Friday, September 28, 2007

New UUA Commercial

Ummm... Wow.

I don't hate it, but hm... one of the things I want in a marketing campaign is that I'd like it to attract the sort of people I actually want to attend church with, and I'm not sure that will.

It's a little angry almost, and I think San Francisco is a weird market for an ad that is really obviously directed at people who have a very polarized view of God. San Franciscans, whatever my other complaints about them might be, seem hip to the idea that people have lots of views of God.

My guess is that commercial would get us more members in a market like Atlanta or Austin, where sophisticated people live surrounded by those who have a more polarized view of God. People who think "Mango thoughts in a meatloaf town," as Meg Barnhouse put it.

Such people are often still pretty angry, though.

That said, I've only ever even seen one commercial for a church that made me want to attend that church. The Methodists made it. Though oddly it isn't on YouTube, you can view it here by scrolling about halfway down the page and looking to the left.

who realize how upper middle class and snobbish parts of her reaction are, but feels like honoring her upper middle class snobbishness in this instance because upper middle class snobs are a pretty reasonable marketing segment for us.

(The below started out as a response to Joel's comment, but I'm posting it with the rest of the message because I'm thinking the original message didn't get my point across.)

(((Joel Monka said...
The Mormons make good commercials, too. But those churches have the advantage of a uniform creedo accepted in every congregation within their denominations. What could we possibly say in a commercial that would be true of every UU congregation other than what was said in that commercial?

Don't judge the Methodist commercial by its denomination.

Watch it first.

Or if you can't, know that the commercial features a woman driving around town leaving packages in public places, most notably in what looks like a more run-down area, as non-descript music plays in the background.

She pulls into her own driveway, and a package just like the ones she has been leaving around is waiting for her on the porch of her very nice-looking house. She looks around, surprised and pleased as the picture fades into the methodist logo.

The voiceover says:

"If you're searching for your ways to share your gifts with others, and possibly even recieve something in return, our hearts, our minds, and our doors are always open. The people of the United Methodist Church."

There's not a bit of creed in there, and nothing our commercials couldn't say or do. I see God acting through that woman, but the commercial doesn't dwell on the point in any way that would be offensive to even the most sensitive athiests.

It's slightly on the sappy side, but I find a lot of things slightly on the sappy side.

Mostly, I think it's brilliant. It makes me want to join that church in doing good, not join a church in sneering other churches.

And, I should mention, it came out in 2003, and I never forgot it.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I thought I was getting tired of Boston Legal

But that was really good.

Sorry I haven't had much to say over the last few days.


Mark thy calendar...

Local Amigos:

Some of my pals and I are going to the Maryland Renaissance festival on October 21 (will be nice and cool, plus it's the last day so lots of stuff will be on sale.) If you're planning to go anyway at some point, go that day.


I love the internet.

This is really funny.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Busy but tired CC

I've had a crazy weekend, culminating with six people coming over for Sunday dinner. We're having fajitas and everything is FINALLY chopped and marinating.

Yesterday, I woke up at five and did homework, then we spent much of the day at the renaissance festival, the only place I ever get sunburned on the tops of my breasts. I thought last night I'd escaped it, but I woke up this morning slightly red.

Then last night, theCSO and I met Joel Monka and his wife for dinner in the city. We had a wonderful, many hour conversation. Joel and Ginger are hilarious and lots of fun. I highly recommend having dinner with them if you get the chance. Usually when I meet a UU blogger and spouse, the blogger and I mostly talk about other bloggers and blog stuff while both our spouses watch, eyes glazed.

Last night wasn't like that. I couldn't begin to list the things we talked about and theCSO and Ginger were full participants in the conversation. It was awesome. I think they should come back to DC as soon as possible and will be exerting all possible peer pressure to get them to come to GA.

OK, I'm going to do a bit more homework before my dinner guests arrive.


Excellent editorial on Jena"> Check it out.

Updates to the previous couple of posts

1. Jeff's comment on the Reverend Al Sharpton is well taken, and did a bit to revise my opinion of Sharpton. That said, I think I'm far from alone in my kneejerk mistrust of Sharpton and I still don't think he does causes many favors from showing up. I would consider him more honest that Michael Moore, but in the same basic ballpark.

2. I really didn't give sufficient background on the bible stories topic, so here are a few clarifications:

-My youth seem to know many of the basic bible stories, especially those that Unitarians like and/or those that are particularly palatable to children. They aren't totally ignorant and I'm certainly not planning to teach them all of the Bible in an hour or attempt to.

-A couple of weeks ago, I was reading a case for Property class where the Judge makes a reference to the Tower of Babel wherein he not only assumed the reader knew what it was, but assumed the reader knew it well enough to apply its implications to the situation at hand. I of the Presby upbringing was ok. It made me wonder how well my youth would do with it, though.

Thus, I am looking primarily for bible stories that aren't so well known that they would know them already, but do come up in society.

That said, the responses here have convinced me that a series of classes on this are in order.

Thanks, guys!


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Belated thoughts on the Jena six

1. Was discussing the Jena six case with some people I know. Oddly enough, I was the only one who knew the basic facts, though various people had various impressions.

One lady said "what that makes me think is that it all would have worked out fine if the kid they jumped had a gun."

There was an odd silence as I thought "Ummm... So some cracker kid pulling a gun in a crowded cafeteria is going to IMPROVE the situation? I think it can be said that some cracker kid pulling a gun in a crowded place isn't going to improve ANY situation EVER..."

I'm pretty sure that everybody else thought that, too.

But we let it go.

It's not worth explaining some things to some people.

2. Another thing I don't get is why, what with the nooses hanging from the trees starting this, that local officials keep saying this isn't really about race and it is just the national media playing up that point. Sigh. I read a really good book on the dragging death of James Byrd, Jr. at one point and residents of Jasper, Texas made much the same claim.

3. Six on one is not a "fight." The white kids deserved to get charged, too, of course, but I do object to people describing this as a "schoolyard fight." I think the violence was well past the "schoolyard fight" stage on both sides.

4. I'm not going to ask for a how of hands on this one, but I winced when I heard that Al Sharpton had shown up. In general, I view the appearance of Sharpton as a red flag that an issue is being overblown. In this case, it's not true. But I don't think I'm the only one who distrusts the man on sight and it might well be better for his causes if he stayed home.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Help me prepare a Christianity Cheat sheet for young UUs.

This week in YRUU, I’m teaching. In reading some of my cases for school, I’ve noticed over and over that certain Christian stories are referenced in a way that suggests everybody should know what they mean.

As our youth mostly weren’t raised to get all the implications possible in a short references to say, the Tower of Babel, I thought I would put together a Bible story cheat sheet of biblical stories you need to understand to function in our culture. Right now, I’m thinking of summarizing each story in a few sentences, then giving a few sentences about the story’s typical cultural interpretation as I understand it.

I will stick it up here afterwards so Chalicessuers can use it for themselves, too.

So, please, give me some bible stories that I should make sure the youth know about...


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

CC and her Momma

I'm very excited about a project I have to do for my Civil Procedure class. I'm supposed to sit in on Landlord Tenant Court for a few cases and write about what I see.

This is especially cool because the ChaliceMom works for a low-income housing project and takes people to landlord tenant court. (Not often, mind you.) The other day, I told theCSO that I was looking forward to writing it up.

"Plaintiff: My Momma," I said.

"Defendant: Yo Momma," he added.

Well, maybe you had to be there. But it was funny at the time.


Saturday, September 15, 2007

I've noticed that the number of jurisprudential types posting here is slowly increasing

So since you're here, would you mind putting Hohfeldian analysis into english?


Friday, September 14, 2007

This thread from made my morning

I know, I know, I'm awful

But some of the comments were really awesome.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Addictive Power of Ass-Kicking

Ms. Kitty recently wrote a thoughtful post about Ego and Ministry that probably set me up to be thinking this way, so I should credit her right from the start.

Tonight, in my smallest class, we informally argued out the issues in a case out of the Massachusetts district court where a Rastafarian who worked at Jiffy Lube sued for religious discrimination since Jiffy Lube instituted a professional appearance policy and gave him a position with no customer contact because he said his religion forbade him from following the policy.

(One wonders how a Rastafarian got past the drug test that insurance companies make the employers of those who use power tools administer, but my professor has already talked to us about not arguing issues that aren't in the case, so I bring that up here instead.)

We divided into teams. I was put on Jiffy Lube's side. The Rastafarian's team went first, and their central argument showed they either missed a small fact of the case, or took a gamble that we'd missed it.

Either way, they lost.

As I heard the argument, I remembered the fact. I paged through until I found the fact, circled it and calmly handed my copy of the case printout to my group's token extrovert, who was arguing our case for us. She looked very excited, showing it to the people sitting near her.

When it was our turn to argue our side, she began by demolishing the other side's position before moving on to ours. She's really smart and really quick on her feet and she absolutely made the most of what I'd given her. But when the debate was over, it was me everybody was thanking and smiling at.

It had been, at most, a fifteen-minute exercise. But having handed the other team their asses so thoroughly felt wonderful. As I packed up my stuff and left the room, I felt like I'd been shot up with morphine. I glided out to my car, feeling stupid for being so happy, but victory was still a lot of fun. I tried to call LinguistFriend on my way home, but he wasn't there. (He should consider this his invitation to dish if he had a hot date.)

My joy in this is, of course, rooted in insecurity. I'm still a little creeped out by an interaction I overheard in property class that went something like

"I'm Bob."

"Pleased to meet you, I'm Montgomery. Hey... Where did you go to school?"


"Really? Me too!"

(I believe that's word for word other than the names.)

So yeah, that aspect made this all feel especially good to the girl from St. Andrews Presbyterian College.

I'm troubled at how much I liked it, though. First off, my impression is these little debates happen with varying degrees of formality throughout law school. I will face a lot more of them, and I am totally aware that sometimes I'm going to lose, so getting addicted to that feeling is asking for trouble.

Part of this is probably rooted in my good Calvinist upbringing and mistrust of anything I like too much, but I also know I've seen the people who get off on this stuff, and I really don't want to be one of them. Being dependent on external validation, to say nothing of the sort of external validation that comes from besting other people in insignificant competitions, seems so cheesy to me, but there I go.

One of the attorneys at my firm and I were talking last week and I made reference to what I mistakenly said was the McNaghten rule, which she pointed out was properly pronounced "M'Naghten." She said almost everybody makes that mistake and if I can keep the proper pronunciation in mind, I will look "Smarter than the average bear."

With apologies to Yogi, I realized at that moment that I was A-OK with being the average bear in class discussions, though being a superior sort of bear when it comes to test-taking would be nice. But fundamentally, I'm still pleased to be a bear at all.

Well, unless I'm remembering a debate-winning fact and kicking ass, and then I get all warm and fuzzy about it, and feel goofy for feeling that way.

I'm guessing this too will pass.

off to hibernate for a few more hours before work.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Our collective complex

I wonder sometimes if the things I write about here are irrelevent, if the blogosphere is a sort of rarified air where we talk about things that ordinary UUs don't care about.

Then I go to porch chat every year.

Porch chat happens on my church's all-church retreat. The ministers hang out (on a porch, fittingly enough,) and answer informal questions from the congregation.

Just about every UUism debate I see on the blogosphere is rehashed, particularly the politics in church one. I usually just listen.

This year, a lady said "I went to a book signing Richard Dawkins did a few weeks ago, and there were SO MANY young athiests there. We need more young people, and I think the probalem is that our services are too theist. How can we make our church more athiest as to attract more people? If we don't, our church is going to die..."*

It's been my observation that cold war era kids all had justifications why their hometown, wherever they grew up, was the first place the Russians were going to attack.

I can't help but think "There are billions of people out there who believe what I do, and the church is dying because it has not properly conformed itself to what I believe. If only UUism were more theist/athiest/spiritual/pagan/multicultural/activist, then it might have a chance, but it's not and indeed my people are terribly discriminated against, so it is surely doomed" comes from the same impulse.

Why do so many of us get off on feeling so persecuted,while at the same time believing that our message will be salvific for UUism?

Why is "Free religion means you're free to build a barn for your own beliefs, it does not mean that a barn is provided or that everybody is going to like your barn and treat it with the reverence you believe it deserves" such a difficult concept?


*CC's church is pretty solidly middle of the road, and indeed is growing.

Scammed lawyers

This story is really well-written and cool.


Monday, September 10, 2007

CC thinks about the IAs

One thing crucial to this debate, and something I haven't figured out yet, is exactly what it means to be an Independent affiliate.

One of the most frequent complaints is that they will not be guaranteed space at GA for a workshop.

My suggestion for that is as follows:

1. Somebody should convince his/her congregation to sponsor the workshop.

Failing that, the organization can:

2. Go here. Pick a hotel. Call said hotel, say “Hello, I am bringing my organization into town for a conference on June 25-29, 2008. I would like a conference room for two hours or so one afternoon during that period. If members of my organization agree to rent five rooms from you during that period, can have that room for free?”

Failing THAT,

3. Send a letter to your members. “We would like to have a GA workshop, but we have to sponsor it ourselves. As the president of the organization, I’m willing to pay $50 toward photocopying fliers advertising our event, but we still need $100 to rent a hotel conference room for two hours. Will five of you please kick in $20 for this?”

If an organization can’t get five UUs to pay $20 apeice, then I don’t think it would be possible to make an argument that the UUA should be supporting them in any way at all. Clearly, they do not have sufficient support among UUs to be worth the UUA’s attention.

At GA this year, the humanists had to do this anyway even though they had an official slot in the program because whoever assigned the rooms assumed that just because William Murray had just written a book and a widely discussed UU World article and is a well-respected UU smart guy, that didn’t mean all that many people would show up to hear him talk. (Literally hundreds of people were turned away. CC was one of them.)

While some IA’s the UUA could live without (IMHO, the political ones that are poor men’s versions of actual political advocacy groups that non-UUs care about,) I see the Religious IAs as good things.

I just don’t see why the level of affiliation to the UUA is or should be an especially important point.

I've also heard around that the IAs get a discount on advertising in UU World. I asked Philo in his editor hat exactly how much the "affiliate discount" was and he responded, "UU World hasn’t adjusted its advertising rates yet for any of the organizations affected by the board’s decisions this year concerning independent affiliates, and is waiting for the administration to clarify its policies in response to the board’s decisions."

Here’s what I would do if I were trying to get my IA to have an influence on the congregations, and none of it has anything to do with getting listed in official UUA directories. (I don’t recall EVER even looking at a UUA directory.)

1. Have an active internet presence. A big website, a message board for discussing things, constantly updated links talking about what’s new. Enthusiastically review good books about your issue by non-UU people with name recognition and try to get them interested in your organization. Write about your organization’s take on what’s going on in the world and how it relates to your issue. Offer an e-mail mailing list for ministers and RE professionals. If the Chaliceblog can get 150 hits a day on a good week, and your organization isn't doing better, there's something wrong with your website.
2. Every year, every minister or board president and every RE director gets a letter saying that the Organization is happy to provide speakers and RE materials at a low cost. Send a really good “Time for all ages” story or something along with the letter.
3. Have a “sermon packet” with LOTS of information about your issue and your issue’s take on various interesting things ready to go and a well publicized phone number where ministers can call to request it.
4. Run a charitable project every year, ask churches to help or offer to partner with one large UU church a year.
5. Have some sort of GA program at a nearby hotel to energize the GA attendees and send them home with cool materials.
6. If your issue becomes very important in the news (E.g. You’re the Buddhists and the Dalai Lama dies,) be ready to send out a letter to the congregations with lots of information about what has happened, how your group is reacting and ways people can become more informed.

I’m guessing that the total cost of these suggestions is about two thousand bucks in the first year, less if you know a web designer willing to donate some work and/or if you can handle some of the letters over e-mail. And they would all take a decent chunk of time, though I’m pretty sure one really committed person could do it all if he/she had to and with spreading the labor to a few people it wouldn’t be bad at all. (Again, probably less work than the Chaliceblog.)

This is, by design, a bare bones plan that ignores the social and focuses on educating the congregations about who you are and what you believe. Obviously, the more members you have, the easier it is to have a conference, have every worship committee chair get a call from your organization, etc. But nobody has suggested that this affiliates issue will matter much to the larger affiliates anyway.


Edited: I removed the Ps. about postmasters, which was germane to something I edited out.

Even the Ohio Supreme Court does something right sometimes

This is an interesting case.

One of the side effects of having felon brothers is that the line between the concepts "Criminals" and "people like me" is pretty faint. (Some people seem ton construct quite a wall there.)

Anyway, I've thought through things like "what would I do if I went to prison" and "become a jailhouse lawyer, help people write frivolous appeals, and thus get enough respect to be left alone as much as possible" was the best answer I ever came up with.


Sunday, September 09, 2007



Recent UUA Board actions in regard to the independent affiliates of the UUA were a lively topic of informal discussion at the 2007 GA in Portland. Information from several sources is summarized here, including especially the Board activity reported in the UUA Annual Reports 2007 and reports. This topic will be revisited by the UUA Board at its October 2007 meeting.

A “Congregations Come First “ initiative proposed by a team under moderator Gini Courter aims “to explore ways to remove organizational obstacles to congregational health and vitality”. One of these obstacles was considered to be “that our congregations are not served by Independent Affiliates operating in isolation or being an alternative for congregational life” (both quotes are from Annual Reports 2007, pp.2-3), so they are all forced to reapply for their status. The letter which was sent announcing this move to the leadership of the Independent Affiliates of the UUA by Paul Rickter as UUA secretary can be found at ; it makes clear that from the first the intent was to withhold independent affiliate status from many of the existing organizations. After the decision that Independent Affiliates must reapply for that status, the Board discussed conversations with organizations which wish to (re-)affiliate with the UUA.

The significance of the Independent Affiliates controversy is not obvious at first. To portray their role schematically, let us consider the external organization of the UUA as a vertical branching diagram, in which branching takes place from a node at the top of the diagram, representing 25 Beacon St. The first branching is from the central office to the districts. The second branching under each district divides it into congregations (in most places the significance of cluster organization is so limited that clusters are ignored here). Under each congregation there is a final branching for individuals. The main information flow is vertical; in fact, it is mainly downward, with much less information going from congregations to the districts and the central office than comes downward from the central office. In some senses, of course, since congregational decisions depend on available information, such information flow is closely related to control relations.

Many UU congregations function in isolation, and the involvement of most members does not go past the immediate congregation. On the other hand, for those members whose interests pertain e.g to a particular area of religion, religious philosophy, international activity or association, we can picture a second sort of connection which may be considered as horizontal. These members often are vitalized by connections to others, mostly inside but also outside the UUA, on such special topics as humanism, Christianity, Jewish heritage, Buddhism, etc. About sixty such horizontal connections exist in practice. These topics are served by what from the UUA central office point of view are known as the Independent Affiliates. Although they are not all of equal interest to everyone, they provide an important part of the theological richness and ideological diversity of modern Unitarian Universalism. They offer an affiliation between individuals which is distinct from and not controlled by the vertical central stem of information flow.

For an example of the role of the Independent Affiliates, let me take the case
of a liberal Christian who finds himself in a UU congregation in which there is little interest in that orientation. (For clarity, the present writer has never been a member of a Christian church, but speaks rather from his observations of membership patterns.) That person, cast entirely on his own resources and those of a minister if there is one, can either shift to another UU congregation which is more oriented to Judeo-Christian tradition, search with little guidance for external connections, or remain frustrated and isolated from the sort of liberal religious connections which he has probably already left a Christian congregation to search for. The existence of the Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship provides connections, publications, specific UUCF events at GA and elsewhere, internet connections to discussion groups and blogs, connections to UU Christian ministers, etc. The possibility of such a diverse religious and ideological network across congregations, now under attack, has been a strength of modern UUism.

Unitarian congregations have offered the community aspects of the connections inherent in the maintenance of a congregation and its activities, which might be seen as local horizontal connections, and the input of local ministers can leaven local resources by pointing members towards UUA and external resources. The more distant horizontal connections have provided religious and intellectual associations of a richness and variety which only the largest local congregations can provide. This sort of multiple connectedness is one of the more attractive aspects of UUism, in contrast to hierarchical religious groups in which the flow of decisions and doctrines is exclusively vertical and downwards. Where the more distant connections are weakened or even abolished, the religious, intellectual, and ideological connections that draw thoughtful people into association are weakened. Such weakening of the horizontal connections approximates the UUA system to a vertical hierarchical one which most members have already rejected in their decision to join a Unitarian-Univeralist congregation.

. The decision of the Board of Trustees that each of the independent affiliates loses its status and must apply for reaccreditation is not pro forma. Until renewed recognition is acquired, none of these organization is recognized by the UUA as an affiliate organization. However, those organizations already enrolled in a UUA benefit program remain enrolled through December 2008. Only two out of the seventeen applicants which had requested independent affiliate status at the April 20-22 Board meeting in Boston were granted such status, the Council of Unitarian Universalist Camps and Conferences, and the Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministry (see Jane Greer’s article in for May 7, 2007). On June 25, two more independent affiliates were granted affiliate status. These were DRUMM (Diverse and Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries), and Universalist Convocations, a consortium of Universalist conventions. Associate status was granted to the UU Women’s Federation, the UU Service Committee, and the UU United Nations Office. The applications of the Partner Church Council, the UU Ministry to Earth, and the UU Small Group Ministry Network were tabled for consideration in October.

It is striking that not a single organization which focusses on religious or ideological aspects of UUism has been approved. Tom Stites notes in his report of the present status of this decision that these organizations thus lose the ability to arrange GA workshops, to gain recognition by listings in the UUA directory, and to have discounts for advertising in the UU World, as well as other benefits. See his report at A summary of these events is provided by T.S. in the fall 2007 UUWorld at p.53.

This action of the UUA threatens to weaken the independent intellectual streams in modern UUism. Some of the formerly affiliated organizations will adapt, others may die. For anyone who is not comfortable with my presentation of this conclusion, many of the above arguments, and other related ones, have been developed in a different way in a series of blog-posts by a Massachusetts minister (LT) at the address, in the posts with the titles (in reverse chronological order, as is usual on blogs) “One Meaning of the Independent Affiliate mystery” on June 7, “Serving Congregations?”, “It does not follow”, “More on the IA Mystery - Going a Little Deeper”, “Why the Independent Affiliate Mystery matters”, and “The Independent Affiliate Mystery”, which includes a list of the rejected organizations as of that date, and the form which organizations had to return in reapplying for independent affiliate status. On July 5, LT posted two later comments stating one hypothesis about the target in these proceedings, which indeed was suggested in private discussion at GA.

As stated in the preceding summary of Board activity, the Board’s actions have been rationalized on the ground that they will better serve congregations. This is a specious argument, as has been well argued by The Lively Tradition’s posts. Actually, the opposite is true, since the Board’s actions will make it more difficult for congregations to receive input from religiously diverse UU sources. At the present time, a weakness of the independent affiliates is that they are not well known to those who do not attend GA, so that they do not develop as extensive participation as they potentially could have. The independent affiliates are capable of providing a much richer leavening of religious diversity and information to UU congregations than has in general been available. For this reason, the existence and activity of especially the religious units among the independent affiliates should be made better known to congregations, rather than weakening their connections to the UUA.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Was Micheal Vick's dogfighting a cultural thing?

Whoopi Goldberg says it was.

I have no idea what to do with this information. Because I kinda believe her. I did a story on the local animal shelter in South Carolina when I was a reporter there. This being rural South Carolina, the county animal shelter was a room full of cages at the county landfill. The landfill manager was a good guy, though, and seemed to really care about the animals. He told me that people came by all the time asking if he had any pit bulls, and that a fair number of the dogs that ended up in his shelter showed signs that they had been fought.

Of course, bars that require memberships but won't sell them to black people are also a part of Michael Vick's culture, or at least the southern culture he grew up around.

It's very hard to know where to draw the line. I value kindness to domestic animals. (TheCSO and I have five of them, all from shelters except for the cat our last housemates abandoned at our house.) Our most recent acquisition, a Basset Hound named Rebecca, is a daily reminder of how abuse can scar a dog.

Even if dogfighting is a cultural practice, I feel safe in saying that it's wrong. (FWIW, a Jain is perfectly free to tell me that the fact that I eat meat and swat flies is wrong. I see distinctions there and won't necessarily agree, but I get that my view of these things isn't the only correct one.)

I do consider dogfighting wrong and at conflict with my values.

I've mentioned that I really like Jewish culture, partially because Jewish culture values a lot of the same things I value.

I never know what to do with culures that don't. Dogfighting is a glaring example. I want to be tolerant of other cultures, but I can't tolerate that.

For an even more subtle distinction, I really don't know what to think when I see cultures where education isn't valued and indeed, people who do value it and try to go to college are viewed as "trying to be white" or some such.

Mainstream upper-middle-class culture (I find it hard to call it "white culture" because there are sufficient numbers of successful people of all colors in my area that the term seems weird to me. I intuitively understood it more when I lived in the south.) does have its drawbacks. We're isolated from our neighbors, we like money, etc, etc and soforth.

But my sympathies are still with the kid of another race who likes science, or reads novels, and gets a lot of crap for it from his or her peers. Hell, it's hard enough to be the geeky kid in WHITE culture. I can't imagine what it must be like to be considered a traitor to your friends for wanting to be a doctor and being willing to do the work to get there. Historically, education has been shown to be the way to wealth and power. I want there to be people of all races who are wealthy and powerful.

The white, male faces of the Georgetown Law class of 1920-something stare out from a picture on a wall next to one of my classrooms. My classes don't look like that, and in my opinion, that's a wonderful thing.

TheCSO says that the non-white kids who took honors classes at his high school in Charlotte were shunned by their peers of the same color when they weren't being openly harassed. It depresses me to think that some of my peers in law school might have gone through that.

I don't like it, I would even say I think it's wrong. But I wonder at what point I am, albeit in my own head, imposing my culture on somebody else. I don't want to do that.

But again, my sympathies are with the geeky kids and the dogs.

It's a question I've been chewing on for a long time in various forms, and Goldberg's defense of Michael Vick has me thinking about it all over again.


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Things I have heard repeatedly in my first week of law school

1. Learning the law is like learning a new language (Heard at least five times.)
2. Various comparisons of law school to drowning.
3. The general structure of the courts.
4. Mandantory vs. Persuasive authority.
5. Primary vs. secondary law


I know someday I will long for the days when law school was sort of dull.