On Love, Same-sex Relationships, and Christianity

Drinking with Socrates podcast featured an interview with Reverend Elizabeth McQuitty! Click here for SoundCloud. We’re also on iTunes.

We discuss faith, love, and tackle the question on the compatibility of same-sex relationships in the context of religion.  This was an absolute delight to record and I hope you enjoy the show!

IMG_0741IMG_0750Instagram: @gdol10 @mikeracanelli @Socratespod


In Another’s Shoes

If you are terrified of a caravan of people 1,000 miles away trekking north then I propose a challenge.  Go for a ten mile walk today and reflect on how/why your family came to the United States.  How is your life possible because of your family’s decision?  When you end your walk and your feet ache take a moment to be grateful.

And if you think But I don’t have time to do a ten mile walk!  I have duties at home, laundry to tend to, meals to prepare, Netflix to binge, catch up with work, plans with my family and my friends!

Well, then…let that sink in.


A Discussion on Sex Work

Episode 1 of Drinking With Socrates is now on iTunes and SoundCloud.

IMG_0677

 

My co-host Mike Racanelli and I are talking with writer/activist/teacher/sex worker Antonia Crane.  Check out her memoir Spent.

Please give it a listen, a like, a star rating, or feel free to leave feedback in the comments below.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/drinking-with-socrates/id1439409763?mt=2

Instagram: @mikeracanelli @gdol10 @Socratespod


A Homework Assignment

For my Philosophy 340 class, Current Debates in Sexuality, (also sometimes called Philosophy of Sex and Love), I gave the following assignment:

Find an article that has been written in the last two weeks with a reference/discussion about sexual assault.  Bring this to class.  I clarified that they needn’t agree with the article because the point was to examine how sexual assault is being presented in media.

Come class time the students had their articles, and I put them into groups of 3 and 4 to share with each other the content of the articles.  The room immediately roared to life with their exchanges.

It turned out to be a good exercise.  In terms of teaching methodology I enjoy when textbook theory can be highlighted and demonstrated in either fiction/film or current events. I don’t want my students to merely memorize an argument or a few definitions for the semester.  Engagement and discussion is key to making material from courses one’s own.

I must confess, I was surprised that out of 40 students no one brought the same article.

IMG_0585

 


Kavanaugh Testimony

  • The way in which the senate decides to proceed will speak volumes about the way in which sexual assault is viewed.  Rushing through the process will leave a mark, an echo, a haunting message that sexual assault is nothing to hold up a supreme court justice nomination.  What would?  A “real crime”?
  • Kavanaugh’s dismissive attitude regarding an investigation is problematic.  (He argues he’s already been through several over his career; yet, as a justice knows that new information does mean new investigations are in order). A one week investigation is hardly a lot to consider when the appointment in question is for a lifetime position.
  • Of course the FBI does not provide conclusions.  This is why it is not called the Federal Bureau of Conclusions.  It provides evidence, an investigation, so that conclusions may be drawn.
  • The Dems may have made a political play by waiting to reveal the allegation.  (Note I write may have.)  If that is the case then it is a matter of politics and politics only.  It in no way means the allegations are false (nor does it mean they are true).  Thus the reference to the timing of bringing forth these allegations is for the senators to bicker about over their next golf game and not for discerning the veracity of the claim(s).
  • The yearbook is relevant considering the context.  No, not everyone up for an important political/judicial position needs their yearbook discussed.  But, in this case, the yearbook yields character information in the timeframe of the allegations.
  • The timing in which a person makes a claim about an event or crime in no way means said event or crime did not take place.  It is irrelevant.  Moreover, with the case of sexual assault it is quite common for reporting to take place at a later date.  This was accepted with the case of victims in the Catholic Church.  Why is it less understood for young women?
  • The heavy drinking by Kavanaugh might point to an inebriated state in which he committed these acts, does not recall, and therefore does not feel responsible (or has no memory at all).  He denies this as a possibility.
  • The fact that Kavanaugh studied hard in high school and college does not mean sexual assault did not occur.  The fact that he has women friends also does not mean that sexual assault did not occur.
  • Kavanaugh may be innocent of these allegations.  If that is the case then he (and all of us) have every right to be infuriated by the injustice.
  • If Kavanaugh did commit sexual assault then the fact that he was young is irrelevant.  (Swap out sexual assault for another crime here or imagine he was not white.  Does changing those variables change the weight of responsibility?)
  • If Kavanaugh did these crimes and it is rationalized that boys will be boys or in any fashion normal then that is disgusting, terrifying for women, and an insult to men.
  • Rumors or unsubstantiated claims are absolutely problematic.  No one deserves to be on the receiving end of that.  This is why a break to investigate seems to be a logical move.  The only potential harm is waiting one week later to vote on his confirmation.
  • Kavanaugh’s family has been threatened and abused.  This is wrong.
  • Dr. Ford has been threatened and abused.  This is also wrong.
  • We are left in a quagmire.  It is in no one’s interest to ignore caution here.  I do know this: to rush this confirmation will mean the senate has failed to seriously address these allegations (thereby suggesting such allegations are of little to no worth) and that will shadow every person who should be heard in the case of assault and it will linger over every decision Kavanaugh makes as a justice (especially in any cases regarding the rights of women).
  • Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section.

Let’s Talk About Love

I’ve teamed up with Michael Racanelli for a podcast called Drinking With Socrates.  Please have a listen to this mini teaser.  I’m looking forward to this project and I hope you’ll enjoy it too!

We’re on Instagram: @gdol10 and @mikeracanelli

GetAttachmentThumbnail

 


Learning As I Go…

It all began with a simple “Yes” I typed in response to an email from the chair of the Philosophy Department.

I was in the throes of massive coffee consumption, grading exams, and preparing to give a talk at a conference in Chicago, and so, I admit, I didn’t entirely grasp what I was saying “Yes” to.

It turns out, I had agreed to take on another professor’s class: Philosophy of Sex. Well, okay then. I requested the same textbook to be ordered for the syllabus. No, I hadn’t read it.

My background is in Existentialism and Moral Theory. My course load is comprised of classes in that framework. To say Philosophy of Sex was outside of my comfort zone and area of expertise would be woefully understated.

Including my graduate years, I’ve been teaching for about…never mind. Let’s just say Friends was still running and we were in suspense about Ross and Rachel.

In all of my years of teaching I’ve entered the classroom with the echo of something my high school math teacher once stated: “It’s my job to make sure you know more when you leave this room than when you entered.” I’ve held myself to this standard every day I am with my students.

Until…

Taking on this Philosophy of Sex course had me stumbling, blushing, and a type of tired no amount of caffeine could fix. Some topics covered in the textbook were things I had no desire to discuss, like defining the language/terms of sex as opposed to oral sex, are there sexual duties, sodomy laws, BDSM, and all things Freud, like penis envy (that absurd-only-a-man-would-think-that-idea).

I finished every class with a heavy heart as I walked to my car feeling that I hadn’t ensured my students an education or, as my math teacher had put it, knowing more when they exited my classroom. And, for the first time, a student left a scathing review of me online calling me “awful.” I know I shouldn’t have cared about that, but I did.

I was literally going over the chapters of the textbook at the same pace as the students, coming into class to discuss what we’d all just read for the first time. It was a humbling experience, and one that reminded me of a truth I’ve always known but only felt now in a profound way; namely, to teach, in part, is to embrace also being a student. That is, teaching does not the mark the end of one’s education, it’s couched in the continuing process of it.

Fortunately, I recruited my friend, the fabulous writer Stephen Elliott, to give a guest lecture on his piece from The New York Times “Three Men and a Woman.” Class lecture on kink covered!

I also managed to get the incredibly interesting writer Antonia Crane (author of Spent: A Memoir) to speak on the politics of sex work. She was engaging and brought a great energy to the class (for which I am oh so grateful!).  I got to be present, take a seat, and learn right along with my students.

It is with little irony that throughout the academic term I was also starting a writing project, a book all about the dynamics of teaching. I’ve been toiling with an outline framing the various angles of what teaching means and how we learn. For this project I’ve been conducting interviews to include in this book.

So, for the last few weeks I’ve either been in the classroom wondering how to manage actual teaching conundrums or running about meeting people to gather their wisdom on teaching. I’ve kept coffee shops around me in business.

With every meeting, much to my delight, I was reminded of how to view my own plight in teaching a class I found challenging.

Here are some nuggets of wisdom from my interviews:

I traveled to Chicago to meet with two of my friends from grad school, Dan Hutmacher and Dr. Drew Dalton. Both are brilliant and my meetings with them not only gave me food for thought, but had the added bonus of transporting me to memories of our grad school days in Leuven. Dan has undergone quite a journey from academic studies, to the corporate world, to recovering with and dealing with Crohn’s. He’s devoted much time to teaching others about this disease. He told me he’d been teased in the corporate world for spending his studies in Philosophy. But, he said, when your body is trying to kill you and you’re in the hospital, philosophy is what saves you. He reminisced on the writings of Levinas. After much surgery and recovery, he’s devoted time to creating a blog teaching others about Crohn’s.

Drew spoke much about his love of being in the classroom as we walked all over downtown Chicago.  In the throes of conversation he’d point to this place and that offering a brief history.  He’s Yelp personified.  He proposed that the subject “philosophy of teaching” be inverted to “teaching as an act of philosophy.” He said, “In the classroom that’s where philosophy is happening.”

At a café in Atwater Village I met my friend Chris McKenna, a charming actor with an infectious smile. Seriously, one can’t help but smile around him. Or look up. He’s six foot three. I asked him how he continues to learn his craft. He told me he reviews his performances, studies them, and thinks of how to improve. In other words, Chris learns, in part, by self-reflection and a desire to be better.

In my hometown Pasadena, my friend Patil, a teacher at an Armenian high school, smiled as we spoke over coffee when she talked about her love for her students. She cares for them and invests in them. As a mother, she explained, I treat them how I’d want teachers to be for my daughters. This reminded me that teaching is not merely a job, it’s a relation to others.

One evening in Orange County, while enjoying sushi with my friend and roommate from college, Jennifer Arnoldt, I asked her what people should know about going into corporate America. She answered, that no one knows what they’re doing. But, she continued, you go to work and figure it out. Well, I certainly needed to hear that!

On Melrose in West Hollywood, and a bottle of wine into the interview, I asked my friend Mike Racanelli (a man of several creative feats: producing, writing, acting), what inspires you? He leaned back, folded his arms and said, that’s a good question. Thank you, I replied. Hmmm…what inspires me?, he halfway mumbled. Everyone I meet, he said. You’re welcome, I said. Mike clued me in on the importance of finding the interesting and the possibilities to flourish with every encounter.

At the Cal Poly Pomona campus café I chat with Professor Tom Keith about his work making documentaries and how he decided to make films. He gave a humble smile and admitted that his first film, Generation M, was a project he never expected to get any traction. Really? I asked. It’s insightful and I’ve shown it on more than one occasion to my classes. For him, it was a way to reach out with the medium a lot of students use. You have to meet them where they are, he said. He’s now working on his fifth film. His disposition regarding teaching is one where he respects how the students learn and not just approaching teaching as the way in which he wants to deliver the material.

And, at this point, I’ve reached the end of the academic term. It was with genuine surprise a few students in the Philosophy of Sex class told me they enjoyed the course. My heart warmed with the news. Because, in all honesty, it’s about them and I want for them to learn.

I knocked on the chair of the Philosophy Department’s door. I confessed that I wasn’t sure how the class went, that I fumbled through the lectures, and I may have made of mess of things. It’s okay, he said with a shrug. Want to do it again in the fall?

“Yes.”

 

Click for My Amazon Author Page


%d bloggers like this: