Monthly Archives: October 2008

Meet Me In Missouri

No, please, don’t — it’s a retreat center out in the middle of nowhere, and I don’t have a long visit anyway. But it’s great to see Ralph McMichael, who brought me out here; and I got to see baby Harper Benko (along with her mom and dad). And Bishop Smith quoted Frank Weston to close his address to the clergy, and he indicated that he collects and restores fountain pens. Now, that’s a bishop!
Tomorrow I have three addresses to give, then I get to collapse in a heap.

What Was That?

Got up, housework, go to school, write, visit with Sr. Elena, lunchtime talk by (visiting) Bishop Gene Robinson, back to office for course prep, class on John 10 and 11, home, long phone call, dinner, chat with Margaret, pack — where did that day go?


(Sorry for the gender-specific language; this is one of those words for which a suitably resonant and evocative equivalent hasn’t come to my attention.)
I’ve been laboring (some would say, “obsessing”) over the details of my upcoming presentations to the clergy conference. I’d rather not work from a verbatim manuscript; that’s partly because the occasion befits something a shade more relaxed, and partly because I have a hard time not pitching such compositions to a more technical readership. I keep feeling tempted to put in more footnotes and nuances, where the setting calls for more exposition and explanation. And when it comes to conference-presenting ex tempore, I have not been satisfied with my results.
So I’m trying to get the presentation onto 5×8 notecards, with a lead-in sentence, reminders of pertinent stuff to say, and a closing sentence. My rationale for preparing so detailed a schema rests on (a) my proclivity to divagate and lose focus, (2) the high valuation I put on transitions and continuity, and (iii) the importance of strong, clear, explicit thesis sentences for an audience to orient itself. This approach also affords me leeway conveniently to build paragraphs out-of-sequence for different topics when I’m getting stuck on one line of thought. Plus, using notecards offers an opportunity to use my pens, which by their design and functioning remind me of the value of my craft.
We’ll see how this all works out.


I had been withstanding considerable pain from plantar fasciitis (that could be really handy in a Scrabble game someday) through the summer and early fall. As recently as a couple of weeks ago, I gasped and winced as sharp pain engulfed my heel and arch. But last Saturday I forgot to take my daily naproxen, and then on Sunday my foot still felt OK so I pushed it for another day, and Monday I didn’t even notice. Although the last couple of days have involved some shivers of pain, my plantar fascia seems to have settled down considerably — whether because of my new insoles, or the anti-inflammatory treatment, or my stretching the foot whenever I can. I expect I’ll need to take a pill now or then, but for the time being, it sure feels good to think that the inflammation is easing.

Not Drowning, Just Waving

Hard at work writing and incubating my presentations on Mark’s Gospel for next week. I’m working out the series as a supplementary response to Frank Kermode’s landmark The Genesis of Secrecy, framing Kermode’s interpretation from the standpoint afforded by my differential hermeneutics of signifying practices (though I won’t pelt the diocesan clergy with all that jargon). After I sketch my response to Kermode, I’ll demonstrate how the way of reading that I commend would pertain to a Markan ecclesiology.
Ryan pointed me to this article about written English by the late David Foster Wallace; Wallace hits a number of extremely well-balanced points, and I commend it highly. (Unfortunately, the PDF is very hard to read on-screen; you’ll want to print it out.)
Hey, how about the economy? If I were going to be choosing a year in which to become unemployed, this wouldn’t have been my top pick; I’m a little antsy about the whole “find a job by the end of the year” project. Ron points to the impact that the Wall Street convulsions are having on his street.
Sue Garrett pointed me to this “Pearls Before Swine” comic as a conversation-starter about hermeneutics.
I may not have mentioned recently how proud I am of my wife and daughter (and, longer-distance, my sons).
I do like my fountain pens. They provide a marvelous distraction from other matters to which I really, really ought to be paying more attention. On the other hand (“on the other hand, I have inkstains!”), I write more productively when I hand-write my brainstorming and first drafts. I broke out my No Nonsense Pen this morning for writing, and was startled at how beautifully that inexpensive, somewhat homely instrument writes. If only they had invested just a shade more elegance in the design, and were still producing the classic version of the NNP (not this rubberized-grip, long-section parvenue)!