Thursday, December 31, 2009

It's New Years Eve and I'm blogging

Yep, I'm at the yearly New Year's Eve party at Forties Girl and Cerulean's house. Actually, all the usual suspects are here, though everyone but me is watching a movie upstairs.*

So, your attention-span-deprived hero is downstairs, typing and thinking. Christmas was stressful though everyone involved really did their best to make it not so. My generous and wonderful in-laws really went all out this year. This weekend, I'm going to try to get the Murder Mystery dinner theatre written.

And now TheCSO wants to play scrabble. I wish all of y'all a Happy New Year, full of friends who don't mind your eccentricities.


*Someone was talking to me and then said "well, I'd better go socialize" and went upstairs to silently watch the movie. I really don't understand the dynamics of movie parties.

Narcissistic Yearly Reflection: 2009 wasn't that bad.

It wasn't a great year either.

I traveled more than I usually do. I got to go to Vegas and Boston, I saw Montreal. The job market has been a world of suck, which makes things more anxious for me as I get out of school in either one year or a year and a half depeending on the job market.* I've had some big dramatic internet fights, but not as many as I used to.

I got a great puppy, my sister-in-law got married to a guy who jumps into lakes, ZombieKid is now eleven and the Gnome is nine.

Things are marching on.


*I'm technically in a four-year program, but I like to take classes in the summer, so I should be able to finish early. But it doesn't make sense to do so if there's no job waiting for me.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Response to TK - CC's stab at Church Polity for UU Noobs

A new reader named TK has taken the wind out of my self-righteous snit by being a perfectly reasonable and kind new UU who came to us from a conservative religion. Or if he/she is not, he/she totally has me fooled.

TK writes, in part:

I'm a new UU, myself, having signed the book only 9 mos ago, read only one short book about the theology/history, attended one district conference, and read some blogs and papers. (I come from a very conservative background.)

Somehow, I got volunteered to be on the Board of Worship (BoW) actually before I signed the book, so now I'm in a leadership position, planning Worship meetings, for a church that I only moderately understand the theology and even less understand the polity.

I'm just trying not to step on toes. Of course, as we're a "Society," I keep accidentally saying "church" and I see a couple people wince when I do so. It's just a habit, not a policy decision.

Anyhoo, that's my situation. Please have some sympathy for those of us who have great deal of energy and enthusiasm and are trying to bumble our way through.

It would be wonderful if you more experienced UU's wrote some stuff, say, here, about the relationships between the laity and the minister and other relationships within the church.


Honestly, that you are approaching this in the way you are suggests to me that you're doing pretty well. I've been a UU for a third of my life and say "Church" all the time. Nobody winces at my church, but I know that's not universally true of all churches. Anyway, a lot of what you need is common sense and it seems like you have that. There's a world of difference between presenting an idea like it will be the savior of UUism and simply asking if something like it has been done before and I suspect you know that the asking route is always the reasonable one when you're new.

Trying not to step on toes is always good. Listening is good.

The exact relationship of the minister and the board should be outlined in your bylaws, but here are a few general points, which I type with great anxiety as the Chaliceblog has the attention of people who know a lot more about this stuff than I do. I trust any missteps will be corrected in the comments. If I screw this up, don't tell Katy-the-Wise*

-The minister serves at the pleasure of the congregation and the congregation votes to install or fire him/her. Policies of the church are set by either the congregation or the Board, which is elected by and from the congregation**

-Therefore, the congregation does, or at least should, have a great deal of sway over what goes on in churches. We come from a congregational tradition, meaning that our churches are, at least theoretically, independent entities that are loosely united by a connective body. Our connective body is the UUA. In theory, at least the congregations should have approximately the unity of NATO. Other Congregational churches are the UCC and the Baptists.*** It is not uncommon for UU churches to vary a great deal and most people fit better in one sort of church than they do in others.

Conversely, some other churches/religions/denominations are more like France in their organization. In France, just about everything is run out of the Federal government. One has a federal driver's license. I call these churches "Federalist" churches because I'm a law student and that's how we talk. Mormonism and Catholicism are both pretty Federalist, which means folks who come from Mormonism and Catholicism often have very Federalist expectations for churches and get pissy when they aren't met.

-That said, all things tend toward the center and UUism has gotten more and more Federalist as time has passed. Since at least the civil rights era there has been debate about various issues relating to polity, with "Does being a free religion with a commitment to that polity mean a congregation has the freedom to not allow black members?" being a question that kept some good people up at nights**** and caused a division in the church for awhile.

While few would argue that the UUA is unreasonable in not allowing congregations that discriminate on the basis of race to join the association, the philosophical line between the UUA setting reasonable ground rules and the UUA bossing the congregations around for their own good is continually debated and moved around. I tend to want the congregational polity to remain as pure as possible and take a dim view of a lot of UUA initiatives that other people think are ok.

For example, and I apologize to long time readers since I've used this example a lot in the past, the UUA thinks it's just wonderful when a church becomes a "Welcoming Congregation," meaning that it has done a bunch of training and is certified by the UUA as a congregation that has doors wide open to potential Gay and Lesbian members. First off, I think that's pandering and would be disinclined to attend a church that was so proud of themselves for accepting me were I a lesbian. But more to the point as far as polity goes, in this rural congregation, the members were not at all used to homosexuals or homosexuality, and a lot of them felt that the church just wasn't ready. That notwithstanding, the board pushed the program through in response to UUA cheerleading. So now they are a "Welcoming Congregation" and can advertise themselves as such, but the actual members who weren't ready and had this thrust upon them likely aren't going to be especially welcoming to homosexuals who respond to the promised welcome and come through the door. Even more disturbing, this is a college town where new homosexuals who show up to the church are likely young and probably really need that welcome, so to be promised a welcome and not get one is a pretty nasty thing. The local church knew they weren't ready, and the UUA's attempt to coerce them into the 21st century didn't actually do anyone any good I'm guessing.

So anyway, arguments can and do happen all the time about the proper role of the UUA in encouraging churches to set their agendas certain ways and when letting local churches be local is a better idea. The Chaliceblog was more or less at one-sided war with the UUA Washington Office for awhile when they were doing stuff like encouraging ministers to preach on the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Alito. They've become a lot less inclined to do stuff like that and I don't have a problem with them at this point.

-- Last year, the UUA kicked out a vast number of "affiliate groups" and they no longer have official status with the UUA. These groups ranged from political causes (UUs for Animal Rights) to organizations of UUs with particular spiritual tendencies in one direction (e.g. UU Buddhists). Most of the spiritual groups were let back in, most of the other ones weren't. There's lots of debate within UUism still today about whether that was a good idea. I wish it had been done with a little more finesse, but I certainly recognize that the affiliates were spending a lot of time lobbying the UUA for stuff and the UUA is supposed to be responsive to the congregations, not the affiliate groups so I ended up supporting the decision in the end. LinguistFriend disagrees and his post about why is linked here.

- A lot of people will tell you that the problem with Unitarian Universalism is that is has no center and no core of belief. In my non-religious-professional opinion, that's bullshit. But Katy-the-Wise says it better than I do when she writes of the center of our faith: "That unique gift is as it has always been a commitment to freedom of belief, of thought and of conscience. Those who confuse freedom with license misunderstand that to mean that Unitarian Universalists can believe anything at all. On the contrary, true freedom means that we are responsible for our own beliefs rather than subject to an outside authority, which puts the burden of truth directly on the individual. The bottom line is that you cannot believe that for which you have no evidence in experience or that you have not examined carefully and tested with integrity. At first people think it is very easy to practice a religion that doesn't tell you what to believe or what to think or what to do. Soon they find that taking the responsibility that freedom requires is a spiritual practice that takes all our strength and courage."

--Just because we're free doesn't mean we're alone. Indeed, that's the point of having an association. We make a deal with each other to support each other and help each other along in our spiritual journeys. We make that deal with other folks in the congregation and the congregations make that deal with one another. Katy the Wise says that the combination of these two ideas-- The we are free and in covenant with one another, is the true center of UUism.

By being in association with each other, we form a national UU religious identity and we strengthen the concept of free religion. NATO makes each of its members stronger by uniting the membership and giving the term "Member of Nato" meaning. So, as independent as we are, and UU churches can be quite independent if they want to be, this connective body is still really important. That said, the UUA is an organization of congregations much like NATO is an organization of member states. If an American wants a change in American policy or a new program to start in America, they aren't supposed to appeal to NATO, they are supposed to start it in America. So for individuals to lobby the UUA for stuff doesn't make a lot of sense as far as structure goes and the age-old new UU question "Why doesn't the UUA do X?" is better phrased as "Why isn't MY CONGREGATION doing X and how can I help us start?"

Anyway, I'm sure I'm leaving out things about the contemporary perspective on this stuff. I KNOW I'm leaving out the historical roots of some of these ideas, mostly because I'm not confident that I know them as well as I should. Fausto from is a busy man these days, but he's the layman I know who knows the most about this stuff from a historical angle.

Further perspectives on polity stuff are welcome in the comments. Questions also welcome, if I don't know the answer I will do my best to find it for you.


* Katy-the-Wise is CC's favorite UU minister. She's thought about most things more than CC has. Including church polity, perhaps especially church polity. If you know who she is, feel free to address her as "Katy the Wise" when you meet her. Apparently she gets a kick out of that, kind of.

**CC heard through a friend about a congregation where a member wrote to Garrison Keillor and asked him if he would like to be their minister. As this illustrates, most UU churches don't in the strictest since need to hire ministers to be their minister. This is not to say that hiring an untrained minister is a good idea, especially if said minister is Garrison Keillor.

*** Non-Southerners often talk about "Baptists" when they mean "Very conservative Southern Baptists." In reality there are tons of different kinds of Baptists. I was buddies with a Liberal Baptist minister in South Carolina once and it was educational about how one could be liberal and yet very Baptist. He and I met and became instant friends the day he gave a prayer service on an anniversary of 9-11 that mentioned as an aside that all people, be they believers or unbelievers, were affected by this day. It nearly had me in tears because as he was the first person in town I'd heard talk of "unbelievers" like they were human. I don't think I did cry, reporters aren't supposed to, but I was close.

**** To me the reasonable answer is "Yes, technically you do, but doing so makes no sense in a tradition whose center lies in the integrity and freedom of conscience of the individual within the community." The UUA's answer is that a church with that rule would not be allowed to be a member of the UUA.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Unreal Presbyterians

My dad used to come home from session* meetings and loudly complain that other people on the session or in the church "might be Christians, but they weren't Presbyterians." What he meant was that loving Jesus was one thing, but understanding the Presbyterian polity, the balance of power between the session and the minister and the role of the Presbytery was what being a Presbyterian was really about and to be a real Presbyterian you had to understand those distinctions. And yes, it takes a lot of real Presbyterians to run an effective church.

I would never call UUs who don't understand UU polity "not UUs", if only because my voice would give out before I got through saying that to half the people I've met who deserve to hear it.

But maybe we need to get back into teaching some of that stuff. The amount of ignorance about it is embarassing.

who freely admits that Steve Caldwell can kick her ass on the minor details, but has a good idea of the basics and wishes most other UUs had a Chalicechick if not a Caldwell level of understanding.

*the Presby equivalent of the board. Yeah, you probably knew that.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

This is awesome.

Truly great film criticism makes one think beyond the picture itself to how a good movie is actually put together. When someone recommended this 70 minute youtube review of 'The Phantom Menace' I thought they were crazy, but I actually learned a lot about the craft of moviemaking from parts of it and really enjoyed the rest.


Beauty in Weird Places

Richard Simmons: Annoying? Awesome?

In an interview, Susan Powter said of Richard Simmons "He needs to put some trousers on and stop it."

CC, who thinks Susan Powter's fifteen minutes are well and truly up, finds Richard Simmons sweet and endearing on a non-ironic level and just hilarious in general. She remembers fondly the time Simmons had a vegetable steamer with him on the David Letterman show and said steamer exploded and how for years afterwards, Simmons would randomly show up every couple of months and David Letterman would chase him away with a fire extinguisher.

TheCSO frequently confuses Simmons with Carrot Top and annonced after viewing a yotube clip of one of Richard Simmons' appearances on David Letterman that he was one of the more annoying people TheCSO had ever seen.

Opinions welcome.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sermons that rock.

Mary-who-Dances learned this weekend that she is mentioned on this blog sometimes. I told her that her nickname was "Mary-who-Dances" and she said that at the place she goes to dance, she's known as "Preacher Mary." I explained that there were actually far more preachers in my social circle than dancers. Anyway here's one of her sermons. It reads well, but I'm sure loses something on the page. Mary is amazing at most things she sets her mind to and she can deliver a sermon like a sumbitch. If she were arguing in front of the Supreme Court, she could make Justice Thomas look up from his magazine.

Also, RevRose's take on Garrison Keillor is really awesome, though I'm kind of embarassed that the man actally merited a sermon from us. Shudder. As a bonus, RevRose includes a photo that makes Keillor look like Dwight Schrute*.

Go, my children, and drink in the Schrutiness.

Who, oddly enough, was planning to go to RevRose's church this Sunday and would have seen this sermon live, except that she ended up among Presbys. Ok, actually, circling a block in Brooklyn for an hour, hanging out with Presbys then digging herself out of a snowbank. I keep mentioning that I was in Brooklyn so you will think I'm cool.

*Comparison of Keillor and Schrute totally stolen from somebody on Facebook.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Stupid Questions, Stupid Answers

CC: "Who would win in a light saber battle, Walt Whitman or Ernest Hemingway?"
TheCSO: "Us all"


Monday, December 21, 2009

Postscript to the Keillor Matter

Sunday night, I went to a Presbyterian Church's Christmas party. We gathered around the piano and the choir director sat and played many of the well-worn holiday classics.

When he came to the UU-written "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" several people in the congregation dutifully sung the altered lyric "And Peace on Earth, goodwill toward all." The irony there is complete enough, but later that night, the minister and I (who are old friends) talked for a while and I told her about being a little kid standing in the pews with the ChaliceRelative, both of us singing the hymns but changing the male references to God to female ones. Keillor's fundamentalism about hymn texts wouldn't allow for such a thing, of course. But singing about God the Mother was that little kid's introduction to the idea that just because God was traditionally referred to in the masculine, it didn't have to be so.

Some traditions suck, you know. UUs get that. Presbyterians get that. Keillor does not.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Church Podcast bleg

Hey, I've got a minister friend who is thinking about podcasting
sermons. Is there anybody currently doing that who could answer some
questions and talk her through that process?

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, December 17, 2009

To do before I leave for New York City tomorrow

1. Wash clothes
2. Pack
3. Download law lectures for drive
4. Outline paper for completion in New York
5. Clean out car
6. Pedicure
7. Acquire wardrobe of high quality and tasteful designer clothes accented by vintage pieces and a scarf picked up from a street vendor in Dupont Circle
8. Finish J.D.
9. Lose weight until I am shaped approximately like Drew Barrymore.
10. Develop sophisticated hobby, like reading depressing novels in the original Russian.
11. Fill house with the works of undiscovered artist. Arrange for artist to be discovered.
12. Grow thicker, prettier hair
13. Write bestselling satirical novel
14. Accept that an old friend will still love you, even if so far you haven't reached the potential you had when you were 17.

The usual UU excuses for listening to Garrison Keillor

For years I've been saying that Garrison Keillor sucks and we shouldn't listen to him. I now expand that to say we shouldn't read him either.

The factual issues in his recent piece Don't Mess with Christmas speak for themselves. I'm sure plenty of other UU bloggers with better religious educations will cover them better that I could. And there are bloggers far more suited than I am to deconstruct Keillor's comments about Jewish guys and how their music makes the shopping mall impure. (What the fuck?)

When he misunderstands Emerson's comment "To be great is to be misunderstood," it's hard to take it as a compliment to Emerson. Mostly, it just makes me think that Keillor's a dumbass.

Let's review the usual UU excuses for listening to this clown:

He likes us! He says UU women are sexy
I'm pretty sure he means "UUs will do the freaky stuff the Lutheran girls won't."

But he's FUNNY
You mean when he parodies songs? Because he sure can't take it when people parody him, or change the words to Christmas carols he likes.

The piece in Salon was satirical. He doesn't MEAN it...
Have you read the piece? It was not satirical in tone at all and pretty much no one has taken it that way.

He uses gentle satire to make fun of self-important people.
Not really. He trades on his ignorant hominess the way Ann Coulter trades on her sharp-tongued conservatism, and I don't think the effects are any better. You may smile and laugh along, but keep in mind when Garrison says bigoted things like:"I favor marriage between people whose body parts are not similar. I’m sorry, but same-sex marriage seems timid, an attempt to save on wardrobe and accessories," or "The country has come to accept stereotypical gay men—sardonic fellows with fussy hair who live in over-decorated apartments with a striped sofa and a small weird dog and who worship campy performers and go in for flamboyance now and then themselves. If they want to be accepted as couples and daddies, however, the flamboyance may have to be brought under control," everyone else is still laughing.

And that's not funny. Even if he apologizes and claims that all his friends are Unitarians and Jews and he didn't realize that outside of Hollywood, Unitarians and Jews are given a rough time (which is what he said about gay people), I won't believe it and you shouldn't either.

At heart he's a liberal...he's just being funny.
No, he's a man who writes "I grew up the child of a mixed-gender marriage that lasted until death parted them, and I could tell you about how good that is for children, and you could pay me whatever you think it's worth." in a column that trashes "serial monogamy"

Meanwhile, he's had three wives himself. He's just a plain old hypocrite in the exact mold of conservatives who blather on about defending marriage without addressing which of their multiple marriages they wish to defend. And I don't mind hypocrites when they actally have something to say. He doesn't.

I've heard much more bigoted humor. Keillor's is pretty mild.
I got this excuse multiple times last time I wrote about him and I don't understand it in light of having examined Keillor's actual words. Ignore the folksy "I'm kidding" tone and look at what Keillor actually says. It is NOT Wanda-Sykes-style "Black people drive like this, white people drive like that" cultural observation. He is straight up saying gay people shouldn't be parents because the sort of monogamy he can't handle himself is better for kids and that UUs shouldn't be allowed to celebrate Christmas our own way becase his way is better. That is not funny. Don't let the homey tone fool you. The underlying messages are nasty stuff and a LOT of people are nodding along.

Quit nodding.

Quit listening.

Quit reading.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Somebody on Facebook asked what my favorite poem was

And I realized that I had put other poems up here before, but never this one. I have this memorized and it has come in handy repeatedly, most frequently in youth group when we need a reading and nobody feels like looking it up. When I recite it, though, I usually have a word or two off, so I looked it up again for posting purposes.


The Fiddler of Dooney, by Yates

WHEN I play on my fiddle in Dooney,
Folk dance like a wave of the sea;
My cousin is priest in Kilvarnet,
My brother in Moharabuiee.

I passed my brother and cousin:
They read in their books of prayer;
I read in my book of songs
I bought at the Sligo fair.

When we come at the end of time,
To Peter sitting in state,
He will smile on the three old spirits,
But call me first through the gate;

For the good are always the merry,
Save by an evil chance,
And the merry love the fiddle
And the merry love to dance:

And when the folk there spy me,
They will all come up to me,
With ‘Here is the fiddler of Dooney!’
And dance like a wave of the sea.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

The UUism vs. Your Old Faith Problem

I've mentioned before that I think former liberal Prostestants make the best UUs. They generally don't have that creepy distate/hatred/snottiness about their old faith that new UUs who come from conservative religions have and they don't have the somewhat paradoxical yet equally annoying desire to make UUism like their old faith*.

Liberal Christians get that you don't necessarily expect the UUA to make all sorts of decrees about the way UUism is done because most liberal protestants are used to a fairly congregational structure. They are more likely to get that what spiritual attachment they had to their old faith took time to develop and so they don't get pissy when they've been a member for a brief time and have not begun birthing spiritual inspiration like a sexed-up rabbit.

A couple of ministers who have posted here before have mentioned they have a "transitions from other faiths" support group to help people deal with their anger and other residual emotional stuff and move on. I've also heard really good things about an adult RE Curriculum called "Owning Your Religious Past: The Haunting Church" on the same topic. I don't love the title, but I know people who have taken it have found it helpful.

I'm thinking more churches could use this stuff.


* "I love the freedom of UUism. But I think UUism needs more charismatic ministers who will tell us about our freedom and then tell us what we should do with it." is a rough paraphrase of something I have actually heard somebody say in a UU church in a heavily-Evangelical area.

"I love how UUism doesn't make a bunch of political stands I disagree with like Catholicism did, but what we really need is for them to make some moral stands about political issues that I DO agree with." is also a very common sentiment.


I've often pointed to laws barring atheists from holding public office, unconstitutional but still on the books, as indicators of how far American society has to go as far as acceptance of atheists is concerned.

I really didn't think anybody would ever enforce one. Ok, I didn't think that because I assumed the prejudice against atheists was sufficiently strong that few places would elect an atheist in the first place. But still, I'm surprised.

who feels that atheists often take the wrong path toward getting their rights by being insulting and annoying, which pretty much never works. But the fact that I don't agree with their strategy for getting rights doesn't mean that I don't agree that they deserve those rights in the first place.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


In both Christian and Unitarian-Universalist congregations, it is very common for services or songs at or around Christmas to include the short song of the heavenly host in Luke 2:14. In the King James Version that is often quoted, this reads "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men". Many churchgoers have other variants from Christmas carols and other sources floating in the back of their heads.

In an earlier discussion on this blog, I made the point that the traditional forms in which this verse is usually quoted, including the KJV, do not correspond to the text which should be read on the basis of the best early Greek manuscripts. The passage is not found in the early Greek papyrus texts of the NT from the first three centuries AD, but it does occur in the early capital-letter (uncial) Greek manuscripts of the NT. Based on them, in the modern New Revised Standard Version, the text is correctly translated

"Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors." The "heaven" is not explicit in the Greek text, but is a reasonable interpretation. The understanding of the word "peace" requires separate discussion; in this context, some understand it as approximately equivalent to salvation. The last phrase is more literally "among men of favor" or "among men of good will". The difference between the KJV "peace, good will toward men" and the NRSV text depends mainly on whether the Greek noun translated as "favor" or "good will" is read with a nominative case (case of the sentence subject, found in late Greek NT manuscripts and the early printed editions of the Greek text, from which it entered early translations such as the KJV and Luther's Bible) or in the genitive (literally "of good will", "of favor", etc.), as in the most important early Greek uncial manuscripts and in modern scholarly editions. In my library, the form with the genitive is found in scholarly editions of the Greek NT from that of Tischendorf (1869) to the modern ones of Nestle and the United Bible Societies from recent years.

The NRSV provides an accurate interpretation of the Greek text, but misses a great deal relevant to its interpretation, even in fine study editions such as those of Walter Harrelson (2003) and the Society of Biblical Literature (2006). The Greek text suggests a Semitic original; both Hebrew and Aramaic predecessors of the Greek text were hypothesized by scholars even before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Now, both Hebrew and Aramaic forms of the last phrase, literally "among men of favor" in Greek, have been found in the Dead Sea texts from Qumran. This has the effect of confirming the reconstruction of the Greek text in Luke 2:14, as discussed by Bruce Metzger in his commentary on the Greek text of the NT (1994).

The early Latin translations of the gospels revised by Jerome provide a translation "pax in hominibus bonae voluntatis" which could be translated as "peace among men of good will" with the understanding that some men deserve and receive peace because of their good will. On the contrary, the interpretation of the Greek text by some earlier (survey in Plummer ICC 1901) and most modern scholars is that the good will or favor in question is that of the deity towards men. God's favor is understood to be granted to his covenant people. Thus the earliest form of the Greek text does not indicate that any general good will exists towards all human beings; rather, peace is considered to be limited to those who participate in the covenant with God. In a Jewish context, peace is thus conferred upon Jews; in a Christian context such as that of Luke, peace is conferred upon Christians. Others are not included. This is close to the opposite of the modern popular understanding of such phrases as "good will toward men" when it is sung in Christmas carols, where "men" is generally understood to refer to all human beings. Paradoxically, I suspect that most UUs would favor the popular inaccurate interpretation based on a corrupt text. The clear brief discussion of this passage in Luke by Stuhlmueller in the first (not the second) edition of the Jerome Biblical Commentary (1968) is particularly useful; so is the fine commentary volume on Luke by I.Howard Marshall (1978).

This is one case of many in which UUs have taken over a popular and misleading understanding of a text which is well known in Christian circles. Such a practice may place in question the concept of UUism which is implied, because it can produce an interpretative problem or contradiction which is commonly overlooked. In using and interpreting such texts, many UUs take over or bring with them the degree and type of understanding of historical Christianity and its texts which is current in lay Christian circles. Others who profess UUism value Christian and Jewish traditions, but advocate that they need to be considered with more care.

Speaking from a membership point of view, there is not really a choice in the matter. If such ideas are not considered carefully, they remain in the mind as part of the unconsidered baggage left over from previous devotion to some form of Christianity, and as potential time-bombs in the adaptation to UUism. For this reason, I have long advocated that one important aspect of the orientation to UUism should be a reconsideration of aspects of historical Christianity and Christian texts, which cannot be comprehensive but at least can teach habits of analytic and historical thought which can be extended to other material as the need arises.

This issue extends to many components of tradition other than religious texts and sayings. For instance, Western attitudes towards sexuality, rarely considered in introductions to UUism, are generally based on legends which have developed into a politically explosive part of a popular ethical system (e.g. Elaine Pagels "Adam, Eve and the Serpent", 1988). They are fragments of the ethical aspects of an ancient and convoluted religious tradition, which should be considered with the same care and respect as the modern religious successor forms of this tradition. Without understanding of the earlier forms of these traditions, their modern forms are unintelligible, and trip up those who wish to move on from them.

WTF moment of the day

The New York Times has a special gift guide for people of color.

I am 95 percent offended at the concept of this guide to gospel cruises and products for "problem hair."

Five percent of me wishes that I were of hispanic origin because those "Wise Latina" t-shirts are pretty awesome.


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Ya know that website I link to sometimes

that is constantly prophesizing that the rapture will happen on a specific date, and every time the date on the website passes, the creator just picks a new date?

The current prediction is for Monday.

I have an exam tonight, and I have to say I have mixed feelings on the idea of the rapture showing up on Monday.


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

What the hell, Massachusetts?

If you people wanted to elect Martha Coakley to statewide office and kiss your own civil rights goodbye, that's your business.

But I LIKE mine.

United States Senator Martha Coakley? Seriously?

Anyone who has ever used the words "my thorough review of all the evidence, including that which is often taken out of context and deemed 'exculpatory,”* is not someone I'm voting for, and I don't get why y'all did either.

who is pleased that the parole board also deemed the evidence exculpatory in that particular case, but wants to know why y'all want to choose between someone like this and handing the Republicans more control in the Senate.

*This was in the case of a man who had already spent fifteen years in prison for Satanic Ritual Abuse. The entire case against him is widely believed to be a hoax.

Mary and Joseph kicked out of Target with their baby.

I wouldn't normally bother to write about a woman illegally getting kicked out of a business for breastfeeding, but when the couple is named Mary and Jose and it's Christmas time, it becomes so bloggable.

Smooth move, Target.


Monday, December 07, 2009

Survey on folks raised UU

This is a survey for folks who grew up in YRUU/LRY. Please answer it if that's you.


I will actually defend the celebration of Kwanzaa

But people who want to celebrate Chalica are seriously on their own.

I'm wondering why the UU World felt the need to write about it since it sounds like almost no UUs are celebrating it. They found one congregation who had embraced that concept, but it looked like that was it. The article mentioned that Chalica's facebook group has 1,000 members. But that really doesn't mean much since lots of people join hundreds of facebook groups and never look at them again. Indeed, the facebook group "I read the group name, I laugh, I join, I never look at it again" has 700,000+ members.

IMNERHO, we are not celebrating it with good reason since it smacks of embarrassingly obvious appropriation and it, let's say it together, treats the seven principles as a creed. The creator of Chalica tells the UU world "If you notice some similarities to other December holidays—Hanukkah and Kwanzaa—they’re not intentional." Really? Had the theology student who created it never heard of an African American secular holiday where people exchange handmade gifts or a Jewish religious holiday where you light candles for more than six but less than nine nights?

I get that people and religions appropriate ideas from each other all the time and to be truthful, I think we're WAY too oversensitive about the practice. For one thing, sometimes an idea is sufficiently obvious that multiple people think of it*. For another, some traditions resonate with people for a reason and I don't think there is anything wrong with adapting some traditions for UUism provided we take a respectful approach to doing so, which admittedly we sometimes don't. That said, I do feel like the creator of Chalica is insulting my intelligence there.

And yes, in case you're brand new to UUism and don't know, the seven principles are not a creed. Using them, as Chalica does, as a sort of spiritual checklist, is not how one is supposed to treat them.


*One of the people who likes "Chalica" made a Chalica-themed parody of Adam Sandler's "Hanukkah Song" several years ago. Robin Edgar made one last year. I really doubt Robin Edgar stole the idea from the guy who did it first, I just think it's a really obvious idea that two people who like to make parody music had the same idea that these hockey fans did in 2007 or this atheist did last November. For my money the Hockey one is the best of the lot.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Bridge-design churches.

A few years ago, my church needed to build a new building to house our ever-expanding RE program*. After much architectural squabbling, we went with the "bridge" design where there's a bridge with a roof and glass walls connecting the two buildings.

If you ever have the chance to stand on one of those in the snow, do it. I did yesterday and the view was breathtaking. I was warm and comfortable and snow was falling down all around me on both sides, piling up on cars and making the entire world look clean and bright. I sat there for at least twenty minutes, breathing in the lovliness of it all.


*If you write about how UUism is dying and you hear a loud guffaw from the general direction of Northern Virginia, this is why.

Oh, and while refusing to hire someone based on their political affliation is not illegal in all states

The Ethicist doesn't like it. CC doesn't either.


Taylor Swift and feminism

I read some feminist blogs, though what I read there doesn't always make it back to The Chaliceblog. But it has been interesting to watch a slow backlash to the popularity of pop singer Taylor Swift creep across the blogosphere. It started with this post a month or two ago, and it appears to be picking up steam. CC-favorite blog The Sexist wrote about Swift this week.

On one level, I totally get it. Swift writes about hating the girl who is dating the guy she likes, how a friend of hers felt totally humiliated and ruined after she slept with a boy who turned out to be a jerk* and about wanting her boyfriend to rescue her by marrying her so she won't be alone. None of those themes delight me either. Actually, I'm sort of embarrassed to think of them.

Because I remember those feelings. I was very worried that no boy would want to marry me ever and I remember desperately wanting someone to want me enough to want to marry me. (I ended up turning down the first marriage proposal I got.) I know of at least one woman whose under-duress though not exactly date rape "first time" really REALLY screwed with her. (She's ok now.) And yes, I really owe a completely innocent girl an apology for my bitchiness to her because a boy I liked at 14 or so preferred her. (I ran into this boy awhile ago and he is WAY less awesome than theCSO.)

I have listed to some Taylor Swift songs, and while I don't adore the implicit social messages, I certainly don't see those messages as at all original to Swift. What's original to Swift is pop music that might not be your taste, but is well-written great stuff and the work of a 19-year-old. If she's reflecting things about our culture that we don't like, maybe it's time to change the culture, or at least sit down with our favorite teenage girl and have a talk about these sorts of cultural messages.

Anyway, I get really sick of people letting TV raise their kids then whining about it when TV screws up.


*It says something that when Buffy the Vampire Slayer slept with a boy who literally TURNED EVIL, this was regarded as more or less symbolic truth and I don't recall any feminist critiques of the matter.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Odd Conversations CC has had recently

Making a restaurant reservation over the phone

CC: Hi, I'd like to make a reservation?

Maitre'd: For how many?

CC: Eleven

Maitre'd: All right, for when?

CC: Seven o'clock Saturday night.

Maitre'd: I'm sorry, we don't make reservations for Saturday night.

CC: Oh?

Maitre'd: But I'm sure we will be able to seat your party when you arrive.

CC: Umm... I'm a little concerned. Since my party is so large, could you possibly set aside some tables for us so when we arrive at seven we won't have to wait?

Maitre'd: Certainly. I can do that.

CC: Wonderful!

At the church bazaar.

Guy: What's this?

Me: It's a footbath. You put warm water in it and some epsom salts and then you plug it in and it makes bubbles and stuff. You put your feet in it and it's really comforatable. I gave my dad one two Christmases ago.

Guy: Would your Dad like another one?

Me: I don't think that's necessary. After all, he only has two feet.


Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Read about Tiger Woods in spite of myself

Saw that his wife, Elin, called the mistress. When the mistress picked up and asked who it was, Elin said "You know who it is. You're fucking my husband."

I, for one, would have responded "I'm sorry, you're going to have to be more specific."

who also notes that Elin is staying with Tiger, but has insisted that the prenup be revised. I like this woman.