Friday, November 2, 2018

Political Junk Mail

I received a flyer from the Utah State Democratic Committee in the mail today that was addressed to me "or current resident." Atop the flyer were the words "Michelle Szetela's Voter Report Card For The 2018 General Election," below which was stated: "According to public records, you haven't voted all the time," then stressing the importance of voting.

There was also a handy color-coded comparison chart with three charts, apparently meant to indicate and compare my level of voting involvement with my neighborhood: Perfect (with five gray bars); me (with three green bars); and Neighborhood (with three gray bars).

According to said flyer, I have a "good" voter turnout rating which is "about average compared to [my] neighbors." I'm sure it's possible I missed quite a few elections during the eight or so years I lived in New York, especially because I never bothered to get a New York State driver's license, but given that (a) I have voted in every single election since moving to Utah in September 2010 (thanks to permanent vote-by-mail measures, for which I signed up immediately upon moving to Utah); and (b) this flyer was addressed to me "or current resident," I question the legitimacy and accuracy of this flyer.

Thankfully, I can "improve [my] score" by voting! Thank goodness. Good thing I mailed in that ballot last week!

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Women's Ordination

Today I learned that:
It was only a hundred years ago that canon law decreed that [Catholic] cardinals had to be ordained...[T]he 1917 Code of Canon Law was looking for a way of curbing abuses in the making of cardinals. Some men had little knowledge of theology and others were, well, very young. Before that, the College of Cardinals was made up of both ordained and lay men...Being a cardinal is one of those roles in the church for which, theoretically, you do not have to be ordained.*
One of the arguments I hear against ordaining women is that none of Jesus' 12 apostles was a woman. And, of course, St. Paul argued against the ordination of women:
I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man. She must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. Further, Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and transgressed. But she will be saved through motherhood, provided women persevere in faith and love and holiness, with self-control. (New American Bible, Revised Edition, 1 Tim 12-15) **
In the Middle East at the time of Jesus' life, socially and culturally, women having public personas would have been unacceptable. A footnote in the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible notes that Paul's prohibition is not an absolute one:
that applies to all circumstances, but one that excludes women from the teaching ministry exercised by ordained clergymen (1 Cor 14:34-35). Paul is not denying the equal dignity of men and women in Christ (Gal3:28) or the propriety of women in praying and prophesying within the context of worship (1 Cor 11:5). Women perform an invaluable service when they teach the faith in other contexts by their words and Christian example. (Tit 2:3-4). According to Church teaching, Paul forbids women to exercise the official function of teaching in the Christian Assembly (Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Inter Insigniores, 4).
The Middle East of 2,000 years ago is hardly the contemporary standard for acceptable behavior when it comes to women's rights or abilities. Even now, there's such a variety of rights being granted to women in the Middle East that it would be difficult to argue for a standard of equal rights. (On a personal note, one of my grandfathers, whose parents emigrated from Syria, himself didn't see the point of my graduating from high school because, to his mind, women didn't need that education. Neither he nor my grandmother had graduated from high school; I'm not sure they made it out of middle school. Fortunately, my father - and mother - strongly disagreed.)

* Keenan, James. “If We Want to Reform the Church, Let's Make Women Cardinals.” National Catholic Reporter, 8 Sept. 2018,
** The New American Bible, Revised Edition. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 8 Sept. 2018,

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Thoughts on Mother's Day

I don’t understand this inclination to wish all mothers a happy mother’s day just because we’re women. I hate Mother’s Day. I hate being wished a Happy Mother’s Day especially by people who know I have no children. I don't want to automatically be given a flower on Mother’s Day because I’m a woman. I hate the wishes for a Happy Mother’s Day “to all those who wanted children but don’t have them or whose hearts are sore.”

I dislike platitudes. I don’t want to get an email or text from someone who’s “thinking of [me] today.” Don’t automatically text or e-mail women this thought. Some will appreciate it; others won’t. Unless you know, keep your own counsel - certainly stop posting it publicly. 

For many women, not having had children is not a sensitive subject. Many women who haven’t had children have made a decision not to; for others, it’s a much less sensitive issue - it’s just something that happened that way, like graduating from a certain college or living in a specific part of the world. For still others, it’s like being poked in a bruised area. I don’t need these thoughts of yours; I have enough of my own. I don’t want to hear TMI details about your pregnancy.  Tell me you’re pregnant; I’m delighted for you! I’ll even buy you a present if we’re friends. But I can’t hear all the nitty gritty details.

Just stop. Stop wishing all women a happy mother’s day just because they’re women, or even all your women friends who have children. Wish your own mother or grandmother a joyous mother’s day. I am not your mother and neither are most other women. I don’t want a response to this post. I just want you to think about the automatically generated “Happy Mother’s Day!” greetings that abound and to think about your role in those wishes.

I'll call my mother on Mother's Day because I love her and we're close, but there's no need to wish her a happy day on FaceBook. I'll do it privately. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Unpaid Labor

I've been quiet on the blogging front, largely because I write as a means of either sharing travel adventures, or writing to process that which is on my mind. Earlier today, a former classmate shared "Want to Be a 'Volunteer Adjunct'? Southern Illinois U. is Hiring," which is exactly as it sounds like: It looks like Southern Illinois University is trying to hire part-time/contingent faculty and not pay them. Those who would would "join the SIU Graduate Faculty in a zero-time (adjunct) status." Those who accept these "three-year positions might serve on graduate students' thesis committees, teach graduate or undergraduate lectures, or collaborate on research projects."

I want to note that I primarily teach Concurrent Enrollment classes at my high school, and I genuinely love it. I love that I can combine a background in secondary education (not ARL - getting my teaching license by going through a teacher education program as an undergrad) with my background in first-year composition (FYC); this is, I think, an extremely rare combination, which made it really difficult to get a full-time job. It took me eight years after graduating with my undergraduate degree, until I was finally hired because of this experience, as opposed to being underemployed, because I had too much of the wrong type of experience.

I like to think I helped build up the two FYC classes that are now offered at the school where I teach. The teacher who taught one of the classes was not interested, and for a variety of reasons, her students would drop her class. (In the second part of the year, she had two students in her class.) Two years ago, I taught four sections of English 1010 (Introduction to Writing), two classes per semester; last year, I taught four sections of English 1010 and three sections of English 2010 (Intermediate Writing). This year, I taught five sections of English 1010 and three sections of English 2010.

Next year, I'll teach six sections of English 1010 and four sections of English 2010. The schedule may change, but I'm the only teacher in the school teaching, or able to teach these classes.

I am considered a Concurrent Enrollment Adjunct, although I also teach English 1010 and 2010 at the local community college, so I'm two different types of adjunct for the same community college, and I'll be teaching at least 11 of these courses next year. I'm paid a $200/course stipend as a Concurrent Enrollment Adjunct from the community college.

I'm a big fan of community colleges; my education started at one, as did my teaching career (serendipitously, my first teaching job was at the same community college I attended and graduated from after high school). I've been an adjunct at three different colleges - four, if one counts the university that offered me a one-semester graduate student fellowship. My job is definitely being outsourced, and for me, it's worked out wonderfully, given how strongly I support concurrent enrollment programs, but I have to wonder what the connection is between concurrent enrollment, not paying adjunct (effectively looking for a highly educated, even-more-underpaid faculty), and the (attempted?) shenanigans put forth by Southern Illinois University.