Sunday, September 19, 2010

Quick! Talk to Me About Free Speech

I am putting the finishing touches on my course notes for the first class of
The Right to Offend: Freedom of Speech in America.

And I am just a wee bit panicky.

I feel like I'm overlooking something.

I'd love to hear from you, dear readers. If you were attending a community education course for mature learners (aged 55+) over the span of five weeks, meeting once a week for two hours, (ie we have ten hours to cover everything) what would you want to learn?

What topics would you find most interesting?

What specific examples of free speech issues in action would you enjoy discussing?

Use those free speech rights! Comment now!

I am all ears.

Admittedly, this is not really a picture of me. But I thought it would make you laugh, and then maybe be more inclined to share your brain. Well, not your actual brain....just your ideas.

PS Bonus points for cool things I can share with the class. I found one neat clip tonight:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

In Which I Confess My Prejudice

Jane Austen is celebrating to learn that her most famous male character will be played by the best actor evah!

I am bursting at the seams to share some outstanding news with you. My brilliant son has been chosen by a pair of incredibly insightful directors to play (drumroll, please)


in Pride and Prejudice.

My stage mother instincts are in full gear. I am seriously thinking about buying a full page ad in Variety to announce this. I think the child is going to be absolutely incredible. But I am honest enough to admit that I am totally prejudiced.

Get it? Prejudiced? Ha ha ha. I am so hilarious.

I am also super proud.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Lord, Protect Me From Your Followers

Photo found at parody site Landover Baptist Church. Sadly, the article link below is true.

I read this exciting newsflash tonight.

I try really hard to remember that many Christians I know are fantastic people. But when this kind of shit happens, I get sick to my stomach.

When we moved to the Pacific Northwest years ago, Professor X and I joined a church. We attended services, participated in the parents with young children group, helped with Vacation Bible School. One of the things I really loved about the whole deal was that the pastor who led the new member class spoke to us about his view that there are many paths which lead to heaven, that our denomination wasn't the only way. He was accepting of other religions and embraced learning about others' beliefs.

It seems like so many Christians now adopt the "my way or the highway" attitude when it comes to faith. And when I see behaviors ranging from a teen's thoughtless post attacking non-Christians to this sort of organized, pastor-led libricide, I wonder if we are headed for a real cataclysm.

I talked to a man tonight who clearly enjoys saying provocative things about politics and negative things about our current administration to elicit responses from others. One of my friends witnessed our exchange, and I think he was surprised I didn't bother to respond to the man, voicing my own opinion. Why bother? I have had experiences with such folks in the past, and it's a waste of my time.

We engaged in some further chitchat, and he said that politics was like armpits. "Both sides stink," he chortled, obviously considering himself a great wit. I was moved to comment that I liked the Irish system of government, with more than two parties, so that leaders were compelled to negotiate and form coalitions to create policy. I think that would be a good system to adopt here. He had no response. Apparently a serious discussion of alternatives wasn't fun.

My mom used to say that politics was a dirty business, and that our governmental system wasn't any good, but it was still better than any other nations'. Mind you, she hadn't studied any of the other countries' governments, but she was a proud American. We don't talk politics much these days, but I am betting her opinion hasn't changed much. I always thought it was kind of cool that other countries had different systems, and found some good in many of them that would be worthwhile for us to consider.

After reading tonight's disturbing news story, I can't help thinking that having multiple religions is a good thing too. With our current system of Democrat vs. Republicans, all too often people fall into a sort of sports fan mentality, cheering on "their team" rather than considering whether a policy is good or not. And when leaders of Dove World Outreach Center think it's okay to burn the holy books of another religion in a kind of fucked-up rally demonstration for their team, I am angry on behalf of the religion they're attacking.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


The Merchant of Venice, Anthony Heald and Jonathan Haugen

Can I share something with you? Today I read something that really ticked me off. It was posted as a high school girl's status update.
Corinthians 6:14~Don't team up with those who are unbelievers. How can goodness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness?
Give me a friggin' break.

I am so tired of some Christians' attitudes that they are better than anyone who is not a Christian. (Not to mention those who think they are better Christians than other Christians.) This particular phrasing the young woman employed has been used in many other places; a google search yielded over 600 hits.

We recently spent a glorious week down in Ashland (insert genuflection here) at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, seeing plays and attending discussions with actors and dramaturgs. I'll share more about the details in future posts, but I want to mention something specific here: my family's response to The Merchant of Venice. It was a brilliant production of a troubling play. Spoiler alert: Shylock, a Jewish moneylender in Venice, is forced to convert to Christianity in order to retain his property. Both kids were outraged at this turn of events. And they found it totally believable, given the intolerant, holier-than-thou attitudes of so many of their Christian peers.

I read a great piece about Anthony Heald, the actor who portrays Shylock. The first Jewish actor in the 75 year history of OSF to perform the role, Heald wrestled with many issues. I love his analysis:

"I think the biggest mistake is to present all the Christians as bigots and Shylock as noble. What that does is leave the suggestion that even noble Jews are capable of vicious acts. No -- Jewish people with psychological flaws, like Christians with psychological flaws, are capable of vicious acts."
Oregon Shakespeare Festival actor Anthony Heald has found a rewarding home in Ashland, where he's become a key member of the talented company. Director Bill Rauch describes him as "a brilliant craftsperson" and a "seeker of the truth" through his art. ~caption from Marty Hughley's Oregonian article
I'd encourage Christians to really consider these words:

Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs,
dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with
the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
to the same diseases, heal'd by the same means,
warm'd and cool'd by the same winter and summer
as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us,
do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?
If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that.
If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility?
Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his
sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge.
The villainy you teach me, I will execute,
and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.
(Act III, scene I)

Right on, Will.

I am sick of sanctimonious schmucks.