Sunday, December 14, 2008

Wizards of Winter and Barbra

Two very cool videos of a house with Christmas lights sync'd to music. First the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Wizards in Winter, then Barbra Streisand's Jingle Bells.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Child safety redux - Who is in charge of looking out for dangers?

Thinking Out Loud.
I came across this fabulous set of PSA's. They are fun and simple. Click the video tests, in order, below. Make sure your children aren't in the room, b/c unexpected words may fly out of your mouth.

Now that you've got the hang of it, watch this one.

Page down ...

These are from

I was all proud of myself when I saw the bear in the second video. After the first video, I was looking for a bear, and I found it, then noticed it change. I was not a little dismissive of the video, given, ::eyes roll:: how easy it was.

Normally, I'm the queen of continuity errors. In the middle of a film, if someone's cigarette grows a quarter inch when the angle changes, or if the coffee handle turns left instead of right, I have a good grumble, out loud. If continuity errors continue, I often add a dramatic Tony Soprano arm wave to the grumble. And whomever is in the living room with me is resentful of my interruption of their experience. They'd not noticed continuity errors, and so it was I, not the film's inattention to detail, that interrupted their experience.

I'm embarrassed to say in this case, I stopped at the bear, even though I knew the gist of the exercise. I stopped looking. I stopped seeing. I watched, but didn't see.

So I find myself pondering this in relation to our congregations and the safety of children (and elders, and other vulnerable people.)
It's so easy to miss something you're not looking for.
Is this why DRE's and church staff are more aware of the number of people in the building who are not congregants, in fact, the number who live on the edge of sanity, sobriety, and the law? (This is likely most true of those of us in downtown congregations).

Is this why, given people's natural (and I would say appropriate) desire for congregations to be places of safety and sanctuary, that they resist efforts to increase security in ways that require them to be inconvenienced or, frankly, to have to notice that bad things happen even in church?

So is this part of an explanation of why we seem to be the only people who notice when matches are left out on the edges of things, or when a door is unlocked because it's inconvenient to have to continually walk to open it during committee meetings? Because we are looking?

And if members are not looking, even when there are policies that say they ought, then of course members are going to be uncomfortable or even resentful of us when we point out risks. It is not the fact of a unlocked door, or the matches, or the suddenly covered security-window-in-the-door that interrupted their sense of sanctuary. It was the staff, the DRE, or the identified safety wonk on the RE Committee who interrupted their sense of sanctuary.

I wonder if this is a partial explanation for why congregations sometimes seem to expect us to write and implement policies, to monitor and ensure safety, but push comes to shove, not really bother membership about their behavior when that behavior impacts safety.

And if it is, what's the solution?

As Harriet the Spy said so frequently, Hmm, think about this.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What makes your heart sing?

I think, and of course I'm not the first, that this is a core question for religious educators. We should be asking everyone we come across in our work, "What makes your heart sing?"

When we have some insight into the answers to this question, we create space within which to imagine ways to make everything we do be meaningful. We can look for ways to create connections between people, practices and principles; we can pull on members' natural inclinations and desires to seek moments of meaning. We can collaborate on opportunities for service that aren't driven by how we've always done something, but by maximizing connections between past, present, and future/vision.

When we listen to people's answers, we can go to our RE Committee and Minister and colleagues and say,
"Look what I found out! XXYYZZ is the new AABBCC! Or: 10 people have told me that they cherish JJKKLL. What would happen if...."

(Perhaps our RE Committee and Minister and colleagues are, in fact, the first people to whom we should direct the question.)

I often think that I know how to do my job -- what the goals are, what the needs of the families are. But people will answer these two questions very differently:
What do you need? elicits a different answer than What makes your heart sing? My "job" is to flex and learn and remember that I need to be able to hold both of those questions (and all the answers) in order to truly support faith development.


It surprised me how much this video makes my heart sing.
As it started, I so didn't see it coming...what happened in my heart.

If you have a fast internet connection, this link will get you to his page and a hi-res version, which is even more glorious.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Someone you love has Mito

Every year 1000-4000 children are born with a Mitochondrial Disease. The person in my life who I know lives with Mito is Gwen, who I've written about on this blog many times before. Gwen and her family are no longer part of our congregation because our local hospitals didn't have the specialized treatment necessary to support Gwen, so they are now the beloved members of another UU congregation.

Many, if not most people with Mito are misdiagnosed, or not diagnosed until after death, so take a minute to learn about this often misunderstood disease. This is Mitochondrial Disease Awareness Week, to do yourself and your loved ones a favor, take a moment for awareness.

Mitochondrial diseases result from failures of the mitochondria, specialized compartments present in every cell of the body except red blood cells. Mitochondria are responsible for creating more than 90% of the energy needed by the body to sustain life and support growth. When they fail, less and less energy is generated within the cell. Cell injury and even cell death follow. If this process is repeated throughout the body, whole systems begin to fail, and the life of the person in whom this is happening is severely compromised. The disease primarily affects children, but adult onset is becoming more and more common.

This means that organs fail to work properly -- or fail outright. Without energy to run the cells, cells die, and can't do their jobs within the organs. So people with mito may not have GI tracts that work, or kidneys that will flush, or livers that wil cleanse. They become extremely vulnerable to the slightest bacteria or virus.

Depending on which cells are affected, symptoms may include loss of motor control, muscle weakness and pain, gastro-intestinal disorders and swallowing difficulties, poor growth, cardiac disease, liver disease, diabetes, respiratory complications, seizures, visual/hearing problems, lactic acidosis, developmental delays and susceptibility to infection.

Click the image to the left for a larger version of Symptoms of Mitochondrial Diseases.

"At this time, there are no cures for these disorders.
Goals of treatment
note: goals may never be met

* alleviate symptoms
* slow down the progression of the disease"

For more information about treatments and therapies, click the link in the above quote about Treatment.

As research continues, there seems to be more and more connection between mitochondrial diseases and autism spectrum disorders.
David Holtzman, MD, PhD, a Pediatric Neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA, notes, “Mitochondrial Disease may present with the clinical features of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Several recent studies have documented biochemical evidence of abnormal mitochondrial functions in at least 30% of children with ASD.”
FMI about thinking about connections between ASD and Mito, start here

Support these organizations:
Mito Action
United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation

People you love are living with this disease. They may or may not know it.
Support research.
Take a few minutes and play with the above websites and google and youtube.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Daydreaming as active engagement with our internal landscape

Religious Professionals absolutely cannot jump from task to task to task, rushing willy nilly from one to do list to the next. It cripples us. We have to have time intentionally carved out that's full of daydreaming, imagining, making the improbable connections that amount to leaps of creativity and connection in our professional lives. Professional development, formal or not, needs to include opportunities to "contemplate our internal landscape."

Jonah Lehrer in the Boston Globe:

scientists have begun to see the act of daydreaming ... is a fundamental feature of the human mind - so fundamental, in fact, that it's often referred to as our "default" mode of thought. Many scientists argue that daydreaming is a crucial tool for creativity, a thought process that allows the brain to make new associations and connections. Instead of focusing on our immediate surroundings - such as the message of a church sermon - the daydreaming mind is free to engage in abstract thought and imaginative ramblings. As a result, we're able to imagine things that don't actually exist,

Every time we slip effortlessly into a daydream, a distinct pattern of brain areas is activated, which is known as the default network. Studies show that this network is most engaged when people are performing tasks that require little conscious attention, such as routine driving on the highway or reading a tedious text. Although such mental trances are often seen as a sign of lethargy - we are staring haplessly into space - the cortex is actually very active during this default state, as numerous brain regions interact. Instead of responding to the outside world, the brain starts to contemplate its internal landscape. This is when new and creative connections are made between seemingly unrelated ideas.

The article is here. Jonah Lehrer is an editor at large at Seed magazine and the author of "Proust Was a Neuroscientist."

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

On Competency Expectations : Take a cue from the Canadians

Setting aside the fact that expecting competency and professional ethics from professionals is simply appropriate, it seems to me we could take a cue from the 1998 Canadian Supplement to the UUMA guidelines.
Others have quoted the new rule, but I'll put it here for any who aren't following along on other blogs.
"The fellowship of a minister may be terminated by the Ministerial Fellowship Committee for unbecoming conduct, incompetence, or other specified cause."
Employment law is different in Canada, so a minister can be "dismissed for cause." Dismissal from a congregation is not what this particular rule change is about, but I mention it here because we might take some wisdom from this in terms of its usefulness in identifying where the bar might be set, what might constitute incompetence.

“Cause” is a term of art and in general means particularly egregious behavior such as repeated drunkenness in the pulpit...

I think it's the funniest line in any professional document I've ever read, and it makes me happy every time I can find an excuse to refer to it. This may be the first time I've been able to refer to it and have it actually be directly relevant.

And it also appropriately sets the bar clearly so as to avoid messes regarding personality or disagreements of style, theology or low/high churchiness and the like.

If you've never seen it, the entire paragraph is:
In Canada a distinction is drawn between being dismissed for cause and being dismissed. “Cause” is a term of art and in general means particularly egregious behavior such as repeated drunkenness in the pulpit, failure to conduct services with no notice given or molestation of children in the church school. In situations where there is clearly cause, no benefits of any kind and no salary need be paid after the date of dismissal. Where “cause” in the legal sense cannot be established it may be that longer benefits than those described as normal in the US will have to be paid. In either case the minister is entitled to be treated fairly, to know the details of the charges and to have an opportunity to reply. Failure to proceed fairly can result in a review by the courts. Separation of church and state is not observed rigidly in Canada, and there are an increasing number of cases where courts have concluded that ministers were not treated fairly.

Also, as an aside, may I take this moment to state my strong opinion that all LREDA members ought not only read our own Guidelines, but the UUMA Guidelines as well (and hopefully the updated ones will be finalized if not already, and Google-able and on the UUA website soon) And vice versa. We are all accountable to professional standards and expectations of ethical behavior, and as religious professionals it is incumbent upon us to be aware of how those standards and expectations are and are not the same given our different responsibilities within a congregation.

I'm just saying.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Keeping Mum

Dark British comedy with a Rowan Atkinson as the Vicar and Maggie Smith as, er, Mary Poppins, sort-of. What could be better?

If you've never seen this 2005 film, and if you ever think I'm funny, then try to catch it. If you don't ever find me funny, I recommend you give it a pass because I find it hilarious.
and sick.
and hilarious.

I like to believe that people who don't find me funny won't find Maggie Smith funny. I'm just saying.

TMC Monday 1:30 am
Showcase Tue 11:15am
Sho2 Wed 9:15 am
TMC may 8 9:20 am

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Autism: The Musical

Watch it on HBO. It's amazing. It's honest. You'll fall in love with the kids and appreciate the depth of the time and effort parents put into helping their kids grow and develop. You will watch as people struggle with communication, social skills, and impulsivity. The film shows snippets of the joys and challenges, the positive communication and melt-downs -- both child and adult. It is a film about children with autism, but it is just as much about how neurotypical adults sometimes have similar behaviors and responses to the world -- just not as frequently.

Here is the schedule. The next showing is Wednesday at 6:15 East, 9:15 West. It is also On Demand, although it doesn't show up yet on my On Demand Schedule. There are also some cut scenes available On Demand, which you'll want to go to immediately after seeing the film.

Don't have HBO? Go visit a friend....

My only significant critique, (which would have completely changed the film), is that they only gave a tiny nod to the inadequate resources that are provided to help children fully develop their potential, or to the reality that public schools fail to meet the legal standards of education on a regular basis.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Daddy’s Roommate Buys a Prius

A satire of the fundraising letters of James Dobson (Focus on the Family).
Said satire is brought to you by the funny evangelicals at The Wittenburg Door.

Green Homosexuals, The Newest Threat to American Families

We must defend our way of life. Many of you know my stand against homosexuality.

AND, more recently, you may have heard how I have criticized evangelical leaders who have formed unholy alliances with the environmental movement to “save” the planet at the expense of our God-ordained standard of living.

What you may not know is that these two radical movements have now joined forces.

My friends, we are now facing a Gay-Green threat: Homosexual activists who also seek to limit carbon emissions and promote recycling, as well as a sustainable lifestyle!

I know it sounds like “gangrene” and that is entirely appropriate, since this is a rottenness which will eat away at the integrity of our American way of life.

And, in case you've never seen what Mr. Dobson writes, here's an excerpt of a real letter:

April 2004

Dear Friends:

I write to you today with a profound sense of concern and apprehension for the welfare of the family, and indeed, for the future of our nation. I do not recall a time since the beginnings of Focus on the Family, 27 years ago, when the institution of marriage faced such peril, or when the forces arrayed against it were more formidable or determined. Barring a miracle, the family as it has been known for more than five millennia will crumble, presaging the fall of Western civilization itself. This is a time for concerted prayer, divine wisdom and greater courage than we have ever been called upon to exercise.

For more than 40 years, the homosexual activist movement has sought to implement a master plan that has had as its centerpiece the utter destruction of the family. The institution of marriage, along with an often weakened and impotent Church, is all that stands in the way of its achievement of every coveted aspiration.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Latency aged boys collect things

It's part of the developmental deal, 10-12 year old boys build model worlds - railroads, lego-lands, duct-tape tech deck skateboard parks - and they collect things. They collect baseball cards, Pokemon cards, matchbox cars...

My grandson collects "Quotes I Like by Barack Obama."

He writes them on little flash cards so he can learn them.

I'm so proud.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Laugh like a pig Auntie Cindy

When Naomi was much smaller, she loved my laugh, which, when there is enough humor in the ether, does have an occasional snorting quality to it. My brother Dave and sister-in-law Mari used this as a way to help her differentiate between Auntie Beloved and Auntie Cindy.

Before, it went like this:

Age 18 months - 2 years--
"How does Auntie Cindy laugh?"
[Naomi would scrunch up her face and pull air in and out of her 18 month old nose, like 18 month old smelling the flowers on speed]

Age 2--
She'd be on the phone and say,
"Laugh Auntie Cindy."

Age 2.5--
on the webcam, she'd scrunch up her face and say,
"Laugh Auntie Cindy."

Age 2.75--visiting in person
This time, after spending 8 days with her, we were riding in the car when out of the blue she suddenly made the connection.

"Laugh like a pig Auntie Cindy."

Everyone swears they never taught her what a pig sounds like.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Cindy is SO HAPPY with her nieces

the 7 week old twins, and a toddler in California in the early spring with actual live daffodils in the front yard.

Naomi sez:
Auntie Cindy, are you Happy?
Yes Naomi, I am Happy.
Are you SO HAPPY?
Yes, Naomi, I am SO HAPPY!

And today is my 8.5 / 2.5 year anniversary with the honey. (That's time together pre and post marriage rights)

What could possibly make it be better? It'd maybe help a little if the toddler internalized the instructions in this video which she's watched, so far, 5 times. I post it here for easy retrieval for all RE Teacher trainings.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Puppy Bowl

Before the Super Bowl is the Puppy Bowl IV, on Animal Planet. Tomorrow 3 pm. With a half time show of kittens.

This is a preview of one of this year's contestants.

Puppies make me happy.

Monday, January 21, 2008

DocWatch Jan 21 thru Jan 26

Docs to explore this week:

Today, Monday 1/21
noon Sundance Murder on a Sunday Morning A 15 year old boy is arrested and charged with murder. The evidence? He's black and the victim was white and he was walking in the area. when did this happen? Was it one of the injustices Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was protesting in 1965? nope. 2000.
3:30 pm Sundance Blue Vinyl. Last Chance to see it in the near future.
4 pm HBO Hard as Nails Justin Fatica is not for everyone. When he steps up to the altar, the unordained minister becomes a frenetic whirlwind of energy, using a mix of professional wrestling, hip hop and Scripture to bring Jesus to thousands of young worshippers. Despite his success, Fatica's intense, over-the-top approach faces some serious resistance--even from his own beloved Catholic Church. This documentary follows the self-ordained preacher who started his controversial "Hard as Nails" ministry as a way to reach troubled kids.
5:15 Sundance Shakespeare Behind Bars Each year, inmates at the Luther Luckett Correctional Facility in Kentucky take on a difficult and challenging task: the production and performance of a Shakespeare play. This powerful documentary by Hank Rogerson follows rehearsals for "The Tempest" — a story heavy on the theme of redemption — as the cast, some serving life sentences for murder, develops their chosen roles, giving the audience an unexpected view of some complex, intelligent, thoughtful men in the process. "Ingenious"— Village Voice.

Don't miss this one.
8 pm Logo Brother Outsider. The Life of Bayard Rustin Watch preview Riveting Portrait of Forgotten Civil Rights Pioneer and Strategist About the Film Since its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, Brother Outsider has won 20+ awards
Long before Martin Luther King, Jr. became a national figure, Bayard Rustin routinely put his body--and his life--on the line as a crusader for racial justice. Rustin's commitment to pacifism and his visionary advocacy of Gandhian nonviolence made him a pioneer in the 1940s, and captured King's imagination in the 1950s. In 1963, with more than 20 years of organizing experience behind him, Rustin brought his unique skills to the crowning glory of his civil rights career: his work organizing the historic march on Washington, the biggest protest America had ever witnessed.

But many viewed Rustin as a political liability. He was openly gay during the fiercely homophobic era of the 1940s and 1950s; as a result, the very civil rights movement he helped create frequently shunned him. The compelling new film Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin chronicles Rustin's complex life story, a tale of race, prejudice, and idealism at the heart of 20th-century America. Though he had to overcome the stereotypes associated with being an illegitimate son, an African American, a gay man and a one-time member of the Communist Party, Rustin--the ultimate outsider--eventually became a public figure and respected political insider. He not only shaped civil rights movement strategy as a longtime advisor to Martin Luther King, Jr., but earned the respect of numerous U.S. Presidents and foreign leaders.

Tuesday 1/22
8:00 am and 1:35 pm Show Showcase FLOCK OF DODOS: THE EVOLUTION-INTELLIGENT DESIGN CIRCUS Evolutionary biologist Dr. Randy Olson is the star of this tongue-in-cheek documentary that examines both sides of the evolution versus "intelligent design" debate, a controversial subject that has pitted faith against reason and school boards against scientists in an increasingly emphatic war of words and ideas. Which side will survive, and which will go the way of the now-extinct dodo bird?
8:30 am Logo Brother Outsider. The Life of Bayard Rustin Watch preview

Wednesday 1/23
5 am Disc Times John of God For 40 years, the Brazilian spiritual medium John of God has reportedly healed millions of people. Follow the journeys of skeptics, medical professionals and the chronically ill as they seek out the healing hand of this mysterious man. TV-MA

3 p Sundance Helen's War: Portrait of a Dissident . Helen Caldicott.
10 pm Dis Health Switching Sexes: The Aftermath For people who find that their mind's identity and physical sex are mismatched, sexual reassignment surgery is a viable solution. Follow two transsexual men as they struggle through the heartache and sacrifice of becoming female.

Check Local Listings PBS "American Made" is a compelling look at family, faith and racism as a Sikh family is stranded on a desert road and family members try to flag down passing cars.
Check Local Listings PBS "A Son's Sacrifice" What motivates a young educated New Yorker to take over his family's halal slaughterhouse? Visit Imran Uddin at his unusual workplace at this preview.

Thursday 1/24
1 am Dis Health Switching Sexes: The Aftermath For people who find that their mind's identity and physical sex are mismatched, sexual reassignment surgery is a viable solution. Follow two transsexual men as they struggle through the heartache and sacrifice of becoming female. (also 5 pm the 26th)
9:05 am TMC extra Genesis - a really cool look at the life cycle, follow-up films to Microcosmos and Winged Migration. Link to the trailer. You might recognize the narrator as Sotigui Kouyate, who played the lead (and won lots of awards,) in the film Little Senegal. also on at 6:05 pm

Friday 1/25
12:30 pm HBO Hard as Nails
Justin Fatica is not for everyone. When he steps up to the altar, the unordained minister becomes a frenetic whirlwind of energy, using a mix of professional wrestling, hip hop and Scripture to bring Jesus to thousands of young worshippers. Despite his success, Fatica's intense, over-the-top approach faces some serious resistance--even from his own beloved Catholic Church. This documentary follows the self-ordained preacher who started his controversial "Hard as Nails" ministry as a way to reach troubled kids.

Saturday 1/26
10 am Sundance Murder on a Sunday Morning A 15 year old boy is arrested and charged with murder. The evidence? He's black and the victim was white and he was walking in the area. when did this happen? Was it one of the injustices Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was protesting in 1965? nope. 2000.
8 pm LOGO Out On The Job.

Friends of God HBO
Ghosts of Abu Graib HBO

NewsWar A Frontline 4 part investigation into the future of news.
Religion and Ethics Newsweekly
P.O.V Online Short Film Festival Scaredycat
No Dumb Questions
Three children learn about, and talk with their uncle as she becomes their aunt.
Southern Comfort Robert Eads, a transman, is dying from ovarian cancer. A fascinating, touching, and beautiful portrait of his life in Taccoa GA.
Out On The Job. 3 people come out on the job. How's that work for them?

I seem to be morally average, and I'm not sure how I feel about that

A nod to Steve Caldwell for pointing out Two online quizzes on God at The Philosopher's Magazine on the Net. I started looking around the site. Great opportunities for COA and YRUU application. I took the Morality Play quiz, a more philosophical version of the values clarification exercises we did in the 70's. Turns out I'm average in terms of my moral parsimony. Parsimony. Great word. Means something along the lines of frugality and tightness in regards to clarity and internal consistency. See also Occam's Razor.

Actually, it said I'm average in terms of my moral parsimony for people my age. I may have to go back and answer it the same way, then say that I'm 20 and see how I compare.

It was forced choice exercise however, and I was often forced into the most true answer. I kept wanting a third option "find another way." (In another quiz, Taboo, I kept wanting another option as well "not morally wrong, but gross." Please note, there is no direct link to Taboo from this blog because it is most definitely not for church use with minors.)

This is the link directly to the games page.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Changed the number of posts on the first page

After some ponder as to why a colleague gets stuck on this blog... it's not a bug, and it's not a secret plot to force people to indulge in the beauty and brilliance of my opinions, so I changed the number of posts on the page. This way, if the problem is the sheer amount of stuff on the front page, particularly where I've put so many YouTube posts up lately, the problem should, could, might, stop.

So, if anyone gets stuck on this site now, please let me know by commenting.

Monday, January 14, 2008

DocWatch Jan 14 - 20

Docs to explore this week:

Today, Monday 1/14
4 pm Sundance Keep Not Silent Three pious orthodox Israeli lesbians live in vastly different circumstances.

Tues 1/15
8:30 am Logo Zero Degrees of Separation Selim and Ezra, a gay Palestinian-Israeli couple, are fighting for the right to live together in Jerusalem
8:40 am STZ Iraq For Sale

Wed 1/16
4:15 am HBO fam Middle School Confessions Drinking, sex, violence, depression, school failure, and harassment. These are just some of the daily realities of life for many of today's adolescents.
5:15 am HBO sig. A Boy's Life Cindy Sez: this movie is like a Family Systems R Us. What's wrong with Robert? According to the grandmother with whom he's lived for the past five years, he's an emotionally disturbed seven year old with a serious personality disorder. To the boy's mother, therapist and school administrators, however, the real problem isn't Robert...
10 am Sund Little Peace of Mine After witnessing a terrorist attack on a busload of children, Nadav, a precocious 12-year-old Israeli boy, founds Peace for the Future, an opposition party promoting a constructive dialogue between Arab and Jewish kids.
11:20 am Shocase Flock of Dodos

Thurs 1/17
10 am Sund Guerrilla Girl an idealistic 21-year-old middle-class Colombian woman from the city who joins the FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, South America's largest guerrilla movement.
12:45pm TMC Genesis
12:45pm HBO Sand and Sorrow
8 pm Disc Galapagos: Beyond Darwin (with middle school lesson plan)
local - PBS Frontline Cheney's Law (you can also watch the full program online) For three decades Vice President Dick Cheney conducted a secretive, behind-closed-doors campaign to give the president virtually unlimited wartime power.

Fri 1/18
8:30 am Sund White Light/Black Rain
10:30 Sund Strange Culture What does it take to fall under suspicion as a terrorist in contemporary America?
8 pm Hist Cults: Dangerous Devotion
(Although I still have not seen this, it purports to be about dangerous/destructive groups, not new religious movements) -- includes Charles Manson -J im Jones and Jonestown, Warren Jeffs and the Yearning for Zion Ranch --Shoko Asahara and Aum Shinrikyo --David Koresh and the Branch Davidians
11:30 Sund Short Hymn, Silent War (20 minutes) the lives of four Afro-Canadian women are altered following an accidental shooting.

Sat 1/19
3 pm LOGO The Believers (The Transcendence Gospel Choir)

Sun 1/20
9:45 Starz Who Killed the Electric Car
3 pm Hist Jonestown Paradise Lost technically docudrama but quite accurate. useful for teaching about how politically progressive, charismatic leaders with good social values can still end up being dangerous.

Friday, January 11, 2008

I'm Tagging myself -- Hallelujah

There's an incredible version of Leonard Cohen himself singing it posted over at Monkey Mind yesterday. (thanks)

It is, in fact, the greatest song of all time. I'm just saying.

The best two uses of it have been in 3rd Watch's 9/11 episode (cried like a baby) and in When Night is Falling. Again, just saying.

One fun thing about this song is that there are actually 15 verses and you never know which ones artists will choose to include in their versions. Usually the same ones, but not necessarily.

This one is K.D. Lang live.

I'm not going to tag you, you tag yourself.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Today's Man an Extraordinary film for use in Teacher Training

This film is a portrait of a young man who was diagnosed at age 21 with Asperger's Syndrome, and shows him with incredible strengths and, to him, mystifying challenges.
I have not seen a film thus far that so generously and with gracious love shows the audience both, and also shows how the people around him interact with him in ways that help him be successful.

Run to the website and see when it shows (by now, when it repeats) near you.

Other websites worth checking out about Asperger's:

At Yale Med.
At Mayo Clinic.
Online Asperger Syndrome Information and Support

By People with Asperger's Syndrome, their friends and family

Cognitive Karaoke
It feels like a watered-down version of coming out as gay at age 17 (1991) -- while at the time the prospect of coming out might have perversely suggested sordid, unwelcome and unfathomable images into the minds of friends and family, now the only response to the question "Well, what do you *do* as an Asperger person?" is "I try not to get hit / fired / dumped." Not exactly fuel for conversation one way or another.

Wrong Planet
Delightful Reflections
Proudly Autistic (products including the t-shirt "I'm autistic, what's your excuse?")
Smart Software
Natural Variation - an anti-quackery and Pro Neurodiversity Blog
the office supplies blog. (new)

and a great instruction page on how to support/teach kids who fall on the Asperger's end of the autistic spectrum. She identifies challenges kids face, and suggests appropriate and helpful things a teacher can do. ( "Understanding the Student with Asperger Syndrome: Guidelines for Teachers" by Karen Williams, 1995,)

Saturday, January 05, 2008

DocWatch --Documentaries to supplement Religous Education Programs

For teacher trainings - academic background for teachers - clips for supplementing curricula with children/youth - documentaries for Adult Education - our own knowledge -- there are lot of uses for documentaries in our work, but who has the time to look through all the listings for what is on when? Well, I'm just mad for documentaries and I scour the cable tv listings anyway, so I may as well take a few more minutes to post them here for other religious educators to reference.

I am going to post here a listing of documentaries that will be on television during the next week. My intention is to post every weekend-ish what's coming up the following week.

I will focus on overtly religious, social, and political documentaries, but sometimes science docs will leap out at me. Producing a listing of good and useful documentaries is, of course, completely subjective, but my subjectivity is grounded in an expectation of historical accuracy, in the context of Unitarian Universalist Religious Education, and progressive/radical social/politics. So, dear reader, if you aren't progressive or radical, or aren't a Unitarian Universalist, or have no interest in the light that archeology sheds on Biblical myths and stories, what are you doing on this blog?

I assume that DRE's will be able to assess for themselves how to use these docs in an age-appropriate manner and with which particular UU curricula, but I will occasionally annotate if I'm already familiar with the material. Sometimes I'll include links to further info on the docs, but if I don't google will get you there quickly.

I am of course, not suggesting that you videotape them off the television, although a case can be made for copying for educational purposes, I am simply suggesting that you preview them for future purchase.

All times are EST
Monday Jan 7

9:30 Black Starz UNSTOPPABLE:
a Conversation with Melvin Van Peebles, Gordon Parks and Ossie Davis - brief article/clip
10 Sund Heaven Came Down Appalachian Rattlesnake Handlers - I know you all know not to show this as an example of typical pentecostal belief and ritual
11:15 Starz E Iraq for Sale The War Profiteers.
12noon Logo Farm Family: In search of Gay Life in Rural America
9 pm Sund The Short Life of Jose Antonio Guiterrez José Antonio Gutiérrez was born in Guatemala and lost both his parents during his country's long, bloody civil war — a war that was covertly funded by the United States government. But it was as the first American military casualty of the Iraq War in 2003 that Gutiérrez is remembered. Documentary filmmaker Heidi Specogna traces Gutiérrez's short, eventful life and reveals a troubling story of illegal immigration, foster homes, and how the American military entices Latinos to enlist by promising them a fast track to citizenship.
10:30 pm Sund I Want To Be a Pilot
12:45 Sund 5 Days The 5 day removal of Israeli settlers from sections of the Gaza Strip. a clip is avail at the website

Tuesday Jan 8
3 am Sund
The Short Life of Jose Antonio Guiterrez

7:10 TMC Genesis - a really cool look at the life cycle, follow-up films to Microcosmos and Winged Migration. Link to the trailer. You might recognize the narrator as Sotigui Kouyate, who played the lead (and won lots of awards,) in the film Little Senegal.
9 p Sundance
Blue Vinyl
A darkly funny doc about the uses and hazards of vinyl (polyvinyl chloride can kill ya)

Wednesday Jan 9
2:45 am Sund
Blue Vinyl
6-6:30 HBO Fam Educating Peter

Thurs Jan 10
5:15 am TMAX Protocols of Zion antisemitism in aftermath of 9/11) also available on demand online here.
11:05 SHO Flock of Dodos (Evolution vs. "Intelligent Design") Really funny and good.
PBS Check local listings Today's Man: Adventures of a young man with Asperger's

Friday 1/11

5 am DiscTimes - Mysteries of Asia - Lost Temples of India
6 DiscT - Surviving Sudan
12:10 SHO - After Innocence men released from prison by DNA evidence
4 Hist Cults: Dangerous Devotion (Although I have not yet seen this, it purports to be about dangerous/destructive groups, not new religious movements) -- includes
Charles Manson -J im Jones and Jonestown, Warren Jeffs and the Yearning for Zion Ranch --Shoko Asahara and Aum Shinrikyo --David Koresh and the Branch Davidians

Saturday 1/12
6 a HBO Friends of God A Road Trip with Alexandra Pelosi. excellent. It was filmed just before Rev. Ted Haggard was outed as a user of male prostitutes and crystal meth.
7: 30 am HBO sig. White Light/Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (There is a study guide for educators at the website)
10:15 Sund Guerilla Girl
12:30 HBO2 Sand and Sorrow
6:30 pm HBO Fam Educating Peter

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

A Unitarian Schism?

I was recently reminded about the Unitarian Jihad Name Generator, having noticed what might have been the best name ever. I realized that having been abstinent from the ether/internet world for so long, I might have been reborn as a new and different person, so I went over to see what my name is currently.

But I find myself in a conundrum of great magnitude. I did not realize a schism has developed.

And this schism is clearly of greater concern to the Unitarians involved than, say, boycotting a national democratic decision making event, for someone has already decided not to remain in community and struggle over their differences, but I don't know what those differences were, or to which group I belong, and which name I should accept?

My Unitarian Jihad Name is: Sister Spikey Mace of Looking at All Sides of the Question.

Get yours.

But the First Reformed Unitarian Jihad says that my name is

My Unitarian Jihad Name is: Brother/Sister Gatling Gun of Courteous Freedom. What's yours?

Oh to decide my jihadian fate without the context of theological specificity or the subtext of comprehension of a denominational schism. I fear I may accidentally join the wrong group and go to hell.

Oh. Right. No Hell.

Unitarian Universalist.


P.S. Made you look.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Post on Happy or Cranky? New Year's Eve with Kathy Griffin

... on tv. I could never meet her quote to hang out with her in person...

I spent time with my beautiful godson and his family, then came home to discover a Kathy Griffin stand-up marathon on Bravo. If you're not familiar, she's the most incredible self-referential actor-mocking comic in America today. Tho' I think she's the only self-referential actor-mocking comic... Stayed up without napping till after midnight for the first New Year's eve in a decade.

I must admit that Kathy Griffin's CrankySnarkyness makes me Happy Cindy. So on which blog should I post about it? In a brief moment of cross-self-referentiality in honor of the Great Ms. Griffin, I'll post here a funny snarky clip of one of my favorite bits.

To set the context, she's referring to her ever so brief gig working for E! television interviewing stars on the red carpet outside the Golden Globe Awards in 2005. She decided that others were more suited to comment of gowns and such, so she's spend her time asking ridiculous questions and mocking the celebrities she interviews. Just for the record, she got fired for the story you'll hear if you watch the clip below

and because my mom reads this blog, I searched until I found a clip with the *%#!@s beeped out.