Unitarian Universalist [Ask Me Anything] on reddit.com today!

Six UUs, including myself, are answering questions from users of reddit’s largest Christian community, /r/Christianity. I organized this, and am glad for the users from the site’s UU community for getting together and helping explain our strange, hard to grasp religion.

This is part in an extensive series of denominational AMAs, where members of all sorts of Christian communities come together to share information about who they are and what they believe.

When I entered junior college in 2010, it required a radical shift in perspective. I attended an independent secular school K-8 and then an independent Benedictine catholic school for high school. This trend of insular schools of little diversity was to continue when I arrived at a liberal arts college in rural Washington state. It had become a lifelong routine. You pursue your degree surrounded by people your age, mostly white, and not filled with wisdom. It’s an environment of smart neophytes. What you can and cannot do as a college student is four years of trial and error, where there are thankfully little of consequence if you screw up.

That college spit me out in a couple of months. I didn’t have the skills, and more importantly didn’t have the sanity to get through it. I came home in November, and almost intermediately applied for junior college starting in January.

For someone who grew up in the white middle-upper class suburban mindset, there are three big things to confront when making a big shift in schools.

1. The diversity. Yes there were blacks and Latinos in prior school, but they were often alone and did not have any kind of ethnic identity in the school. To fit in, they had to acclimate to white expectations. Large social science classes at this college are at least half non-white, you notice a pan-racial tone to develop. A huge portion of clubs are for social and person growth of various groups- like Asian/Pacific Islanders or Latinos. There are also groups involved in dialogue and conquering stereotypes and being academically successful. Also while at previous schools there were ethnic holidays celebrated (like Dia de los Muertos), California colleges use diversity months to have lots of time for pride and education.

It also can make for compelling presentations and classtime. The college has people taken over the border as kids, living and studying while undocumented. Teen mothers, trying to gain the education that had become a secondary priority. Public speaking class had people who were involved in fights and gangs, but turned to martial arts to keep their rage productive. Each class is a wildcard, and you’re not sure who has an amazing story to tell.

2. The public school shock. As a 19 year old who had never been outside of a well-planned private curriculum, it takes some getting used to. Getting help with disability accommodations requires research and patience. Most of the student services are under budget cuts, and the lines can be insane if you don’t start on the first day of term. For so long I took for granted that teachers knew my name, yet even though I speak in class quite often it can take months.  There’s rarely coordination between faculty make sure a particular day isn’t just a six-hour test for some students. Keeping things sane may require actively talking to the professors.

3. The age gap. At an undergrad-only liberal arts school (where I briefly was, and my sister did about two years at), almost everyone is the same age. If you’re a freshman you’re 18 or 19. And very few people are over thirty. Continuing education is not a priority, it’s about getting information to the new generation.

In almost every day class, there will be someone in the ballpark of 50 years old. In one case, it was the mother of another student- they were taking the class together. The two evening class I’ve taken skew way towards greybeards. In public speaking, four or so of the initial group were over forty. And since one can gain prerequisites at junior college for graduate education, there are plenty of people in their mid 20s planning to become a nurse or go into graduate science.

Overall, a junior college is a place where many different agenda exist at the same time. 19 year olds studying to get into University of California branch. 25 year olds looking for credits to get into grad school. 35 year olds attempting to make a change to a better and more rewarding job. And 55 year olds maybe just curious about the subject matter.

Sifting through the archives

For the past couple years I’ve ditched Microsoft Office and embraced Google’s cloud-based suite (presently called Google Drive). It’s quicker to start up, autosaves constantly, and I can grab whatever I need with the computer I have, rather than the one I own. It doesn’t have the features to do high-end professional work, but I am not a high-end professional.

Because it’s become my single writing platform, I can delve into the past and find bits of writing that fell through the cracks.

  • An essay outlining the curriculum, goals, and philosophy of an alternative secondary school in my area
  • A short treatise of feasible alternatives to capitalism and socialism
  • The introduction to a booklet about the concept of “neutral politics”- the philosophy that ten moderators and myself have developed in our discussion community
  • Several complete, edited speeches that I never got around to using
  • Truly bizarre fiction works- a man speaking to fog as day breaks, a devious thief admiring a storage locker of his (difficult to acquire) junk, some political fiction
  • Two edited statements of character that were needed for a series of scholarships that I did not apply to

Some of this has real promise- it’s unfinished but the writing stands up with fresh eyes. Some of it needs a full re-write. And of course, some of it is the utter crap that everyone writes as part of the process.

It’s cool to have this list of everything that I’ve felt needed to be written down. One can chart my psychological state, passions, and diligence based on the results. Many other people may not have such easy access to their archives, but it’s certainly handy to have.


A segue of sorts

Hello there, all 21 followers I’ve accrued over the past year. It’s a source of pride that I haven’t relied on spamming my Facebook and bugging my friends to get these few hits. Writing for strangers is difficult, but it keeps you from being lazy.

This will be the 50th post in the history of the blog. Though there were sparse times, I never thought I would stick with a writing project and end up with a post a week. A dozen other posts never quite saw the light of day, though I hope their content will find a home sometime soon.

Continue reading “A segue of sorts”

Personal project

Recently, I decided to compile and format all my nonfiction writing (mostly blog posts, as well as a personal statement I used for an application, and some more formal essays) and create what ultimately will be a little booklet. It’s 20 pages presently, in small font with some pages not being filled. It represents everything I think it worth sharing that I’ve written since mid-2009. I’ll probably throw in some (mostly pre-2009) poetry and other creative work.

Overall I’m excited. I’ve tried and failed many times to write fiction I’m satisfied with. Though it needs to be edited, this booklet-in-training is something I’m already quite proud of.