Saturday, June 30, 2012

A little nonsense, now and then

I know how Willie Wonka ended that phrase, but today I'm gonna say, "Can keep your head from exploding." (I've put myself on a news fast. Because everything I see is either someone "spiking the football" or lots of handwringing about how the Obesity Police (and the Smoking Police, and the Too Many Medications police, and the Doesn't Exercise Enough Police) are on their way.

So I'm watching a lot of Cartoon Network. One of my favorite shows (either on there or really, at all) is Regular Show. Yes, it's rude and crude and kids emulating the characters could get in a lot of trouble. But it's the kind of stupid that makes me laugh - there is annoying stupid and there's funny stupid, and Regular Show is definitely funny stupid.

Well, in one episode, Mordecai and Rigby made a fake band - while hopped up on soda, they ordered t-shirts. And then decided they had to be a real band, because walking around in fake band t-shirts was lame. So, they formed "Mordecai and the Rigbys." Oh, there's more to it, lip-synching and their future selves and Mordecai having a rare instance of clarity and doing-the-right-thing. (And getting stood up yet again by Margaret).

But, the song they sang? Has been turned into a "real" music video. I love this greatly, because it reminds me of every self-consciously arty music video I saw in the late 80s and early 90s. (I also love the little allusions to the show: note the "My Mom" on Muscle Man's drum kit).

Friday, June 29, 2012

You can kind of tell

One thing I've learned in teaching, is that you can often tell what kind of a student a person will be by their ability to follow instructions, level of attention to detail, and little stuff they do. Not always, because there are some brilliant people who are just big messes on the life-management front, but, by and large, someone who is conscientious in some ways is conscientious in lots of things.

Like my students. I have them write short papers (this is part of a writing-across-the-curriculum thing which is set to expand - wharrrgarblll - to EVERY! class on campus. Yes, even the phys ed classes. Yes, even the absolutely dead-basic non majors classes. Though now that I think of it? I already have all of my students write papers, so nothing will change for me.)

Anyway. When they hand in the papers, some of them have them stapled. Nine times out of ten, the paper that comes in to me already stapled and with a cover sheet (like most of them do) is going to be a better than average paper. Other students hand me a wad of pages, not stapled, and go, "I couldn't find a stapler."

Um, yeah. Every computer lab on campus is supposed to have one. Every secretary has one in her office. And ministaplers - several of my more conscientious students actually CARRY them in their backpacks - cost about a buck fifty.

But no, they expect me to staple their papers for them. (And I do. Because it's too much of a PITA to deal with them otherwise). I could refuse to grade papers that were not stapled, I know some profs do, but you have to choose your battles in life and I don't want to deal with the level of butthurt refusing an unstapled paper would cause. And in many cases, the unstapled papers are incomplete. I had several this round that scored less than 50% because the students didn't bother to look up citations. (Of the stapled papers? They ALL had citations and literature citeds.)

One guy even said to me: "The topic seemed like something kind of futuristic, you know? So I didn't look for resources."

I gave him the Jackie Chan my-brain-is-full-of-**** look (reference for those unfamiliar)

I didn't SAY anything, but I sure said what I wanted to say in my grading of the paper. (For the record: the question was on citizen DNA banks for crime solving. One of the best students in the class came to me the day before it was due and said, "I know you don't like us using direct quotations, but I'd really like to quote the Fourth Amendment in mine, is that OK?" I grinned at her (okay, I don't like to reveal my politics too much but sometimes maybe I do) and told her in that case it was completely appropriate to quote. So there are ways of arguing the topic with sources! (some people who supported the idea also found valid sources. So they're out there. I think "futuristic" dude was just being lazy and seeing what he could get away with.)

But, again and again, I see that people who pay attention to detail, who listen to the instructions and try to follow them, and who ask questions when they don't know for sure, succeed and people who decide they're just going to seat-of-the-pants it, don't always.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Two thoughts

On today's decision:

1. "Oh ffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffudge."

2. I'm seeing some spectacularly ugly and unseemly spiking-the-football going on. THAT is why I hate so much of politics. It's not enough to "win," you must "win" and then say ugly things about the people who disagree with you.

I'm afraid that if things continue as planned, there will be a couple states winding up bankrupted by the required expansion of Medicare. That's the main thing I'm wrapping my head around right now. (I can't even think what this may mean for Catholic hospitals or for how I get my own insurance/healthcare). I'm concerned that states will either have to severely cut other things (road maintenance, education) or else steeply raise taxes.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Thoughts on the bus

Doubtless you've heard or seen the news story about the 13 year old boys who drove a 68 year old bus monitor to tears with their rude comments.

It was interesting to follow the story and how people responded to it as it developed. Early on, people were tossing around stuff like "This is what our culture has become" and "These kids are dead inside" and "How uninvolved must their parents be, for them to be able to do this?"

And I admit, the comment about sticking a knife in her belly was pretty horrifying. (And I thought the kids were GIRLS at first, but then again, that might be my experience speaking).

My reaction was a little different: "These kids are 13. Thirteen is a BRUTAL age to be. Thirteen year olds can be so mindlessly cruel it will amaze you."

I remember being 13. I remember the hatefulness I got from my classmates - and I remember, to my shame, doling out some hatefulness myself, mostly to kids less-popular than I was. That's one of the things I will never understand as an adult, and about which I fully expect to be sternly questioned On The Other Side. I don't KNOW why I did it. I look at it know and I'm horrified by it: how could I be so nasty to another kid, especially when I knew what it was like to be called rude names and be belittled myself?

I guess the only explanation is that 13 year olds can be really, really immature. They know what to say to hurt someone's feelings, but they've not yet developed the tact or compassion to not want to say it. And they want to be accepted by their peers, sometimes at almost any cost.

That said, I don't remember being that openly cruel to an adult. Oh, my classmates and I tried to goof on substitutes when we had them, and probably contributed to the early burnout of some substitute teachers (and again: why did I do that? I suppose it was because I felt taking part might win me a few moments of acceptance from the "pack," and might temporarily deflect the teasing away from me). But regular people - bus drivers and hall monitors and teachers, generally I was pretty respectful of them.

I do think the whole pack mentality was another thing that came into play in this incident. It's a pretty powerful feeling as a teen (and sometimes even as an adult) to want to fit in with the group and be part of the "pack." And it can drive you to do things you wouldn't ordinarily do - things that, in the quiet of your own room later, you (even as a teen) smack your forehead and go, "Why was I so STUPID?"

All of that said: what those boys did was wrong and cruel. (Though my own grandma, if they had done it to her? She was a pretty tough lady and I bet she would have figured out a way to make those boys regret what they had said and even cry "uncle"). It's really ugly to hear what they're doing to the lady, and it made me cringe and recoil.

However, I don't think - unlike some commentators I've heard - that these kids should be sent to Juvie. That will only teach them to be meaner and more violent. I suspect in a way, some of them have already suffered the best discipline they could have: the public embarrassment of being revealed in their cruelty, of people saying things like, "What kind of a coward bullies a 68 year old lady?" And it sounds like, in at least one case, the parents are going to make sure the kid thinks twice before doing something like this again.

I do think putting the kids off the bus - I don't know how much more of their school year remains, but put them off the bus for the rest of the year, and maybe the first half of the next year - so they can think about what they did might be a valid idea. Yes, the parents are taxpayers and they pay for the bus service. But I think these things should STILL be viewed as a privilege and not a right, and by behaving badly, the boys violated their privilege.

Or make them get up and publicly apologize to the lady, and talk about how what they did was wrong.

I don't think these kids are "lost," unlike what some commentators are saying. I think they do have the capacity to become "lost," if no one intervenes and teaches them, or if they face no consequences of what they did - but from what I've seen, that may not be the case here. It's possible for people who are pretty nasty teenagers to grow up to be decent adults if they are molded a bit and are shown some discipline.

The other thing: I don't think they were that much worse than kids were 30 years ago when I was that age. Riding the bus when I was a kid was brutal and I have blocked much of that time out of my memory - stuff like getting your lunch and homework stolen, or being refused a seat, or being called really awful, dreadful names or having ugly things said to your face: that's kind of part and parcel of the bus ride for middle schoolers, and it's been that way for a long time. Would the nasty kids on my bus have bullied a grandmotherly bus monitor? Some of them might have; some of them were pretty rude to the driver. Which is why I'm not quite so quick to say that these kids' action is a symptom of society suddenly becoming much worse or more violent. I don't know if thirteen year olds in the 1920s or 1870s or 1730s were as rude and unpleasant as they were in the 1980s, but I know thirteen year olds were pretty awful when I was one myself....I could be pretty awful as a 13 year old. So I don't think it's that "everything is suddenly worse," I think it's more "For all our talk of anti-bullying efforts, there still will be bullies." They may just turn on different people...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I dealt today with one of those Smugtrons. You know the kind: the people who think they're better than everyone else by virtue of the purity of their diet, or how small the carbon emissions of their car are, or what extreme lengths they go to to buy all "sustainable" products.

This was someone claiming that her body was "really, really smart" because it "told" her not to like things bad for her (I think processed sugar was an example).

Because I am in large part a lady, and also in large part not interested in getting involved in an argument where at least one parties' positions are purely emotionally held, I refrained from chirpily telling her, "Oh, then broccoli must be really bad for me, because I hate it! My body's so smart, I never eat it! I should listen to my body more....oh, hey, it's telling me I need a cupcake."

But yeah. I really get tired of people with the holier than thou attitude.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

my dad

It's Father's Day.

I was thinking about all the stuff I've learned from my dad over the years. I was one of the lucky ones; I had an involved dad who took part in the parenting, and who was concerned that his kids grew up to be good citizens. (I'm also lucky in that I still have my dad, and yes, I called him today).

He taught me how to read maps when I was a a result, I'm rarely lost.

He showed me how to manage money and not spend a result, I have zero debt.

He told me "I know you can do this" even when I suffered a serious reverse the first time I was in grad school....and as a result, I picked myself back up, started again, and eventually was successful.

He never thought I could do less than a boy could when it came to math or science, and on the other hand, he never expected me to get special dispensation because of my gender...and as a result, I grew up tough enough to say, "Yeah? That's your opinion" when someone makes a sexist comment to me.

He took me to church...which formed a lifelong habit for me that has enriched my life and made me a better person.

He listened to me cry when I was a little kid and the other kids at school were mean to me...and helped me to know that I wasn't a reject, that sometimes people are just jerks to other people.

He often said, "Do the right thing even if it makes you unpopular"....and I hope I will have the strength to do that if it ever comes to it for me.

He modeled honesty and hard work and kindness...and I hope to live up to that myself.

I love my dad; I think he knows that. I'm grateful that I got the chance to know him as an adult as well as knowing him as "Daddy" when I was a kid. Some of my friends were not so lucky.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Summer labs

It is surprising how different the summer and regular-semester students are.

It was our first lab, "Scientific Measurement." While I did have to show a few people which side of the ruler was metric (ack), I didn't have anyone shutting down and going, "I don't need to know this crap. I'm going to run my own business. I don't need to care about metric."

That kind of attitude frustrates me because there have been several occasions in my life where knowing "outside" information - that is, outside my basic field of study - has really helped me greatly. Most stuff you learn will not be wasted.

This group, though some of them may not have known which scale was metric (which surprises me a little, but then again, I was part of the "Metric by 1985!" generation, and maybe the educators have since given up on metric), once they figured out what they had to do, they did it without complaint.

One guy actually said, "Oh! I get it now! I never got it before!" when I showed him how you went from one decimal unit to another - like, centimeters to meters, or meters to kilometers. And he showed me that in fact he DID get it, by doing the rest of the questions correctly and showing me how he got his answers.

I don't know. Is there some kind of nativist sentiment against metric I don't know about? As a scientist, I use it all the time and have a decent handle on roughly what a meter is, a kilogram is, a liter is, etc., in terms of "how big" it would be. I often have to get after even my upper-division students because they want to measure things in feet and inches, and some of the formulas we use don't WORK with data in feet and inches. (If they do report the data in feet and inches, I make everyone in the class do the conversion with the data. For one thing, it's handy to know how to do it, for another, it might give a little positive peer pressure to the people NOT to do the measurement that way next time.)

I will say I don't have problems with the English or Imperial or whatever you call it system being used alongside metric, for some applications. - apparently some countries have effectively banned that system, but there are cases where it's useful. I still think of buying fabric in terms of yards and fractions of yards, and I do quilt cutting using inches. And in a lot of case, rejiggering a pattern to make it metric either would not work, or would not work smoothly. But I'm not sure I see why people can't think in and use both systems.

But metric is pretty much expected in the sciences! You don't have to like it, but that's the way it is.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

You know what?

I'd be not at all opposed to imposing the death penalty on serial child molesters.

Yes, I'm talking about the Penn State scandal, but I'm also talking about several ugly cases in the news here locally. One guy was arrested, bonded out after giving a sob story to the judge...and then molested another kid (allegedly) while he was out on bond. (He's pleading not guilty, but it looks like a pretty clear case from what I've seen).

Monday, June 11, 2012

This summer's teaching

I didn't teach last summer, and I had forgotten how fun it could be.

On the one hand, it's a crazy-fast pace: we are traveling at twice the rate of the regular semester, which means you have to be fairly organized to remember to be on top of things like doing necessary lab-prep work, or having tests ready in time, that kind of thing.

I am in the classroom 18 hours a week, if the lab classes go the full four hours budgeted for them. (They do not always do so). That's more than during the regular semester most semesters, and I'm teaching a smaller number of courses.

However, we don't have classes on Friday...they instituted some kind of budget-saving measure so offices are not open Fridays. (The amount of time total they are open over the course of the week is about the same; the expectation is they open a couple hours earlier and close a couple hours later M-Th). I assume it's to save electricity because I've noticed when I come in to work on Fridays that it's a lot hotter in the building - they turn the airconditioning to a higher temperature when we're not having classes.

It is kind of nice having Fridays off. I can come in and catch up on grading or prepwork, or do research work, and not worry about someone NEEDING me for something. Or, I don't have to plan to head off to class and teach. (Teaching takes more energy than you'd think. I'm usually pretty tired after class). And yet, I still have Saturday for errands or just living my own life.

I don't think the four-day-a-week schedule could work in the regular semester but it's really nice for summer.

I also like my summer students. I still shake my head over the fact that one of my Physics profs (I took Physics in the summer at a local community college - it transferred to my university, it was cheap for me to do, and it meant I didn't wind up taking Physics and Organic Chem together, something numerous people had warned me off of) claimed that he "knew" why people were taking the class in the summer - that it was because they could not pass in the regular semester and thought summer would be easier.

(And from that, I got a big lesson in What Not To Do When Teaching A Class: never, ever assume a class is stupid or slackerish, and never tell them you think they are even if you kind of think they are. It's just really ugly and offputting, and it makes the diligent students angry).

Because, I find my summer students tend to be more motivated. By and large, they are taking summer classes because they want to graduate early - or because they can make more room in their semester schedule for things like internships or higher-level specialized classes. Or they're incoming freshmen who want to get a head start on their distribution classes.

Oh, once in a while I have someone who can't hack it, or is a blow-off, or acts like a jerk to the other students, but mostly the students I get in the summer are good students and nice people and I really enjoy having them. (The money is nice too. Secondary, but nice to have. I could survive without a summer paycheck but having one means I have more flexibility and don't have to budget so tightly during the year).

This semester I have one upper-division and one lower-division (nonmajors) class. The upper division class is small - 8 people - but they let it run because two people need it to graduate this summer. (Normally, classes with enrollments below 10 are cancelled). I know it's not economically feasible to run such small classes, but I really love teaching them: you can give more attention to each student, you can get to know who they are better. And I feel more comfortable and relaxed and able to joke around with them and go off on tangents if someone asks an interesting question or stuff. Also, in a small class, it's really hard for a student to "hide" and not pull their weight in lab or discussion. And I also think there is some positive energy that goes on: someone has to be a real jerk to be able to fight off the "positive peer pressure" of a group fo committed students in the class, and continue to be apathetic and rude.

The lower-division class I have is about 20, and it's harder to get a handle on them. A lot of them are absolutely new freshmen, and they're scared to death. I try to be reassuring - if someone is a diligent student and they give a darn about learning and they're working, I'm not going to go after them for some tiny little infraction (A guy brought coffee to class and asked me if it was okay for him to have it. I said sure, as long as he didn't leave a mess). With the nonmajors class I do have to be a little careful; I find more than any other class I teach this is the place where I get the 'too cool for school' people who don't want to work and don't want to discuss and don't care about the material, and it's hard to keep them from checking out. (And sometimes I wonder: is it really my JOB to knock myself out to keep them from checking out, or is it more my job to teach for the people who do care?) So far, this crew looks pretty much okay but I will have to go through a full lab period with them to see for sure. (You learn more about how a person is when they are working in lab....some people who are not so hot in the lecture part of class are really good with the lab stuff, and some people who seem pretty smart in lecture turn out to be really apathetic about actually doing stuff in lab.)

But so far, so good.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Hobby farm daydreaming

My mom gets a couple of magazines I don't get, and when I was up visiting my parents I spent some time reading the back issues.

One of them is "Grit." Yes, Grit still publishes, they're just not in that newspaper format any more. (I remember even when I was a kid, they still advertised in the back of comic books: the idea was, I guess, that kids sold Grit door to door. I hated selling anything and I was smart enough to know that a farming magazine would be met with bewilderment or disdain in the bedroom community where we lived).

Grit is a very practical magazine. They talk about how to build stuff or repair stuff or how to can food or grow food....they have features on different livestock breeds. And they do have some fun stories on people's reminiscences about growing up on the farm. It's a nice magazine, I feel like I can learn stuff from it.

I admit it: I still hold some dreams of someday owning something like a hobby farm. I know I couldn't do it now, not as a college professor, because some days I can barely manage to feed MYSELF, let alone find time to feed chickens or goats or something. But it's an appealing idea.

Oh, I know, in reality, that farming is really hard work and it's probably not feasible for a single person to try to run even a small farm all on their lonesome - too much work, too many chances for stuff to go wrong. And the whole economic-insecurity thing would be scary: I like having a regular paycheck I can depend on.

But there's also something attractive about it. The immediacy - the fact that you can see what effect your work is having as you do it (whether it's weeding or canning or something like that). I like the idea of growing at least some of my own food. (I have a tiny garden and grew beets and green beans this spring, and I have tomato plants but they've not made fruit yet. And I keep thinking someday I'll try growing sweet potatoes). If I had more space in my back yard, I'd put in raspberry canes or grapes, even if I'd have to remember to cover them as they were setting fruit to keep the birds out.

I also like the idea of earning my bread by MAKING something...something tangible, something people could hold in their hands, whether that something is soap or tomatoes or lavender or whatever. Don't get me wrong: I still love teaching, it's just some days it really does feel like I'm just pushing invisible imaginary things around and there's nothing that feels very "real" about it.

I think I may also (rightly or wrongly) think that success in having a hobby farm is, to a greater degree, the result of one's own hard work. In teaching, if you get a difficult class, or you wind up with an administrator who has problems with your discipline, or if the school's budget gets can see your job go from "wonderful" to "awful" in a short time. (Of course, with farming, drought, insects, natural disasters....all of those are beyond your control).

The other magazine is called "Mary Jane's Farm." This magazine has some good stories and good information, do I put it? Sometimes it gets a bit precious for my tastes. There's a lot of talk about organic gardening/organic produce and while some of the reasons and justifications are true, others of them border on "woo." For example: I choose organic salad greens because I figure there's enough pesticide residue (at least, based on what I've read) possible on the conventional ones that it's worth it to ME to spend a bit more and seek out the organic ones. And I tend to think the "cage free chicken" eggs taste better...but I'm not going to say that everyone has to do this. And sometimes the "organic lifestyle" folks get a little evangelical about it, like "if everyone did this one thing, IT WOULD SAVE THE WORLD" and of course things are more complicated than that.

(Also, I wonder: is the state of the art of organic farming such that it's even possible to produce all food using standard organic methods? I mean, I might occasionally buy a box of cookies made from organic flour...but I wonder if all the flour used in the world or even the U.S. could be produced using small-scale methods? I kind of think that small-scale farming, like what my great-grandparents did, kind of wouldn't be capable of producing enough to meet demand. But I could be wrong; I haven't tried to calculate it out).

All the "woo" and evangelism aside, though, one idea in both magazines I like is this: that there are a lot of people out there (apparently) who ARE doing small-scale specialty farming, and they're providing a product to people who want it. (And in some cases, the product is considerably better than the conventionally produced kind). I've said before that I enjoy shopping at farmer's markets and small businesses and u-pick farms and places like's more fun than going to a giant brightly-lit supermarket for food. (Though I admit I can do without the "oh, aren't we so much better than the hoi polloi" I see from some farmer's market/natural-foods-store attendees.)

So, I don't know. If I had a hobby farm, what would I raise? What would I raise for market, what would I raise just for myself? I think if I had enough land and space I'd want to raise chickens for the eggs. (This provided I had a good way of protecting them from predators, and also sealing up the feed so I didn't get problem with some "city chickens' is that the feed can attract rodents). I might have goats, though it would be for milk rather than meat. (Then again: there's apparently a growing market for goat meat, and while I might not be up to slaughtering and butchering my own...the animals could be sold). No, I've never had goat's milk and of course I'd have to try to to see if I liked it. (This is all in the realm of daydream for me right now).

In terms of crops....where I live, a lot of the things I like don't do so well. It's mostly too hot and too dry (unless you have a good well) for berries. And often tomatoes are a disappointment: it gets so hot the plants won't set fruit.

But herbs seem to do well. If I had a decent market for herbs, either as culinary herbs (I know in some areas, fancy restaurants buy their herbs from small farmers) or something like lavender that is used in scent. I admit I like the idea of running a lavender farm, as impossibly unprofitable that might be in real life.

Or maybe I'd learn how to keep bees. (Or do that in addition to having the herb farm...then I could sell lavender honey and stuff like that; in some specialty markets you can get really good prices for "fancy" honeys).

Again, I think a lot of this falls into the realm of "If I weren't teaching, I'd want a career where I felt like I was 'making' something." And at any rate, as I said: it's probably not realistic. I don't live near enough a really wealthy area that doesn't already have a market saturated with specialty food sales or such.

But it's nice to daydream about.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Poetry break

Sometimes you hear what you need when you most need it. One of the hymns we sang yesterday was "Dear Lord and Father of mankind" by Whittier. (Thank goodness my particular congregation hasn't decided to use the "updated" hymnals....where all language has been made gender-neutral and "less warlike," some of the new wordings are really clunky and unpleasant to sing).

Whittier is a poet I don't know too much about. I know he was an abolitionist in New England and was generally considered to be a "good man." I also think some of the critics derided his verse as not sufficiently deep or simplistic. I don't know; in some ways I am a simple woman and I have to say I like this poem.

The hymn version of it (at least the version we sing) does not use all the stanzas in the poem, but here is the complete poem:

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
forgive our foolish ways!
Re-clothe us in our rightful mind,
in purer lives thy service find,
in deeper reverence, praise;
in deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard,
beside the Syrian sea,
the gracious calling of the Lord,
let us, like them, without a word,
rise up and follow thee;
rise up and follow thee.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee!
O calm of hills above,
where Jesus knelt to share with thee
the silence of eternity
interpreted by love!
interpreted by love!

Drop thy still dews of quietness,
till all our strivings cease;
take from our souls the strain and stress,
and let our ordered lives confess
the beauty of thy peace;
the beauty of thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire
thy coolness and thy balm;
let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm;
O still, small voice of calm.

I particularly needed the "Take from our souls the strain and stress, and let our ordered lives confess, the beauty of thy peace" part of it, yesterday. 

Friday, June 01, 2012

Not happy news

The minister of my church is leaving.

The reason for this is understandable: he and his wife have a special-needs child, they cannot find the kind of help they really ideally need for their child here, and he has been offered a position somewhere in a city that is much larger, and probably has more cutting edge research done on the child's particular need.

But it's sad. I think this is the fourth minister (counting the "interim" we had on two occasions only once) in the 12 years I've been here. I know, in some denominations, ministers get moved around by the church hierarchy (I think the Methodists do it that way?) and sometimes ministers only stay four or five years at a given church.

But every other Disciples church I've belonged to had relative stability....ministers staying more than 10 years, in some cases, more than 20 years.

And I anticipate difficulty calling a new minister. We are a small congregation, and money is ALWAYS a problem. I don't know if we can offer a competitive salary...especially considering that this can be a hard part of the country to attract people to.

Almost worse than their plans to leave....I mean, I will miss them, I liked them, but I completely understand their reasons for what I expect will be the reactions/comments of the other congregants. I saw this last time a minister left:

"What have we done that is so wrong that God is punishing us this way?"
"This is going to be the end of us. We'll just have to close our doors and fold." (And I admit, I worry about this too).
Or people will start talking about how they didn't really like this minister's style of preaching, or that they found  him pushy in some way, or something. And I HATE that. I understand why people do it - they are justifying the leaving, they are trying to make themselves feel better over it by saying, "It really wasn't that good of a situation after all" but I just HATE it because it feels like talking behind someone's back.

And there will be the ongoing comment of "We need to get new members, the 'right' kind of new members" (meaning: people who can pledge money to the church. I remember there was actually some criticism in the past when we got new members who didn't have a lot of money. That's just WRONG. Wrong in so many ways.) And I expect there will be an "every member needs to evangelize" thing....and I'm sorry, but that's just not one of my gifts. I can do many things but tracking down people I don't know and asking them to come to church is just not something I can do. And among my I've told people many times, either they already have a church affiliation, or they are actually hostile to the idea of religion, and I'm not going to make it less likely for them to ever come around to the idea of considering faith by being "pushy" to them.

So, I don't know. I hate this. I've been through this now three times....once, we had to search for a new minister after the congregational split. Then the person we found, as good as he was, left...again, for personal reasons. (He and his wife divorced, he felt that he could not stay in the same town, and he felt that her career was less "portable" than his, so it was best for him to leave). And now this.

(In the Disciples denomination, each congregation forms a search committee and vets potential ministers and calls the minister itself...there's not really a bishopric or anything to help or to send a minister. We have a regional ministry that can provide guidance, but most of the call is up to us.)

I will say if this does end the congregation, if we break up and disperse? I might take a couple months off from church. I've put a lot of effort and a lot of volunteer hours and a lot of contributions into this congregation...and to think of it not surviving really hurts, and also on some level feels like that nothing I could do was good enough.

And again, some of the things people say in the wake of a minister leaving? Reminds me of why Christians are so often a poor advertisement for Christ. I don't want to hear all of the handwringing and the recriminations and everything....I just want to move forward, and there are often people who want to stick back and replay everything that happened.

I suppose I'll eventually look for a new place (if it does come to pass that we break up). I don't know. I've never had to "church shop" before....try to find a new denomination that fits my faith. I've always just gone to the Disciples church in the town where I lived and that was that. I suppose the Presbyterians are the next closest group....but then again, there's an Episcopal congregation that I know a couple people in, and the rector seems to be highly thought of. The next nearest Disciples' church is an hour's round trip, and I just don't think I can do that.

I really hope I'm "borrowing trouble" on this and I won't have to think about that. But it tends to be my nature to consider the worst possible path, and plan for I HAVE a plan, so I'm ready for the worst if it happens.