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Sunday, February 19th, 2017
2:53 pm - By request -- today's sermon
Christ and the Philosophers: Through Darkest Zeitgeistheim

Colossians 2:8-23

To conclude my little series of sermons on Christ and the Philosophers, I’m stealing the title of this sermon from a book by C.S. Lewis called The Pilgrim’s Regress, which has a chapter called “Through Darkest Zeitgeistheim."

Der Zeitgeist is a German expression meaning “the Spirit of the Age.” It's the way everybody thinks nowadays, that which is unquestioned, the ideas that surround us like the air we breathe, and like the air we breathe, taken for granted until challenged – and then stiffly defended. So, Zeitgeistheim would be the perilous land where if you think differently about things, you will be seen as backward, as not-with-it, or as dangerous – a public menace. And Christianity is always falling afoul of the Spirit of whatever Age it finds itself in.

Anyway, I’ve been talking about the good, the true, and the beautiful in this series, and those ideas can be expressed in many ways, and combined in many concrete forms – too many for me to go through, one by one. But there is one combination of ideas that you find everywhere these days, and I want to say something about it.

When I was in grad school, I was taking a course in School and Society – a sociology course – and the professor posed two questions to the class. The first was, Is society best understood as being made up of Individuals – or Groups? In other words, which is more fundamental to understanding how society works? And the second question was, Are people primarily consensual or conflictual? That is, are they more prone to cooperation or to competition?

Now, how you describe society and its workings depends on how you answer these two questions. In sociology, these answers – these assumptions – precede all other theory. And there are various ways in which you can combine these elements to explain society. The dominant theory in today’s world – which you will find everywhere – is that groups are the primary forms of identity in society, not individuals, and that all groups are in competition with each other for the resources of society. This is called Conflict Theory.

That means that you can explain society by talking about sex, race, social class, age cohort, nationality, culture, religion, and so on, rather than talking about individuals, who derive their identities more from their group membership than from anything unique to themselves. And all these groups – these different categories - are in perpetual conflict over whatever society has to offer. So men and women are in conflict with each other, and races are in conflict with each other, and the rich are in conflict with the poor, the young with the old, and so on. And the resources of society that these groups compete with each other for are, of course, things like wealth, material possessions, jobs, political power – but also symbols, ideas, words, which acquire their meaning by their being “captured” by some group or another.

This means that all men oppress all women, that all whites oppress all people of color, that all rich people oppress all poor people, and rich nations oppress poor nations. Oh yeah, also, straights oppress gays, the old oppress the young, Christians oppress everybody else, yada yada yada, yackety schmackety. And it means that there is no such thing as objectivity, no “truth” that transcends the struggle for dominance. There is only my truth vs. your truth, and if I can get you to use my words to describe our situation, then that means I’m more likely to win, and my winning – my group's winning – is what defines what is true – and what is good – and what is beautiful. At this point sociology becomes expressible as philosophy, you see. It can also be expressed as political science, where we call this same idea Neo-Marxism.

And from Marxism comes the idea of “false consciousness,” that a person who reaches out to another across the battle lines of group identity to try to get along, or see things in a common frame of reference, is a dupe or a fool – and is betraying one’s own group, which is the only true evil there is. No real compromise is poss between those from different groups. No agreement can stand between them; any seeming agreement is only a tactical truce, a pause to gather strength for the next assault.

Have your eyes started to glaze over yet? Hang, on, there’s a point to this.

So the professor in my long-ago class explained Critical Theory to us, as well as all the other permutations of sociology – and it seemed as though we were merely playing with counters. I thought, this is all interesting stuff, but nobody who was smart enough to understand it would ever use it to draw battle lines with others, surely. I mean, yeah, the angry and the blind, the people who fight for causes they’ve never examined, they might treat people from other groups as “the enemy,” but surely not those who could see it was merely a theoretical construct. Right?

Well, those were the days of the School Reform Movement, and there were lots of interesting books being written that didn’t reflect the same ol’, same ol’ in the field of education. People who had spent their lives in the field of public education were not happy to have so many “outsiders” weighing in on their province. Well, I was reading one of these books one day in the faculty lounge, trying to see what the fuss was all about, and my sociology professor asked me what I was reading.

I told him, and he made a scoffing reference. I said, You know, I don’t think people are paying attention – they’re just blindly picking sides – ‘cause there’s some interesting stuff in here. The professor wandered off without replying; but from that day, our cordial relationship ceased to exist. He cut me in the hallway, he ignored me in conversation – unless we were in the classroom, I no longer existed.

I was shocked! “These guys really mean it!” You see, I had read one of “those books.” I was revealed as being on the Other Side. I could no longer be included, even socially, among Our Kind of People. It rocked me to my core – not only because I had lost someone I had considered a friend, but because it suddenly invalidated one of my long-held hopes.

For I had always believed that if I were just smart enough, and learnéd enough, and articulate enough, I should be able to communicate with even the most hostile person and between us we would be able to find some kind of common ground, from which we could find a way to live together. And I nourished the hope that I could also find a way to witness to Christ so that the other person could see what I saw in Jesus.

But if some of those I was trying to communicate with didn’t actually believe that communication was possible, or desirable – that you had to first decide whose side you were on before you had anything to say to each other – then I had been on a fool’s errand. And I remember thinking, you can’t reason with these people; reason is, for them, merely one of the resources of society they are seeking to capture! They believe in the conflict, in the goodness of the conflict. They cannot understand you because they will not understand you.

And then I realized it wasn’t just in sociology or philosophy or political science that I was encountering this. It was in every academic field, it was in the way celebrities talked, in the way the news was reported. And it was even in the field of religion, for there were those, even in our own denomination, who were arguing that we should not attempt to convert people from other cultures to our faith in Christ, since Christianity was a “Western” or “European” religion (which would have surprised St. Paul). So for instance, The cross has no meaning in Asian thought, they said.

And I realized that progressivism in religion wasn’t just the old liberalism of doing good for others. It was this insidious idea that there are oppressor groups and there are victim groups. That your group is the enemy of my group. And there is no Truth – or at least, our truth – the Christian truth – is merely a side to be fought against.

People gripe about political correctness, but they don’t know where it comes from. Well, this is where it comes from. This is the ideology that gave it birth. And it’s not merely an annoyance; it is, in fact, a thoroughly planned attack upon the values we were brought up to live by – because those who identify with other groups want to replace them with values of their own.

It started in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and spread from higher education to other fields. Professors who believed in it eventually achieved tenure and then kept out other academics who believed in the old idea of searching for common truths. And whether we’re talking about sociology, or philosophy, or political science, or psychology, or religion, or pop culture, this is what is being taught to our children and young adults by every public institution in our society today.

It is profoundly anti-Christian, for Christianity believes in the catholicity of the church, in a savior who died for all, and a truth that can be translated into every language and lived out in every culture. It is profoundly anti-intellectual as well – for as it believes only in its own ideology, so it reduces everything to ideology, rigidly enforcing its ideas, punishing speech that expresses what it disagrees with. Though it preaches tolerance, it is profoundly intolerant.

And as I say, it is being taught to your children in every institution they participate in – schooling, higher education, pop culture, politics, the diversity racket their employers foist upon them, even (in many cases) their churches. It is the Spirit of the Age. It is the challenge of our day – in politics and in education and in religion. And what can we do about it?

St Paul wrote to the Colossians, "See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ." The philosophy that Paul was criticizing is what later became known as Gnosticism, and the “elemental spirits of the universe” would have been the emanations of deity that they preferred to the incarnation of God in the Man, Jesus Christ. Still, I think Paul would recognize Conflict Theory as an ideology also attempting to replace Christian doctrine, and those two questions we started with – about the group or the individual, and about whether people were primarily consensual or conflictual – as the basic "elements" of the theory. And he would have said the same thing in response to it: That in Christ “the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,” and when you come to him, you are connected to the supreme authority. He defines what is good, not the group or the individual, and he commands it as well.

He has set us free from these things that blind us and bewilder us, even as he has set us free from our sins, "having canceled the bond which stood against us, with its legal demands; this he set aside, nailing it to the cross." And as for these ideological questions, these pronouncements of the all-powerful Spirit of the Age, well, "He disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them . . . "

And he goes on to say, ”Therefore let no one pass judgment on you” because you refuse to go along with the crowd and say all the right things. “Let no one disqualify you,” he says, “insisting on self-abasement” before their idols. Indeed, "If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations, Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch (referring to things which all perish as they are being used), according to human precepts and doctrines?" Oh, they may sound so right and proper – everyone says so – but while "[t]hese have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting rigor of devotion and self-abasement and severity to the body . . . they are of no value in checking the indulgence of the flesh."

To belong to Christ is to be profoundly counter-cultural. We must be prepared to be rejected by those to whom our beliefs are an affront. And, yeah, we shouldn’t go about trying to be obnoxious about it. We must be loving in all we do, but we also must not think that there can be any real meeting of the minds with those who deny that minds from different groups can meet at all.

To belong to Christ is to belong to him who is from eternity, not to the Spirit of the Age, that is constantly passing away. I tell you, the Spirit of the Age is the spirit of bondage, who preaches liberation, but whose service is slavery, even for its unhappy devotees. But whom the Son makes free, is free indeed: free to love and be loved; free to make friends everywhere; free to reach across the artificial barriers of group identity and affirm a truth that unites us rather than separates us; free to join hands and together enter the kingdom where there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, nor any barbarians or outsiders at all, but Christ is all, and in all.

So don’t let clever people – cool people – socially powerful people – convince you of things that overthrow your allegiance to Christ. And don’t give your children as sacrifices to Moloch, either. Be free. Live free. And help others find their way out of darkest Zeitgeistheim.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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Saturday, February 11th, 2017
4:31 pm - Whose woods are these, I think I know
I finally made it back out to Wilderstead yesterday. It has been two months since I've had time to go. I didn't really feel like I had the time to spare this week, either, but I decided that I really, really needed to get over there.

It was a beautiful winter day that felt as if it were on the edge of spring. I wandered across the creek, which was full of water. All the springs were overflowing. This shot was taken from the log bridge looking upstream at the bathing pool.


I was nursing a bittersweet feeling about many things, not least how little progress I seem to be making on my house and how when I get over to Wilderstead, my time is taken up with chores rather than sharing it with the people I love. Still, it felt good to be in the woods again. It was so quiet, you could hear the water in the creek chuckling over the rocks from the cabin.

I built a fire in the stove to knock the chill off the cabin. Made some supper and read a book. When it got too dark to read, I switched on my computer and by the light of the screen typed up my sermon notes for Sunday. Then I went to bed early. This morning, I stayed in the sack until I was completely slept out. Looking at the clock on the table downstairs, I noted that I had slept for eleven hours.

Felt immensely better this morning. My bittersweet feelings had been replaced by hopefulness. Instead of thinking to myself how few years I might have left in which to enjoy my holler, I began to focus on what these next few years will bring. Let's say I have around fifteen years of sufficient health and hardiness left to still enjoy camping and hiking and so on. Compared to my fifty-some years of Scouting experience, that's not much, and it will fly by. But to my two grandcubs, the next fifteen years will go by very slowly, filled to the brim with all kinds of important thoughts and feelings and experiences. When I'm 78, fifteen years from now, James will turn 19 and Daniel will be 21.

So soon, I'll get to see them out the holler more. Their mother might bring them out to do school in the woods. And very soon, Daniel, at least, will be old enough to start trying his wings on overnight or weekend stays without Mom or Dad. I can see them helping me build my house, then helping me clear out the scrubby areas to develop the woods into a more park-like place. I see them building their play forts, scrabbling in the creek, roaming the hills. I see us building fires, camping out, learning to listen to the night sounds, sharing important moments together.

I have spent over forty years teaching and leading other people's kids. And I was too busy (and really, too immature) to really give my own children what I should have when they were young. But these two: they will get all I have to give them. When someone asked Teddy Roosevelt why he was planning an expedition to the Amazon in his retirement, he replied that it was his last chance to be a boy. Thinking of all the things I want to share with Daniel and James makes me as excited as a boy again. I want to do everything all over again, in the best of company.

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Tuesday, February 7th, 2017
3:09 pm - A word about education
About fifteen years ago, I said to a parishioner who taught Reading in Fifth Grade, that I had noticed something about the kids in my confirmation classes. I had been teaching kids in church for twenty-five years at that point, and they were all pretty much the same kinds of kids. Oh, I'd had country kids and city kids, affluent kids and poor kids, but overall, they came from the same kinds of families in the same kinds of church situations. They took the same classes, they participated in the same sports, they were the same personality types. Perhaps more critically, they had the same spread of grades.

There was only one major difference between the kids I was teaching at that time and those I had started out with: The kids in my classes fifteen years ago were a full grade level behind in Reading in comparison with the kids in my classes forty years ago. The same bright, funny, active, engaged kids in my most recent classes are two years behind in Reading in comparison with the first kids I taught, forty years ago. They all have smartphones and they can all do wonders with computers, but their basic Reading skills are way behind what they used to be.

All the angry exchanges over education, particularly in the battle to confirm Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, are ultimately about which group of adults will control the dollar-dispensing machine, and which group of adults will get the dollars dispensed. Meanwhile, none of the usual suspects promoting their favorite whizbangery has a clue how to help kids read better, nor are they terribly interested in it. They all want to fight about private schools vs. public schools vs. charter schools vs. vouchers vs. homeschooling. Meanwhile, our kids continue to be cheated of the skills they need and the heritage of thought they deserve.

I don't know that Betsy DeVos can do much about fixing the problems with our educational system. But she can't do any worse than has been done these past forty years.

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Monday, February 6th, 2017
10:12 am - Decisions, decisions
I argued with myself for months, gnawing on the decision like a dog worrying over a bone. Deanne and I talked it over again and again, as if we were working a complicated math problem that kept giving us the same answer that didn't make sense. Personal goals, family needs, personal health, professional relationships, finances: so many factors are involved. And you really can't talk it over with everybody, can't ask for advice beyond the most intimate of circles.

Finally, I resolved to pull the trigger. That said, writing the powers that be of my intent was one of the hardest things I've ever done. Immediately after that came a great peace. I felt like the girl in The Departure of Dindrane, who after long anguish trying to make up her mind over an opportunity given her, has come to a decision:
'. . . write
that now I am quits with those two jangling bits.
They only can do it with my lord who can do it without him,
and I know he will have about him only those.'
But then came the grief. And the telling. And the second-guessing: What have I done? And once again, as so often before, you work the problem over: personal goals, family needs, personal health, professional relationships, finances. And still the answer is the same. You just aren't guaranteed to always be happy with it. But I believe that when you do the right thing, the decision will re-confirm itself in the living out of the decision.

And so, I stood up before God and everybody yesterday and announced that I will retire from the full-time ministry this summer.

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9:11 am - Not quite the same thing
My friend Taylor was looking for clipart to teach the concept of reconciliation. She wasn't finding what she was looking for. Switching to "apology," she found a Certificate of Formal Apology. Which reminded me of these things, the size of a Post-It note, which I designed and had made up for me when I was a Camp Director. To give to certain people. Yeah, I know it's not quite the same thing. But still.

Official Sympathy Chit

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Saturday, February 4th, 2017
5:19 pm - One at a time
I went over to the Council Training Expo today. Schmoozed a lot of people about high adventure, District programs, yada yada. But what I was there for was to lead one short training session -- slated for the last period in the day's schedule -- on Religious Emblem Awards in Scouting.

I've led this session at the Training Expo several times. And, of course, I've done more extensive training that covered the same material many times as Conference Scouting Coordinator, as President of NAUMS, as a trainer of Jamboree Chaplains, at the UM Scouters Workshop at Philmont . . . I've been doing and teaching Scouting as Ministry for forty years now. And I just can't seem to say no when I'm being importuned to come teach this stuff again.

You see, I typically get 3 or 4 learners who've been trying to get a straight answer about how to do these programs, and nobody has been able to help them before now. This is because the various Religious Emblems aren't BSA programs, but programs designed by one or another of the denominational or ecumenical bodies that publish them. BSA approves their awards to be worn on the uniform, but they're not from BSA, and nobody at BSA offers them as program. For that, you've got to work with the various churches. Which means that in order to tell you how to do Religious Emblems with your kids, I have to disentangle all the various religious bureaucracies for you so you'll know how to help all the kids in your unit.

I also inevitably wind up talking about churches doing Scouting, about who "owns" Scouting, and about issues of religious integrity. People who attend one of my sessions get a lot more than they bargained for.

This year, only three persons signed up for my class, and only one actually showed up that last hour of the day. I stood outside the classroom like a carnival barker, asking people to step right in and find The Sum of All Human Knowledge. Still only one taker. So we sat down to go over the various Religious Emblem awards programs, and to talk about her unit in its community and the families in her Troop.

She thanked me repeatedly for clearing up all kinds of issues. She also asked about a lot of difficult things, including how we pray when we're together. She had just been told in Wood Badge that we all had to censor the way we pray and use religious language from all kinds of sources in order to "include" everyone. I patiently explained that the word salad some people think is appropriate for all-Council worship events is not only empty of meaning, but potentially blasphemous. Every child and every adult in BSA has a right to be who he or she is, and to pray the way one prays at home and in one's own religious community. We affirm the teaching of the home and religious community. We do not censor it. Religious Charter Partners have the right to be who they are, too, and to use the Scouting program as part of their outreach.

Even though I only had one learner today, I was glad I went. People like that Scouter need someone to empower them to work with their kids properly. I only wish I could get the Council leadership -- including the people who run summer camp and Wood Badge -- to sit through forty minutes of my class.

I am the only religious professional on the Council Executive Board, but I wound up on the Board because I was once Council Vice-President for Older Youth and Venturing, not because of my background in chaplaincy or religious relationships. I am an at-large member; I have no committee assignments. I have tried to convince the Council to start a Chaplaincy Committee. I've offered to raise money to fund a resident Chaplain for our summer camp. I've offered to work with them to forge seminary connections where we could offer it as an internship earning credit toward the M.Div. degree, and I have the academic credentials to serve as a supervisor for that. I have frequently pointed out that we have never had a Relationships Committee in the Council (we have a Membership Committee, sometimes called Membership and Relationships, but nobody actually works with the major charter partners). I am happy to lead worship at Council events and do small workshops like today's, but dear God! I'm tired of speaking eis aera to Council leadership.

Oh, well. One at a time, Lord, if that's how it needs to be. Every one of those children and youth is precious, and every leader who works with them is precious, too. If I have to help them one at a time, it is still time well spent.

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Friday, February 3rd, 2017
2:09 pm - A Banner Day approaches

Getting ready for Scout Sunday this week at EFUMC.

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Thursday, February 2nd, 2017
11:26 am - Dropping the other shoe
In my last post, I commented that the main outcome from the Boy Scouts' admission of transgender people to membership under their preferred gender identity would be a proliferation of rules. I dodged addressing the larger question: what are we to make of transgenderism itself?

I was asked recently what I thought of transgenderism, and I replied, "It's just another way to be unhappy." But to explain that remark, I first have to attempt to define exactly what transgenderism is, and how we should address it.Collapse )

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Wednesday, February 1st, 2017
9:17 am - Rules, rules, rules
I'm being asked by various clergy friends about the Boy Scouts' new policy on including transgender children and youth in their membership -- meaning, mostly, girls who identify as boys joining Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. (Venturers are co-ed, so you could also have boys who identify as girls.) Without getting into a whole discussion on transgenderism -- which would take a much longer post -- let me give you a perspective from that of a Scout leader who does Scouting as ministry within The United Methodist Church.

This decision is going to generate an enormous amount of rule-mongering. Sometimes, I think the Boy Scouts' primary product isn't program, but rules. Sigh. I don't suppose there will ever be more than a few transgender Scouts, since there aren't that many transgender youth in the general population, but accommodating their presence in our programs will mean making all kinds of adjustments in the rules on adult supervision, sleeping arrangements, and bathroom/shower facilities. And since you can't have these kinds of adjustments made in an ad hoc fashion, with each group making up its own rules -- you would expose yourself to way too many possibilities for disaster (and lawsuits) -- we will all have to change how we do what we do, even if we have no transgender Scouts registered in our programs.

We are buried in rules as it is. BSA's youth protection program is, on the one hand, a testament to how seriously the organization takes its responsibility to ensure the safety and dignity of its youth participants, especially from predators. That said, predators get ever smarter, and as we have adjusted our behaviors to make it harder for predators to get improper access to minors, predators have adjusted theirs. So new rules are constantly being generated, outlawing all kinds of things that were once considered no big deal. For example, we are now supposed to avoid patting boys on the head or squeezing their arm, because that is considered "grooming behavior," which a predator would use to desensitize minors to adult touch. When I was younger, that was just how you showed you cared or were proud of them without getting sloppy about it. Rules generate more rules, and behaviors are forced into ever narrower lanes to continue to work with kids, especially in the outdoor program.

Take the issue of adult supervision. BSA requires two adults (minimum) for every activity. When the Troop goes camping, that would mean, e.g., that eight boys are being taken to the woods overnight under the supervision of two adult men. Not all the boys would have a parent present, obviously, and that's okay. But now, suppose that one of the Scouts is a boy-who-is-not-a-boy. Can two adult men properly supervise this Scout? Common sense would say, probably not. But if you require an adult female to be on hand, are you not saying that we all really know that this "boy" isn't really what he says he is?

Now, it's not unusual to have a woman go camping with a Boy Scout Troop, but it would be an extra burden to require one to come along every time. How much of a burden? Well, not too much, I suppose; I'm a Venturing Advisor, and Venturing is co-ed, so we always have both sexes represented among the leadership on our campouts. But there have been times when I have had to cancel a campout because all of my registered female leaders and all of my female parents were busy. If you require a female adult to go camping with a Boy Scout Troop every time they go because there is a transgender Scout participating, then that's an extra wrinkle you have to plan for. And there will be times when you can't meet that hurdle, so you don't go, and that means that, on the whole, the Troop will camp just a little less than it might. And we probably won't want to require co-ed supervision only when a transgender youth is registered -- that would require us to know and acknowledge, even if only among ourselves, that one of our boys isn't really -- so, ultimately, I would expect BSA to some day require co-ed leadership of all activities. We could adjust to that, but all of us would do a little less camping on the whole. And if you knew how little some Troops go camping as it is, that would make you wonder about the direction of the program, at least a little.

Now consider sleeping arrangements. You have eight Scouts and four two-man tents. Easy-peasy, right? But one of your Scouts is different. Can a boy-who-is-not-a-boy properly share a two-man tent with another boy-not-her-brother? Remember, we must at all costs acknowledge the total boy-ness of this Scout. How can we require him to sleep by himself, or with a parent? Once again, we Venturers are used to accommodating co-ed groups, and that means we sometimes have to carry more gear than we'd like: if you have a male leader and a female leader, who are not married to each other, supervising three boys and one girl, none of whom are the children of the leaders (or not of the same sex as their parent), then you will need five two-man tents to accommodate six persons, which is two more than you might otherwise need. On a mountain trek, that's a significant burden, but we do it. But here, the problem is that we can't properly acknowledge the reason we need more gear. The rules require us to say this Scout is a boy; the rules will also require us to act on the fact that he's not. In the end, the result will be that most units do less camping in order to avoid the hassle.

As for bathrooms and showers, I shudder to think of importing into Scouting the bathroom wars of the last year of the Obama administration. Still, I imagine BSA will simply design or retrofit its facilities to make it less of a hassle. There are very few gang showers left in our society, especially in Scout camps. Still, there will have to be rules to tell us what to do to keep kids safe and unscandalized. Rules, rules, and more rules.

Including transgender kids in Scouting? It's not really a problem, if your program consists mainly of tying bandages or playing Steal The Bacon in the church basement. But once you start talking about delivering the magic of Scouting -- of adventure (especially high adventure) -- of a life lived outdoors -- then you've got more and more hassles. We already spend too much time sitting in classrooms grinding out Merit Badges, as if that were the adventure we promised.

Should we -- the Church -- be in ministry to transgender kids and their families? Of course. Should we use Scouting to do that? I think so. But how much are we going to demand of ourselves, and what can we legitimately demand of those who ask to join us? The phenomenon of transgenderism in our society today asks all of us to include without exception -- and then to make all kinds of exceptions in order to include. That will beget an enormous number of rules -- but all the rules in the world cannot resolve the inherent contradiction of what we are being asked to do.

I can't set BSA policy. For that matter, I can't make society resolve this issue; it'll have to work itself out. I can speak, in my degree, for the church, and BSA seems to indicate it won't press transgender kids on units whose charter partners don't want to deal with this, but that doesn't remove us from the society in which we operate. My bottom line is, as someone who uses Scouting to make disciples of Jesus Christ, I worry that, faced with the ever-increasing burden of the rules, there will be a lot of our Scouting units that just find it easier to stay in the controlled and uncomplicated environment of the church basement, because they can't navigate all the demands placed upon them to deliver the magic of Scouting. And that would be a loss for all the kids -- of whatever sex.
Tuesday, January 31st, 2017
11:43 am - Commentary on the State of Things
I found this cartoon in my LJ Scrapbook. It seems a fitting comment on the state of things today. I see myself in it, too. Some days I feel like the guy on the left; some days, I feel like the guy on the right.

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Wednesday, January 25th, 2017
11:30 am - Responsible government vs. permanent government
All advanced bureaucratic states have a problem created by the proliferation of multiple levels of government: the responsible government (i.e., elected officials, and those appointed by the executive -- those who are answerable to actual voters) struggles to control the permanent government (i.e., employees, many of whom have various levels of protection against dismissal because of civil service rules, etc.). It doesn't matter what party or individual we elect, the permanent government does what it does. And it doesn't matter what policies the responsible government tries to put in place, it has to go through the permanent government, which often has its own views on things.

In the US, the Democrats are the party of More Government, so the mass of government employees skew Democratic in their voting behavior and policy preferences. Likewise, many of the agencies engaged in certain hot-button areas (e.g., the EPA) deal in causes beloved of progressives, so many of those who go into government service in those agencies tend to have a proggish view of things. This is a perennial problem for Republican administrations, and not just that of Donald Trump. No matter what they were elected to do, the permanent government resists.

Right now, there's a big foo-fa-rah over certain government agencies being stopped from updating blogs and websites until agency heads can be confirmed by Congress and new policies promoted. Various members of the permanent government are attempting to defy the President, casting his attempt to take control of the policy expressions of the government as some kind of dictatorial exercise of power. This is not brave resistance, this is arrogance.

Look at it this way. On the other side of the political divide, the US military in recent decades has tended to skew Republican, since the Republicans have generally favored a more robust defense establishment and the projection of American power. Also, the military is innately conservative in its social structures and values, and Republicans have been more supportive of that than Democrats. In response, both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama cracked down hard on the military to get it to do -- and say -- what they wanted. Obama was particularly ruthless in promoting and demoting military leaders on the basis of the values he wanted his administration to reflect. Careers were ended, careers of honorable and capable officers, because they just couldn't wrap their mouths around what the President wanted them to say as enthusiastically as he demanded it be said.

So, before everybody gets froke out about Trump issuing "gag orders," just stop and breathe. This is not a new problem. Every administration has at least some of this to wade through. And it needs to be said: The responsible government has the right to enact its policies, subject only to the checks and balances in the Constitution. The permanent government just work there. Nobody elected them. They are not part of the checks and balances in the Constitution. They should do their job and quit grandstanding when somebody they don't like is elected.

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Tuesday, January 24th, 2017
3:17 pm - Meaningless statistics, part 987
It is frequently said that the Democratic Party is the oldest political party in the world. It's certainly not the oldest political movement in the world. That distinction would probably have to go to Whiggery, which began with the English statesmen who invited William of Orange to come over and replace James VII and II. It took a while for the Whigs to become an actual political party, the Liberals. And parties crash and are re-launched now and then, so there are breaks in the chain. Some of the ideological descendants of the Whigs are now found in the Conservative Party, but the Liberal Democrats retain the rights to the name. Still, if you're talking about the oldest political party in continuous existence, then, yes, the Democratic Party would be it, I suppose.

Of course, there is some question as to when the Democratic Party actually came into existence. The Democrats themselves claim Thomas Jefferson as their founder, but the party he begat was called the Democratic-Republican Party. It became so dominant that its opposition, the Federalists, collapsed, leaving only various factions of the Dem-Reps to contest the election of 1824 against each other.

Nobody got a majority of votes in the Electoral College that year, so the House of Representatives decided the election by choosing John Quincy Adams. The chief loser, Andrew Jackson, was so outraged that he got together with Martin Van Buren and formed the Democratic Party for the purpose of contesting the election of 1828. Adams's faction was re-named the National Republicans, and the Democratic-Republican Party went out of existence. So, does the Democratic Party begin with the election of 1828, or the election of 1792?

Meanwhile, the Republican Party of today first contested a presidential election in 1856. That makes it a Grand Old Party indeed, though not as old as the Democrats. And as far as electoral success goes, the Republican Party not only has a higher winning percentage than the Democrats, it has won more presidential elections, in toto. If you count the Democratic-Republicans and the Democrats as a single political party, the Republican Party has the highest winning percentage of any major party contesting US presidential elections.

Counting Washington as a Federalist (he really was our only Independent President) and J.Q. Adams as a National Republican even when he was representing a faction of the Dem-Reps, we get the following won-lost stats for major political parties in US presidential elections.

Democratic-Republican Party, 6-3 = .667
Republican Party (GOP), 24-17 = .585
Dem-Rep/Democrat (if you consider them the same party), 28-29 = .491
Democratic Party, 22-26 = .458
Whig Party, 2-3 = .400
Federalist Party, 3-5 = .375
National Republicans, 1-2 = .333
Other, 0-19 = .000

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Monday, January 23rd, 2017
4:58 pm - 2017 Winter Rendezvous
Our happy Crew cooks for the hordes

Well, we rendezvoused; whether it was winter is another question. With temps in the high 50s or even 60s, it hardly felt like winter. Luckily, the rain came early and left the same. So the 530 or so people out at Maumee Scout Reservation had lots of fun, anyway.

For us in the kitchen, it was good news/bad news. With the big coffee urn on the fritz and only a Bunn coffee maker to keep up with demand, truly cold weather would have had Scoutmasters growling at us all weekend if we'd had to keep up with the usual coffee consumption. On the other hand, the Scouts' appetites weren't as big as usual; but then, they weren't cold and trying to stoke their little furnaces. Sunday morning there were lots of leftovers to take care of, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

I got myself out to camp Friday with the rest of the food and kitchen gear a little after 3:00, only to find Anna and Brian and the grandcubs already there, sweeping out the dining hall. The camp dining hall is not exactly exposed to the elements, but nevertheless it collects dust in a truly impressive fashion. The first job of the kitchen crew upon arrival therefore is to clean. Which is also the last job before leaving.

We were going to be short-handed, as Crew 119 is down in numbers these days. On top of that, it was Brad and Kate's first Rendezvous. Come to that, it was Kate's first Venturing outing! (We break 'em in right.) But I had every confidence in everybody. There's not a slacker in the bunch, and we all have fun working together and take pride in what we create.

One of my first jobs was to get the chickens stewing for Saturday's Chicken and Dumplings. I had two cases (about forty hens), and they were semi-frozen still. Which is why I brought a hand axe: I used the back of the axe head to bash the mass of poultry enough to be able to pry the chickens apart by hand. Into several large pots they went.

Kara, T.J., Brad and Kate arrived about 4:30. I was making pizza for the staff's dinner. They were put to work right away. Anna had pre-made twelve double batches of her Danger Cookie (ginger/cayenne cookies) dough. This meant rolling out somewhere around 600 little tiny balls and baking them before Friday evening's cracker barrel. Anna warned them to wear vinyl gloves, since rolling out one peppery batch will really help your arthritis, but more than that will set your hands on fire.

They see me rollin'

They see me rollin'
Kara, Kate, Nurse Judy, and Anna hard at work

Meanwhile, we had to prep 90 lbs. of beef brisket and put them to bed in the ovens overnight. Brad and Brian built a fire outside. After slathering the brisket with oil and adding a dry rub, they lightly charred the outside of each one before sealing them up to slow roast. When the chickens were done stewing, they were removed from the broth. Anna and Riley, a helpful member of Crew 170, deboned all that chicken and we added the bones and scraps back to the pots to simmer slowly all night.

What's your beef?

What's your beef?
Brad meets the meat

Friday afternoon and evening, we work on several different meals at once. There's a cracker barrel (snacks) to be served that evening, and there's the Feast for Saturday evening, but there's also Saturday staff lunch. We baked a whopping mass of Soda Bread and Irish Bread and Butter Pudding before lowering the temp on the ovens and putting the brisket in.

All too soon, it was time for the cracker barrel. We served Summer Sausage, Colby Cheese, Saltines, and sliced pepperoncinis -- the normal stuff. But we also had all those Danger Cookies. And Chocolate Bacon we made on the fly. And some Habañero-Ghost Pepper Cheese, which we offered in little, tiny chunks.

Scoutmaster approved

Scoutmaster approved
You never know what we'll serve next

The cracker barrel provided us no respite. We were ahead on some things, but way behind, in the weeds, on some other items. We still had home-made granola bars to make for one of the Feast desserts. Long after the campers went back to their campsites, we were still working. In fact, we didn't leave for our cabins until way after midnight.

A stirring performance

A stirring performance
T.J. mounts the podium and conducts a light-hearted confection

I was up at 5:30 the next morning and got to the kitchen early. Had to make Toad in the Hole for the staff's breakfast. Other kitchen crew members came staggering in between 7:00 and 8:00. And it was back at it. Had to make Coddle for the staff's lunch, and all the rest of the elements of the Feast. Pat and T.C. arrived by 9:00 and got to work. Garrett, a college student from another unit, volunteered to help us for the day.

We go through an immense amount of stuff to be sliced or chopped: 225 lb. of potatoes, 35 lb. of peppers, 40 lb. of Italian sausage, 75 lb. of onions, and on and on. I wore a little blister on the tip of the my right ring finger just from constant knife use. You don't need to know how to cook -- when you get past cooking for 100, it's not culinary art any more but factory work -- but you really need to learn how to use a knife properly.

Chop, chop

Chop, chop
Sausage and Peppers under construction

Thinking that you can't go wrong feeding men potatoes, I over-bought potatoes for mashing. It was a truly impressive amount of spuds. You might not think it, but cooking for a crowd requires a lot of upper-body strength.

Do the Mash

Do the Mash
Tell them Boris sent you

By 4:00 o'clock, we were closing in on our goal. Showtime was at 4:30, but the dumplings weren't done. Half of the bags of dough were ready, but half weren't. I told Anna to keep people prepping the pate a choux for the dumplings, while I took what was ready and got one of the two giant pots finished in time for serving. The final menu was Beef Brisket with Scotch Barbecue Sauce, Chicken and Dumplings, Mexican Beans and Rice, Sausage and Peppers, Jamaican Curried Goat, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, Italian Salad, Home-made Granola Bars, and Bottomless Apple Pie.

And then it was time. Two seatings of a couple hundred youth and adults each. Volunteers from other units helped us serve the food, and also cleaned up after each seating. After it was all over, we were wiped out. We had some time, so out came the games. James, who just turned 4 last week, beat us all at Zombie Dice.

Wild game on the menu

Wild game on the menu
Playing Zeppelin Attack

Saturday evening cracker barrel is basically just leftovers. Everything got brought out. And the hungry wolves came back in and devoured yet more cookies, apple pie, cold pizza, leftover brisket, etc.

Sunday morning, we scrounged a little breakfast and started cleaning the dining hall. Some crew members had to leave for other commitments. In the end, it was just Kara, T.J., Kate, and me. We finished cleaning the dining hall a little after noon. And another chapter is added to the legend of the Rendezvous.

There are strange things done in the name of fun
By the crew who cook for Scouts;
To do the job and feed the mob
You must cast aside all doubts.
Demanding food, they’re in no mood
For the usual fare, you see:
At that cold Rendezvous the best you can do
Is required at Camp Maumee.*

*Apologies to Robert W. Service

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Wednesday, January 18th, 2017
9:12 am - Words, words, words
I read a couple of articles lately on "inclusive language," that great bugaboo. It reminded me of my first sermon as a young associate pastor in the big collegiate church (in 1980). A lady came up to me after the service and thanked me for using inclusive language. I was nonplussed. "Thank you," I said, "but I wasn't trying to."

I had already tumbled to the problem of overusing male figures in illustrations. For that matter, overusing adult figures. If you want people to identify with what you're saying -- to see themselves in the people you're describing -- then you don't want to present a steady stream of illustrations and descriptive terms that paint a picture of only one kind of person. Sometimes you can do this by multiplying referents. Sometimes you can be a bit vague as to the exact age or sex of the person being described (though if you're too vague, people can't put themselves in the situation you're describing).

At the same time that I was trying to widen the applicability of my referents, I was using some grammatical tricks to do the same. I use "one" as a pronoun a lot. "One can see" how useful this would be. This allows me to use a singular subject to agree with a singular verb and avoid using "they" as a pronoun for a singular antecedent. Except when I'm being very colloquial, I have this odd prejudice that I ought to be grammatical, too, and therefore things need to agree in number.

I'm not just a grammar Nazi, though. Back in the 1980s, "inclusive language" was being used an excuse to avoid or change certain terms which results in some very bad results. Meanings were changed -- sometimes with heretical results, as when some ignorant but zealous persons started praying to the Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier rather than to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And particularly when hymns were being updated, there were times when rhyme and meter were butchered in order to gouge out some expression that offended the inclusivists and stick some ugly substitute in its place.

With all that in mind, let's think about some of these things.

Gendered language

English started out as a gendered language. As in German or Latin, words were either masculine, feminine, or neuter. This had little connection with whether a particular thing was male or female. In German, "maiden" (Mädchen) is neuter because the ending -chen makes whatever it is attached to neuter. It is a diminutive of the feminine Magd, "maid." For that matter, the German word for "wife" (Weib) is neuter, while certain intimate parts of female anatomy are masculine. Meanwhile, over in Latin, the word for "farmer" (agricola) is feminine, even if the farmer we're talking about is not.

But grammatical gender doesn't just refer to person-words. In a gendered language, the words for rock, sky, dirt, tree all have an assigned gender, and they change form to become plural or possessive or whatever in accordance with other words of the same gender. English has largely lost this. Only our pronouns retain gendered forms that inflect for grammatical case. I have often wondered if our obsession with "inclusive language" is merely a product of certain persons' grammatical ignorance, and if they would find it harder to see certain words as instruments of oppression if every noun in modern English were still inflected for case according to gender.

Besides grammatical gender, of course, we also use what one might call "notional gender." Even though we don't change the forms of our nouns by their gender any more, certain things are traditionally referred to as if they had a gender. Ships, for instance, are always "she": The U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, she's a good ship. In theological parlance, the Church (meaning, the Church as a whole, the Bride of Christ, not just a congregation or Conference as an organization) is also "she." Many people call all cats "she," unless the sex of a particular cat is of importance. And babies are traditionally referred to as "it": Ooh, has it lost its little blankie?

Then, of course, there is "descriptive gender," and here the inclusivists have a point. We have lots of pairs of words for people of different sexes engaged in the same occupation: actor/actress, waiter/waitress, tailor/seamstress, aviator/aviatrix, alumnus/alumna. Some of these derive from Latin, but many are native English words. We don't need so many of them, I suppose. But still, some of them are useful; for instance, "bag man," "bag boy," and "bag lady" do not describe persons of various age and sex engaged in the same activities. I'm all for simplifying language, but I'm not a fanatic about it. I like specificity, and sometimes there is a helpful shade of meaning attached to some sex distinction.

Inclusivists also object to using masculine forms as generic, as in "lion" for all members of the species Leo panthera, with "lioness" as the form specifically referring to a female member of the species. At least, they pitch a fit when we use "Man" as the name of our species, as in The Rights of Man. They want to demote "Man" to only refer to a male human and use ungendered names for our species, as in "humanity." I don't mind this, but it gets old sometimes. If it forces you to use ungainly expressions, it's not helpful.

Inclusivists really get their knickers in a twist, of course, over references to God. They don't want to call God he/He, Father, Lord, King, Master, and so on, despite these being the Biblical terms. This can lead to heretical alternatives, but it can also lead to a monotonous use of "God" in order to avoid using masculine pronouns. It can even lead to grammatical abominations like "Godself." Ick.

Color words

At the same time that feminists were attacking gender in English, other inclusivists were attacking color words. They wanted to eliminate the pejorative use of words like "dark" or "black," as in "black as a murderer's soul." Likewise, they wanted to eliminate the affirmative use of words like "white" to denote purity or cleanliness or high status. "Whiter than snow" -- a hymn's allusion to a passage in Isaiah -- became "brighter than snow." This got to ridiculous levels quickly. I know of one congregation in our Conference that changed its name from "White Harvest UMC" to "Abundant Harvest UMC" in order to avoid the idea (to whom this would occur beats me) that they were only interested in evangelizing white people. When Jesus said "the fields are white unto harvest," he was, of course, referring to the ripeness, the readiness of the harvest, for cereal grains turn from green to a pale tan as they ripen. I mean, yeah, the harvest is also abundant, but that's not the point.

Ethnic slurs

Removing ethnic slurs from the language is something many people have said we ought to do. And you don't have to be an inclusivist to think that there's something ugly about the term "Indian giver." What has always boggled me is that the same people who would immediately recognize that "Indian giver" is a pejorative term based upon white people's view of Native Americans will then turn around and accuse somebody of "welshing" on a deal -- which is a pejorative term based upon English people's view of Welsh people.

Yes, to talk of "jewing somebody down" (hard bargaining) is obviously slanderous. Is "Dutch courage" equally slanderous? A member of my congregation makes these tasty little appetizers of sausage and melted cheese on rye bread. She calls them "Polish mistakes." Is that okay, since she's from a Polish family?

I remember lots of lectures on color words and ethnic slurs back in the days when we had a black bishop. At the time, I also had a black superintendent. And I have heard both of them refer to "grandfathering" some provision in an Annual Conference policy for the benefit of those who were engaged in something or other before we had defined how it was to be done. I was appalled. Did these African-American men not know that a "grandfather clause" -- the origin of "grandfathering" -- was a bit of legal chicanery thought up after Reconstruction in order to deny black men the vote? Various southern States passed laws that said a person was unqualified to vote if his grandfather had been unqualified to vote. All the grandfathers in question had been slaves, of course, so they couldn't have voted.

We've come a long way, though. You almost never hear the hate words of the past, like Polack, kike, wop, dago, chink. This is a good thing. The casual racism of the past is largely gone, and we are a better society for leaving it behind. Still, these words sometimes come back, and new ones are invented as one group describes another it disdains.

Our society is still convulsed at times over the term we all carefully refer to as "the n-word." It's the one word you absolutely cannot use, in any context. Unless you're black. Even then, the unspoken rules for its use are complicated, I suppose. I have no need to ever use such a term, and wouldn't -- but if I were teaching The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, I'd have to face up to the fact that we would be using this toxic word every day. And I don't agree with bowdlerization of texts, so there you are. One of the greatest American novels ever written uses the dialect of the day in proper context, and there is this word.

Meanwhile, "cracker" continues in use with all its pejorative overtones, and those who use it -- almost all of them black -- are rarely called on it. One sign of progress: "redneck" is now a term of pride used mostly by those who so describe themselves.

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Saturday, January 14th, 2017
4:57 pm - Substantially done
While Kara set up for son Zach's Eagle Court of Honor this afternoon, I finished cleaning the front of the latest stained glass window. Then I added the little painted details and swabbed patina on the solder. Then wiped it clean, finally fishing up detailing the joints with Q-tips.

Okay, we're substantially done on this one. We'll be starting the fourth and final window in the display next week after Winter Rendezvous. Now, I've just got to find a place to safely store this until we can build a window frame for it.

Soli Deo Gloria!


This window shows the animal side of creation, remembering God's command to Noah to bring all kinds of critters into the ark with him. The flanking window on the other side of the display will feature pictures of human beings in their relationship to God and each other.

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Friday, January 13th, 2017
1:29 pm - Soldering on
On Wednesday, Evan and Jack learned how to solder on the back side of our current stained glass project. Alex arrived for the second hour and helped out. Just got to clean this window up and paint the features on the animals, and we're done with it.

Good job, everybody.


Evan displays a fierce concentration


Jack is more laid back


Art and Alex work on rebar

Photos courtesy Tiffany Willingham

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Thursday, January 12th, 2017
9:52 pm - Worth 1,000 words
This old Bill Mauldin cartoon expresses my feeling about politicians giving each other medals better than anything I can say.


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Wednesday, January 11th, 2017
10:55 pm - A trip down Memory Lane
I heard from Michael Lawson, current pastor at TVUMC, asking for details on the stained glass window my last confirmation classes did there.

The window is a Nativity Angel. Posing for the window was Megan Paolello. She was 12 or 13 in November, 2003, when we did study photos for a series of windows. Megan was posing for the Nativity window. Two other girls posed for a pair of Resurrection Angels to flank the main church entryway. Those other windows never went beyond the drawing stage because I moved in June, 2006, to EFUMC, where I still am. So Megan is now immortalized in glass. I told her that only I could make her an angel, and there's the proof.

Megan Paolello

Megan Paolello
Study for stained glass Nativity Angel window

Anyway, my 2004 and 2005 confirmation classes cooperated on this project, dedicating it on October 30, 2005. I was feeling woozy that morning in church, and later that day wound up in the hospital with an unsuspected abscess that almost killed me. Thank God for IV antibiotics. It took me months to recover.

Some of the crafters with their window before dedication in morning worship

Some of the crafters with their window before dedication in morning worship
L to R: Justin Ahaus, Casey Brice, Josh Hooten, Aaron Bender, Elizabeth Brice

As most of you know, my current youth are working on a set of stained glass windows here at EFUMC. I post pics of them from time to time. Today, 11-year-old Evan and her 8-year-old brother Jack helped college freshman Alex and me solder the joints on the back of the third of a four-window set under construction.

I believe in what kids can do, because I believe in what Christ can do.


Nativity Angel window installed
Tanner Valley United Methodist Church

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12:32 pm - The roaring of the sea
My daughter posted on Facebook her astonishment at the uproar on Twitter over the accusations re: Russian blackmail of Donald Trump. I replied that it reminded me of the assault on Helm's Deep. Trump is neither so noble as Theoden or Aragorn, nor so brittle as Denethor, but he is, in his way, a defender of what we think of as the West. So these lines from The Two Towers resonate with me.
The assault on the gates was redoubled. Against the Deeping Wall the hosts of Isengard roared like a sea.

They hate us, and they are glad; for our doom seems certain to them. "The king, the king!" they cry. "We will take their king. Death to the Forgoil! Death to the Strawheads! Death to the robbers of the North!" Such names they have for us. Not in half a thousand years have they forgotten their grievance . . .

How shall any tower withstand such numbers and such reckless hate?
I understand those who dislike Trump. I understand the fear of what he might bring. I understand the pain and shock of losing an election you thought you had in the bag. But the dominant impression I have of the left these days is just one tossing, roaring sea of bellowing hate.

They use words and argument, but there is no reason in it. There is only rage. And in that rage they sometimes say things they don't mean. More frightening, they sometimes say things they actually do mean, but are normally too suave to disclose; the mask slips sometimes. Such unreasoning hate. Underneath all the noble words about caring for the disadvantaged, there is such unreasoning contempt for everything and everybody who stands in their way.

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9:02 am - But the government is here to help you
Deanne and I were talking over the pressure she feels at her job. She was hired as a professional, but the Obama Labor Dept.'s new rule on overtime (since stayed by a federal court) meant that her non-profit had to shift her to an hourly wage. Same overall pay, but the pressures are different.

She's being pressed to make "production," which in her case means billable hours. But there are other things that have to be done, too, which don't count as billable hours -- certain reports, follow-ups, and so on. She's not supposed to stay late to get them done, because then they'd have to pay her overtime, but there's no other time to do them. She's been working over her lunch break to try to keep up. This is a problem.

I told her that she's getting the worst of both salaried and hourly statuses, and needs to get some things clarified. A salaried person -- a professional -- understands that the job is the totality of what needs to be done, and to carry work home is usual. But if you're hourly, then you get paid for everything they ask you to do. If you're working at McDonald's and they call you in for a store training meeting, you get paid. If you're on the clock, you get paid, and if you're off the clock, you don't work. A business asking you to work off the clock is not merely demanding; they're breaking the law.

So we talked about how factory work is done, and how hourly workers manage to met production goals within the rules set by their employers. There are all kinds of internal adjustments workers make to succeed in this environment, which professionals don't do. Deanne used to do factory work, and she lit up as she remembered how it was done.

Anyway, I'm sure what has happened is that the bosses at her non-profit got the memo from the Labor Dept. and figured they'd just diddle the numbers to comply and then go on about their business same as always. They probably don't understand that they're paying people by the hour to work like salaried people; they haven't made the transition in their heads.

Meanwhile, I'm hoping that the power grab by the outdoing Labor Dept. gets overturned. But that may not mean that all the non-profits (including the local Boy Scout Council) can go back to the status quo ante. People have lost their jobs over this craziness, as non-profits have had to figure out how to stay within their budgets, and those jobs aren't going to be restored. Similarly, those who've had their statuses changed might not have them changed back, so the question of what is work and what expectations are reasonable will still have to be answered.

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