Thursday, May 31, 2007

While I do consider myself pro-lunch in this case...

I think PB's initial post on the subject was meaner than it had to be, and while I disagree with a lot of the responses from people who disagree, they have on the whole seem have been going for a polite tone and that speaks well for them having a decent amount of respect for the power of polite discourse to solve problems.

It might stir up a bad association. It certainly will for me, thinking of students at Starr King, who have so many things to learn about ministry (none of which I heard mentioned in their latest YouTube testimonial, by the way) using up their precious brain cells remembering not to use the words “brown” and “bag” next to each other in a sentence.

for example, was over-the-top in my opinion.

Oh, and I am totally with Fausto when he says,

The opposite of reason, though, is credulity or gullibility, not anger or any other emotion.
(Confidential to Andy: Yes, the bible quotes were a bit much.)

who felt that if that girl could stand up in a meeting and ask Rebecca Parker why on earth brown bag was racist, she reckoned she could stand up and say that.

My wicked smaht commenters

Jeff Wilson, as always, takes a position that I am inclined to take but not certain I can defend, and defends it beautifully.

But the comment on the SKSM matter that really got to me was from CK:

I think that if I were a guest speaker at a school in, say, the Netherlands, and I wanted them to rename their local dike because I was offended by the term, they'd have every right to say that they wouldn't, that they were sorry I had been hurt by homophobia, but that "dike" isn't a hurtful term in that context, and never had been.

And that should be the end of it. If I dug in my heels, then, well... I don't think I'd have any legitimate platform to complain.

Also, I think it odd that SKSM has not tried to get people to stop USING brown bags, only TALKING about a "Brown Bag lunch" and using a different term. I mean, is there a reason that seeing a brown bag would be less important than hearing about one?

who has admittedly always wondered why somebody hasn't convinced the town of "Lynchburg, Virginia" to change it's name. So she's not totally unsympathetic.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Someone totally unqualified to discuess the brown bag lunch issue, who has no clear opinion, weighs in anyway.

This refers to PB's post Brown Bag Lunch.

I should begin here by stating my biases. My primary bias that is relevant to this discussion is that I really hate anything that makes a cause I basically believe in look stupid.

So I will say that my bias at first leads me to question the point of having an issue with the term "Brown Bag Lunch."

Now, what sort of issue Starr King had with the term is a different question. The actual words of Melissa Mummert's article on the issue are:

At an all-school meeting one afternoon, a faculty member announced, "Because of the racist connotations of the phrase brown bag lunch, we will now be using the term BYOL, 'bring your own lunch'

The direction of people's indignation over this issue seems partially to hinge on whether they take "We" to mean "the administration or the people leading this meeting" or "all of Starr King, including you."

I'm going to take on faith that Mummert quoted the announcement accurately and say I find the sentence too ambiguous to make the call, an odd problem for a sentence about language usage to have. The SKSM students who commented on PB's post imply that the speaker just meant she was talking about how the administration was going to talk. To me that begs the question of why announce the change. Just make the change.

I don't get the need to make a big announcement about it, where the racist usage of brown bags must be explained to everyone who hasn't lived in New Orleans.

That sort of reminds me of how I didn't know that Marilyn Monroe died naked until I heard the part of that Elton John song where he complained that people talked about it too much.

The need to make the big announcement has a "Ta-Da! Look how sensitive we are being!" ring to it that strikes me as, well, Sinkford-esque. That said, I sincerely appreciate their not putting out a press release on the issue.

I do have another bias on this issue, though. Call it "live and let live unless people are getting hurt." I really don't care what people call their lunch meetings. If some people find "brown bag" offensive, I really don't mind just letting them have their way. I don't really have a dog in the fight.

As I analyze my thoughts, I'm realizing that the all-school meeting announcement is really what I have an issue with. And I suspect that I'm not alone on this among people who mocked the issue.

If PB, Jeff or anyone else who talked about how stupid it was would care to tell me if I'm alone on this one in the comments, I would appreciate it, but isn't the big announcement really the issue? If someone had quietly pointed out the issue to the administration and they had quietly made the change, would anyone care?

I object to the big announcement for several reasons.

1. It gives the impression that the speaker sees the new policy as some big thing to be proud of, a blow against racism. Do the listeners go home feeling SKSM has done its good deed for the day?

2. It really does sound ridiculous to anyone who hasn't given it thought, and to a fair percentage of people who have. Like people getting fired for using the word "niggardly," which has exactly zero to do with the n-word in meaning or in word origins, or having issues with the word "picnic," which has a widely-believed word origins story that isn't true, I think picking small, silly-sounding linguistic battles is ultimately damaging to a cause. '

3. The ambiguity of the phrasing and the administration's announcement really does imply a certain "we will tell you how to talk" PC bossiness that seems to naturally rankle people.

Anyway, that's where I got on the issue.


Monday, May 28, 2007

Oh, and...

I'm chubby myself, but I don't normally see nastiness toward overweight people as my hill to die on.

That said, this video kinda got to me:

What a whackjob...


Outclassed, outgunned and WAY outconned.

After three days of Balticon, briefly interrupted to sneak back to Virginia for a "Drink rum and watch pirates" party, CC is wiped out.

The Sci-Fi con is not introverted CC's most natural habitat. Still, when I have a hotel room to rest in, I'm OK.

I mentioned that I could make stuff out of duct tape and I am well on my way to running a duct tape wallet workshop for kids at next year's con. So that's good.


Friday, May 25, 2007

Article on The Secret

I've written before about "the Secret" and how skeptical I am of it. Here's an interesting article about it.


Thursday, May 24, 2007

If you came here for insightful theological commentary.

You won't find it on this blog today. Unlike me, however, the Lively Tradition is not too tired to be thoughtful.


Spiderman III

I promised a Spiderman review awhile ago, so here I go:

I loved it and theCSO hated it. The movie gives quite a bit of backstory on every major character, and while that did slow things, I thought it was well worth the wait to really understand what was going on in people's heads. The story is really scattered, but I liked it that way.

Spiderman should probably not be allowed to cry in future movies, though, as Tobey Maguire looks really weird when he tries to cry. There was derisive snickering in my theater.

Oh, and Bruce Campbell played a snotty French waiter. That was bitchin'.

Movies that make a big point of social awkwardness don't tend to go over well in my house, and this one is no exception. Inside that costume, Spiderman is still the high school geek who just doesn't get, for example, that posing for a photograph with a pretty girl by imitating the iconic upside-down kiss from the first movie will piss off his girlfriend.

Spidey's biggest foe has always been himself and this movie doesn't shy from how destructive the desire for vengeance can be.

TheCSO thought the morality-play aspect was heavy handed, but honestly, how many kickass summer blockbusters even attempt to show the humanity of everyone involved?

I lurved it.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

More on the Founding Fathers.

On my list of rules to live by, right above "Never get into a land war in Asia," is "Never get into a history argument with Fausto."

But rules were made to be broken. Fausto pointed out in the comments on my previous Founding father post that much of the Founding Father snark could be taken to be against specifically Catholicism rather than Christianity in general.

He's right to a point. The Fouding Fathers seemed to have saved their sharpest snideness for the Catholic Church, but several of them were frequently critical of Christianity in general.

Ben Franklin was, like me, an ex-Presby. He wrote in his autobiogrpahy, "I had been religiously educated as a Presbyterian, and tho' some of the dogmas of that persuasion, such as the eternal decrees of God, election, reprobation, etc, appeared to me unintelligible, others doubtful, and I early absented myself from public assemblies of the sect."
For another example, in a letter to William Short, Thomas Jefferson wrote:

"The Presbyterian clergy are the loudest, most intolerant of all sects; the most tyrannical and ambitious, ready at the work of the law-giver, if such a word could be obtained, to put their torch to the pile and to rekindle in this virgin hemisphere the flame in which their oracle, Calvin, consumed the poor Servetus, because he could not subscribe to the proposition of Calvin, that magistrates have a right to exterminate all heretics to the Calvinistic Creed! They pant to re-establish by law that holy inquisition which they can now only infuse into public opinion."

Jefferson especially doesn't seem inclined to let the protestants off the hook, particularly given the prostestants' treatment of deists, Unitarians and anabaptists.

He also wrote several things, too long to quote easily here, that implied that his founding of UVA was based in part on his distaste for the Anglicanism of William and Mary, which at that point wasn't accepting non-Anglican students and had memorizing Anglican catchecisms as a required part of the curriculem.

I should mention here that while if I were to write, say, "Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise," the way Madison did to William Bradford in 1774, I think my friends would assume the sentiment came out of intolerance for Christianity that is the mark of textbook asshat Humanism.

Though I am, I think, more inclined to draw connections from the ideas of the Age of Reason to Humanism and consider them two aspects of the same idea than Fausto is, I still don't think that asshat humanism was the true inspiration for the Founding Fathers' lack of enthusiasm for religion, and Christianity in particular.

The reformation, and the terrible violence that followed it, were fresh in the minds of the Founding Fathers. Ben Franklin's grandfather had hidden his bible in a secret compartment in a stool so it wouldn't be visibile to those enforcing religious laws. They were honestly committed to doing something different.

If someone were to come out of Eastern Europe or Northern Ireland today with a cynicism about religion and what those in power use it for, I think we would be inclined to cut them some slack.

We should also keep that context in mind when reading what the founding fathers had to say.


Monday, May 21, 2007

Another poem CC likes

The Moment

The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,

is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can't breathe.

No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
We never belonged to you.
You never found us.
It was always the other way round.

Margaret Atwood

The Founding Fathers as asshat humanists.

OK, perhaps "Humanists" is the wrong word as a lot of them were deists.

But when I hear a UU saying rude things about Christianity, I frequently think to myself "asshat humanist." Though I am a humanist, I try really hard not to be an asshat humanist.

For example, I would never describe a Catholic mass in mocking terms, finishing my essay off with the words "Here is everything which can lay hold of the eye, ear and imagination--everything which can charm and bewitch the simple and ignorant. I wonder how Luther ever broke the spell," the way John Adams did in his diary in the early 1770's.

In fact in reading Brooke Allen's Moral Minority: Our Skeptical Founding Fathers I am frequently amazed at how the Founding Fathers saw religion in many of the same ways I do on a bad day, they were just way more blunt about it.

I am delighted by this exhaustively-researched book that presents example after example of Founding Father snark revealed through primary sources.

Not every Founding Father was like this. George Washington faithfully attended church when he was in office and expected to, then promptly quit as soon as he was less prominent in the public eye, going to church only three times in the last three years of his life. (One could call this the "ChaliceDad method.") He never seems to have mentioned religion when he didn't have to and historians note that he would frequently edit references to Jesus out of his speeches and proclamations when they were put there by more zealous speechwriters.

Now the Founding Fathers were as diplomatic as anyone else in public. Most of the snark comes from diary entries and their letters to each other.

I've heard people posit that arguments about abortion, gay rights, etc, are the concerns of the lower and middle classes. The folks truly in power don't really care about them, but keep them just stirred up enough to keep poorer people fighting each other instead of working for a more egalitarian society.

Though I don't think the founding fathers fit this mold, I got a whiff of it as they wrote about their own indifference to the sorts of matters of doctrine that still cause dramatic church divisions today. Some were more sympathetic than others, but religious difference as what the lower classes do to amuse themselves was something of a pervasive theme.

And I'm only halfway through the book. I'll let you know if I continue noticing this pattern.

And yes, as Joel Monka reminds me, I owe you guys a SpiderMan review.


Saturday, May 19, 2007

Bodies: The Exhibition

was totally, totally cool. I learned so much about the way the body works.

Arteries are lovely, by the way...

FWIW, even though the bodies don't actually look like dead people, everyone was quite respectful. You got the sense that people really got that these were the bodies of people who had died. It was very quiet and I felt self conscious explaining things to my friend's children.

After seeing a cirratic liver and a smoker's lung, I could look at a body and get at least a few basic clues about how the person lived. (They all died of natural causes. Even the fetuses are from miscarriages.) It wasn't like your typical museum display of cookie-cutter anatomy models. These people were different sizes and different builds. One woman had a weird belly button. To at once looking at the inside of their bodies while having such a sense of their humanity was a transcendent experience.

Breasts look like coral. They're beautiful.

My friend's six-year-old boy was riveted by a display of tumors of the female reproductive system. He insisted I read the captions on each one and tried to explain them as well as I could. I also told him this was why you're supposed to go to the doctor every year so that things like that could be caught when they were small.

I confronted a prostate.

The bodies that appeared to be in motion were my favorites. You could see the way muscles worked.

I really feel like this experience has changed my view of my body, and I hope the souls of the people who once inhabited those bodies are someplace where they can appreciate that.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Idol Update

Earlier this week, I was like "Uh-oh, looks like Idol and the two-hour season finale of Veronica Mars might be up against one another next Tuesday. What's a girl too lazy to figure out how to Tivo one while watching the other without actually going to someone else's house to watch to do?"

Then Melinda got voted off.

Now, the problem is solved.

Actually, it was a meh reality show night all around with Jaslene winning on ANTM. CC had been for really-bratty-but-hella-talented-Brittney, who got kicked off a couple of weeks ago.

Anyway, yeah, my Tuesday night will be spent with Veronica.

I hope it's not the series finale.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Snark at its best is not just pointless unfunny sarcasm aimed at an incredibly easy target.

It's not being rude for the sake of being rude, and should you offend someone "It's snark week" is not a defense. Nobody likes a Mean Girl, even on snark week.

For me, good snark is taking something that sucks, really sucks, and making it into something funny, something better. Sometimes, that's the only thing that makes it bearable.

Though anybody can whine, complain or make fun of someone, real snark to me isn't something you can just start doing on command, it's usually brought on by a thinly veiled sense of outrage. That's why I think the early UU Christian blogs did it better, because in some real sense they felt oppressed.

Just sayin'


I don't have much to say about the death of Jerry Falwell

As far as I'm concerned, Ms. Kitty said it all.

who was so busy today she didn't even hear about Falwell's death until just now.

How can I appear to be a religious person? Do I want to?

I've had an odd issue in my life recently, and one that I'm not going into much detail on as several of the principals read this blog, that centered around people I'm fairly close to me not realizing how religious I am.

On one level, I don't get this. I have lots of religion books that I read and talk about, I make it to church a respectable percentage of Sundays, I spend lots of time volunteering with YRUU and, well, I have a religion blog.

By liberal standards, I'm a Jesus freak. (Ok, maybe not Jesus, but you see my point...)

I do partially understand the confusion in that I don't prostelytize, I don't complain about people sinning, and I don't obviously follow a bunch of religious rules. I don't forward religious emails or have a plastic chalice on my car. I don't judge people who don't go to church, I just do my own spiritual thing and assume other people are doing theirs in their own way.

So by conservative standards, I really don't look like a religious person at all.

A few thoughts on this issue:

1. Could it be that part of the reason that political and religious conservatives believe that political and religious liberals aren't religious is because liberals do not appear so because liberals express their commitment to religion in different ways?

2. Should we/I try to give off a few signs of religiousity to help people get it? If so, what should I/we do?


Another poem CC likes

Sex without Love

How do they do it, the ones who make love
without love? Beautiful as dancers,
gliding over each other like ice-skaters
over the ice, fingers hooked
inside each other's bodies, faces
red as steak, wine, wet as the
children at birth whose mothers are going to
give them away. How do they come to the
come to the come to the God come to the
still waters, and not love
the one who came there with them, light
rising slowly as steam off their joined
skin? These are the true religious,
the purists, the pros, the ones who will not
accept a false Messiah, love the
priest instead of the God. They do not
mistake the lover for their own pleasure,
they are like great runners: they know they are alone
with the road surface, the cold, the wind,
the fit of their shoes, their over-all cardio-
vascular health--just factors, like the partner
in the bed, and not the truth, which is the
single body alone in the universe
against its own best time.

-Sharon Olds

Monday, May 14, 2007

More on Cuba

As I've said, I don't think the embargo is a good idea. With a few notable exceptions, my impression is that boycotts of any sort don't really work.

That said, that people going to Cuba need to give the state department some paperwork is still the law.

If you break it and get punished, maybe it isn't a vast right wing conspiracy.
Maybe you just broke the law and got punished.

And Moore hasn't even been punished yet, they are just thinking about punishing him. Which hasn't stopped him from rolling out a massive publicity campaign about how awful it is that he isn't above the law.

Also, I was confused by the apparent disparity between the half of my readers who think Cuba has great hospitals and the half who think they have terrible hospitals.

TheCSO had read up on it at one point and found that both groups are right.

Cuba does have great hospitals--for high-ranking members of the party and for rich tourists.

The regular folks have to go to crappy hospitals.

I did not know this, but it turns out Cuba is a major tourist destination for rich europeans and South Americans, just not Americans.

I can understand that Cuba's lack of research discoveries comes from dictator-imposed lack of contact with the outside world.

But as far as I know, my general point about socialized medicine, that it is dependent upon the Americans to actually cure diseases and discover new treatments, is still true.

If there are a bunch of discoveries coming out of France or Canada, I'm happy to be corrected, educate me.


Movie ratings, etc.

Jess's Journal has a good post about movie ratings and the absurdity that, Big Night, a movie where characters swear a lot gets an "R" while all the pummellings in Spider Man earn it only a PG-13.

Of course the producers of Big Night HAD to put all that swearing in because adults usually won't go to a movie that isn't at least PG-13, and sometimes not an R, because they tend to assume its a kids movie.

I thought PG-13 was a fair rating for Spider-Man and I think an R would have been too much for a movie with a lot of mostly-bloodless beating up and a death or two. If I'm remembering right, I the Micheal Keaton "Batman" was PG-13 too. I'd say they have equivilent levels of violence and that most teenagers would be just fine seeing either without an adult, though kids might want to sit with mom. Actually, kids might well be bored out of their minds. The CSO is in his twenties and he got antsy during the slow parts of Spider-Man.

I agree with Jess that it is ridiculous that it's easier to earn an "R" through sex than violence. I think that I have mentioned that my cousin took me to "Peggy Sue Got Married" when I was seven or eight and I remember my parents freaking out about it, but I saw it again on cable when I was in my twenties and realized that the sex jokes had gone totally over my head. I had retained the basic plot (Lady goes back in time to high school and wants to do things differently, but then realizes that she was happier doing them the same way. But it might have been a dream. No, wait, it wasn't...)

I do wonder about the language thing, though. If the big concern is that kids will imitate what they see, they are far more likely to pick up the word "fuck" from an excitable Italian than they are to pick up tossing people off of buildings from a bad guy wearing a suit built by his mad scientist father.

Though I hid my eyes as the Snakes on a Plane bit a few choice body parts, the last time I remember being well and truly freaked out when I was in a movie theater was when I watched a preview for "Independence Day" where they very realistically blew up the White House. It wasn't so much that the movie itself traumatized me, but that just when I was getting ready to leave for college, they went and blew up my hometown.

It was freaky, y'all.


From a YRUU overnight

So, anybody up for an all-adults game of Wink at GA?

I am so into it.

They just didn't play stuff like that at the Presbyterian youth retreats...


I've been known to make fun of self-help books

because self-help books more or less sound like this to me:

Sunday, May 13, 2007

What is wink?

PB wants to know what Wink is. As wikipedia notes, there are many variations on the basic theme. This is merely how my group does it. Ok, you start in the position in Fig. 1 below.

As you can see, people are in pairs and there is an "outside" (represented by diamonds) line and an "inside" (represented by octagons) line. On a predicided command, presumably a wink, though I have never actually been close enough to the fray to witness the actual wink, the "winker" signals the "inside row" to leap forward. The people on the inside hurl themselves forward and try to be the first to kiss the "winker" on top of the head. They can only crawl, crawling all over everybody is an accepted part of the game. Indeed, it's really the point.

Meanwhile, the folks on the "outside" row (who were not allowed to touch the inside row folks until they moved) must try to keep their inside row partner from delivering the winning kiss. The usual method is a sort of low-speed tackle and then a lot of wrestling around.

Soon everybody is throwing each other every which way an a huge pile of raging hormones. I can imagine a wink game gedtting violent if the wrong people played, but among my group maximum bodily contact is more important than the actual winning. Everybody's fully clothed, of course.

Eventually, somebody actually delivers the winning kiss to the winker's head and the winker yells "Smooch!" (Fig. 2)

That indicates the round is over. The outside person who had been gaurding the winner becomes the new winker unless, you know, somebody else wants to.

It must be seen to be believed and having seen it half a dozen times, I'm like "Wow, y'all I want to play that."

Just not with fifteen-year-olds.


A strict-constructionist anti-racist.

At the end of a long discussion, theCSO said,

"I consider myself a strict-constructionist anti-racist. I don't believe in discrimination on the basis of what is in your genes. However, I think sometimes we can quite reasonably discriminate on this basis of some cultural factors,"

I don't know how to respond to that. In some ways I like it as it gives a neat answer to the perinnial Chalicechick question "What is a properly anti-rascist approach to cultures that treat women badly?"

But I don't think it is a whole answer.



I love this poem.


Keep me from going to sleep too soon
Or if I go to sleep too soon
Come wake me up. Come any hour
Of night. Come whistling up the road.
Stomp on the porch. Bang on the door.
Make me get out of bed and come
And let you in and light a light.
Tell me the northern lights are on
And make me look. Or tell me clouds
Are doing something to the moon
They never did before, and show me.
See that I see. Talk to me till
I'm half as wide awake as you
And start to dress wondering why
I ever went to bed at all.
Tell me the walking is superb.
Not only tell me but persuade me.
You know I'm not too hard persuaded.

Robert Francis

At a YRUU overnight.

So, who is up for an all-adults game of Wink at GA?

Seriously, y'all, that game looks fun. They never let the Presby
teens play something like that when I was a kid...

who apologises if this is a double post. it looks like the first one
didn't go through...


"Friends? Hah. These are my only friends. Grown-up nerds like Gore
Vidal. And HE's kissed more boys than I ever will."

--Lisa Simpson

Saturday, May 12, 2007

This rocks for so many reasons...

Can't argue with that...

So I'm cruising Facebook and I get a note that one of my YRUU padawans has joined a facebook group called "Against Gay Marriage? Then Don't Get One and Shut the Fuck Up"

Someone else I know is in a group called "Che Guevara was a murderer and your t-shirt is not cool"

Succinct. I like them.


Browning's the Ring and the Book

Hey, I'm trying to get through Browning's The Ring and the Book and at this point it truly feels like I'm "trying to get through."

I know this book is brilliant as it comes to me with the highest possible praise from someone I respect, but I am finding it a very difficult read. Perhaps novel-length poetry just isn't my thing, but I would dearly love to be getting more out of it.

And geez, it's essentially a crime epic. Crime fascinates me.

Anyway, does anybody who has read it have any advice?



Thursday, May 10, 2007

Remind me...

Would someone please post something to remind me that not all Christians are intolerant jerks?

Even CC the usual defender of conservatives needs it sometimes...


Guy who went to Cuba without proper paperwork in trouble with the state department.

Oh, wait, that guy was Michael Moore, so it must be a Republican conspiracy against him! Don't they understand that Micheal Moore doesn't have to do paperwork? He has a special pass!

More seriously, to me, this sounds like an obvious publicity stunt.

I find myself asking "Why on earth would a multimillionaire take ten people who got sick cleaning up after 9-11 to Cuba for treatment?"


"Because it would be great publicity and he could use the opportunity to make sweeping statements about US healthcare (see how cheap third world healthcare is?) and at the same time make it very likely he would get in trouble and be able to claim he's a guy worth conspiring against" is the only reasonable answer I can think of.

who doesn't want third world healthcare, no matter how good Moore makes it look for the purposes of his movie.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

On the polarization of stuff

I apologize for any times I have taken the "kid in church" discussion to polarizing levels. I never intended to imply that anybody's kids should be banned from church. Obviously different people's kids react to the service in different ways. if your kids like church, sure, take them.

While I don't think this is enough of a discrimination issue to find the comparisons to other forms of discrimination useful, I get that they come from people who honestly feel that their small child is no less able to get things out of the service than a handicapped person or lesbian or African American. And I get where they were going with the idea.

To my thinking, my current church's model, where there's kid-friendly content for the first fifteen minutes of the service then everybody troops off to Sunday school, is about the ideal.

The kids of UUs I know and adore do happen to be above average in intelligence, but I mostly got to know them from their parents and their parents are above average in intelligence like most of my friends, so I guess that's not surprising.

The UU age group at my own church that I know best are the teens and while I would say we have a normal range of intelligences, (and a very hyperactivity-friendly program, I might add) I will say that I honestly do think UU kids are unusually decent and sensitive, though.

Thoughtful, too.

And yeah, if I knew that my church's nursery was yucky, I would take steps to fix it up. I've been a nursery volunteer and it wasn't my favorite thing, but it's better than folks feeling that the nursury is too yucky to keep their kids in.

Anyway, so that's where I am on this discussion.


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

In which Earthbound Spirit asks for CC's righteous indignation and gets it.

From Earthbound Spirit's latest post:

I recently heard a UU say “our children are all incredibly bright and gifted and sensitive,” and I was reminded of Garrison Keillor’s line about Lake Woebegone being the place where all the children are above average. My heart broke a little when I heard this person say that.

There are kids in our collective UU Sunday school classes who have learning disabilities, attention problems, physical disabilities and mental illnesses. Unfortunately, I think some of us believe all our children – and all our adult members – are (or should be) above average. Folks, I think this runs absolutely counter to our Universalist religious heritage of inclusion. When we fail to be inclusive, we fail to recognize the gifts that average, or even below average, people bring to a faith community. In a similar way we fail to recognize the gifts that children bring to a faith community.

As a former hyperactive child, I question her assumption that the way to be welcoming to those below-average learning disabled children she told us about is to force them to sit quietly for an hour or more when they might be highly uncomfortable doing so.

If this post about those of us who are below average (as I think the equating of learning disabled and below average that I'm seeing is pretty clear) is an example of the sympathetic UU adult's ability to think about someone else's needs and learn by doing so, consider me unimpressed.


So why do we as a culture think anal rape is funny?

This is one of those things that has bothered me for awhile, but I haven't ever written about it.

Linguist Friend knows a Polish curse that translates to "may a branch fuck you" that implies a sort of torture that you can imagine without any additional help from me. (I'm sure he'd teach it to you at GA if you asked nicely.) I bring this up not to bitch at Linguistfriend (or Poland, for that matter) but I have to wonder how desensitized one has to be to find that a good thing to say. Admittedly, I don't think I've ever heard LF say it to anyone other than a misbehaving cat. But still...

Perhaps I'm overly sensitive to this because my brother is in jail and everybody knows that prison rape is the funniest thing ever. I've been known to write to wacky morning show Djs that joke about prison rape and say "Prison rape? Is still rape. Is rape funny to you?" I get sheepish responses and there are often fewer rape jokes on that specific show, but it's a drop in a very large cultural bucket.

I'm pretty sure that if I said that I wanted a female to be forcibly impaled on something, the community would be mad at me. But if I said the same thing about a guy, that's funny?

The only specific example I used was one from my best friend for a reason. Finger-pointing and talking about past things people have said sounds like a boring discussion to me. Comments attacking individuals will be deleted from this post. I'm not looking to attack any specific person for making jokes about it, but I am curious why it happens and why it really doesn't seem to bother anyone but me as far as I can tell.


Monday, May 07, 2007

In case you're thinking about link spamming my blog

You should probably know that I have "nofollow" set up in the HTML to my comments, so a post that is basically just a link is a waste of your time. I don't think anybody on the UU blogosphere will bother to click it and it won't help your google ranking.


Added later: For those of you who can't be bothered to look things up, link spam is a brief comment with a link to one's own website that is clearly designed not to add to the conversation, but to advertise one's own site. Sometimes, I delete those all together. Sometimes I don't. But the point is, they don't do any good on my site. It's unlikely that anyone will follow them as they are obvious ads. And I have a special tag in place so they do not contribute to Google ranking.

Blog envy

My, the internet is looking fine these days...


Katy-the-Wise on the Green Sanctuary Program

Some years ago, Katy-the-Wise gave me a bunch of her old sermons and said I was welcome to edit them into a book if I felt so strongly she should write one. (And I did, and I do.) I jumped into the project with great enthusiasm, only to discover that putting her sermons into cohesive book would be like trying to make a chain of eggs. Each sermon is so tightly-written and self-contained.

But Sermons like this one remind me why I thought the project was such a good idea in the first place.


DC Folks: Bodies Exhibition?

CC's best friend from elementary school is organizing a trip to see the "Bodies" exhibition on May 19th We're trying to get a group of 15+ together so we can all get the group rate.

Wanna go?

Personal to Jana-who-creates: I've already got you and the guys down.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Those evil people who do not want children in church services.

FWIW, I'm the one who started the big discussion of babies and small children at church. I started it with a comment that essentially said that infants and toddlers in church should be discouraged.

Honestly, I still think that's true. Lizard Eater made the point that mothers of infants don't like to leave their kid in nursuries. If so, there's a lot of places the mother shouldn't go.

It is ultimately the mother's choice?

Of course.

But a lot of mothers make poor choices. CC and theCSO very much enjoy going to midnight openings of brand new movies, and almost every time there's a baby or a young child there who really ought to be at home in bed, even when the movie is obviously inappropriate. As I've written before, I am constantly tempted to print up some paper signs and put them in every stall of the ladies room: "If the midnight showing of King Kong is constantly interrupted by the cries of your traumatized three-year-old, you are a bad mother."

This next opinion is absolutely going to get me in trouble, but I am a skeptic on the argument "My baby would rather be in a noisy confusing environment that has no toys and where she must be quiet with me, than a crib in the nursury where she can move around and play without me. I know, because I'm the mother."

We have four cats in our house. Three of them, Boris, Cool Disco Dan and Esperanto, belong to theCSO and me. One of them, Ursus, belongs to the housemates. Tina's position is that Boris, Cool Disco Dan and Esperanto should be kept away from her baby whenever possible. Ursus can get in the baby's face all Ursus wants.


"Because Victoria WOVES her wittle Ursus-kitty!"

Can't argue with that, I suppose. But I honestly don't think Victoria can tell the difference between the cats at all. I think it is very easy for mothers to assume their babies agree with them in the abscence of evidence. Most kids are going to fuss when the mother leaves them with someone else, but my observation is that five minutes later, the kid is over it and paying attention to something else.

Maybe I'm wrong about your specific kid, but my experience of church nursuries is that I'm not wrong about most kids.

I've been pretty open about the fact that my opinons on this come from the fact that my parents assumed that since I was smart, I would get something out of church. I was forced to attend church as a small child and I despised it. Sunday was my least favorite day of the week. I hate sitting still, I hated being quiet, I really hated getting punished when I failed to meet my parents' standards for both. I lobbied to be allowed to take books into church. When I won that one, the situation improved somewhat, but I was still pretty unhappy. Finally, when I was seven years old, I started sneaking notes into the collection plate that read "The Sermon was too long."

At that point, somebody talked to my parents and I was finally allowed to hang out on the playground on Sunday mornings instead.

My position is absolutely not that kids who make noise in church and distract other people are bad, it is that they are uncomfortable. My church follows the "Kids are in the service for the first fifteen minutes, and for that fifteen minutes, the content is geared toward them" model. That's just fine with me.

I get that lots of parents put their kid's comfort over their own interest in the sermon and take noisy kids out. I appreciate that. To be honest, I often hang out just outside the church where one can hear what is going on but doesn't have to remain still myself.


Friday, May 04, 2007

CC, Carrie Underwood come to peace accord

This actually happened a couple of months ago and I've been meaning to write about it, but I kept forgetting. Luckily, a reader reminded me by posting the following comment on my old Jesus, take the wheel post.

just for your information...i think that song and carrie underwood are great i think you might just be jealous because you arent as good as her and the people on here who think that song is dumb and laugh at it? GO FUCK YOURSELF FOR ME OK? THANKS!!

(For new readers, the post where I make fun of "Jesus, take the wheel" got a lot of mail like that. I'm no fan of hippies, but I've got to admit that the people who wrote to defend "Imagine," another song I dislike and made fun of in a post, were far more literate and reasonable.)

So anyway, TheCSO and I were watching Saturday Night Live. We normally ignore the musical guests completely and fast-forward through their stuff, but we started talking and weren't paying attention. All of the sudden this blonde singer took the stage and started singing a slightly dark and creepy song, a little bit sexy, a little bit crazy, about destroying her boyfriend's car because he was cheating on her.

That singer was Carrie Underwood, and that song was "Before he cheats."

And it rocked.

So anyway, we're not running out to buy concert tickets or anything, but I did want to acknowledge that she has done a song I really like.


CC loved the new Spiderman movie.

And theCSO really hated it.

More on why in the morning.


Thursday, May 03, 2007

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


You know how life hits you with the same lessons over and over again until you learn them?

Tonight's lesson was "You can get very close to your friends and feel like your friends are your family, but ultimately they aren't your family, and at some point, you will be hit, and hit hard, by that."

Of course, I've been hit with this before, and likely will be my whole life, but still, damn.


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

American Idol notes

1. TheCSO and I prefer Melinda Doolittle's version of "Have a Nice Day" to Bon Jovi's. She improves it the way the Flying Lizards improve anything they sing.

2. I honestly have no clue who is getting voted off. Two people who are normally meh (Phil, Lakisha) really brought it. I hope to God Chris finally gets voted off because I hate his hair, or lack thereof, and I'm tired of hearing everyone talk about how hot he is. I don't get how so many women thing guys with buzz cuts are hot. Seriously, ick.

3. I hope this is the end for Jordan because, well, she's Melinda's stiffest competition IMHO.

4. I can understand why 50 percent of people like Blake's beatbox thing, I just happen to be in the other 50 percent.


Ps. Written circa 1:00am: BTW, I can't sleep and am watching Keith Olbermann for the first time. Frankly, I don't get the fascination. To me, he is coming off as a whiny, sarcastic pain in the ass.

Maybe he's having an off night.

Or maybe I'm jsut cranky.