28 September 2008

Maybe Disney will make a movie about this year's election season?

[Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan for posting this video clip on his blog.]

Video Resource on Cultural Misappropriation

Here are two clips from White Shamans and Plastic Medicine Men, a one-half hour documentary dealing with the popularization and commercialization of Native American spiritual traditions by Non-Indians.

White Shamans and Plastic Medicine Men, Part 1 of 3

White Shamans and Plastic Medicine Men, Part 2 of 3

I found a study guide for this documentary that asks the following questions:

1. What are the motivations for many non-Indians who take use Indian religious practices?

2. Do you think any of them are aware of the problems caused by what they do?

3. Do you think any of them consider the possible dangers related to their appropriation of Indian religion?

4. Which of the non-Indian people interviewed might be the most aware of the fact that they are exploiting Indian religion and people?

5. What are some of the recognizable names discussed in the video?

6. When non-Indians appropriate elements of Indian religions, what does it say about their view of the complexity of Indian cultural practices?

7. Why do they think it is okay to do use Indian religious practices?

I saw this video several years ago when I attended a Young Religious Unitarian Universalist "Spirituality Development Conference" as an adult advisor.

This documentary with a follow-up discussion would make a very useful adult or youth religious education class on appropriate and inappropriate borrowing from other cultures in Unitarian Universalism.

09 September 2008

McCain speaks out against child abuse prevention

I bet my headline has caught your attention.

Some may think it's unfair to make this charge against Senator McCain.

But it's really no more unfair the recent McCain campaign criticism of Senator Obama's support of age-appropriate sexuality education during his time in the Illinois State Legislature ("McCain criticizes Obama vote on sex ed legislation")

Senator Obama's support of age-appropriate sexuality education is endorsed by public health and sexuality education experts like Rev. Debra Haffner:
Educating Children for Prevention
A high quality sexuality education program, such as Our Whole Lives (OWL), is one of the best methods for sexual abuse prevention. Children who learn that their bodies are good, that their sexuality is a gift, how to make good decisions, and the language to communicate accurately and effectively about sexuality are also being prepared to respond appropriately when faced with abusive behaviors, to assert their right to control their own bodies, and to tell an adult if such behaviors occur.
So ... Senator McCain's criticism of Senator Obama's support of " ... one of the best methods for sexual abuse prevention" tells me that Senator McCain is either intentionally or accidentally speaking out against effective child abuse prevention.

Many Unitarian Universalist and United Church of Christ congregations offer this type of age-appropriate sexuality education in our congregations for children in kindergarten and first grade. And the excellent resources used in these congregations can also be used in other religious and secular settings as well.

Now -- I don't seriously believe that Senator McCain is really in favor of child abuse.

But I do believe he is in favor of putting his honor and integrity into a blind trust so he can be elected President.

08 September 2008

The Religious Gap Between "Theory" and "Practice" ...

Greta Christina (a blogging favorite of mine who writes on "Sex, atheism, politics, dreams, and whatever") recent wrote a post on atheist bloggers.

Greta made an observation about the gap between religious "theory" (religion as taught in seminary and the academic world) and religious "practice" (religion as it is actually lived in congregations and communities):
Truth to tell, though? I honestly don't care all that much about advanced modern theology. If you have an argument to make, I'll certainly read it. But for the most part, I'm just not all that interested in religion as it's believed and practiced by a handful of theological scholars. I am primarily interested in religion as it overwhelmingly plays out in the real world.
Greta's comment got me to wondering about Unitarian Universalism. Do we have a gap between academic "theory" and day-to-day "practice" in the Unitarian Universalist tradition?

06 September 2008

Can we call it sexism if it's done by her supporters?

Several days ago, I asked a question on my blog about Alaska's Govenor Palin's selection as the Republican Vice-President pick with a t-shirt that referenced her perceived attractiveness:
"I wonder if this is the intended message of Senator McCain's VP pick?"
A few Unitarian Universalist bloggers criticized me for asking this question.

However, it's interesting to view some of the campaign buttons worn by Gov. Palin's supporters:

I'm relieved to see that her selection as the Republican VP candidate was a measured and well-reasoned decision based on her public service experience as a PTA parent/community organizer and politician.

It would be a shame if her appearance was a major factor in Senator McCain's decision-making process.

The 2008 election is more important than a high school election,

However, our elections seem to resemble high school elections in terms of framing of the candidates. And because of this, the outcome is worse for our nation.

Instead of voting for the "smart" candidate, we end up voting for the more popular kid or more attractive kid.

This is how we ended up with the "class clown" president instead of the Nobel Peace Prize winner president in the White House.

And we can't afford another four years of "class clown" government.

01 September 2008

Debating the Wisdom of Abstinence-Only Sexuality Education

It may be time for us as a nation to examine the public health outcomes and public policy impact of our nation's decision to federally funded "abstinence-only" sexuality education to the exclusion of other types of sexuality education in our schools and our wider society.

There are two recent news stories that I saw on Google News that are related to our public policy decision on this.

One story is concerned with the personal life of Gov. Palin's oldest daughter:
Gov. Palin Says Her Unmarried 17-Year-Old Daughter Is Pregnant
"We have been blessed with five wonderful children who we love with all our heart and mean everything to us," reads the statement from Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and her husband Todd.

"Our beautiful daughter Bristol came to us with news that as parents we knew would make her grow up faster than we had ever planned," they continued, referring to their 17-year-old daughter. "As Bristol faces the responsibilities of adulthood, she knows she has our unconditional love and support.

The Palins said that "Bristol and the young man she will marry are going to realize very quickly the difficulties of raising a child, which is why they will have the love and support of our entire family.
The second story deals with the public policy position that Gov. Palin has taken regarding "abstinence-only" sexuality education:
Palin backed abstinence education
(CNN) – Sarah Palin, who announced on Monday that her 17-year-old daughter is pregnant, indicated during her run for Alaska governor that she was a firm supporter of abstinence-only education in schools.

In a 2006 Eagle Forum questionnaire, Palin indicated that she supported funding abstinence-until-marriage education programs instead of teaching sex-education programs.

"Explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support," Palin wrote in the conservative group’s questionnaire.
However, we do know that the comprehensive sexuality education programs used in Western Europe do have a better public health and public policy outcomes in comparison with the United States. However, this isn't the type of sexuality education that Gov. Palin or Sen. McCain supports.

Here are a few graphs from the Advocates for Youth "Adolescent Sexual Health in Europe and the U.S.—Why the Difference?" fact sheet:

If the teen pregnancy, teen abortion, and teen sexually-transmitted infection rates in the US were the same as the Netherlands, we would have 657,000 fewer teen pregnancies, 441,000 fewer teen births, and 215,000 fewer teen abortions. It would also save the taxpayers $921 million each year (in 1997 dollars).

Unplanned pregnancy is a something that can be prevented. It's not something that "just happens" and it doesn't take "rocket science" to prevent it.

Our Western European cousins have an excellent track record with promoting healthy sexual decision-making in their teens. This is something that we could do in the US if we want to.

As Unitarian Universalists working in partnership with the United Church of Christ, our gift to the wider world is our excellent "Our Whole Lives" lifespan series of comprehensive sexuality education curricula.