cross. Again, I don't expect the UUA to act on this without a lot of pressure. But what if some committed people in a metro area identified a growing immigrant/cultural group, made personal contacts, raised funds for translation services, and just did it in a UU church in a community where Haitians live? I predict that in two generations there will be Haitian liberal Christian churches, some of whose members will be people who would have been happy to be UUs -- had they or their parents been evangelized. BTW, I know of one Ethical Culture Society has brought Haitian immigrants into membership. Haitians are just one example, of course. Two California UU churches have Spanish services and Laino/a members.

We interrupt the UUism discussions for some good news.

That dying new Jersey Cop IS going to give her pension to her partner.



Fixing UUism: A separate non-tax exempt political organization

by CC

Moving the UUAWO to political organization separate from the church and non-tax exempt would have the following benefits-

-They could do as much political stuff as they wanted without fear that this would come back and bite the churches. The would be free to comment on any law, any person they wanted to.

-They could have a separate leader (Sinkford would be perfect for the job) who could make as many statements as he liked on behalf of members of that organization.

-THe activist wing of UUism could have a voice in politics, but they would not be assumed to be speaking for every UU.

-The UUA could still do charity work and other more politically inclusive activities. We would no longer be percieved as a toy of the Democrats and some of the people who have left because they were tired of being spoken for politically might return.

-Since the Conservatives tend to do this sort of thing with tax exempt organizations, we could then go after them without being hypocrites.


Fixing UUism: Talk less about Emerson, More about Theodore Parker

Wint'ry Mix

Emerson was a flighty, angst-ridden individualist, who abandonned the ministry. What does it say about our faith that we cite him to people who ask?

I think Parker is a much better example. He struggled to retain his place among colleagues who often conisdered his theology too radical, committed to a religious community that was at best uneasy with many of his ideas. He continued to perform parish ministry through a marriage that was, at best, rocky even by the standards of his times.

Others can probably lay out equally strong arguments to cite other figures. But whatever we do, please, let's drop Emerson. He sends the wrong message about faith and religous community.

Fixing UUism:Be Proactive in Best Practice Sharing


A successful church, fellowship, or congregation isn't only about numbers. We need to survey and poll current congregations and figure out just what successful means to members and ministers. Then spend real time getting to the core of what practices make these institutions work. This information could then be compiled and sent to ministers, lay leaders, and congregational presidents in a simple to use format that is divided into easy to implement plans.

Things like how successful ministers or churches;

avoid the crisis management spiral,
handle dissent and concern,
address committee work burn out,
decide when and how to expand,
focus on the larger community,
address theology and spiritual practice,
integrate religious, cultural, gender, and age specific groups,

Current models which take place in workshops at busy GA weekends are unattainable by 98% of Adult members, and persons motivated to take part in these workshops are likely already experiencing the problems listed above. We should get the information and ideas out there in order to avoid problems and reinvigorate our collective culture.

Fixing UUism: All social justice activities whould be placed within a religous context.

Wint'ry Mix

Unlike many of the posters, I do see a role for social justice activity, as well as the pronouncements at GA and from the UUAWO. I see a double-standard in those who argue against these things. Why is it OK for conservative religious communities to make such stands, but not OK for UUs?

What I see lacking in our social justice activity and in the pronouncments from GA and the UUAWO is any kind of religous context for these activities. That's why they come off as representing pronouncments from a wing of the Democratic Party.

We should ask the social justice committee, or whatever similar body is active in each congregation, to cite a relgious grounding for each action it undertakes. It need to be a citation specifically from the Old or New Testament, although culturally that would be more powerful when speaking to the general public. We could equallly cite writings from the Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim traditions.

Each Study/Action Issue submitted for conisderation at GA should include similar religious grounding, and the study materials UUS sends around on each issue should include plentiful citations from mulitple tradations laying a religious foundation for the issue.

GA should institute a requirment that each Action of Immediate Witness submitted for consideration should be similarly grounded.

Any pronouncement from UUA headquarters or the UUAWO should include similar citiations. As trained religious prfessionals, the staff of these organizations should make a strong effort to use different citations as much as possible, rather than taking a shortcut and using the same citation repeatedly.

Ideas worth a look

Various people have submitted the following ideas. While they've already gotten plenty of exposure amd are thus ineligable for voting, they are certainly worth a look. If anybody has any other suggestions of links to ideas by well-known UUs, feel free to send them in and I'll stick them up here.

Several people have submitted Davidson Loehr's letter to the UUA. I hadn't even hear about his Pathways project stuff, though I recall taking "If it works for Christian megachurches, it will obviously work for us!" logic to task many times in the past.

Someone else submitted Michael Durrall's plan to eliminate UUA districts


Saturday, January 21, 2006

Fixing UUism: Streamline the UUA

by theCSO

Right now, the UUA tries to be everything to everyone. We should determine what's most important, most central to our faith, and jettison the rest. Realistically, doing so would take years of study and introspection - but taking a 'slimming down' as the goal, we could turn the UUA into an organization more focused on the core principles and needs of our faith.

If there is still strong support for certain non-core functions - social justice comes to mind - those functions could be spun off into a separate organization. UUA member congregations could then choose whether or not to join those organizations independently of their choice to affiliate themselves with the UUA. This would enhance congregational polity.

Fixing UUism:Celebrate World Day of Conscience during days on which a total solar eclipse takes place anywhere in the world.

Robin Edgar

Robin explains it best.

Fixing UUism: Develop a UU Yoga

By Enneamage

I’d like to expand on a comment that “indrax” made, “* It would give UU's (and others) a place to spend months or years in a calmer lifestyle with time to explore their unique faith.”

A problem for me is that UU is primarily a community of like minded people, many of whom have found their way there from elsewhere. And that is okay as far as it goes.

But UU lacks a theology and an a “yoga” or practice that can enable people to transcend where they are, to become more whole, more integrated, more loving, etc.

A yoga or practice set could be developed. It might look like Buddhist “insight meditation.” It might contain physical practices such as T’ai Chi or yoga. It might stress community service and interpersonal relations.

Fixing UUism: Change the Name

Jamie Goodwin
of Trivium

Begin an Incremental Process to change the name of Unitarian Universalism to something easier on the mind and tongue and which does some of our "elevator speech" for us. Ideas could be gathered from individuals and congregations around the country. The final choice would be ratified by a 66.7% percent majority of member congregations. (I originally had 66.6% but figured the evangelicals would jump on that one)

Fixing UUism: Support Lay Ministry

Jamie Goodwin of Trivium

There are thousands of dedicated and passionate lay members in our congregations who would jump at a chance to be an official part of our ministry. I am not advocating reducing our standards for Ordainment but creating a nation wide commissioning program for those adult members who do not have the time, funding, and educational background to become full fledged ministers.

The program itself should push for candidates to focus on specific areas like Pastoral Care, Worship, or Religious Education. The implementation and over sight of these programs could be handled at the District level.

Two such programs already exist in the Ohio-Meadville and Prairie Star Districts. When a candidate is commissioned by them however they are commissioned by the district not in fellowship with the UUA.

Fixing UUism: Found a UU Monestary

Note: This competiton is supposed to be something that is your own idea, in a loose sense. I've had another entry that was something that the Commission on Social Witness is already planning to do. I decided that one was outside the scope of what we're trying to do here.

I hadn't previously considered the question of whether one can enter something that is someone else's idea/pet project. Luckily I get an out this time as the lady behind this posts here, too. If it wins, I will send a cheesy prize to both.

Kim's idea, with input from many others (including at one point CC, perhaps, though CC doesn't really remember), submitted by Indrax

This Beliefnet discussion posed the question of a contemplative order for Unitarian Universalism. Currently, the conversation has shifted to an email list, but it is largely inactive.
The idea is to found a 'Chalistry' (A UU Monastery) which would serve several functions:
* It would give UU's (and others) a place to spend months or years in a calmer lifestyle with time to explore their unique faith.
* It would be an ideal retreat and conference center for UU's and others in the region.
* It could serve a charitable mission, directly putting our ideals to action.
* All these would in turn provide Unitarian Universalists and society with deeper insights into "UU theology"

Again, this effort is floundering, but with denominational support and maybe even funding, it could be something great.

Fixing UUism: Merge UUism with another liberal faith

by Jeff

Unitarian-Universalism was born from the combination of two historic traditions. Together they forged something new and unprecedented: other church mergers were re-unions of previously divided denominations (Northern and Southern Presbyterians, etc), but the marriage of Channing and Murray's churches was the making of two disparate bodies into one flesh. The result has been a one-of-a-kind denomination, pushing the boundaries of American religion and regularly redefining the possibilities of such hoary concepts as church, faith, tradition, and even religion.

What is needed at this moment in history is a new merger. Best candidate: the United Church of Christ. We are already close kin, all descendants of the original American religious experiment and leaders of the liberal tradition. We share similar polity, church culture, religious orientations, social concerns, ordination requirements, and even geographic distribution. Our combined strengths would spawn a new chapter in American religion that could revitalize the ailing religious left.

Runner-up alternative partners: Society of Friends, Reform Judaism, Community of Christ, [Your choice here]

Friday, January 20, 2006

Fixing UUism: Eliminate UU Hypocrisy

by Robin Edgar

How about if U*Us made a reasonable effort to actually practice what they preach rather than doing the exact opposite and pretending that they have done no wrong whatsoever. . . That would resolve most of the various injustices, abuses and outrageous hypocrisy that I have either directly experienced or have witnessed within UUism. I could provide a fairly long list of specific injustices, abuses and hypocrisy perpetrated and perpetuated by U*Us but in view of U*U ADD I will keep this post as short and bitter as it is right now. More later. . .

Fixing UUism: American Sister Churches

by Joel Monka

I know that many congregations have sister churches around the world- All Souls, Indianapolis is sistered to Sepsys St George, Transylvania. Wouldn't it make more sense to have sister churches right here in the US? I suspect that I better understand my Transylvanian friends than my fellow UUs in Boston. Why doesn't the UUA facilitate sister church programs throughout the US? Perhaps swap ministers for a week... find out if your issues are shared on the other side of the country? I think we need it; I have spent Sundays in other cities without looking up the local UU church because I wasn't sure how it would go.

Fix UUism:Disassociate Unitarianism and Universalism

By Jeff

The merger was a bold experiment, equal parts vision and economic necessity. After 45 years of work, fun, and toil, it has run its course. Neither Unitarianism nor Universalism anymore, Unitarian-Universalism has become a rudderless, parochial, and shrinking movement saddled with a name like a mouth full of marbles. It lurches on mainly through the force of institutional inertia, hemmoraging members born into the church and primarily providing converts a battleground for pitched fights between Humanists and Christians, Christians and Pagans, Pagans and Humanists, anti-racists and non-racists, Sunday service adults and circle worship youth, etc. Unlike 1961, there are now many mainstream choices for liberal theists, and there are strong and growing communities of Pagans, Buddhists, and other traditions who once needed the shelter of our accepting eaves. Other denominations ordain women, sanctify gay marriages, oppose racism, provide services to the poor, and recognize the beauty of human diversity. The need for Unitarian-Universalism simply isn't apparent anymore.

Instead, let the two faiths part ways with a kiss and a handshake, and let the Church of the Free Mind and the Church of All Souls be reborn. Apart, each can concentrate on honing their unique messages and find once again the particular spiritual and intellectual resources that made each tradition a force of reason, love, and justice in American religious history. Rather than reaching for "all things for all people" and grasping little to nothing instead, return the Unitarian and Universalist denominations to their natural tracks and let them find renewed strength through healthy competition and streamlined bureacracy and theology.

Fixing UUism: Move the UUA headquarters to St. Louis

by Chutney

As much as I love Boston, it's pretentious and has an unacknowledged inferiority complex toward NYC and DC. These things have an effect on the life of our Association, however subtle. And that it's in Beacon Hill rubs this blue collar boy the wrong way. Moving HQ to a central location would make HQ more accessible, less Brahmin-ized, less political, and more down to earth. The Association's center of gravity would move out of New England to, you know, the rest of the country. Plus, St. Louis is just cheaper to do business in. (And I prefer Mark Twain and T.S. Eliot over Emerson and Thoreau any day.)

Fixing UUism: Lay off 1/3 of all national staff.

by Chutney

We simply don't need them. The resulting reorganization would produce more relevant, valuable work---and save local congregations some money too.

FIxing UUism:Actions of Immediate Witness should require a 66% vote.

by Chutney

The number of resolutions will drop precipitously, meaning that the ones that survive (a) represent the overwhelming majority of UUs and (b) represent our highest priorities. And people outside of Beacon Hill offices might actually read them for a change, UU or otherwise

Fixing UUism:Hold GA Every two years

by Chutney

It would force us to prioritize---what we wouldn't have time for we didn't need in the first place. Plus, we'd have two years to make good on our decisions, leading to fuller, better work.

Fixing UUism: Every GA in Vegas

by CC, though the UU Enforcer suggested something similar a few months ago

Convention space is plentiful and a multi-year deal could make it relatively inexpensive, hotels and food are cheap as is childcare. They are used to tourists of all kinds so the difficulties we had in Texas should be fewer. Just about everybody can fly there for under a hundred bucks if they start looking carefully for tickets a few months in advance.

Fixing UUism: Member ratification of GA resolutions

Original idea by Joel Monka, CC and Fausto had input

If the UUA is going to be a representative democracy, they should make some attempt to assure that the members are in fact representing their congregations; if most congregations are going to allow individuals to sign up with no requirements or vetting process outside of a minister signing off, they should make it a direct democracy. Currently, we have the worst of both systems. After GA votes on a resolution, we should send either a postcard or an email (preferably an email as they are free and don't waste paper,) as the member prefers, asking them to vote on all GA resolutions and ratify them. If a simple majority of respondants OK something, it's in.

Happy 60th birthday, Dolly Parton

Shakespere's Sister says it best.

Fixing UUism: Moratorium on condemning things at GA


Let's ban declarations of condemnation in all new GA resolutions, and let's ban all new "official" UUAWO positions based in old condemnatory resolutions. It would help the necessary exercise of defining who we are if we no longer can lean on the crutch of proclaiming what we're against. Give it a few years to run, and see whether the UUAWO actually finds anything worthwhile to affirm and promote. If they can't, shut 'em down, and spend the money we save on RE.

Fix UUism Contest

The much-heralded Sliced Bread competition is coming to an end. It was a contest to see who could come up with the best idea for fixing America.

To be honest, I'm pretty underwhelmed by the ideas people came up with. They are all the stuff of New Republic essays and the sorts of things I've read before.

I've heard more original ideas from my readers in the past two days.

So I'm starting a UU sliced bread competition.

Send your ideas for fixing UUism to Chalicechick at gmail dot com or post them here. In a week or so, we will vote on them. If I've gotten a lot of ideas, a week or so after that, we will vote again. I will find some sort of strange prize to send the winner and perhaps the runners up if we have more than a few ideas. Oh, and I will mail a letter with the top few suggestions to Sinkford and any relevant UUA big cheeses.

  • I have long observed a correllation between Attention Defecit Disorder and UUism, so I'd keep my idea to a couple of paragraphs or so if I were you.
  • My views on what's a good idea aren't significant here. Anything I consider a serious entry, I will post. So if your idea is a real idea but something I would hate, such as, oh, requiring that congregations set aside X% of their budgets for political action, send it anyway.
  • Keep an eye on economics. I'd love to raise minister pay, but if your idea is "have the UUA start a fund to subsidize minister pay and improve their benefits" and you have no idea how you will pay for it, I won't vote for you.
  • Don't forget church polity. Don't suggest something that the UUA can't do.
  • I gave three sample ideas. When I get a few more, I will put them in individual posts so we can more easily discuss them.
  • The fact that the three sample suggestions all involve GA does not mean all suggestions have to.

Sample ideas (that will be included in the voting)

So, any other ideas?


Thursday, January 19, 2006

Gah, parental notification laws are so irrational

A coworker of mine once and I had an discussion about parental notification laws that just spun my head.

She announced that they were a bad idea because rapists were taking their victims to get abortions. I pointed out that an older guy who impregnates a younger girl and is responsible enought to take her to a clinic might technically be a "rapist," but he's likely also a "boyfriend" and that my relationship with my folks really sucked in high school, but I would have gone to my mom if I needed an abortion. So any underage girl who didn't go to her folks probably was worried about getting abused.

At that point, we figured we should agree to disagree and we moved on. But it was helpful to get a glimpse into the head of someone who agreed with parental notification laws as I'd really not understood how anyone could reasonably support them.

Whenever I don't understand how anyone could believe something political, I try to find out from a reasonable person who is more liberal or more conservative than I am. Often I've been bitched at by liberals especially who couldn't even entertain the possiblity that a non-monster could disagree with them and I have had many variations on this conversation:

"Head start! How could you POSSIBLY be against greater funding of HEAD START! Don't you CARE about the POOR at all? Or are you some sort of SELFISH CONSERVATIVE who doean't care about kids in the innner city?"

"Um... Head Start does sound really good. But when psychologists have studied it, they have shown that the effects of head start wear off. Even if you send a kid to the best nursery school in the world when you send them on to a badly underfunded inner-city school later, by fourth grade they are going to be right where the other kids are. So it seems reasonable to me to take the money you'd use on Head Start and use it to improve the schools at higher grades or do something else with it, because if what we're doing is wearing off, we're wasting the money now."

"Oh. Well, I still disagree, but OK..."

Now you can agree with my argument to not have Head Start, which was really mostly for the sake of conversation, I don't really know what I think, or you can say that psychologists have also shown that the nursery school years are a critical time for learning and if that learning isn't sticking we should try another form of Head Start as it should work somehow.

But my point is, we are reasonable people having a conversation.

So at the time, I accepeted my coworker's thesis that parental notification laws can lead to more statutory rapes. As far as I knew, she could be right. There were no studies showing the proportion of girls worried about being abused to girls worried about getting punished.

But now there is good evidence that would seem to indicate that underage girls who want abortions have a good reason for asking for them. According to the Orlando Sentinel, in the last six months of last year, 120 underage girls went before judges and asked to be allowed to have abortions without telling their parents.

Of those requests, only eight were ultimately denied.

This suggests to me that the Florida judiciary has understood why a girl didn't want to tell her parents 112 times and found her reasons spurious only eight times. (OK, technically 11 girls were denied, but three got the ruling overturned on appeal.)

I think I'm going to need a better argument to understand why people would support these laws now.


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

You people make my head spin

I highly recommend the comments thread of that last post where you can see Steve Caldwell take Fausto to task for being disgruntled and bitching about the outcomes of the democratically chosen process that allows the UUA to be disgruntled and bitch about the outcomes of the democratically elected president choosing exactly the sort of guy he said he would as a judicial nominee.


Exactly the Alito post you would have expected from CC

Six months ago, I wrote the following paragraph about the UUAWO objections to Cheif Justice Roberts

The UUAWO statement that basically says "We're not objecting to Roberts yet, but if he doesn't sound good to us, we're going to put out a STRONGLY-WORDED PRESS RELEASE. And we mean it!" is one of the DUMBEST things I've ever read. I'm sorry, I know UUs everywhere are delighted with their brave denomination's commitment to any social justice issue that boils down to "having an opinion," but that "thwack!" sound you're hearing is that statement hitting the trashcan of every elected official who received one.

I know my readers won't be shocked that I object to the UUA objections to the Alito nomination.

I love my civil liberties, and I recognize that Alito is not a guy I want on the court. That said, it is not the place of the church to comment on these things. After all, plenty of other organizations are doing so.

I really don't at all understand the point of us getting involved here.

The climate is getting worse and worse for abusing our tax exempt status the way we do. For example, in Ohio, there's a liberal group objecting conservative churches that preach politics from the pulpit. Well, in Ohio UU churches, I have heard sermons on the awfulness of the Republicans in Congress and (at a different church) a sermon on how Republicans are "S" Myers-Briggs types and Democrats are "N" Myers-Briggs types, which is why Democrats are visionaries and Republicans are cavemen. (Keep in mind, I've gone to church in Ohio maybe five times in the three years Linguist Friend has lived there. So for me to hit two sermons like that is pretty bad. My home church is much better, but still...)

There are going to be consequences, y'all.

And the thing of it is, we will deserve it.

The UUA has been carrying the water of the Democratic party for too long. We've never lifted a finger to change that the political rules of this country really screw third parties. Does GA vote to do something about making it easier for third parties to get public financing, or even the right to debate? Do we rally about that?

Of course not, which would leave one to believe that it is issues and values, not procedure that interests us. Which would be fair enough.

But when it is a rules question about filibustering that might help the Democrats, hell, we protest on the capitol steps. And we sent around emails full of delusional activist bull about how filibustering is about minorities' "right to speak," an issue we didn't give a damn about until said minority was the Democrats.

Once we start pretending that filibustering is about a right to speak as the email does, we ourselves reach the point of abandoning critical thinking in favor of what we want to be true.

And for what good?

I googled four times and found four organizations objecting to Alito, and doing a hell of a lot more than we are because they have the size to do so.

I do not agree with Alito on much of anything. But what we are doing in taking this stand is pointless as far as the political system is concerned and very dangerous as far as we're concerned.

We can do a lot more to help the world if we don't have the IRS investigating us and a reputation as the Democratic party's bitch. What political capitol we have we are squandering on an issue we won't be able to change.

When the Republicans say we are acting like a political organization, they will be right.

And we're so bad at it! We've done so much good raising money, building houses, and feeding the poor. But our talking and our petitions and our rallies have never done a damn thing except make us feel like freedom fighters.

It's stupid, guys.


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

CC expresses an opinion on something she knows nada about

I was reading a magazine article about Skating with the Stars in the grocery store today and something occurred to me.

The show features actors (of both genders) and skaters (of both genders) and has them paired, male-to-female, one actor with one skater.

And I realized that I would be delgihted to bet any reader of this blog a home cooked meal that the winning pair will have a male skater and a female actor.


Because what I've observed of ice dancing is that it involves a lot of fancy tricks lifting the woman up in the air.

If, say, Lloyd Eisler (Skater dude) drops Kristy Swanson (the girl from "Ferris Bueller" who tells the home ec teacher Ferris passed out at 31 Flavors) funny, no big deal. Even less of a big deal given that Kristy Swanson did stunt work for "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and knows how to fall.

But if, say, Dave Coulier (guy from Full House) drops Nancy Kerrigan and she falls badly, that could end her career.

So my guess is that a male skater/female actor pairing is a shoe in as there's no way the female skaters are going to be dumb enough to let some actor who just learned to skate lift them.

Are there holes in this logic I'm not seeing?

who just loves to ponder this sort of thing and likes having a blog to ponder it on.

CC looks into "not Dead Yet"

In the comments section on my Assisted Suicide post, LaReinaCobre suggested I check out Not Dead Yet, a disability advocacy group that has objections to assisted sucide

Having looked, I really don't trust that website.

Firstly, only 208 people have actually used assisted suicide under the law since 1997. That's roughly 25 per year and I'll wager that they really were the sickest of the sick. For Not Dead Yet to drag in the criteria for Oregon having a high level of elder suicides and not mention that they don't actually stem from this law seems weird. Actually, it doesn't seem weird. It seems like a Michael Moorish "I'm sure nobody will notice if I take my facts out of contest" manuever one uses on people one doesn't think are as smart as one is.

And having done my share of Grandmother Duty over the past six months I do take exception to their wording that implies that it is wrong that people who are disabled feel like burdens. My experience is that they are burdens. Which is not to say that the family members who love them can't bear the burdens with dignity and love.

Were I in that position, I'm sure my husband and family would do so, never letting me know the complaints that are whispered in hospital hallways. That said, if there is no hope of saving me and I can save myself some pain and them a lot of money, I plan to do so.

"Sorry, Little Timmy, we can't send you to college because we bankrupted ourselves keeping Aunt CC alive and in pain for an extra six months" is not the legacy I want.

Knowing that you are a burden is not always a bad thing. I was clinically depressed for my first few months of grad school and the day I figured out that listening to me going on about how depressed I was actually sort of bored my friends was the day I actually left my apartment and did something about it. Since then, I've become much more aware of the effect my moods have on other people and it has made me a much better and more grateful person.

Secondly, I was checking out their site and clicked on Journalists Hall of Shame.

The second entry from that page:
Our first offering is this article by Susan Wloszczyna, published on January 23 in USA Today.

'Million Dollar' Mystery discusses the fact that Million Dollar Baby has a surprise ending. The author praises the movie and suggests people hurry and see it before the "twist" at the end of the movie is revealed to them. She then names and labels conservative commentators who have revealed the end of the movie, including the appearance of one person on "The 700 Club."

But she stops naming names when she gets here:

"One organization, whose name would be a form of a spoiler itself, issued a statement last week decrying what they see as a "vendetta" executed by Eastwood and his film."

The organization quoted here is the National Spinal Cord Injury Association. Why is it that she can list and name conservative commentators with abandon but can't reveal that at least two disability organizations blasted the movie, "spoiling" it in the process?

Obviously, we can't answer that question, but it's obvious that anyone reading this article will come away with the impression that the only people making noise about this movie are Christian conservatives.

This isn't reporting the news, it's shaping the news.

Welcome, Ms. Wloszczyna, to our "Hall of Shame."

What they were pretending not to know, was that Million Dollar Baby was marketed as a movie about a lady boxer and that the euthanasia bit really was a surprise twist. My boss at the time, who had big time religious objections to assisted suicide, saw it having no idea that there was anything involving assisted sucide or disability in it. I saw the preview and remember deciding there was no way I was going to a boxing movie, even one that would make me feel empowered.

So, yes, revealing that an organization involved with spinal cord injuries had objected to the movie would indeed have revealed a plot twist that people who hadn't seen the movie didn't know about and the USA Today writer was very reasonable in the way she put things.

Christian conservatives issue objections to all kids of movies. From "Dogma" to "Starship Troopers." If the Christian groups object, there could be occult stuff in your movie, a girl-on-girl kiss, a molesting priest, heck, a breast. There are so many options that to report that Christians object says effectively nothing about the content of the movie.

If a spinal cord group objects, somebody hurts their spine and then something nasty happens to them.

That alone convinces me that this group is full of the sorts of activists that chuck critical thinking completely aside because they are so very in love with their cause.

The last thing that got my goat was that they pointed out in their press release on the assisted suicide law that killing oneself is legal in every state, it's just for really sick handicapped people that they legislate assisted suicide. This is framed as a discrimination issue, which strikes me as moronic.

I don't know how many people in the advanced stages of terminal illness these terminal illness activists have been around, but a lot of really sick handicapped people CAN'T LEAVE THEIR BEDS and in some cases CAN'T MOVE. (Such as the chick in the much-maligned Million Dollar Baby, who wasn't terminally ill, but was fully paralyzed.)

I'm sorry, if you need assistance to wipe your ass, it seems a little disingenous of them to claim that you could kill yourself any time you wanted to.

who thinks any advocacy group run by people without the condition they are advocating for, who wants to TAKE AWAY rights from those they are advocating for, really has a problem.

Ps. TheCSO points out that SUCCESSFUL suicide is not illegal in any states, but ATTEMPTED suicide is illegal all sorts of places. Another attempt by these guys to pull a Michael Moore.

Oh, that Snarky Scalia

The Supreme Court did a good thing when it upheld Oregan's assisted suicide law.

It seems like reasonable public policy to me, and the article says that only 208 people in the whole state have used it since 1997, making it actually very rarely used.

Roberts, BTW, voted with Thomas and Scalia to dissent. Of those, I was most surprised to see Thomas as I thought his libertarian instincts might kick in on this one.

In the dissent, Scalia wrote "If the term 'legitimate medical purpose' has any meaning, it surely excludes the prescription of drugs to produce death."


And here's the Post's version.

Monday, January 16, 2006


Oh, by the way. LaReinaCobre mentioned in a comment that she always pictures me as looking like my icon.

This seems like a good time to credit the icon as a detail from Titian's Venus at the Mirror, the official artwork of the Chaliceblog and a picture that has weird but delightful associations for me. It hangs in the National Gallery and usually ends up on my art tour. (BTW, I adore giving art tours. If you're ever in Washington, DC, look me up and I'd be delighted. My specialty is the moderns, but I can also do the Renaissance.)


Saturday, January 14, 2006

CC and Psyton's addiction argument continues

(I'm having fun hashing this out, so I thought I'd keep the discussion bumped up by posting my responses as posts rather than as responses. Psyton's and my discussion starts here and continues here.

This seems like a stupid question, but I'm going to ask it anyway.

If quitting by sheer willpower is the best solution for everyone, how come all the unhappy addicts in the world haven't fixed themselves? I mean willpower is convenient and free and you can start any time?

Seems to me like some people have quit drinking through willpower, a lot more have quit drinking with AA (and the first thing AA teaches is that you're powerless over your addiction), some people need more specialized disease-focussed approaches, some people never find an approach that works and drink themselves to death.

Willpower is a component of all of them, but I'm not sure why you would think it is the total solution for everyone when so much evidence, anecdotal and otherwise, exists to suggest otherwise.

I mean "Addiction is totally the addict's fault for being weak. If they can't fix themselves through willpower, then they are too weak and they should be stonger. Because strong people don't need drugs" is a Dr.-Laura-like tautological approach that sounds logical in theory, but I seriously doubt it helps many people in the real world.


CC is charmed

Was checking out Will Shetterly's new site design and saw a story called The Princess who Kicked Butt.

He had me from the title.

And the story was nifty.


Friday, January 13, 2006

That's my family, memorable

I'm sorting through old papers tonight, trying to figure out what should be tossed and what should be brought over to my folks.

(New readers: The CSO and I bought my parents' house. They left most of their stuff when they moved.)

Anyhow, in the middle of a bunch of stuff, I found a letter from one of my brothers' former lawyers, who was pulling out of some trial or another, that describes Oliver as a "memorable client."

I told TheCSO tonight and that struck us as hilarious for some reason.

Oh and I found a really cute picture of CC as a little kid.


Nominate my sorry self

Ok, looks like we're having a UU Blog Awards again this year.

So go nominate some of the deserving UUs who entertained you for free all last year.


The disease model of addiction: a response to Psyton

I'm disinclined to agree with Psyton's dismissal of the disease model of addiction in that there absolutely is a genetic component to problems like alcoholism. As LRC illustrates, some families have this more than other families.

Also, alcoholism and drug addiction tend to be comorbid with mental illnesses. If a schizophrenic finds that when he drinks he doesn't hear voices so much, I can imagine drinking every day would become attractive. Similarly, cocaine has some of the same properties stimulants like Ritalin do. People with Attention Defecit Disorder can find that really attractive.

I don't know that its at all funny that poor people are more likely to be addicts. Poor people are also more likely to have faced many of life's most depressing experiences, so that something some people use to escape depression might be more of an issue isn't a big shock.

Plenty of diseases have a personal responsibility component. In fact, I would venture to say ALL mental illnesses do. Are you going to listen to your paranoid fantasies when a coworker looks at you funny? If you're so depressed you can barely get off the couch, are you going to go to work anyway? I'm thinking that Psyton knows a guy who finds it very difficult not to get upset in certain circumstances that wouldn't necessarily upset other people and I doubt Psyton would call this person's efforts to keep from getting too upset a personal responsibility issue alone. Those are disease questions, but they are personal responsibility questions too. In short, personal responsibility can be harder for some people than for others and addiction is one of the things that can make it harder.

My issue with Frey is that he is claiming he overcame addiction by willpower ALONE and that is a lie.

If the breast cancer analogy is too far out, perhaps I can make a more reasonable comparison if I say that it is equivilent to him saying "Yes, I had clinical depression, but I just forced myself to cheer up and that worked fine! So people shouldn't go to a psychologist when they are depressed, they shoudl just suck it up like I did!" when he never had clinical depression at all.

The sheer level of scumbaggery still makes me shake my head.


"Jesus take the wheel"

I try really hard to be tolerant and take all forms of religious expression in the spirit in which they were intended, but, between you and me, isn't Carrie Underwood's song Jesus, Take the Wheel the DUMBEST thing you've ever heard?

TheCSO and I can usually let odd Christian things go without snarky comment, but last time we were in the car and it came on the radio, when the girl's car is spinning on the ice and she throws her hands up in the air, we both burst out laughing. It reminds me of that really funny urban legend about the lady who throws herself out of her car's sunroof trying to join the rapture.

And I'm sorry, the song opens up a whole territory for "But officer, *I* wasn't going 80 in a 35! *Jesus* was driving!" humor that is just wrong.


Ps. Oh and, for what it's worth...

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Best New UU Blog name Evah

I've been hoping for some time that Joel Monka would start a blog and he has.

Here's Conservative UU Member Blogging As You Asked



Wednesday, January 11, 2006

More on James Frey

One really important reason to be unhappy that this man's book is taken to be nonfiction is that he claims to have beaten several different addictions with essentially willpower alone.

I am a long way from AA's biggest fan. But it really does seem to work for some people and claiming that the disease model of addiction is "garbage" as Frey calls it, is not a good thing coming from a man who has not fought addiction to really nasty drugs like he says he has.

(e.g. If I were to write my bestselling book "How I beat breast cancer with a vegan diet" wherein I said chemotherapy was garbage and giving up animal products got rid of cancer just fine, when none of that was true, then what I would be doing would be somewhere between irresponsible and homicidal. What it wouldn't be is excuseable.)


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Need something to be outraged about? Click here.

So Cory Maye's public defender just got fired by the town for no reason the Mayor or Board of Alderman is willing to explain.


Cory Maye Justice Fund
c/o R.E. Evans
P.O. Box 636
Monticello, MS 39654


A Chaliceblog glossary

Terms used on The ChaliceBlog and what they mean:

Caligula's CC's nickname for her favorite sushi buffet.

CC's basement-Where she keeps her harem of smart guys. CC has a guy friend with a very jealous girlfriend. As CC is married and thus is unlikely to be trying to steal said guy friend away, CC surmises that his girlfriend believes CC is trying to assemble a harem of smart guys for her basement. Celebrities invited to hang out in CC's basement include Johnny Depp and Malcom Gladwell. Here's where the joke got started. If you follow that link bear in mind that I was really mad when I wrote it.

Choad Chode /chohd/ also spelled "Choad"

Pretty much an all-purpose dirty word at this point, Chode comes from Indian vernacular for "to fuck." Probably got here by way of the UK.

CC learned it from a gay guy named Ryan she went to college with, who said it was specifically the very sensitive area of muscle between scrotum and anus, though lots of people think it is a word for a short, yet wide, penis.

Coorious Sarcamstance Mispelling of "a curious circumstance" that indicates the way the rural characters in Laurie King's fine novel The Moor pronounce it. CC just likes it.

CSO, the-CC's Husband, the ChaliceSignificantOther. He was just her boyfriend when she started calling herself ChaliceChick and his nickname has stuck. CC is always bugging him to write blog posts.

Ephron, Nora An untalented screenwriter of some renown. Discussed first here.

Epilonius TheCSO's best friend, a frequent poster to the Chaliceblog. Used to call himself Psyton.

Fugly -F'n Ugly

FuglyChalice, the The new symbol for the UUA. See commentary here.

FuglyCouch, The -A hideous couch The ChaliceParents left in the house when they moved out after we bought their house. We'd feel bad giving it to Goodwill just yet, but we don't like it. (Update: Has now been returned to the ChaliceMom. We have a much cooler couch now.)

Grissom The mystery-solving, scientist hottie on CSI. CC has it bad for him. (Though she much preferred him without the beard.) He's troubled. Mmmm... Troubled.

Katy-the-Wise-CC's favorite UU minister. She now lives hundreds of miles from CC, but CC sometimes still calls her for freelance pastoral counseling.

LinguistFriend One of CC's guy friends and occiasional contributor to the Chaliceblog He's a laryngeal physiology professor who also has a PhD in Linguistics from an institution beloved by UUs. He sometimes guest blogs. Sorry girls, there's a future Mrs. Linguist friend.

Mmm... Troubled... Expression of lust for male television characters who are very caught up in their work yet obviously somewhat disturbed by a deeper current of psychological turmoil. CC finds this hot. (Examples: Fox Mulder, Gil Grissom, and "House") CC has it especially bad for detectives. No, not Monk, thanks for asking.

Naff off, A Britishy way to say "screw you." CC picked it up from Princess Anne.

Other assorted people with and without nicknames Jennifer Beautiful, ZombieKid, Our-Hero-Charlie-the-Brave, My-smart-friend-Pam, Jana-who-Creates, Joe-the-Math-Guy, etc are CC's friends. I tend to name my friends after something cool or memorable about them. Blogging friends are referred to by their handle. Regaular friends who become blogging friends usually end up using their nickname as a handle for the purposes of the ChaliceBlog. CC's family members are usually referred to as "the ChaliceMom," etc. The nicknames proctect anonymity and remind everyone that what you read about them comes totally from my own perspective.

Sabina Fallacy, the a system of misguided thinking held by an Obvious Future Victim who is dating/marrying someone who treats others badly that allows the Obvious Future Victim to believe that though schnookums may have behaved badly in the past, he/she would NEVER treat OFV this way.

(e.g.“Well, yeah, she got her last boyfriend arrested for stalking, then sat outside his dorm room for two hours so he couldn’t leave without violating the restraining order*, but she wouldn’t do that to me. Things between US are different.”)

Smeghead CC and her friends' preferrred insult when they were small children. If you don't know what it means, you probably don't want to.

Sucketh Mightily, You the official insult of the Chaliceblog. I just started using it one day and it has stuck.

That Goddamned Island - CC's plan to buy an island and convince all her friends to move there. Discussed in detail here.

"Von Harnack" -- CC frequently names video game characters and the like after German theologian Adolf Von Harnack He was a really cool guy and it is meant as a tribute.

If you see something/someone else who needs an entry here, shoot me an email at Chalicechick at gmail dot com and I will add it.


*The Sabina Fallacy is named after a real person who actually did this.

Old People Suck

Or How my generation has again gotten bitten by the fact that we don't vote

Recently, I've been really pleased with George Will. Linguist Friend once said that Republicans can sometimes be like squirrels. They are primarily interested in stocking things away for themselves and not particularly forward-thinking, but more or less harmless. Squirrel Republicans really don't think it's the government's job to tell us what to do in any real sense, and every time the government tries to do so (by either law enforcement or public health means) it's expensive.

Recently, I've found that squirrel Republicans and I have a lot to talk about in that I really don't think it's a city's business to ban smoking or prevent Wal-mart from moving in or make any other attempt to salvage our collective character, from either the liberal or conservative side.

George Will has been sounding more and more like a squirrel Republican these days. In this morning's Washington Post, he writes about "K street conservatives," essentially, conservatives who have sold out the principles of small government to the lobbyists. Sure, liberals do things for special interest groups, too. But liberals always said they would.

As Will put it: The national pastime is no longer baseball, it is rent-seeking -- bending public power for private advantage.

So far so good, but then Will makes a serious misstep in his praise of John Boehner of Ohio. True, Boehner is not one for pork in the classic Don Young sense, (Don Young* is probably my least favorite member of congress. His incredibly snotty reaction to the Coburn amendment still makes my blood boil when I think about it.) but Boehner has recently seriously screwed the young people of America.

Boehner's new bill raises interest rates, which I can live with, but more importantly prevents students from refinancing their loans. Now, I love the idea of rebuilding New Orleans, but I'd rather Don Young's bridge paid for it than the next generation of American students. The outlawing of student loan refinancing is blatant protectionism for the banks.

George Will should look a little closer. Here's Sallie Mae's Contributions from this election cycle. And here's Sallie Mae's contributions for last election cycle. Sallie Mae gave Boehner the maximum they could give anyone last cycle and are half there already for the cycle that started last year.

Just because Boehner hasn't built any highways doesn't mean he isn't bought and paid for.


*Don Young was responsible for the pork-laden transportation bill and got the
"bridge to nowhere" out of it. Tom Coburn put forth an a law right after Hurricaine Katrina saying that they would take back all that pork and use it to rebuild New Orleans. This is not to say that anybody would be happy that some of their pork money would be taken away, but he threw an unseemly hissy fit over it and it was really a reasonable bill, though a soundly defeated one.
BTW, here's how your senator voted on it.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Carl Hiaasen disagrees with CC

Carl Hiaasen, one of CC's favorite novelists, does not find Jack Abramoff quite as cute as CC does. His article is quite scathing, and worth a read for sentences like:

Bush has announced that he's giving $6,000 in Abramoff-tainted campaign funds to the American Heart Association, which is fitting when you consider how much cardiac unrest is being caused by the lobbyist's cooperation with prosecutors.

Anyone who hasn't read Hiaasen's novels probably should. That he wrote the novel that that cheesy Demi Moore striptease movie is based on is not his fault. The novel itself is really good. My favorite novel of his is called "Stormy Weather." I like to keep a few used copies around to give to GRE students when they impress me in class.

His novels are intense and wacky and one gets the feeling that one is reading all the wacky things that came across the night news desk at the Miami Herald but that couldn't quite make it into the paper.

As I was in political fundraising for awhile and he's been a reporter for years, we approach this quiestion from very different directions. But his article is good stuff. Read it, read his books.


Ps. The name is pronounced He-AH-sin as close as Linguist Friend can figure.

Freyed at the edges

The appeal of drugs and our cultural fascination with drug abuse is such that author James Frey is making a very good living by flogging his past as a drug abuser and criminal.

I suppose why he’s doing this is clear enough. His book has been at the top of the non-fiction bestseller list since October, thanks especially to help from Oprah Winfrey, who has made his book A Million Little Pieces part of her book club.

However, an investigation by The Smoking Gun reveals that Frey is probably not all he appears to be.

What’s funny is that TheSmokingGun’s investigation into Frey’s past began with a mug shot. TSG collects mug shots, particularly funny mug shots and mug shots of celebrities. When they first started to look into Frey, all they wanted was a mug shot to add to their rather impressive collection.

But it didn’t work out that way. As they looked into the difficulties with the police that Frey wrote about so vividly, they found that his supposed autobiography was full of half-truths and straight-up lies.

I am really fascinated with non-fiction books and documentaries that turn out to be misleading and full of lies and The Smoking Gun’s report can be read as nothing but a brutal smackdown of Frey’s book. A look at the real Licking County, Ohio jail, for instance, reveals that the details of Frey’s description of the place, down to the color of the jumpsuits is wrong. What Frey describes as a grand criminal probe involving the FBI, his arresting officer calls “college kids doing dope.” The same officer denies ever working with the FBI.

Anyway, I found The Smoking Gun’s Report a captivating read and I recommend it.


Sunday, January 08, 2006

The hat makes the man...

I've noted in the past that I have weird sympathy for Jack Abramoff. I'm not saying he's a nice guy, but goodness it's hard to get too angry at a guy who stole lobbying money for a couple of reasons:

1. Legally given money is incredibly public This sort of this is incredibly easy to check. He didn't steal money intended for congressmen, he overcharged clients for his time.

2. Lobbying money has a lot in common with the proverbial rock that repells elephants. (So what if he didn't spend it on Congressmen? Have we seen any new regulations of Indian casinos? No? Then Abramoff was effective...)

And something about using some of the money for starting a school for Orthodox Jews charms me. I'm sorry, it does.

Anyway, so I follow stories about him. And there is a particularly interesting one about, of all things, the symbolism of his black fedora. Also, the comments on the peice are also well worth a read.



According to this study, people who get into comas on television almost always end up recovering fully.

Which makes me wonder if that's how people got so convinced that Terry Schiavo would be OK.

But then, as I recall, surveys of the American people said most people thought doctors should pull the plug. It was Bill Frist who was diagnosing her from the video tape, saying things like "She certianly seems to be responding to visual stimuli." (The autopsy would show that she was blind.)

Maybe Frist just watches too much TV.

Who sort of wonders what the point of studying such things is.

Friday, January 06, 2006

More on the Miners: A response to Bill Barr

From what I've read, the miscomminciation started in the communications booth of the mining company.

From the AP

"It's sorrow beyond belief," International Coal Group Chief Executive Officer Ben Hatfield said during a news conference. ... Hatfield told the families that "there had been a lack of communication, that what we were told was wrong and that only one survived," said John Groves, whose brother Jerry Groves was one of the trapped miners.

What WE ("we" being the mining company higher ups) were told was wrong.

How the mistake happened has already come out. The mining company president talked about in on Wednesday and I am inclined to believe him as his explantion:

1. Makes logical sense

2. Blames his own company. If anybody gets sued over the issue of the news, it will be him, so I can't imagine what motive he has to lie. Presumably, if he were lying HE would be blaming the media. He's not.

According to the mining company people who were there, the rescue team was on speaker phone in the communications center. A message came through that sounded like "They're alive!" to the folks in the communications room. Then ANOTHER message that implied they were alive and headed back up to the surface came through. At that point, yes, the mining company employees got on their cell phones and started to call their friends' wives and children to tell them the good news. I'm inclined to think that anyone who says they would have done differently is kidding themselves.

Some 45 minutes after the first message, the correct message came through and, as I surmised in my post before I found this article, the higher ups wanted to make sure the bad news came from them and ordered their people not to tell anyone.

I cannot imagine who would get sued over the information confusion as everyone seems to have acted in good faith. The real lawsuits will come over why the accident happened in the first place.


Ps. The Hospital Fire situation you cite in your comments is different because

1. If the reporters were on the scene, they would have seen for themselves that no evacuation was taking place.

2. There were probably any number of people at the hospital who knew what was really going on. The only people who knew what was going on at the mine initially said the miners were alive, then stopped talking.