Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Historical Illiteracy and Would-be Lawyers

"Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it."Edmund Burke
 "Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it."Winston Churchill
"The one who does not remember history is bound to live through it again"
George Santayana quote inscribed on memorial plaque at Auschwitz

A Post-Conventional Inaugural

Yesterday in my Philosophy of Law course, I thought I would begin the class with a little application exercise. The material for the day was Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Reasoning and I had provided a reading linked to the Schedule which should have taken even the slowest reader only about 15 minutes to complete. Moral reasoning is one of the aspects of hermeneutical lens identification with which I begin virtually every course these days to try to help students become aware of what they bring to these classes and how it affects what they find there as a result.

I chose a portion from President Obama’s second inaugural speech in which he references several human rights movements in American history, movements which sought to actualize the ideals of American government of equality, liberty and justice for all. Here’s what he said:

We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.

I had said to my husband last week that this speech will no doubt be lost on the vast majority of its hearers. Lawrence Kohlberg’s findings clearly indicated that most human beings stop developing their moral reason at the conventional level, either that of the tribe (us v. them) or the nation-state (my country, right or wrong). This speech was largely constructed at the post-conventional level (the freedom of every soul on Earth). It spoke of human rights and social contracts, ideas which surpass and critique mere law and order or the affirmation of the tribe. As such, it will be largely lost on many whose moral reasoning has never developed past conventional levels. The president will simply be speaking right over their heads.

Even so, it was a lyrical speech brimming with idealism as most inaugural speeches tend to be. But this one grounded that idealism in a particular history, a history of bloody marches and determined sit-ins, of the audacity to confront the common sense of the dominant paradigm and the desperate hope to believe it could actually change. Sadly, it is a history virtually unknown to the generation of college students who enjoy the benefits of these struggles and largely take them for granted. Inordinate senses of entitlement tend to produce such understandings.

After reading the quote, I posed the questions “What level of moral reasoning does this statement reflect and how do you know?” This, of course, would reveal whether students had actually read and understood the material for the day. I gave them five minutes which was more than enough to provide a thoughtful response to the questions for those who had actually prepared for class but not enough for those who were panicked over not having prepared for class, scrambling to read for the first time the notes that classmates had printed out and provide a response in time to get credit. I collected these papers at the end of the five minutes. About a third of the students obtained full credit.

 As in all of my face-to-face classes, I award up to five points per class for engagement through exercises like these designed to reveal preparation before class. In this class, about 40% of the grade comes from engagement.   

In theory this should prevent me from standing and delivering soliloquys every class to a passive audience whose warm body status is at times questionable. In theory it also should encourage attendance at a class which is designed to operate out of discussion mode more often than not. In fact, on this day alone, only nine of the 14 total students were present and the average absence per student is now up to 2.5 classes, nearly one of out every three classes. We are just beginning week four of the semester. I suspect some of these students will eventually drop the course once they realize that their failure to engage it will not permit them to make the A they come to class presuming they will receive.

Clueless at the Factory

To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to remain a child always.Cicero

To begin the discussion I figured I would need to make sure everyone was on the same page and had at least a passing awareness of the historical references the president’s speech had made. I was hardly prepared for what happened next.

I guess I should have known I was in trouble when I asked them to identify the source of the reference to “all men are created equal.” After a few guesses, someone finally remembered it was Thomas Jefferson’s phrase. From what document, I followed. Silence. Then two minutes of guessing which, after the process of eliminating a number of documents including the Gettysburg Address, finally arrived at the Declaration of Independence.

Dear Lord. We’re in trouble.

As for the three S references, the students were simply clueless. They had no idea what had happened at Seneca Falls even when prompted with the cue of women’s rights. Worse yet, they had no idea what had happened at Selma. Indeed, they had no idea where Selma even was. Ironically, Stonewall at least rang some bells for a couple of them but no one was able to state its significance in the gay rights movement,  just that some big parade occurs there.

I looked over this upper division class which is about half women and about a fifth African-American,  and shook my head. I wondered how the beneficiaries of the long, bloody struggles for first class citizenship in the American experiment with democratic self-governance could be so oblivious to their own history. I observed aloud that without Seneca Falls, most of the women in the class would not be sitting there and without Selma, the African-Americans would certainly not be present.

Blank stares.

Bear in mind that these students are almost to the student coming out of majors which they have taken to prepare them to attend law school. Several are political science and pre-law majors for which these events and documents should be second nature. Of course, if one begins from the perspective of entitlement, what difference does such history make?  The beneficiaries were always entitled to it, anyway. What’s the big deal?

This was the piece of our interaction that brought me to despair. I said to my young charges, “You have no idea how troubling this is, down to the very core of my being.” For what was very clear from our exchange was not only that my students did not know their own history and its significance in their own lives, they simply did not care. They also clearly saw my efforts to rouse them from their zombie state as unwarranted, unpleasant and unreasonable.

Widespread Historical Illiteracy

Of course, I am hardly the only person to observe this state of affairs. In an address to Utah Valley University last year, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian David McCullough said “I think we're swindling students with the feeling that they are educated, and they're not. It's regrettable, it's unfair and it isn't necessary."
In an interview on CBS’ 60 Minutes last fall McCullough said:
We are raising children in America today who are by and large historically illiterate. One young woman at a university in the Midwest came up to me after one of my talks and said that until she heard me speak that morning she’d never understood that the original 13 colonies were all on the East Coast. And I thought, “What are we doing that’s so wrong, so pathetic?" I tried it again at several other places, colleges and universities, same thing. Now, it’s not their fault. It’s our fault. And when I say our fault I don’t mean just the teachers. I mean the parents and grandparents. We have to take part. (60 Minutes Nov. 11, 2012)

Moreover, our students are not alone in that illiteracy. The American Civic Literacy Program operated by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute administered tests to American college students in 2006 and 2007. The 60 question tests taken by 14,000 Freshmen and Seniors at 50 colleges and universities nationwide were designed to assess respondents’ “knowledge of America’s founding principles and texts, core history, and enduring institutions.”  The average freshman scored 51.7% the first year and 51.4% the next. The average senior scored 53.2%, then 54.2%. While these are not longitudinal studies measuring the same students over time, it is troubling that the results of seniors with four years of college completed would be essentially the same as entering freshmen, still at a failing level.

What is more troubling, however, is that when the same test was administered to a wider cross-section of 2058 Americans outside of universities in 2011, a full 71% of them failed to attain a passing score on the test. Indeed, less than half could even correctly identify the three branches of government, a basic for understanding American government.

Interestingly, 164 of those 2058 respondents in the random sample reported having held elective office during their lifetimes. When their responses were compared to the average citizen’s, the non-politicians scored higher than these elected officials on every single question with four exceptions. Not surprisingly two of them were from political history, with elected officials more familiar with substance of the Lincoln-Douglas debates and the Gettysburg Address than the average citizen. The remaining two areas were key features of current public policy debate – the distinction of public v. private goods and the use of economic stimuli as a tool of financial policy.  Politicians get this more often than non-politicians. Given the almost inevitably distorted rhetoric surrounding libertarian v. liberal economic constructions of politics today, this is probably not surprising.

Of course, a passing score by even 29% of the respondents is better than the 0 my future lawyers appeared headed for. And American citizens as a whole seem to recognize the Declaration of Independence 89% of the time unlike my would-be lawyers. David McCullough argues that college professors are not solely responsible for this historical illiteracy. To a certain point, I would agree. I would also add that public school educators should not be mindlessly scapegoated either as they so frequently are in discourse over public education. But as McCullough notes, all of us are responsible for this dearth of knowledge and the decline of valuing of who we are as a people. Indeed, unless our general public sees this as a value, why would our children not reflect that?

I would also argue that it is unfair to hold our students solely responsible for their own lack of knowledge. Twelve years of Pavlovian training through the failed experiment of the No Child Left Behind approach to public education has created a group of students who are well-trained players in the game of minimal expectations and reductionist assessments. They have readily absorbed the metalesson of this pedagogy which is quite simple: If it’s not on the test, it’s not worth learning. Expecting them to value and act otherwise is probably not reasonable.

A Colonized Lifeworld

They have also learned the roles that a society dominated by a largely unregulated free market fundamentalism has instilled in them. In such a society one's primary role is to become a provider of goods and services, largely governed by an ever increasing hierarchy of technocrats and scandalously overpaid executives. Alternatively, we serve as consumers of those goods and services. But in either role, notions of citizenship, which the Institute is measuring and whose absence McCullough is lamenting, have little place in such a society.

In my research for a journal article on which I’m currently working, I dug up the work of some of the thinkers I had considered in my own graduate studies. I came across the work of Talcott Parsons with his four quadrant system of what he called the “lifeworld” as well as Jurgen Habermas’ concerns about the colonization of the same. I read these ideas 15 years ago in grad school, thinking even then that they well described what I was observing in America of the mid 1990s.

In retrospect, they appear prescient.

[Rachel McLean, David W. Wainwright, (2009) "Social networks, football fans, fantasy and reality: How corporate and media interests are invading our lifeworld", Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, Vol. 7 Iss: 1, pp.54 - 71]


Beginning with Max Weber’s observations of the rationalization and routinization of modern societies, Parsons saw technical-industrial societies as having engendered two spheres of socio-cultural endeavor. The quantitative sphere employs an instrumental, technical rationality whose goals are measured primarily by empirical data. Think dollars and numbers. The two quadrants in this sphere are the Adaptive (economic) and Goal Attainment (power), in short, business and government. Parsons saw these two quadrants as competitive and mutually checking on their tendencies to encroach upon each other and the remainder of the lifeworld.

The qualitative sphere employs a practical rationality which ultimately determines the legitimacy of the quantitative sphere, i.e., whether our business and government spheres ultimately serve the purpose of their customers and citizens.  The qualitative sphere consists of a quadrant of Integration (social institutions, affiliations) and a Latent quadrant (values, traditions, culture). Habermas argued that the degree to which the quantitative sphere (business and government) serves the interests of the qualitative sphere (society and culture) ultimately determines the sense of legitimacy the public affords to the quantitative sphere.

But Habermas was warning in the 1980s in his Theory of Communicative Action that it is the nature of the business and governmental imperatives to aggressively seek to dominate the entire lifeworld. Habermas’ fears find literary expression in the dystopian novels of the WWII era with the colonizing power of government the focus of George Orwell’s 1984 and the colonizing economic power of the business interests the dominant force in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. In retrospect, it appears that Huxley may have been the better prognosticator of western civilization.

What has occurred since WWII is the gradual encroachment of the business quadrant on first the governmental sphere and thereafter into the spheres of social institutions and cultural values. Habermas warned of this possibility should the economic sphere successfully neutralize the check of government regulation. The colonization of the entire lifeworld would follow, he said.

In such a colonized lifeworld, the social institutions of the Integrative quadrant like public education would adapt the instrumentalities of the business world. Operations would be determined by bottom line analyses of cost/benefit  measured solely in economic terms and efficiency measured by reductionist assessments like FCATs which produce empirical data. Moreover, cultural values of the Latent quadrant including human self-understanding would be increasingly driven by business imperatives – labor forces composed of well trained workers who see their ultimate existence – and value - in terms of income and consumerism.

There is little room in such a world for citizens who know and value their own history. In a colonized lifeworld, governments, social institutions and cultural value systems serve economic imperatives. In such a world, historical illiteracy is actually an asset, a means of system integration, indeed, a systemic defense mechanism. There is little room in an economic quadrant colonized lifeworld for citizens who value equality and liberties that come with responsibilities to others, much less human beings working to fully develop their humanity.  

Raising the white flag?

So, is it time to surrender? A dear old friend of mine whom I will designate as Heraclitus, the melancholy-prone “weeping philosopher,” constantly says to me that when it comes to public education, “It’s all over.” There will be a dwindling handful of institutions that actually encourage – require? – their attendees, actual students, to become educated human beings during their time on campus. The rest, he says, are more than happy to devolve into mass producers of intellectual mediocrity, credit hour facilitators for degree completers who produce obedient, minimally trained workers suitable to meet the “labor force demands” of the businesses which state university systems like ours here in Florida now openly acknowledge as their suzerains.

What’s more, adds Heraclitus, the vast majority of the people involved from consumer/students to the businessmen/technocrats running our systems are more than happy with the way things are going. The business boys are making money, the technocrats are assured of full employment - if not an enlarged sense of self-importance - and the consumer/students face increasingly minimal demand for maximal credits provided they pay their fees on time and graduate within four years. Corporations enjoy ever decreasing social responsibilities through ever lower tax liabilities needed as universities are  steadily defunded. In turn corporate suzerains feel empowered to make ever increasing demands on the vocational factories once called universities. As for those of us whose jobs used to be to teach at those universities, if we have not found a solipsistic niche in research to which we can retreat for endless rounds of intellectual masturbation, we’re screwed. 

That's right, 

As for an educated public, no one cares about that anymore, says Heraclitus. And as for those few of us who bemoan the colonization of the lifeworld with its increasingly mediocritizing effects on what used to be higher education, we grow fewer every year. For true educators, our annihilating meteor has already arrived. We are the dying dinosaurs.

"Are you beginning to get the picture?" Heraclitus asks. 

The writer of the Proverbs may be correct that “Without a vision the people perish.” But there is little market for vision in a lifeworld colonized by economic bottom lines and consumerist instant gratification. Indeed, it’s a liability. 

Maybe Heraclitus is right. Maybe it’s time to raise the white flag and retreat to the garden with Candide.

But you can never win if you never play

This morning I opened my email to find a note from a group of people discussing the notion of heaven. In one of the responses, the notion of hope in the face of uncertainty was raised citing an essay entitled “The Optimism of Uncertainty” by the late historian Howard Zinn. In the essay, Zinn says the following:

In this awful world where the efforts of caring people often pale in comparison to what is done by those who have power, how do I manage to stay involved and seemingly happy? I am totally confident not that the world will get better, but that we should not give up the game before all the cards have been played. The metaphor is deliberate; life is a gamble. Not to play is to foreclose any chance of winning.

Of course, Zinn is right. You can never win if you never play. And you must face the odds that you will lose if you do play. In short, those of us who still actually care about higher education don’t have Pilate’s luxury of washing our hands of the world. Even when it seems clear that the nation in which we live seems hell-bent on devolving into a mediocrity of spirit and being, having long since lost sight of our capacity for greatness, we who still have consciences must live with them.

I think of how heavy Zinn’s heart must have been so many times during his own lifetime. No doubt this was a man who knew heartbreak on a first name basis. And while that does not make me feel a whole lot better this morning after my latest encounter with the “I don’t know and I don’t care” entitlement of consumers at the factory which once envisioned itself as an institution of higher learning, I do have the comfort of knowing that I am not alone in my concerns. 

Even if Heraclitus is right and those who care about public education are graying and going the way of the dinosaurs, until this dinosaur dies I know that I will never be completely off the hook. I often quote two following statements from the world religions I teach to my students. They so readily speak to their callings as well as my own:

“If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I?” – Rabbi Hillel

“From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.” – Jesus of Nazareth


The Rev. Harry Scott Coverston, J.D., Ph.D.
Member, Florida Bar (inactive status)
Priest, Episcopal Church (Dio. of El Camino Real, CA)
Instructor: Humanities, Religion, Philosophy of Law
University of Central Florida, Orlando

 If the unexamined life is not worth living, surely an unexamined belief system, be it religious or political, is not worth holding.
Most things of value do not lend themselves to production in sound bytes. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Things that make you go Hmmmm…… (January 24, 2013)

There are 17 members of Florida’s Board of Governors charged with the operation of Florida’s 12 institution state university system.

  • Three of the 17 are women 
  •  Four are people of color (including student body president, UCF)
  • Eleven are white men
Gee, that really looks Florida, no?

In terms of the highest educational attainment of the members:

  •        One of the 17 has an academic graduate degree – Ph.D. in Civil
  •        Four hold a J.D. One of these is an evangelical minister who also holds a D.Div. 
  •              Five hold an M.B.A.
  •       Two hold graduate education degrees – M.Ed., Ed.D.
  •            Three hold bachelor degrees in Science (1)  and Business (2)
  •            Two have no degrees, one a college dropout (who donated large chunks of change to the current governor’s campaign) and the other a current student.

 Bear in mind that these folks are charged with operating the whole university system including its academic programs, not just its vocational programs.

Eleven of the 17 are business owners or executives, many in health care corporations.

Only 2 of the 17 report ever working in education.

Well, that would explain a lot, wouldn’t it?


The Rev. Harry Scott Coverston, J.D., Ph.D.
Member, Florida Bar (inactive status)
Priest, Episcopal Church (Dio. of El Camino Real, CA)
Instructor: Humanities, Religion, Philosophy of Law
University of Central Florida, Orlando
 If the unexamined life is not worth living, surely an unexamined belief system, be it religious or political, is not worth holding.
Most things of value do not lend themselves to production in sound bytes. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Prayers for the Coming of a New Era - Part III


The Solstice arrives

At 6:12 AM, the officiant breaks our silence. We arise and a member of the circle produces a conch shell brought back from a meeting with Mayan descendants in the Yucatan. Such shells have historically been used for communication and for religious purposes including the calling of the new solar year into being as it peeked across the horizon. We are told that the Mayans chanted a word that phonetically sounds like the English word for relationship – kin. And so, in three sets of six chants accompanied by the blowing of the conch horn, we call the new sun, the new day, the new era into being: Kin…kin….kin….kin…..kin…..kin……kin.

As we finished, the words of the Navajo Blessing Way suddenly came to me:

In beauty may I walk.
All day long may I walk.
Through the returning seasons may I walk.
On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.
With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk.
With dew about my feet may I walk.

With beauty may I walk.
With beauty before me, may I walk.
With beauty behind me, may I walk.
With beauty above me, may I walk.
With beauty below me, may I walk.
With beauty all around me, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk.

It is finished in beauty.
It is finished in beauty
It is finished in beauty

As I walked from the embers of the dying fire into the waxing sunlight of a new day, I found myself deeply grateful for that little band of human animals who had come together that morning to observe the Solstice. I did not know most of them but I always recognize fellow travelers on the spiritual journey.

I also do not know what this new era in humanity’s history will bring. I remain guardedly hopeful. However, I am certain of one thing. If this new era proves to be an improvement over the last era of devastating wars, shallow ways of being human and the selfish use of natural resources that has brought our biosphere to the brink of collapse, it will require us human animals to confront and to repent of our species’ original sin: anthropocentrism. This will, no doubt, be one of our most difficult challenges. And our success in meeting this challenge may well determine whether we as a species will greet the dawn of the next era.

We must come to recognize our proper place in this “fragile earth, our island home” as the Book of Common Prayer so aptly describes it. The indigenous people are right. Our Mother must regain her balance. Our human species is one of many members of the good creation, all of whom have equal claim on their place on this planet without question, but ultimately we remain just one of many species. If we are to be loved, it will only be because our actions demonstrate we have in turn learned to love our fellow life forms and to respect the author of life in whom all being resides. As the Lakota put it so well: “ALL my relations!”

Happy New Era.

The Rev. Harry Scott Coverston, J.D., Ph.D.
Member, Florida Bar (inactive status)
Priest, Episcopal Church (Dio. of El Camino Real, CA)
Instructor: Humanities, Religion, Philosophy of Law
University of Central Florida, Orlando

 If the unexamined life is not worth living, surely an unexamined belief system, be it religious or political, is not worth holding.
Most things of value do not lend themselves to production in sound bytes. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Prayers for the Coming of a New Era - Part II


A Franciscan Meditation

As the new era for our Mother Earth drew ever closer, I suddenly found my mediation taking the form of an old Franciscan prayer. And the more I contemplated it, the more I realized this was the perfect prayer for this moment. The following is an amplification of the meditation that ensued:

O G-d, may we be instruments of your peace;

I pray on a morning where the destructive passions of humanity threaten to consume us. Brother kills brother in Syria village by village. A deep, sickly horror has settled over my own land where 20 school children lay dead in a rampage of violence in a nation addicted to the weapons of war. All the while, Mother Earth sends out her warning signals regarding humanity’s abuse of her  – melting ice caps, killer droughts and superstorms devastating urban centers. And yet we still have no ears to hear.

O G-d, there is so much anger, fear and injustice in the world we have constructed. There are so many places where your peace cannot be found. How do we, your people, find our way out of this morass of our own making? And what must we do to be agents of your peace?

where there is hatred, let me sow love;
when there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
We are called to be sowers of love. To whom are we now called to love? What hatreds must that love overcome?  With what resources will we overcome them?

Where do I fail to love my neighbor as myself? On whose faces do I routinely fail to recognize the image of G-d? That image often lurks behind distressing disguises of poverty, addiction, homelessness inclining me to judge them out of my presumed middle class superiority. It lurks behind disguises of existential sloth, mediocrity of spirit and vapidity of life inclining this driven professional to discount them of out my own work ethic which I presume applies to everyone. It lurks behind disguises of power, privilege and the arrogance that attends them inclining we who are subject to their domination to resent if not loathe them. Where in your Good Creation, O G-d, do I routinely peer yet fail to see your goodness shining through, reminding me of the duties I have to all other images of the divine? Indeed, when I look in the mirror, where do I fail to love myself as I am, warts and all?

How do we become the means of pardon? How do we pardon those who have hurt us, sometimes deeply, leaving scars that may not define us but never entirely fade away? How do we heal relationships sundered by violence, by greed, by unhealthy competitiveness, by addiction, by mistrust? How do we pardon ourselves for those things we have done which we said we’d never do, for that which violates our own deepest values that we recognize as imperative to our very lives?

How do we learn to trust in a culture which is often little more than a veneer of civility over an egocentric war of all against all sanctioned by our dominant economic and social philosophies? Where do we find the resources to engage the hard work of growth and moral development always required to embrace an ever widening circle of care for the world’s inhabitants? How do we make friends with Sister Death, whose embrace is our inevitable conclusion as finite human beings? How do we avoid grasping for sure-fire formulae to relieve our existential anxieties, readily casting into the fires of hell anyone who would dare remind us they are, after all, social constructions, the works of our own hands?

It is more than a little audacious to hope in the face of despair. And yet we must hope or be consumed by the darkness of despair.

How do we learn to hope as a people? Where do we find the hope from which the words and deeds needed to sustain life and insure our posterity of the same must arise? How do we separate such hope from wistful optimism viewed through rose-tinted lenses or the irresponsible demands upon unseen deities to deliver us from the disasters of our own making that we call prayer?

The sun is now rising just below the horizon to our east, lighting up the long, wispy streamers of clouds on the edge of this coming cold front.

How do we become lucifers, bearers of light, in a world which has often prefers the comfort of darkness? What aspects of our individual lives and our lives together beg for enlightenment -  the ideas, attitudes, behaviors that scream out for light to be shined upon them? To what darkness do we cling and where do we exacerbate that darkness with dishonesty, lying first to ourselves before we lie to others? And yet, what silence, darkness, stillness must we preserve in this world of constant noise and distraction to maintain even a semblance of sanity?

On this day of new beginnings, what do we leave behind in the old era? What ways of being human no longer serve us well? To what cherished hopes, dreams and memories have we clung whose time for relinquishing our tight grip on them has come? How do we grieve for that loss and sadness in a healthy manner?

How do we cherish the joy that is life in this Good Creation? How can we bring joy to the lives of others enabling them to do the same? And what joys shall we celebrate this day, this year, this new era of our Mother and our life together with her?

A new era brings new ways of being human. We face many crises at this stage in our journey together, not the least of which is our relationship to Pachamama, our Mother Earth. If we are to survive, indeed if we are to have the luxury of hoping to thrive, we have much yet to learn, much to leave behind and much we must change. All births are marked by pain. This one will certainly be no different.

We homo sapiens are here to tell our story this morning of a new era because we learned to cooperate and refused to engage in endless and boundless zero sum competition. We discovered early on our proclivities to be zoon politikon, social animals, as well as our capacities to become homo sapien, wise animals.  This new era will test both of those fundamental lessons and the stakes could hardly be higher – our survival as a species and possibly the vast majority of our fellow animals as well.

What lessons stare us in the face this bitterly cold morning?

Grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand,
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying [to ourselves] that we are born to eternal life.

Our lives together are served by our ability to console one another in those inevitable times of sadness. It is out of our experience of suffering that we become fonts of compassion for the other who now suffers, wounded healers as Henri Nouwen so well named them. There is much suffering to console in our world for those who have ears to hear and arms to embrace.

Our lives are meaningful to the extent we are capable of and willing to reflect upon them to the degree to which we are able. It is only by coming to understand ourselves – embracing both our ideals and our failings as human beings, holding them in tension - that we can ever understand others.  And it is only by our openness to the understandings offered by others that we maintain clear pictures of our own lives individually and collectively. There is an inordinate need for understanding in this time of polarization and demonization of the other.

We generally like other people because; but we always love others in spite of. And some we love give us more than ample material to work with in the latter category. No doubt, we return that favor.

Coming to love ourselves, ALL of who we are, is the first step to loving our neighbors as ourselves. It is a life work and it is absolutely essential for a healthy humanity. We will need to continue learning it in this new era.

Giving flows from the font of a healthy, creative, productive human animal. To give to others is to meet our very purpose in life – to be generative. When the generativity of who we are overflows the bounds of our limited existences, our creativity flows out into a world sorely in need of what we were created to provide it.

As members of societies composed of and constructed by generative human beings, we are provided the matrix necessary to develop our own full potentials, benefiting from the fruits of our lives together. Without the gifts of others, we cannot become fully human; without our gift, the world is deprived of the opportunities to become more fully human our gifts provide them. This is a lesson we still struggle to comprehend in this new era.

If the duty to love one’s neighbor as oneself is the Great Commandment, the mechanics of human existence function only when the grease of forgiveness is routinely applied to the parts which make contact with others. The ability to pardon is essential to each of us to live with our very selves as we fall short of our own ideals. We rely on pardon to live with loved ones who routinely find minor ways to get under our skin and sometimes ways to wound us to the very core of our beings.  Without the ability and willingness to pardon others, the whole project of being human simply collapses. We have much yet to learn about pardon. The new era provides new opportunities to learn.

As the night of the old solar year fades to a navy, then violet, then grey, dispelled by the scarlet, oranges, yellows then whites of the solstice, an era is dying. While our fellow animals face death without compunction, it is not something we readily embrace as human animals. Yet even as our culture is so desperate to deny it, dying has never been our enemy. It is the natural conclusion to a finite life cycle. It is the embrace of Sister Death as Brother Francis has taught us. So ends the old era. And this new era will some day come to its own end.

May this new era bring love of all being that overcomes hatreds, pardon that heals injured lives and permits our own healing as well, trust that holds at bay our existential anxieties, hope that does not simply await rescue, enlightenment of the darkest corners of our individual and collective souls and joy that is celebrated amidst the sorrows we shoulder together. May we find consolation for our weary hearts, understanding of the mysteries of our own lives and those of others, love of all G-d’s creation, and may we find ways to give birth to lives which become all they were created to be, itself a gift that a world so desperately awaits.

O G-d, may we be instruments of your peace.  


The Rev. Harry Scott Coverston, J.D., Ph.D.
Member, Florida Bar (inactive status)
Priest, Episcopal Church (Dio. of El Camino Real, CA)
Instructor: Humanities, Religion, Philosophy of Law
University of Central Florida, Orlando

 If the unexamined life is not worth living, surely an unexamined belief system, be it religious or political, is not worth holding.
Most things of value do not lend themselves to production in sound bytes. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Prayers for the Coming of a New Era - Part I

Our Mother must return to balance….

Our Mother is out of balance. The world cannot continue like this. There is a new world coming. The old is passing away. Our Mother must return to balance. Mayan spiritual leader, Chichicastenango, Guatemala, July 2009

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. The Apocalpyse of John, 21:1

We had all seen the movie with John Cussack complete with the 21st CE techno-marvel version of Noah’s Ark. The world was going to end in cataclysmic disaster and only the American techno-wizard Noahs, a few select animals and, of course, their obligatory military rulers would survive. A new world would emerge from the ruins of the old and the chosen people – Americans, of course - would now rebuild this new earth under its new heaven.

The Mayan spiritual leader had seen the film, too. And she smiled when she told us, “Yes, the world is going to end as we know it. But not like Hollywood has told you.” She continued, “Our Mother is out of balance. The world cannot continue like this. There is a new world coming. The old is passing away. Our Mother must return to balance.” When pressed about details (Would Florida go under water? Would California fracture off the San Andreas Fault and slip into the Pacific? Will the magnetic poles reverse?) she simply smiled and said, “You will see.”

We sat largely in silence on the microbus as we returned from the Mayan spiritual service in the woodlands not far from Chichicastenango in the Mayan Highlands of Guatemala. There we had observed the ritual building of the fire, the systematic placement of candles made of red, white, black and green waxes into the flames as well as various aromatic leaves and branches. We had watched this moving liturgy complete with periodic explanation of what was being done and said. And we had joined in the final prayers for Pachamama, the Mother earth, all of her life forms and for an awareness of the connection of our own human life form to the matrix of life in which we live, move and have our being.

It had been a deeply spiritual afternoon. And it left understandings that would continue to inform my life long after I had returned from Guatemala. Indeed, many of these very same words would be repeated to me almost verbatim by Amayra descendants of the Inca in Bolivia the very next summer. 

A Day of Remembrances

On the morning of December 21, 2012, I found myself suddenly awake at 5:00 AM, unable to return to sleep. The morning’s news on my iPad was full of hype about the end of the world and the hysteria – not to mention the parties – that attended it. But in the back of my mind, something was telling me that this shortest day of the year, this end of one solar revolution and beginning of the next, should be marked by something more than hype.

In my own life history this was already a special day for me. My only brother was born a year after me on this day. St. Marge, our loving mother, remembered that day as “the coldest day of 1954 in Ft. Myers, Florida” (in contrast with September 1 of the previous year, “the hottest day of 1953” on which I had been born across the state in West Palm Beach). I have always felt sorry for birthday impaired folks like my brother whose birthdays often get ignored in the hysteria of the great consumerist orgy to which Christmas has largely devolved. So I make a special effort to remember the annual feast day of my brother’s nativity with a present and a card if not dinner and a party.

December 21 is also the day I was ordained into the Episcopal Church as transitional deacon in my home parish of St. Philips, San Jose, CA. The Gospel was read in five languages that night, an honor song was sung to me by an elder member of our American Indian congregation and our bishop brought my then-partner, now-husband Andy to stand with me in front of our parish for a standing ovation of thanks for his role in my getting to that place. The lessons for the Feast of (Doubting) Thomas the Apostle used that night were appropriate for new deacons. It was a glorious evening in the St. Philips’ tradition.

I am also keenly aware that solstices have always been solemn occasions for my Celtic ancestors. I thought back to the incredible spiritual power I had experience at Stonehenge during my visit in 1983. This morning the descendants of faithful people who had long gathered amidst the still-standing stones on that desolate hillside – some no doubt my own distant relatives - would gather once again to watch the sun rise between the upright megaliths.

One door closes, another opens…

When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us. – Alexander Graham Bell

With all of those thoughts rumbling around my head at 5:00 AM, it suddenly dawned on me that a day like this should be remembered with intentionality and celebrated. And so I searched the internet for any observances of the solstice in Orlando. To my surprise, there was such an observance at a local independent coffee shop just down the street. I quickly rose, showered and headed out into what was a very cold morning for Central Florida.

The observance began at 5:30 in an open lot adjacent to the coffee house. A fire blazed in the center of the lot and blankets and chairs had been mercifully provided. The fire lent some merciful if modest warmth against the fierce northwest wind. Periodically a shower of sparks would whirl out of the fire making it impossible to sit too close. The back side of this cold front was blowing away the near summer weather of the previous week and reminding us that this was, after all, the first day of Winter even here in Central Florida.

The organizer of the event began by asking the 30 people gathered to voice their intentions for the observance (and thus of the new year, the new era).  Most offered the expectable prayers one might expect in such a gathering: peace, new ways of being human, a new awareness of Mother Earth. While I shared their concerns, my own intentions, which remained in the silence of my heart, were much immediate: to find the new locus for my life calling where I could devote my remaining life energies to something that mattered. One door was closing in my life. Where did the new door lie? How could my life make a difference?

“To what are you calling me now, O Holy One?”

And so we lapsed into silence awaiting the rising of the sun at 6:11 AM. Our officiant had asked us to note the irony of being intentionally still and silent in a world of constant noise, motion and distraction, a world that was busily rousing from its slumber and coming to life all around us. And so I sat in silence, my focus on my breathing interspersed with awareness of the vibrant colors in the sky overhead, the erratic and swift movements of flocks of birds joyously singing the new day into being and the sounds of rumbling school buses enroute to the nearby elementary. All the while, a very cold north wind whistled in my ears beneath the hood of my sweatshirt.


The Rev. Harry Scott Coverston, J.D., Ph.D.
Member, Florida Bar (inactive status)
Priest, Episcopal Church (Dio. of El Camino Real, CA)
Instructor: Humanities, Religion, Philosophy of Law
University of Central Florida, Orlando

 If the unexamined life is not worth living, surely an unexamined belief system, be it religious or political, is not worth holding.
Most things of value do not lend themselves to production in sound bytes. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Monday, January 07, 2013

Field of Broken Dreams – Part IV (of IV)

(conclusion, part IV of IV)

Fighting over the Scraps

“Dreams are extremely important. You can’t do it unless you imagine it.”  - George Lucas

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” - Abraham Lincoln

When I came to the university 11 years ago, it was a dream come true for me. I was finally going to be able to work with upper division students as well as the underclassmen I had previously been teaching at the community college. I would be using all the higher education I had worked so long and hard (17 years to be exact) to achieve. I would be working with very bright professional educators whose areas of research interest challenged me to engage in ongoing learning from their expertise, a true gift for a life-long student like myself. I had even hoped that among the many classes I knew I’d teach, I might actually have some time to get some research and writing of my own done.

 I was truly excited when I secured the visiting instructor position and elated when that position became permanent four years later. I will always be grateful to the three colleagues who helped make that possible. Despite all that has occurred in the department, the college and the university since then, I am still deeply grateful to have had the chance to be there.

The department had great plans back then. We were working on securing a graduate division (complete with graduate students to assist in teaching our undergraduate courses), opening a humanities center on campus, creating new courses and curricula with connections to programs and students universities around the world. The faculty socialized regularly at parties and pot-lucks. There was a camaraderie and a sense of team work among us that was determined to do great things even at a university that had long had difficulty shedding its persona as just one more average at best tech school.

That all seems like such a long time ago now.

Early on there was trouble in Paradise. When I came to UCF in 2001, in part to continue teaching the General Education courses I’d been teaching at the community college, the Gordon Rule classes we taught were capped at 37. That was nearly twice the number of students in those intensive writing classes I’d been teaching down the road at Valencia but I wasn’t teaching as many sections (4 instead of 5) so that was a fairly even trade. Within four years, however, the 37 had doubled to 75. An instructor teaching four Gordon Rule sections could well be teaching up to 300 students per semester and reading their four Gordon Rule assignments each, 1200 total papers a semester.

When I pointed out to my then chair that it was pretty much impossible to do justice to that kind of a workload, I was informed that I should tell the students that the Gordon Rule only said they had to write the four papers. It didn’t say they had to be graded, so the plan was that I’d only grade one. Students wouldn’t know which one would be chosen for grading so they needed to do a good job on all four. Of course, that completely defeats the purpose of the Gordon Rule which is designed to help students’ writing improve through feedback and opportunities to improve. It also reflects a rather Machiavellian pedagogy which engenders little trust and even less respect from students, deservedly so.

After ongoing complaints from instructors teaching these classes, the Gordon Rule classes were cut to their current range of 55 to 65 total students per section. Many of them are now “delivered” online (in the language of the business-technology complex), a format that consumer-students presume (demand?) to be easier than formats which require at least a warm body with a pulse in a seat three times a week. It also allows the university to avoid the responsibility of providing a seat for all of its students on campus, for lighting and cooling their classrooms and it permits the university to tack on an extra  technology fee for the class. Never underestimate the cleverness of the business-technology complex when it comes to money.

For the record, I still read and grade every Gordon Rule paper. If I’m not going to grade it, why assign it?

Faculty meetings that were once wide open brain-storming sessions regarding where the department wanted to go have now become endurance tests for round after round of bad news, most of it about money or curriculum. The meetings are sometimes marked by acrimonious fighting in public and by back-biting in private. Departmental socializing has declined.

Of course, it’s very easy to see your former colleague as a competitor if not a potential foe when the Sword of Damocles is constantly hanging over your department, your program, perhaps over your very job. The result is that a once vibrant, harmonious social organism has devolved into a department that thus far remains functional with a veneer of civility if not cordiality but which overlies a tense uncertainty just beneath the surface. And this is one of the healthier departments at the university.

When a recent hire to the department asked me to summarize the state of the department, I responded that what might be seen by outsiders as anger, detachment, even depression had to be seen in context. Sadly, we no longer talk about our hopes and dreams here anymore. Given the once-promising history of this department over the past decade, what one really sees among its remaining members today is little more than heartbroken survivors surveying a field of broken dreams.  

In all fairness, the context for that heartbreak is largely set outside the department. When the pie continues to be cut smaller and smaller, it’s not surprising that those relying on a share of that pie would fight over the scraps. College administrators play petty games with budgets, curricula, faculty lines and academic programs keeping faculty and departments constantly up in the air. The arbitrariness which marks decision-making regarding departments and the micro-managing oversight which increasingly mark its interactions with their staffs is incredibly infantilizing in impact. Little wonder people sometimes behave like children. University administrators exact retribution against a union virtually powerless by state law when it has the audacity to insist the university follow its own contract to pay study abroad instructors for their instruction. As a result, all faculty members and programs are penalized with impunity. State education department officials cut general education programs with abandon leaving departments to guess how they will respond to such changes and staff them.

And then there is the state legislature which from its sniper’s nest in Tallahassee continues its slow but steady march to defund higher education even as it demands colleges produce four year degrees for set prices. Worse yet, legislators presume the pedagogical competence (for no apparent reason) to dictate curricula. The governor uses his bully pulpit to bully his own employees, proclaiming that disciplines like ours which insist student learn to think critically, creatively problem solve, effectively communicate and assume ethical responsibilities in the larger world are unnecessary and should be eliminated entirely or made more costly by raising tuition for these classes. All the while the media continues to mindlessly cheerlead unsupported truisms such as the overriding importance of STEM courses and the lack of connection between all other disciplines and the job market.

This is well beyond demoralizing. It verges on being self-destructive for those who continue to labor within it, selfless dedication notwithstanding. Our own department has had an enormous turnover in the past five years alone and I would estimate that at least a quarter of the faculty currently have considered other opportunities in the past couple of years.

It is, after all, what we ordered

I think it would be easy to see these remarks as little more than engaging in the same kind of whining that I lament here. Indeed, a common defense strategy to avoiding critique is always to shoot the messenger.

However, there is a difference between complaining about legitimate concerns – the factors that increasingly make it difficult if not impossible for teachers to actually perform their jobs – and whining arising out of the unwillingness of lawmakers, administrators or students to actually do their jobs out of a sense of entitlement that suggests they shouldn’t have to perform their part of the bargain. For the professional teachers who perform their jobs to the best of their abilities under difficult conditions on a good day, who care about their work, how it impacts others and about the ongoing deterioration of the once noble enterprise in which they are engaged, the failure to object to unjust compensation and being treated in a manner in which their dignity is consistently violated effectively makes them complicit in their own exploitation.

Moreover, even as I criticize the largely mediocre (at best) performance and the attitudes of entitlement of the majority of the students I currently encounter, I hasten to note that I do not hold them entirely responsible for these adolescent behaviors. In many ways, they are much like Pavlov’s dog, taught to respond upon command. And, in all fairness, they are well trained.

Cathy Davidson, a professor at Duke University, makes a very good case for this in her blog entry at the HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Sciences, Technology, Advanced Collaboration) site. In her essay “Why Students Today Complain About Grades—and How We Can Fix It,” Davidson says the following:

You are the best teacher in the world and you’ve just turned in your grades for the best class you’ve ever taught.   If you are a college professor you know what comes next:   the barrage of complaints about the low grade, the litany of excuses for why this or that missed assignment was due to health reasons, the pleading that the B+ be raised to an A- or medical school plans will be foiled and a life ruined, the thinly veiled threat that changing a grade is easier than dealing with a student judiciary complaint (or an irate parent).   It’s the most demoralizing part of being an educator today.  
And here’s the paradox:  if our students weren’t all tireless grade-grinders, we educators would have failed them.  Yes, you read that right.  They were well taught and learned well the lesson implicit in our society that what matters is not the process or the learning but the end result, the grade.   A typical college freshman today has been through ten years of No Child Left Behind educational philosophy where “success” has been reduced to a score on a test given at the end of the course.  For a decade, they have had the message that a good teacher is someone whose students succeed on those end-of-grade standardized tests. 

 Davidson goes on to say that “We will not eliminate the grade-grubbing until we change our current educational system.”

I believe Davidson is right on target. As a long-time mentor of teachers from Chicago recently said to me, "No Child Left Behind is one of the biggest disasters in American educational history." I have come to believe that the misuse of high stakes standardized testing as a means of assessing everything from children’s learning to whether schools must be closed entirely must end. And we must replace it with an approach to learning that truly leaves no child behind, that develops all aspects of their potential (not just those skills global corporations deem important to future obedient worker drones) and that fosters a love of learning in human beings who in their lifetimes will be required to constantly adapt to an ever increasing pace of change and thus must be able to continue to learn and relearn the rest of their lives.

So, what would be better?

So what would be better? What needs to change? And how do we get there? As I see it, the answers to these questions are daunting to say the least. And as always, the iNtuitive tends to look at the big picture first.

First, we’ll have to deal with some of the larger problems forming the context in which these behaviors occur beginning with America’s historical  anti-intellectual tendencies (see Hofstadter, 1964. The confusion of anti-intellectualism with notions such as populism and the common man makes this task even more onerous. And its connection to an indefatigable and largely uncritical anti-government sentimentality and the radical individualist and NIMBY tendencies that mark American politics today threaten to unravel any notions of the common good our Framers sought so diligently to enshrine. That makes this concern even more urgent.

More immediately, we must deal with state legislators who defund public institutions even as they make ever more demands upon them all in the name of protecting the privilege of wealthy Floridians. We must deal with the absurdity of former used car salesmen and business boys whose own academic records are at best mediocre who arrogate to themselves the competencies to create and impose educational curricula on those who actually have experience in creating and implementing them and the students who must be subject to them. As an attorney I never let my clients make my closing arguments. They simply weren’t equipped to do so. And I see little reason for those with little if any experience as educators to dictate to educators how they should do their own jobs. If you don’t trust us to do our jobs, don’t hire us.

We’ll also have to call to account a media which has largely failed to tackle critical issues such as the failure of No Child Left Behind while propagating unfounded presumptions that all students need to know lies within the limited disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. If you want to see a society that tried to elevate STEM while eviscerating its arts and humanities and thus its very soul, you need look no further than the Third Reich to see how bad an idea that is. We must also confront the unchallenged truism propagated by an infotainment media that the ills in education today arise solely from the overworked, underpaid and – in many cases – highly demoralized teachers who continue trying to make a silk purse out of the sow’s ear they have been dealt. There is plenty of blame to go around for our current fiasco and thus plenty of responsibilities to deal with it. 

We must deal with the citizens of Florida, our friends and neighbors, many of whom have readily traded in their duties as citizens for what they see as a responsibility-free role as consumers. Ultimately is the people of Florida who irresponsibly elect such legislatures and happily vote themselves tax break after tax break while demanding that schools and universities improve their services in the face of defunding and demonization. Of course, it was precisely in a public school that I learned as a child that there is no free lunch. That lesson remains as true today as it did in the 1960s when I learned it.

Finally, those of us in the academy must also shoulder our share of the blame. Systems of promotion based in publish or perish (or more recently, procure grants or perish) play a very direct role in the perpetuation of classes with no real demands beyond showing up for exams bubble sheet and pencil in hand. Tenure track professors who are always busy publishing or money grubbing trying to survive simply don’t have time to engage their students at any depth.

Moreover, adjuncts, who now compose up more than half of the instructional duties of America’s colleges and universities, cannot pick up the slack by teaching sections which are too large to effectively grade their many students’ assignments. Adjuncts must balance their work at any given campus with their work at multiple other sites and the commute between them, all of this to keep the lights on, the student loans paid and the premiums for health insurance not provided by their employers paid out of their pockets.

If we want teachers who value academic rigor and integrity, who would live into the Carnegie Unit’s requirements for academic soundness of our classes, we must hire enough of them to do so and make possible the required conditions to competently do their jobs. And then we must demand they do so. Lazy instructors make it difficult for all of us who seek to do our jobs of providing rigorous, demanding higher education for the people of Florida.

There are plenty of big problems to deal with, indeed.  The question is not whether we are capable of meeting any or all of these challenges. Rather, it is a question of whether we will.


“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” Thomas A. Edison

Inevitably when I write these kinds of big picture cathartic essays, I feel the need to add a “However,…” section. It’s the Perceiver at work, adverse to final judgments and wanting to insure all the evidence is considered, no doubt. There are always exceptions to the rules. And a failure to take them into consideration is always a recipe for disaster in any analysis.

The initial “However,…” must be addressed to two groups of students who fell outside the paradigm I lay out above this past semester. The first was an Honors Humanitistic Tradition I section of 17 students. Led by two seniors who had taken my classes previously (and thus knew what to expect), this was an outstanding group of students. They worked hard, discussed vigorously, wrote well, worked together with very little competitiveness and presented some of the best group projects I’ve ever seen in my teaching career.

In many ways, this was precisely the kind of experience instructors should have with honors students as a matter of course. I’ve taught a lot of honors classes and this one was decidedly the best. Sadly, it is also a major exception to the rule. Few students evidence more entitlement than honors students. Indeed, teaching honors students is seen as combat pay in many colleges for good reason. But for this little experience of grace, I am truly thankful. And I hope I will see these students again.

The second “However,…” that must be addressed is the handful of students in my two face-to-face courses last semester who provided living examples of what a real college student  looks like. Interestingly, these students were all women, slightly older than their cohorts, most of them with families and jobs. Yet, amidst the demands of family and a local workplace which habitually exploits college students desperate to keep the lights on and the beans on the table, these women still wrote exemplary papers, consistently came to class prepared and often carried the dead weight of their slacker group mates in class discussions.

I am deeply grateful for their witness to the value of higher education. But more than that, I admire them deeply for their dedication, hard work and excellence in the face of very difficult circumstances in each case. These are students I hope I will see in the future. Indeed, many of them seek to be college professors themselves and I look forward to the day I can call them colleagues.  
In the same vein, the final “However,…” goes out to the many fine students I have had the privilege of knowing and working with over my professional career. You know who you are. Some continue to remain in touch with me long years after their departure from the university. Indeed, some have provided some very thoughtful comments to the first installments of this blog entry, comments I always read and consider carefully. 
I watch with great pride the many good things they are doing with their own lives and in their efforts to change the world for the better with whatever education they managed to get at our credentials factory. As today, that handful of real students has made the task of dealing with the hordes of detached, entitled and self-absorbed credit hour seekers bearable and, on occasion, even joyful. They were a privilege to teach, a gift to know and now to count as friends and colleagues. I am grateful for them.


How long can one teach for the handful of real students, the occasional good class, swimming upstream in a torrent of entitlement, demonization and acquiescence to mediocrity? What are the limits of devotion and dedication to the state of one’s birth when it drives its dedicated teachers to heartbreak over broken dreams no longer safe to even hope for? When does that debt become paid? When does enough become enough? How does one go about staunching the wounds from an ongoing societal Waterloo?

For those of you who have made it through this extended lamentation, I thank you. And for those of you who have any suggestions about any of the topics I’ve covered here, as Ross Perot said in the 1980 presidential debates, “I’m all ears.”

The Rev. Harry Scott Coverston, J.D., Ph.D.
Member, Florida Bar (inactive status)
Priest, Episcopal Church (Dio. of El Camino Real, CA)
Instructor: Humanities, Religion, Philosophy of Law
University of Central Florida, Orlando

 If the unexamined life is not worth living, surely an unexamined belief system, be it religious or political, is not worth holding.
Most things of value do not lend themselves to production in sound bytes. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++