Saturday, March 31, 2007

CC dreams.

I've been having that "wake up at 2am for no reason" thing and actually had a particularly bad case of it last night where I woke up ever hour or two ater midnight. I finally gave up on sleep at about six. I puttered around the house, then eventually went to a bookstore and took the dog to the park, where we had a nice two-hour stroll.

(Didn't know I had a dog, did you? Yeah, she's a recent acquisition and I haven't had time to post about it yet. And by this I mean time that ISN'T at 2am.)

I came home and I lay down to read and somehow fell back asleep where I had this dream that I was on "the Apprentice" and that all the other contestants were my YRUU kids. And somehow some of their moms, the wealthier, lovlier moms at that, were involved with the judging and were telling me when I screwed things up.

I got fired second, and nominally for having a bad attitude and there were newspaper headlines across the country about cynics getting fired and how I'd screwed up. Which is weird because I thought I was the only one left in America who still watched the Apprentice, but whatever.

Anyway, this brings me to the conclusion that I still have some insecurities about law school.


Friday, March 30, 2007

Lisa Alther has written a new book!

At long latst!

(And it doens't look nearly as good as her last one. Ah well.)

I'm going to buy it anyway.

If you've ever read Rita Mae Brown and said to yourself "Wow, the subject matter and themes of this book are really good. If only the writing weren't so freaking hokey..." then Lisa Alther is absolutely the author for you.

"Other Women" and "Bedrock" are her two best books.



Thursday, March 29, 2007

No, seriously, let's have a Washington DC blogger hoedown

This topic has been discussed off and on at Boy in the Bands and here for literally years.

The Boston bloggers usually manage a picnic about this time every year. Let's do it, Washingtonians, Northern Virginians, Marylanders.

Do we want a picnic at somebody's church?

Do we want to go out to dinner?

Let's talk and decide and actually something.

I TOTALLY mean it this time.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A gift for the guy in the Deli

So, last week we got a notice over email at work. The guy in the deli downstairs has passed all the tests and become a American citizen. I've only been on this job for two months, and I only barely know deli guy. I've heard his name, but did not retain it, though I wouldn't use it on the blog anyway out of concern for the man's privacy. I'm sure he doesn't know my name either.

According to the email, he's your classic American immigrant success story. He was really poor when he came here from Pakistan, where he wasn't allowed to get an education because he is bahai. He worked his way through school, got an education and now he runs a deli. Now, I wouldn't want to run a deli, but I'm pretty sure that running a deli sucks less than whatever job you end up with in Pakistan when you're the wrong religion and you don't have an education.

Anyway, the owners of my office building are throwing the deli guy a party this afternoon and we were invited to bring him a small gift that said something about America, symobolized how we saw America or some such.

I'm actually quite patriotic. I know our country has done a lot of bad things, but I don't know any country that has achieved much that hasn't. And we have achieved a lot. The idea of deli guy wanting to be an American enough to go through the difficult process of becoming one stirs me a bit. I almost get misty-eyed when I think about him sitting down to take that Citizenship test. This guy played by the rules in a way that would make Tom Tancredo blush. I don't doubt he will be a credit to my country.

In the end, I did an informal survey and nobody I work with got this guy a symbolic gift. So if the rest of my firm is showing up empty handed I guess it's no crime that I will, too.

I just couldn't think of anything that seemed right.

Well, I considered getting him five dollars in McDonald's coupons because in America, everybody's out for a free lunch, but sarcasm didn't seem appropriate to the occasion.

But deli guy isn't going anywhere. I could always bring him something a little late.

Anyone have an idea for a symbol of unironic appreciation for our country?

I'm still thinking about it.


Last WalMart post for a bit

Boy in the Bands knows what a totenskopf loooks like.

PG didn't.

Actually, I'm with PG. I would have not seen that and thought Nazi. I would likely have seen it and thought "talk like a pirate day."

That said, if I were a company famous for having a rather federalist approach to doing business, where supposedly every major decision is made in Bentonville, Arkansas, I would think I would be able to get those shirts off the sheleves within several months.

If nothing else, the fact that even after congress itself asked Walmart to get rid of the shirts, people were still finding them weeks later should have been a big ol'clue that there were major flaws in the recall system.

As for a register restriction, that's all well and good, but it's not enough. For those of you who look over twenty-one, have you ever tried to buy a bottle of wine when you didn't have your ID on you? (Or have you ever tried to write a check at Wegmans without their stupid check card?)

What happens?

You cashier goes "Hey Jimbo, I need to do an override" to the front end guy.

Jimbo tosses his keys to your cashier.

And you walk out thirty seconds later.

At best, Jimbo comes over, decides you have an honest face and does the override himself. Which doesn't help a bit if Jimbo has never heard of the recall they way some of the WalMart managers hadn't months after the Nazi t-shirt recall.

At the same time, the process has worked a lot faster this time, I will admit. So maybe they did learn from the Nazi T-shirts.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

On giving the lawyerly answer.

FWIW, I still think I'm right about inner-city Walmarts, but I have to say I am really fascinated by the sheer PR guy slickness of part of the answer I got from Walmart's PR guy.

Just one final point of clarification: If Ms. Trask purchased recalled
products and wants to return them for a refund, she is free to do so. At
this point, no one at Wal-Mart is aware of her trying to. Therefore,
there's no way for the company to know for sure that the products she
purchased had been recalled. So again, if they are on the recall list,
and she wants to bring them back, she absolutely can, and Wal-Mart will
refund her money.

You know what?

He's right.

Sure, a news crew found the recalled food still on the shelves of another Walmart the same day. The AP story even says that some of the food she bought wasn't included in the recall though it also mentions employees pulling stock off the shelves the third day she came in to buy tainted food.

But the thing is, I remember another time when I thought Wal-Mart was basically right. My freshman year in college, they were hot to build a Walmart in Fredricksburg, on property that had been George Washington's boyhood home. I should explain here that George Washington grew up on a FARM. Wal-Mart wasn't going to touch the house, but was going to go up on parts of the farmland that were already zoned commercial.

Was Wal-Mart right that if you knew the facts it really wasn't such a big deal?

Sure they were right. They still had to bow out because of public outcry.

Then they were completely pwned when Target came along and gave $100,000 to restore the property, earning Target press coverage that looked like this.

Is Target waiting in the wings with the $100,000 for the Margaret Trask Veterinary Scholarship to the University of South Carolina?

You know it.

If I were a Walmart PR guy, rather than waiting for Margaret Trask's receipt to show up on the Smoking Gun, I might just beat Target to it. Pay her back and laud her heroic efforts to help you out. Make a donation to an animal shelter in her name.

Do aomething, anything but the slick PR routine, even if you're technically right when you do it.

Remember how you were outclassed at George Washington's boyhood home.

Virginians do.


FWIW, this is how fast a recall works at Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. was not aware of the origins of the image when we stocked the t-shirt in question.
Respect for the individual is a core value of our company and we would never have placed this t-shirt on our shelves had we known the origin and significance of this emblem.

We immediately began pulling all t-shirts from the store shelves 11 weeks ago and have reached 99.5% compliance. Our records show that some 1100 shirts remain in the system, although we have issued a register restriction so the shirts cannot be purchased.

When we heard yesterday that some stores still had some of the shirts in inventory, we reissued the return-to-vendor directive. Our fashion merchandising team will reiterate the issue in their weekly video to stores.

Item: Here's something from the following week where a store hadn't even heard of the recall.

Response from Wal-Mart.

Good afternoon. Thanks for your question about the pet food recall.

Here's the company's official statement about the recall, which I
believe addresses each of your questions. If you have any additional
questions, I'll be happy to try and answer them. I also have a couple of
additional comments after the statement.

"Here at Wal-Mart, we simply do not take chances -- that's why we've
decided to remove all Ol' Roy and Special Kitty Menu Foods Products from
our store shelves. They'll only return when we're convinced that all
the issues have been resolved. Our customers expect nothing less.

"Pet food safety is a top priority at Wal-Mart as we understand the
important role that pets play in our customers' lives. Wal-Mart sent
direction to our stores to immediately remove all impacted dog and cat
food products from store shelves based on information provided by the
manufacturer Menu Foods. As an extra proactive measure until this issue
with Menu Foods can be resolved, we have sent direction to all of our
stores to have any other Ol' Roy and Special Kitty pet food offerings
from Menu Foods that are not impacted by this recall to also be
immediately removed from our shelves. As an additional precautionary
measure, we have put a sales restriction on the products in question so
that, should one inadvertently be scanned, a restriction notice will
come up for the cashier.

"The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the federal government agency
that oversees, along with state regulatory programs, that all pet foods
and ingredients used in pet food are safe.

"At Wal-Mart, only specific offerings in pouches and cans from Menu
Foods are impacted by this recall. These include: Ol' Roy in 5.5 ounce
cans (only Gourmet Sliced Beef and Gourmet Chicken with Gravy
selections) and all Ol' Roy 5.32 ounce pouches and Special Kitty in the
3.0 ounce pouch. In addition, Purina Mighty Dog 5.3 ounce pouch
products and assorted IAMS dog and cat food in cans are impacted.

"Those Menu Foods selections not subject to the recall but removed for
precautionary reasons only are Ol' Roy Lamb and Rice; Ol' Roy Gourmet
Chicken, Egg and Bacon; Ol' Roy Gourmet Beef and Chicken; and Ol' Roy
Gourmet Beef. These are 5.5 ounce canned selections.

"Other variations (sizes and flavors) of Ol' Roy and Special Kitty are
supplied to Wal-Mart by different manufacturers and are not impacted by
this recall.

"There is no dry dog food of any brand impacted by this recall.

"Wal-Mart customers with product in question may return it to their
nearest Wal-Mart location for a full refund."

Just one final point of clarification: If Ms. Trask purchased recalled
products and wants to return them for a refund, she is free to do so. At
this point, no one at Wal-Mart is aware of her trying to. Therefore,
there's no way for the company to know for sure that the products she
purchased had been recalled. So again, if they are on the recall list,
and she wants to bring them back, she absolutely can, and Wal-Mart will
refund her money.

Thanks again.


(CC's redacts the chap's name)

P.S. -- Saw your post from today about this. My question about Northern
Virginia was a lame attempt at humor. Sorry if it offended you. I've
lived in NoVA for ten years, so I'm a fan. And perhaps in another ten
years, I'll actually have lived here long enough to be considered a

CC questions Wal-Mart

Several months ago, I started getting the occaisional emails from a Wal-Mart PR guy. He seemed to be under the impression that I wrote what I have defending Wal-Mart out of a deep love for his company. No, I just think that if Wal-Mart wants to move into the inner city and sell cheap groceries to poor people, we should let them.

(If you've ever actually spent significant time in a neighborhood with section 8 housing, you know that they almost never have grocery stores. They have crappy convenience stores where buying anything fresh is incredibly expensive. Frequently, various health-food advocates will put out studies saying that if poor people would just shop in suburban grocery stores where they would be charged suburban prices, they could EASILY feed their familes fresh vegetables for less than the cost of fast food. Those advocates are idiots.)

Anyway, I exchanged a few friendly emails with Walmart PR guy, until he wrote and asked "Are you in NOVA? Or the good part of the state?"

As from my perspective, where I live is the good part of the state as Northern VA's willingness to pay taxes means we have decent roads, top public schools and emergency services that will reach you before you die.

CC is a Northern Virginian for several generations back, so pride demanded she stop responding to PR guy's emails. He would still send me the occaisional press release, which I would read and then ignore because my interest in Wal-Mart really stops at poor neighborhoods and those usually aren't what his stuff trumpets. Yes, it's nice that millions of dollars in bonuses went to hourly employees this year, but whatever. Bring Anacostia some mangoes and we will talk.

But something I've seen in the news a couple of times has really pissed me off.

A Wal-Mart in Beaufort, SC was still selling the recalled pet food a week after the recall. So a lady came in and bought a thousand dollars worth just to get it off the shelves.

I learned about this woman in News of the Weird, where she was being made fun of. Yes, at first blush, she sounds like a crank. But if Walmart wasn't obeying the recall, hell, she was just doing what she had to do to keep people from buying the food and sickening their pets.

Anyway, I wrote the following letter to my PR guy and sent it off:


Curiosity question--

I read "" and read about how last year your company
found out that it was selling a T-shirt with some sort of Nazi
Insignia. Walmart corporate said they were recalling the shirts, but
for something like four months consumerist readers were sending in
pictures of themselves holding the shirts as they continued to find
them for sale.

A representative example

Given that, how do you handle recalls of actually dangerous products?

Has the pet food recall worked better than the Nazi t-shirt recall?
What have you done differently?

A news story about stores still selling the food

Are you going to pay back Margaret Trask of Beaufort, SC, who bought a
thousand dollars worth of the food because your store was still
selling it a week after the recall?




I'll be interested to see the response.


Monday, March 26, 2007


Every Saturday evening when I am not sick or out of town, I drive thirty miles up to Toledo and bring back from a restaurant there at closing-time a load of left-over bread and pastry which is divided between the local home for battered women and their children, and the liberal Protestant campus ministry, where the bread is a staple of student dinners. At the Toledo end, I usually deal with a petite bright-eyed brown-haired young woman named Stephanie who looks forward to being a professor of English literature some day. That is an unwise ambition, but I have never said so to her; she might make it work, and I have no wish to discourage her. Occasionally we chat about aspects of academic life; my philological qualifications are strong enough to intrigue her (she is happily married, I hasten to say). Once, after taking the evening’s gleanings out to my station wagon, I thanked her for her help, as I always do. She answered “I do it for the same reason that you do, for the greater glory of God.” Actually, I do it so that women and children whom life has betrayed will not be hungry, but I managed to acknowledge her statement somehow and went on my way.
“For the greater glory of God”, or in the original Latin “ad majorem Dei gloriam” is one of the fixed motifs of Western European religion. From Bartlett’s “Familiar Quotations”, where the phrase is attributed to Pope Gregory XIII, I learn that the phrase appears in the Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent (1545-1563), and it is somewhat better known as the motto of the Jesuits, founded in 1540. The Council of Trent was the embodiment of the Counter-Reformation, of which the Jesuits were an instrument. When a phrase appears in two sources so close together in time and place, there is no way to be certain what was its ultimate origin, although it can be seen to have been in the air.
Is there any ultimate difference in meaning between my view of my Saturday evening activity and hers? I doubt it very much. Her expression is more general, and refers to a broader class of acts; perhaps it would also include the rainbow, which also surely may be seen as one of the glorious gifts of God. Stephanie’s background is certainly Christian, and reflects one stream of a broader point of view in Judeo-Christian tradition. In my copy of the Babylonian Talmud, the discussion of the requirements of communal charity is joined to the treatment of the laws of partnership. That is, what is economic fairness in respect to two or a few partners is generalized to the whole community. This provides a different but important perspective.
I cannot attribute much importance to the series of recent books declaring the failure of religious concepts of God. Within my lifetime, they have been preceded by another series declaring the death of God. The concept is hardly new: in the eighteenth century, the advent of the scientific world view removed the need to call upon the hypothesis of a divinity to explain mechanical phenomena. From the other side of the abyss between religious and scientific world-views, Albert Einstein would talk of the laws of the universe as the workings of God, a metaphor which the physicist Paul Davies has taken up in a rewarding way in our own days (“The Mind of God”, 1992). This sort of metaphor is congenial to me. For the rest, when I was about seven years old, I realized that noone in a long robe was in view playing a harp when our DC-3 aircraft emerged above the clouds; that view of God has never had much hold on me, and its failure does not trouble me.
I belong to a UU congregation in which some 70% of the members were originally Catholic, and many of them are so bitterly reactive that they wish to hear nothing of organized religion. This is an obstacle both to the development of the congregation as an organization and to possibilities of constructive interaction between our congregation and other congregations whose members respond to the world in terms which are different theologically, but with little practical difference in action. The solutions to hunger, pain, disease, and ignorance rarely differ depending on the religion of those who suffer from them. Although I have never been a member of a Christian church or a Jewish synagogue, and I do not expect that I ever will be, neither do I feel that their core religious conceptions, so far as they are important in practice, obstruct constructive ecumenical interaction which embodies the values of our respective religions. On this generalized level, I do not hesitate to join my theistic colleagues and say “Heis theos, God is one”. This was not always possible, and is not always possible; even today, these same colleagues will not always reciprocate in attributing value to my religious views. It was not true for those who burnt Servetus, but in terms of our daily life today it has broad truth, and the expectation of reciprocity is my working assumption when I advocate or participate in ecumenical work.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Blog Redesign and other changes

For whatever reason, I can't sleep tonight. So, among other things, I did a bit of a blog redesign. I hope you like it, I do.

Ms. Kitty points out that I haven't been writing as much. Sorry about that. I've had a lot on my mind. I changed jobs about a month ago. I'm much happier in my new one.

As if you haven't guessed by the photos, on Thursday I went to an open house at Georgetown. I absolutely fell in love with the place and now can't wait to go. So that's good. When I asked some night students (I'm going to be a night student) what they thought of the day students, the response was that lots of them were straight out of college and not all that interesting and that the night discussions were better.

I love this answer for two reasons:

1. I want in on the good discussions

2. That level of candor suggests they were straight with me about other things.

Several people I really respect went to Georgetown. I'm really honored to get to study where they studied. To be honest, I'm still flatly amazed that I got in. But I met some other people at the open house who felt the same way. There was even a guy who had dropped out of law school. (One of the things that made my application squirrelly was that I dropped out of grad school several years ago.)

Having Honorary-Sister-in-Law-Tina and Our-Hero-Charlie-the-Brave and their baby in our basement is starting to make my house feel like a family lives here. And it's a reasonably functional family. This is weird for me. TheCSO and I have been thinking over the family that is the two of us, and what we want our family to be. Linguist Friend has had an open invitation to move in with us for years, now our housemates are starting to feel like part of our family as well.

I'm finally starting to feel confident that I have a support system of functional people who love me even when I suck. I don't have to save everybody and I don't have to be the funny one, the slutty one, the smart one or play any other role. I feel this realization has made me lazier and bitchier. Or maybe it has made me more sensitive to whom I am when I'm not working so hard to be delightful.

Of course, most of those people have been in my life for years and have to varying degrees putting up with my crap for all that time much as I have been putting up with theirs. I guess I'm a slow learner.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a dream that was very clearly my consciousness getting used to letting go of an old dream and starting the road toward a new one.

So, in short, it has been a really reflective time for me. Lots of good things have happened. But they've all happened pretty fast and I find myself carefully hoarding my alone time and treasuring the time I spend stretched out in front of the TV watching silly things and recharging. Last night I went to a midnight movie alone, which felt like having an affair with myself while an unsuspecting CSO played cards with his buddies.*

So anyway, that's my deal these days.

But I think I'm startingto come out of it.

I will write soon.


*Incidentally, "Zodiac" was wonderful. Not the thriller I expected at all, more like a two-hour Law and Order episode with twenty minutes of scary stuff spaced throughout.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Ooh... Crappy Starr King YouTube ad

I'm sure the Starr King student featured in the YouTube ad below is a lovely person, but I agree with much of what has already been said on the blogosphere about the ad itself. That the guy slips on his words at one point and nobody edited that out or made a second take I think about says it all. I agree with Joel that he has sort of a faux-ministerial blather thing to his speech. I suspect that if I listened to the man talk for any significant length of time and did a shot every time he said the word "oppression," I would be very drunk very quickly.

And I nominate him for the wise counsel of Peacebang as well, because honestly, something must be done with that hair.

And what's the deal with the part where the camera seems to be slowly zooming in on that girl's chin? And the "See? We have a black person!" photograph? WTF?

I said to myself "Self, surely this is the work of a couple of enterprising first years."

Ah, no.

As the video tells us it was "produced by Cheryl A. Bowlan." We all know that morbid curiosity is the only reason CC gets out of bed some mornings, so of course I googled our friend the producer.

She's Starr King's head PR lady.

CC smites her forehead. Hard.

So Starr King has a PR lady putting out crappy videos for the world to see and making sure to credit herself at the end.

Anyway, here's the video:


Hat tip to Cuumbaya and the UU Enforcer

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

It seems only fair to allow the Clinton camp a rebuttal

Watch the other one first.


I always thought the commercial that this is based on was the best thing to come out of George Orwell's book 1984.

What I don't like about the book 1984 is the endless amount of poorly thought out political metaphor that people make about it. Obviously this is along those lines.

But what the heck, I still sort of like it.

I'd vote for her, but I'm not a big Hillary fan. She mostly seems to be liberal where I'm moderate and moderate where I'm liberal.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Chalicechick Reality TV report

Idol: I fast forward through most of this show, but I officially have a girl-crush on Melinda. Her every performance has three stages.

1. Melinda shyly creeps up to the stage like a nervous little turtle.
2. Melinda hands everyone else in the competition his/her ass
3. Melinda nervously scurries away.

I heart her so much.

Oh, and I'd love to hear what PB had to say about the bizarre salmon-colored sequined gown Diana Ross wore on the results show. She looks like, well, Maya Rudolph pretending to be Diana Ross.

Ryan Seacrest and Simon making gay jokes at each other is SO tired.

I'm liking Kristine and Heidi, and finding Nicole reminiscent of many previous obnoxious co-workers. I'm tiring of this show, but I can't stop watching.

America's Next Top Model:
I have met many smart and cool people who like this show, which has helped me accept that I love it myself.

Jael really reminds me of a beloved college friend, but she's not going to win. She's my favorite anyway.

Renee seriously cheeses me off.

Brittany is a whiner, but is really doing a good job. AND she was sick, and played through and gave a bitchin' picture. Tyra seems to like that.


Wahoo! Happy Feminist is BACK!

CC does a little desk dance.


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

So...Do any Chalicesseurs play "Kingdom of Loathing?"

Just curious.


Random Thought: Tell me what you think

I am running the fellowship dinners at church this year. The dinners are Friday and Saturday and this is Tuesday and I am still taking RSVPs and rearranging tables to fit in people who responded to me late.

My predecessors in this job cut off RSVPs the week before and anyone who RSVP'd late simply couldn't come. I was an event planner for a year and a half, so I'm pretty organized and careful about such things and I have big spreadsheets and I know who has place settings for eleven and I CAN make it work to take RSVPs right up until the day of.

To me, I sort of feel like part of being inclusive is being inclusive of disorganized people.

Is that completely stupid?


Three things that depress CC

1. When a divorcing woman who has been claiming that she was physically abused by her husband is willing to share custody for enough money. I had been giving Heather Mills McCartney the benefit of the doubt and not assuming she was the immoral gold-digging floozy that one keeps hearing she is. But with that divorce settlement, I think the point becomes inarguable.


A. She wasn't really abused and has been telling lies and dragging Paul McCartney's reputation through the mud to get more money out of him.


B. She was telling the truth about the abuse and she's willing to let a physically abusive man who once stabbed her with a broken wine bottle share custody of her kid as long as she gets $56 million and a mansion.

I'm betting that the truth is A, but either way, I don't like her. Were a non-fabulously wealthy woman put into a situation where she had to choose between sole custody and being able to afford to eat, my sympathies would be with her. But presumably, Mills could have said "I don't want your money, I just want to protect my kid" and just settled for being a woman without a mansion.

A bunch of Buddhist monks live in a temple infested with stinging red ants
that they can't kill because they don't believe in killing.

The poor monks!

3. Insomnia.

Ah well, I'll go give sleeping another shot.


Saturday, March 10, 2007


In December, Fausto and I had a vigorous and stimulating discussion of Luke’s 2:14 verse which comes up every Christmas, most often in the inaccurate but admirable form “Peace on earth, good will to men.” I suggested that if Fausto wanted to learn about the logical underpinnings of the correction of such Greek texts, there was no better work to turn to than Bruce Manning Metzger’s classic treatise on the textual criticism of the Greek New Testament, “The Text of the New Testament” (first published 1964; translated into German, Italian, Russian, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese), which actually discusses this very passage. This is a wonderful book for anyone who reads the NT in Greek, and has much value even for those who do not. I can recall very clearly when I came to a point in the mid 1960s at which I needed an orientation to its subject matter in the course of my doctoral work. I simply sat in the high-backed chair in a corner of my Newtonville (MA) living room and read the book through to the end, utterly absorbed. We can be grateful that this book has been updated with the assistance of Bart Ehrman (4th ed. 2005).

Recently I was saddened to learn of the death from respiratory failure on February 13th, 2007, at age 93, of Metzger, George L. Collord Professor emeritus of New Testament Language and Literature in Princeton Theological Seminary, who was one of the central figures of American religious scholarship. It is easy to misunderstand the significance of the phrase “religious scholarship”. Metzger was a type of historian, a historian of the Greek Christian texts; there is little that he wrote that could not have been subscribed to with equal conviction by any Christian, Jew, Unitarian, Buddhist, Hindu, Zoroastrian, etc., who had the rare qualities of mind and depth of learning that distinguished Metzger. He was a man of deep Christian (Presbyterian) religious conviction, but he was also the sort of religious scholar for whom factual honesty and competence are primary. Of him it could have been said, as Richard Johnson said after the death of the great English legal and religious historian John Selden in 1654, “If learning could have kept a man alive, this our brother had not died.”

Metzger was born in Middletown, Pennsylvania, on Feb. 9, 1914; his parents were Anna and Maurice Metzger. He graduated from Lebanon Valley College in 1935, received a bachelor of theology degree from Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) in 1938 and a master’s degree in theology in 1939, and an MA (1940) and his doctorate in classics from Princeton University in 1942, after being ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1939. He began his teaching at PTS in 1938, where he taught for 46 years until he retired in 1984.

The points at which his work is most likely be visible to the general reader are his participation in the committee work for the Revised Standard Version of the Bible (full text published in 1952), his work on the Old Testament apocrypha and apocalyptic literature, and his general editorship of the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, published in 1990. The NRSV revision’s work on elimination of archaisms and sexism of the biblical text is still debated. The NRSV has been issued in forms for Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox groups. Both the RSV and NRSV were published by Metzger as study bibles in Oxford University Press editions, in collaboration with Herbert May for the RSV and later with Roland Murphy for the NRSV. Metzger published later popular works of religious scholarship with Michael Coogan, of which the edited “The Oxford Companion to the Bible” (1993) is noteworthy. He oversaw the Reader’s Digest condensed Bible, published in 1982. Metzger’s work on Bible translation had its organizational aspect also: he was a trustee of the American Bible Society from 1948 until he became trustee emeritus in 1999.

One should not underestimate the extreme character of the reaction to the revised versions of the Bible. Metzger would show visitors to his PTS office an urn in which reposed the ashes of a copy of the RSV Bible, torched from the pulpit by one opponent of the revision, who then sent it to the chairman of the committee of revision. Metzger inherited the urn when he became chairman of the revisers’ committee for the NRSV in 1975, and commented to one visitor “I’m so glad to be a translator in the 20th century. They only burn Bibles now, not the translators!” Much uninformed hatred is still to be found in conservative Christian comments on Metzger’s work.

Those who read the NT in Greek will be aware of his participation in the editing of four successive editions of the United Bible Societies Greek New Testament (1966-1994), which gives particular attention to documenting theologically important variation in the Greek text, and the two editions of his very important textual commentary on the Greek text (1971, revised 1994), in which he discusses the reasoning that should be used in judging the varying readings of the text of the Greek New Testament in many important passages. Together with his aforementioned introduction to the textual criticism of the NT “The Text of the New Testament”, they constitute a set of works which will be used regularly by anyone who reads the Greek text of the NT with care. His “Manuscripts of the Greek Bible: An Introduction to Greek Paleography” (1st ed. 1981) succeeds (but does not entirely replace) the earlier and unobtainable albums on NT Greek paleography by W.H.P.Hatch. I wish that it had been available when I was teaching myself Byzantine Greek minuscule paleography in the early 1970s. He was also particularly active in the study of the early Eastern translations of the Bible, a testimonial to which is his distinguished monograph “The Early Versions of the New Testament” (1977). His book “The Bible in Translation: Ancient and Modern Versions” (2001) is for a more general audience.

Metzger wrote many specialized papers and many other books for students of the NT and especially of its text, at various levels, from the most elementary to recondite scholarly monographs and bibliographies. He gave much effort to works which would open the study of the textual criticism of the New Testament, not only to scholars who might specialize in it, but also to non-specialists for whom it might be meaningful. This sort of general publication has become more common in recent years, and is well exemplified in the popular and pedagogical writings of Bart Ehrman, who was among the last students of Metzger.

Metzger received much scholarly recognition. He was elected Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy in 1975, a group which in 1994 awarded him the F.C.Burkitt medal for his research on the Bible. He was elected to the American Philosophical Society class of humanities in 1986. At times he was a visiting scholar at nine different scholarly institutions, and he received many testimonials of academic recognition. The obituary by Metzger’s student Michael W. Holmes published by the Society of Biblical Literature describes him as “arguably the greatest textual specialist and biblical translator America has produced”. The same obituary bears witness to Metzger’s sterling personal qualities, which are testified to by many whose paths crossed his. Besides the obituaries on which I have drawn here (especially those in the New York Times, the Society of Biblical Literature Forum, the American Bible Society, Dan Wallace for the urn story, and Christianity Today), Metzger left an autobiography “Reminiscences of an Octogenarian” (1997).

When one reads the works of such a scholar as Metzger over many years, one gradually comes to understand the logic of the world of thought that he has created. The death of such a scholar would inevitably result in the destruction of that world, but with the genuine exception that his writings and teaching have the effect of its perpetuation, perpetuation not only among his own students but also among many whom he never met. Metzger himself learned from and freely acknowledged his appreciation for the work of many preceding scholars of all times; one fascinating aspect of his book on “The Text of the New Testament” is the extent to which it reflects the history of the study of its subject matter. Metzger’s thought-world will continue to exist in his writings, in the work of his students, and in the doings of other scholars and members of the broad interested public who learn from those whom he taught either directly or indirectly.

TheCSO sees Rocky for the first time

Wow... Watching a socially awkward guy be awkward. This is a great movie...why? And he's such an ass. He has that thuggish, childish worldview your brother Jason has. And some of the same physical mannerisms. And they have the same speech impediment. I could watch Jason for free...but why would I do that? Jason's annoying. It's amazing how many characters I see that are twists on the Jason archetype."

Ah. There's the problem. People who use the word "archetype" in normal conversation probably aren't cut out to enjoy the Rocky movies.

who sees pre-epiphany Earl from "My name is Earl" as Jason's closest fictional analogue, but I see the Rocky comparison, too.

Yeah, I said "analogue"

I don't like Rocky either.

New story up at "Has CC mentioned she writes fiction?"

I actually wrote this a couple of months ago, but I wasn't sure how I felt about it.
Last month, I workshopped a portion of a novel, so I'm not going to put that up on the remote chance that it becomes publishable someday.

Anyway, I'd love it if a few people would read this story and tell me if they think what happened at the end is necessary. My writer's group was divided on whether I should have ended it a page earlier. This point of view mystifies me as I specifically constructed it to come to the end that it did.

Anyway, here's Carrie...honey

Will have a new story in a couple of weeks. Am working on it now. It's horror, which is our theme for March, though I'm going for erotic horror. Our theme for January, when I wrote this, was "Redemption."


Replies I love

I've had a couple of really good replies to older threads in the last 24 hours:

Joel gives a pagan perspective on "the Secret.

Peacebang has really good stuff to say about how the history of a church may impact the way it's members view the issue of politics in church.

Oh, and PG has provided some really thoughtful comments on racism and whether Jews are collectively cool.


Ps. Oh, and Peacebang gives me several needed whacks with the clue baton in her response to Is it racist that I think Jews are cool?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

"Sundance? No-o-o!"

I, for one, found the "chubby southern rocker" thing kinda hot.

Oh well.

If Melinda gets kicked off, I'm not watching anymore.


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

What old movie star is CC?


Katharine Hepburn

You scored 21% grit, 19% wit, 42% flair, and 28% class!

You are the fabulously quirky and independent woman of character. You go your own way, follow your own drummer, take your own lead. You stand head and shoulders next to your partner, but you are perfectly willing and able to stand alone. Others might be more classically beautiful or conventionally woman-like, but you possess a more fundamental common sense and off-kilter charm, making interesting men fall at your feet. You can pick them up or leave them there as you see fit. You share the screen with the likes of Spencer Tracy and Cary Grant, thinking men who like strong women.

Find out what kind of classic leading man you'd make by taking the
Classic Leading Man Test.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on grit
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on wit
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on flair
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on class

Link: The Classic Dames Test written by gidgetgoes on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Can we all agree that "The Secret" is the dumbest thing ever?

Right now, I'm sick as a dog, lying in bed by seven for the third night in a row. So even though my life is right now the best it has ever been, I'm still super-cranky.

But I think even if I were well, I would hate The Secret. Basically, "The Secret" is that if you think about something, you draw that thing to you.

I think this means that crazy woman who is obsessed with David Letterman who believes that David Letterman is in love with her should be marrying him any day now.

Anyway, I'm not sure how the basic idea differs from the culty stuff in What the bleep do we know? The basic idea is all the same.

The power of self-delusion.

Which is not to say that self-delusion isn't a powerful force in this world.

But geez...


Random thought on comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable

People frequently tell me that it is a very religious thing to be comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.

Well, I would just like to state for the record that the person talking about his or her own political views who feels he/she is being prophetic in doing so, is invariably the most comfortable person in the room.

Give me the discomfort of uncertainty, of entertaining the possibility that the other guy might have a point, of looking at whether my time might better be spent working than talking, any day.


Is it racist that I think Jews are cool?

I should probably flag right at the beginning of this post that I am on heavy doses of cold medicine, though I will confess that this is something I have wondered about for some time.

Obviously having negative ideas about an entire race is racist.

If someone truly admires, say, Native Americans and finds them totally spiritual and groovy and adapts their rituals into spiritual practices that have lost something in translation, I think that's sort of lame and I understand the argument that it is racist, though I don't know that I 100 percent agree.

I absolutely get that it's annoying.

But I will confess that I've always thought that Jews were cool, collectively, as a people. And I wonder if that's racist of me. I don't have any specific expectations for any specific Jewish person whom I meet, but my overall impression is that Jews are funnier, more down to earth and miles hipper than people of my WASPy background. Many of the Jews I know have a very cool sense of identity, one that I've written before that I envied as a kid and probably on some level still do if this is the post I write when the DayQuil kicks in.

I personally don't feel this is racist of me. But I can't explain why I don't.

There are likely cultural reasons why Jews seem cool. My impression is that as a culture they value scholarship, maintaining the integrity of their group and a humor that manages to be self-deprecating without ever getting lame. (My observation is that much WASP self-deprecating humor quickly becomes tiresome.) Their cultural image is one of wry steadfastness. As one hears it, every Jewish holiday can be summed up in seven words: "they attacked us, we won, let's eat."

But the cultural justifications are not enough to make the general belief that Jews are cool not racist.

Because, to put it blunty, the assumption that Asians are good at math is pretty racist. One could argue that this assumption is a cultural thing given that Americans have the impression that Asian parents push their kids very hard to excel academically. But still, the general assumption has a racist feel.

To me thinking Jews are cool doesn't feel racist.

Is that just me fooling myself? If not, what's the difference?


Is it just me?

Kim asked me a really good question this morning, and one that I have pondered for some time myself--why is it that I keep running across churches where people are obnoxiously political?

Kim said and other people whom I trust have said in the past that THEIR churches would never do anything like that and none of their friends' churches would never do anything like that. (That sentence has grammatical problems, but be nice to me, I'm really sick. And I think the meaning is clear.)

At the same time, as recently as yesterday, I got the "How can a UU be a political conservative" question. If we're even asking this, then that speaks to my experiences not being SO unusual.

As best I can determine, the answer to why this stuff keeps happening where I can see it is twofold:

1. I tend to live in red states, and the problem is worse in Conservative areas. At the church I attended in South Carolina, there was a lady who would literally give a politcal speech for a lay service. She did this every six months or so. I learned to not attend her services. Thing is, she was a teacher in the public schools and she really couldn't speak about her political views anyplace else without fearing repercussions.

That sucks for her, but the political speeches as lay services were still obnoxious. In general, in conservative areas where the few liberals feel the UU church is the only place they can "Be themselves" the politicking is going to be more blatant. Probably the most blantant I've ever heard about was a minister in a service where Joel Monka was who said "Republicans are evil" and expanded upon that point at some length. I assume that was in a church in Indiana, so the pattern still applies.

2. Most people aren't as sensitive to these issues as I am. For example, the time I was in a YRUU class where a guest speaker passed out bumper stickers that said "W is for War" the same speaker had done that already for one group of our YRUUs. At least three or four adults had witnessed this and hadn't thought to say anything. When I made the point, other people were like "Oh, yeah, you're right" but I think that evangelizing for liberal politics is so woven into the way UUs behave that a lot of UUs don't particularly see it. When I wrote on the blog about the incident, at least one person still didn't see why handing out such a thing was a problem.


Sunday, March 04, 2007

Redefining "whatever:" A less serious post

(Setting: CC's favorite clothing store in the mall, CC is seated on one of the couches. Honorary-sister-in-Law Tina and TheCSO and I have been shopping for several hours. HSIL Tina comes in.)

HSILT: Hey, where's theCSO?

CC: He went to Williams-Sonoma. He's looking for a cocktail shaker.*

HSILT: Ah, yeah, he stopped by to check on me when I was in the swimsuit place. I decided to buy a two-piece swimsuit to wow Charlie. I tried on a couple and modeled then for TheCSO, who helped me pick.

CC: Hmm... Boy, we MUST be like family because I get that on some level I should probably be cheesed off that you're modeling two-piece bathing suits for my husband, but I'm totally like whatever.

LADY WHO IS WALKING PAST US: (gapes at us, eyes wide) You two have totally redefined the word "whatever" for me! I will never use it loosely again!

Gee, some people are SO-O pointlessly uptight...


*Epilonious' dad makes really excellent cosmopolitans for Epilonious' mom. We aspire to be like Epilonious' folks in several ways, but that's one of them.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

CC's most pressing concerns

Another response to LT

I personally would LOVE if church could be an apolitical oasis where we could focus on living our own lives righteously rather than telling the government what to do.

As I've observed throughout my life a rough inverse relationship between the amount of political action a church does and the amount of actual charitable work helping people the church does, I am particularly cynical about the topic. (Yes, I know Kim's church is an exception.)

I honestly think that taking the separation of church and state seriously is the best approach for us.

If nothing else, conservative churches are FAR better mixing church and state. Painting ourselves as taking the constitutional high road seems a much better frame to adopt than the apparent "Well, if you're going to campaign in church, so are we...just...less...effectively" approach seemingly favored by the liberals I know.

As for your implication that I'm saying people don't have the "right to express their opinion," let me say for the record that I do think you have the "right" to say, stand up in church and crow that your party won, harass your fellow congregants to sign your petition at coffee hour and encourage your kids to make the Republican kids in Sunday school so uncomfortable that they feel they must leave.

I just think you're an asshole if you do any of that, and I think we should not be encouraging people to be assholes.

(((There are no neutral corners anymore. I think that is just the reality of this society right now, whether we like it or not. )))

Ummm... Actually, a lot of people I know work for the federal government. Politicking of any sort is illegal there. I worked for the department of commerce and the defense department for awhile and never heard a bit of political discussion because political discussion there can get you fired.

If you choose to let politics seep into every corner of your life, that's your business, but there are plenty of people who can't professionally or who simply choose not to.

(((As more and more things become politically charged in a polarized environment, the "no politics in church position" makes the church irrelevant to the most pressing concerns of the people. ))))

Would you believe, LT, that my most pressing concerns are not political ones? That right now:

- How to live a straightforward life in a complex world,
- What I owe a family that hasn't always treated me well but needs me desperately now,
-How to have a law career with integrity,
-How to help raise my housemates' kid to greet the world with love yet be cautious,
-Whether my socipathic brother has a soul,
-The most appropriate way to right the wrongs I've committed in my life,
-What level of personal comfort is it OK to allow myself in a world where people are suffering,
- and how best to serve the ideals of truth, beauty, holiness and justice

are my most pressing concerns?

I don't think that it is natural to have a congregation that collectively feels political issues are their most pressing concern.

I think if one has one, it's because the church has been so relentlessly political that everyone else has left in frustration.

Personally, I'm happy to join organizations that are willing to work on political issues I care about.

But only church has ever helped me with my real most pressing concerns.

I wish we did more of that and less of political stuff one can find so easily other places. I think as a church we are better suited to deal with concerns like mine than political issues anyway.


CC responds to the LT

On a post on the CRAP on Sundays blog, the Lively Tradition has an interesting comment on conservatives in UU churches.

He writes:

If you want UU's to be apolitical, that's OK. One way to reduce the amount of politics in our common life is to refrain from taking up political arguments.
If you want UU's to be pro-business conservatives, that's OK, too. Speak up and join in.
But you can't argue both positions. Conservatives in the UUA have been doing that for years -- arguing for an apolitical other-wordly church, one that exists only "to provide comfort and happiness to its members" when really, they just disagree with the majority's politics. As a strategy, it hasn't worked, mostly because it is so transparent

Ummm... Wow.

First off, Conservatives are not alone in arguing both sides. How many times have you heard the basic "Religion should be kept out of the schools, except, you know, when we want OUR version of sex ED taught" or "On this Sunday before Election Day, there are a lot of churches where there is campaigning going on. Not here, because we don't believe in preaching from the pulpit. Which isn't to say that there isn't one party that cares about the poor and another party that's full of greedy, evil bastards, because we all know there is..."

God knows I've heard both sentiments, albeit expressed more subtly, enough times.

And by the way, keeping silent doesn't work. People genuinely do not get that, say, passing out bumperstickers that say "W is for War" in YRUU is not cool until it is pointed out to them.

People don't understand that crowing about election results in Joys and Concerns isn't cool until a family stands up in the middle of Joys and Concerns and walks out.

The irony is, I'm not particularly conservative by any but UU standards. I didn't vote for Bush and find nothing to admire in him, though I don't have the urge to express my distate in button form on the jacket I wear to church.

When a Republican kid quits youth group because he or she doesn't feel accepted, people finally start to consider these issues.

But not before.

Personally, I usually don't argue the conservative side because I don't believe in it. But sometimes you have to.


Liberal at coffee hour: And those EVIL CONSERVATIVES are going to cut Head Start!
Me: Ummm... Could we possibly not talk politics at Church?
Liberal at coffee hour: But cutting headstart is a religious issue! Just like the new highway they're going to build that might kill some bunnies! And tax cuts for the wealthy... and the filibuster... and... and... and...

Liberal at coffee hour: And those EVIL CONSERVATIVES are going to cut Head Start!
Me: You do know that studies have shown that Headstart doesn't really work. Even if you send a kid to the best nursury school in the world, after a few years in the crappy elementary school, they test just like the other kids. I breifly dated a psychologist who was working on the issue. They call it the "fade-out effect." So maybe we should be cutting headstart and putting the money toward a program that demonstrably works better, like lowering class sizes for older kids.
Liberal at Coffee hour: Oooh, snap. My bad.

Ok, it doesn't usually work that cleanly. But my own experience is that politely requesting that we not talk politics in church only makes people declare that their pet issue is religious and go back to talking about it wiht even more self-righteous vigor.

Showing that reasonable people can be on both sides of the issue, is, in my opinion, the properly UU approach*.

And every once in awhile, it actually shuts somebody up.


*I do this more in YRUU in other places. Some of these kids genuinely have never considered that a reasonable person could be pro-life or that one might want to run a major corporation for any reason other than sadism and greed.