Monday, November 22, 2010


Minnesota Monday: Two beers and Robert

Last week was remarkable, all of it. When I got back from Atlanta, I had lunches set up for Thursday and Friday, and had an invitation in hand to a Saturday night dinner party.

The lunch on Thursday was with the Senior minister of a moderate/conservative mainline church I had visited, a remarkable man whose sermon had dazzled me. On Friday, I was taking out two exceptional students I will be coaching in a moot court competition this Spring.

Here is shocker #1: Both the minister and one of the students got a beer with lunch. It was just one beer, and a small one at that, but it was beer at lunch!

Then, when I went to the small dinner party I was seated with one of my senior colleagues and his partner Robert.

I don't live in Waco no more.

In retrospect, there is nothing shocking about having a beer on a Friday afternoon. And-- surprise, surprise-- it appears that gay men can be great professors, maintain wonderful long-term relationships, and let that be known to a community.

So why was I so shocked?

I was shocked because any of those three events would be scandalous in Waco and at Baylor. Let's not tell lies though-- there is beer-drinking on Friday by ministers in Waco, and there are gay men at Baylor. It is just all secret.

People, my insight is this: Secret doesn't work. Minneapolis seems so much less marked by the tragedies of secrets than where I came from-- there seems to be less of that hidden sadness. Of course there are tragic events here, but I simply sense fewer of those tragedies which grow in dark places until they lead to a sad, simple end in those same dank corners.

One of my favorite words (and one I too rarely live up to) is "unashamed." I usually use it to refer to my faith; I am unashamed to be a Christian (albeit, a flawed one), and often discuss my faith in places where people may be uncomfortable with that. I let them deal with that-- it is what I am, or at least what I hope to be. Given that, perhaps it is not surprising that I am happy to find my place among others who are unashamed of who they are.

Professor, I remember getting a beer at lunch when JPhelps, Manske, yourself, and I went to George's. I remember at the time thinking, "why am I the only one having a beer?"

Welcome to the great big diverse world;>
I work at a school where there's always a bottle of wine in the refrigerator. The last school I worked at was the same. At the one before that, going to the headmaster's house was sometimes like going to a frat party (I only exaggerate a little).

My rule now is that I don't want to work at a school where there's not a bottle of wine in the kitchen.

But yes, it was a shock the first time, especially at the school in Switzerland where they served up beer and wine at the (fabulous) barbecue, for faculty only, to start the school year--and then we were expected to go back to meetings for two more hours!

Lessons in moderation and appropriateness and self-control, all of them . . .
. . . but lessons in difference and acceptance and openness, yes. And enjoying life.
Re: Brennan's comment --I wanted a beer, but I didn't feel like it was appropriate. I don't even know why. In Albany, we all would have. Maybe it's a difference in tempature.
I wish you had spent more time with us Episcopalians...our latest Bible study meets at Barnett's Pub, and is called "Hebrews and Brews." Scandelicious.
A sad commentary on life in Waco and at Baylor - and so true. Cultivating closed minds, indeed, attempting to force them closed, is not the hallmark of a great learning institution. This dichotomy will, I feel, prevent Baylor from becoming a top tier school.


I think, with the exception of these few areas, that Baylor is in many ways open-minded and capable of great things. In those few areas, though... it doesn't make sense in 2010.
Jesse is right about the Episcopal Church -- we have wine tastings at my Church often.

Of course, there are some people who should not have wine or beer anytime, ever.... but that's a different topic
Swissgirl, your story reminds me of my four weeks of work in Sydney Australia. Each Friday at about 3:30 a drink and snack cart would be brought out into the office. There was beer and wine and fantastic little meat pies. Anyway, it was very appropriate to have a glass of wine or a beer while you finished up your work in the office on Friday afternoon.

It is a wonderful thing to be exposed to other cultures and traditions.
A Baptist without shame is just a Methodist.

All joking aside, shame can be a powerful force for dissuading societally improper actions. That Baylor refuses to acknowledge that, right or wrong, evolving standards of what is societally proper are changing and leaving it, as an institution behind, is either a positive (if one prefers the stricter social code) or negative (if one would like to have a beer on a Friday after exams).
Drinking and Baylor....In some ways I think that the no alcohol rule leads to less bad behavior at University social functions. Maybe the functions are boring, but they are well-behaved. However, I am aware of University employees getting plastered before a social event. And the stigma of being seen drinking drives the drinking underground...another unhealthy habit. I think that living in an environment that promotes moderation is more mature and healthy. But we all know lots of people who have trouble with moderation.
While not always being the standard bearers of moderation, we Catholics enjoy freedom to partake in such activities on a regular basis. Take for instance the bi-yearly charity poker tournament with beer and wine served in the hall right next to the church.
I've never seen anyone get drunk, lose their temper, or cause a scene. Out of the 110 players, I'm sure, statistically speaking, there are a few alcoholics. Thus, I like the fact that it's a situation that demands moderation and keeps the sin of drunkenness at bay.
As a son of an alcoholic, you'd think that I would have, at some point, been one myslef. However, I credit the fact that alcohol was always available and not demonized that taught me how to drink responsibly. It's a shame people down here in Texas don't always see it as anything other than sin.
THough, maybe we are growing?...Dallas just voted to make the entire ciy "wet" and all grocery stores can now sell beer and wine, while restaurants can now all serve drinks without restrictions.
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