Tuesday, December 30, 2003
Tuesday, December 23, 2003
Don't have time for my list of biblical and theological books of the year, as we are about to leave for Ohio and Indiana, so look for it on the 30th or 31st. Read a good book over the holidays!
--C S Lewis
Thursday, December 18, 2003
Speaking of our group, we had an interesting event occur, which I can't really talk much about, since it involves the difficult decision of a family in my church, but what happened was that we prayed for thier decision and the family in question called at the end of the meeting to tell us what they had decided. Unfortunately it was not the decision we were all hoping for, but now we are still committing ourselves to praying for them and supporting them. It's just weird when you pray for something and God answers with a pretty immediate "no".
Recent comments by your staff suggesting that your proposed visit demonstrates that normal relations with the Church of Uganda continue, have made your message clear: If we fall silent about what you have done promoting unbiblical sexual immorality and we overturn or ignore the decision to declare a severing of relationship with ECUSA, poor displaced persons will receive Aid. Here is our response: The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not for sale, even among the poorest of us who have no money. Eternal life, obedience to Jesus Christ, and conforming to His Word are more important.
I have three honorable mentions, plus a special mention of the book Culture Shock: Ukraine, which is an excellent book, ad possibly an intriguing read for anyone, but I doubt anyone would read it unless they are planning a trip to Ukraine.
From Beirut to Jerusalem: Thomas L Friedman
Moab is my Washpot, Stephen Fry
No Shirt, No Shoes . . . No Problem!, Jeff Foxworthy
10 Roughin It, Mark Twain--a truly unique first-hand account of the Nevada silver rush. While Twain's refusal to stick closely to the facts makes it difficult to assess things with any precision, his description of the violent and lawless life of the mining community is something you really won't see elsewhere. Would go higher on the list except that the last hundred pages about his trips to California and Hawaii really need to be ripped out of the book.
9 Red Lobster. White Trash and the Blue Lagoon, Joe Queenan--I think I read most of this one out loud to my wife. Good if you need cheering up and want to feel superior to the masses at the same time.
8 The Armchair Economist, Stephen Landsburg--I think this would be a great text to get people interested in what economists do. Explores a number of oddball questions from an economists point of view. Also demonstrates, IMHO, the type of ethics that seems commensurate with economic analysis of everything, but that discussion will have to wait for another day.
7 The Pillars of Hercules, Paul Theroux--Theroux's diary of his trip through (almost) all the countries of the Mediterranean. I suppose the big surprise was that the only realy interesting places he descibed were Turkey and Syria. I suppose that Algeria and Libya are also intersting, but those were the ones he missed. Most of the med is apparently a cultural wasteland.
6 Burden of Dreams, Catherine Wanner--An academic study of post-independence Ukrainian culture. I suppose I was only interested since I was planning to travel there and my ignorance was pretty thorough, but I think the book is laudable on its own merits. Also, I bet you (unless your last name is Bush) don't know anything about the subject either. The uneasy relationship between Ukraine and Russia is one of the themes and will be something to watch as the future of all the former soviet lands unfolds.
5 To Resist or Surrender, Paul Tournier--Only two things, as far as I can tell, have prevented Paul Tournier from being read as widely as Chesterton or Lewis: the fact that he wasn't English (he was Swiss and wrote in French), and the fact that his theology was somewhat unorthodox (he was a universalist). Tournier was a doctor in general practice and was constantly learning things about the human psyche fom his work. This particular book is short and narrowly focussed on the question of what to do when dealing with oppressive situations and people. Should one stand up and fight about it, or should one just let things be and take it? Under what circumstances should one path be chosen rather than the other? There's lots to think about i the way he answers these questions.
4 City Life, Witold Rybczynski--This one could fairly be summarized by the question, "Why don't american cities look like european cities?" Rybczynski traces the origins of the american city and its planners and compares the ideas of how cities are conceived in the western world.
3 Gangs of New York, Herbert Asbury--If you liked any part of the movie (go see it now if you haven't yet), you'll like this book, unless you are squeamish or you demand that a book have a plot. There is no overarching story here, merely anecdotes of various lengths about 19th century Manhattan. The level of violence in New York in this period defies description, at least by me. Mr. Asbury, though, does a fine job. The book was researched and published back in the '20's, so you'll see some, umm, interesting attitudes on display, but just consider them another part of the history.
2 An Anthropologist on Mars, Oliver Sacks--I didn't want to rate Sacks so highly, since he's a wacko-liberal (not just the ordinary kind), but he's an extremely gifted writer. I enjoy learning about how varied human experience can be, and Sacks certainly describes some of the most varied! The chapters each focus on one "abnormal psychology" case, some stemming from head traumas, some genetic conditions, one apparently brought on by drug abuse. The "cases" are of course people in thier own right, and they all have their own stories as well. I still find myself thinking about things I learned from this book quite often. Also, th main character from Motherless Brooklyn seems to be drawn almost straight from this book, so if you are planning to read Lethem, read him first before Sacks. You don't want to read the sources for the fiction you read, trust me.
1 King Leopolds Ghost, Adam Hochschild --Some of you could probably enlighten me further in this regard, but this book was really the first book that actually made me feel ashamed to be a white guy. I think it's possible that we ignore african history for some of the same reasons Germans prefer not to talk about WWII. There is simply no easy way to get rid of the guilt feelings. That being said, the big villain if this piece is of course the title character. I won't tell you why that is, since you are going to read the book anyway (right?), but I'll tell you that when you do so, you'll also learn the strange story of Henry Morton Stanley ("Dr Livingstone, I presume?"), as well as those of a couple of heroic, black, southern presbyterian missionaries. Need I say more?
Tuesday, December 16, 2003
I decided, after long reflection, that Quicksilver was not as good as I had wanted it to be. Still good, but only maybe 80% of what Cryptonomicon was. How to Be Good was on the edge of making my list. Probably should have included it. I really liked the question of the book, but I'm pretty sure the author didn't have the answer :)
Motherless Brooklyn was a great book as well, but for some reason I didn't enjoy it quite as much as I did other Lethem novels. Would enjoy discussiong these more with you anytime you like though.
This is not at all a recommendation of the best fiction published this year, especially since I don't think any of the books I'll mention were published this year. Merely the best of what I read. I present to you forthwith three honorable mentions and a top ten list.
Honorable mentions (good reads, but no review for you):
More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon
Motherless Brooklyn, Jonathan Lethem
Brothers No More, William F Buckley
And now the 10 biggies. apologies to all the books that didn't make it. Most of them were pretty good too, and the only reason Winter's Tale didn't make the list is that I've read it before and already recommended Helprin to everything that moves. Also don't make too much of the rankings. Just a rough approximtion of how much I enjoyed these.
10 Jayber Crow, Wendell Berry --Fairly simple tale of a barber in a very small town, but an illuminating look as well at how our country has been changing. I found myself often arguing with this book, but I consider that a good thing.
9 Heartfire, Orson Scott Card --Kinda weird to recommend the fifth book in a series, but this one played on my emotions quite a bit, as Card usually does. Sometimes I find his stuff a bit uneven, but when he is good, as he has benn in the entire Alvin Maker series, he tells a story like no one else can.
8 The End of the Affair, Graham Greene --My first time reading Greene. I would call this the ultimate anti-romance novel. Deals with life after an affair. The love is gone, only the hatred is left. I think men need to read this kinda stuff occasionally, which I suppose is why Proverbs 7 is in the Bible.
7 High Spirits, Robertson Davies --This is not a novel, but something in this case just as good--a series of ghostly Christmas tales Mr Davies told to the student body of Massey College many years back. Truly one of the oddest and funniest ghost story collections you'll ever find. Some knowledge of Canada would help, but not strictly necessary if you are willing to let a few jokes fly over your head.
6 Strange Travellers, Gene Wolfe --The story of the man staying at the inn on the road to Hell is well worth the price of this book. Also contains a good story about a piano. And it's Wolfe. Need I say more?
5 The Golden Age, John C Wright--Extremely well crafted mdern sci-fi story. Deals with issues of identity and memory, alternate selves, virtual worlds, and utopian societies. Has a good touch of humor plus a great courtroom drama scene. Rivals Cordwainer Smith in terms of sheer imaginativeness.
4 Alastor, Jack Vance --This is a trilogy of tales set in a large cluster of worlds, seemingly united only by a monarch of sorts and a love of a particular sport, though the sport has lots of intersting variations. Each of the worlds Vance describes here has a unique and well realized culture, but the balance between introduction to these worlds and the stories themselves is done in an exquisite way, and like most of my favorite books, has plenty of humor as well.
3 Love in the Ruins, Walker Percy --A laid back tale of the nd of the world as we know it. If you are familiar with Chesterton's quote about how we are not being destroyed by our vices, but rather by virtues run amok (or something to that effect), you'll like this book. A very spiritual and personal and rowdy look at what's wrong with us.
2 Seeing Calvin Coolidge in a Dream, John Derbyshire --I was fully prepared to not like this book, but every time I think of it now, I say to myself, "dang that was good." The Derb, as many of you know, is a frequent contributor to National Review (both in fleeting pixels and on dead tree), and is a programmer, a mathemetician and a Chinese-Brittish-American, or something like that. In any event, this book is the tale of a Chinese immigrant who runs into one of his old flames from the old country and decides to have a go and see what happens. Can't give you any more. It's a pretty light and quick read, but powerful as well.
1 Snow in August, Pete Hamill --I had read Hamill's autobiography, A Drinking Life, and while it certainly didn't convince me that he is a great person, it sure convinced me that he was a thoughtful and gifted writer, so I figured I'd see if his fiction was any good. Like a few of the earlier entries, the tale here is not a complicated one. But the emotional impact on me was staggering in places. Hard to explain, but I'm hoping that by giving it my novel of the year award, maybe you'll read it and tell me if you like it too. Has been in mass market paperback for a while, so you should be able to find it cheap.
Wednesday, December 10, 2003
Tuesday, December 09, 2003
The second reason is conceptual and and is related to the fact that Christians are not called to manifest just any sort of character. Their lives are to be a faithful reflection of God's character. Ironically, the nedd for the type of separate space we are talking about is particularly urgent in those places where most people claim to belive in God. This is because of the heightened danger of that belief of becoming acculturated or trivialized. When Christians are the only ones around who procalim allegiance to the God of Jesus Christ, there is little chance of their knowledge of God becoming profaned through exposure to a non-Christian culture. The earliest Christian found themselves in this situation.
But if and when Christians find themselves in a context in which people both claim to know the God of Jesus Christ and attemot to reduce knowledge of God to a series of platitudes ranging from the inane to the incoherent, they must struggle to create a separate spance in which they can teach each other about God apart from the reductionistic practices and profaning tendenies that otherwise dominate their lives. We think the church in the United Staes and in Britain finds itself in this latter situation. But we are also convinced that too few churches have recognized the need for a separate space devoted to forming people's character to be disciples of the Triune God."
--Stephen E Fowl and L Gregory Jones, in Virtues & Practices in the Christian Tradition: Christian Ethics After MacIntyre, ed Nancey Murphy, Brad J Kallenberg & Mark Theissen Nation
Saturday, December 06, 2003
Thursday, December 04, 2003
Making a list
Well, it's that time of year again, isn't it?
My wife finally held the kids down long enough to get them to make a Christmas list (it's not like it's a HUGE problem for them to tell us what they want ... usually, it's the other way 'round). The Youngest Aardvark Child (YAC, and believe me she does), at 13 has finally started to turn the corner into young adulthood. She only put ONE "toy" type item on her list. She has mostly moved on to jewelry, music and movies. ::sigh:: She even had CLOTHES on her list this year.
I thought I taught her better than that.
I haven't made my list yet, but I can guarantee you one thing; there won't be ANY clothes on it. If I need clothes, I buy 'em. I don't want them as a gift. You see, I never got over the 10 year old boy desire for TOYS. Computer games, board games, puzzles, books, puzzle books, gadgets, gizmos, doodads, toys for the office (yes, as a matter of fact, I DO own a singing hamster. Doesn't everyone?), CDs, DVDs, and anything else that will hold my attention for more than a minute. But don't give me clothes. My family knows this, which is the reason why MY kids always do their shopping for dad at the toy store (or the Museum Store, or Natural Wonders, or other places that sell the "Gee whiz" kind of merchandise).
Don't get me wrong, if I DO receive clothes (like from my Mother-in-law), I AM grateful. It's not that I don't appreciate the gift or the thought behind it. It's just that there's a 10 year old inside me that's jumping up and down saying, "Ok, great, now what's in THAT package? Maybe it's a TOY!!!!" I keep thinking that one day I'll grow up, but I'm not holding my breath (Hey! THAT'S grown up right there!) or anything.
Now Mrs. Aardvark ... well, let's just say that her list making abilities leave something to be desired (that's the nice way to say, "They suck"). First off, she NEVER shops for herself (unless I force her too). She can think of things to buy for people she met one time sixteen years ago, but she has NO IDEA what she wants for herself. Last year was the first year we could get her to actually make a list. While the rest of the Aardvark's had a dozen (or so) items on their list, she only managed about three:
* Toenail clippers
* Dental floss
Ok, so that isn't the real list ... trust me, the actual list wasn't much better. After reading her list to us, the YAC says, "Wow mom (It's the same UPSIDE DOWN and REVERSED!), you really stink at making a list. Maybe you should let me coach you." Yep. That's what she needs. Lessons from a 12 year old on how to dream up things you want (nothing like getting coached by an expert).
So this morning, my wife is reading me the YAC's and EAC's (E for Eldest) lists (I haven't made one yet). I asked her, "When are you going to write YOUR list?" At which point, she turned and headed for the bedroom saying, "I need to finish getting ready." Naturally, I followed her.
"So what about your list?"
"I stink at making a list." (she was smiling and pouting too. Awwwwww)
"Yes, you do, honey. Yes, you do. Do you need (YAC) to help you this year?"
That's where we left it. It remains to be seen whether or not we'll get a list out of her
The bigs lists are here, here, here, and here.
Thursday, December 04, 2003
Wednesday, December 03, 2003
Tuesday, December 02, 2003
Thursday, November 27, 2003
Wednesday, November 26, 2003
Tuesday, November 25, 2003
I'll just throw out now that I'm still enjoying playing through Bach's WTC (or K dependin on your spelling habits), a little each day. I've really felt my reading skill picking up this time through. I guess this will be my third trip through the book. Mind you, this is a lot like learning to first read a grownup type book when you are a kid. There's a lot I stumble over, and a lot that flies right past me. But now I'm occasionally able to keep a tempo going long enough to actually get some sense of how the pieces might sound if played by a real performer. It's very satisfying, but always challenging.
Tuesday, November 18, 2003
85% - all U.S. teens definitely believe in God
72% - ECUSA teens definitely believe in God
68% - all U.S. teens believe God is a personal being
61% - ECUSA teens believe God is a personal being
51% - all U.S. teens feel very or extremely close to God
36% - ECUSA teens feel very or extremely close to God
51% - all U.S. teens faith is very or extremely important in daily life
40% - ECUSA teens faith is very or extremely important in daily life
56% - all U.S. teens have made commitment to live life for God
32% - ECUSA teens have made commitment to live life for God
47% - all U.S. teens saying morality is relative
61% - ECUSA teens saying morality is relative
73% - all U.S. teens believe in a Judgement Day of divine
60% - ECUSA teens believe in a Judgement Day of divine reward/punishment
28% - all U.S. teens say some, most or all adults in their church are
46% - ECUSA teens say some, most or all adults in their church are
Monday, November 17, 2003
Saturday, November 15, 2003
Thursday, November 13, 2003
Friday, November 07, 2003
Over at Duane's blog there is some discussion about the ffects of tv on us folks. Comments I couldn't agree with more. But one of the comments got me started thinking about what sort of commonality we have to communicate with in our culture. I tend to feel slightly uncomfortable in a prologed conversation if I know my partners won't get references to Seinfeld or The Simpsons.
This, however, goes beyond television as well. I've been noticing for quite some time that there is no longer any common musical culture. Just try to find a radio station which doesn not try to appeal to a musical niche. I'm sure there must be exceptions, but I think you know what I'm talking about. I think the last musical group that everyone listened to was The Beatles. That's been a little while. Now the only songs you can count on a diverse group of people knowing are little stadium ditties (Who Let the Dogs Out?), or, guess what, old tv theme songs. Even the latter is getting hard now, since most theme songs these days don't even have words.
Don't even get me started on books. I'm embarrased to even bring up books in conversation with most people, because I get tired of the response, "well, it must be nice to have time to read, but I don't." In addition, I'm somewhat hampered by the fact that I tend to avoid best sellers on the principle that if it's a best seller, it must have a lowest common denominator appeal. We went to a little get together last weekend with some seemingly smart people we were just meeting for the first time, and they got into a fairly long discussion of the virtues of the various Michael Crichton books. I was conflicted, beacuse it's so rare for me to see new people actually discussing books, but on the other hand, I really can't imagine ever getting on a Crichton kick.
Also, I had the
Thursday, November 06, 2003
We have a hand-me-down couch that some friends gave us shortly after we moved to Mebane 3+ years ago. Lenise has been dying to replace it for quite a while now, and finally too the plunge and bought another one from the antique store down the street. We though we had it all worked out. Our new friends in town from Russia have very little furniture and said they would be happy to have it. A crew was supposed to come pick it up yesterday, but didn't come. I got a call this morning saying, "sorry we didn't come, we had to help our neighbor who had car trouble. Can we get it tonight at 6:20?" "Sure," I said.
I just now got a call saying we need to put it off because it's raining. It only started raing about 10 minutes ago. The bad part is we had to rearrange the house to be able to get the couch out at all. Plus it would probably be a good idea to get it out before we ick up th enew one, or we might be faced with the "stacked couch" problem.
Wednesday, November 05, 2003
Tuesday, November 04, 2003
Thursday, October 30, 2003
Wednesday, October 29, 2003
Reading my very first Tom Clancy book now. First impressions are that he is overly fond of military and political jargon. It's not at all incomprehensible, it just seems that he gets a kick out of saying ". . . POTUS said . . ."
Reading the Arabian Nights was kinda fun. The intoductory story was quite a bit racier than what followed, so that was a bit of a let down; not a bad way to get just a peek into arabic culture though.
Reading Mesopotamia and the Bible reminded me that I'd rather be vivisected by aliens than read about archeology.
The Golden Age was really one of the most amazing and inventive sci-fi novels I think I've ever read. I think there was more plot in the first 15 pages than in the whole 1st Matrix movie.
For a guy who never finished a college class, PKD always astounds me with both his knowledge and his thoughtfulness, not to mention the humor and fun plot lines. A Scanner Darkly is about drugs and dual personalities (caused by taking the drugs), and about the ability of people into institutions to sabotage themselves. The main character is both a drug dealer and a drug enforcement officer, never realizing that he's in fact tailing himself.
Reading Aquinas is a bit odd, since it consists of watching someone who lived over 700 years ago have a conversation with someone who lived over 1200 years before he did. He has lots of good things to think about, but a great deal of it seems, at least to me, to be superfluous. I'm in the section now about virtues, which is good since it talks about how to live well, but I can't say I'm all that interested in exactly how each virtue is related to ach other virtue and which are the cardinal ones and the principle ones and which can exist without the others, etc.
Thursday, October 23, 2003
"...[W]e have duties not only not to interfere with animals and not to eat them, but also to come their aid and defend their interests; it is not simply enough not to harm, we have an active duty to assist. Which epitaph would you prefer: 'here lies Mr. Bland, he did no harm and minded his own business,' or 'here lies a citizen of the world who served others with passion and conviction'? There is some truth in the stewardship ethic: our unique status as conscious, self-aware, ethical, rational beings gives us unique duties and responsibilities. Among our duties is the negative duty to avoid flesh and to boycott the meat and dairy industries; when we buy their products we are saying: 'yes, I approve of what you are doing to the animals and the earth; here is my money to support your venture'! But the positive message of both Christianity and a secular rights standpoint is that ethics demands compassion, love, sacrifice, and service. How corrupted do our sensibilities have to be to think that this message applies only to human beings? Do love and compassion have boundaries? Of gender, race, tribe, or nation? -- or species? We are to serve all those beings who need our assistance; the least among us have the greatest claim to our service, and thus the animals have a mighty claim indeed; they do not have a voice and so they must rely on the voice of human reason and compassion...."
I wonder if someone has already published something thorough on these issues?
Wednesday, October 22, 2003
Saturday, October 18, 2003
Friday, October 17, 2003
Tuesday, October 14, 2003
Friday, October 10, 2003
What about John Calvin do you like and dislike, and what imbalances do you think a college that attempts to be Calvinist would suffer as a result of that emphasis?
Well, it’s been a long time since I’ve read straight through the Institutes, so I can’t pretend to be up on Calvin. But, Calvin has always been influential in my work because he was a sanctificationist. People often times don’t notice that in the Institutes Calvin treats sanctification prior to justification. And in that sense, I think Calvin offers a real alternative to Lutheranism, which over-determines the notion of justification by faith by grace as the center of the gospel, which oddly enough took – and it shouldn’t have done it – emphasis away from the Incarnation and why it is that Jesus’ whole life is part and parcel, and crucial, for our understanding of what it means to be a Christian, and so I think Calvin is terrific on how he thought about those kinds of things. I think Calvinism in places like Calvin [college] can too quickly become an end in itself and forget that it’s not about being Calvinist; it’s about being a Christian in a manner that we identify with the Church across time, and that Christianity did not begin in the Reformation. And I know there are people at Calvin who remember that all the time and who are committed to connecting Calvinism to the great catholic tradition. But I think that’s absolutely crucial.
I’ve always thought of myself as a theologian, because what I’ve wanted to do is show how theological language works to tell us the way things are and how it shapes us to be the people we need to be to know the way things are. I want to remind us that learning how to become a creature is every bit as complex as learning what justice is. It’s a way of reminding us that theological claims are practical down to the very bone.
ZH – Why is that important?
SH – As a matter of fact, it turns out to be very important. The way disciplinary divisions work within the modern university and seminary is intellectually corrupting. For example, theologians think that students learn to read Scripture in Old Testament and New Testament courses, and therefore we theologians don’t need to use Scripture as part and parcel of the way we do our work. I try to defy that in every way I can. And I refuse to accept the assumption that you need to know all the historical, critical scholarship behind the text to know what the text means.
ZH – Say more about that in terms of the work of people such as John Crossan or Marcus Borg.
SH – Yeh, I have very little use for the Jesus Seminar. The Jesus Seminar’s idea that somehow or other through the use of historical methodologies they’re going to get to the “real Jesus” is absolutely crazy. The real Jesus is the resurrected Jesus, and the idea that somehow, since these Gospels were produced later and therefore are not newspaper accounts, and therefore they’re not getting the real Jesus, is just absolutely conceptually crazy. It’s crazy! So, I think that the Crossan- and Borg-like presumptions that they are quasi-scientists reconstructing the real Jesus that we can somehow believe in is a sign of the intellectual corruption in modernity that assumes that historians know what they’re talking about.
I don’t think historians know what they’re talking about at all.
I sometimes think that there is a conspiracy afoot to make Alasdair MacIntyre's account of the manager in After Virtue empirically verifiable.
That the manager has become characteristic of liberal politics should not be surprising, but I continue to be taken aback by the preponderance of such character types in the ministry. Of course, I should not be surprised that a soulless church produces a soulless ministry devoid of passion. The ministry seems captured in our time by people who are desperately afraid they might actually be caught with a conviction at some point in their ministry that might curtail future ambition. They, therefore, see their task to "manage" their congregations by specializing in the politics of agreement by always being agreeable. The preaching such a ministry produces is designed to reinforce our presumed agreements, since a "good church" is one without conflict. You cannot preach about abortion, suicide, or war because those are such controversial subjects-better to concentrate on "insights" since they do so little work for the actual shaping of our lives and occasion no conflict.
I confess one of the things I like about the Southern Baptists is that they have managed to have a fight in public. Fundamentalists at least believe they are supposed to have strong views, and they even believe they are supposed to act on their convictions. The problem with most of the mainstream churches is that we do not even know how to join an argument-better, we think, to create a committee to "study the issue."
Michael J. Quirk: Your Gifford lectures contain critical appraisals of both William James and Reinhold Niebuhr, as well as the astonishing claim that Karl Barth is the most successful natural theologian of the twentieth century. One usually finds Barth depicted as the resolute enemy of all natural theology. Could you explain how you came to this understanding of Barth?
Stanley Hauerwas: It fits as part of my larger argument that a natural theology is unintelligible separated from a full doctrine of God. And of course what a full doctrine of God entails is an understanding, first of all, that God is not part of the metaphysical furniture of the universe. What many of the Gifford lecturers have assumed is what Nicholas Wolterstorff has called an "evidentialist apologetic" that tried to show that God, as an empty signifier, must exist. And I'm trying to show that if you could successfully show that that God must exist then you would have evidence that the Christian God does not exist. Because the Christian God is the God who created gratuitously. So there can be no necessary relationship between creation and God from the Christian point of view. Accordingly, the whole modernist enterprise that the Gifford lectures named was based upon a decisive metaphysical mistake vis-а-vis the Christian doctrine of God.
Wednesday, October 08, 2003
Friday, October 03, 2003
1 Have you seen the new Luther movie yet?
2 What is your favorite religiously themed movie?
3 If you could change one thing about all the calvinists you know, what would it be?
4 Did you participate in "Talk Like A Pirate Day?
5 If you were stranded on a desert island with plenty of food annd water and came upon a brass lamp with mysterious markings of the letters a though d all over it, and you rubbed the lamp and a genie came out and said, "CHOOSE ONE OF THE FOLOWING", which would you choose:
A. A generator, big screen tv, DVD player and a magical subscripttion to Netflix,
B. Magical acccess to any books from the library of Congress whenever you wanted,
C. A Beautiful woman, or,
D Transportation back to your normal life?
Wednesday, October 01, 2003
Tuesday, September 30, 2003
1 If you could undo one thing you did from your college years, what would it be?
2 Have you ever heard John Derbyshire sing?
3 What inspired you to go see the Power Team?
4 Do you think Josh will ever cease to be a grumpy Lutheran?
5 If someone gave you access to Bill Gates bank account for one day, what one really dumb thing would you love to do with his money (this has to be something you could complete in one day).
Monday, September 29, 2003
1 What's the best (or worst) economist joke you've ever heard?
2 If you were leading a class of college educated Christians on the subject "Great Books I Think You Should Read", what would you put on the list? (limit of 10 max)
3 What one area of popular american culture makes no sense to you at all? (I'm looking for something general rather than a specific like Barney or Pauley Shore)
4 Explain how a study on corporal punishment can fall under the purview of an economist. (My wife wants to know)
5 What's the single dumbest question or statement you've heard said by a student or a prof in an econ class. You may include one of each if you like.
Please note I was nice to you. I thought about asking things like, "If you could change one thing about your wife . . ."
::If you would like to participate too, here are your instructions:
1. Leave me a comment saying "interview me."
2. I will respond by asking you five questions (not the same as you see here).
3. You will update your blog/site with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.::
Thursday, September 25, 2003
1) My piano has not been tuned in probably over 30 years. Should I be sentenced to a) a term in solitary confinement (specify length), b) a term of hard labor (specify length and nature of work), c) a term in the public stocks (specify length), or d) other (specify specifics)?
Since this gets to a subject close to my heart, I'll give you a serious answer. When I meet someone who really neglects their piano, not just skipped a tuning here or there, but doesn't service it at all and doesn't really play it either, my thought in my heart is usually, "why don't you sell this or give it to someone who wants it." I'm discouraged by the fact that pretty much 0% of the homes I see have piano or any other sort of home made music as the central form of family entertainment, while well aver 90% have a prominently located television. And it's not that I hate tv, but rather that I hate to see people being so passive coupled with not learning music.
2) Speaking of sentences, you've just been sentenced to 30 days of solitary confinement. They've given you a walkman and enough batteries to play a total of about 15 hours of music. What CDs do you take and why (home-burned mixes not allowed!)? How do you allot the 15 hours?
I'm not sure any particular pieces are so important to me that I would feel like I really HAD to take them with me, but, given the opportunity I'm sure I could pick some things out to help pass the time.
Hour One--Arma Lucis, by the Soli Deo Gloriam Cantorum (my favorite choral collection)
Hour Two--Mozart Requiem, pretty much the only Mozart piece I love
Hour Three--Phil Keaggy and the PKB, Emerging, classic rock by a great musician with thoughful lyrics
Hours Four and Five--Havergal Brian, Symphony 1 (The Gothic), though I have trouble imagining listening to this on a walkman, it's a piece to wake up the nieghbors with
Hour Six--Ralph Vaughn Williams, Symphony 3 (The Pastoral), just for a complete change of pace
Hour Seven--Golden Brass, Philip Jones Brass Ensemble, collection of brass music from the renaissance through the 20th century
Hour Eight--Emerson, Lake and Palmer (self titled first album) good, interesting and varied music
Hour Nine--Shostakovitch, Symphony number 5, to help me reflect on the injustice of my sentence and put it into perspective
Hour Ten--Glad, No Less Than All, something to encourage my heart a bit (plus I heaven't listened to it in a while)
Hour Eleven--The Kinleys first album, just to remind me of my wife
Hour Twelve--Buxtehude toccatas and chaconnes, I had this on tape years ago and completely wore it out. I never get tired of his organ music
Hour Thirteen--Le Mystere des Voix Bulgare, practically anything, maybe the Cathedral Concert album, just to hear the acoustics of them in a cell should be interesting
Hour Fourteen--Brahms Symphony number 1 and John Rutter's Gloria (I think I can squeeze those into an hour)
Hour Fifteen--King's X, Gretchen Goes to Nebraska, something to get me pumped up for release back into the general population
3) Tuning pianos is your forte. What sort of job would you consider yourself least qualified for and/or least interested in doing?
I think I've had some of the jobs I'm least qualified for (speaking tempermentally, rather than strict technical qualifications), specifically commission sales. I'm horrible at convincing someone to buy stuff. As far as least interest, really anything that involves sitting at a desk in the same room all day. I like a change of scenery every hour or so :) I guess putting things together, telemarketing would be the worst.
4) How did you propose to your wife?
I asked her if she would marry me. We were dogsitting for one of my customers, and I just decided it was time to ask. I hadn't planned it out and didn't have a ring yet. I just figured I'd better ask before she got to know me TOO well.
5) What are the most challenging and the most rewarding aspects of being a deacon?
One of the rewarding things was being able to rotate off recently :) I think I liked just being called upon to do some physical things which didn't require too much reflecting or handwringing. The chairs need to be moved, so let's move 'em. It was also nice to both be able to get to know some of the great guys at my church and to get to see how the church is run and see the leadership a little closer. My respect for my church has really only gone up in the process.
I think the most challenging part was seeing my own weaknesses come out, putting off assigned tasks, taking easy ways out of things, etc. Also trying to think about how to implement charitable works into th structure of our particular church was very hard. I was very excited about that when I started three years ago, but feel like very little has changed. Our church model is geared more toward encouraging members to involve themselves in outside institutions rather than doing things ourselves. This has good and bad sides, but makes some things pretty hard.
::If you would like to participate too, here are your instructions:
1. Leave me a comment saying "interview me."
2. I will respond by asking you five questions (not the same as you see here).
3. You will update your blog/site with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.::
Neal Stephenson issueth from a Clan of yeomen, itinerant Parsons, ingenieurs, and Natural Philophers that hath long dwelt in bucolick marches and rural Shires of his native Land, and trod the Corridors of her 'Varsities. At a young age, finding himself in a pretty Humour for the writing of Romances, and the discourse of Natural Philosophy and Technologick Arts, he took up the Pen, and hath no since laid it down.
Wednesday, September 24, 2003
Tuesday, September 16, 2003
Friday, September 12, 2003
Wednesday, September 10, 2003
Tuesday, September 09, 2003
Clock the last 40 years and you'll find the beat getting relentlessly faster. The scholarly rationalizations are more sophisticated now, but somehow what they invariably add up to is: You can't be skinny enough or fast enough.
There's a speed sweepstakes going on. Six years ago in Boston I heard a Bach "B Minor Mass" from which slow tempos had been essentially banished. No more grandeur, no more sublimity, no more sweetness, no more tragedy—all qualities in which the "B Minor" is incomparably rich. Or used to be. In this performance the speeds were brisk, brisker, breakneck. In the "Crucifixus" movement, Christ trotted all the way to Golgotha, pumping his cross.
I thought that was the last freaking straw, everything fast as possible, until two years ago I heard a conductor take movements of the "B Minor" faster than possible, chorus and orchestra scrambling desperately to catch up. In the crowd after the performance I heard one guy exclaim, "I didn't know Bach was so bouncy!"; another, an organist no less, wondered, "I don't get it. What's the big deal about that piece?" The most trenchant comment was from an older composer, who sighed as I passed, "Too bad. It really is the greatest music in the world."
I listed five books for sale yesterday, sold one the same day and now have sold another. Three cheers for amazon.
Monday, September 08, 2003
While I am not so conisitent in my piano practice as Casals was (he was not a noted pianist, btw), I have become more so lately, playing through at least one prelude or fugue most days, though not first thing in the morning. They are certainly great reading and skill exercises, and I'm feeling slightly more confident with them each time I go through the book.
I was just noticing yesterday how Bach generally seems to stray the furthest from conservative tonality/harmony in the last eight bars of each piece usually. I have this vague recollection of learning somewhere that Bach like to build tension towards the end of a piece to make a fulfilling resolution, so that must have something to do with it. It is a bit disorienting at times though to get to the end of the piece and suddenly be faced with both a whole different rhythmic structure as well as an overwhelming number of accidentals.
So far as I know, there aren't any pianists reading this, so I'll just shut up now. Piano, in addition to being my prefession, is one of my soapbox topics. Why do people now think that playing music means pushing a button on an electronic machine? Why don't more churches at least provide musical instruction for their youth?
Friday, September 05, 2003
Thursday, September 04, 2003
Last night we watched a movie called Deacons for Defense. It was really quite good, IMHO. Was produced, apparently, for Showtime and is now in the stores. It's about the black community in a small town in Louisiana in the mid-sisties and their decision to take up arms to defend their children (the non-violent protestors) against the Klan. To say much more about it would give away some of the drama, so I won't. Forest Whitaker plays the lead role, so you just know its good already, even though he isn't a samurai this time.
Saturday, August 30, 2003
Saturday, August 23, 2003
Monday, August 18, 2003
Parents who bring squalling brats to R-rated movies
Circle I Limbo
Circle II Whirling in a Dark & Stormy Wind
Circle III Mud, Rain, Cold, Hail & Snow
Circle IV Rolling Weights
Circle V Stuck in Mud, Mangled
Circle VI Buried for Eternity
Osama bin Laden
Circle VII Burning Sands
Circle IIX Immersed in Excrement
NAMBLA Members, Bill Clinton
Circle IX Frozen in Ice
Wednesday, August 13, 2003
Thursday, August 07, 2003
Wednesday, August 06, 2003
Friday, August 01, 2003
Tuesday, July 29, 2003
Monday, July 28, 2003
Friday, July 25, 2003
In other news, I was wandering in a field and stumbled over a treasure of great worth, so I took a small amount of money from my wallet and bought the field, and the treasure therein. Actually what happened was that I was browsing the local used book store, looking to find some Graham Greene novels on the cheap. As I looked at one of them I noticed something stuck inside. As I pulled the object out, I discovered it to be a Barnes & Noble gift certificate, still in a sealed envelope. I showed it to the store clerk, who said, "Well, I suppose it's finders keepers . . . if you buy the book." So I did. I have been making a slight effort to contact the person named on the certificate, but if he doesn't respond soon, I'm calling it mine.
Saturday, July 19, 2003
Monday, July 14, 2003
Alexander: "I enjoyed this opportunity to communicat with English
The teachers were very professional in their teaching methods of
Tomila: "These classes were very helpful for me. I learned a lot of new
words, imporved my pronunciation. I liked that the groups were small
for everybody to particiapte in discussions> The atmosphere was open
could express our points of view freely without being afraid to be
Sergei: "It was a surprise for me that these Americans would come to
country and do something good for us for free. It seems that these days
nobody does anything without wanting to get something out of it for
WE felt that these people came here really to help us. That made me
that maybe I should explore closer Christian ideas that they were
Irina: "I was concerned that they would impose their Christian views
found out that we would be studying the Bible. But I didnt' feel any
pressure and I could openly disagree and I could make my own
This experience changed my attitude to Christians".
Andrei: "I liked learning more about American life style. I was kind of
surprised that people there have problems too. I thought American is
Paradise. I was surprised that even though these Americans were
educated people they believed in God. I thought only uneducated weak
can believe in that kind of stuff".
Wednesday, July 09, 2003
Q1 So, why haven't you been blogging much lately?
A. Dunno. Just don't feel talkative maybe. Doing lots o' reading and stuff.
Q2 Have you received any letters yet from any of your students in Kiev?
A. Why yes I have. Funny you should ask!
Q3 How was the grammar in this letter?
A. Atrocious. Plus she told me that all of her family members were "high" raher than "tall". I might need to explain the difference when I write back.
Q4 What else have you been wasting time on, since you haven't been blogging?
A. Excuse me? Wasting time? Me? Well, we watched all the episodes of Fawlty Towers this week. Plus I've gotten into a neat board game turned into internet game called Cosmic Encounter.
Q5 If we were interested, could we play with you for free?
A. Yes you can.
Q6 How will we know who you are in the game?
A. I use the name "deacon".
Q7 Have you had any recent encounters with poison ivy?
A. Do you mean the character from the Batman movie or the actual plant?
Q8 Who's asking the questions here?
A You are.
Q9 Alright then, just answer me, and no more lip.
Q11 What's your answer?
A Could you repeat the question again?
Q12 Be glad I'm patient. have you, or have you not had any encounters with poison ivy lately?
A Do you mean the . . . [SMACK!!!] . . . OWWW! Ok, ok. Yes, I've gotten it all over one knee, which is now twice the size of the other knee and is now dripping with a nasty goo on what seems to be a permanent basis.
Q13 And how long do you expect this condition to continue?
A How should I know. Am I a doctor?
Q14 Didn't I warn you about asking questions?
A Yes . . . sir.
I apologize for the lack of any substantive comment on this blog, both now and at all times future and past. If you want something informative and entertaining, I suggest you try somewhere else.
Thursday, July 03, 2003
Tuesday, July 01, 2003
Saturday, June 28, 2003
Perhaps the most frightening part of the whole trip was the elevator ride to the sixth floor of the building. The elevator made sounds I've not heard outside of science fiction movies, but eventually made it up to the seventh floor. As a perceptive reader, you will have noticed that that was not out intended destination. We begged to just walk down the stairs, but Nick insisted that we just needed to hit the 6 button again. We did make it to the sixth floor this time, and proceeded down a very dark hallway to our apartment. Thanks be to God! The IP staff had stocked the place to the gills with food and bottled water. I was especially concerned about the water, knowing that I need to drink a lot of it, and that the local tap water is generally unsafe.
After settling in and learning some of the, umm, idiosyncrasies of the apartment (nothing serious), we went to bed. Sunday we attended church with the IP people and potential translators in another apartment. This is where we met the other two members of our team, Don and Janelle Robinson. Don is a professional violinist and Janelle is a pianist, so they played a few songs for the church service. Probably about 30 people at church. We were invited to play basketball or volleyball afterwards, but we were still a bit tired from the trip, so we declined. Mostly rested and prepared our lessons for Monday.
Monday morning breakfast: bread, cheese, ham, coffee (or cherry coke--Nick's favorite), yoghurt, or cereal (Zaloti crunch--Jamie and Lenise thought it was the world's best cereal). Meeting at 9:15 to discuss the plan for the day. Peter and Diana Shulyagin are the leaders of the Kiev team (IP has teams in about 10 cities) and they gave us some (odd) ideas for icebreaker questions for our groups. Our format was to have 3 hour classes three times each day. Two hours of English lessons and an hour of Bible discussion, with breaks each hour. Three class levels: beginning, intermediate, and advanced. Before the trip, Lenise and I had agreed to teach the intermediate classes. We didn't realize that we got the lucky draw. There weren't too many inter. students, so we each only had one class, mine at 3 pm and hers at 7 pm. All the others had two classes each (the first group started at 10am). Lenise went to Jamie's class to see what it would be like, and John and I took a walk down to the grocery store to look around. Only interesting thing was seeing some guys selling cartons of cigarettes from the back of a truck.
Lunch at about 1:10. All the food through the week was pretty edible, with the posssible exception of the side salad; something vaguely resembling coleslaw. I ate it all the first day, but only picked at it on subsequent days. Our meeting place was a local kindergarden (actually k-4th grade), so the food was prepared by the school staff. Three pm saw me nervously fidgeting in front of my class of about 7 students. Lenise came along to learn from my mistakes. I realized painfully throughout the first two hours that although I understood the lesson quite well, I hadn't really developed a plan for how to bring it to the students. Quite a few awkward silences. At 5 it was time for the bible discussion, so I thought, "hey, I'm better prepared for this, since we've practiced a few times." The text was from Ecclesiates about how two are better than one. I shared a story of how someone helped me (John helping us navigate customs at the airport), and asked if any of them had stories of giving or receving help. Not much response. Everyone seemed to agree thoroughly with the sense of the text, so there wasn't much controversy, hence no one felt the need to say much. Peter and Diana showed up and helped keep conversation going, but I felt pretty defeated.
Off to dinner, then a little break before I went with Lenise to her class. While she certainly did better than I, things were still pretty quiet all around. She had the added disadvantage, in my mind, of only having four students, so it was even quieter than my class. At 10 things were done for the day and we headed back to the apartment to talk about the day and sleep.
Tuesday morning woke up quite early (as I did pretty much each day of the trip), and spent lots of time reviewing ideas for the lesson after finishing my devotions. During the morning session John and Lenise and I took the trolley to the metro and rode downtown. The old central part of Kiev is quite beautiful. We found a little sidewalk vendor who served us 2 draft beers four five grivnas (approx $.95). But had to head back petty quickly to meet up for lunch. Over lunch my wonderful translator, Nadia, gave me some great ideas for my class ("teach them some songs"), so things went much more smoothly. I let Lenise handle her own class alone and did some studying and preparing in the evening.
Wedensday Jamie, Janelle, Lenise and I took one of our translators (Larisa) along for the "official" tour of Kiev. Went to the service at St Vladimir's cathedral (makes one glad to be a protestant), saw some of the other cathedrals, satatues, parks, and the national university. Lunch in a little cafe downtown was inexpensive but not especially good, plus we all seemed to have some, shall we say, digestive issues over the next day or so. My class was anxious to hear about my excursion around town, and seemed to be more open than before.
Thursday. Made arrangmeet with John Bush, fellow blogger, fellow republican, fellow presbyterian, and missionary to Kiev. We took taxis around the city (every vehicle in Kiev is potentially a taxi!), had a nice lunch, a great chat about religion, books and films, and another jaunt around some of the sights of Kiev. Classes, yadda, yadda, yadda. Discussion of Psalm 121 was quite interesting.
Friday. John decides it's time to make the official video of our trip (to be used for recruiting by IP). Gets us brushing our teeth, eating breakfast, asks us what our biggest fears were, biggest surprises etc. Also, John invites me to his evening advanced class to demonstrate the difference between Southern and Midwestern accents. Was fun being with the advanced group, as I could talk at almost a normal speed. Feeling better and better about how things are going. People in my class are coming early and staying late to ask me questions.
Saturday. Last official day of classes. Discussed John 3. Dmytro, one of my students and a RC seminarian (though only about 19) said there was too much to say about God's love. Somehow the discussion devolved into an argument about how much a soul weighs. Aparently this is an issue of some interest in the orthodox community. Another student, Natasha, came up to me afterwards to tel me she wouldn't be there for the wrap up party Sunday but that she had enjoyed the class immensely. One student gave me a box of chocolates. We took all the translators out to McDonald's for dinner, which they enjoyed quite a bit.
Sunday. Went to Second Presbyterian with John Bush (and Don and Janelle) while the others went to the IP church again. The sermon of course was all in Russian, but I liked the look in the pastor's eyes and his tone and manner. Then we took the IP staff out to a nice restaurant to eat and debrief. Lots of appreciation passed around (they said we were their easiest group to deal with), and some good suggestions for improvement as well. Afternoon party for all the students back at the school. Unfortunately it was less well prepared or thought out than the other activities so we were all a bit confused, but we had fun and took lots of pictures of each other. Evening concert with Don and Janelle and a local string quartet at the nearby baptist church went over very well. Said some more goodbyes. I gave away the books I had brought along to Nadia and Larisa who were very excited to get some books in English.
Monday got up at 3:30 to leave for the airport at 4. Flew back to Munich on the way to Stockholm. Collected luggage and hopped in a taxi. Sweden regulates the price a taxi can charge for airport runs, so no haggling was needed. Went to our rented apartment right smack in the middle of the old city/tourist district. The contrast with Kiev was quite stark. went from ugly buildings and cheap food to beautiful buildings as far as the eye can see and more restaurants with $30 entrees than I've ever seen in my life. So we had two days in this nordic Disneyworld to unwind and rest before heading back home (which in our case involved lots of driving to visit with friends and family first, but that's another story).
Lots of other things I could say about Kiev, but my fingers are worn down to the bone, so I'll stop here.
Friday, June 27, 2003
Thursday, June 26, 2003
Monday, June 23, 2003
Tuesday, June 17, 2003
here I am in an internet cafe in Stockholm. We left Kiev with a certain amount of weeping very early Monday morning. Our flight left at 6:30, so we had to get up at 3 to get ready. We are now in an apartment right smack in the middle of the olderst part of Stockholm (Gamla Stan, for those of you famailiar with Stockholm or who want to look on a map). To be honest our part of town looks sort of like a Lutheran version of Disneyworld. Very touristy, all pedestrian traffic, and restaurants with 30 dollar menu entrees. Very pretty, just kinda weird, especially after Kiev.
The part of town we were in in Kiev was all built in the last several years, but it looks much, much older. Someone need to introduce paint over there. In any event, we really fell in love with the people we met there, both the staff of IP and the people in our English classes and Bible studies.
I really need to write more in my journal over the next couple of days so I don't forget too much. Kiev is a great place to visit just in case any of you get the chance. More later when I'm more collected.
Thursday, June 05, 2003
Wednesday, June 04, 2003
Monday, June 02, 2003
Sunday, June 01, 2003
but inspired by the fact that actor Hugo Weaving plays both Elrond and Agent Smith.
"You seem to live two lives, Mr. Baggins. In one, you are a peaceful and productive resident of the Shire. In the other, you flit about the world in the company of wizards, dwarves, and other low lives, apparently attempting to hurl a magic ring into a volcano.
"One of these paths has a future, Mr. Baggins."
Wednesday, May 28, 2003
Tuesday, May 27, 2003
Friday, May 23, 2003
Tuesday, May 20, 2003
Also quite enjoying the new Wright book. It's dense and slow, of course, but I do get a chuckle out of it now and then. Like his comment about Philo being discarded and only the academic worms gnawing his bones. Guess you had to be there for that one.
My other big worry, though, is teaching SS in July-August. I've done lost of research already, and always haveideas coming into my head, but I worry about my ability to organize it into coherent lectures. I also worry about whether anyone will come, given that there will be quite a number of classes to choose from. And I worry about . . .well, enough of my worries. I should just do the work and stop whining.
Friday, May 16, 2003
Tuesday, May 13, 2003
Yesterday I heard a BBC reporter interviewing some Iraqi women. One of them stated, surprising both me and the reporter, "I'd rather have five Saddam Hussein's than our current situation." The reporter asked if freedom of expression didn't count for something now. the woman replied that there is no freedom without peace and security.
Just as biologically we cannot exist without oxygen, so socially we cannot exist without a modicum of safety for our persons and possesions. Perhaps we all need to take a break to thank God for the gift of peaceable society we have enjoyed for so long.
Friday, May 09, 2003
At first, said Phillips, "the lead male got a stone and started bashing the hell out of it.
"Another thing they were interested in was in defecating and urinating all over the keyboard," added Phillips, who runs the university's Institute of Digital Arts and Technologies.
Monday, May 05, 2003
Friday, May 02, 2003
Wednesday, April 30, 2003
Saturday, April 26, 2003
1. Johannes Brahms, sym #4. This serves as a stand in for all 4 symphonies, not to mention the fact that he is in my estimation, the most skillful composer to live since J S Bach.
2 Havergal Brian sym #1 (The Gothic). An overwhelmig piece of music my perhaps the most unjustly neglected composer of the 20th century. Brian created a prodigious output of what I understand to be high quality music (I haven't heard much of it myself). This particular work is notable for the fact that it takes around 300 muscians to pull it off. You have to hear it t believe it, but it isn't for the timid or the time-challenged as it lasts over two hours.
3 Anton Bruckner sym #9. Don't know what to say about this one other than I never grow tired of it. Seems like the sort of thing an Ent would like; slow, ponderous, deliberate and powerful.
4 Aaron Copland sym #3. If you have ever enjoyed Copland but aren't familiar with this one, go get it. This is, if I understand correctly, the source for his famous Fanfare for the Common Man.
5 Howard Hanson sym #5. Again, this is a stand in for all his work. Another lesser known composer, but someone who tirelessly promoted the music of other americans. This particular piece I performed with a youth orchestra in Sweden, Denmark and Germany, so it carries a lot of memories for me. It is designed as a musical depiction of Passion Week.
6 Aram Khachaturian sym #3. Brass, brass and more brass. I grew up playing brass (French Horn) and have never gotten it out of my system. This one has some zip to it.
7 Felix Mendelsohn Incidental Music for A Midsummer Night's Dream. This is a piece which I listened to every night at bed time for several months when I was about 14. By far the closest to "classical" of anything on my list. I think I'm just amazed that he wrote this at the age of 16.
8 Dmitry Shostakovich sym #5. I think Shostakovich appealed to the melancholy in my character. I used to have a great love of the tragic, and there isn't much for me that evokes tragedy quite like this.
9 Sibelius sym #2. Though I like all his symphonies (#5 is also terrific), this is the one I performed so I got a real sense of the details of it. The final movement reminds me of being carried along giant waves.
10 Ralph Vaughn William sym #6 (The Pastoral). I don't think many are familar with this, but it's another one I've never tired of, and quite a chage from the louder stuff on this list. Quiet, smooth, and peaceful.
I had to leave off works such as The Planets and Respighi's Roman set, because I didn't think they quite fit the category (plus I wanted to keep it to ten). Other close calls were Dvorak's sym #9 and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's Sheherazade.
Tuesday, April 22, 2003
Also watched Run, Lola, Run. Enjoyed that quite a bit. Certainly was funnier than I had anticipated.