Monday, March 29, 2010


Sorry I haven't been posting much. I've been working on some big papers for school. If you have any brilliant insights on how employers can resolve the apparent catch-22 in the Ricci vs. DeStefano case, please e-mail me. Other than that, I'm going to be busy for a bit, which usually means "arguing on the internet other places."

Here's something cool though, Sady Doyle wrote 13 Ways of Looking at Liz Lemon. I liked that, though I felt she left out the key context that most of the men on the show are no prizes either. Arguably Grizz and DotCom are the most sympathetic people on the show and they are men, though minor characters.

Anyway, back to the books, at least until something that really inspires me appears.

Criminal justice *Headdesk* of the day.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A couple of overdue thoughts on Citizens United

Awhile ago, LinguistFriend e-mailed me and asked me to write about the verdict in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission. I'm not delighted, but I don't feel as passionate about the "Companies being treated as people" point as lots of people do, at least partially because I am interested in expanding the definition of "person" as much as possible before the sentient robots are invented.*

From a law nerd perspective, one of the interesting things about the decision is how quickly the McConnell decision was overturned. Yet another sign that Souter's love of precedent is very much gone.

As for the upshot of the decision, I am interested in what is going to come out of the fact that the corporations still have to respect donation limits, what they are allowed to do is pay for commercials themselves, presumably with "this ad paid for by Walmart' at the end. As frequent reader of Consumers Union's blog, The Consumerist, I am constantly reminded how much Americans hate some companies.

If I were a muckety muck in the Obama campaign, I would do everything I could to convince Comcast to support Obama's opponent.


*I look forward to the Singularity like a little kid looks forward to her birthday.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Christopher's awesome comments on the "Digital Natives 2" thread

Deserve your attention.

who doesn't usually direct people to comments in older threads, but I thought these were worth it.

Weddings: Snob or reverse snob?

Brides are notorious for being snobs about who had the fanciest wedding, but I find that in UU circles, I have conversations like:

CC: Hey, swing music! I had a swing band at my wedding!

UUBride1: Oh, that's pretty extravagant. I just had a DJ...

UUbride2: We didn't want to support the Wedding Industrial complex. So for our music, the groom just played his harmonica...

UUbride3: Groom? You had a Groom?

OK, it's not quite that bad.

But (and this might be because I had a wedding with a band) that I am far more likely to hear people brag about how cheap their wedding was in a "what a purist I am" sort of way than to brag on what a fancy wedding they had. I swear I've heard like five people tell the "what a fabulous and spiritual wedding I had for just a hundred bucks, I can't imagine why anyone would spend more" speech recently.

So is this a UU thing, or is having a traditional wedding way uncool in general these days?

who, truth be told, grew up in a family so screwed up that she just wanted to do one thing just like everyone else.

And also observes that even Jesus would rather drink wine than water at a wedding.

Oh, and criminal justice *headdesk* of the day.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Note the absence of Tigers in this video...


Question of the Day

A guy is about to be executed in my state and victim's mother has given interviews to seemingly every local news source. In the interview that is running on the radio, she says that:

1. She forgives him

2. She's bringing her whole family from Texas and Ohio to VA to watch him die, and is "looking forward to Powell being executed"

Are those fundamentally inconsistent statements? To my thinking they are.

who has no problem with not forgiving someone who murdered someone you love, but if you're going to talk to the press about how you forgive them, you should actually do it.

And who thinks it is only fair to point out that this particular killer is a total piece of scum.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Digital Natives II: Trying to answer really hard questions

Dancing Hippie asked me some excellent but difficult questions in the "Digital Natives" post about what a church that moved in a Digital Native direction might look like. Before I start, I want to emphasize that this is not "Chalicechick's Decree of What You Should Do Right This Minute," merely one potential vision for the future.

DH's questions are bolded and set off.

(((But what does a social media integrated congregation mean? What aspects of church life would work in social media?)))

Being a law nerd, the aspects I am most interested in are governance aspects. I've been in a church or two where information seemed to be kept closely guarded and everybody just sort of went along with whatever the board suggested since this meant that they were the only ones who reliably knew what was going on. IMHO, this model is unsustainable in a world where people are used to a more free exchange of information and it isn't a good example of our democratic principles in action.

I don't see why our enhanced abilities to communicate with one another can't take some of the power back away from boards and committees and put it in the hands of the congregation, for example. If anyone who logs in to the member portion of the website can read the information that is given to the board and can vote on things, I think you're going to find a congregation that is more engaged and even makes better decisions.

I attended a congregation for awhile where someone literally told me that new membership ideas were well and good, but Myrtle had been membership chair for X number of years and if she didn't like the new ideas, well, we couldn't go hurting Myrtle's feelings, now could we? (Name changed to protect Myrtle.) I think that's an extreme example, but I think it is really easy for congregations to slip in to patterns like this where new ideas have to get past gatekeepers. If the whole congregation is not just allowed to make suggestions to Myrtle individually and be turned down individually, but allowed to discuss suggestions in a message-board-type area, then when lots of people think something is a good idea, it is more likely to happen, especially if they are allowed to take a vote and make it happen.*

Most of us aren't at our best in lengthy congregational meetings where all communication is verbal. Why not have a week long "meeting" where debates can happen online in a message board format and everybody votes at the end? Or why have the "meeting" once a year at all? Why not address issues as they come up?

TheCSO pointed out that so much of this sounds like an online version of the "town meeting" format that our religious ancestors liked to use. I don't think the early congregationalists had "nominating committees." Are we sure we need them now? Conversely, I don't think anyone would disagree that there are a few areas that might be exceptions. We don't all need to know how much everybody pledges, for example and I have no problem with the church staff being the only ones who know that. HR issues involving staff seem like another good example.

I know a guy with a finance resume that would knock you over who was told he couldn't be nominated to his church's endowment committee because the committee had "too many white males." I will spare you the list of reasons why this is stupid and simply say that if instead of a committee, there were a message board where people could put up ideas and convince other people to vote for the best ones, then he could have participated and likely won people over. The good ideas should be allowed to win, IMHO.

But there are lots of ways that spreading information around can be helpful to the congregation even in places you wouldn't expect. One simple thing my church does already that I think is fabulous is to send out "Joys and Concerns" from the previous week as part of a mass email to the congregation each week. When I am in church and something is announced, unless I whip out my cell phone and note it right then, I'm likely to forget. If you put "Joys and Concerns" in my e-mail box, when I read it I can easily fire off e-mails and facebook messages of congratulation or offering help, send flowers and in other ways reach out to people in a way that can carry the interaction a long way past Sunday morning.

For another example, I know the minister of a very small church that expects her to be in charge of everything. Members of her congregation say all the time "Oh, if you need something, please call" but then she has to call and hear their excuse and then call someone else, etc, etc. My suggestion was that when someone says "call me if you need anything," she should say "can I add you to my e-mail list?"

That way, if she needs an extra sitter for the choir concert or if the secretary is sick and she needs someone to run off and fold the newsletter, she sends out one email to the "Help the minister" list, people who can help respond, and she's done.

Don't know if she has implemented that.

But I think it is a good example of how not every suggestion for using technology has to be a big radical change, though I certainly suggested some big radical changes above.

(((Would a new role for pastors be to follow the tweets of members to get feedback the way a marketing departments follow some tweets?)))

Honestly, I'd say that if your church has a staff membership person, then they should probably have twitter searches already set up so on the rare occasion that someone tweets about the church they at least see it. Wouldn't you want to know what people were saying? I doubt people tweet about churches much, but when they do, would be nice if someone at the church saw that and the way to do it is with automatic searches, not reading every member's twitter feed.

Also, I had a bit of theological snark about a skit my church choir did recently and if I'd had a place to mention it to just the folks from my church, it probably wouldn't have ended up on twitter since I usually don't like to put things on my twitter feed that most of my friends won't understand.

(((I grew up as the son of a pastor and the time I had with my dad was limited enough as it was with him off at meetings and weddings and funerals all the time. How much time would I have had with him if he had to follow fb and twitter all the time in addition to these other traditional roles. Would my current church have to hire a third pastor just to minister to the tweets?))

Katy-the-Wise still does "sermon talkback" at her church. If it works the same way it did at her old church, you have a few minutes to get a cup of coffee, then Katy and interested congregants meet back in the sanctuary for an informal discussion of the sermon. If you have questions about the sermon, if you disagree or if you entirely didn't get it, you can ask the minister and everybody can talk about your question.

Some ministers view this practice as "let's attack the minister time." Some church members (i.e. jerks) try to use it that way. It never really worked with Katy because whatever you were talking about, Katy-the-Wise had thought about it more than you had and could issue an analytical smackdown if one was deserved. I don't just call her that because it sounds cool.**

Her sermon talkbacks ran between half and hour and an hour and I can honestly say that they were more spiritually helpful than anything I have ever done in Unitarian Universalism. I learned SO MUCH and developed SO MUCH spiritually from those conversations. I think back on them all the time and would love to attend a church that still has them because I got so much out of them. Indeed, when someone asks me a hard question on the Chaliceblog, I think of Katy, throw my shoulders back, and start typing. (OK, sometimes I go think about it for awhile. But the throwing shoulders back and typing occurs soon enough.)

Since my impression is that a lot of ministers feel like they are being given the third degree when talkback is done verbally, why not have an online sermon discussion running for a couple of weeks after each sermon? People with varying reactions to the sermon can show up and talk about it and clear up one another's confusions and then the minister can comment as necessary.

Depending on whether the minister wanted to provide more explanation or mostly let people who were on the right track discuss it out amongst themselves, that would take some time, but if the minister had less committee work (see above suggestions) then he/she would have time for that. And I think most ministers would RATHER have theological discussions than do committee work. My goodness, I hope they would.

That said, there are a fair number of ministers already who post their sermons on blogs that allow comments. Though some sermons get responses, Ms. Kitty's in particular seem to get discussion, "online sermon talkbacks" haven't really caught on. But then, we haven't advertised them as such. I think the idea still has potential when introduced to the congregation as a whole.

(((How would any of this make young adults feel there is anything other than RE?)))

By bringing them into decision-making that engages them as adults, by connecting them to other people in the church through discussions of things theological and not that can lead them to find things they have in common with other members, and by making church something you check into for a few minutes once a or twice a day as you're on your laptop in bed or while you're bored at work as opposed to something you do on Sundays then forget about.

(((At our church we have small group ministries aka chalice circles, so I suppose you could have a virtual chalice circle, but that doesn't sound fulfilling to me in the same way as a small group meeting during the week.)))

I certainly don't think we should get rid of in-person interactions like this one. That said, I like online discussions because I often formulate my opinions better in writing and much prefer the "read someone's three paragraphs, think about what they said for awhile as I do something else, write three paragraphs in response" approach to a verbal discussion, at least as far as this sort of thing is concerned. Also, I'm a night law student with a really irregular schedule. I've never seen a small group that was meeting at a time when I was sure I could consistently make it.

Anyway, I think we should have room for both approaches.

Indeed, I think online stuff works best when it is enhancing offline social interaction rather than replacing it. I'd love to see more inter-church online discussions of regular life stuff that could bring people together and help them realize how much they have in common and how much they will have to talk about when they see each other on Sunday.

In a side note, there's an RE class at my church that meets EVERY SPRING that I have wanted to join for THREE YEARS but that has never met on a night that my crazy-scheduled self could make it. If they offered it online, I would sign up in a second. As it is, I likely won't be able to take it until 2012.

(((I'm certainly out of the age group that Wikipedia defines for the natives, but I've also been one of those pioneers who built the technology that the natives live with, so I don't feel like I'm out of the loop, but perhaps I am.))

I was born on third base. You hit the triple. That said, I find this vision of a minimally hierarchical church that is focused on discussion and collaboration invigorating and exciting and very consistent with the way a church run by people who value what we say we value should work and I wanna go. I don't think you're out of the loop, you seem like I smart person to me and if you read this and hate all these possibilities and/or don't think they would work, well I'm just a layperson with no religious training who gave it a shot and goodness knows which one of us is right.

Time may tell, I suppose.


*I'm writing this terrifyingly aware of how lots of UUs often think something is a good idea that Chalicechick considers a bad idea. But I can accept being outvoted. Being unilaterally vetoed by Myrtles is much rougher on me.

** Very early into my UUism career, Katy gave a sermon about the nature of vulgarity, how our notions of it have changed, what it means for us to have vulgar things and what it means to use vulgarity. At sermon talkback, Chalicechick raised her hand and when called on said "Course jocosity catches the crowd."

Katy finished "Shakespeare and I are often low-browed."

I regard that moment as the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

That always bothered me, too

XKCD's awesome take on those "Porn for Women" books full of pictures of dudes mopping*.

May be non work safe depending on your workplace but I think you're good.


*Took a minute to run through the list of housekeeping chores and find the one that sounded the least like a degenerate code word. Try it. It's fun!

Fiction blog gets an update

I needed to write a story that could be read in five minutes. I wrote one. I didn't get to use it for what I wanted. So I put it here.

It currently has no title.

who has written things in the last three years, this is just the first thing to seem right for the fiction blog in a long time.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Digital Immigrants vs. Digital Natives

I've got some stuff going on that has me thinking about this distinction. I really don't like talk about generational differences and find most things people say about them to be unreasonable generalizations. That said, at least right now I'm feeling like there is an enormous gulf between people who take as a matter of course that, say, Old Navy would allow customers to post negative reviews of Old Navy products on Old Navy's website and people whom I don't think could comprehend something like that or how it could possibly be a good idea for Old Navy since obviously anything that is in public should have its message carefully controlled and optimized.

This is more than a generation gap (and indeed, I know young digital immigrants and older digital natives), though it is at times tempting to think of it as institutions being afraid to do something that will speak to young people because they are so afraid of offending old people. That's an oversimplification of the issues, though. I think the Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives fundamentally view information and the sharing of it differently, perhaps to the point that they are speaking different languages when they talk to each other about that topic.

And I don't know what to do about it. That video about social media that everyone's passing around has a few facts I find a little questionable, but the overall message is, I think, pretty inarguable.

This is something every institution is facing, but I think the challenges as far as UUism is concerned are specifically interesting because the contrast seems especially dramatic with UUs given that we talk a lot about freedom. For example, board members often like to be conservative about things like information, yet Digital Natives tend to view information, and lots of it, as crucial to the functioning of the Democratic principles that UUism preaches.

Do you see this issue as one your church is facing? How are y'all dealing with it? How should we approach it as a denomination? Will ignoring it be one more thing that convinces people my age and younger that UUism (or protestantism or Catholicism or Judaism) has nothing for them except RE?

Or is this a totally false dichotomy and am I worried over nothing? I would actually really love it if you could convince me that I'm wrong and that the transition will be smooth and this stuff is no big deal. But I don't think I am wrong.

who, obviously, gets that there will be sampling bias given her audience.

EDIT: A smart person I know read this and mentioned (on Facebook *swoon*) that there is a third category, the "Digital Babushka," who fears technology and doesn't care to learn it no matter how useful they are told it can be. She was too kind to directly say that I was effectively lumping the Babushkas in with the immigrants and judging the immigrants on the Babushkas, but I do think I did that and am rethinking where *that* line should be drawn. Suffice to say, I get that there are a lot of people of the "digital immigrant" generation who really do adapt to technology well, indeed, some of them may comment on Old Navy when they get a sweater they don't like and I had a "google race" with one of them last night.*

At the same time, theCSO works with a major publisher of peer reviewed academic journals and he sees a huge gulf between those journal editors who insist on paper publication of the journal no matter what and those who saw that paper publication was expensive, online journals can update and correct efficiently and everybody reads academic journal articles pretty much exclusively online anyway and simply made the change. I hope we as a faith, and as a culture, can be wise enough to see when taking a new opportunity is the reasonable thing to do and just go with it. I think it is harder for Digital Immigrants to put aside something, be it a paper journal or a press release, that is no longer the best option than it is for a Digital Native. But though I side with the Digital Natives and am one, if barely, simply by nature of when I was born**, I don't see the change as 100 percent positive in all circumstances and I can certainly see that Digital Immigrants have a crap job in that they are expected to keep the Natives and the Babuskas happy, a task that may be impossible. That said, I do ultimately side with the Natives in that this revolution is going to happen whether we want it to or not though, and I'd rather the institutions that I like ride the wave than get swept under to placate the Babuskas.

Obviously, this post and my opinions on the matter are works in progress.

*Where two people are talking and realize neither of them know something, so they race to see who can find the information by Googling from their cell phone first. My friends are a nerdy bunch.

**I do think I was born on third base, I don't think I hit a triple.

Sunday afternoon fluff.

I heard someplace that Madonna is planning a movie about Wallis Simpson, the former Duchess of Windsor. I know that King Edward had abdicated the throne for her and my impression was the British royal family didn't like her, but other than that, I knew nothing.

So I decided to read up on her for a bit. Ok, even WIKIPEDIA's version of this woman's life is riveting.

I can't wait for this movie.

Oh, and in other news, I used to watch "So You Think You Can Dance" and they had an entire subgenre of contestants who were freakishly good at the robot. Here's one example:

I think he Can Dance - Watch more Funny Videos


Criminal justice *headdesk* of the day. And a second one

Saturday, March 13, 2010


It's either a good thing about living in (ok, near) a city or a bad thing about living in a city that one tends to forget that stuff like Schools deciding not to have proms rather than let lesbians attend actually happens some places.

The New Orleans hotel owner offering to throw the students a free prom is a nice touch.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

AMC theaters, Chalicechick salutes you

A Neo-Con interpretation of the Seven Principles, or, why they ain't a creed

On the Election-L list some genius wrote: I believe that theological/ethical argument within the Seven Principles paradigms does not leave much flexibility toward the political Right.
Perhaps Conservatism has some proud past where legitimate concerns were raised but in my view, American Conservatism today is simply an excuse for crying: Me! Me!
Forgive me, but I just can’t identify U U with me! me!

My response:

The seven principles are not a creed, so we cannot use them to measure what is compatible with UUism and what is not.

One of the reasons the seven principles are not a creed is because they would be a crappy one because they are so vague and wishywashy that you can interpret them to mean damn near anything.

To wit:

Doesn't the inherent worth and dignity of every person include fetuses?

Doesn't justice, equality and compassion in human relations include fairly trying criminals and then executing them if that's what is just, and compassionate to the victims of the murders, and equal given that their family member was killed? How about longer prison sentences for repeat offenders so that fewer people have to be robbed, raped, etc? Where's the justice and equality in taxing working people to pay for programs for people who don't work?

Doesn't acceptance of one another mean acceptance of conservatives in the way that you accept African Americans? Would you ever insult African Americans from the pulpit? Do you say to yourselves that African Americans don't share our values culturally so it shouldn't bother us if we chase them off?

Doesn't a free and responsible search for truth and meaning mean we should continue to teach the question of evolution? If our children can responsibly search for truth and meaning in other areas, why not give them the facts about the controversy for themselves?

Doesn't the right of democratic process mean that people should be able to keep gays out of powerful positions if that's what the majority wants? If the majority isn't comfortable with gay rights, shouldn't we not be forcing gay rights on the majority?

Wouldn't the goal of world commuity with peace, liberty and justice for all be most swiftly achieved by invading the most ruthless of the world's dictatorships and installing democracies? People are suffering while we sit around and negotiate with Castro, Kim Jong Il, the Taliban, etc. Shouldn't we be doing something to help?

Doesn't respect for the interdependent web of existence mean that conservatives have a place in the world, too, and indeed that they are an important part of the process?

Anyway don't argue with the individual conclusions, I don't believe most of those things myself, I was just making the point that a fairly extreme conservative could interpret the seven principles to their liking very, very easily. That's why we shouldn't use it for a creed. I don't want to speak for actual conservative UUs, but I will see if I can find one willing to write his/her own take on the seven principles. Suffice to say, I'm sure they could.


Sunday, March 07, 2010

Interim Ministers: The FAQ

I wrote this for my church's facebook discussion group, but I'd like to get lots of educated and thoughtful eyes on it before I wave it around as correct. Please critique and comment, though I'm not crediting my blog readers in the final version as I like to maintain the delusion that at least two or three people at my church don't know I'm Chalicechick. And I'm anonymizing my church for the two or three blog readers who don't know where I go to church.

Blogging's no fun if you take all the mystery out of it.

What is this?
It's a list of questions people may have about the interim process and the best answers I could find for those questions. I attended the “meet with somebody from the interim search committee” thing after church this week, so I started with questions that were asked there and just sort of followed them out logically.

Why are you qualified to write this?
Formally, I'm not, but I have listened to people's concerns and I talked to a UU minister or two about it. The minister buddy or buddies is/are in no way affiliated with this church and I'm not on the board or any search committee. I consider that independence from the process a qualification of sorts. Also, I'm an employment law nerd, though ministerial employment hasn't come up in any of my classes.

Where are you getting your information?
Some from the UUA website, some from other ministers, all heavily interpreted by me. Assume that answers about facts are formally researched and answers about reasons why we do things are educated conjecture. Some of my research comes from the UUA's handbook on transitional ministry, which is on the UUA website here:

Feel free to argue with me in the comments. If I'm wrong about something I will fix it and any errors are mine, not my friends'.

What's an interim minister and why do we need one?
When a minister leaves a church it is like an (ideally amicable) divorce or breakup. Many people who get divorced feel a sudden need to find someone new and get immediately married again. More to the point, their view of what a marriage is like, what roles a spouse plays in the marriage and the faults their spouse has that they want to avoid are all intertwined with who the ex-spouse was and what he/she was like.

An interim minister who will just be there for a year or two gives the congregation an experience with a different sort of minister and enforces a period of breathing space and self-examination. It will give us a chance to get a bit of perspective on what sort of permanent minister we want. After all, our current minister's style of ministry seems to work fine here, but his style is not the only style, so letting the church see someone with a different style might have us finding a style of ministry we like even more.

If we love the interim minister can we hire him/her?
It is against the UUA's rules to do that. Technically it is possible to flout those rules, but the UUA really frowns on it. If we did that, the minister we chose would have a lot of trouble finding another job after he/she left or church and frankly we would look like jerks who don't think the rules apply to us in the eyes of other churches.

Why does the UUA have rules against hiring an interim minister permanently?
Primarily because being an interim minister is not supposed to be a two-year job interview. For one thing, a lot of churches lose ministers in the first place because there's something wrong with them. My impression is that this isn't true in our case, but, for example, a church could be effectively run by an inner circle that lets no one else have any power and decides whether a minister goes or stays. A good interim minister could come in, shake things up and make the church's leadership more inclusive, take the heat for all those changes and then leave, allowing the new settled minister to proceed forward with a church that is better run without having to take the blame for being the one who shook things up.

Conversely, if the interim minister wants to BECOME the settled minister, making those changes, even if they are needed, is not in the job candidate's best interest. If the interim really wants the job, the interim will spend all their energy keeping the “inner circle” happy since that's the easiest way to get the job.

But I don't think the problems have to be as huge as domination by a few people for a good interim to be helpful and I think a good interim will give our church, which does run fine, a little tune up so it will run even more smoothly.

Wouldn't it make more sense to have a process more like tenure, where a minister would “try out” for two years then be “really” installed?
For a variety of reasons, including those above, that's not how the UUA rolls. Keep in mind that not all ministers leave under the happy circumstances or minister is leaving under. Ministers die, some churches fire ministers (which always leads to lots of drama), etc, etc, and soforth. Big groups of people are not necessarily more rational than individuals and shouldn't make a choice as important as a settled minister when they are still reeling from a shock.

Further, interim ministers move every few years by choice or they would have a different job. If we hire a regular settled minister, have him/her move to our area, have his/her spouse get a new job and his/her kids change schools, then we better have a damn good reason to, two years in say "Actually, we think we can do better, you're fired."

How long will we have an interim minister for?
Two years. Most churches do either one or two years. Since our current minister was there for so long, getting perspective will likely be a longer process, so our church's selection to take two years really makes more sense.

What if we still haven't found the right person after two years?
Then we get a different interim minister. I think that's what our RE minister did during her leave of abscence, serving in the church in the city where her grandchildren live for the third year while the church finalized their search. I hear really great things about the minister where she spent that year, so clearly it worked out for the best.

Do you think our well-known former minister could come back? How about the interim from the RE minister's leave of abscence? That really good intern we had?
Again, the UUA rules generally support getting in somebody new. Also, the interim and the intern have other jobs now and my guess is that he well-known former minister likes being retired or he would have another job because he's pretty well-loved in the denomination.

How do we chose an interim minister?
There's an interim minister committee that has already been selected. The UUA will look at the list of interim ministers, poll the interim ministers about who wants go where and provide the our interim minister committee with a list of three names. If the committee likes none of those people the UUA will provide more. They will be guided through the process and make their selection. Then the board votes. (This is a simplified version, a less simplified version is available on request.)

Are those our only options?
Nope, though they would be a logical choice. I heard today that the guy the church had between our minister and his predecessor wasn't an AIM and he was really good. That said, the UUA doesn't make up rules and processes just to be amusing. They have a pretty good idea what works long-term on a congregational and denomination-wide level and we should probably trust the process unless we have a really good reason not to.

Will the congregation get to see several of the interim minister candidates?
Nope. Just the person that the board hires.

Mostly to keep the process simple. I will confess that I have polity concerns about that one, though. As I mentioned above, the interim minister sometimes needs to kick butt and take names, and it isn't like the board would be inclined to chose the best person to do that. That said, my impression is that most individual members of our church pretty much trust the board and go along with whatever the board tells them, so it is likely that a congregational vote would be a rubber stamp. And my guess is the ministers who are best at fixing up dysfunctional churches are pretty good at sneaking past dysfunctional boards.

How does one get on the committee to pick the interim minister?
The board has already selected them. If they didn't select you, that ship has sailed.

How does one get on the committee to pick the settled minister?
After the interim is settled, there will likely be a special congregational meeting to vote on the search committee.

Get somebody to nominate you at the congregational meeting. There will be a slate of candidates put forth by a nominating committe there, but nominations from the floor are allowed under our bylaws. You can also nominate yourself beforehand, but the slate of candidates at the meeting will have been cut down anyway, so you might as well just nominate yourself at the meeting. Getting cut would be an embarassment after all.

What makes a good candidate for the search committee for a settled minister?

I'm going to let a passage from the UUA's Settlement Handbook field that one:

· Known and respected by others in the congregation
· More strongly committed to the congregation as a whole than to any subgroup
· Well informed about the demands and time requirements of search committee membership. Members should promise to attend every meeting, and to give about
250-400 hours over the coming year
· Balanced by sex, age, interests, and tenure of membership to reflect the diversity of the congregation. Major areas of church life such as religious education, social action, property management, finance, and music should be represented by participants, not partisans
· Balanced by attributes: organizational ability, broad theological awareness, computer
· Not paid members of the church staff
· Pledged to conduct a search that is fair and nondiscriminatory with respect to race, color, disability, sex, sexual orientation, age, and national origin
· Committed to maintain confidentiality and to seek consensus
· Capable of both self-assertion and compromise
· Not prone to extreme reactions to ministers. The previous ministers’ strongest
supporters or opponents are rarely the best choice
· Well suited to teamwork: a search committee is no place for Lone Rangers!

It is easier to field such a committee by actively recruiting volunteers than by passively accepting them. And of course, nothing will testify to a congregation’s commitment to diversity more clearly than a committee constituted of diverse souls themselves committed to increased congregational diversity. A seat on the committee is not the way to get a newcomer more involved, or to appease a chronic malcontent. Alternate and ex-officio membership are discouraged; each search committee member should participate fully. If one or two members must resign after the committee has begun it is usually best not to replace them. During the search, members should be released from other major duties in the congregation. One member(normally the chair) should be assigned as a board liaison, but should not be a board member.

Anyway, if that's you, you should nominate yourself.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Random cool stuff you find in Washington DC

I was early for a job interview and discovered this historic house.
It is called "the Octogon" and was built in the late 1700s. It is
where President and Mrs. Madison lived after the burning of the White
House during the war of 1812.

The Treaty of Ghent was ratified here.

I love my city.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The new OK GO video is pretty awesome

Yes, this Rube Goldberg video is impressive. It is seriously cool that it was shot in one take.

That said, this several-year-old Honda Accord commercial is put together out of two, and still counts as the most awesome thing ever, though there is disagreement in the comments.


Criminal Justice *headdesk* of the day.

Monday, March 01, 2010

It says something about the law student mindset

that I clicked on a link about the person selling his/her degree from my law school on criaglist and was hugely relieved to find that the person wants to sell his/her degree because he/she hates law, not because he/she can't find a job.

We're talking an actual sigh of relief.

who notes that after only "several years of practicing law" the person has paid off $30,000 of his/her student loan bill. That makes this article the most cheerful and comforting thing I've read all day.

Y'all know I love a well-written letter

NYU Professor Scott Galloway has written one to a student who complained about the lateness policy the professor had for his class. The letter probably isn't as good as a few others I've linked to in the past, but I have a certain fondness for it as "seminar shopping" is really common in my law school and I've always thought it was rude.

Criminal justice *headdesk* of the day, which Radley Balko headlines "SWAT team endangers child, parents charged with child endangerment." This one is more debatable than some *headdesks* I've had, but still. Probably the best part is that they served the warrant when the wife and kid were home because they didn't think they could have done it "successfully" at another time of the day. I'm guessing this means a raid where you kill the family pet in front of a little kid is "successful" by their definition. I'm having trouble imaging why serving the warrant while the kid wasn't home would be any less so.