Sunday, February 1, 2015

Super Bowl XLIX: Sharing the credit

Disclaimer: I've never been a football fan. I still don't understand the rules--besides the most basic ones--and it's just never been something that I've gotten all that into. To be completely honest, I hosted a Super Bowl party in my apartment as an excuse to get together with friends, eat food, and play cards.

But for whatever reason, what happened at the end of the Super Bowl really resonated with me.

You see, one name kept being mentioned the whole game, and I think we all know who I'm talking about. Tom Brady.

As one of my friends said, "Tom Brady get MVP just by showing up." I'm sure he's very talented and maybe he earned it, I looked up Brady and saw that he earned a Super Bowl record for completions (not sure what that means). So, go him!

However, football and other team sports are about the TEAM. Share the wealth people!

I had to Google Malcolm Butler to even know his name because off all the other attention on Brady.

Let me rephrase: Malcolm Butler saved the game for the Patriots and I had to Google him. Kind of sad.

This just really irks me. I just came back from a retreat about confronting diversity instead of ignoring it. Well, here's a huge example. Tom Brady is white, attractive, and talented. But the majority of football players are not white. They are black, brown, African-American, etc. You get the picture.

Why is it that the only name I took away from the game is Tom Brady? A lot of it is due to my lack of interest/knowledge about football. But I also blame the media.

As a person heavily involved with my college campus's newspaper, I'm very interested in the spin that the media puts on issues, events, and stories. Sure, giving Tom Brady most of the credit isn't nearly as explosive as the events in Ferguson, but isn't inherent racism just as bad?

I don't want to rant, but I think that this is something to be addressed. You may or may not agree with me. That's totally okay! You may think that I'm totally overreacting and I get that. But you know, this just really struck a chord with me and I felt compelled to share my thoughts.

Maybe it's not a race thing at all and just a quarterback gets all the credit thing. But somehow I doubt it.

Anyway, hopefully some more dialogue can come out of this. Perhaps some people more qualified than I am to discuss it.

Also, I really enjoyed Katy Perry's performance. It was totally out there and crazy, but it's Katy and she rocked it.

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Chip on My Shoulder

So, I went to see Legally Blonde: The Musical this weekend and loved it. That's one of my favorite movies and seeing it in musical form was awesome.

One of the songs from that show is called "Chip on My Shoulder" where Emmett tells Elle why he's so motivated to do well in law school. I'm going to embed it here for your viewing pleasure.

Anyway, it made me realize that I have a chip on my shoulder as well.

Many of my friends have more prestigious career ambitions than I have. They have a biology, chemistry, or biochemistry major. I do not deny that those are difficult majors and I respect them for wanting to go into those career fields.

The chip on my shoulder is how other people think that my abilities are less than that of my friends with said majors. The thing is, I know that I am an extremely smart and hardworking person, so I know that I could do those majors if I wanted to. What's more, I could do well in them. My grades in my science and math classes prove that.

I just don't want to. And that's okay.

I enjoy writing my papers and learning about history, culture, and literature. I enjoy reading and writing analyses. It's my jam.

Therefore, I don't think it's fair to say that people who enjoy working in  labs are smarter or more capable than I am. It's not a fair comparison.

This summer, I worked in my college's department of Career Programs. My main project consisted of helping developing a course called Launch, where students explore their vocational goals.

While developing the course, I did a fair amount of research regarding vocation. I read a lot of articles and excerpts from books encouraging students to pursue their passions, rather than what they think will earn them money.

As this article states, "all successful careers require critical thinking, teamwork, sensitivity to cultural, demographic, economic and societal differences and political perspectives." I feel that my background has prepared me for this, so I believe I will be able to react to varying circumstances better for it.

I grow increasingly frustrated with other people being viewed as more intelligent or elite because of a particular major.

You do you. Whatever that may be! 

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Bonding Experience of Sorority Recruitment

This year, my school is trying something a little different. In the past we've had sorority recruitment (you may know this by another name: rush) later in the semester, giving new students more of a chance to settle in to college life.

I think there are pros and cons to both options. Having it this early gives new students the chance to join a group that will help facilitate them towards other groups and have a sisterhood to go back to.

On the other hand, it might have deterred some women who would have gone through recruitment after getting to know sorority women. Regardless, I'm glad we tried it this first week, because then our Greek Life staff will know whether or not it works.

Recruitment 2014

Last night was our first night of formal recruitment and it was a blast. Practicing for recruitment can be stressful, because we don't know what to expect and just the idea of talking to a stranger for 30 minutes can be daunting. However, once the actual event rolls around, it's actually a lot of fun.

The women going through recruitment, on the whole, are just excited to be there and we love to talk to them about our organization. I think recruitment charges my sisterhood batteries, if you will, because there isn't really another time of the year where we're all together and working together towards the same goal: recruiting.

Sure, we have socials and sisterhood retreats, but it can be really easy to stick with your same group of friends. I always grow closer to sisters during recruitment just because we spend hours together in a room practicing for our parties.

Moreover, I always come to realize again why I decided to join a sorority. It's a family. A group of sisters. Anyone who is in a sorority will tell you that, but I see it so exemplified by sorority recruitment.

Who can say that they always get along with their family members? No one. Well, the same can be said for sorority sisters. We'll bicker about how best to do something and past 11:00 p.m., when we have to vote, we get increasingly short tempered with each other. But, when it comes down to it, we're united under our bonds of sisterhood and emerge stronger from it.

Bid Day 2013
Don't believe me? Go to any sorority bid day. You wouldn't know that these women have been stressed out to the max the previous days. We're screaming our heads off and cheering for our new members, because we all believe in our organization and want others to join with us. It's the culmination of our efforts and our disagreements are forgotten.

So sure, we're not perfect, but what we are is a fully functioning family. A family that does not always see eye to eye, but in the end, we move past our differences and unite together as sisters.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Aftermath of General Assembly

Naturally after all of the controversial decisions, all of us have heard opinions related to said decisions made by General Assembly.

My mom read to me an article claiming that these decisions will shut down the Presbyterian Church (USA) for good. The article said, "It represents the faded vestige of a once distinguished religious body that indelibly shaped America. Rest in peace, PCUSA, and thanks for the memories." Honestly, I cannot see that. If anything, we're still shaping America.

While the decisions to divest from companies in the Middle East and to change the definition of marriage were both huge and controversial decisions, the PC(USA) is far from losing its vitality. Shortly after both of these decisions, Moderator Heath Rada lead us in prayer to ask God that folks will not feel abandoned. 

Following the decisions on same-sex marriage, we passed an overture for the Presbyterian Mission Agency to "engage in the process of working together with churches in the task of reconciliation, starting with visiting each presbytery and serving as a resource for each presbytery’s discussion of these actions in congregations and the presbytery at-large and present voices of reconciliation for the unity of the church" (see 10-NB).

Moreover, the closeness of the decision to divest from the Middle East companies (a seven vote difference!) shows how divided the church feels on that decision. Moreover, Heath Rada said immediately after the vote, "In no way is this a reflection of our lack of love for our Jewish sisters and brothers” (See this NY Times article for a great interpretation of the proceedings).

After seeing all the various organizations at General Assembly, the energy of all the commissioners, advisory delegates, and observers, and the diversity, I have nothing but hope for the future of the PC(USA). The church has come up with new and creative ways to reach people, such as the 1001 worshipping communities and the Next Church movement. The Presbyterian Mission Agency has never been more active. 

Most of all, instead of young people leaving the church in droves, young people are becoming more and more involved. The number of young commissioners increased since the last General Assembly. The YAADs took an active part in the debates on the plenary floor. The Young Adult Volunteer program celebrated its 20th anniversary. While I believe we can do more to empower young people, we are off to a great start. 

Heralding back to our Scottish roots, we Presbyterians are fighters. Sure, our numbers aren't what they used to be, but we will not go down without a fight. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

My first major plenary frustration

I've stopped posting daily just because I feel like summing up the day is not super interesting for readers. If it is, let me know, and I'll go back to the old model.

Today is Friday and we've been in plenary since Wednesday afternoon voting on overtures and issues. Also today my committee, Environmental and Immigration Issues Committee, presented our overtures on the floor.

The contentious issue from my committee was fossil fuel divestment. Members from my committee submitted a report to commission a task force to work with the church's Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI) permanent office. The people that the moderator called on did not call upon any advisory delegates who spoke in favor of the motion and instead called on a lot of people who did not know about the issue and did not serve on the committee.

My frustration was that I had a really well reasoned argument and did not get to speak. I'm going to post it here, because it'll make me feel better.
Thank you Mr. Moderator. My name is Rachel Miles from the Savannah Presbytery and I’d like to speak against the minority.

I do not feel that MRTI’s use has been exhausted. If we take action too quickly, then we lose our bargaining power with the fossil fuel companies. As the Board of Pensions said in their comment on the overture,  “Short-circuiting our well-established deliberative process and jumping ahead to immediate divestment may be seductive, but as a first step it would be an over-simplified solution. Divestment of securities should remain a remedial tool for MRTI as a part of its very responsible and historic processes.”
I would just like to say that I’m not entirely convinced that having a committee of seven would be particularly better than relying solely on MRTI. The representative from the PMA spoke with our committee and said that meeting in person would in fact have an associated cost, contrary to the statement in the minority report as my fellow YAAD mentioned. So why not use that associated cost for MRTI to contract a trained professional to work with the fossil fuel companies?  
I’ve always been passionate about preserving the environment, therefore I want to make sure that the way in which our church goes about doing it has been properly organized. I also believe that action must be taken as soon as possible, so I would urge MRTI to make this a high priority and keep those of us interested informed via e-mail and other such methods. 
To see the overture including the main motion, the minority report, and the referral click here.

Rather than hearing from the advisory delegates and committee members, the General Assembly heard from long-winded members on the Board of Pensions and MRTI who had already presented the same information to the committee. So instead of trusting the committee members to speak, the plenary heard from biased folks in those offices. I personally think that those who served on whichever committee has an overture on the floor should be given priority to speak, since they know the most about it.

The advisory delegates are only allotted two microphones on the floor from which we can speak. I feel that it decreases the chance that we will be able to voice our advice and opinions to the assembly, which we hear so often that they are valued and valid. Today, I did not feel that way.

A theological student advisory delegate (TSADs), following the vote on the overture from my committee, asked that the moderator attempt to recognize TSADs just as often as young adult advisory delegates (YAADs) because they have fewer people to represent their category. Maybe to ramify this, everyone can speak at any microphone that they choose rather than put advisory delegates in the back of the room.

Honestly, I was extremely surprised by how upset I got that I wasn't able to speak. For a while, I had no strong preference on the issue either way. Then, I articulated the way I felt and found that I was indeed passionate that my voice be heard. I apologize if I come off strong, but I truly feel that my colleagues and I lost our voice today.

The advisory delegates and committee members were not united in our beliefs, but we did not hear from the varying opinions today because we were in a hurry to finish business.

Sorry that this post is overwhelmingly negative. I love the PC(USA), but you can love something/someone and be irritated by them sometimes. Therefore, as I grow in faith and in this church, I will strive to make the voices of young people heard.

Thank you for bearing with me.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

On Marriage

If you had asked me four or five years ago, I would have been extremely uncomfortable with the idea of same-sex marriage or even against it. Many people still feel that way and I understand that because I was there once. Let me discuss how my opinions on this topic evolved over time.

Growing up in rural Georgia, I had basically no exposure to openly gay people, so as I graduated high school and attended Presbyterian College, multiple discussions gradually changed the way I began to think.

I think what truly changed my perspective was me writing a paper about homosexuality in the bible as extra credit for my freshman New Testament class. I thoroughly researched homosexuality in the Bible and read the opinions of scholars addressing the issue. I won't go into all of the details, but I'd like to bring up a few points.

Many people oppose same-sex marriage on the ground that it is a sin, or an abomination, as Leviticus would call it. What I've never understood is how we choose to ignore that eating pork, wearing clothing of multiple fabrics, or incorrectly using incense are also abominations. These sins do not disqualify heterosexuals to be members of a church, ordained as ministers and elders, or getting married. 

My grandfather is an ordained Presbyterian minister with a doctorate in divinity and historian. He has extensively studied this issue. He told me that when Paul argued against gay sex, it was very common in Rome for older men to take boys to their chambers and do what they wanted with them. 

Paul was very revolutionary for his time, but he also believed that Jesus was returning in his lifetime. Not to discount Paul, but I think we need to bear in mind a lot of what he wrote about was to instruct the early church to prepare for the second coming. 

Jesus never clearly states anything against homosexuality. What he does say again and again is to love one another, which is something we need to do as a church and denomination. So, most of all, I believe in love for all of our fellow human beings. The greatest commandment to us, found in both the Old and New Testament, is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart soul, mind, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself” found in Deuteronomy 6:5, Luke 10:27, Matthew 22:37, and Mark 12:30. 

Based off of this commandment, the authoritative guide to scripture in the PC(USA) is the rule of love, which says "any interpretation of Scripture is wrong that separates or sets in opposition love for God and love for fellow human being, including both love expressed in individual relations and in human community." (Presbyterian Use and Understanding of Holy Scripture and Biblical Authority and Interpretation, p. 10)

If I'm not clear by now, I support same-sex marriage. I have too many dear friends that would be devastated if this motion did not come to pass before the General Assembly. However, if you disagree, I also can see where you come from.

My hope is that, either way, that marriage will not divide our church even farther. It may be overly optimistic, but I think that we have more that unites us than divides us. Everyone has a place at God's table and I hope that everyone remembers that. 

UPDATE: The overtures on authoritative interpretation have all been passed, meaning that the paster can use her or his discretion on whether to perform same-sex marriage. Furthermore, the overtures on changing the definition of marriage in the Book of Order from marriage between "a man and a woman" to between "two people." This change, however, must be ratified by 2/3 vote of all the presbyteries. Needless to say, I'm so excited that I have been here for this decision and I am so pleased with the General Assembly's decision! 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Consent Agenda Pulled YACs

Several YAADs were excited about the overture to change Young Adult Advisory Delegates to Young Adult Commissioners. However, the overture was part of the consent agenda meaning that the overture was voted down with no discussion on the floor of plenary. After a discussion on twitter, I'd like to write a quick blog post about it and the rest of this post will be my opinion on all of this.

With the age discrepancy found among the YAADs, I think that it makes sense to have both YAADs and younger commissioners. Since young adults and youth also have ownership in the church, I think that there should definitely be more voting eligible representation of our generation in General Assembly. I met one person my age in my committee who is a Ruling Elder Commissioner, meaning that he is 21 and can vote in plenary proceedings.

We are all very passionate about our church and I personally would like the opportunity to vote at the next General Assembly or assemblies to come.

I don't think that the overture was written particularly well. It only allotted a small amount of young adults to become commissioners and it also sets a separate label on said commissioners. Furthermore, YAADs like remaining advisory delegates because they like that their opinion influences commissioners. Therefore, my conclusion after all of this is for the church to make an intentional effort to encourage young people to become ordained as elders and then serve as commissioners to future general assemblies.

If we truly believe that young people are the church and not the future of the church, I think we need to have more intentional dialogue about how we can make young adults a more integral part of the voting procedures. That's just me.

For those interested in viewing the overture, click here.

I welcome anyone's thoughts on this in the comment section. I am encouraged by the conversations on twitter about this matter and I think it's a great segway into more dialogue within the church.