Saturday, January 05, 2008


De facto/de jure segregation was neither de facto nor de jure. Discuss. I love panels like this, that debate language and deconstruct accepted frameworks. Basically, these panelists argued that there’s too much Southern exceptionalism in the discussions surrounding Jim Crowe and desegregation. It actually got me thinking about re-framing the borders of my own dissertation study. Drat.

One of the benefits of organizational membership is networking with important people. Sometimes no one outside the organization cares, but in this case, you may actually be interested. One of the staff Congressional historians (there’s only four) is a member and arranged a private tour for a few of us to see the Capitol. It was awesome. You haven’t seen a major historical site until you’ve seen it with a group of historians.

Two things were exceptionally cool… First, we got to go on the floor of the House. I sat in the second row! I might actually watch the State of the Union this time… It’s easy to forget about the separation of powers in our government given the intense focus on the executive branch, so it was cool to see all that up so close.

Second, we got to see the new Capitol Visitor Center, which will open in November 2008. It’s still under construction but is primarily finished, so it was really nice to see it before it all gets crazy. We also got to see the new Congressional Auditorium, which won’t be open to tourists. It’s a 450 seat theater type room that the House or Senate can use (and the Library of Congress, actually). Hearing the politics of all that went into creating the visitor center and the museum was fascinating, especially from two historians who were part of the process.

I went to the graduate student reception for the food, but didn’t eat enough, so I went to get French toast. Breakfast for dinner is one of my favorite things in life. I don’t know why. I also met up with a friend from Iowa and some of his colleagues. We discussed the importance of Pietism, the nuances of Anabaptists in England, and the definition of the emergent church. I tried to tell them there wasn’t much of a definition for the latter (that’s kind of the point), but I tried my best. I’m pretty sure they now think that my church worships icons, discards I Corinthians, and has more staff than congregants… none of which are true. Oh well, what can you do?

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