Thursday, December 14, 2006

Don't cross the Christians!

At the University of Georgia, a group of Christians are taking on an anti-discrimination policy that they feel doesn't apply to them. This Christina group, Brothers Under Christ (BYX) has fraternities on several campuses around the nation, Vanderbilt being one of them.

I have several good friends who were either founding members of this frat on Vandy's campus or were devout BYX members. Now, I'm an accepting person, so I will just say that I appreciate and understand the "need" or "want" for a Christian fraternity, but at the same time, I do not necessarily agree with everything they do.

Anyway, BYX is/was hoping to register their fraternity as a student organization, but they didn't want to comply to the non-discrimination policy which states that student organizations are not allowed to discriminate based on gender, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, veteran status, know the list. This fraternity requires its members to make a pledge that they are Christians. this is a press release from the alliance defense fund. They are representing the plaintiff, BYX. its got the basic info on the case's grounds.

There are several other religious organizations on campus, and at this time, its unclear how many of them do or do not comply with the University's non-discrimination policy. At least one religious group (Baha'i Faith) requires that officers of the group are members of a particular religion.

BYX states that their freedom to exercise religion is restricted by the University. I see this as a bunch of crap, because really, it seems like BYX is the one doing the restricting. The University has not told BYX that they cannot freely exercise their christian beliefs, but rather, has said that BYX cannot keep people out of their frat simply because they do not practice the same religion. Now, isn't excluding people rather un-Christian-like?

I would really hope that the University wins this one, but it seems that there is a bit of inconsistency which the implementation of the policy at hand. It could be that this (Baha'i's status as a student org) slipped under the radar as head of student activities have changed, but perhaps someone at the U really doesn't like BYX itself and is attempting to unfairly implement university policy. You really can't say,but it will be interesting to see the results.

I, as a Catholic, support Christianity. What I do not support is Christianity's obsession with victimization and belief that one's "Christian-ness" is reason in and of itself to bend the wonderful laws of our country which protect our freedoms, liberties, and rights.

okay, maybe that was a little strong, but give me a break! I had a bad day...

thanks to Dillon Barker and his blog for the info and the links to relevant court documents and news articles!

EDIT- the U decided to grant BYX student organization status.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Music makes meeting

Music makes meeting is the theme of the Pernik chamer orchestra's 2006/2007 concert season. Never has this been more true than last night. After listening to a wide variety of piano duets, solos, and a string piece, the musicacns and Palace of Culture staff found ourselves enjoying a local dish "Kaverma" and speaking in a variety of different langauges.

The two piano players, as husband and wife, were guest artists from Vienna, and of course spoke both English and German. The wife was originally from Taipei, Taiwan- so throw another language into the fire! Sitting to my left were two English brothers. The elder brother had composed a set of tangos for the Chamber orchestra, and he had flown down espeically for the opening of these pieces. We marveled that in a "small" town in Bulgaria, one dinner table could be filled with people from 3 continents, more than 5 countries- and yet be able to communicate with one another. This was truly a satisfactory moment for me, and I was pleased that the theme of the concert season was physically manifested.

This, however, was not my only encounter with foreigners this week! On wednesday, my old NGO's presdient's wife (you still with me?) searched me out at work. One of the other Roma NGOs had won a project, and some french girl was coming to orchestrate the details. The french girl, as luck would have it, spoke english. When we met the girl at the bus station, it became clear that she had no affiliation with any project giving of any kind. She was actually a freelance jouranalist who was interested in the state of Roma in Bulgaria, and particularly in the projects the Bulgarian goverment and NGOs are carrying out. She had lots of interesting questions to ask, and it was also a good chance for me to challenge my Bulgarian skills. (although this time around, I think the bulgarian lang won out..if I were keeping score though, I'd say its a tied ballgame). It was also a good opportunity to get answers to questions I'd had during my acquaintence with these NGOs. Virginia (the french girl) asked some questions that I'd been wanting to ask for quite some time now!

now, i typically only say good things about bulgaria, but I am going to leave you with something that caused me to be less than impressed with some of the people I know, or perhaps, something that speaks about a more widespread phenomenon here. This french girl arrived ahead of schedule, which was unpreventable for our standpoint. I went with this woman Vikki to meet Virgina, because being the english speaker, I was very valuable. Vikki was anxious to hear about the terms and conditions of this project she thought she had recieved from the NGO she assumed Virginia was association with. So of course this girl was waiting for us when we arrived, and the first thing Vikki wanted me to translate was "Sorry I'm late. i was waiting for Toni to arrive." WHAT? you have got to be kidding me! i was so offened that Vikki was attempting to use me as a scapegoat, and not only that, but that she thought i was dumb enough to believe a lie about myself!!! I was infurtiated that this woman was somehow miscaculating the vital role I held in this meeting-no english translator, no money for your project. It seems like these finacial terms should be enough for a person to take responsibility for themselves and NOT INSULT THE TRANSLATOR. Then, when it became clear that Vikki was not to receive any money from this girl or her"NGO," both of us became discardable. Never mind that this girl had come all the way from france to write an article about bulgaria OR that she made a speical trip to pernik to speak with Vikki- this, compared to what she wanted, was dismissable and was a waste of her time. when the interview was over, the reporter wanted to take pictures of the Roma neighborhood for the article, and Vikki (unemployed with no kids to feed), claimed that she was too busy to take this girl to the neighborhood. I have listend to this woman complain about myriad things- from people not caring to NGOs not giving money, etc, and finally the day comes that someone cares. Someone shows up to her doorstep, genuinly interested in her work, in the Roma, and this woman is too self-righteous to giver her the respect she deserved.

this was disgusting.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


We got our SPA!!!!!!!!

more later.