Friday, June 29, 2007

Grr. CC can't sleep.

And she thought the internet should know.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

More on the Resolution on Transgender Inclusion

Rev. Sean has a more complete explanation of what happened with the AIW on Transgender Inclusion.

Read it.


A really amazing prayer

I share Gini Courter's self-admitted lack of a knack for prayer. (And I would love a copy of that five-point-prayer-outline she mentioned as I am called upon every now and then to say grace, either because I'm the only person at the table known to be religious or because the Christians at the table are morbidly curious.)

But well-written, beautiful prayers have great power to move me.

This one, by Rev. Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley, absolutely did and I thank Jess for bringing it to my attention.


The Holy and the Angel Wash

One thing that bugs me about YRUU is the way we define "Worship." Y'all know I love my YRUU kids and am pretty slow to criticise them, but they do tend to define "Worship" as "hearing how great we are."

It's not.

An angel wash, for example, where one walks with one's eyes closed down a row of people, accepting hugs and kind words about oneself.

Is it pleasant? I don't know. A couple of years ago, somebody I liked a lot took me on a blindfolded walk right next to a busy road. I didn't get hit by a car, but I developed a thing about walking with my eyes closed. I won't do it, so I sat out of the angel wash.

But is it worship? In my opinion, which may not count for much, I recognize, it isn't.

The service of the living tradition is never something I've totally understood. Were it simply a memorial service for the ministers who had died in the last year, that would be a little sad for something in the middle of GA, but at least it could easily be about that which is holy as well.

I just don't see what's worshipful about a graduation ceremony, however staid. And when we make this ceremony about individual achievements rather than being about that which is greater than ourselves, isn't that essentially what we're doing?

Is it possible for worship to focus on an individual? Sure. A service for Martin Luther King day focused on Dr. King and the ways the holy worked through him seems like a good example. But that's a little different from reading the names of a list of people who graduated from seminary.

I don't object to there being a ceremony, I just wonder if a church service is the place for it.



There are two kinds of people in the world, those that want to face the restaurant and those who do not. Usually, I’m one of those who does not. But this time, the waitress at my usual lunch restaurant guided me to a table with only one place setting, and it was set up to have the diner face the room.

It’s not like moving my fork would have been effort exactly, but I sat down facing the room anyway. Which gave me an excellent view of the woman. She slipped into the restaurance carefully, making a furtive scan of the room as soon as her eyes had adjusted to the light. I pretended to be concentrating on the menu. But she wasn’t looking for me, anyway. She was crisp, efficient-looking, forty or so. Too stylish for accounting, too dowdy for marketing. Office manager, maybe?

Satisfied, she asked for a table, indicating the area near me, away from the windows. The waiter led her to a table ten feet away and she hurried forward. When she got to her place, she slipped off her jacket, revealing a slightly daring sundress beneath. I’d had no idea. I’m guessing that was the point. She laid the jacket across the back of her chair with a studied insouciance and walked toward the bathroom briskly.

A little part of me wanted to jump up, touch her arm and say “No, honey, that’s too businesslike. What you’re going for is a glide. Step at eleven and one. It will make your hips move just so. He will watch, I promise.”

Whoever he is.

I stayed in my chair and looked at the menu again. When she emerged from the bathroom, her makeup was a little too bright, like a teenager’s.

That was when I really started to speculate. Does she have a similarly efficient husband, I wondered? One who lays his jacket just so and wouldn’t notice a frivolity like makeup enough for her to bother to wear any? Did she buy the sundress last week, taking care to find one exciting enough that still looked staid under the white jacket?

The man who joins her is sort of funny-looking, but that’s not a surprise. The people who are looking for this sort of thing are rarely the cream of the crop, and the woman is no great beauty either. They awkwardly hold hands across the table. His pale blue shirt is lightly sweat-stained. He gets a hamburger, she gets a salad.

They lean toward one another and speak with great intensity. I imagine her reading a romance novel, noting down clever things to repeat to him. Does she tell all her friends how awful her husband is, just trying to justify what she’s up to? She thinks of her lunch date when a love song comes on the radio, doesn’t she? Did she name her goldfish after him, just so she can say his name?

I watched and I wondered and I thought about the hotel across from my office. Bright lipstick smeared on clean white sheets, more sweat in that blue shirt, the strap of a sundress pulled down over a freckled arm.

It’s been a long time, but I’ve felt what she’s feeling, the giddy rise of excitement, the desperate hope that he will call and put a pocket of adventure into an otherwise dull life. I am something of a romantic, and she does look like the sort of woman who is married to someone who sucks. I'm not completely unsympathetic to the ideal of trying re-enact Madame Bovary on a Monday afternoon in Fairfax County.

But still...

Well, good luck, honey. If this is what you want. Don't forget to splash water on your face when it's all over. That will take the glow out of your cheeks and wash the makeup off, which you need to do anyway. Can't have your co-workers talking.

I look down at my chicken sandwich and sigh, letting myself relive a few past thrills for a moment, but the effect just isn't there.

She's straightening his tie. From the outside, it all looks so banal.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

CC and theCSO:Talkin' like hippies"

Ever since CC came back from GA, theCSO and she have been inserting the phrase "in right relation" into our conversation as much as possible.

Probably "I don't feel in right relation with the number of cats in this bed," was the funniest this particular running joke is going to get, but if somebody says something better, I will report it.

TheCSO has been on a kick that our marital arguments should be stated in the form of "I-messages." CC, while stipulating the therapeutic value of this, doesn't like to do it because she thinks it sounds stupid. She has proffered the compromise that she will use i-messages if theCSO will use "in right relations" whenever possible in said arguments.

He hasn't agreed yet.


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Motion carried!

Thank you!


After all this time, GA finally starts getting interesting

I didn't have much to say on Moral Values for a Pluralistic Society, because, well, it's all about talking rather than doing.

And there was no new Statement of Conscience to vote on, not that I'm complaining.

All of the candidates elected were running unopposed.

So GA has been quite short of actual administrative business.

But finally, with the responsive resolutions, we're getting some action. Ok, it's pretty-lame-unless-you-did-a-lot-of-Model-UN-in-college action, but hell, I did and I'll take it.

Best of all, my source's explanation for it makes the actions I described during my previous post make sense.

To review, and to clarify my last post, a few hours ago, the body voted in a

"Pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act with Transgender Inclusion and Protection,"

Action of Immediate Witness.

It turns out that that Action of Immediate Witness was originally TWO AIWs:

1. One about Transsexuality, and being welcoming to transsexuals and affirming out support for transexuals, which included our condemning employment discrimination against transsexuals.

2. One reaffirming the body's support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act for gays and lesbians, something we had voted in 13 years ago.

According to my source, the Comission on Social Witness in one of those back room meetings UUs claim to be against, decided to COMBINE the two marginally related resolutions into a resolution about adding transsexuals to ENDA, but, you know, not requiring UNITARIANS to be nice to them or anything.

The guy who asked that question of the UUA staff was WANTING the UUA staff to respond as they did. The response they gave underscored the point that the AIW we were voting on was essentially a toothless reiteration of something we'd voted in long ago.

The responsive resolution bringing the question of the CONGREGATIONS not practicing discrimination against transgender persons, and indeed being WELCOMING of transgender persons is coming to the floor.

I will keep you posted.

If you're reading this from Portland, please grab your delegate card and head back to the plenary.

And PLEASE raise your delegate card and vote for welcoming and an AIW that actually has some meaning.


Point of Clarification

"Were you in the plenary?" I asked. I was sitting outside the exhibition hall, charging my laptop and getting in a little Kingdom of Loathing before the next workshop. I had called over a minister of whom I'm fond.

"Yes," she said.

"When that person asked if the UUA would keep working on an issue even if the body voted it down, and the UUA folks loudly cheered that they would, did that happen like I thought it happened?"

"You mean, was it rehearsed?"

"No, I did the UUA folks just say, in effect, 'Even if the body votes that they don't care about this thing, we're going to keep working on it."

"Sort of, but the body obviously did care," she said.

"But the question assumed that the body didn't care. It disturbed me that even if we didn't care, they were still going to work on it."

"I can understand that, but I doubt they would have responded that way to an assembly that less obviously cared about it."

I hope she's right.


Saturday, June 23, 2007

Bloggers with a view.

CC is such a tourist.

Best View Evah



Grr... These pictures don't do it justice

Blogger Opens Portland Business

Is the Koran a source for UUs?

There was a very interesting topic brought up in the commission on appraisal discussion of the seven principles this morning, and one that I haven't totally made up my mind on:

Should the Koran (Or the teachings of Islam) be specifically listed in the Seven Principles as one of the sources UUism draws from?

I'm torn on this question. I don't draw really any of my spirituality from Islam and I don't really know any UUs who have told me they do. At the same time, if there is a significant contingent of UUs who feel influenced by it, I don't at all object to putting it there.

I think a stronger argument could be made for Buddhism.

(FWIW, one should assume right now that both Islam and Buddhism are included in the general phrasing "Wisdom from the world's religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life," but they aren't specifically mentioned by name.)

So, any thoughts?


Crowding, Drinking and the Biological Superiority of UUs

A bit of rest has been forced upon me since the workshop I wanted to go to this session was too full for my or the fire marshall's comfort. This certainly has been a crowded GA. One of the Northwesterners at my table at lunch said

"Those folks in Boston just don't understand how vital a movement we are."

I didn't know that that was true, but it is interesting how popular a GA where we aren't voting on much of interest that is held in such an annoying corner of the country to get to would be so popular.

My vote is to have all future GAs in the Midwest, though.

I went out to a very nice bar with some of my fellow bloggers last night. Can't say we solved all the problems of UUism, but we did find a funky bar and have a wonderful conversation. The blogger dinner was also really great. It was so cool to meet Kim after all these years, though I ended up a table away.


The same woman at my lunch table I refer to above said she'd read a study that said UUs were "poor screeners," meaning that we took in more information about the world around us than people of other faiths and thus lived in a different world from people of other faiths. She was very proud of us, though she allowed as to how this characteristic might make us more distractible.

Has anyone heard such a study?


Blogger boozin'

I now know about what has to be one of the niftier bars in Portland.

If anybody's going back, text me. I'm not sure I want to leave Portland without having another Pear Brandy.


Friday, June 22, 2007

Gimletty Goodness

Things that didn't speak to me, things that did.

Hmmm... What to say about the Sermon at the Service of the Living Tradition. It's style brought to mind a quotation from Robertson Davies when he was talking about Vladimir Nabokov:

Many authors write like amateur blacksmiths making their first horseshoe; the clank of the anvil, the stench of the scorched leather apron, the sparks and the cursing are palpable, and this appeals to those who rank "sincerity" very high. Nabokov is more like a master swordsmith making a fine blade; nothing is amiss, nothing is too much, there is no fuss, and the finished product must be handled with great care, or it will cut you badly.

Suffice to say, Nabokov has nothing to fear from the writers of the SLT sermon. The anvil clanks are still ringing off the walls.

But earlier today, I actually had a genuine spiritual experience in a GA workshop, something that I would have thought impossible had I been asked about the idea over breakfast.

I attended a workshop given by Doug Muder and Meg Barnhouse on spiritual writing. If you follow that link, you'll see that Meg has the worst website ever. But I learned quite a bit from what she and Doug had to say.

Near the end, Barnhouse pulled out her guitar and sung a well-known song of hers called "All will be well."

She had the audience sing the refrain:

All will be well,

All will be well

All manner of things

Will be well.

I don't know. Something about the song, and indeed the act of singing it back to Meg, really spoke to me.

Now, I am not a crier, but I really think I cried internally in a sense, and I got a sense of peace with the world that is still with me 12 hours later.

I found myself thinking of my friend Jana-who-creates, who recently told me what happened when she took her son to Shrek 2. At the end of the movie, when Eddie Murphy's donkey character(who had been turned into a horse) is, despite his protests, turned back into a donkey, her son burst into loud, racking, sobs, culminating with him screaming "But he doesn't WANT to be a donkey! He wants to be a HORSE!" to the whole theater.

Sitting there as the song died away, that wasn't the emotion that I felt, but what I felt was on that level of intensity and involvement.

It rocked, kids.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Service of the Living Tradition

If you watch the Service of the Living Tradition on the net, skip the
opening speech.

I'll summarize the useful information in two points.

1. Don't be assholes during the service.

2. The lady who spoke doesn't know what the word "fulsome" means.

Point one was repeated for by my watch fifteen minutes.

Point two was really the only interesting part.



"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

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

GA so far

I'm not a fan of Portland in general, and I am, with god as my witness, NEVER making hotel reservations through the UUA system again. (Kids, I am like a HALF MILE from the subway and literally several miles from the convention center. Whoever made the decision that GA hotels choudl be chosen based on their use of environmentally safe cleaning products rather than their closeness to the convention center is a tool.)

But so far the exhibit hall has art that I actually might buy and the registration process was WAY smoother than last year. So that's good. Will likely report agian post-blogger hoedown.


Ps. I'm no fabulous beauty myself, mind you, but I have to say that the UU Polyamorists seriously need to improve their marketing efforts. The same circa-sixty-years-old-aging-hippie who manned the table most of the time last year is back.

So far, Portland doesn't impress me.

It reminds me of New Orleans,which is not particularly a compliment.

One has to work really hard to find a place in this country big enough to host a convention that is still a major bitch to get to from Washington DC.

Portland is apparently just such a place. I came through Phoenix, kids.

I got going late, and in a true injustice, had to fly here stone cold sober. (Fun fact about CC: She's slightly claustrophobic and rarely flies without some form of assistance, usually alcohol.)

Anyway, I haven't eaten since dinner yesterday and will likely go do something about that. Will show up at the convention later. If you want to hang out, text me or just leave a note up on the message board.


CC picks a ridiculous time to be too excited to sleep

I'm often like this when I travel, which is why if I'm driving a long distance to your house, I will often show up earlier than you expect. If I were driving, I would just get in the car now.

Alas, I'm flying, and early enough that taking a sedative now really isn't an option.

Ah well.

In other news, I wonder what it means for theCSO's and my personal and relationship development that we woke up early enough to have marital involvement this morning, and ended up in a different part of the house so as not to disturb the basset hound soundly sleeping in the bed.

This may be a southern thing.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Poking at an Old Enemy of the Chaliceblog

I've made no secret that my least favorite Senator is Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska.

And it is in that spirit that I point you to this article.


Monday, June 18, 2007

Random notes on a Monday Morning

1. Posting will ideally be light until I leave for GA, at least, unless someone says something REALLY good. But seriously, I'm trying to get lots of work stuff done before I leave.

2. Nancy Drew really rocked mightily. It was reminiscent of Clueless, not as smart, but I actually enjoyed it more. As far as I can tell, the "ironic, but sweet, you know she's annoying but you love her, my goodness this movie is smart and fun and sweet and goofy and a tiny bit edgy in its way, but all in balance" tone is damn near impossible for a movie to pull off and they manage it. I honestly can't remember when I've had a better time at the theater, and I desperatly want a notebook with a little felt cover with little felt letters reading "clues" stitched on it.

3. My bowling has actually gotten worse since I started playing Wii bowling.

4. I haven't mentioned this, but two weeks ago I bought an Igallop. I got it on wicked, wicked sale and I ride it all the time.


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Can't take us ANYWHERE...

Mid-Movie Movie Review

Nancy Drew is so much fun.

The actress playing her is doing a brilliant job of being annoying in
exactly the way I remember being annoying at that age.



"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

In my library

Eight things about CC

Mom to the Left tagged me a long time ago and I was like "hmmm, that's cool, I should write that."

And then I forgot.

But Jess reminded me yesterday.

1. I achieved my career dreams once and it was a terrible experience. I wanted to be a reporter for a long time and finally landed a reporting job when I was several years out of college. I sucked at it, my boss was incredibly mean, which made me suck at it more, I lived in this crappy little town on $18,000 a year and my boss had decreed I wasn't supposed to have friends. I'm hoping law works out a little better for me.

2. I once had a pleasing romantic experience with Sophie B. Hawkins' Whaler album playing in the background and I now find that album calms me down and centers me when I need it.

3. I'm rereading Robertson Davies' The Manticore and discovering I really didn't understand it the first few times I read it.

4. A few days after I got in to Georgetown Law, my husband said we should go buy a Nintendo Wii as a celebration of my achievement. I thought it was one of those things where a present for me is really a present for him, but I love the Wii and I play it all the time. Wii golf has made me want to learn to play real golf.

5. I love elephants and have several drawings and prints of them in whimsical situations in my house, though I really don't want to be one of those people who has a favorite animal and has stuff with that animal on it everywhere. But I do like my elephant art. My favorite is in my library. The CSO called up the artist, told him what he wanted, and the artist made it for me. I will put up a picture later.

6. The CSO and I were against having kids, and it was questionable whether I could, but we may reconsider after law school. We have names picked out and thinking about those names gives me a weird rush of maternal oomph. I blame biology, but it's an interesting effect.

7. I am a minimally-accomplished knitter and sometimes make lumpy little scarves and hats for dear friends.

8. I really feel that I could live on nectarines if it were necessary.


Friday, June 15, 2007


The post I took down

I had written another post about the Brown Bag discussion pointing to's post on the subject and complaining about the tone that people seem to feel the need to take.

I don't get why Ivy-League educated folks seem to think that slams on people's intelligence are a crucial part of anti-oppression conversations, for example.

But a few people commented, and a few more emailed, that I was being oversensitive and unreasonable, and that Rev Rose hadn't said what I thought she had.

And in this case, I decided that:

A. 50 Million Elvis fans might not all be wrong. If a decent number of people felt I was misinterpreting the post, then maybe they were right.

B. My billable hours cannot take another Brown Bag conversation. I cannot or at least should not goof off and write a bunch of blog posts right now. I have lots of law stuff to do, and a GA panel to prepare for.

C. My psyche cannot take any more nasty emails because I said something somebody doesn't like in the Brown Bag conversation. Which lend credence to the theory that I'm oversensitive because everyone knows you shouldn't take mean things people say on the internet seriously, but they still bother me.

So I took it down and put up "Oh, forget it," in its place.

On some level, I still think I interpreted RevRose correctly and her link to the history of the Brown Bag test, which certainly we couldn't possibly know about and still disagree, was as condescending as I initially took it.

But I really don't want to start this whole thing over again.

So I produce cuckoo clocks and fine chocolates. I'm Switzerland.

You kids have fun.


This is a good list.

As a response to Maxim's 100 Hottest Women list (Lindsey Lohan won? Really?), has put together a list of Women who make lesbians hot.

And it's a great list.

Now, they still chose, I believe exclusively, models and actresses. That's too bad. Because fighting for equal rights in Congress is sexy. Writing a brilliant novel is sexy. Scientific discoveries, creating art, leading a corporation? Sexy, sexy, sexy.

But that is a lot to ask from a Hottest 100 list compiled on the internet.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Oh, forget it...

I'm cranky for some reason I guess.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Check out the huge freaking rainstorm

It caused a power outage that I really didn't need, but it's still beautiful.

Hoping the power comes back on because she has serious stuff to do.

GA is only a week away.

Why does it never seem real until I get plane tickets?


Cultural Masochism and Identity Politics.

The Lively Tradition quotes a lengthy section from a blog post about how much modern society sucks and how alienated we are from one another, etc, etc and soforth.

Robertson Davies says this kind of masochism is a Canadian thing, but UUs love it to.

I don't get it. To pull a quote from the peice:

It's just truculent and wilful to want to read a book, or watch a debate, when real pros have already done that so much better than we can, and are happy to give us really excellent opinions and judgments. Why would anyone want to hear views about the surge, or Social Security, from some friend who's not at all famous, badly lit, unrehearsed, with home-made makeup - or none! - and with some random office or restaurant background and dirty dishes on the table?

Does anyone here actually lack for opportunities to do this? Not to put to fine a point on it, but doesn't umm... the Lively Tradition itself frequently feature political commentary? Because my understanding is that the man who writes it is not a professional pundit.

My friends seemingly can't wait to tell me their political opinions. And the nice thing about living now is that my ownership of a vagina is not necessarily an impediment to my opinions being taken seriously, which it would have been at the time this article romanticizes.

The source article is all about "identity politics" and written by one of those people who has conveniently forgotten that until roughly the Eisenhower administration presidential candidates when not the president himself were chosen in back rooms. Apparently a hundred and fifty years of old white rich guys choosing each other doesn't count as identity politics.

The idea that a representative from an agricultural area will understand farmers and look after them, and a representative from an urban area will do the same for urban dwellers is not a new one, indeed, it's the basic theory the founding fathers had when they designed congress the way they did.

I find this post, and indeed this entire genre of posts, puzzling. I grew up in the age of Nintendo and my favorite childhood toys were these weird little animal figurines my mom brought back from mexico and a stuffed animal of a horse my dad bought me when I was five. I really don't think kids, or adults for that matter, are any less imaginative than they used to be.

Judging by, oh, the internet, creativity and communication are alive and well.

To me, it's sort of ridiculous. It invites parody "Two hundred years ago, we had a family doctor who made housecalls who could medicate our problems with leeches. Now we have the cold indignity of MEDICINES to ease our pains instead!"

Goodness, y'all....

So, what's the appeal of these articles by old white guys (aren't they all by old white guys) about how great life was a few generations ago?

I see it as life today offers us extra choices. If making music with your friends, community theater, or talking politics is your thing, lots of people do those things and people who really love those things are easier to find than they've ever been.

But if it isn't your thing, you have other stuff that you can do.

I don't enjoy making music. A nightly singalong with my family sounds like hell for me. Playing ball in the park on more than an occiasional basis wouldn't be much better.

Is it so wrong that I and other people who feel the same way have other options for amusing ourselves?

who in writing this has indirectly defended Paul Krugman. Grr.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Help a modernist out?

Does postmodern science exist?

The closest I can come to an example would be chaos theory, and that's not terribly close.

I can't really imagine a postmodern approach to the scientific method, after all.

Would someone clue me in?



Wednesday, June 06, 2007

CC and Revsparker say a quick hello

Chalicechick: Whaddup?
RevSparker: you ask good questions
Chalicechick: I try
RevSparker: i like that we're having the conversation
Chalicechick: Me too. I think there's a lot of tension about this stuff for reasons I don't completely understand. Not that racism isn't by its nature a tense subject culturally all around
RevSparker: remember, I've just taught a class completely deconstructing the modernist and racist roots of our tradition
ChaliceChick: I didn't remember.
RevSparker: So I have a lot of "back story"...That's what I did on sabbatical: a whole class on the Journey Toward Wholeness.
ChaliceChick: I see. I think everybody brings their own backstory to such discussions.
RevSparker: I got really convinced as we read through all the materials, essays, etc, that much of what we hold dear is part and parcel of our roots as a snobby, powerful, and often oppressive group, so I am trying to address that without being a total ass to people
ChaliceChick: I'd be interested in a post about post-modernism and reason, though I might argue with it.
RevSparker: if I can find the time... I'm not a true post modernist, but I am a critic of modernity.
ChaliceChick: Got it. Well, no pressure, but I, for one, am interested
RevSparker: The problem with so much of what we call "reason" is that it is predicated on an assumption of clear binaries where one side is of more value than the other: reason/intuition being one or reason/experience
ChaliceChick: I don't remember if I've ever directly told you that my dad is schizophrenic, but growing up like that is an excellent way to grow up to be a modernist.
RevSparker: wow. I bet
ChaliceChick: As you know, backstory all around.
RevSparker: yup
ChaliceChick: But yeah, though that's my reflex, I am trying to keep an open mind.
RevSparker: So for me, the way people defend rationality can seem a lot like a defense against acknowledging that our motives, words, etc. can be and often are racist...and that people experience them that way.
ChaliceChick: I don't think that's it. I think that's sometimes it, but I really don't see most of the people in this discussion that way.
RevSparker: We love to say "we didn't intend to be racist"but what about the people who experienced it that way?
I think we need to balance both.
ChaliceChick: It's so hard. I've observed some people attribute everything (Va tech shootings, for example) to racism, while I attribute everything to mental illness (Kramer's racist meltdown, for example.)
RevSparker: It seemed reasonable to me that changing the name of a lunch discussion was not going too far.
ChaliceChick: As I said, it really wasn't, but I think UUs are really sensitive to "This is racist because we say so."
RevSparker: Yes, but in my experience, Starr King isn't very often the one doing that. JTW and the Crossroads trainings did that. SKSM is the only place I see trying something different. Everybody else just gave up and said "this won't work."
ChaliceChick: I've heard people of color make fun of whites for being so scared of being called racist.
But at the same time, it's really disquieting to feel like at any moment you could be accused of something truly terrible and there's no way to defend yourself.
RevSparker: Yes, it's scary... but we are supposed to be brave
ChaliceChick: We are?
RevSparker: Trying to remember the words of Rank by Rank...something about brave...
RevSparker: The hardest thing for white people, I think, is to admit that yes, indeed, we are impure, screwed up, messy, imperfect, and sometimes stupid. And so is everybody else. I think it's part of how white supremacy shows up as fear instead of anger/rage/hatred.
ChaliceChick: Yeah. I can see that.
RevSparker: So part of what I am secretly wishing for is people to say, "Wow. I really did just assume my right to say 'brown bag' was more important than someone else's feelings and maybe I did that because I was scared or uncomfortable."
Now you know why I am passionate...I have an agenda...that will probably never happen
ChaliceChick: I honestly don't think that aspect was fear. I think I heard it and thought "boat people," and someone else thought of when he was called a racist for not giving a guy on the street money, and another person thought about getting yelled at for saying "a chink in the armor."
I think that people don't want to hurt each other's feelings and I think when the message is "Hey, did you know X and Y about the history of this?" it's one thing, but when it's "This is racist!" it's another.
RevSparker: But isn't that a kind of fear of being mistaken for a racist?
ChaliceChick: I don't know. In me, it feels like irritation.
RevSparker: Have you read Rebecca Parker's book of essays?
ChaliceChick: Which one?
RevSparker: Blessing the World
ChaliceChick: No, I haven't. I will keep an eye out for it.
RevSparker: She does a good job of talking about the way whiteness is constructed to make us fear being wrong and how we are taught to "not know" things that interrupt the way the world works. And then to defend why we didn't know or how we shouldn't have needed to know or how what we didn't know is actually not true
It's very compassionate.
ChaliceChick: Honestly, at this point, I am somewhat conditioned to believe that people of other races are oversenstive. I was kept waiting in a tire place on Monday, a black man came in soon after me and was kept waiting too. I found myself making a point of complaining about the staff ignoring me so he would know it wasn't just him. I don't think this is a wonderful way to be, but it's become my reflex because I'm so used to the assumption of racism in UU circles.
RevSparker: But that assumption of oversensitivity is a stereotype.
ChaliceChick: I know.
RevSparker: So the cycle just repeats in a new way... it reminds me of the AIDS virus, always changing just enough to avoid our attempts to cure it.
ChaliceChick: I totally get that. If it helps, I'm similarly nervous around white people whom I know are into Anti-racism.
RevSparker: The way AR/AO has been done in the UUA has been harmful at times and we are seeing the result of that. And yet, it was a start. by well-intentioned people trying to do something good.
ChaliceChick: I know.
RevSparker: But we dismiss them so easily because we didn't like what happened and because anti-oppression work is scary as hell.
ChaliceChick: OK, come to think of it, I don't know.
RevSparker: From my perspective, they made one HUGE mistake: they borrowed materials from other faiths and those materials were based in a Calvinistic "original sin" mentality. And yet, lots of people had life changing experiences in spite of that.
ChaliceChick: those materials were based in a Calvinistic "original sin" mentality
OK, both sides of this debate jsut started to make a hell of a lot more sense to me.
RevSparker: Yup. The Crossroads model really says that racism, like original sin, is inborn and whites are guilty. (if not inborn, taught at such a young age that it is impossible to escape)
and that the only way to "redemption" is strict adherence to an AR/AO model and practice:
to root out racism in all its forms...
to confess our guilt...
etc. etc. etc
What those original JTW people didn't see was that while a small group of people were having those life-altering experiences, many more were building resentment.
I am trying to acknowledge the depth of oppression, our complicity as an association of historically privileged folks, and yet...leave room for hope, grace, compassion, and love.
ChaliceChick: Wow. Umm... speaking of not wanting to be wrong, how come current AR/AO folks don't
admit this?
RevSparker: You know where the ones who do are? Starr King. (and some at 25 Beacon.)

Frankly, it's why I'm no longer on the JTWTC and am on the SKSM board instead. That is where I see a real UU theology of ECO emerging.
RevSparker: And they got there by making dumb mistakes like the brown bag thing. My allegiance to SK is not just because I went there.
ChaliceChick: OK.
RevSparker: It's because their work is the only place I see hopeful beginnings of a way out of all this.
That's what keeps me "hooked."
ChaliceChick: My impression is still that y'all are a bunch of hippies, but I do think that improving the racial climate is a good goal.

Which is kind of a weak ending, I'll admit, but that's when we were like "Hey! We should post this!"


So are we saying here that anti-Racism and critical thinking are mutually exclusive?

As y’all know, I’ve thought a lot about the Brown Bag debate. In truth, there are still some things I don’t get. I don’t have a dog in the whole “ministers publically criticizing each other” debate. After all, I’m a paralegal. Were I to call the competence of another paralegal into question on the internet citing subjective reasons, that would be frowned upon, to put my getting sued in the gentlest possible terms. Paralegals just don’t do that kinds of thing.

But that’s a ministerial politics thing that I don’t have to understand. I like people on both sides of that one, so I will let y’all argue it out.

That issue aside, I have to say that I think any of the snarky people, if approached by a guest speaker at their own church who said “Hey listen, since brown bags were used to exclude people from events at one point in history, I think calling my event a ‘brown bag lunch’ implies that people could be excluded on the basis of their skin color. I know you wouldn’t actually do that, but could we change the name of the meeting?”

Would ultimately go along with it. They might quietly think it’s a little much, but I think they would.

But I can’t imagine that they would stand up in front of their church and make a declaration that the term is racist, with no explanation, the way the SKSM folks did and then breeze on, assuming that everyone would simply accept a decree that if someone thinks something is racist, they must be right.

Several people, me included, have said that Mummert’s fear of speaking up was the real issue for them. It still is.

I address these questions to both sides.

1. What effect should it have when one person or a few people find a term offensive?*

2. What is an acceptable response when someone is offended by something and their offense seems unreasonable to you? (Let’s presume that you’ve asked for an explanation and the explanation still doesn’t make sense.)

3. Does our faith tradition of refining belief through reason have a place in anti-racism work? What is it?

4. What response should we have to people of color and others who feel that this sensitivity toward language actually does more harm than good? (I've been known to make this argument about gender-neutral language.)

5. Why is everybody so angry? Is there a reason our disagreements with one another have to be phrased the way some of the posts in this argument were? Is there a reason that so many UUs have stories of having been accused of racism for spurious-sounding reasons?

Answers to any or all questions would be appreciated.


*And indeed, judging by the numbers of brown bag lunches on the TOPIC of racism one can find in a quick Google, criticism of the term on these grounds is not particularly widespread.

Finger-guns should never be unironic

The new UCC website is sort of silly.

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Socinian posts thought-provoking stuff

The Socinian describes a High School RE program that is absolutely not at all the YRUU program where I teach. The place I go every Sunday has the several dozen bright, thoughtful youth are politically active to a point, but have not bought into the rather dogmatic AR/AO mindset.

They do carwashes, sell totebags and put on a monopoly tournament and a Murder Mystery Dinner Theater for various charities. We have discussions of political issues and how religious issues apply, philosophy and how to deal with everyday difficulties of teenage life. We have about ten overnights a year and we do several cons where the kids bond and really get to know each other.

And again, there are several dozen of them. It's a vibrant, active group.

This may make The Socinian's point.


Saturday, June 02, 2007

Ok, THIS might make me rethink the bodies exhibition...

LinguistFriend is visiting and I took him to Bodies:the Exhibition.

We're maybe a quarter of the exhibit and he's already caught three
mistakes. (A Greek word indentified as latin, a mispelled Latin word
and a misunderstanding about the way voice production works...)

We will put up a complete post on errors in the exhibition later with
anything else he finds...



"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

Friday, June 01, 2007

So one of my housemates just called...

"Hey CC, I read on your blog that you're having like five people over for dinner and you don't know what to cook. I could make that chicken jambalaya thing I make sometimes. Call me and let me know if you need it..."

So now I'm all smiley.

Ain't modern technology grand?


Confidential to Charlie: You weren't picking up the phone when I called, so I'll try you back later, but yeah, that would rock. I will pick up a big salad and some sausage on the way home. And dessert. Tasty dessert.


has five dinner guests showing up this evening and still does not even have half a clue what she's cooking.

These folks are quite unpretentious and good friends, so simple is OK.

Any suggestions?