Sustaining an unsustainable life: where was Paul’s POLST form?


Many Princeton people will remember Paul Scharf. He pushed carts at McCaffrey’s, he came to the HUB, a Saturday night social activity at Princeton United Methodist Church, he attended services there.

In Richard K. Rein’s U.S. 1 Newspaper column this week is an account of an end-of-life experience that should NOT be happening. Paul could have been encouraged to sign an Advanced Care Directive (available at Princeton Senior Resource Center) or, better, to sign a POLST form.  It could have prevented his medical team at a nursing home from having to sustain his unsustainable life. A POLST form (Practitioner Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment) is not required by law, but in New Jersey it is strongly recommended. 

Paul can no longer talk to tell what he wants.




Next Continuing Conversation is 4/2/18



Not in Our Town Princeton, a multi-racial, multi-faith group of individuals who stand together for racial justice and inclusive communities, sponsors this monthly series of small group conversations on first Mondays. 

It’s at the Princeton Public Library, and everyone is welcome to attend.


NIOT Princeton


As many of you know, NOT IN OUR TOWN PRINCETON is a multi-racial, multi-faith group of individuals who stand together for racial justice and inclusive communities. Our focus is to promote the equitable treatment of all, and to uncover and confront white supremacy — a system which manipulates and pits all races and ethnicities against each other.

Our goal is to identify and expose the political, economic, and cultural systems which have enabled white supremacy to flourish, and to create new structures and policies which will ensure equity and inclusion for all. In our commitment to uncovering the blight of white supremacy on our humanity, we take responsibility to address it and eliminate it in all its forms through intentional action, starting with ourselves and our communities.

Our next general meeting, one in a long monthly series entitled “Continuing Conversations on Race & White Privilege” – is slated to take place in…

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New at the hospital 3/8

hospital house organ for blogpost On Thursday March 8 the Princeton Regional Chamber hosts Lori Gustave for its membership lunch at the Forrestal Marriott  Gustave is VP of business development at Penn Medicine, which has taken over (officially, merged with) University Medical Center. If you think you might be sick in the next couple of years, you might want to hear how about how Penn Medicine uses an
“advanced care strategy” and organizes it around the patient’s disease or condition.

As for me, for the next few months, I will not focus hospitals, medical care, nursing facilities. Somebody can tell me what she said.

White Supremacy Revisited

On Monday, March 5th, Not In Our Town Princeton will meet in the Princeton Public Library’s Community Room at 7pm for Continuing Conversations on Race and White Privilege. We will address the following topic:

What is white supremacy? Is it limited to outrageous acts or is it something more?  March’s Continuing Conversation will look at an expanded definition of the phrase as well as Not in Our Town’s revised mission statement.

For more information, click here. 

Breakfast with Pat

pat tanner

Pat Tanner bills herself as the sixth of seven children in a food-obsessed Italian family, and she admits that the terms ‘food-obsessed’ and ‘Italian’ are redundant. An award-winning food writer, restaurant critic, and blogger, Tanner speaks at the Princeton chamber breakfast on Valentine’s Day, Wednesday, February 14, at the Nassau Club, starting at 7:30 a.m.

Always devoted to some aspect of food, Tanner edited the Zagat Survey, contributed to publications such as the New York Times and New Jersey Monthly, hosted a live, weekly radio show, co-founded the Central Jersey Chapter of Slow Food, and catered meals delivered to homes,  In fact, that’s when I first met her — Tanner delivered dinners to my fridge in the ’80s.

She has written for U.S. 1 Newspaper since 2002 – later for the Princeton Echo of Community News – chronicling how Princeton added fine dining opportunities to what was pretty much a wasteland.

In true U.S. 1 fashion, Tanner told the stories behind the cooking personalities, as in this profile of three women bakers. Early in her tenure she shared what she taught to financial advisors: a top 10 list of breaches of dining etiquette. She’s not too uppity to review a hot dog stand,  She has a blog, 

Last year, when Tanner put food writing on the back burner, she began letting her picture be published. (Food critics try to remain anonymous.) But her fans keep hoping to lure her to the table.  The breakfast table at the Nassau Club is the place to be on Wednesday.


Ladies still lunch – and why!

present-day-ballroom-luncheon-group-photo-1024x768.jpg Validating ladies who lunch: this article in the Princeton Echo about The Present Day Club, depicted by E.E. Whiting, telling how for 120 years it has “consistently met the needs of an ever changing society.”

Are we ladies who lunch? Damn straight we are. We are also women who think, innovate, challenge, participate, and achieve. And we do this all together in that stately home on Stockton Street.

brea film
Journalist Jennifer Brea couldn’t get any doctor to explain why all her systems seemed to be collapsing. She used the Internet to diagnose her own disease, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, better known as chronic fatigue syndrome. Her documentary, “Unrest,” starts out with shots of the University Medical Center at Princeton in Plainsboro. shows on WHYY and WNET at 10 a.m. tonight, January 8. It premiered at the Garden Theater with her husband, Princeton Politics professor Omar Wasow and Imani Perry doing the commentary.
Here is the Princeton Alumni Weekly story. 
And here is commentary from Susannah Fox,   focusing on how people with rare diseases can find help on the Internet.

Who is ready for what racial justice conversation?

Tool box single icon.The United Methodist Church provides  this very useful toolkit, applicable to any group. In my experience, most groups of white people in Princeton are in the introductory category. Those who gather at Not in Our Town’s Continuing Conversations at the Princeton Public Library are in the ‘What’s Next” or “Veteran” categories.
Where do you belong? Excerpts below 
The resources below are offered to provide tangible and meaningful learning engagements for individuals and small groups. They are for both laity and clergy and can be used contextually in church, church and community conversations, individual reflection, or sermon preparation. They are separated by “entry-point” groups. Read the descriptions for each category to determine the best fit for where you are entering into the work of racial justice and equity right now. 

INTRODUCTORY: For preachers and/or churches who are just entering into the work of racial justice and equity. Beliefs about racial injustice or terror have not been preached from the pulpit. The term “white supremacy” describes only the acts of “fringe groups” like the KKK, cross-burning, or lynching but not associated with historic or contemporary Christianity. The events of Charlottesville were shocking because it was believed that “we were past that” or “we didn’t realize those fringe groups were still around.”

For pastors and/or churches who are able to define “white privilege,” “systemic racism,” and “anti-racism.” Beliefs about racial injustice or terror have been preached from the pulpit and many people will have also participated in intercultural competency or anti-racism workshops. The term “white supremacy” describes both acts of the KKK and white nationalist groups as well as systemic racism that benefits those who are racialized as white. The events of Charlottesville were shocking because it was believed that radical white supremacist groups were not “part of our neighborhoods and churches.” Statements like, “go home” and “we won’t put up with that here” were used to separate everyday acts of white supremacy or the “people who would attend the rally” from who “we” are.
    • Many people have been shocked by the events of Charlottesville. What is more difficult is for some is to connect the events of Charlottesville with white privilege or systemic racism. What was most shocking to you about the events in Charlottesville? Why were they shocking for you? Create a list with the connections between white privilege and the events of Charlottesville. Reflect and discuss.
    • Many people consider Charlottesville a “one-off” event. Some consider it an event which also sparked responses such as those occurring the next weekend in Texas, California, and Massachusetts. Google the “response events” and discuss the similarities and differences between them. Now consider how Charlottesville is connected to other events/decisions based in white supremacy and systemic racism. After reflecting and discussing the connections in “society out there” consider seriously the connections in “the church right here.”
    • Many of the events of Charlottesville were captured on video, many were not. Share anything you have heard from those who were at Charlottesville (either that you heard in person or read a witness account) that were not captured on video. What are the similarities and differences of what was publicized widely and what wasn’t? Reflect and discuss the “both sides” argument that indicates fault/blame on both protestors (those who were protesting the removal of the confederate statue) and counter-protestors (those who were protesting against the “Unite the Right” rally). What evidence are you using? Why?
    • Now that you have seen the events that occurred in Charlottesville, what does it mean for you/your church/sermons to bear witness to them? What evidence will you use?
  • Baptism and Call to Justice
    • Many of the UMC Bishops in their statements and UMC preachers in their sermons responded to the events of Charlottesville with a call to remember our baptismal vows. This resource provides a step by step reflection and engagement of the UMC baptismal vows as it relates to anti-racism. After reviewing the vows which can be found in the the United Methodist Hymnal, what concrete, specific, actionable, and measurable steps will you/your small group/your church take to enact our baptism in the fight against white supremacy and racism in all of its forms?
  • Wait… That’s Privilege?
    • Depending on how much work you/your group/your church has done with privilege (racial, economic, gender, etc) consider adding or substituting the following questions in the “post quiz questions for consideration:”
    • Compare the protests in Ferguson and counter-protests Charlottesville. Make a list of the similarities and differences. How does race influence these similarities or differences? How, if at all, did racial privilege affect safety, police response, or descriptions of the events?
    • Name your own privileges in your own words. How will you use your privileges to do the work of dismantling and defeating white supremacy and racism in all of its forms? Name those actions specific to that work IN the church.
  • The Rev. Dr. William Barber, Disciples of Christ pastor and architect of the Moral Movement, offers a succinct, historical, and powerful overview of ways to situate white supremacy within the larger American context as well as provide a roadmap for future action here. After watching the video, reflect on and discuss the following Individual or Small Group Questions:
    • What does Dr. Barber say is the difference between denouncing Charlottesville and denouncing white supremacy?
    • What does Dr. Barber say is the difference between and the usefulness of addressing the “statues” and the “statutes” of white supremacy?
    • How does Dr. Barber refute the claim of “I am not a racist” when only based on someone having a Black or Brown friend?
    • Barber mentions the names of many Civil Rights sheroes and heroes who have died and empowers us to consider ourselves their children who will continue the fight today. Name 3 Civil Rights ancestors whose legacy you will connect with and continue. (For white people, it is imperative to name at least 1 white person active in the work of Civil Rights with whom you can claim affinity.)
    • What specific actions will your church take within the next week and the next month to engage in some of the specific action items that Dr. Barber suggests in fighting white supremacy?

What Else Can We Say/Do): For preachers and/or churches who have been doing the work of anti-racism for a long time in multiple arenas: from the pulpit, attending and offering workshops, activism, changing structures and policies within the local and/or connectional church to ensure racial justice and equity. The term “white supremacy” describes both acts of the KKK and white nationalist groups as well as systemic racism that benefits those who are racialized as white. The events of Charlottesville were shocking because the rally was in broad daylight and the Klan no longer wore hoods. The connections between the expressions of white supremacy at Charlottesville and the day-to-day expressions of white supremacy are historic, deep, and entrenched. This group might have difficulty figuring out “what else” to say or be and is burnt out from what Rev. Dr. Teresa Fry Brown calls “Justice Fatigue” that they need care themselves.

  • Listening in Diversity: Different Ways of Thinking about Tolerance
    • First go through the learning engagement as it is. Then add the following questions:
      • What is the difference between tolerance and understanding someone who thinks differently than you, according to the resource? Consider whether you “tolerate” or are in “community with” people who have different perspectives about Charlottesville. What would it take for you/your church to do more than “tolerate” a person who has a different perspective on taking down confederate statues, the right to hold rallies and the right to free speech, or Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter?
      • Consider the Tolerance Paradox attributed to Karl Popper in 1945 which states that tolerance cannot tolerate intolerance because the first thing intolerance does is to eradicate tolerance. Read that statement again. Reflect and discuss your thoughts about this. Do you think tolerance (in the sense of allowing for multiple perspectives to be valid even when people don’t agree upon them) is ever “allowed” have intolerance for anything? In other words, does intolerance of intolerance make us tolerant or intolerant? If not – how does our Christian faith help us to draw the line in faithful places?
  • The Trouble with Conformity
    • Add or substitute the following questions in light of the events at Charlottesville.
    • Consider the statement, “Resistance to oppression requires creativity.” What aspects of your faith help to create spaces for and defend creativity? How has conformity to Christian doctrine or traditions helped to assist oppression and oppressive systems? What does it mean to “be the Church” in light of Charlottesville?
    • Some Christians would not participate in the non-violent counter-protest organized by Congregate Charlottesville (or in the taking down of confederate statues before laws were changed) because they did not agree with participating in civil-disobedience. Some Christians denounce the acts of the “Antifa” because, while the “Antifa” are committed to non-violence as a default, they are not opposed to using violence to defend themselves or others in response to physical violence. How do you discern where the line is between conformity and creativity in the work of anti-racism or destroying white supremacy?

LONG-TERM ACTIVISM (When Those in the Fight Need Care): 
Sermons with discussion questions – especially for those who are burnt out from years of anti-racism activism and work and/or are “sick and tired of being sick and tired” (Fannie Lou Hamer).
  • Jesus, Justice Fatigue, and Why Being Black is Exhausting
  • All the Charlestons: We Press On for Justice
  • Further reflection and discussion questions after watching these videos:
    • How did you respond to the events of Charlottesville? If you were there, describe your participation and perspective. Reflect and discuss how your previous work in anti-racism affected your response (in whatever form including internal responses and not actively engaging in public response) to Charlottesville.
    • If you are a person who is directly targeted by the oppression and terror of white supremacy – how did you (are you) seek/ing care for yourself since Charlottesville?
      • What do you do individually?
      • What do you do (or not do) in different communities in which you participate?
      • How does your faith or the examples of your faith-filled sheroes and heroes inform your regimen of self-care?
      • Do you ever feel guilty for needing or participating in self-care? What aspects of your faith or examples from others might help alleviate your guilt for taking the time for self-care?
    • If you are burnt out right now – how would you like others to support you?
    • How might the work of multi-racial coalitions doing the work of anti-oppression together create spaces for self-care even in the midst of the ongoing struggle for liberation and safety for all? How much time will you protect for yourself before working to create or participate in a multi-racial, intersectional, anti-oppression coalition?