Tuesday, December 31, 2002

While I don't want to go back on what I just said, I decided that my last post really had nothing to do with what AKMA was talking about. Just forget I mentioned him. He was discussing the nature of digital identities and how that relates both to the marketplace and to who we are as people and how those two intersect. The stuff I wrote is just stuff that has been on my mind and I happened to think of it while I was reading AKMA's site. But since Scott has already commented, I'll leave the post there.

Also, I was playing around with my blog settings. Apparently turning archives "on" makes them all disappear for some reason. Sorry to anyone really hoping to look through all my old posts. You're undoubtedly better off this way.
I was just having a few random thoughts about AKMA's latest posting. Since I haven't followed the thread of the conversation very closely, I figured I'd spare him from writing on his comments and just waste my own space to think out loud.

Thought one: economists are not exclusively interested in financial/commercial dealings. This is quite tangential to any larger points being made, but I thought I should at least point out that economics, as I learned it, is concerned with man's preferences and decision making, or to put it another way, allocation of scarce resources. This can include how you choose to spend time, how you decide who to marry, or if you should marry, etc. Related to this is the fact that our non-commercial/financial selves are not entirely separable from our money spending selves, which maens that even "the market" has some reason to care about who we are in the non-commercial realm.

Thought two: I do think that american culture, on the whole, is guilty of financial reductionism. As Wordworth said, "getting and spending, we lay waste our powers." I don't know if there is an appropriate place to lay blame for this, or even if it would be fruitful to try to find out why it is the case. I'll leave that to the intellectually ambitious. But I do see few people in my circles who are content with their place in life. This includes me as well. Everyone seems to want more income, a "nicer" neighborhood (i.e. a different one, not to try to fix up their own), a newer car/truck/SUV, new gadgets (especially I've noticed lately people fixating on stereo equipment), and on and on. Also, as I picked up from Habits of the Heart, I see few people who think about the social/religious/moral consequences of their work. Of course many people are willing to criticize other people's work, but I can't recall hearing anyone say "I gave up tobacco farming bacuse I didn't want to participate in the cigarette industry/contribute to the lung cancer rate", or "I gave up my job in the entertainment industry because it seemed pointless/didn't contribute to anyone's well being." Now I'm sure there must be SOME people like this, but they are the exception who prove the rule. When it comes to work, people usually say if it's legal and moral and remunerative, I'll do it. Some leave out either of those first two.

Thought three: I had a third thought, but I rambled too long on thought two and forgot it. Maybe I'll remember it later.

Monday, December 30, 2002

If that wasn't the best church service I've been to, it was certainly the best one on a Monday night. we went to the consecration service at Church of the Holy Family for their brand new nave. They had a nicce brass quintet starting things off with some carols, then a couple of praise songs, a procession to the new nave, blessings of the the new furniture, two baptisms, a sermon by a terrific bishop, much more singing, a saxophone group, songs written by the rector and a member of the church, the eucharist, a letter from the archbishop of Canterbury (read by Stan Hauerwas), and LOTS of incense. Lasted about 2 and a half hours. we have quite a few friends at Holy Family, so we didn't feel too out of place, plus the contractor who built the building is a friend of ours from our church, so he got invited as well. The rt. rev. Michael Curry, the bishop who preached, sure is a gifted preacher. If I thought all their services would be that good, I might become episcopalian.

Some of the locals did comment that not only is preaching skill an anomaly among anglican bishops, being a Christian isn't all that common either. For myself I can't comment on that, just passing it along.

Saturday, December 28, 2002

Just made it back from vacation. Had a good time with both families, but I think I'm ready to get back to normal life. Lots of good gifts got exchanged. Of course my favorites were the amazon gift certificates. I punched them up just a bit ago and started working on my wish list. I was thinking to myself, "wow, if I get these books from the used vendors, I can clear out about half my list." Then tragedy struck: "We're sorry, gift certficates can only apply toward the purchase of amazon items." bummer. Oh well, still got a chunk of it. But if any o you want to by me something used from my wish list, knock yourselves out.

Oh, special mention goes to Lenise for buying me a book which amazon doesn't carry, i.e. Brahms' symphonies for solo piano. Even though it arrived late, I think it will provide me a lot of enjoyment (and hard work) for years to come.

Saturday, December 21, 2002

First leg of the trip went pretty well. We made it to Columbus by dinner time despite a late start. Jason and Dawn invited us over for quite a feast. Had a great time. If any of you bloggers have to stop in Ohio, I recommend mitigating the experience with a visit to the Garretts.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Merry Christmas to all you lovely readers. To the ones who aren't as lovely, just try to keep your chin up. Just kidding. I'm leaving for Columbus in the morning. We may see Dawn and Jason tomorrow night when we are there. I hope so anyway. I guess they still haven't forgiven me for not stopping in last time I went to Columbus. We're on to Detroit on Sat, then to Massilon OH next week before we get to return to cozier climes.

On a more important note, I just got my first piece of German spam (from an address in France???). Fortunately Lenise was able to translate it for me. It said someone really wanted to meet me, but was too shy to write directly, so I should download something or other to find out who it is. Nothing says internet safety like downlading files from strangers who can't decide what country they're in.

Be good all. Don't drink too much eggnog. And if you behave, I might bless you with a post or two from my parents house.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Like it or not, I think I'll just keep y'all updated on the U of Mich. case. In this column, the school prez defends, apparently, the idea that discrimination is only discrimination if it's against blacks.
I'm becoming increasingly convinced that Avram Davidson is the greatest sci-fi writer that no one has ever read. I don't usually expect references to Noah and Hobbes in a book with a picture of a dragon on the cover.

Monday, December 16, 2002

hmmm,

Blogger kept eating my posts yesterday. I seem to vaguely remember that I had lots of informative, witty and inciteful things to say. Unfortunately I'm back to being my regular self now. Plus I'm coming down with a cold or something. I just hate that feeling of knowing that it'll get worse before it gets better. I do hope I'm not too miserable on Friday when we head into the frozen north.

Friday, December 13, 2002

too busy to blog right now

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

In case you are interested in the Grutter case I mentioned below, here is the U Mich lawschool FAQ on the matter. I especially like question 4 (and it's answer).
For all who aren't strict pacifists, you may find this amusing. Being against something sometime does mean being for something else.

Monday, December 09, 2002

There's a useful Frech expression, esprit d'escalier, lit. thought on the staircase, which means something really witty you think of as you are leaving the event at which it would have been appropriate. On the way home from our dark and cold (but very fun) church service yesterday I came up with this pseudo verse: It's not by light, nor by power, by by my Spirit, says the Lord.

Saturday, December 07, 2002

We just finished two full days without power, which meant two nights sleeping on the floor at Tom's house. Lenise was a little sore this morning. I', actually surprised that we got ours back already. Duke Power was saying it would be a week til they got a lot of people's power back. I guess we are experiencing another benefit of living in "downtown" Mebane.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

You are getting very sleepy...You are passing into a state of total relaxation.
Since all the cool kids are doing this--

8 things on your desk:
Picture of Lenise and me
business cards
A stuffed bat
Rob and Wendy Jacobsen tapes
telephone
stapler
rebate form from my last oil change
cd one of my customers made which I haven't listened to yet

7 things you touch every day:
mouse
keyboard
wife
a book
refrigerator door
front door
the hearts of all deaconpaul readers

6 movies you can't live without: (can't say I feel dependent on movies, but these are favorites)
The Castle
Rushmore
The Last Days of Disco
Brazil
Wings of Desire
Repo Man

5 nicknames you have had in your life:
pollywog
Baxter
Greg
peanut butter
honey (only from my wife)

4 places you want to visit:
Switzerland
Ukraine (next year)
South America
Africa

3 things you wish you could change about yourself:
I'd like to be less lazy
I'd like to be more caring about people
I'd like to be wealthy

2 phone numbers you call most:
voicemail (work)
voicemail (home)

1 person you plan to spend the rest of your life with
Lenise Baxter
Well, with pastors like this, who needs pagans?

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

One of my former fellow church members from Michigan, Barb Grutter, is apparetly getting her day in court, again. She was denied admission to the University of Michigan law school in 1996 and subsequently filed suit claiming that she was denied on the basis of her race, i.e. being white. She lost in a close decision at the circuit court level, but now it looks like she'll get her day with the supremes. I was a bit suprised when I saw her on one of the tv news mags a few years ago (20/20 or 60 min or something). She seemed to be doing her best to look disgruntled, which probably wasn't hard to do when dealing with tv reporters.

Sunday, December 01, 2002

I have to say it is interesting to have a phone number which used to be for a Chinese restaurant. I got a call last week:
caller-- "Are you located in the Winn Dixie parking lot?"
me-- "No, I'm located in my kitchen."
caller--"So this isn't Canton House?"
me--"No it isn't."

When the phone rang one minute later I didn't feel like answering it. I'm usually caught off guard by these calls. Someday though I'll try to persuade someone that we have the best Peking Duck in the county.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

I notices recently that I had finished Speaking with the Angel and hadn't thrown it up on the left. The book is a collection of short stories by, as far as I can tell, writers who Nick Hornby knew in some way. The collection was designed to be a fund raiser for special schools for children with autism, of which the editor's son is one. Child that is, not a school. Hornby wrote a quite poignant introduction about dealing with his son's autism and the school he helped establish. It made me feel guilty that I picked up the book on a remainder shelf for two bucks. On the other hand, many of the stories weren't all that good, not to mention especially inappropriate for children, if you get my gist. One exception is a story called, of all things, "Nipple Jesus". Easily the best story I've read about contemporary art and artists and their relation to society at large.
I'll give y'all my review of Baudolino now: it's a good book. You should read it.

Just kidding. Despite the unfamiliarity of the setting (southern europe c 1200), this is certainly Eco's lightest novel to date, though in his cas that's not saying much. The story does meander a bit, manages to fuse a few different genres (whodunnit coming pretty late in the story), but always provides marvelous descriptions and asides which, for my money, are what make his books worthwhile, though of course in this case I din' actually pay for the book. My readers here may be interested in the fact that quite a bit of the book is about religious variety and heresy (the term "monstrous heretic" certainly now has new meaning to me). If you've read Eco's earlier stuff and wished that he'd stayed lighted and funnier, this may be the book from you. It did, though, lack a certain, umm, (forgive me) gravitas his other novels had. Hope that gives you something to go on. If you read it, feel free to send me your thoughts. Given that it's Eco, I'm sure I missed about half of what he said.

Thursday, November 21, 2002

Unbelievable new LOTR trailer if you haven't seen it yet.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Just one more thing. I learned last week that "America's Number One Theologian", Stan Hauerwas, will be in a small group study led by one of my friends. We were just imagining it: "So, Stan, what does this verse mean to you?"
But on a more serious note, Lenise and I are looking very seriously at a short mission trip next spring or summer, so if you are reading this, we may be hitting you up for a donation. The trip we are looking at is to lead English discussion groups in Ukraine with a focus on the bible as a discussion topic. If you'd like to learn more about it, just pop me an email and I'll tell you what I can.
If you aren't into art history, don't bother watching this movie. (Again flash file alert, plus a bog hairy spider to keep my wife away.)
I just stole this from AKMA (and edited some of the references), but I thought someone might enjoy it here who didn't read it there:

When someone who blogs regularly stops for a few days, I always wonder what the best thing to do is. If you write and say, where are you? you might be bugging someone who just wants a break and doesn't want to feel pressured to write all the time. If you don't say anything, then someone who is deathly ill or who is feeling unloved might think that noone cares. I wonder if it might be good to establish a little e-postcard checklist that could be sent out to someone who has lapsed a bit, just to ease (or alarm) the minds of the rest and to clarify the situation to everyone's benefit. It might
include some of the following:

I have not been blogging recently because:

I am really sick and can't even focus to see the keyboard.
Please leave me alone.
Please send flowers and lots of email.

My inlaws/old college roommates/IRS auditors are here.
Please leave me alone.
Please distract me with lots of email.

My dog/cat died.
Please leave me alone.
Please send flowers and lots of email.

I am having a nervous breakdown.
Please leave me alone.
Please send flowers and lots of email.

I have lost my internet connection.
Please send money.
It's pointless--I can't even get this email.

I have lost my job/spouse/house/lover/therapist.
Please leave me alone.
Please send money/spouse/house/lover/therapist.

I hate blogging this week and never want to blog again.
Please leave me alone.
Please blog why I am right.
Please blog why I am wrong.

I had a birthday/anniversary/blogging anniversary/great blog entry/conference and no one noticed/came.
Please leave me alone.
Please call me on the phone, everyone.
Please send chocolate.

No one understands me anyway.
Please leave me alone.
Please just pretend I'm Chris Locke and don't try to understand me.
Please just pretend you understand me and leave clever comments.

I think I'm a manic/depressive blogger. Sometimes I'm real excited about blogging and sharing things I've seen/found/read, and then other times I feel like there's no point and my life is boring and no one cares. Do I need a blog therapist?

Friday, November 15, 2002

If this doesn't make you hungry for soy sauce, I don't know what will. (warning: flash file might take a while to download on slower connections)
Honey, can we get a guard dragon?? Please, please???

Thursday, November 14, 2002

Great movie lines (for Jon Barlow):

"You can't count the one in South Bend. He died of pneumonia."

"He wouldn't have died of pneumonia if I hadn't shot him."
O Fortuna, as Carl might put it. I just found a copy of Baudolino at, of all places, the Mebane public library. For those who don't know, I tend to mortgage the house to buy a book rather than check one out of a taxpayer funded library. Just finding this book there at all shocked me so much that I broke my rule. (Actually I just have so many unread books at home that the pressure of returning one to the library seems too onerous.)

Monday, November 11, 2002


What box do you get put in?

brought to you by Quizilla

I generally don't post these, but this seemed to ring a bit more true than most.

Sunday, November 10, 2002

In other news, I just finished Luke Timothy Johnson's book on the NT. Thought it was just terrific. The sections on Mark, John, and Titus were especially provocative or me. I'm really looking forward to sharing some of the stuff I've been learning next summer in SS, but I'm a bit nervous as well. Haven't taught SS in about 7 years now. I hope that as long as I enjoy the material, I can make someone else at least mildly interested.
We just saw The Comedian. In that spirit, I'll let you in on the funny license plate I saw today: AHOY M8E

You can use that on 'talk like a pirate day.'

Thursday, November 07, 2002

A little about where we live (from you know what):


mebane is a retired no (?)
mebane is entering his third season as an assistant women's basketball coach with the lady pirates and sixth year with hampton university basketball
mebane is currently the center for global business education and research executive in residence for 2001
mebane is ready to pass the baton
mebane is less traffic than rockville
mebane is growing three times faster than the rest of alamance county and has more than doubled in the last 20 years
mebane is part of a five (remember that the next time you want to build a 5)
mebane is the leading domestic supplier to many major multinational companies in these market segments
mebane is the largest us supplier to multinational drug companies and is exceptionally well positioned for growth in packaging demand related to new drug
mebane is a dobe mix
mebane is approximately 4754
mebane is often seen chasing down ball carriers 20 yards down the field
mebane is a big time talent
mebane is to the westminster kennel club (I guess that means we're all on vacation)
mebane is located in alamance county just east of burlington along highway 70 near the eno river
mebane is the home of several mills and beautiful golf courses
mebane is not recorded to have had any contact with the di (before OR after her death)
mebane is his masterpiece (I like to think so)
mebane is located in two counties
mebane is a great place to live
mebane is the 9 (can't make a 5 without a 9 I always say)
mebane is no further than 50 miles from any of these cities
mebane is a lifetime resident of washington
mebane is a popular relocation city because it is convenient to both the triangle
mebane is a k (can't spell 5 without a k)
mebane is about an hour west of raleigh
mebane is located between greensboro (making it greensmebaneboro)
mebane is very close and it has good roadways into the triangle
mebane is in part explained by their accessibility to interstate 40
mebane is a small town
mebane is just down the interstate from oxford
mebane is located in the research triangle area of north carolina
mebane is located (we sure are)
mebane is a middle school that serves students in grades 6 (what about 5 and 9???)
mebane is situated at the crossroads between the research triangle park and the triad area of greensboro
mebane is a manufacturer of custom folding cartons
mebane is centrally located between raleigh and greensboro
mebane is in the business of manufacturing textile products and engaged the debtor to dye and finish its fabrics (will be married to the debtor soon)
mebane is made evident by the 300 students who voluntarily enroll in his courses each year
mebane is a chartered financial analyst who holds ba and mba degrees from the university of north carolina at chapel hill
mebane is a professional wedding consultant in austin texas and a member of the association of certified wedding consultants
mebane is associate professor of government at cornell university
mebane is in second place with 4 points (and 4 and 5 make 9, right?)
mebane is pulling together comprehensive packaging redesign programs for their major accounts
mebane is running for a newly created house seat in alamance county (all of us in one seat--good thing we're skinny)
mebane is in the 919 area code
mebane is a small
mebane is cooking on a little hot plate and has a little toaster
mebane is also undergoing growth pressures and coordinated planning is necessary to develop appropriate urban
mebane is the home of the mebane royall company which manufacturers a nationally
mebane is founded as north carolina begins mass (NC--the Catholic State)
mebane is married to his wife of twenty years
mebane is always a great choice (!)
mebane is a community
mebane is a leading domestic supplier to major multinational companies in those market segments and also participates in markets for high (who ISN'T in the market for high)
mebane is good on the ideological beginnings of the british "empire" in his discussion of drake
mebane is close to chapel hill
mebane is on i (it's the little dot)
mebane is a romantic
mebane is hosting wimbledon next year (good excuse for you to come visit)
mebane is quick to add that the online course will never completely replace the current summer institute
mebane is my husband
mebane is a city partly in alamance county and partly in orange county north carolina
mebane is the senior vice (amen to that)

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

I think I should use my googlisms for my title, don't you?

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

I just noticed that Jack Chick got mentioned in a blurb on The Onion this week. It's down towards the bottom.
And one more thing. I think we should all beg our local theaters to show this movie. Looks terrific.
Also, in case you didn't see this on jon barlow's site, here's a great story.
But maybe this is more fun:

baxter is in talks to settle tainted
baxter is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer
baxter is the only supplier that has increased the number of rfviii units into the north
baxter is to pay 12 percent of the manufacturers' share
baxter is taking this for a song
baxter is scottish
baxter is y
baxter is een internationale organisatie op het gebied van medische producten en diensten en is een leider in technologie–Ľn gerelateerd aan bloed en
baxter is not responsible for the content of any linked site or any link contained in a linked site
baxter is a community built on the pride of generations of rural iowa families
baxter is provided by an elected mayor and city council
baxter is a place to listen
baxter is the author of four short story collections
baxter is among the top 3 realtors in brockton
baxter is making a habit out of collecting most outstanding player honors in ncaa regionals and helping his team reach the final four
baxter is located in a beautiful section on the western end of putnam county
baxter is the snack bar with its informal and "authentic williams" atmosphere
baxter is thinking over his next move as he faces the prospect of being banned from
baxter is to appeal against the international olympic committee's decision to strip him of his
baxter is 'definitely motivated right now
baxter is a complex cross of wheats including cook
baxter is constantly investing in its business in order to continue its development into the future
baxter is a leading developer and manufacturer of products and therapies used in transfusion medicine
baxter is preparing to take on amgen
baxter is being supported by the british ski and snowboard federation and the british olympic association in his appeal
baxter is to lodge an appeal in an attempt to clear his name of using a performance
baxter is the owner and trainer of harness race horses
baxter is a _skinnable_ irc client for the beos
baxter is taking basic sf ideas and rebuilding them based on current science
baxter is recognized as a global leader in developing
baxter is out to convince you that the
baxter is like the antichrist compared to the american sentimentality of dogs
baxter is the neighborhood that comes to mind as the quintessential american neighborhood
baxter is the epitome of a traditional neighborhood
baxter is determined to make shredder and krang pay for turning him into a hideously deformed mutant and to get his revenge on everybody in the whole wide world
baxter is set to appeal against the international olympic
baxter is a british writer of what some call hard sf
baxter is prepared to act as a single joint expert
baxter is at the epicenter of a furious dispute at the university of notre dame
baxter is representative
baxter is currently completing a manufacturing plant in neuchatel
baxter is expecting to release additional product in may of 2000
baxter is developing into a real horticultural hotspot
baxter is a cute 4 yr old spayed orange and white male brittany
baxter is the wide
baxter is a member of the american society of the order of st
baxter is unmissable
baxter is the industry leader in needle
baxter is british
baxter is a french horror film about an amoral
baxter is set to take his battle for the return of his olympic bronze medal to the european court
baxter is katahdin
baxter is a powerful communicator who relates well with his students
baxter is definitely the king of the castle
baxter is three years old and is a chihuahua
baxter is one of the great rock and roll guitar players
baxter is 25
baxter is one of the world's leading suppliers of biopharmaceuticals
baxter is a true visionary
baxter is standing in a forest of rich flora and fauna
baxter is providing a training kit to help you become comfortable with the use of the baxject device
baxter is doing great
baxter is a quadroon
baxter is on track to continue its extraordinary performance in providing comprehensive services and applications that enable users of prophet by baxter? to
baxter is a fairly new group
baxter is inevitably dated
baxter is not a bad person
baxter is a very good dog
baxter is a definite nba player
baxter is gone
baxter is not afraid of the conspiracies of abuse and narratives of confession
baxter is spreading his wings
baxter is one of the world's most highly acclaimed painters of golf landscapes
baxter is very difficult to handle
baxter is no longer the first british skier to win an olympic medal
baxter is a 10
My selection from googlism:
paul is dead' clues
paul is dead hoax
paul is leaving
paul is arrested in the temple
paul is not dead
paul is live withdrawn issue
paul is beheaded
paul is our savior
paul is live by paul mccartney music at cd universe
paul is a good host city for the
paul is "good to go"
paul is dead'
paul is dead" myth
paul is
paul is at best lukewarm about the usa patriot act
paul is born
paul is dead ii
paul is dead
paul is dead' hoax
paul is dead" story
paul is dead the rumors of the death of paul mccartney www
paul is dead" myth has generated more rumors and speculation for the
paul is walking with his eyes closed
paul is dead select
paul is dead story lives once more
paul is dead guide picks
paul is dead rumors
paul is dead hoax by john t
paul is dead supposedly paul mccartney
paul is dead introduction
paul is dead?
paul is live _______________an interactive drama about a dead rock star makes a long
paul is 'pop billionaire' sir paul is laughing all the way to the bank sir paul mccartney has been named britain's first
paul is dead" von hendrik handloegten
paul is dead" rumor
paul is arrested in the temple acts 21
paul is live released
paul is live sampler cd
paul is in prison
paul is live
paul is dead' legend ever since
paul is dead" mania
paul is live by paul mccartney information
paul is a good host city for the league of historic american theatres 2002 conference
paul is dead' is the message one hears if you play the final lyrics of "i'm so tired" from the beatles' white album
paul is "good to go" by reno kling
paul is dead"
paul is dead" myth the following
paul is dead page
paul is dead clues
paul is live in cleveland

Monday, November 04, 2002

WOW! Just noticed something very cool. Everyone can now, through the magic of the internet (and MP3 technology) listen to the my favorite pastors. Just hop over to the church site and click on the "audio" link at the top right. You can save the files or listen to them online. I knew some of my fellow deacons (or maybe just Mike Lunday) had been working on it, but hadn't noticed it myself til just now. For those who are in ignorance, David Bowen is a GREAT preacher, as are the other members of our pastoral staff. Enjoy.

Saturday, November 02, 2002

Ah, the impulse buy. We've all experienced it now and then. Some of us more than others I woud guess. Perhaps you eye that twix bar at the grocer check out line, or perhaps the magazine about how Oprah's parents are space aliens going back 4 generations. Oh perhaps you are poking around ebay and say, "hey, who couldn't use a combination pez dispenser--can opener--rectal thermometer". Well, for me it just happened at Nice Price Books in Carrboro (aka the Paris of the Piedmont). Any author who has his books translated into esperanto needs to be watched closely, but when he writes one called Merde: Excursions into Scientific, Cultural and Socio-Historical Coprology, by one Ralph a Lewin, perhaps one can forgive, and perhaps even enjoy, his linguistic idiosyncrasies. I may or may not torture you readers with excerpts over the next few days, depending on how nice you are to me. (One might call this "brownmail")

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

I really like this entry. Hadn't though about it much in that context, But I've long believed that there is a directly inverse relationship between work on the one hand and getting into trouble on the other. At least this is true for me :)

Monday, October 28, 2002

If you really want to remember the 80's, I think this sums it up pretty well. If I understand correctly, MAME stands for Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator. (Deaconpaul does not endorse albinoblacksheep, but they have some funny stuff.)

Sunday, October 27, 2002

Back from the mountains today. Good, relaxing time. Got a lot of reading in, did a jigsaw puzzle and saw My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Very funny movie. Also funny was Daniel Pinkwater's novel, The Afterlife Diet, which was, to put it bluntly, a book about an afterlife spefically for fat people. It also contained perhaps the worst sci-fi short story I've ever read. Something about wereakeets. If you find it cheap somewhere (like I did), I'd recommend picking it up. Or just ask to borrow mine.

Sunday, October 20, 2002

Heading out for vacation tomorrow morning, so this will be the last blog til next week (unless I blog in the morning before I go). A wonderfully generous couple at our church gives out use of their mountain cabin for a very small fee to cover utilities. Same place we went on our honeymoon, which was good cuz we were quite broke then. We had our fourth anniversery on the 17th and my wife had her first 29th birthday today, so we've been celebrating a bit. Unfortunately, my wife sems to have contracted something or other, so we're hoping this doesn't ruin our vacation plans too much.

On the plus side, we just finished up our church missions conference, or Global Outreach, as I believe the new term is. Dr Walter Kaiser was our guest speaker this year. We've always had only top notch people in for our conferences in the past, and this year was certainly no exception. Dr. Kaiser, if you haven't heard him yourself, is very warm and funny in his speeches. He was one of my very favrite guest speakers when I was a student at Houghton. One of the highlights (from Saturday night) was him saying, "The english versions never translate this correctly. I did the NIV translation for this book, but the committees overruled me on this verse." If you care to know what it was, the verse in question is from II Samuel 7. Verse 19 in the NIV says ". . .Is this your usual way of dealing with people?" The word in the Hebrew is Torah, which of course is law or commandment generally.

Ok, time to start packing.

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

I believe this might be the most useful thing I've seen on the web to date.
Thanks to Valerie (don't call me Val) for another free commenting system for me to try till it stops working like the others :)

Monday, October 14, 2002

As promised, here are some thoughts on honor and shame as they relate to I Timothy ch 2.

In my continuing study of New Testament issues, by far the most intriguing and provocative book I've come across has been Bruce Malina's The New Testament World: Insights From Cultural Anthropology. If you wish to understand the NT and the characters in it better, I highly recommend it. But for those who are limited in time and money, I'll share a few things on the topic of honor and shame whih prof. Malina addressed therein.

There are a whole host of ways in which the man or woman of 1st century Judea is different from the man or woman of 21st century United States. One of the most fundamental of these is the function of the family. In our world the area on which people focus the most attention is the economic or financial area. As a reslut of this "the organizing principle of American life is instrumental mastery--the individual's ability to control his or her environment, personal and impersonal, in order to attain quality-oriented success: wealth, ownership, "good looks", proper grades, and all other measurable indications of success." (All quotes will be from the above mentioned book)

By contrast, the focal institution of the 1st cent. Mediterranean person is the family. The family is everything. As we have ways in our society of measuring how we are doing by societal standards, so the 1st century person. The rules by whih thy judged themselves were called honor and shame. Briefly, honor is "a claim to worth which is socially acknowledged", and shame, in the positive sense, is "sensitivity about one's own reputation, sensitivity to the opinion of others." Both of these, as you will notice, are qualities which can apply to both male and female, but they did apply differently.

The primary symbol of male honor is the testicles (which leads to interesting discussion of eunuchs in the bible), and they stand for the virtues of "manliness, courage, authority over family, willingness to defend one's reputation, and refusal to submit to humiliation." The symbol of female honor is the maidenhead, which stands for "sexual exclusiveness, discretion, shyness, restraint, and timidity." This is what Malina terms the sexual division of labor. '[H]onor delegates implicit goodness or virtue as expressed in sexual exclusiveness to females, and social precedence with the duty of defending female exclusiveness to the males. This sort of division of labor get replicated in arrangements of space." This refers to places which are exclusively female and in which females are allowed: kitchen, the (public) well the (public) oven, sewing, etc. All these things face inwards to the home. Things which face outwards are male such as the fields and other villages. In the areas of intersection, females could be there if they had a chaperone, or if no males wre present.

When it comes to the nitty gritty of life, if one was speaking of honor or shame, honor, then, is the male value and shame is the female one. Malina has a chart which shows shared, male, and female honor and shame. For males he lists increase-decrease (honor can wax and wane through challenges), sexually aggressive, authority, defense of family honor, concern for prestige, concern for precedence, aggressiveness, daring, boldness. For female he lists once lost, not regained (as opposed to male honor), sexually exclusive, submission to authority, unwillingness to risk, concern for shame-shyness, deference, passivity, timid, restraint. As a side note, he lists some families and institutions as being considered irretrievably shameless: husbands acting as pimps, tavern and inn owners, actors, and prostitutes. Also "men who must go out for protracted periods of time without thier women, such as traders, traveling merchants, certain types of shepherds, wandering preachers and the like, necessarily leave their honor in doubt, since thier wives are left alone for long periods."

If you've followed so far, in spite of my poor presentation, I'll point out that these things were not considered "ideals", taher they were just how societies understood the rlose of male and female. There was plenty of room for discussion of what men and women "should" be doing. This leads us to I Tim. 2. I'll quote some portions from the NASB:
1. First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men . . .8. Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension. 9. Likewise, I want the women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments; 10 but rather by means of good works, as befits women making a claim to godliness. 11 Let a woman quietly receive instruction . . .15But women shall be preserved [or saved] through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self restraint.


You will notice the socially prevalent view of men and women demonstrated in this passage, but also instruction on what Paul thought men and women "should" be doing. As for men, their outward focus should be leading them to pray for all men, specifically mentioning kings in v 2. However they need to do so without falling into arguments and fights, which were also male typical.

The females need to be sensitive to the honor of thier families, thus adorning themselves with good works. They should do this in a properly female (in this context) submissiveness. But they need to avoid the vanity of exterior showiness. I would add that women "receiving instruction" was somthing of an abberation in this culture. Typically those who were disciples of a teacher were males. In the gospel story of Mary and Martha, you see Martha's disgust at Mary's behavior since she was taking the male-disciple role, rather than the female-homemaker role. As to the mysteries of vs15, let me provisionally suggest that Paul's emphasis is on the latter part of the sentence. The idea that women attain eternal salvation through having babies os certainly froeign to the rest of the bible. Perhaps Paul is saying that God will preserve the women, even through the immense difficulty of childbirth, if they remain faithful.

I hope that I've shed more light than I think I have. Feel free to email comments on any confusions, poor grammar, bad logic or anything else.

Sunday, October 13, 2002

This is horrible, but wasn't this story in the bible?
It's about time that we all remembered the wonder which was president Carter. Just too good to pass up.

Saturday, October 12, 2002

The bread pudding just came out of the oven. Waiting for it to cool a bit. Spent the last twenty minutes or so on the phone with my friend/hero Mark Horne. Hang in there, Mark :) Hadn't actually spoken to him in about three years, so it was nice to just hear his voice. He said he's planning on coming to NC for our denomination's general assembly next year, so I really look forward to that. Mmmmmm, I think it should be cool enough now. Next time I blog I should be about 8 pounds heavier.
Lenise is out of town for the weekend, so I'm trying to kep busy on my own. Went to the grocery store to try to find a cutard pie, but no luck, so I'm making my other favorite: bread pudding with whisky sauce, possibly a la mode. The butter's softening right now. Anyone wanna come over and try some?

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

I take it back. We did learn one thing at the town meeting: how much a new fire truck costs. Anyone want to guess? If you guessed $360,000, you are WRONG. The actual cost is over $700,000. They managed to get it financed at 3.9%, so it did fit in the budget somehow.

Monday, October 07, 2002

Feeling like I haven't been bloging enough. Lenise and I went to the Mebane town council meeting tonight. Didn't learn too much, but got to see how some of the personalities in town behave. The members of the council all seemed reasonabloe and intelligent, apart from one lady who sat on the end and said nothing throughout the meeting.

Afterwords we had a quick dinner and watched Unbreakable on the new DVD player. I suppose on reflection it might be considered a reverse comic book tale. The characters are established at the end of the film, while the big conflict (of sorts) is at the beginning. Was well put together, but I just think the story wasn't all that great. Last night we watched Outland, an old Western set in space/the future. I loved all the little Western elements: the swinging doors, the sheriff forced to mete out justice by himself, the plucky woman (in this case a doctor), and all the bad guy-gunslingers. My wife hated it. Oh well.

Thursday, October 03, 2002

Strangely enough, yesterday morning on NPR I heard an interview with author Neenah Ellis about her new book If I Live to be One Hundred.Speaking of which, as far as I could tell, I was, at thirty three, the youngest person at the service yesterday.

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

Went to work this morning; normal tuning plus needed a bunch of capstans regulated (don't ask); dentist appointment; quick lunch; pick up Mrs Thomas; take the two of us to Mrs. Coates' funeral; fairly long episcopal burial service; reception; take Mrs. Thomas back home; drive up to duke to visit with Dave Long after his back surgery (he's doing well); down to Boston Market to pick up food; take food to Hoffman's house (their baby is doing well); buy gas; drive back to Mebane; dinner is on the stove/in the microwave now.

Now I just have to eat, go back to Durham for music practice, and come home one more time and I'm done. Ok, I need to do the dishes too. They're piling a bit now. And go feed Tom's cat.

Did you ever have one of those days?

Friday, September 27, 2002

Just found out that my friend, Gladys Hall Coates, aka Mrs Albert Coates, died, not unexpectedly, on Wednesday. She turned 100 in May of this year.

I met Mrs Coates in late Feb. or early March of 1998, around the same time I was dating Lenise. I was introduced to her by another customer/friend, Rebecca Ballentine, a retired librarian. Mrs. Coates was recovering from hip replacement surgery and needed some help around the house. For those who don't already know, I was in the cleaning/janitorial business at that time. From the very beginning, my relationship with Mrs Coates was different from any with my other customers. Most people were happy to outline what they wanted done and then would stay out of the way, either in a different room, or out of the house altogether. Mrs. Coates though had a definate opinion on how each task in her home was to be done. This caused some friction at first to say the least. Eventually I did resign myself to the fact that I would be under close scrutiny much of the time and got used to it, more or less. The other big difference was that Mrs Coates expected for her money that I would do pretty much anything she would ask rather than a set routine of duties. This also took some getting used to, but was also a bit of fun or a change of pace on occasion. I would often be called on to weed the periwinkle in the front of the house, or to drive Mrs Coates to the grocery store. She had no washing machine, so I found that fairly regularly I was taking her sheets and towels home to wash.

None of this yet gives a true picture of her personality. Other than being something of an exacting taskmaster, she was rather kind and generous. She would always inquire about my well being, my wife after I was married, our search for a house, and our vacations. I was quite honored to have her as a guest at my wedding. She was very well known in the community among those who have been in Chapel Hill for long. She played the piano and had written some songs. She enjoyed botany, history, politics, poetry, Shakespeare, and religion. And of course, she was a great reader.

In the later part of 2000, at 98 years of age, Mrs Coates mind started weakening. She would become confused a bit on what things she had told me and what things I had already done. By this time I had formes a bit of a routine, so I did continue to do pretty much the same things for her as I had been doing. The close scrutiny dropped off quite a bit though, especially as her strength was faltering as well. when I returned from Christmas break in Jan of 2001, she was convinced I had moved away and hadn't told her. Around late summer 2001 her neighbors and friends talked her into hiring a full time assistant. A charming woman named Jackie Gray. Unfortunately for Jackie, Mrs Coates' senility hightened some of her less desirable qualities, so she, Jackie, had to endure some meanness which I hadn't seen. Through no fault of my own, however, Mrs C. kept a fairly positive attitude toward me fot the rest of the time I worked for her. My friendship and work relationship with Mrs. C. ended on January 16th of this year. Those who were looking after her and her finances decided she needed more full time medical help and needed to cut back elsewhere. Of course I had been pretty much out of the cleaning business other than servicing a few existing customers, so I wasn't surprised.

I had always meant to go back to check in on her from time to time, but somehow never got around to it. Death is not something that scares me, but I don't find it attractive either. I do plan on attending the funeral next week. I can't really say she was taken before her time, but I do look forward to renewing our acquaintance in heaven someday.

Thursday, September 26, 2002

I am excited and surprised to say that my shepherding group is going to be studying one of Tom Wright's books this fall. Most likely Paul For Everyone: Galatians and Thessalonians. I don't remember any group ever taking my suggestion for a study before, which is why I'm surprised. Plus the fact that we'll be reading Wright should, I hope, lead to good and fruitful discussion.

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

I aproached reading E P Sanders with some trepidation. My opinion of him was formed by N T Wright, who, by my recollection, descibed him as a key figure in restoring New Testament studies to a jewish context, but was mistaken about a, b, c, d, and e, which I don't remember. So far The Historical figure of Jesus has been very reasonable and conservative in the sense that he doesn't make any wild or bizarre claims. The most unorthodox thing so far has been that he has treated the gospels as something like historical fiction, that is, the gospel writers, when trying to make a particular point about Jesus, would make up a plausible story or invent a few of the contextual details to help flesh it out. Kind of a "based on real events" sort of thing. He makes up for this, to me at least, by not even mentioning, even in passing, the dreaded Q. (Sorry for my comma overuse. I'm trying not to use so many parentheses.)

I was struck in particular this morning by this pasage on miracles:

A lot of Christians, and possibly even more non-Christians, think that central to Christianity is the view that Jesus could perform miracles because he was more than a mere human being. We shall take walking on water as an example. A vast majority of people today think that it is impossible to walk on water. Some Christians, though by no means all, think that they are required to believe that Jesus could do so; this ability was limited to him, since he was more than human. Many non-Christians also think that Christians must believe this. Moreover, a lot of Christians and non-Christians think that the faith of the first century Christians depended on Jesus miracles.

Historically, none of this is accurate [ . . .] we shall see that in the first century Jesus' miracles were not decisive in deciding whether or not to accept his message and also that they did not 'prove' to his contemporaries that he was superhuman. The idea that he was not a real human being arose in the second century, but it was eventually condemned as heresy. [. . .] The definitive statement on this issue is that he is 'of one subtance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin' --not, 'apart from the ability to walk on water.'

Tuesday, September 24, 2002


Since I don't have comments at the moment, I'll share what my friend Michael Straight sent be about the dave Barry column/cartoon:
But, but...

I don't recall anyone anywhere villifying tobacco growers. They're
always
the innocent victims who have been tragically, unknowingly growing a
deadly crop and must somehow find a new means of supporting themselves
now
that the evil schemes of the tobacco companies have been uncovered and
we
are all shocked (shocked!) to discover that tobacco isn't good for us.

link to relevant site

So giving money to the poor farmers who are innocent civilian
casualties
in the War on Tobacco makes pefect sense by the logic of the whole
anti-tobacco movement. Now if NC had used the money to give tax breaks
to
RJR or something, that might have made a funny cartoon...

Monday, September 23, 2002

I don't know if I've made it clear to everyone exactly how good a writer Robertson Davies is. the only reason I don't say more about him is that he tends to leave me a bit breathless. But I guess the kicker is this--by common acclamation, Murther and Walking Spirits is his worst novel. Having read, as far as I can tell, all of his novels now, I think I would concur. and yet so many passages in the book just astonished me. The premise of the novel is strange, and it's sevelopment is stranger yet. The main character dies in the first sentence. If this isn't strange enough, he spends the vast majority of the book in disembodies form, watching a film festival which has been organized by his murderer. Since the story is only told from his perspective, it isn't certain, but it seems that the films the ghost, Connor Gilmartin, is watching are not the same films which the living in the theater are watching. Mr Gilmartin's films all are about his ancestors, told in a vareity of tales from the early 18th century to the mid 20th. The are not, in my opinion, of even quality in terms of holding the reader's interest, but as I mentioned, there are some priceless moments of prose strewn about. In the end Gilmartin, through circumstances a bit complicated to explain here, attempts, unsuccessfully, to comunicate with his wife and his colleague/murederer, with whom his wife was having an affair. The book ends with the murderer attempting to find forgiveness, or at least some relief from guilt, and I'm pleased to say that the end was indeed the high point of the book, but I won't give it away.

Hmm. Didn't intend to write a whole review. Guess I just wanted to get in a good plug for someone who, though dead himself, has been a bit of a companion to me over the last two years.

Saturday, September 21, 2002

Interesting looking review here
In the 20th century, however, Gosse was seen mainly through the dark gaze of his son and only child, the man of letters Sir Edmund Gosse (1849-1928). In the classic Father and Son, Gosse the younger portrayed his father as a stern Puritan fanatic, ever-alert to “popish practices” such as the celebration of Christmas. Learning from his guilt-stricken small son that the servants had made a Christmas pudding, he stormed into the kitchen and threw “the idolatrous confectionery” into the fire.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

The cartoon in this column by america's favorite libertarian might be the funniest political cartoon I've ever seen.

Monday, September 16, 2002

I'm of the opinion that if you read enough philosophers, eventually you'll find one who seems to really groove with things you have thought about yourself. For me I just really enjoy Epictetus. How can you resist things like this:
If we had sense we ought to do nothing else, in public and in private, than praise and bless god and pay him due thanks. Ought we not, as we dig and plough and eat, to sing the hymn to god? "Great is god that he has given us these instruments wherewith we shall till the earth. Great is god that he has given us hands, and power to swallow, and a belly, and the power to grow without knowing it, and to draw breath in our sleep." At every moment we ought to sing these praises and above all the greatest and divinest praise, that god gave us the faculty to comprehend these gifts and to use the way of reason.
--from discourses, section On Providence


Just received a nice email from one Sarah Dennis at SPCK about availability of NT Wright's books here in the US. She advised me that they are all availabe from Pilgrim Press (at least the ones SPCK published), and that I should get info from them. Nothing I didn't already know here. But it was nice to get a response. Nothing about amazon in there though.

Friday, September 13, 2002

Haven't felt like bloging much lately. A bit on the busy side, plus the material I was going to write about intimidated me a bit. Last Sunday was quite interesting. There was humor, celebration and tragedy all in a three hour period, and if I was a great writer I would be able to tel it all in a poignant way. If you've read Louis de Berniers you would know what I mean. In any event there's a funeral service tomorrow for the stillborn child of one of the elders of our church. The boy was delivered early Sunday morning.

Other than that things are good. Bruce Malina's book is amazingly insiteful, though some of it is a bit questionable. I would recommend it to anyone wisheing to know a bit more about NT background and some random and surpring insites about various NT passages.

About a Boy has one of the funniest characters I've ever come accross in fiction. Haven't seen the movie yet, so I don't know if Hugh Grant did Will freeman justice. If you get a chance, you should read it before you see the movie. That goes triple (or more) for Corelli's Mandolin. From what I've heard, you shouldn't see that one under any circumstances.

Monday, September 09, 2002

Got this link from jdominator. In case you want so do an elgoog no hcraes. This is one way that "Paul Baxter" won't get to my site first. I didn't try "luapnocaed" though.

Friday, September 06, 2002

A list of my fun for the day.

1. I got to hold a ball python (belonged to one of my customers). Snake (of the non-venomous variety) are fun to hold.

2 Same customer told me a joke:

A couple has a child. Thoughout childhood, the kid never say anything. They have him tested for deafness and psychological disorders, but all the tests come back negative. Still never says a word. Finally, at six years old, during the dinner hour, the child says "these mashed potatoes are cold." The parents are beside themselves. "Why didn't you ever say anything before? We knew you were able to talk. Why didn't you say anything!!" Child: "Up until now, everything was fine."

3. Watched a favorite movie that I saw without my wife when she was on a trip a couple years back, Love Serenade. "I have reason to believe he might be a fish." In a quiet, understated, australian kind of way this os one of the funniest movies about love, sex, siblings, and fish. Go check it out.

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

I hope y'all like the new format. it's quite a bit cleaner, for now. The only trouble I had was that the links on the left wre too long, and for some reason they pushed down where the posts started. Kinda weird.

Anyhoo, Monday night we went to a birthday party, the high point of which was the opening of a particular gift: The Complete Schoolhouse Rock DVD Set. We watched that for about an hour before we started getting sleepy. Those dudes wrote some GREAT songs. My personal favorites were the number seven (with the lucky rabbit), and the "verb" song. I've had that verb song stuck in my head since then. Something finally to push the Larry Boy theme out.
Testing new format.

Friday, August 30, 2002

I had ordered a copy of N T Wright's Mark For Everyone from Amazon for my birthday.That was back in May. A couple months later I got an email saying the status of the book had been changed to "not yet published". They would send it to me as soon as it was available. Yetserday I get a note saying that despite superhuman efforts on their behalf, despite all the trials and tribulations, the blood, sweat and tears, the toils and travails, the weeping and gnashing of virtual teeth, they simply would not be able to get the book to me. Perhaps someone should tell Mr Wright (or SPCK) that his books aren't being made available here. I could have oredered it from the UK site and had it back in May I imagine.


In other news, I'm finding much help on NT background from Bruce Malina's book. The only annoying thing is that it appears to be written for college freshmen. He spends a bit too long defing all his terms (like "culture" and "anthropology"). But his insights so far are good. I now know what the term "religion" means in a first century context.

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

More NPR silliness, for your enjoyment. There's a local show called The State of Things, devoted to local people and issues here in NC. The quality varies tremendously, depending on how interesting the guest is on his or her own. The host (bless her heart) doesn't add much. I won't give her name so as not to embarass her too much (and so she can't find this post), but here's what she said on a show promo yesterday: "How well do you know your grammar? We all know i before e except after c, but do we really know the other rules of grammar? Our guest today is the 'grammar lady' . . ."

As only Dave Barry can adequately put it, I'm not making this up.
In sibling rivalry news, last I checked (two days ago) I was the top Paul Baxter on google. However, my brother is WAY down at number three. Not a bad site for an academic though.

Friday, August 23, 2002

Had a first in my work yesterday, though I imagine it won't be the last. I was working at the piano store in the morning. I typically spend two to four days a month over there helping them keep their pianos repaired and in tune. They've been just an incredible source of business for me, so I'm willing to put up with the low money they pay me and the occasional irritation. Doug, the store manager, had two pianos for me to work on yesterday. The first wasn't much of a piano, but it tuned up without too many problems. The second had a sign on it saying, "under repairs". I couldn't remember if I had worked on it before, but I was shortly to receive confirmation that I had certainly not. I opened up the case and found a couple of pick-up sticks jutting out of the action at odd angles (You remember pick-up sticks, don't you?). I began looking for other foreign objects. I noticed a number of springs that had gotten dislodged, which is not too unusual. I also noticed a sizable ball of fuzz, maybe four inches long. I got out my long tweezers to remove the fuzz and noticed that it was pretty hard in the middle. It also had a tail. Within moments I was holding the remains of a mouse (in the tweezers, not in my hands if you're wondering). I brought it over to Doug for closer inspection and his profesional opinion. "That mouse looks like he's seen better days. I wonder why the family didn't notice a smell?"

That will just have to remain a mystery. The piano was about three quarters of a step flat, whih is to say that if you played a C you got a note somewhere between B-flat and B. This would suggest to me that the piano had been seriously neglected for quite some time. More than that I cannot say.

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

I'm posting this in case you didn't see it at Chris O'Donnell's site. I do really hope that this gets challenged soon. I also don't understand how it would help the state finances to send kids to cshool who aren't there right now. Wouldn't that necessitate more expenses, larger class sizes and more teachers?

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Believe me when I say that I'm as sorry as you are that my pathetic somment system is down once again. But as they say, the internet is always a little bit broken.

At one point in my blog description I said it would contain my thoughts about music. This pretty much hasn't happened, as you tiny group of long term readers know. I don't listen to much contemporary music, so I generally don't join into discussions in that area. I do, though, have lots of opinions about "classical" music, and had a recent thought which I considered blogworthy. If you are not interested in classical music or or fairly ignorant in that area, just stop reading now or you'll just be bored (like you aren't already).

Here goes. There are some things in the history of music which have generally been considered, for lack of a better term, wrong turns. As an example, quite a lot of the music students I have talked too over the years have condisidered the work of the second Viennese school (Shoenberg, Webern etc.) to be such a wrong turn. This is not to say that a wrong turn doesn't lead to some good pieces here or there, or that it doesn't contribute to the development of future music. It's just an idea in music that for some reason or other just doesn't work. I and a very few others condiser the entire classical period to be an example of this, but that's not what I'm going to talk about. What I want to talk about is the piano concerto. I become convinced on Sunday evening that the piano concerto, especially as it came to be developed in the romantic era by folks like Tchaikovsky, Grieg, Brahms, and many others, was an idea that didn't work well. This realization hit me due entirely to the fact that WCPE, the local classical station, chose to play one of Bach's keyboard concertos, I believe it was number seven. This concerto was performed by a pianist and a small string group. The piano part ran pretty much without break through the piece, much of it soft (I'm keeping from the term piano to avoid confusion), and none of it very loud. Thus there was constant interaction between the piano and the other instruments. The effect was quite pleasant.

As I was listening, I thought of the Tchaikovsky concerto with its blastissimo portions and said to myself, something went wrong. I suppose what happened was simply that the modern symphony orchestra came about somewhere in the 19th century, thus the piano concerto evolved to fit the larger orchestra. As a consequence, the concerti became less "concerted" and more competitive. The piano in these concerti often played solo, or very loudly with the whole orchestra, or muddled along with sections of the orchestra. The parts are just not capable of being balanced due to the numbers involved.

Don't misunderstand me. I do enjoy many of these concerti. I also think the piano can make a good orchestral instrument. I've heard many syphonnic pieces where a piano added significantly to the overall color. But I think the piano concerto is a dead end, and I think this is borne out by the fact that very few piano concerti have found success since 1914. I would love to see more chamber music for piano though. Brahms and Dvorak, just to name two of my favorites, wrote absolutely wonderful music for pianos with small groups. I hope that more follow in their footsteps.

Friday, August 16, 2002

Was listening to NPR's Talk of the Nation yesterday as they discussed the teaching of Islam in schools and the lawsuit brought against UNC in that regard. Was fairly sedate. Then unintentional humor struck.

"We now hear from Catherine in Chapel Hill, North Carolina."

"Am I on?"

"Yes, go ahead."

"Ok, I'm a student at UNC so I wanted to weigh in on this"

"Yes, and what is your take on the situation?"

"Well, I'm, like, an honors student, or whatever . . ."

At that point I just started laughing and turned off the radio. I've pretty much becomeconvinced that the greatest problem in listening to NPR is the quality of callers they put on the air.

Thursday, August 15, 2002

I love living in Mebane. One of the reasons I love living in Mebane is that we have a local, and I mean LOCAL, phone company, Mebtel. Mebtel has a great deal on DSL service. I get the DSL bundled together with all the phone services (Caller ID, etc.) and the installation is free. So I signed up to get it this week. They said they'd be able to do it Friday morning. As it happened, today at about noon the tech showed up at my house. "We're real busy tomorrow," he said, "so can we install yours today?" It did take a bit of work to figure out how to make windows/IE realize that I was connected, but we're up and running now. Blogger's doing some construction, so I'll just tell you that my new email address is paulthepianoman@yahoo.com. I'll put it in the link to the left when blogger is ready for me.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Sometimes my varied readings supplement each other in a serendipitous way (and hey, you get the benefit). In chapter one of Moby Dick, Ishmael imagines a newspaper of the day:

'Grand Contested Election for the Presidency of the United States.
'WHALING VOYAGE BY ONE ISHMAEL.
'BLOODY BATTLE IN AFGHANISTAN'


Here is the rest of the story on the third point:

Throughout the 19th cent. the British and the Russians each attempted to create favorable economic/political/military relations with the small city-states lying between Russia and India. The Russsian were hoping to eventually mount an attack on India, the Brits hoped to forestall the same.

One of these small nations, with which we all have gained a bit a familiarity recently, is the Afgan capital of Kabul. The first reconnaisance of Kabul revealed that it was being ruled by one Dost Mohammed, and the scout/diplomat who met him suggested to the powers in Calcutta that he would be an ideal ally. Calcutta had other plans though. It was discovered that there was an exiled Afgan king in Persia, Shah Shujah; Calcutta figured that restoring the "rightful" ruler would win the hearts of the local.

Thus, the brits sent a military expedition to Kabul, defeated and took captive Dost Mohammed, and installed Shah Shujah on the throne. Unfortunately, the citizens of Kabul much prefered Dost Mohammed, and began to rally around his son, Akbar. In addition to this, a number of brits set up shop in Kabul to establish trade and were greatl yoffensive to the locals, not least due to stealing many of their wives.

In any case, in 1841 a riot broke out in Kabul. The British governor there refused to call in the military, who were stationed not terribly far away, in hopes that he could bribe his way to peace. This was unsuccessful, and he was hacked to death by the crowd. This left British decision making in Kabul to general Elphinstone, who was old, sick and ready to retire. Elphinstone showed no initiative at all, and eventually negotiated a treaty on January 1, 1842, whereby the Afgans would maintain friendly relations in exchange for a full evacuation by the British.

And so, on January 6, 1842, 16,000 British and Indian military and civilians left Kabul for the garrison at Jalalabad, some 80 miles away, and a five day hike through mountain passes. The locals were not content with this arrangement, and opened fire on them from the moment thy left the city. Afgan horsemen also rode in among the troops, plundering and driving of the baggage animals. With all the confusion, the group only managed to cover five miles the first day, and were now badly underequipped. Only one tent remained to be used by senior officers and the more prominent civilians. The rest had to sleep in the snow, with only their own clothes to burn for fuel. Needless to say, many froze to death.

The next day the camp moved on again, again facing sniping from the mountains. Raiders alsostole some of the large guns and forced the destruction of the others. Akbar himself showed up, claming to have come to escort them safely to Jalalabad. For payment, Akbar demanded hostages, and that the group move no further that day, so that things could be arranged in the next pass. Astoudingly and tragically, Elphinstone believed him and complied. The following day the camp moved into the four mile ling narrow mountain pass, but with no sign of an escort, nor of the food and provisions Akbar had also promised. As they moved on, however, they did discover what had been prepared for them, namely gunmen stationed on either side. Three thousand were left dead in the pass that day, with the rest coming through cold, tired, hungry and frost-bitten. Many Brtish officers and wives surrendered to the Afgans, but the attacks continued. By the end of the day only 750 of the troops and a third of the civilians were still alive.

Occasionally Akbar would show up, claiming he was doing all in his power but that the local tribesmen were beyond his control. Again, Elphinstone continued to believe, and pressed on. Two days later, on the 12th, Akbar again claimed to offer them safe passage. By this time they were down to less than 200 troops and about 2000 camp followers. Elphinstone, feeling he had no choice, went to parley with Akbar, but was now taken prisoner. He managed a message to the troops telling them to press on immediately. They discovered a barrier the Afgans had erected in a narrow gorge. The Afgans had apparently meant to finish them off here, but not expecting the brits to move at night, had left it unmanned. The brits immediately began to tear down the wall with their bare hands, but were soon discovered and attacked. This was the end of all discipline, and total confusion reigned. At this time one Dr. Brydon climbed the partially dismantled barricade, took the pony of a dying soldier and made off.

The rest of those who remained fought to the death right there. Dr Brydon, despite three further attacks and a mortal wound to his pony, made it to Jalalabad, the only member of the party to do so. And that, as another Paul would say, is the rest of the story.

Monday, August 12, 2002

ON THE READING AND ENJOYMENT OF A 19TH CENTURY NOVEL


One of the things I like about Trollope is this sort of thing from the opening of chapter two of Dr Thorne:

As Dr. Thorne is our hero -- or I should rather say my hero, a privilege of selecting for themselves in this respect being left to all my readers -- and as Miss Mary Thorne is to be our heroine, a point on which no choice whatever is left to anyone, it is only necessary that they should be introduced and explained in a proper, formal manner. I quite feel that an apology is due for beginning a novel with two long dull chapters full of description. I am perfectly aware of the danger of such a course. In so doing I sin against the golden rule which requires us to put our best foot foremost, the wisdom of which is recognized by novelists, myself among the number. It can hardly be expected that anyone will consent to anyone will go through with a fiction that offers so little of allurement in its first pages; but twist it as I will, I cannot do otherwise. I find that I cannot make poor Mr Gresham [introduced in ch 1] hem and haw and turn himself uneasily in his arm-chair in a natural manner till I have said why he is uneasy. I cannot bring in my doctor speaking his mind freely among the bigwigs till I have explained that it is in accordance with his usual character to do so. This is unartistic on my part, and shows want of imagination as well as want of skill. Whether or not I can atone for these faults my straightforward, simple story telling -- that, indeed, is very doubtful.

Friday, August 09, 2002

A couple of thoughts I have been thinking over the past few weeks and days:

1. One of the proper and most important tasks of academics in general is to make known what has been written in their field in other languages.

2 One of the proper and important tasks of philosophers in particular is to interact with scholars in other fields. I've been seeing a bit of this in theology, but it seems it should be going on in all academic (and non-academic?) disciplines.

3 (Unstated assumption of points one and two) One of the proper tasks of piano tuners is to tell other people what their jobs are.
SInce all the cool kids are doing a movie quote quiz, I thought I'd try my hand. These are all from favorite movies of mine (with the exception of one from my wife's favorite movie).

1 Orange Whip? Orange Whip? Three Orange Whips.
2 Sink me. (Said in the most foppish way imaginable)
3 I think Scrooge McDuck is sexy.
4 'ere I am, J H..
5 Watch out, he's a Fourierist!

Good luck. These are all remembered as best I can. My last viewing of any of these particular movies is about two years ago, so maybe I'll have a prize for someone who knows all the quotes and can spot a mistake.

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

Haven't had too much to blog about lately. I've traded a couple of e-mails with fellow blogger Telford Work (philosophy dept at Westmont) about pacifism, since he had been writing along pacifist lines before he took a bit of a blogging sabbatical. It's kinda funny to me that all his responses to me were things I believed in (the peaceful nature of Christ's conquering mission, the possibility of disobedience to gov't at particular points), but didn't really get to the heart of the issue, for me at least. He did suggest a few books, so I'll see if sometime I can nail down why some come out on either side of the pacifism question in the church. The question of "Is it ever justfiable within a Christian ethic to commit violence?" seems fairly straightforward. Wonder why it's created so much confusion.

Sunday, August 04, 2002

We rented Gosford Park and Amelie this weekend. I think I expected Gosford Park to be more light hearted than it was, but it was still good. Amelie, on the other hand, I thought was amazing. Plus it was good to see Dominique Pinon acting again after enjoying him in Delicatessan and Cite Des Enfants Perdu. Amelie actually WAS in a lighter mood than those films, though certainly with SOME heavy atmospheric elements. It would be nice if someone in Hollywood learned to make films that imaginative, besides Terry Gilliam.

Thursday, August 01, 2002

Sometimes I really wonder if people in this country believe that morality is local rather than universal. Case in point: I caught about twenty minutes of a discussion on the radio about changes in the nursing profession aver the last twenty years or so. The guests were two long time nurses, and at the point I started listening they were discussing the practice of recruiting nurses from other nations. One of the guests said, obviously being a bit hyperbolic here, "I just think this is about the most immoral thing thing can do."
Host: "In what way is it immoral?"
Guest 1: "Well for one thing, you are depleting these other countries of their most experienced nurses. The people coming are not the recent nursing school graduates, they are the nurses with experience."
Host: "But are they being paid the same as the other nurses?"
Guest 1: "Yes, we are all under the same contract . . ."
Guest 2: "But they are artificially depressing the wages, since the immigrant nurses are willing to work for lower wages"

This was followed by a bit of discussion about some studies that were done about ten years ago which indicated that there would be a big nursing surplus. As a result of these figures, many nursing schools closed and many hospitals laid off nurses.

What concerned me was the idea that paying someone a premium to move for a job is immoral. The context here is an international move, but one wonders how this is different than, say, an interstate move, or even an intercity move.

Leaving the distance issue aside, it seems to me that people just naturally have an aversion to seeing the power that money has over people. This is because many find it distasteful that those with more money de facto have more power than those who don't.

To spin the situation around, let's say that you have a job skill which enables you to earn $10 per hour where you live. This isn't a great wage by any means, but that is due to the fact that your job skill is common here. Now let's say that this particular job skill is in greater demand in Argentina, and a company there has offered you $20 per hour t owork there. Does this raise any moral issues to you. You might place more value on staying home with your friends and family, but that would of course be up to you. You might, in fact, resent having to make the decision at all. Maybe you were comfortable with your circumstances, but now you need to rethink them. In any case, what would be your MORAL case against the potential employer. If you turned the job down, wouldn't you express thanks for the offer?

To get back to my first statement, I think many are willing to condemn the exercise of our economic system, especially when it comes to international labor markets, without ever really examining what is going on, or what the alternatives would be. Should we forbid all alien laborers here? Would that make us MORE moral?

Monday, July 29, 2002

From W David Buschart's essay on Jaroslav Pelikan in Historians of the Christian Tradition comes this quote from A N Whitehead, apparently a favorite quote of Pelikan's:


When you are criticizing the philosophy of an epoch, do not cheifly direct your attentions to those intellectual positions which its exponents feel it necessary explicitly to defend. There will be some fundamental assumptions which adherents of al the variant systems within the epoch unconsciously presuppose. Such assumptions appear so obvious that people do not know what they are assuming because no other way of putting things has ever occurred to them. With these assumptions a certain limited number of types of philosophic systems are possible, and this group of systems constitutes the philosophy of an epoch.


This is well said, but still leaves quite open the question of how to identify these assuptions. And all questions are a bit more difficult for me at the moment since my AC gave out this afternoon.

Sunday, July 28, 2002

Made it back home safely. The wedding went fine, though my performance, to not put too fine a point on it, sucked. I did play better in the ceremony than I did during the rehearsal, but that's not saying much. Just glad it's over from that standpoint, and glad that Ehren is married now. He's one of the more introverted introverts I know, so I'm glad to see that that is not necessarily an impediment to marriage.

As I mentioned, the wedding was in SW Penn. We were about 30 miles or so from the trapped miners. I'm glad that they all got out safely, but I got a bit tired of seeing the governor on tv all the time. Why does a politician have to take credit for every important event in the world? Don't answer me on that.

I did finish my Christian historians book and the McGrath bool on the trip. Both were excellent in their own ways. That McGrath fellow seem to know a thing or two.

Thursday, July 25, 2002

Just about to head out of town for the weekend. I'll be in the DC area tonight to get rid of our extra kitten, then off to SW Pennsylvania in the morning for my b-in-law's wedding. Pray that my piano playing doesn't ruin the service too badly.

See ya Monday.

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

Is it ok to gripe here if I just pretend no one reads this? I lost the music I'm suppposed to play for my brother-in-law's wedding on Saturday. Fortunately I have it all on a cd, so I'm printing it out this morning again. But when I try to print, I get an error message, "printer is out of paper". I wouldn't mind this if, in fact, the printer WAS out of paper. Eventually got it working. I still have about a 50% chance of the printer grabbing two sheets each time it prints a page. The old traction printers never did that, if you remember those.

Enough griping. We had quite a good weekend. Had about 14 people over on Saturday for ice cream and "Apples to Apples". Also had a friend come up from Georgia to look for a job here. She seemed to enjoy our church, which was gratifying to me for some reason. We had a great SS class, but I didn't get to hear the sermon since I was in the nursery. Had a wonderful ministry opportunity in the afternoon; our men's singing group went to a local nursing home for their afternoon service. As we were pulling up, my friend Larry Clarke (one of the finest people God ever made) said: "I've been in all the nursing homes in the area. Some of them are nice. This one isn't." It wasn't that bad though. We had a good time, and I was shocked to see a very elderly, begloved black woman softly singing along all the words to "I heard the voice of Jesus say."

Saturday, July 20, 2002

I'm sure no one wants to know this, thus making it appropriate for MY blog, but nothing quite makes me want to cuss like trying to replace strings on a piano. Had a customer on Thursday who had about eight broken strings, and the rest were pretty rusty too. I took the old ones off without much problem, but I spent almost an hour trying to get the first new one on. Part of the problem is that this was my first try on a grand piano, though that should have made it easier. Another problem was that for some reason when I would measure the new wire lengths, they would always seem to lose about 3 inches when I put them on, thus making me throw them away and start over. The third and most disturbing problem was that I just seem to be an idiot when it comes to mechanical tasks. Maybe someday I'll get better (like next week when I go back to try to finish).

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

In dinner conversation this evening I mentioned the Parisian Asphalt Initiative, but I unfortunately gave the wrong url. The correct one is www.pave-france.org.
I hope this clears things up.

Monday, July 15, 2002

By request from Jim, some comments on Jonathan Lethem:

I became interested in Lethem when one of my interesting internet buddies sent me an article Lethem wrote about the science fiction ghetto. The article started by remembering the national book award Philip K Dick won for The Man in the High Castle. Oh wait, he never won an award for that (BTW, there's a subtle joke in there for those who know the plot of that book). In any event, Lethem made some comments about the sci-fi writing world and its relationship to mainstream publishing, all of which I've now forgotten. He struck me as thoughtful and humorous though, so I made a mental note.

Lethem's first novel, Gun, with Occasional Music, is very much a hard-boiled detective story, but set in a somewhat ridiculous future america, one populaed with "evolved" animals, no television to speak of, nearly the entire poplation on drugs to keep them happy and forgetful, and news told in abstract format--events are represented by musical motifs.

Lethem's style is intentionally satirical of the hard-boiled genre, but yet follows it pretty faithfully. The main character comes up with some absolute howlers for metaphors. Plot twists abound. The ending caught me by suprise ("NO WAY, don't tell me HE did it!" I said to myself). As the folks who write book jackets and reviews for newspaper movie ads would say, "A delightful romp."

Amnesia Moon, I believe Lethem's second novel, is in a differentgenre, but picks up on a few of the same themes. This time around it's a post apocalypse story. The twist, and it's a big one, is that no one can remember what the apocalypse was. All they no is that things are different now. Thinking about the story from a little distance now, it seems to talk to the role of community in maintaining memory.

A wouldn't want to walk you through the plot of this one, first because it would sound like it wouldn't work, and second I wouldn't want to spoil it. But I'll just say there are lots of memorable places and characters, including a community where people can only see green. Highly recommended.

Sunday, July 14, 2002

I installed some new comment code today. Lets see if this works.
testing

Friday, July 12, 2002

It's been fun reading Historians of the Christian Tradition. In the last two days I've learned a bit about F C Baur, Merle D'Aubingne, J H Newman, William Cunningham, I A Dorner, Johann Adam Mohler, Josef Rupert Geiselmann, and Philip Schaff (or, as he was born, Philipp Schaaf). I'm learning that though the 19th century more or less saw the birth of church history as a discipline, there were some strange ideas floating about then. I guess that would make it no different than now, just different weirdnesses.

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

I was poking around on the site of a sheet music retailer, looking for music for the men's acapella group I'm in, and came across the name of one of my favorite musicians. I hadn't thought about Ken Medema in quite a while. He is apparently still keeping busy. I'm listening to one of his sample tracks right now--Dancing in the Dragon's Jaws. If you know about Ken, or would like to, he's got a nice site at kenmedema.com. He's certainly the best improvisational musician I've ever seen perform. Every concert he performs a new song based on suggestions from the audience. I noticed on his site that the had an offer to write personalized songs for people and mail them out. Not sure if this offer is still open. They apparently had more requests than they thought they would.

Monday, July 08, 2002

En arche en ho blogos.

Dang. I've gotten quoted by AKMA twice now. I feel like a celebrity. If only I knew how to write Greek characters. Updating my book list to the left, again. I just seem to start a book, then, whoops, it's over. BTW, Amnesia Moon is terrific, but the Swanwick book I'm pretty neutral on.

Sunday, July 07, 2002

I've been meaning for a week at least to share with you the charm of Stephen Dobyns' The Wrestler's Cruel Study. You may remember my comments on Dobyns two weeks ago. Well, forget those. TWCS is a comic novel about how a group of heretics, and I mean ALL the heretics, Albigensians, Valentinian gnostics, montanists, donatists, and several non-Christian groups as well, try to formulate or explicate the struggle between good and evil by scripting professional wrestling events. This does not become completely clear til halfway through the book, so I hope you don't mind me giving that much away.

The central theme is somewhat obscured by a number of elements, many of which are entertaining enough on their own. First is the "plot" which involves the fiancee of a pro wrestler being kidnapped by a couple of gorillas. The attempts to find said fiancee provide a convenient thread to hold the rest of the novel's activities together.

The second distraction is the wrestling manager and gym owner, Primus Muldoon. Mr Muldoon has read far too much Nietzsche and tells his portions of the story in essay form in chapters throughout the book. I wish I could quote you everything he says, but I would violate the copyright, plus my fingers would get tired. I'l lhave to content myself with one paragraph from the second chapter. He has been talking about the nature of wholeness, forms and masks:

So form equals substance: the mask is the face, the layers of onion are the onion, the bandage becomes the wound. What name do we give to this mask? I call it Gimmick. And what do I do that makes me a manager, a manipulator of men? I train them in the perfection of the Gimmick. And who are these men? I call them grapplers with the chimaera, strugglers against desolation, contenders with the mystery. You might call them charlatans. You might call them bogus. Together it is possible to call them wrestlers. I direct a school. You would say I run a gym. I call it Pforta after the school near Naumber which Nietzsche entered in 1858 ten days before his fourteenth birthday. You would read the name over the door and call my gym the Meat Market. I say that I teach Sparta in the morning and Athens in the afternoon. You would say that before lunch we engage in the tricks and subterfuges of fraudulent wrestling and after lunch we work on our Gimmicks, which you consider little more than stage names, cartoon titles. But didn't Nietzsche argue that one should always live in disguise? After all, if form is substance, then one exists as one's disguise: to be is to be the Gimmick. You would call this illusion. But didn't Nietzsche also say that truths are illusions whose illusoriness has been overlooked?



In any event, Muldoon is unaware of the religious purposes to which his wrestlers are being put.

The last distraction I will mention is that many of the characters in the story have steppes straight out of Grimm's Fairy Tales, which, fortunately for me, I had just read. The story of The Mouse, the Bird, and the Sausage, is converted into three deconstructionist English professors(or, as they would have it, "theorists in textual studies"), Maus, Vogel and Sosage. If you are fmiliar with the origianal tale, this actually works quite well.

I hope that from what I've said so far that those who might like such a thing would be hooked. Not a book for everyone, for sure, but terrific for those with that sort of taste. He who has an ear, let him hear.

Saturday, July 06, 2002

I have an acqaintance who teaches journalism at a local university which I will not name here. He was telling me yesterday about the problems he's been having with plagiarism among his students. He caught one student this semester. He said her writing quality improved overnight. So he looked up her paper on Google and found it right away. He made up a full presentation showing the original paper and the student's paper with all the copied sections highlighted in yellow and presented this to the school's "honor court", which is, btw, made up mostly of students (and, as it turns out, some admitted plagiarizers). The "court" deliberated for over 90 minutes before returning a unanimous verdict IN FAVOR OF THE STUDENT.

He was pretty upset by this so he called a faculty meeting , or presented it as an agenda item on the next sceduled meeting--not quite sure on this. When he told the faculty that he had "Googled" the student, none of them had the foggiest idea what he was talking about. This means the faculty are pretty well ignorant of how students cheat these days.

When he finished telling me this, I said, "you know, you could contact the original copyright holed of the copied paper." He paused for a moment, then said, "that's a great idea." I doubt much would come of this action, and he doubted as well. But as I mulled it over, it occurred to me that if a really aggressive lawyer got inolved, he might just sue the school for countenancing copyright infringement, which strikes me as quite humorous. I love getting people into trouble :)

Tuesday, July 02, 2002

For some reason the H. L. Mencken line that pops out in my head the most often was from some review he wrote which said, in part, "Even an English professor could write a better sentance than this." This pretty well sums up my view of Robert K Johnson's Reel Spirituality. As far as I could tell, the only two purposes of the book's 200 pages were: one, to tell Christians that it's ok to see movies and talk about theological implications, and, two, to prove the old adage that in English, there is no noun that cannot be verbed. Don't ask me for illustrations of the latter. It's just too painful to recollect. I should stop shopping the discount aisles of the Christian book store.

Saturday, June 29, 2002

I pledge allegiance . . .

I just thought this one was a classic. Check it out if you haven't yet.

Thursday, June 27, 2002

I almost drove off the road this morning listening to NPR. They had an opinion essay read by one Baxter Black (if I remember the name correctly; I hope a long lost relative). He was speaking about the western forest fires and what few posessions people chose to save when forced to evacuate quickly. Most commonly people saved their pets. Mr Black wondered about why this should be. Is it because of love? No, he says, it is something deeper than that. He then quoted Genesis 1:28, the dominion covenant. He said that dominion meant responsibility, and that part of being who God made us to be involved taking care of our animals.

For the sake of my safe driving I hope they don't keep having essays like that during my commute.

Sunday, June 23, 2002

Time again for Paul's brief book reports.

David Dockery's Biblical Interpretation Then and Now was simultaneously informative and disappointing. The ostensible objective of the book is to provide some elementary analysis of the biblical interpreatation techniques/philosophies of the church fathers from the first to the fourth century and show how their writings could dialogue with modern hermeneutics.

The first part of this was done fairly well, though quite hurriedly. Still, I knew nothing about Theodore of Mopsuestia last week, and now I know a tiny bit. Unfortunately I still don't know where Mopsuestia is or whether it was the birthplace of the mop. But I digress.

Dockery discusses the hermeneutics of the New Testament, Clement, Irenaenus, the Alexandrians, the Antiochans, Jerome, and a few others in brief and simple language. He spend about 150 pages on this. The book as a whole is 183 pages, so you may see where the problem comes. He covers medieval and reformation contributions in about two pages, then proceeds to name drop Schliermacher, Husserl, Wittgenstein, Heidegger and other 20th c. figures. The dialogue portion occurs in roughly the last five pages of text and is, of course, not well developed.

My assumption is that the publisher only agreed to publish the book if it came in at a certain length, say less than 250pp including biblio, index and glossary. By the time he got through the church fathers, the space was simply gone. It's really too bad, since Dockery is apparently well versed in contemporary hermeneutical debates. It would have been interesting to see what he had to say. Oh well.

On the somewhat lighter side, I bring you Stephen Dobyns. You may or may not have read his excelent Church of the Dead Girls a little while back. Boy in the Water is a similar type of tale to that book, which is to say that it fits in the general category of "serial killer tale" but is really about how tragedy and violence affect "normal" people.

Since it is a very plot driven book I don't want to give away too much info, but I can tell you that the main character is dealing with an incredible load of guilt, and throughout the story, as more and more bad things happen to, him he struggles with the idea of cosmic justice. I don't think I said that very well, and don't think I can adequately describe the novel, but I'll just say I recommend it to those who like murder mysteries and are willing to try something a bit different.