.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Monday, December 26, 2005


all souls

on christmas eve this year my family and i tried a service at all souls, a universalist unitarian church in adams morgan. it was so much more fulfilling than the methodist services we usually attend out in suburban maryland - the minister began the service by saying, "welcome - believers, non-believers and half-believers." the associate minister sprinkled her comments throughout the evening with references to peace. the pews were filled with people of different ages, skin colors, walks of life - some all dressed up, others in jeans and tshirts, families, single people, teenagers.

it's hard to explain how comforted i felt, how much i felt i was with "my people," even though i was among strangers. i just felt much more of an instinctive bond with this congregation than i ever have in methodist churches - maybe because they were city people, and that implies a set of values in and of itself, even if those values are arguably often more myth than fact, something to aspire to rather than daily experience: sharing of cultures and ideas, building a community of diverse people, honoring and contributing to the history of a place -- more than just co-habitating on a particular street or in a particular neighborhood. unquestionably, i felt a connection with people who care about the values the church espouses - justice, peace - unobstructed by a particular religious creed.

a sermon about atonement seen through the lens of race relations in america, on yom kippur. a series about the meaning of life. poetry readings. this is my kind of church. this is my kind of worship. i expect i'll go back.

[related link: past sermons at all souls]

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


on my mind

"we give what we most want to get, and we
teach what we most want to learn."
-eve ensler of vagina monologue fame, at a
conference i attended a few years ago. after
she said it i remember staring at the turquoise
sea and having one of those moments when
the world makes sense, however briefly.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


confessions of a not-so-dangerous mind

1. i inadvertently turned on the "comments moderation" feature of this here blog, so if you have submitted a comment and wondered why it wasn't showing up... that's why. i've published the 'backlog' and from now on, comments will go directly live, which is as it should be.

2. i have been playing the role of workaholic for the past week or so (well, for several years, but i had it under control until recently). i prefer the part of balanced human being.

3. my goal this year was to start volunteering and i haven't started volunteering.

4. last week a friend of mine said, recounting an experience in which someone hurt her feelings, "i just can't help it, i'm always surprised by how people behave" - and i said, "we're all on our own path in this crazy world, we all have our own context, you have to accept that what people do is about them, not you." i believe that. but when i read the paper and see bush's approval ratings are climbing, i slam into a wall of incomprehension - what context could you possibly exist within and think this torture-enabling, privacy-invading, secretive "i know what's best for the country so i'll do whatever the hell i want in the name of fighting terrorism and i won't be accountable to anyone and people will be too afraid to question me" president is someone to approve of? he holds a bunch of press conferences so now we think iraq is going well after all? what is wrong with people? (in terms of a confession - my confession here is that my zen acceptance of differences has its limits. i am angry.)

that is all for tonight.

Saturday, December 10, 2005


nothing like potty humor

yesterday on my way to work i saw a van that said:

Peed Plumbing

hee hee.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Journalists to the rescue!

I just came across this quote, which is directly relevant to my post the other day about the us/them dynamic between media orgs and readers/users:

"It is the first amendment that protects our society from being ill-informed, not the people who work for our culture's institutional media corporations."
--Terry Heaton, the POMO blog


Take that.

Seriously, though - I believe that journalists provide value. They provide access to information, and the good ones provide information that's accurate and fairly presented; the best ones not only provide fair and accurate information, but also they do so in a way that's compelling (style and substance don't always have to be at odds). I just don't believe journalists are a special class of citizen who know what's best for everyone else -- "the poor public, we must keep them from being ill-informed." I have this image of Edward Murrow in a superhero cape, smiting bloggers...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005



my husband says he likes my post from this morning, except for the last paragraph, which is mushy.

i know it's mushy. i knew it as i wrote it. i knew it would turn people off - like my brother-in-law. i am sure he read it and thought, "oh, jesus." but it's how i feel. i am mushy. i am sentimental. i am emotional. i am also intellectual, critical, analytical, etc. (dare i say - i contain multitudes....)

i am sitting in busboys and poets. it is so loud that when i stop and focus to see if i can hear snippets of conversation above the din - i can't. there are pale branches suspended from the ceiling with invisible wire, adorned with crystal and glass ornaments that sparkle - a ballerina, teardrops, a dove, a Christmas tree. a man is cackling. there is some sort of jolly music underneath all the chatter, like a carousel. the waitress is african american, skinny with big hair and huge silver earrings shaped like peace signs. the man next to me wears thick coke bottle glasses - he's balding, with a ponytail, and he's wearing a turquoise sweatshirt with a scooby doo logo and little pictures of scooby. he has a book called "approaches to media - a reader."

the girls across from me are all wearing pink, except for one, who is in all black.

i will finish my guinness and we will go home. i could linger but my husband is tired - a role reversal. there goes that waitress again - in addition to the peace earrings, she's wearing big turquoise beads tied in a knot. a man nearby bellows, "where are you!" and then, "shhh." he has a pointy goatee and a pointy black winter's cap. he is with 3 other people and 3 of them are on their cell phones.

the waitress is also wearing an orange bra, and the strap shows when her black sweater slides off her shoulder.



media criticism and idealism on a wednesday morning

driving home from work the other day, a story came on npr, and - like the story about peace activists held hostage, from my last post - it hit me hard. i have tried to summarize it multiple times but ultimately think it speaks best for itself - you can read or listen here.

shamefully, stories about the darker side of human nature do not always penetrate - i don't always register them, feel them. perhaps this is because i have defense mechanisms in place - there is only so much horror and sadness i can take. perhaps it's because the storytellers - reporters - so rarely communicate as human-to-human, versus deliverer-of-information to consumer-of-information.

as journalists moan about the decline in public trust, the decline in newspaper readership, the rise of untrustworthy niche information sources -- they would do well to reexamine how they communicate with readers, and how to evolve beyond an us/them paradigm, and acknowledge the reality of "we." for more on this idea, see dan gilmoor's we the media blog (i recommend the intro to his book, in particular). i'm less convinced about the notion that everyone can be a journalist than i am that media organizations need to change their relationships with readers/users -- which, i believe, has more to do with transparency and tone than with every newspaper web site adding a "upload your photos of this tragedy" link.

as an example of what i mean by tone - this editorial from the washington post's outlook section is, to me, a perfect example of us/them. titled, "even a free press can use some oversight," its author, murray seeger, writes:
"More than ever, the industry needs a set of rules for journalists to follow and for the public to understand. But there is no mechanism for drafting a code that would get broad acceptance. Various drafts have been floated, but they have no legs; they gather dust on shelves. Meanwhile, the public is left to the mercy of those who fill the atmosphere with a mixture of fact, opinion, rumor and speculation about the workings of the media and journalists.

To start bringing some order to this cacophonous environment, one or several of the big public interest foundations should sponsor a new citizens' commission to undertake a broad survey of the public media with the goal of suggesting forms of self-regulation. This commission could provide the industry with universal standards and give the public tools to sort out the practitioners of journalism from the purveyors of propaganda and mere noise."
the public, left to the mercy of bad journalism. the public as dumb and helpless - journalists and foundations as intelligent saviors. mr. seeger, are you not part of "the public"? how about the staff of the washington post?

i am not saying that every single u.s. citizen has the same level of media literacy. certainly, building more media literacy education into curriculums makes a lot of sense. but your language suggests that there is only us - the elite, knowledgable establishment - and them - the poor, helpless, uneducated public that is easily duped. and you wonder why more people don't read the newspaper?

the reality is that we're all in this together - we're all human beings, sharing the same earth. we have different paths - some of us are more concerned about trying to make sense of the world, others with taking care of it, others with getting by. the shades of human existence are many, but at the end of the day, we all have something in common, and that is the fact that we are human beings. i believe that the more we can learn to talk to each other in ways that acknowledge what we have in common versus what separates us, the better the world (let alone journalism) will be.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?