Thursday, February 23, 2006

Bits of Bloggling Revisited

Since just jumping on board the "Random Bullets o' Crap" bandwagon is just way too normal for me, I decided to return to the old classic. And thus you find yourself with another edition of ....

A Veritable Hodgepodgeanamy of Bite-Sized Bits of Bloggable Brain Burps
»»» Tomorrow night I have to get the magnificent privilege of chaperoning the Freshman/Sophomore Dance. Last week, one of my kids asked me before class if I was going to the dance – and then she asked me what I was going to wear!?!?! Quite frankly, I hadn't even thought about it. Then the thought flashed briefly through my mind (or perhaps one of the kids suggested it) about wearing a habit, since we have some that we rent out for Sound of Music perfomances. But, as much as I was tempted by the idea (especially for how it would mess with the freshmen, who don't know me) .... I decided that it would be best to leave that habit at home. Which, of course, still leaves me with the dilemma of what to wear. It's just kinda crazy to me, this whole idea of chaperoning a dance. With all my teaching, youth ministry, and even boarding school work, I've never done that. It feels like an incredibly grown-up teacherly thing to be doing. Which begs the question .... me?!?!? That's crazy-talk! Any of you grown-up teacherly-types have some wardrobe advice for the Dance Chaperoning Nun?

»»» South Dakota apparently is setting the stage for a potential overturning of Roe vs. Wade. Now, to be personally honest, I would have to admit that I don't jump too excessively on the abortion bandwagon one way or another. But that's primarily because I see the larger picture of the Catholic Church's teaching on "Culture of Life" — and notice how limited that "culture" often is perceived and addressed. I love how our current president is so pro-life that he personally signed off on 150 executions while governor of Texas. Like I said when I first started blogging, "There's More to 'Life' Than Abortion." So South Dakota is determining that life begins at fertilization, which will not only potentially affect abortions but also some forms of birth control. We've already got that idea from the cases where the murder of a pregnant woman can result in charges of a double homicide. But, once again, my engineering-mind requires me to take the logical viewpoint, and therefore ask the question: Do we really, in all honesty, think and believe that simply making abortion illegal is the solution? If we were really that obedient and law-abiding of a nation, then we wouldn't have any murders, drunk driving, rapes, armed robberies, underage drinking, lying, cheating, stealing, or anything else like that. Heck, we'd all drive at or even below the speed limit – none of that "You won't get a ticket if you don't go more than 10 over" stuff. I suppose it would make too much sense for us to look at the reasons why so many people are choosing abortions, and address some of those root causes, rather than just use it as another way to fill up our already way-too-crowded prisons.

»»» Speaking of prisons, California executions are in a holding pattern while they work out the ethical details of physicians who are sworn to uphold life and their involvement in the killing of a person. On my way home today, Talk of the Nation on NPR was discussing this issue, and I was struck by a great disconnect (which I've addressed more than once on here). It's like I said in my post about Tookie Williams – this whole concept of wanting to kill people humanely ... how exactly does that work? We don't want it to be cruel, that's why we don't electrocute any more (unless the injection is deemed impractical or unconstitutional). We don't want the person to feel any pain, so we want to be sure that they're fully unconscious when we kill them. Hello!?!?! We're killing them. Doesn't just the very fact of being killed/executed/murdered cause pain? I don't know, maybe it's just me, but I think the whole concept of losing everything, including my own life, could be a pretty significant source of pain and trauma. But, no ... we'll make sure they're fully doped up before they die. After all, we're not like those cruel and evil Roman emperors, who threw people into a pit of starving lions. We're far more civilized today. Today we have drugs! One of the guests on TOTN addressed this very issue, asking the question: Who exactly are we wanting to protect from pain? Is it really about the condemned, or are we just trying to make the idea more palatable to us?

»»» Since those two posts seem rather Social Justice-y, I guess I'll go ahead and rant about mention my kids. At my school, the kids switch at the semester; I went from a Social Justice class of twelve to a class of twenty-nine, with none count 'em none of my kids from last semester. We also had to have some turbo-long-extended Don't-Have-Sex presentation, so I haven't really gotten to work with this group a whole lot (and it's March?!? And conferences are Monday?!?). Now, as you may recall, my previous juniors had a few misconceptions when they arrived in my classroom. But it was a small group, and a good group (including someone who could first-hand counter all the "poor people downtown stereotypes"), and by the end of the term I think I succeeded in my mission of raising their awareness level a bit. Twelve people, you can do that. You can discuss and counter and debate. Eventually one kid'll see the light, and now she'll join me in the debate, and it snowballs from there. A class of thirty, though? It's a lot harder to engage everyone in the discussion – especially if, at any given time, at least one-third of them are involved in their own conversations and/or note-passing. Before the Don't-Have-Sex speakers, we were looking at women's issues (glass ceiling, feminization of poverty, etc.); today we did an activity based around this picture. Their responses consistantly revolve around the ideas of "That's just how it is ... we can't change the world ... that's just life ... besides, people who look like that are a threat. You're saying that if I see a creepy guy on the street that I shouldn't be nervous?" No, I'm simply asking what makes him a "creepy guy," and asking you to consider the possibility that perhaps there's more to him than your initial reaction. I don't know how many times today I repeated that "I'm not saying to get rid of stereotypes; we all have them. It's that we need to be aware of them and look beyond them." But their response was that the whole activity was pointless, because Santa's not a real person, and people in turbans are real people and blow up buildings. Even the stereotypes about teenagers – they all acknowledged them, but "We can't change what they think." I just don't know if I can do it. Letters of intent came out and, as much as I love the idea of teaching Social Justice, I'm not sure if I can handle the continual brick wall of these, in many cases, sheltered upper-middle-class white girls. It might be one of those things where I just feel a little too strongly and passionately about the subject matter. But then I wonder ... since I've got the sophomores this year and thus would most likely have already had many of the same kids and therefore trained them in in my methods of "You Must Use Your Brain" ... maybe it would be different. I just don't know ....

»»» And speaking of closed-mindedness, Tuesday we had an inservice for all the Catholic high schools in the diocese. When we got split up into discussion groups for lunch, apparently one of our teachers ended up in a room where the entire discussion was revolving around how we shouldn't have non-Catholics teaching in the schools, or something along those lines. Fortunately, this teacher was the only one of "ours" in that group but, unfortunately, she also happens to be Southern Baptist. When she pointed this out, she added that she's learned a lot about Catholicism and has a deep respect for it; however, she was told that "Catholic" and "Christian" are two separate things, and so her "teaching Christian values" apparently runs thoroughly counter to Catholic values. Funny, last time I checked, Jesus is Jesus ... for all of us. Of course, that's the loving, forgiving, hanging-out-with-sinners Jesus – the one that so many "happen" to forget about. Apparently, too, two other of our non-Catholic teachers went up at communion time to receive a blessing (standard procedure these days, a way of involving even those who cannot participate in the Eucharist) ... except they were told (truthfully speaking, they were actually refused) by the Eucharistic minister that if they wanted a blessing, they had to get in Father's line (not standard procedure – any Eucharistic minister can do it, and is instructed thusly during training). Fortunately, again, they know from their experience at our school that we're not all like that, but I still was furious – both on their accounts, for how they were treated, and on my account that, as a nun, I am even more obviously and deliberately associated with "The Church," and so even when it's individuals within "The Church" who act so inhospitably I feel almost a guilt by association type of thing. So, for all you folks out there who have received similar treatment at the hands of "The Church" ... please don't assume we're all that not-nice.

And, on that note, it's (well past) time for bed. Sorry about the ranting – that wasn't my initial intent, but .... well, at least I'm posting, right? :-)

Peace out to all ya'll ..... happy Fridays to you!


Blogger the tentmaker said...

enjoyed your post. I enjoy your blog. Now it's time for me to get to work.

2/24/2006 6:38 AM  
Blogger Lorem ipsum said...

Oh you poor thing. I can't even listen to that stuff, let alone at earsplitting volumes. There don't seem to be any songs anymore, just noise and sex. Which is what every generation says, I guess. (As for what to wear, you aren't one of them and never will be, so just be yourself. But if you really want to wear black and carry a ruler, go for it. And you're probably seeing this after the fact anyway.)

As for Bush and being pro-life, one day I'm going to have to tell you the story of my aunt (referenced way back when in that 'More to Life' post) calling me on the eve of the 2000 election to make sure I'd vote 'pro-life,' all the while defending Bush's decision to execute all those people.

I'm thrilled that your class has more than doubled. In high school you have a bit of a choice of what classes you want, and it's evident that you're offering a very desirable course. (Either that or you give out easy A's, but I doubt that.) Yes, people DO like to think when given the chance.

I really love the activity. In a writing seminar (just two years ago!) we did something similar; one of the instructors showed us some pictures he'd taken of people and we had five minutes to tell that person's story. One guy was sitting on a dumpster, black, and as you might predict people thought he was a homeless guy dumpster-diving. But in reality the guy was an orderly taking a break outside the hospital where he worked. (For my piece, I did a parody of the scene in 'Wonder Boys' where the writers do the same thing, picking out a guy in a bar and telling a wild story about his life, so it wasn't exactly about the guy.) When I see Middle Eastern people I feel friendly toward them, because that's my heritage, but when I see people in SUV's I expect to see a Bush sticker on the back and the driver to cut me off, oblivious. I see people in big pickup trucks and part of me assumes they're rednecks with a shotgun under the seat. So maybe I should take your class too.

2/24/2006 7:18 PM  
Blogger seeking_something said...

Uh, I thought only the priest can give the blessing. Where is it stated in church documents one way or the other?

2/24/2006 10:02 PM  
Blogger Lorem ipsum said...

When I've done a Eucharistic minister blessing, it's anyone. Only the priest can consecrate - any Catholic can distribute and lay a hand on the head of a child or non-Catholic.

2/25/2006 11:18 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Absolutely, a Eucharistic Minister could trace a cross on the forehead or hands of a person approaching in the Communion Line.

2/25/2006 3:42 PM  
Blogger Dorian Speed said...

Re: Social Justice.

Sometimes, I get *really* fed up with the apparent obliviousness of my students to the conditions in which the overwhelming majority of humanity has lived for the overwhelming majority of human history.

I think the only *real* way to change hearts and minds is through service work. Does your school have a service requirement? Ours is 6 hours per quarter (24 per year). I am working on "beefing up" service opportunities to include more events in which the students interact with actual people in need. Also, keep in mind that a lot of kids this age like to spout off opinions from talk radio (from both ends of the spectrum) but really don't have any defense for their opinions. I always try to come back with the question, "Based on what?" "What evidence do you have for this opinion?" when I hear blanket dumb statements.

I've also made it clear that I don't believe there's no such thing as a dumb question. There are dumb questions asked on purpose to bait the teacher. And there are dumb opinions tossed out to see what you'll say.

Not that I'm pessimistic about the future of America or anything...

3/02/2006 10:55 PM  

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