Monthly Archives: May 2005


Joe’s Geese

Originally uploaded by AKMA.

As I promised, I’ve uploaded some images from the catalogue of the exhibition in which my mom’s, grandmother’s, and grandfather’s works appear. I don’t have the time, just this week, to work out high-quality scans — but the catalogue industry is probably just as happy. This is my mother’s photograph from the exhibition; you can find my grandfather’s etching, my grandmother’s painting, and the newspaper story at my Flickr site.

And Jeanne has been working on a Flickr archive for Kindred, where you can go to for a glimpse into her life with Jeanne and Gail.

Evidence Accumulates

For a variety of reasons I won’t spell out here, I’m becoming increasingly convinced that this is true: “[M]ost incompetent people have no idea they’re incompetent. On the contrary, the researchers found that the incompetent are ‘usually supremely confident of their abilities, more confident, in fact, than people who do things well.’ ”

And given that, I’m inclined to suspect that AntiPixel is correct, too: “Their cunning is often inversely proportional to their talent, and it is this, sycophantically applied, upon which they rely.”

There Goes My Red Hat

Well, if Tripp is quoting him accurately, Benedict XVI will never appoint to the cardinalate an unreconstructed rocker such as I. “[R]ock music is. . . completely antithetical to the Christian concept of redemption and freedom, indeed its exact opposite.” Though I’m not hesitant to mull over the ethical implications of enjoying rock and roll (several students and I were discussing this very topic just Friday), I won’t back down from contending that rock and roll can bespeak God’s glory. So this is one mark against the Benedict’s theological position — unless you want to get into a question-begging game of “Well that isn’t ‘rock music’ in the sense in which he’s using the term.” Clearly, Benedict made this pronouncement long before he became infallible. . . .

New Century

Today, a friend from church congratulated me on my article in the latest issue of the Christian Century. I know an editor there, and we’d been talking about my writing something for them, and someone there read what I posted a couple of weeks ago about when I wear clericals, and why. They liked it, edited it a little, slapped on the jazzy titled “Collared” (wish I’d thought of that), and wowie zowie, now it’s in print. The issue in question isn’t online yet, though there’s no urgency to checking there for it since my original version remains available here. If you like it, though, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt for you to drop ’em an email or something.


Earlier this week, Joi messaged me to call my attention to the article in New York magazine concerning Lawrence Lessig, John Hardwicke, and their experiences at the American Boychoir School — and the lawsuit that they’re conducting. It’s harrowing reading for any sentient human being, but all the more so for our family, since we used to live in Princeton, and our boys went to summer camp at ABS (and Nate was heavily recruited to join the regular Boychoir School program). We know people who’ve worked there, and who’ve worked closely with the ABS administration. (Si’s perspective on these reports appears on his blog, and Joi follows up with a blog post today.)

I don’t know the specifics of any of the case material, haven’t reviewed any of the evidence. Still, many sources and many individual stories make a weighty testimony against ABS and the way it was administered — especially if one has formed a positive assessment of the probity of any of the witnesses, as I have of Prof. Lessig. I’m sickened by the abuse (and by knowing one of those who endured it), by the proximity of that abuse to our family (it would have been easy to push Nate into the program despite his hesitancy), by the systemic effects that ensue from the sickness of a few. I’m disheartened that the New Jersey Catholic Conference has lobbied for continuing charitable institutions’ immunity to liability for negligence (a stand of which the NJCC is evidently not proud enough to acknowledge on their website).

I don’t live in New Jersey, so I have no traction with legislators there, and I’m not a Roman Catholic, so I have no sway with the Catholic Conference, and I’m not a donor or alumnus of the Boychoir School — and I recognize the complexities of beneficent institutions caught up in the effects of misconduct by former employees — but hiding and resistance and evasion are not the way to anyone’s well-being in these circumstances. What doth it profit to preserve the institution’s life, at the cost of its soul?

Cool Stuff

Doesn’t anyone know it’s end-of-term time at Seabury? I still have a help o’ papers to mark, and exams to grade next week, plenty of extra events (Awards Night, trustees meetings, and of course Graduation). But the other day people called four interesting sites to my attention in the span of a few hours. I was waiting for permission to link to some of them, but since I know it’s okay, I can’t rationalize stalling any longer.

Clay Shirky’s student Anh Dang has constructed a Gospel Spectrum, a Flash-powered visualization of relations among the four canonical gospels. It’s a lovely thing, full of promise for future directions in textual study. (I’ve complained a lot, in several articles, about the graphical aphasia of scholarship in the field of biblical studies; this shows the vast potential of using color and scale to render textual relationships.) Play with it a while, and be patient; some features take a while to load, at least on my Mac/Firefox combination.

It’s intensely impressive, though I have some wishes for further refinement. Dang has based this device on a Gospel Harmony, a convenient device for these purposes, but one that makes a significant interpretive decisions right at the outset (a Harmony gathers texts into a synthesized chronology of Jesus’ life that’s distinct from the particular sequence characteristic of any one gospel. To take but one example, the Harmony treats John’s narrative of Jesus’ confrontation with the Temple authorities (John 2:13-22) as “Jesus’ first cleansing of the temple,” without any parallel texts — the version in the other three gospels comes during the Passion Narrative (Matthew 21:12f; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45f), where the Harmony describes it as “The Second Cleansing of the Temple,” obscuring the possibility that Jesus cleansed the Temple only once (no gospel after all suggests that Jeuss cleansed the Temple twice; only the supposition that neither John nor the Synoptics could have misplaced the event warrants inferring that the same thing must have happened twice). A more useful approach would permit a viewer to examine the narrative units as they appear in the sequence assigned by one of the gospel authors, with all the doublets and parallels (the folks behind the Jesus Seminar prepared treeware synopses that did just this). A harmony beclouds the data in question before it presents them.

The lines of the graph compare passages by their numbers of verses, but that’s a highly arbitrary measure; “a verse” can itself by very short or long, and may comprise quite variable contents. If one were going to make a length-of-line measure, the simplest approach could compare parallels by the number of words they use to narrate the pericope in question. Another approach might involve defining discursive units based on sound linguistic principles, and comparing the number of these, or perhaps comapring the number of finite verbs in a given context. Each of these would give a little more, clearer information than “number of verses.”

At the same time, Anh Dang has given us a glimpse of the power of rich-data analysis; whereas even the strongest analytical programs for biblical studies seem locked into a monochrome, two-dimensional frame of reference, she has used color, motion, and design to offer a more fluidly vivid representation of the data from which we work. I’d be thrilled to see what she could do in cooperation with a biblical-studies specialist. More feedback, please, colleagues?

At the same time, Dave and Kevin directed my attention to the United Religions Initiative, a project to “promot[e] enduring, daily interfaith cooperation and to ending religiously motivated violence.” That’s entirely admirable, and the project pursues its goal in part through encouraging people of differing faiths to work together toward shared goals, also a commendable end. I’m a little shy about interfaith projects, myself; it’s so easy to go awry by minimizing abiding religious differences. At the same time, I greatly appreciate the love that holds together friends from divergent traditions, and if serving vital projects together nurtures such friendships, then my own skittishness is revealed as too fastidious a fixation on the particulars of religious identity.

And in honor of Paul Ricoeur, how about this site? The architecture does a strong job, I think, of keeping in view both the particular topic of interest and its setting among other phenomenological topics.

Don’t Tell Margaret —

but this morning there was a Seabury pick-up softball game (not one of the “against another institution” type), and I figured, well, my back’s been bothering me, and I’ve been over-eating and under-exercising, so why not go out and give it a try? I haven’t played softball in about twenty years, so it would be useful to find out how out-of-shape I really am.

AKMA At The Bat

I had a blast. I did not utterly mortify myself (made good contact, made a decent play or two), and if I don’t seem to be genuflecting as promptly tomorrow, then you’ll know why. But even the Anglo-Catholic in me thinks it was worth it.

In The Family

You might think from my blog that Pippa is the only visual artist in the family, but she and Margaret are on Nantucket for the weekend to attend the opening of a retrospective show by the Artists’ Association of Nantucket, in the Egan Institute of Maritime Studies at Coffin School. Ordinarily, we wouldn’t go so far to catch a gallery opening, but this event draws on the Association’s permanent collection to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Association, and includes works by my mother and grandmother (and maybe my grandfather — I’m not certain).

The story in the Inquirer and Mirror mentions my grandmother, Isabel Isabelle Hollister Tuttle; Margaret says there’s an offline article that features the family connections, and concentrates on my mom Nancy Adam, but I haven’t seen that yet. (When I do, I’ll get it online somehow.)

In the meantime, though, this placeholder between the generations of artists in the family applauds his mother and grandparents for the honor of being included in this remarkable occasion. Three Cheers!

More Pippa Art

Lemony Lemon

Originally uploaded by AKMA.

I just uploaded a new set of scans of Pippa’s latest work — two oil paintings, a tempera painting, and a mixed-media Mother’s Day card. These include a couple of our favorites, though such judgments stand only for the short time until she composes another canvas.

Just Wondering

Why — when health-care costs so burden small and large businesses — is not all the force of corporate lobbying power of every industry marshaled to enact a national health care plan? Wouldn’t GM be better off without having to negotiate health plans? IBM? And certainly the small businesses that the U. S. President always claims to support would benefit tremendously — as would almost everyone.

Well, except the insurance and medical industries, of course.