The Matter of Free Will……Augustine and Calvin

ok….this is for all the people who have spent more time with Theology than I have.

How does Calvin’s concept of “total depravity” jive with the Augustinian concept of free will? Now I must confess that I have not read all everything of Augustine, so maybe it’s in something that I haven’t read. And I haven’t read all of the Institutes either, so maybe I’m not understanding total depravity the way I should.  That said, if one believes that humans are totally depraved, doesn’t that eliminate free will?

More later.

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When and Where I Enter….”I Am Black and Beautiful” continues

As some of you may remember, a little while back I talked about doing a project for my First(Old) Testament class that was going to be about African women in the First Testament, using Song of Solomon 1:5 as my base. Since I’m going to turn in my proposal today I thought I would give a little update.

I have decided that my project is going to be a collage of different black women and I’m going to call it “When and Where I Enter” (taking the title from the Paula Giddings book). The full title will be When and Where I Enter: Portrayals of Women of African Descent in the First Testament.

The hardest part so far has been finding reference materials that talk about the African presence in the First Testament. I’ve found a few, but one would think that there would be more out there. Guess diversity training hasn’t hit biblical scholarship yet.

So, that’s where I’m at. More after my proposal is either accepted or rejected.

It Was A Hoax!

Thank G-d!

It would not be too ———- (can’t think of the right word) to say that I was mortified when I heard the story that a McCain campaign worker had been attacked while at an ATM machine. My first thought was “please don’t let the campaign worker be a white woman and the attacker a black man.” Well….as you know, that’s exactly what the story turned out to be. So for most of the time since I heard this story I’ve been worried that this would be used in the campaign to scare people away from Barack Obama; connecting all black men together.

So now I am relieved to hear that this story was a hoax. But I’m mad at the same time. It’s bad enough that the “boogie man” is always someone of darker skin…..why does this story always get play?

More later.

Fear and Loathing in Indiana

If you’ve been reading this blog anytime at all, then you know that I am going to school in Indiana. Richmond is right on the Ohio/Indiana border, so I’m getting campaign stuff on both sides.

This morning I came across this article in the New York Times about the economic situation and how it is playing out in people’s lives and on the Presidential campaign here in Indiana. The subject of the article is Elkhart, which is in northern Indiana, but is, in so many ways, just like Richmond. For those of us who are places where the economy was going down before this most recent situation, this is not new news. But for many others, it might be.

When I first got here to Richmond I was amazed at how many houses here were up for sale. The number has gone up even more since I got here. And these are not people who took out loans that they couldn’t afford; these people lost their jobs. In all this talk about the mortgage meltdown, where is the talk about jobs?

I’m going to St. Louis for a few days starting on Wednesday, so there might not be much activity on here. But then again, there may be.

Throw Mama From the Train…..Cultural Misappropriation Try #3

I don’t claim to have all the answers when it comes to what constitutes cultural misappropriation and what doesn’t. I do think that sometimes though, we UUs set up straw-men (please don’t knock me for not using inclusive language on that word), thinking we’ll be able to show somebody out. And I think that has just happened to me.

mloustau poses the following scenario:

A queer couple wants to get married in a Roman Catholic church, because they were both raised Catholic and they feel a deep connection to their faith. They would like to adapt a Roman Catholic ritual – the marriage ceremony – to fit the circumstances of their wedding – between two people who chose identities of the same gender.

Is this cultural misappropriation? After all, the queer couple, in the eyes of Roman Catholic Church, are no longer members in good standing of the Roman Catholic community, by virtue of their being in a same-gender intimate relationship. Under your guidelines, it would seem that, as non-members, they would not be entitled to adapt the ritual for their own needs. Nor would they would have a way of challenging a Roman Catholic priest who might decide that, as non-members, they are not allowed to have their wedding in a Roman Catholic church.

The point that I am making is that there is a crucial question that is left out of your analysis of cultural misappropriation: Who gets to define “membership” in a group? If we say that membership is the criterion for “owning” a ritual and thus for being able to use it and adapt it, are we not giving too much power to the traditional arbiters of group membership, like the clerical hierarchy in the Roman Catholic church?

Straw man! Straw man! Straw man!

Why do I say that? Because in this scenario, both people had been RAISED  Catholic. Just because they are no longer members of a Catholic church doesn’t mean that they aren’t culturally Catholic and aren’t Catholic now. Of course they can adapt the ceremony as they will (Catholics do do this you know). Membership isn’t everything. If membership were everything, then reform movements in any religious group would be considered outsiders (yes I know they are considered outsiders in many cases). Doesn’t mean that they can’t use the rituals that are culturally relevant to them.

This scenario is totally different from the what I am talking against……syncretistic UUism that says that because it’s out there we can use it with no real understanding of the ritual or the tradition that it comes from.

Alright, class is over. Time to get off the computer.

The Obesity Myth….or NutriSystem for Men

It looks like I’m going to have to do yet another post on cultural misappropriation, but I want to do this passing glance at TV advertising.

Now…I am a big girl. Always have been. Probably always will be. So I tend to look at diet commercials very skeptically anyway. However, I just have to rant a little about this commercial that I’ve been seeing more and more lately. It’s the commercial for NutriSystem for Men.

I am the last one that will discuss whether somebody needs to be on a diet or not. However, the last time I looked, Dan Marino didn’t need one. And yet he’s hawking this “diet” plan as some kind of easy fix. This insanity must stop. It’s horrific enough that women are held to the impossible standards that they are held to (which contribute to the fact that the diet industry makes millions convincing people that they are somehow all “obese” slobs), why use Dan Marino to hawk your product? In no way or measure is Dan Marino unhealthy, even if he had gained 20 pounds since leaving football. Hell, the man’s gotten older; it’s just a natural part of aging to gain a little weight.

When are people going to stand up and say stop this insanity?

ok……rant over……maybe I’ll write on cultural misappropriation later.

Myers-Briggs and Me

At ESR they ask that you take the Myers-Briggs inventory during your first semester (or the semester that you take Spiritual Prep).  I wasn’t particularly surprised with my results…..INTJ.  Nor was I particularly surprised that the TJ could easily have been FP (which is what it was the last time I took the inventory).

What did surprise me was that I didn’t care what my results were. They mean nothing to me. And I’m a little concerned that ESR pays so much attention to it. There are so many other things that would seem to determine whether one is going to be a capable minister besides M-B that I wish we were using them instead.

Have you found Myers-Briggs helpful to you? If so, why? And if not why not?

Name That Supreme Court Case

Will Shetterly over at it’s all one thing asks people to name a Supreme Court case besides Roe and Brown (I like that he put that one in there as well, as that does seem to be the one everybody is naming). And I must say that I’m flabbergasted that the governor of the state of Alaska couldn’t name the Exxon Valdez case that the court decided last year if I remember right.

I will name my case……Griswold v. Connecticut (1965). For those of you who are worried about Roe being overturned, take a gander at this case. Chalicechick can correct me if I’m wrong (it’s been a while since I was in a Con. Law class), but Roe really just builds upon Griswold.

The real right to privacy comes from Griswold, not Roe.

And how come nobody has mentioned Miranda v. Arizona (1966)? or Lawrence and Gamer v. Texas (2003)-the case striking down most sodomy laws? or New York Times v. Sullivan (1964)? or even New York Times v. United States (1971)- the Pentagon Papers case?

There are many I can think of, but many of them are nowhere near as well known. The one that I think of most is Patterson v. Alabama (1932). For those of you familiar with the story of the Scottsboro Boys, then you should know this case.

oh well…..when I think of others, I will post them.

Poor Gwen Ifill

As many of you know, Gwen Ifill, the Managing Editor for PBS’s Washington Week In Review is going to be the moderator of the Vice Presidential debate tomorrow night.

What you may not know is that there is already criticism of her in some corners because she has a book coming out in  January entitled  “The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama”.  Does her writing this book mean that she won’t be a good moderator? Does writing the book mean that she’s in Obama’s camp? What can be made of the fact that she interviewed John McCain for Essence Magazine?  Should she have written a book about politics and age in the time of McCain? Can she ask one question before accusations of bias come her way?

As you can see, I’m concerned that serious journalists are in a no-win situation. Just because a political journalist writes a book about the intersection of race and politics doesn’t mean that that journalist can’t be fair when moderating a debate, does it?