Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Two from today's Times

Mother of Acts of Hope (age 90 - her birthday was the weekend I moved after the Great Tree Disaster) highly recommends this op-ed by Bob Herbert (photo left), "When Madmen Reign."

When President Bush went on television last week to drum up support for the bailout package, he looked almost dazed, like someone who’d just climbed out of an auto wreck.

“Our entire economy is in danger,” he said.

He should have said that he, along with his irresponsible Republican colleagues and their running buddies in the corporate and financial sectors, put the entire economy in danger. John McCain and his economic main man, Phil (“this is a mental recession”) Gramm, were right there running with them.

Meanwhile, back home in France...

This fascinating report, also published in today's New York Times, speaks of Catholic schools as havens of interreligious tolerance and companionship.

In France, which has only four Muslim schools, some of the country’s 8,847 Roman Catholic schools have become refuges for Muslims seeking what an overburdened, secularist public sector often lacks: spirituality, an environment in which good manners count alongside mathematics, and higher academic standards.

No national statistics are kept, but Muslim and Catholic educators estimate that Muslim students now make up more than 10 percent of the two million students in Catholic schools. In ethnically mixed neighborhoods in Marseille and the industrial north, the proportion can be more than half.

The quiet migration of Muslims to private Catholic schools highlights how hard it has become for state schools, long France’s tool for integration, to keep their promise of equal opportunity.

Monday, September 29, 2008

More meetups for Maya

+Maya Pavlova, F.B.E. had a meetup today with one of her favorite humans, blogger, Independent Catholic priest, and biz wiz Chris, who has mostly been too busy to blog these days. Chris speaks fluent cat and Miss Maya was very pleased with his visit. Thanks for stopping by, friend!

Doxy and Jasper stop by, Part II

We said we'd complete the meetup report within days, but we didn't say how many days!

+Maya Pavlova has not been feeling up to writing and I have been writing bureaucratic things and guidelines for student assignments. In honor of Rosh Hashanah, we are returning to reflection and study and prayer, and in honor of Eid al-Fitr and Rosh Hashanah we are pondering the goodness of feasting with friends. So, a brief update.

Doxy stopped by lo those many days ago on her way from here to there, and with her was the handsome Jasper, on whom I have a big doggie crush. Yes, moi, the cat person. This curly-haired black canine is irresistible. He has a big doggie smile and happy doggie energy and when I got in from work around 1 p.m., Doxy was already there with him, introducing him to my somewhat suburban lawn. (I knew I had moved to semi-suburbia for a reason!)

We have not yet introduced Jasper to +Maya Pavlova. It's not that we don't want to, but +Maya, who, according to the shelter, gets along with just about all sentient beings (well, she kills bugs and a year ago she went after mice in the old house, though the first time she and the mouse just faced off in an empty bathtub) was still shaken from the move, my house was full of boxes and would not have been welcoming to a bouncing dog, and Jasper is still full of puppy energy, though he is now over a year old. So Doxy and I have continued the practice of Doxy meets Maya, Jane meets Jasper, and Doxy and Jane hang out together with one or the other of the animals, or sometimes neither one.

In this case we had a little Jasper time, a little +Maya time, and then repaired sans four-legged friends to the local Chinese/Thai/fusion/much better than P.F. Chang's, thank you very much restaurant and chattered away about the usual topics. The visit was short but lively.

Acts of Hope wants to know: When do we get a fresh Jasper photo on the Wormwood's Doxy blog? Master Jasper's fans are way overdue. Throw us a bone!

Shana Tovah and Eid Mubarak

Tonight is the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and of the Yomim Noraim, the Days of Awe.

Tomorrow is Eid al Fitr (also transliterated Eid ul Fitr), the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. After a month of fasting, there is a great feast.

These holy days days do not always coincide. Both traditions are on a lunar calendar, so the feasts are moveable.

Plainfield Today, a blog based in Plainfield, New Jersey, has a lovely post (with pictures) from last year on the convergence (yes, last year too) of the two holidays. Plainfield has both Jewish and Muslim residents.

The BBC has a nice primer on Islam here.

The BBC primer on Judaism is here.


1) A round (rather than long) challah or braided loaf, a traditional bread for Rosh Hashanah. The round shape symbolizes the cycle of the year or perfection and completion. Credit here.

2) Chinese Muslims celebrate Eid ul Fitr last year in Urumqi, Northwest China. Credit here.

Rabbi Arthur Waskow of the Shalom Center sends too many e-mails, many of them marked "urgent," but that does not mean he doesn't send inspired letters. This is his greeting for the convergence of Rosh Hashanah and Eid al-Fitr.

Eid Mubarak, Shanah tovah u'm'tukah!

This year, just as the solemn fasts of Ramadan end and Islam rejoices in its renewed connection with the One, the Jewish people meets the Days of Awe and of Returning to that same One with prayers and acts of forgiveness and reconciliation.

I wish it were possible for those of both our traditions who have met during this last year - sometimes in grief, sometimes in fear and trepidation, sometimes in anger, sometimes in joy -- to walk hand in hand to a vast assemblage of both communities:

"Cousins, let us introduce you to each other!"

And then to turn together to another multitude, the Abrahamic family that follows Jesus, to wait with them for the season of Advent in which their own connection with the One swells into a birthing.

Many of us know from our small families that sometimes it is precisely our love for the same parents, the same home, the same teachers, the same children that can corrode into jealousy, anger, fear, violence.

And so it is with the Families of Abraham/ Ibrahim/ Avraham.

Sometimes in our history, we have lived together, sharing poetry, philosophy, politics. And sometimes -- now - the acts of some in both our families have embittered our relationships.

During this summer past, Phyllis and I (Rabbi Phyllis Berman, to whom I am married) - had the extraordinary opportunity to take part in two different interfaith gatherings that went beyond intellectual dialogue into deeper feeling and ensouling. Both gatherings were call together by Muslims. Muslims at amazingly different parts of the Muslim world:

One, called by the Guardian of the Two Sacred Places, Abdullah of Arabia, upholder of the Wahabi path and doctrine.

The other, called by Pir Zia Inayat Khan, leader of the Sufi Order International, the most universalist strand of the mystic Sufi orders.

The first gathering brought together many people who were for the first time meeting in such a way:

• Saudis and Pakistanis who had never met a Jew, and had no idea that there were Jews anywhere who both cared for the state of Israel and strenuously opposed its occupation of Palestinian territories;

• Jews who had never met a Wahabi Muslim and had no idea they might seek to honor Jewish thought and talk with Jewish teachers -

• Muslims who sought dialogue with all the traditions of our planet, even those like Hinduism and Shintoism that classical Islam might have dismissed as idolatry;

• Christians of Euro-America who had painfully learned to respect Judaism but had never before opened their minds and hearts to Islam;

• Christians of the Middle East who had long ago learned to live with Muslims but were still possessed by ancient anger at the Jews.

Here the remarkable heart-opening came from the joy of new discovery, the happiness of doing what everyone knew God wanted but had never seemed possible before. It was precisely our awkwardness that suddenly filled with grace.

In the other meeting - the one called by Sufis -- were people who had for years learned from each others' wisdom, across all the evanescent boundaries of official religious life. Here too there was the remarkable heart-opening, but it came from a different place: from the depth, the breadth, of sharing. It came in unexpected laughter as people wove together different symbols and texts and stories into coherent fringes of connection.

There is much we need to heal. Into our American polity, in the midst of efforts for us all to discern the best direction for our nation in the most important choosing moment we have faced in a century and more -

Into that solemn moment of rethinking, some Americans in just the past few weeks have plunged a dish of poison, a film whose title is "Obsession" and whose content breathes obsession in its every picture-frame.

It is bad enough that a film rooted in fear and hatred of Islam was distributed in millions of copies as an insert in a number of major metropolitan newspapers. Even worse, the distribution seems to have been carefully aimed at the "swing states" -- - those of uncertain outcome in the coming Presidential election. It is as if the virulent anti-Semitism of Henry Ford and Father Coughlin had been directly injected into the election, say, of 1940. Was "President Rosenfeld" really a tool of the Jews?

The Shalom Center is in the midst of a careful examination of "Obsession," and we will have a full report soon. But now we will set aside the next few days for our own prayerful and contemplative searching into the Days of Awe and Reconciliation.

With blessings of shalom, salaam, peace -


September 29: Michael and All Angels

Mi-kha-el? * Who is like God?

Archangels (especially Michael) have already made their appearance at Acts of Hope, here and more recently here and here.

This is a favorite image of mine. It is by the late Cameroonian artist and Jesuit priest, Engelbert Mveng, a mural painted for Holy Angels Catholic Church in Chicago, an African American congregation. I use this on the cover of my syllabus for the course "African American Religion and Theology." I love the mural's colors and the fact that all the angels represented are Black.

An explanation of the mural and a guide to its many angels and their biblical stories are here.

Click on image to enlarge and show detail.

A poem by Dorothee Sölle

I have posted before poems by Dorothee Sölle. This one is from her book Revolutionary Patience (published in English in 1977, with poems written in the original German in the late 1960s and early 1970s).

When he came (10)

I don't as they put it believe in god
but to him I cannot say no hard as I try
take a look at him in the garden
when his friends ran out on him
his face wet with fear
and with the spit of his enemies
him I have to believe

Him I can't bear to abandon
to the great disregard for life
to the monotonous passing of millions of years
to the moronic rhythm of work leisure and work
to the boredom we fail to dispel
in cars in beds in stores

That's how it is they say what do you want
uncertain and not uncritically
I subscribe to the other hypothesis
which is his story
that's not how it is he said for god is
and he staked his life on this claim

Thinking about it I find
one can't let him pay alone
for his hypothesis
so I believe him about

The way one believes another's laughter
his tears
or marriage or no for an answer
that's how you'll learn to believe him about life
promised to all

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Greensboro rally

Photo by the Greensboro News & Record at today's rally:And some video. Yes, speech-talk, but this was a rally, not a policy seminar. Huge crowd apparently, close to 20,000, multi-racial and multi-generational.

Want to help? Click here. (Note: if you are not a "joiner" --this one's for you, Mimi-- click on "I want to help on my own.")

38 days.

Brought to you by your daily ¡Si, se puede!

Activated till the polls close on November 4.


I am missing the Obama/Biden rally in Greensboro even as I write because at the very time it is scheduled to start (two hours after the doors open and many more hours after folks started lining up) I have one of those can't skip command performance gotta be there the powers that be said so we scheduled it a month ago major diocese says jump meetings at high noon, and I can't wear my "Got Hope?" t-shirt to it either.

My friends will give me a full report, I hope.

Paul Newman, R.I.P.

The actor and philanthropist Paul Newman has died.

Here he is with his wife Joanne Woodward at the Autism Speaks benefit in 2006.

Stories here and here (with the word "gorgeous" misspelled).

Rest in peace, Paul.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The fabulous parents of Acts of Hope

Father of Acts of Hope, who turns 90 in a little over a month, gave a talk today at the Election Forum at his and Mother of Acts of Hope's retirement community in Massachusetts. He sent us kids and grandkids a copy of his notes. He managed to be both critical and courteous (Father of Acts of Hope is always a gentleman), but critical he was. I won't repeat or reproduce his talk here but I will post two of his more moderate statements.

Think of this: the US ranks No. 139 among world’s nations in low voting turnouts, just slightly ahead of Botswana and Zambia. Our national voter turnout is about 50 percent and sometimes less. Fifty to sixty million eligible voters don’t bother to register. Seventy to ninety million who could vote fail to do so.

Y'all vote now. This is me, Jane, speaking.

And from the Gentleman Critic again:

More than 2500 years ago, as a friend of mine recalled, long before political consultants and ad agencies and propaganda mills and public relations outfits, Buddhist sages implored people, “Do not believe anything because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. But, after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good, and benefits one and all, only then accept it, and live up to it.”

Meanwhile, Mother of Acts of Hope, age 90, is now chairing the ecology committee at the retirement community.

Life is fragile and Parents of Acts of Hope are getting old and slow, but their slow is quicker than some younger people's fast.

JohnieB update

This one is for friends of JohnieB.

So, JohnieB's internet connection went away. Now it is back.

However, the computer has gone kaput.* JohnieB is considering his options.

He's also getting an MRI as a follow-up on his kidney adventure of a couple of weeks ago, tomorrow.

3 p.m. is the time, so light your candles to the Blessed Mother then, or before if you prefer.

JohnieB is also in the middle of moving to new and more spacious digs.

The official move date is Tuesday. Miz Scarlett the Cat is not entirely amused.

JohnieB sounded fine on the phone, but he has a lot on his (usually quite gourmet) plate. Sending a few good vibes or leaving messages on his blog for him to find when he returns to the intertubes would be a good thing. (Hey, he's in Connecticut, so "a good thing" is the appropriate expression there in Martha Stewart Land.) Prayers too, if you're one of us church mice. Squeak!

* As a former Californian, I just had to make an astrological comment and blame it all on the fact that Mercury went retrograde yesterday.

Glycophilousa icon written by Luiz Coelho

More +Maya

You can't see much of +Maya Pavlova here, but you can see that she has fallen asleep on the text and music of the Psalm for the coming Sunday liturgy. This was about a month ago. Fur and Scripture.
Click photo to enlarge and see detail.

Post-Lambeth nap, fuzzy tummy closeup

Click photo to enlarge and see detail.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

+Maya's post-Lambeth nap

At last, we have had photos from Before The Tree Fell developed. Here, on a sunny August afternoon, is the Right Reverend and Right Honorable Maya Pavlova, F.B.E. Below her is a random selection of Anglican books. Note her deep state of slumber.

It's the long post-Lambeth nap.

+Maya has spoken.

Click photo to enlarge.

God's Own Country

God's Own Country: Power and the Religious Right in the USA. A new book by Stephen Bates.

Only published in the UK for now, though there would have been time to bring it out in the U.S. of A. before the election. You can get it from Amazon UK, though.

Hat tip to Simon Sarmiento at Thinking Anglicans.

42 days.

Brought to you by your daily ¡Si, se puede!

Activated till the polls close on November 4.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Another prayer, request, alas (and alleluia, for the holy communion of friendship)

More prayer. An old friend, Deenie, with whom I had been out of touch (no bad blood, just distance and busy lives), has sent a message through a mutual friend that she is very ill. She has been diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer which has sent tumors throughout her body. She is in a clinical trial at one of Boston's best teaching hospitals and also being treated through Chinese medicine. She is asking for my prayers and I ask you as well for yours and those of your communities. Deenie and our mutual friend and several other women were peace activists together in the 1980s and beyond and also were for years in the same writers' group. She was also one of the friends with whom I attended the consecration of the Right Reverend Barbara Clementine Harris, the first woman bishop in the Anglican Communion, in Boston. Both of us were Roman Catholics at the time. The event was, Deenie said, "like a Pentecost," and I quoted her in one of the articles I wrote. (I was there as both a person of faith and a journalist.)

Remember Deenie (whose baptismal name is Bernardine - Deenie is her nickname) with all those who need healing. She is a fierce strong woman with a tender heart. Pray, friends.

The archangel above is Michael, because sometimes you just need a militant archangel.

The archangel on the second prayer request for Christy (and David) is Raphael, the healer.

Blood on our hands

People of Faith Against the Death Penalty (PFADP) has been holding two vigils, in Asheville and Raleigh, North Carolina. Troy Davis is scheduled to be executed right now, at 7:00 p.m.

I confess the sin of inaction. I am a member of PFADP. This time, I did nothing.

I feel as I did every time there was an execution in California. We have blood on our hands.

For more on Troy Davis and his case, see here.

On the death penalty in North Carolina, racial bias, and the NC Racial Justice Act, see here.

Latest news: Amnesty International reports a stay of execution till Monday, September 29. The Supreme Court of the United States issued the stay hours before Troy Davis was scheduled to be killed. Amnesty International has campaigned intensively for clemency for Mr. Davis.

He lives. For now.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Yo, prayer posse

Below the political posts, there is a prayer request. Thanks for reading it and for following up.


Jane and +Maya Pavlova

Register, register, register

Register yourself.

Then help register others.

The clock is ticking.

You'll feel good.

You'll be working for change.

It won't take long.

Do it.


43 days.

Brought to you by your daily ¡Si, se puede!

Activated till the polls close on November 4.

Issues. Remember issues?

Read up on 'em. Or just pick one. Read up on that one.

43 days.

Brought to you by your daily ¡Si, se puede!

Activated till the polls close on November 4.

Time for the prayer posse again, please

Dear folks who pray and others who hold people in their hearts for healing,

I ask your prayers for my friend Christy, who just wrote to say that she has ovarian cancer. As you know, this is one of the really tough ones. She has had one round of four chemotherapy sessions with very good results, has had surgery, and has a port installed which "shoots platinum-based chemo straight into [her] gut cavity." That process starts tomorrow.

Christy's beloved companion and husband David has had multiple myeloma (a cancer in which the plasma goes crazy) and all manner of related illness and his own rounds of chemo in the last couple of years. This has left his excellent brain with some damage and affected his life coping skills. Christy worries about him and prays that she will be well enough to be present to him as well as to herself.

So, do your thing, folks, and bring in your communities, and pray also that Christy keep her sense of trust in Godde and that she know our presence with her.

Thank you!

P.S. David and his men's prayer group were kind and generous with their prayers several years ago when my father had a triple bypass. We are all woven together in the one body of Christ.

Padre Mickey meet-up

I had a great dinner last night in Asheville, NC with the one and only Padre Mickey de Panamá. Yes, we have pictures, or rather he has, in his magic digital camera. Red Mr. Peanut Bank and Gallito Mescalito, the devoted and inseparable pair, sat with us (we on chairs, they on the table) and with their new conversation partner, whom I introduced to them and whom you will see when the photos go up. The waitstaffpersonwoman was very tolerant of our silliness and we gave her a big fat tip. We had excellent food, too. It involved several different kinds of chutney.

Send prayers to Padre Mickey, who is at one of those Episcopal clergy thangs (CREDO) for the week, and stay tuned for his return, when (we hope) photos will appear on El Padre's blog.

Special thanks to the blog friends who recently sent a lovely gift to the Jane Tree Disaster Recovery Fund. While I have used part of the gift for myself last week (a massage is a fine thing when you are achy and tired from moving and stressed out), it seemed appropriate to spend a chunk of it toward the Big Laughing Dinner With Mickey. Thank you! Bless your hearts. You contributed to laughter, merriment, and Sabbath time.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

More on racism and the campaign

Read this.

Good companion to the white privilege piece.

Hat tip to janinsanfran.

45 days.

Brought to you by your daily ¡Si, se puede!

Activated till the polls close on November 4.

Theology for deacons and running for the hills

Holà all -- I am finally taking a day off. After teaching the first class of the theology course for our diocese's vocational deacon candidates today, I will drive away from the not-so-big city for some peace and quiet and fresh air. At the end of my time off I will drive a little farther and meet up with my buddy Padre Mickey de Panamá, who is coming through this Southern region on his way from here to there. We will have Sunday evening dinner and tell funny stories and who knows? Perhaps there will be a surprise appearance by Gallito Mescalito. Stay tuned.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Shabbat Shalom

After a truly insane week including last night's lovely session in my office till 2 a.m. (you read that right) finishing up the infamous interdisciplinary course proposal, I am headed for Shabbat dinner with friends who are the parents of Elijah, and thus with Elijah himself. Elijah has Jewish and Baptist and other religious families in his immediate heritage, so Shabbat isn't the only celebration in his life, but it is a regular one, and I am very happy to be sharing it tonight. Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Michelle Obama in Greensboro today

This Thursday, September 18th,
please join Michelle Obama for a
Women for Obama
rally in Greensboro.

Doors Open: 1:30 p.m.
Program Begins: 2:30 p.m.


The event is free and open to the public; however, tickets are required.
Space is available on a first-come, first-served basis.
For security reasons, do not bring bags.
Please limit personal items.
No signs or banners allowed.

Nope, can't go, though the e-mail landed in my box yesterday afternoon and I saw it right away. But one had to pick up tickets at HQ downtown between 6 and 9 p.m. yesterday and I'm teaching at 4 p.m. today and would never be back in time for that, besides which there are those pesky deadlines.

I'm sure I'll hear reports from local folks, maybe even some students. (Hmm, wonder if they will all be in class...)

My red "Got Hope?" tank top arrived in the mail today, though, and I am wearing it. (I will close the shirt I have over it when it's time for class and I have to be non-partisan.)

Sign me:
Overworked and Sleep-Deprived in Greensboro

47 days.

Brought to you by your daily ¡Si, se puede!

Activated till the polls close on November 4.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

We're not voting for messiah, we're voting for president

Sisters and brothers --

We're not voting for messiah. We're voting for president.

We're not going to agree with all of our candidate's positions or actions. Like my friend Algernon, who posted in the Comments section a few posts ago, I was distressed and angry about Obama's FISA vote, and I wrote him that I was. (So did at least one other member of my immediate family. We both got the same form letter back; at least they got so many complaints about the FISA vote that they had to compose a letter.)

It won't be over once the election is over. Active citizenship is crucial.

I use the word "crucial" advisedly. For those of us who use that language --not all of us do and I will fight for the rights of those who do not share my religious reference points as much as I do for my own rights-- there is a bearing of the cross in the tasks, duties, and consequences of being a citizen who acts.

For now, FOCUS.

Ways to act here -- they include ways you can act if you are on your own or not part of a group.

Um, are you REGISTERED to vote?

FAQ from the Federal Election Commission. Click on the question about how to register to vote. Or just go directly here, to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

Know your rights.

Know your responsibilities.

Know the rights of others.

48 days.

Brought to you by your daily ¡Si, se puede!

Activated till the polls close on November 4.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Okra ratatouille - no kidding

You know that as soon as I say I have something major to write and I'm going to stop posting, I start posting like a maniac. What's that about? Not just procrastination, though it is that. It also seems to prime the pump for other writing.

It has been a while since we have had a foodie post here. I have been eating simply of late and not cooking much of anything, which doesn't mean meals haven't been tasteful and nutritious. There was also a fair amount of take-out the weekend of the move.

Saturday, though, I went to both farmers' markets (one downtown, one near the highway and very different from each other), which I rarely if ever do. I hadn't been in weeks, so it was time. I also hadn't bought okra all summer, because I wasn't cooking, and with okra, you gotta cook.

There at one of the farm stands was some fine looking okra, and my Southern-transplant guilt got to me. What? A whole summer without okra? Impossible. I knew what I was going to make, too, and tonight, around 9-something p.m., I made it for dinner. Okra ratatouille. I invented it three years ago, the summer I moved here. Like any ratatouille, it's good both hot and cold. When you have it cold, the flavors are even more intense than the day before because they have had time to sit with each other. Don't serve it fridge cold, though. Like most good food except ice cream, it likes room temp.

Okra ratatouille works the same way as regular ratatouille, except that instead of zucchini and eggplant you use okra, sliced into little rounds. Start with olive oil, sauté the onions on not too high heat, because you don't really want them to get brown, or if you do, they should also get to a translucent phase and not burn. Then slice the okra and add it to the mix, and also a clove or two of fresh garlic, cut into a few pieces. You might have to add more oil. Add sliced tomatoes (the last not very pretty tomatoes of summer are great --I had some sorry-looking red ones and yellow ones too, the low-acid ones -- but a can of tomatoes will work too. I sliced in a tiny bit of a red jalapeño I got at the market a few weeks ago from a farmer who was selling assorted peppers of assorted levels of heat, just enough to give some kick to the dish, not the whole little pepper. I finished the dish up with some coarse sea salt, just a bit. The colors were beautiful: the okra got brighter green as it cooked, the tomatoes were bright (see above), and the onion added its pale yellow-white-clear color too. I used one humongous white onion, but that's probably three regular-sized onions. I had two servings and there is more of the ratatouille left for tomorrow or whenever I decide to eat it. Stores fine in the fridge.

Don't cook it too long. The okra should be cooked but bright green and the tomatoes still have some shape. The beauty of this is that the onions (especially if you have put the lid on the pan during the time the onions are sweating at the medium/low stage of things after you've gotten a bit of sizzle onto them) will absorb the slimy part of the okra, the juices of the tomato will help, and the okra will act as a slight thickener and you will have a good dish that isn't slimy but holds together .

This is what you get when you transplant a Parisian/sometime Californian to the South.


This Is Your Nation on White Privilege

Tim Wise nails it, once again.

This Is Your Nation on White Privilege

by Tim Wise


Original is here.

For those who still can't grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are constantly looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.

White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because "every family has challenges," even as black and Latino families with similar "challenges" are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.

White privilege is when you can call yourself a "fuckin' redneck," like Bristol Palin's boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you'll "kick their fuckin' ass," and talk about how you like to "shoot shit" for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.

White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action.

White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a town smaller than most medium-sized colleges, and then Governor of a state with about the same number of people as the lower fifth of the island of Manhattan, makes you ready to potentially be president, and people don't all piss on themselves with laughter, while being a black U.S. Senator, two-term state Senator, and constitutional law scholar, means you're "untested."

White privilege is being able to say that you support the words "under God" in the pledge of allegiance because "if it was good enough for the founding fathers, it's good enough for me," and not be immediately disqualified from holding office--since, after all, the pledge was written in the late 1800s and the "under God" part wasn't added until the 1950s--while believing that reading accused criminals and terrorists their rights (because, ya know, the Constitution, which you used to teach at a prestigious law school requires it), is a dangerous and silly idea only supported by mushy liberals.

White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you.

White privilege is being able to have a husband who was a member of an extremist political party that wants your state to secede from the Union, and whose motto was "Alaska first," and no one questions your patriotism or that of your family, while if you're black and your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately think she's being disrespectful.

White privilege is being able to make fun of community organizers and the work they do--like, among other things, fight for the right of women to vote, or for civil rights, or the 8-hour workday, or an end to child labor--and people think you're being pithy and tough, but if you merely question the experience of a small town mayor and 18-month governor with no foreign policy expertise beyond a class she took in college--you're somehow being mean, or even sexist.

White privilege is being able to convince white women who don't even agree with you on any substantive issue to vote for you and your running mate anyway, because all of a sudden your presence on the ticket has inspired confidence in these same white women, and made them give your party a "second look."

White privilege is being able to fire people who didn't support your political campaigns and not be accused of abusing your power or being a typical politician who engages in favoritism, while being black and merely knowing some folks from the old-line political machines in Chicago means you must be corrupt.

White privilege is being able to attend churches over the years whose pastors say that people who voted for John Kerry or merely criticize George W. Bush are going to hell, and that the U.S. is an explicitly Christian nation and the job of Christians is to bring Christian theological principles into government, and who bring in speakers who say the conflict in the Middle East is God's punishment on Jews for rejecting Jesus, and everyone can still think you're just a good church-going Christian, but if you're black and friends with a black pastor who has noted (as have Colin Powell and the U.S. Department of Defense) that terrorist attacks are often the result of U.S. foreign policy and who talks about the history of racism and its effect on black people, you're an extremist who probably hates America.

White privilege is not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is when asked by a reporter, and then people get angry at the reporter for asking you such a "trick question," while being black and merely refusing to give one-word answers to the queries of Bill O'Reilly means you're dodging the question, or trying to seem overly intellectual and nuanced.

White privilege is being able to claim your experience as a POW has anything at all to do with your fitness for president, while being black and experiencing racism is, as Sarah Palin has referred to it, a "light" burden.

And finally, white privilege is the only thing that could possibly allow someone to become president when he has voted with George W. Bush 90 percent of the time, even as unemployment is skyrocketing, people are losing their homes, inflation is rising, and the U.S. is increasingly isolated from world opinion, just because white voters aren't sure about that whole "change" thing. Ya know, it's just too vague and ill-defined, unlike, say, four more years of the same, which is very concrete and certain.

White privilege is, in short, the problem.

Deadline time again

I'm not asking for much: I would just like to have some period of time when I am not being evaluated by some person or committee and when I don't have a deadline to meet.

I guess that's called "vacation" or "retirement" but don't they make jobs (or vocations) without either of these, in which you can just do your work?

All right, that was the "dream on" section of the post.

Just a note to all y'all to let you know that posting will, once again, be scarce, because I have two deadlines to meet right now, immediately if not sooner: 1) the Dreaded Fourth Year Evaluation (not its official name) for which I have to finish up my long and specific self-evaluation document with responses to anonymous student comments from the college evaluation forms and 2) a proposal for an Interdisciplinary Studies upper-level course ("Religion, Ecofeminism, and Environmental Justice" - have taught it once before but not in that special category on an interdisciplinary capstone) that needs to go through a committee and which is not optional -- we really need one of those courses in our department and this requires writing a long proposal answering very specific questions about how the course meets pedagogical and academic requirements.

That's on top of the usual teaching and related activities.

And once again I am behind on the Episcopal Café writing, which is what I would really like to be working on all week, along with the first of the theology classes for the Deacon Formation Program, which I teach this coming Saturday. I did get the blog up for the latter (open only to class members and other authorized persons) and of course made a link there to the one and only Ormonde Plater, who teaches us so much about diaconal history and ministry. (Why do Roman Catholics spell it diaconal and Episcopalians spell it deaconal? I may be a seven-year-old Anglican, but I still spell it diaconal. Force of habit, and it doesn't look right to me the other way.)

So, I may or may not post this week, but check in once in a while, and meanwhile all y'all go wish some good health to JohnieB, who recently had a little hospital episode related to his kidneys, and to his feline companion, Miz Scarlett, who is even more skittish than usual. Both of them have a move in the offing and their abode is about to be topsy-turvy for a while. Caminante is also packing. Her feline friends are taking note. And +Maya Pavlova and I are still in boxes at the new place, speaking of topsy-turvy, though we have a functional kitchen and bedroom and she, the feline bishop, seems to be her old calm and calming self. Me, I am managing. Lord, have mercy. I'm taking 36 hours off this weekend after teaching the deacon candidates and am running for the hills, literally: off to the mountains on Saturday.

P.S. ¡ Si se puede !

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Get the conversation back on track

That's the title of a recent e-mail from the Obama campaign.

You can have a look at a copy of it here.

I know -- campaign e-mail. I've gotten too many of them. This one does make a good point, though, doesn't it?

Now go talk to someone. And listen. Person to person, one conversation at a time.

Note: your local campaign office can help you do this. For starters, while you're on the web, take a look at the campaign's Action Center.

51 days.

Brought to you by your daily ¡Si, se puede!

Activated till the polls close on November 4.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Repeat after me

Every day, I will do a little something for the Obama campaign.

Every day, I will do a little something for the Obama campaign.

Every day, I will do a little something for the Obama campaign.

******* * And that does not mean just griping with my friends.

Brought to you by your daily ¡Si, se puede!
Activated till the polls close on November 4.

Back in broadband-land

Haha! Humongous Cable Company told me I had to use its cables to get My Internet Provider Whose Address I Have Had For A Decade. Aforementioned Internet Provider initially told me there was no way to connect to the internet from my residence at high speed except by satellite, which I could not do because the dish would disfigure my landlady's nice yard and garden; also, I knew they had to be wrong. In the last week I have had at least five LiveChats with Internet Provider and several phone calls with Cable Company and Internet Provider. We at Acts of Hope are persistent. I knew there had to be a way to keep my ever faithful internet address with Aforementioned Internet Provider AND get a broadband connection, and so there was. In the end it was simple: we moved our DSL account here once we got a telephone land line.

So we're in business. Blogging from home! Woo hoo. Life is good. Also, the Right Rev. and Right Hon. Maya Pavlova and I both got lots of sleep last night, and an afternoon nap to boot.

Kliban cats website is here.

Now I have to get lots and lots and lots of work done, but at least I don't have to go into the office at bizarre hours any more to work online.

Why, you ask, do I work online so much? 'Cause we have these course websites on the college internal system, kind of like blogs really -- we use the open-source program Moodle, which is the same as the program Blackboard in other institutions -- and to simplify life and save paper and enable me to give students quick feedback online, I shifted to having all short assignments uploaded to the Moodle sites for the courses I teach.

Of course when you only have dial-up that messes up your life big-time. In addition to this, we have roaming profiles at work, and we can't get into those from home without high-speed and some kind of special software I didn't need when I was living on campus and plugged into the college network at home. So between that and the other delays occasioned by the Great Tree Disaster, I've been way behind on my work and the students aren't getting the timely feedback they need. (I got low ratings in past years in the "timely feedback" category on the student evaluation forms, so I have to work on this extra hard.)

Also, I am setting up a new blog (closed to the public, sorry) for the theology component of the diocesan deacon formation program, which I start teaching next weekend.

And there's Race, Justice, and Love, the blog for the Anti-Racism Committee, which I have neglected for the last month.

And then there's the Episcopal Café, for which I write regularly, except that I had to skip last month because of the Great Tree Disaster.

At home, though, we are also low-tech: we have no dishwashing machine or microwave and we have lots of books, and though Her Grace loves to press the buttons on the fax machine (which is not yet set up, but we'll get to it), she is a live creature and requires no buttons, beeps, wires, electric current, or ultrasound waves to purr and play.

For which I give thanks to Godde.

[photo of Maya Pavlova coming here soon.]

Friday, September 12, 2008


My friend Jan of Happening Here, progressive activist and socio-political analyst (yes, Jan, I am calling you that), has posted something to remind us to get off our duffs and DO SOMETHING.

Her post is called Less worrying -- more working.

Still not convinced? Have some poetry. More specifically, this poem by Marge Piercy, posted by La Literata, P.J., cultural commentator. (I'm giving my friends titles their fabulous selves deserve. It's my blog and I'll praise whomever I want to praise.)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sarah Palin and the Clarence Thomas Factor: Mary E. Hunt

My friend and colleague Mary E. Hunt, feminist theologian and ethicist, has written a piece on Sarah Palin. Have a look!

Here's the final paragraph if you are in a rush. The emphasis on the first sentences is mine.
Feminism is not simply about getting women into positions of power. It is about changing the fundamental power equation so that everyone thrives. I am hard pressed to understand from early glimpses of Governor Palin's public policy how her candidacy does that. Cutting the state budget for housing for pregnant teens, hunting animals from helicopters and opposing protections for endangered species, suggesting that God wills wars like the one in Iraq, and signing on to the McCain economic policies that favor the wealthy with tax cuts inspire no confidence in me. It is not just that I long for Hillary Clinton's passion for health care. It is that I will not be duped into confusing one woman with another, conflating feminist rhetoric with oppressive choices. I hope other voters will not be either.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Dial-up update: the bishop gets her toys back

It is a joyous evening for the Right Rev. and Right Hon. Maya Pavlova, FBE. A former student of mine came to finish unpacking the kitchen while I attended to other tasks, and in one of the boxes with kitchen and other household things was a little basket full of the Maya Pavlova toys -- a couple from the shelter which came with her when she joined the household, and some newer ones which she had pushed under the couch and which surfaced during the move. (The movers laughed sympathetically; there are always kitty toys and other goodies behind people's sofas. We also found at least three of my pens and one ethics book. Stop laughing. It is a very good book by Margaret Farley.) So now there is a toy mouse at my feet and periodically the house resounds with the bell of a plastic rolling ball. There is also the matter of the little catnip-stuffed ball; oh, we do love that one.

Your feline bishop has also increased the nap time and I have been giving her extra food every day. She is still skinny but less skittish.

Me, I am working long hours. There are colleagues in my classes observing my teaching because the dreaded fourth-year evaluation is in process; I have to get up early tomorrow and work on my self-evaluation. I am of course behind on correcting student work and since we still don't have broadband at home, I can only work on the course websites at the office, though I am attempting a blog post here. The broadband saga continues. The Adorable Godson, who is a techie, and who has been in the middle of a move himself, helped me with something for which I need broadband but not the broadband itself, though he may be able to help with that or at the very least commiserate. He understands some of the mysteries of techitude, or at least some of the ones that elude me. I just want to know why it is so damn complicated for me to keep my former e-mail address AND get a high-speed connection. The Evil Time Warner is, however, installing the cable tv box on Friday. I will have a million useless channels along with the all-important C-span so I can watch election coverage straight up with no seltzer and no obnoxious anchorpeople. But I still won't have my internet connection. Soon, soon, we hope.

And then there's Sarah Palin.

Monday, September 8, 2008

A Louisiana storm and personal update from Grandmère Mimi

Grandmère Mimi of Wounded Bird is doing fine. I had a long-ish chat with her this evening (and a much shorter one yesterday) and she sends her thanks to everyone for the prayers and support.

Mimi and her family are still in New Roads but expect to return home to Thibodaux tomorrow, unless things change. It looks like Hurricane Ike is headed for Texas, not Louisiana, so the coast is clear, so to speak. There is power at Grandmère and Grandpère's home because they are on the local hospital grid, so it's safe to go back there. They will be quite busy once they get there though, getting food back in the house (the contents of fridge and freezer spoiled) and getting re-settled. Mimi is also not sure she will have any internet access since things are not back to normal. So please bear with her. She may need a blogging break even when she is back home and wired again.

Diana the dog has been sweet and well-behaved and is doing well.

There were also three basset hounds belonging to Mimi's son, but they have now left New Roads, with her son who recently headed back to his home, so there is a little less doggy-ness on the premises.

FEMA has been no help. The state government, amazingly, has been a little more helpful. But I will let Mimi elaborate on that when and if she so desires.

Mimi says "We're all fine!"

Je Vais - Haiti Twoubadou

Yes, same root as the French word troubadour.

This is a music video, not live, but at least you can see the musicians.

To my ear, there are echoes of both Cuba and Louisiana in this one! So goes the gorgeous spread of music in the African Diaspora and its cultural companions.*


And pray for Haitians, who have already suffered grievously from Hurricane Ike, and for their and our Cuban sisters and brothers.

May the people dance again.

* haitianmedia.com says:

Haitian Twoubadou, a silky and romantic take on Haitian Compas. Twoubadou translates as troubadour and, as that designation implies, the style is more concerned with melody, lyrics, harmonies and acoustic instruments than some of its Caribbean competitors.

Twoubadou (from troubadour) music has a long and important place in Haitian culture, one that transcends rural-urban and class divisions. The term is used to describe singer-composers who accompany themselves or are backed by small string-based ensembles. These traditionally consist of one or two guitars, a tanbou (barrel drum) played with the hands, a graj (scraper) and a manumba, a large, box-like "thumb piano" on which the player sits and plucks metal tongues suspended over a sound hole. Twoubadou is derived from blending of the Cuban son brought back to Haiti in the early twentieth century by itinerant Haitian sugarcane cutters and Haitian meringue. The form has become deeply Haitian over the intervening decades, and most Haitians consider it an indigenous music. Twoubadou songs are expected to truthfully convey the bitterness and humor of life and love, often employing ribald and off-color lyrics. Some twoubadou singers have been the conscience of a generation.

Twoubadou groups can still be heard in Haiti at patwonal (patron's day feasts), during Carnival, at private parties and in hotels and restaurants frequented by tourists. Eclipsed by konpa and other popular styles that it helped to spawn, twoubadou has been taken for granted by Haitians until a resurgence of interest that began in the late 1990s. Even so, this delightful music remains virtually unknown outside the country.

Amor Verdadero - Afro-Cuban All Stars

Helpless in the face of Hurricane Ike, which is devastating Haiti and Cuba, I post one of my favorite Cuban songs, "Amor Verdadero," by the Afro-Cuban All Stars.

The music of Cuba is one of the island's great contributions to civilization. Enjoy it! You cannot hear this music without moving. Sing in the face of stormy weather. May the people dance again!

Here it is: Amor Verdadero, live.

(Also Amor Verdadero, the recording,with no video but great sound. )

I will now hunt for some favorite Haitian music and post it shortly.

Afro-Cuban All Stars:

Disaster and recovery update, +Maya edition (and a question about digital cameras)

Keep up the prayers, o canine, feline, and human friends and fans of +Maya. When I left the house early this morning, Her Grace was, for the first time of a morning since we moved, napping in the living room (such as it is - she was on top of a large unopened box) and opened her eyes to look at me but did not move, which is a very good sign. She has several times napped in the afternoon and stayed put, but in the morning she has tended to do a lot of bopping around. So we are making progress here and moving toward restoring the sacred rhythm of feline naps.

I have also increased the food dose slightly since Her Grace appears to be burning extra calories with all this leaping in and out of cupboards and on and off and into and out of boxes. She is a slender sort and I am not too worried that she will turn into a Fat Cat, on the contrary.

Special thanks to our brother bishop +Clumber for his encouragement and to Maggy and Gabby, Kitten's crew, for feline prayers, and to Ms. FranIAm for ongoing holy accompaniment.

As soon as I can find the camera in this mess, I will take photos and have them developed (onto a CD as usual) and post them.

Still no digital camera -- I really must invest in one next time I have a few bucks; any advice from all you fine digital photographers out there? I want something cheap but good. And I've never used a digital camera except once or twice when someone asked me to take a picture of them, so I know nothing about connecting it with blogging. I do have a lot of experience with regular cameras, though. Digital cameras are still a mystery to me. It looks like you don't even look through them the same way, so how do you focus on detail?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Disaster (and recovery) update, weekend edition

Dear friends of Acts of Hope,

We are fine, just busy --and we have been away from the intertubes a lot. The conference on the racial history of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina yesterday went very well and well over 100 people attended, including all three of our bishops, all day. It was worth all the hard work. I will report on it in due time. I got home from there and went to bed at 8 p.m.!

Say a little prayer to Saint Laika for our feline bishop. She has lost some weight in the last ten days since the Great Tree Catastrophe (so have I, but I needed to and she didn't!) and still has a worried look in her eyes and has not yet fully relaxed. A friend and I unpacked some more stuff this afternoon and the shuffling of boxes had Her Grace scampering all over the place. Some of it was play, but some of it was fright. She is enjoying her window perch and she does sleep, but I am not sure she has been getting enough deep-sleep naps yet. Poor Maya Pavlova - moving is hard on cats. I think she'll be fine; she is eating and using the kitty litter and she knows I'm there, but this whole thing has been unsettling for her. Poor sweetie. She does purr now and again, so we're not talking state of shock here, but she's not quite back to normal.

For that matter, neither am I! But we're getting there, and a long night's sleep last night helped. The kitchen is almost unpacked and settled and there is less chaos in the living room.

Tonight it's time to read student work and prep for tomorrow morning's class. I am briefly at the office to use the high-speed connection and the college network. Back home soon with my feline friend and some student work to read. We did get our phone connection yesterday (land line - the cell has been a life saver between Tree-on-House-Day and the present) and can use dial-up for e-mail in a pinch, but I probably won't blog from home till high-speed is set up there. (Boy are we spoiled.)

Yes, there will be a Doxy and Jasper post, Part II. Patience.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Doxy and Jasper stop by, Part I

Her Grace and I had a brief visit from our friends Doxy and Jasper, whom we hadn't seen in quite a while. What fun! More on this meetup (does it still count as a meetup when you've become chummy IRL after meeting online?) in the coming days. I have a big conference tomorrow for which I have to finish writing a litany and am about to leave Panera Bread and its WiFi and head back home, where +Maya Pavlova awaits.

Jane in the 'burbs?!

These last three years I have managed to isolate myself somewhat (by living on campus) from the suburbia that is the landscape on this side of Greensboro. Well, no more.

I will have a lot to say about this when I finally have a high-speed connection at home (next week, we think - the Evil Time Warner came by sooner than the sales department had predicted, in the form of a nice man who said that the little old house is indeed cable-worthy) but for now, I am trying to get out of Panera Bread, my WiFi home away from home, which is actually pleasant, but freaking me out and filling me with nostalgia for the sidewalks of Berkeley and for the Cheeseboard and Acme Bread. Those don't have WiFi, though. Sorry for the run-on sentence before that last one.

I am an urban girl. Rural I can do. It's the suburban Southern Sprawl thing I can't quite get used to. But I am thinking of this as a reporter/anthropologist/sociologist and that makes it interesting. I just can't quite believe I live here.

Blog flashback on a related topic: Foot people and car people (May 2007)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Disaster update, cont'd

I have ordered phone service and will have a land line by this weekend, if not before.

Internet is more complicated for reasons with which I won't bore you and which have to do with the location and wiring of the house. But in a pinch I will be able to use dial-up once I have the phone connection up and running.

Excerpt from a letter to my family:

Had an 18 hour work day yesterday. Nuts. Better today, only one class, went to get hair cut this a.m., called the massage therapist who usually books weeks in advance but miraculously had an opening for tomorrow afternoon, put out a couple of fires (metaphorical, don't worry) re: Saturday's conference, bought a chocolate swirl cheesecake (downtown near hairdresser, famous cheesecake store in Greensboro where I never go but everybody loves) as a thank-you for the Facilities staff here, drove back to campus, dropped off the cheesecake with a thank-you note, dropped by the old house (where there are workers nailing boards on the roof to protect the inside in a more semi-permanent way than the tarpaulin of the past week) and am now hiding behind a closed door at my office catching up. Still trying to figure out how to get high-speed internet at my new place, which has some quirky wiring access issues. Studying Native Americans and Puritans in the 16th and 17th centuries this afternoon in class. Then I get to go home, probably by 6 p.m. Hurrah.

Still really tired (the usual Wednesday longest-day-of-the-work-week stretched out an extra three hours) and sleep-deprived, but hoping for an early to bed night today and/or tomorrow. Certainly will have one after the conference Saturday. +Maya Pavlova still has a worried look in her eyes when she is out and about, except when she watches the new Kitty TV Channels (one channel per window) at the new house, at which point she is entranced. Lots of entertainment for her, most of it with wings. As far as I know she got her sleep yesterday, though I wasn't around to see it.

Must go online and figure out the Evil Time Warner, since I couldn't get a decent or coherent answer out of them yesterday when I reached them on the phone. I ordered phone service online, though, and it was much better. Feh. Who needs TV. Maybe I'll ignore Time Warner Cable for a while.

Note to Earthlink subscribers: the live chat customer-service staff is speedy, helpful, and coherent.

Sarah Palin, politics, the Episcopal Church, and the culture wars

I am having some thoughts about the connections among the above and at some point will write them down. I am more and more struck by what is best called a culture (or subculture) gap and some would call the culture wars and by the way it plays out both in the Episcopal Church and U.S. politics, in some of the same ways. Hearing Sarah Palin (bits - I was at work all evening yesterday till very late but listened to radio later and this a.m.) also reminded me, as does the larger religious and political scene, of a very helpful book that came out two decades ago, Abortion and the Politics of Motherhoodby Kristin Luker. It is as much about the cultures behind and around the abortion divide as about the divide and the subject itself. (The reviews on Amazon.com don't really note that.)

More when I can on this topic. Stay vigilant.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A picture is worth a thousand words

I'm standing inside the bedroom here. That's the sky you see. The grey dusty debris was waist-deep before the disaster recovery people came. It also had tree branches in it. My buddy Noel from church took the photo the morning of the move, Sunday.

But that was only one room and the rest of the house was fine, though the night the great tree fell (two and a half feet in diameter, that tree trunk!) we cleared every last thing out of the two adjoining rooms right away because of concern that the roof and ceiling would collapse there too. As it turns out, they did not.

The t-shirt, as FranIAm has noted, says "There are two means of refuge in the world: music and cats." (Albert Schweitzer.)

With apologies to dog people, who know that dogs are equally a means of refuge (or more, I know, I know, but I am a cat person).

The tree, by the way, did not fall because of lightning or a big storm. Apparently what happened is that at the end of two days of steady but sometimes soft rain following a period of drought, the nearby pond and a little gully or ravine overflowed and loosened the soil around this big live tree, and boom, onto the house (and onto another half a tree which also went whomp on the house) it went.

P.S. Spoke with Mimi in Louisiana last night. They lost water. Not fun. Compared to what Mimi and her family and so many neighbors have had with displacement and loss of power and now water (at the place to which they relocated, not their original home!), I have just been on a picnic.

Back to our previously scheduled programming

For a blog that is not a journal, this place has been awfully journal-ish recently and I am starting to feel self-conscious about it. It has, though, been a godsend and a wonderful place to communicate (oops, I pressed "post" here rather than "save" - and now for the end of the sentence) and I'm grateful for the technology, and for the community that it has made possible!

We'll be back with saints, cats, theology, politics, culture, and the occasional kvetching. Right now, lots of work at school and this coming up on Saturday. So I may or may not write much this week. Keep the comments coming, they are a comfort and I do read them eventually. Still no internet at home because there was so much to do at school that I hadn't a minute to phone the cable company, or the phone company for that matter.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Disaster update: Jane even more exhausted, +Maya doing better and better

Dear all -- a very quick update since I need to be back in the saddle at work and am going through a mountain of e-mail here at the office.

+Maya Pavlova and I had our first good sleep in several nights last night. Mine was a little too short and I could use a week of nonstop naps and massages, but it ain't gonna happen, so we'll just try to live a healthy steady life in the midst of the transition. I am getting proper nutrition and taking my vitamins. The bathtub needs a plug so I can only take showers and I really wanted a warm bath last night, but hey, I have running water! So in the cosmic scheme of things, things are good: the bathroom is set up, the bed has been set up since we got moved in Sunday night, and yesterday a friend came over and helped unpack part of the kitchen, so that is functioning too. The radio is out, two pictures are up on the wall, as is a Russian icon of Mary (not an original, but who cares).

The rest of the house is in boxes. My image of La Virgen de Guadalupe is still at the old house, watching over things. (Note: the part of the house where she is was fine and completely unaffected. I'm just sayin'.) The disaster recovery people are at the old house, continuing to go through the rubble, but they are almost done. They did manage to recover a lot. My grandparents' bed was broken into pieces, but we did recover the headboard and it is at the new house. My grandfather's dresser, which was build to last, is fine except for the top, which will need some refinishing or something, but it was so solid that all the clothes in it were fine too. Hurrah, we have underwear, socks, and t-shirts and some sweaters.

Oh, and after nosing around for two hours, Her Grace disappeared from (Un-)Packing Central and when my friend and I went searching for her, we found her sacked out on the bed, sleeping deeply on one of my pillows. It was the first time since we moved in that she'd looked so relaxed and had such a deep sleep and also the first time she'd settled on my bed. (This surprised me, since I expected she'd sleep on it the first night. But she was busy marking her new territory, rubbing against every corner of every room and every one of about 100 boxes, or however many are stacked around the house.)

Miss Maya P. has a new perch and when I left for work, was busy watching the fauna in her new back yard. We have birds, at least one groundhog who waddles around, and the day I first looked at the house, a bunny (also a rare landing from a hawk, who was looking hard at the bunny) and lots of bugs including mosquitoes who bit me heartily during the move when the doors were open a lot. Maya has chased and caught two large bugs in the house.

Two fine friends came over for dinner and we had a feast of Chinese take-out plus one Thai dish (there is a very good Chinese plus Thai place nearby) on real chairs with Maya watching attentively. One member of the couple was the friend who helped in the afternoon and she also brought fresh fruit, milk, and ice cream, in addition to a great salad for lunch. I had told her I was craving green and crunchy food (which you don't get when you are on the run) so she brought a sandwich for herself and a fabulous salad for me.

I must go deal with work. Thanks again so much for the notes, virtual hugs, and prayers. Keep 'em coming. I am feeling quite exhausted and must keep up the school stuff. But I plan to get to bed early tonight. Tomorrow is my super long workday AND the school's Opening Convocation (not quite opening, since we started classes two and a half weeks ago). Thursday a.m. I can get up later and I had a haircut scheduled, so I will see my tasteful and very buff hairdresser and all will be well with the world.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Disaster update: found new house, packed, moved, exhausted

The fabulous FranIAm, friend of the multitudes, has posted on the state of things.

I am just briefly online, having taught my morning class (BLEAH! work on Labor Day!? but I couldn't have the little darlings skip the Council of Nicea, it would mess up the rest of the course, and they are very nice students indeed) and canceled my office hours, and am headed home. To my new home. Still some things (disaster-contaminated) to go through at the old home, but that's not till tomorrow since the disaster recovery people (who don't work Labor Day Weekend) come back then.

The movers, however, worked all weekend, bless their hearts.

I am exhausted, my feet hurt (from standing and packing and ordering people around and/or answering questions), but things really are okay and as I have said before, the situation could have been much worse. Most of my stuff is fine since only one room was destroyed, and we were able to recover many clothes and my grandfather's dresser (they don't make 'em like that any more) and my guitar. The guitar case is kind of a mess, but it was strong and I think the instrument is okay.

+Maya Pavlova and I have had a couple of agitated nights with all this moving and staying in different places and last night, our first in the new place, was also restless even though I felt tired enough to sleep for two days. Her Grace the feline bishop had to explore every corner of the new house and jump on every box (of which the house is full) and I had aching feet. Finally +Maya discovered the perch I had made for her (pictures coming in the next few weeks) from a piece of furniture the landlady had in the house already and when I left she was seated there, looking out the window at a groundhog waddling across the grass.

Thinking of Mimi and other Gulf Coast friends as the storm approaches and lands.

THANKS to so many of you who have written and posted. Your thoughts and prayers are a great support.

And thanks again to the one and only Doxy for first posting the news.

More when I can. Still no internet at the new place since it's Labor Day. I am headed out of the office now and home to boxes. A friend is going to bring me lunch and help me do some unpacking in the afternoon.