Category Archives: God May Smite the Radical

April 29, 2009, 10:38 pm

Rainy Day Academics #12 & 35

Well, they’ll stone ya when you’re trying to be so good,
They’ll stone ya just a-like they said they would.
They’ll stone ya when you’re tryin’ to go home.
Then they’ll stone ya when you’re there all alone.

Today’s meditation follows along the lines of the above career advice, given by Bob Dylan to a young academic who happened, at the time, to be wearing a leopard-skin pillbox hat.

As for me, after generic academic rainy day moments, instead of getting stoned –er, I mean being passive-aggressive (though, `tis the academic way) — I have learned to try to tolerate the discomfort attendant to actually confronting abusive people. Until the Unfortunate Events, I had almost never taken this approach to inappropriate, hostile or aggressive behavior on the part of colleagues. In fact, it was part of my recovery from this (now blessedly long ago) period in my life to learn to screen out other…

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April 5, 2009, 3:18 pm

Sunday Night Follies: In Which The Radical Answers Four Questions

And now, to lighten your Sunday night of grading, lecture writing and sorting your socks for the coming week, here are four answers to urgent questions, none of which have been asked by my fans.

What Zenith college publication is still available in a printed copy?

One of you got it right, but yesterday’s post gathered fewer guesses than I thought it would, so I’ll tell you. The answer is: the telephone directory, which can be requested; they print one up for you and send it in the next day’s office mail. This solution to an otherwise intractable problem was reached after a colleague of mine made an impassioned, and utterly sincere, plea on behalf of his departmental secretary, who was distraught at the change in her work environment wreaked by the loss of a printed Zenith telephone book. I was terribly grateful, and ordered one specially printed up too. Why? Because I can never…

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March 20, 2009, 7:50 pm

Annals of the Second Great Depression: Looking On The Bright Side

It’s time to sing the end-of-spring-vacation-blues. What would normally be a happy day — Friday, with two long weekend days ahead — is a sad day, with only two days left before we go back to work. Of course, yours truly will work for exactly two days, and then fly to Seattle for the Organization of American Historians Annual Meeting. The theme this year is “History Without Boundaries:” yeah, baby. Don’t fence the Radical in. Historiann and I already have a meet-up planned to further refine our plans to rule the world.

When I return from Seattle it will be April, and April is the cruelest month (“breeding/Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing/Memory and desire, stirring/Dull roots with spring rain.”) We never get tired of muttering this to each other at Zenith, in between editing thesis chapters; grading, grading, grading; slogging through the final five weeks of teaching; checking…

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January 18, 2009, 3:49 pm

“Magnificent Wind:”* In Which The Radical Begins Receiving Excuses From Her Students Even Before The Term Begins

Yesterday I, and a number of other colleagues who work at Zenith and other colleges, began to receive a steady stream of emails from students. They said some version of the following: “Hey, Professor, I am going to Barack’s inauguration and won’t make it back in time for class on Wednesday afternoon. I am sure you support my presence at this historic event. Hope this is ok — let me know if it isn’t, (signed) Siouxsie Q.”** I had several crabby, middle-aged responses to the emails I received, including:

“Hay is for horses” (I had a kindergarten teacher back in 1964 who was fond of this one.)

“If I am not going to the inauguration because I have a prior commitment to be at school to advise you on Tuesday, and teach you on Wednesday, why shouldn’t you actually have some commitment to be there and receive these services?” As the Mother of the Radical (MOTheR), a font of wisdom on matter…

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November 24, 2008, 2:58 pm

What Works For Christians Could Work For Academics Too

Pastor Ed Young of the Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas has been urging his flock to improve their emotional well-being by having more sex. In fact, last Sunday he instructed the married couples in his flock to have sex every day prior to coming to church yesterday. The economic downturn (read: Republican trainwreck), in addition to the ordinary problems couples have (adultery, PTSD, child-rearing, exhaustion, quiet and/or open rage, working two or three jobs) are causing people to lose the intimacy that is the key to a healthy marriage, Young argues. In the longer term, the Seven Days of Sex should cause couples to at least double the amount of intercourse they have and “move from whining about the economy to whoopee!”

Well yes indeed. Of course, Young is not the first Christian to suggest this. From Henry Ward Beecher’s gospel of love through Marabel Morgan’s advice in…

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August 25, 2008, 1:08 pm

Why Joe Biden?

Beats me, except for voters like Mother of the Radical (MOTheR), who is a formerly Hillary-supporting Pennsylvania voter and thinks Joe Biden is the bee’s knees. The comb over doesn’t seem to bother her at all.

But Delaware? Who needs Delaware in a general election? Wait! I know! Except for an accident of colonialism and the fact that it is owned by Dupont, Delaware is actually a county in Pennsylvania. Don’t believe it that Obama is eschewing the old “state strategy” by choosing a senator from little, insignificant Delaware as his vice president: the campaign is hoping that Joe will bring in the very important swing state of Pennsylvania (where, by the way, black politicians are not overly popular and gregarious, boot-straps white guys are.)

Of course, I didn’t like any of the people on the finals list, except perhaps Evan Bayh. And I was a little afraid of the Governor of…

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January 19, 2008, 1:30 pm

Another Reason for Historians to Become Activist Intellectuals: National Religious History Week

In this week’s edition of The Nation, Chris Hedges points us to House Resolution 888 intended, among other things, to establish National Religious History Week. Unfortunately, you can only access the full story if you are a subscriber to the Nation, but the bill, according to Hedges, “is an insidious attempt by the radical Christian right to rewrite American history, to turn the founding fathers from deists into Christian fundamentalists, to proclaim us officially to be a Christian nation.”  Skillfully deploying a tactic invented by historian Carter Woodson in 1926, when he created National Negro History Week (now Black History Month) as a way of addressing the absence of African-Americans from school curricula, HR. 888 also — by adopting a progressive intellectual tactic and turning it to its own purposes — implicitly represents evangelical Christians as an oppressed minority on the…

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January 17, 2008, 12:56 am

Things I Think About As We Approach The Tsunami Primary on February 5

Here are the things that do not worry me at all.

That Barack Obama smoked pot. The only thing I can say about this is: Oh. Please. Stop. This — and the severe penalties that people can be exposed to for taking naked pictures of their toddlers at the beach and having them developed at Walmart — are perhaps the worst residue of the Reagan era’s conservative cultural backlash. Being honest about getting high is, in my opinion, one of the things that makes this man genuine in his approach to others — it’s no wonder that young people like him! And I can name at least one prominent conservative intellectual/pundit, a man who helped get us into the Iraq war, who I got high with repeatedly in college. So shut up already. Clearly getting high is not a barrier to power.

That Hillary Clinton is a racist. This is truly absurd. Hillary and Bill have been profoundly progressive on race, Bill a…

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January 12, 2008, 2:23 am

A Must-See Movie in the Political Season: Jesus Camp (2006)

So, this evening I have been catching up on my Netflix, and I watched Jesus Camp, a little gem of a movie directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady that was released in 2006. It is about a children’s ministry run by Becky Fischer, a ministry intended to prepare young people in North Dakota for their role as political Christians and as soldiers of God. It demonstrates a multi-generational strategy for cultivating a political coalition of born-again citizens who are willing to devote their lives to bringing the nation back into alignment with the Scriptures and God’s Word. I think it does a great job of covering multiple topics that students would need to think about to understand the resurgence of political Christianity in the late twentieth century. It also answers what has for me been a difficult question: who are those people that account for George Bush having any approval rating …

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