a few random holiday thoughts


I’ve been thinking about a ton of things that I’ve wanted to blog about, but none of them are worth an individual post. So random smattering, here we go.

Liberal outrage towards the potential Caroline Kennedy appointment to Hilary Clinton’s senate seat is steadily rising, I must say. But I’m still surprised this thing is even getting off the ground. For all the criticism of Sarah Palin, which, in my opinion, was mostly justified given her thin credentials and general lack of knowledge about the larger issues facing our country, she wasn’t just being handed a job. She was part of a platform that the American people were voting for or against. Moreover, the people of Alaska chose her as their governor; she got to her position as a state governor through her own hard work. Caroline Kennedy, on the other hand, has no experience and the people of New York have no opportunity to say whether her lack of legislative experience matters to them or not. Political dynasties have long existed in this country but most politicians who achieve success due to a family name still have to face the people’s vote. And yes, I know a Senate seat is not the vice presidency, but it’s not suburban city council seat either.

The other thing I’ve been thinking about is Obama’s pick of Rick Warren for the inaugural invocation. To be honest, I have mixed feelings about this. I’m not comfortable with the intimate relationship between religion and politics in this country, particularly after observing to some degree how the United Kingdom’s politics work. But it’s a fact of life. Somebody was going to give that invocation and chances were high that, unless the minister was Unitarian or gay or lesbian themselves, he or she was going to hold some problematic views about homosexuality. But, as I’ve learned talking to some of my friends, many of the LGBTQ community feel an intense sense of betrayal and it’s hard to argue with that. What I do find most interesting about this pick is what it says about the ongoing struggle over race in this country. I don’t support Jeremiah Wright at all but I think it’s interesting that his unsavory views were dismissed as foreign and threats from the fringe while Rick Warren’s unsavory views have a place in the mainstream conversation.  It also says a lot about the very marginal place in society that we’ve pushed gays and lesbians into. After all, according to Warren, gays and lesbians are only 2% of the population, a figure which has to be absurdly low. I’ll probably do a whole post on the LGBTQ issue (marriage, civil rights, religion, etc) at some point in the future.

I’m still struggling with motivation when it comes to the dissertation but I did spend a pleasant few hours reading sources at my local coffee shop a few days ago. That sounds minor, but it was a big deal. As I was working, I couldn’t help overhear two different bible study type conversations going on. I certainly spent my fair share of time having these conversations when I was growing up but it was weird to hear them in a place like a coffee shop after years of not hearing them unless I intentionally went to a Bible study. The more concerning of these was a group of teenage girls. It was a surprisingly diverse group, which impressed me, and it seemed like three of the girls were sharing their faith with the other girl who had probably expressed some real interest in getting baptized. All of that was fine enough. Until I heard one of the girls (who couldn’t have been over 16) ask the girl being witnessed to if she knew what circumcision was. The witnessee didn’t so the witnesser offered a bungled explanation that made it clear she didn’t really know herself except that it was getting rid of something bad. She then proceeded to make a link to getting rid of sin in your life. It’s been a long time since I’ve routinely attended a church but seriously??? Even if that is what a pastor would preach in the metaphorical sense, there has to be something wrong with teenage girls who clearly know nothing about sexuality in the broadest sense tackling this issue. Incidentally, this has to be a particularly American interpretation since circumcision doesn’t have the same importance in the rest of the Western world. It’s the first time in my life that I’ve understood why some of my Catholic friends believe unchecked personal interpretation of the Bible has its dangers. I’m not sure I agree but I was certainly struck how off that whole conversation seemed.

I think that’s enough of the randomness. Hopefully I’ll be a bit more coherent in the new year.


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