Twenty-seven years ago today, Margaret Bamforth and I vowed to have and to hold, to love and to cherish one another, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, until we are parted by death.
This has not been the easiest year for us to live up to that promise. I won’t rehearse the litany of adverse circumstances from the past fifteen months, but we’ve been swimming hard lately. I’m sure I haven’t been the most agreeable character on earth, variously enshrouded by griefs and worries and feelings of failure. Through all of this, Margaret and I have held tight to each other, sometimes ducking under the big waves, always coming up for air and another round of dog-paddling. For better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness, in health. This has not been an easy year, but the testing has reminded us how resilient our love has been.
Then last weekend, we drove hours and hours in a car stuffed with boxes of flower-jars, candle-holders, candles, oh, and Pippa and her luggage and ours. The drive was long, but smooth, and once we alit in Chicagoland, all the effort Margaret (and the Harrises!) put into preparation kept everything going smoothly.
There’s a point in the Episcopal marriage rite — I don’t think Tripp included it in Saturday’s liturgy, I’m not sure — where the prayer says, “Grant that all married persons who have witnessed these vows may find their lives strengthened and their loyalties confirmed.” Whether Tripp said that or not, the whole experience of bringing Josiah to the altar to marry Laura absolutely had that effect on Margaret and me. Nothing has ever driven home to me as forcefully and as joyously the responsibility and the gift of marriage, and Margaret and I have been recollecting that revelation every day since last Saturday.
Margaret, I know you will read this: Let me say again before God and the world that nothing will ever part you from me, that not geography nor adversity nor finances nor afflictions will come between us. Together we have wrought wonderful things; together we will see more wonderful things yet. Our lives have been strengthened and our loyalties confirmed by the flourishing love of our children, by the supporting love of our friends and relatives, by a shared faith in divine grace, enduring hope, and above all in the forgiving, enlivening, sustaining love of God. Thank you for offering me that faith, sweetheart, and for holding me in that faith, and for promising always to keep me with you in faith. I love you, forever.
Pasting video over audio (pasting a clipped video track over the extant video without pasting the audio over the extant audio) should be one of the easiest things ever in iMovie; I’d think people would want to do it all the time, and I can’t imagine it’s that hard on the application side (compared with an elaborate transition between shots, for instance). But iMovie ’09 seems either (a) to have made this capacity inaccessible or (b) to have designated it with an unintelligible menu name.
Can anyone tell me how to paste a video selection onto the audio of the foundation track?
Just when you thought that I might get back to talking about what makes exegetical research so hard, or about the non-consent to the election of the so-called Buddhist Bishop, or about apologetic statesmen of a compromising kind, I break out yet another wedding-related link. This is a slide montage of images taken by Peter Coombs, the professional photographer for the Harris-Adam wedding (about whom we can’t rave enthusiastically enough):
Margaret and I went to see Angels and Demons this afternoon, out of a sense of academic obligation. To be entirely fair, it was better than the preceding film, and both were better than the book of The da Vinci Code (I haven’t read the preceding book); and early on, the film seemed to make an arch comment about the intellectual seriousness of “symbology.” Still, the sheer preposterousness of the plot contrasts jarringly with the humorless didacticism of the main character. The Harvard Professor of Symbology has to be told, toward the end of the film, that a symbol might have another meaning! The action of the movie takes such vast liberties with the duration of time that a viewer must simply give up all sense of regularized chronology. Ewan MacGregor played his part well, as did Armin Mueller-Stahl. Still, the crowning incoherence of this exercise in earnest erroneousness comes from the fact that Robert Langdon, the spokesperson for Enlightenment in the film, reaches his conclusions by outlandish speculations, wild guesses, dogmatic (un-evidenced) assertions, and condescending patter. In that respect, Langdon serves as a fitting Mary Sue to the novel’s author, Dan Brown.
The Traveling Adams rolled into Durham late last evening, cramped and weary and malnourished from days on the road, but still very happy about the fantastic wedding weekend and the rich conversations with dear friends and family. Did I say how sweet Si and Laura were? And how marvelous it was to share exhilarated celebration with such a convivial crowd of wedding guests? If I did, I can’t have emphasized enough what a tremendous occasion it was. Truly, the world was healed in at least some little ways by the goodness and love that poured forth from this weekend.
Then, when I woke up this morning, I was startled to see an email note that raised the active job prospects total to two (it had been resting at “one,” because I incorrectly thought that one of them had expired). I’m currently in the mix, therefore, for two possible positions (one more academic, one more pastoral), neither of which is located in Baltimore or Durham. So we have to pack up everything here in Durham, store them in Sarah and Clay’s garage, couch-surf for a few weeks while these job processes process themselves, then move the Stuff to a location to be determined, and begin working on the shape of life without Pippa (who’ll be away at school next year) and possibly with Margaret and me apart from one another for yet another year.
I really like this photo that Joi took of me at the wedding; it looks like me, to me.
Josiah and Laura Harris-Adam set off on their honeymoon a couple of hours ago, if they followed their initial schedule. It was such a terrific weekend that it’s hard to say goodbye, to them and also to so many others whose presence supported, encouraged, enlivened, deepened these days. I don’t ant to begin to name names lest I leave anyone out, but it’s stunning to be humbled by so vast a crowd of loving friends and family.
Yesterday was a walk-through. This afternoon, it all counts.
The rehearsal dinner last night was spectacular — all Margaret’s hard work and planning worked out perfectly, and the caterer hit the ball out of the park, and everyone got along famously. We were on the top of the world, and today will only intensify our joy.
(More photos on Facebook.)
Welcome bags stuffed, table numbers prepared. Further errands on the horizon. Nice to see you, will check in again later.
We hit town tomorrow, and from there on we’ll tumbling headlong toward the impending nuptials. Today would’ve been a good day for blogging, but our hotel wifi doesn’t reach to our room, and I didn’t feel like camping out in the lobby (as Pippa did). There was an exuberant prayer meeting in the multi-purpose room adjoining the lobby, and informal day care for a half dozen in the lobby itself. Add the audio spillover from the revival to the kinderklang and the sound of lodgers trooping in and out, and staying in our wirelessless room, resting, made a lot more sense.
I’m itching to write another installment of the exegesis series — I’m up to “what makes research hard?” — but I don’t anticipate having a longish stretch of time in which to develop my handwritten outline into a full-bore (and I’m sure that “bore” is the right term for most readers) discussion of problems in exegetical research for students.
On the other hand, today we’ll go to the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame.* I harbor mixed feelings about this; it’s certainly not very rebellious to have a “Hall of Fame” in an architecturally-dramatic lakeside institution — not even in Cleveland — but at the same time, it’ll be a great opportunity for Pip to engage visually the history she’s been assimilating aurally, orally and textually. Plus, the transgressive side of rock is always inevitably inhabited by commercial/institutional interests anyway, and hey, it’s about having fun and delighting in the music. Our hotel features framed album covers as decor; ah! for the vast trove of covers that we deacquisitioned when we moved away from Princeton.
Sunday’s Doonesbury presents the tired, poisonous trope that “Whenever you read form the Old Testament, God is always crabby and snarky to everyone,” whereas “the New Testament isn’t about anger at all — it’s about love.” Really now — Trudeau should know better, Rev. Scotty should know better, and I sure hope Bible professors around the USA will be using this as an illustration of how dreadfully biblically-illiterate U.S. dominant culture is.
Steve links to this great essay on the future of books — yes, yes, yes. (Whoops, I thought it was Steve, but I lost the link-source.) Repeat after me: Books are not going away. Their cultural and economic role will change, but guess what? It was going to change sometime, somehow, anyway. The hue and cry over “Books are disappearing!” is a sign that people care too much about books for them to vanish. Look, I’m a fountain pen user; however much we may talk about “environmentally responsible writing instruments” and “quality,” the plain fact is that we use and collect fountain pens out of a particular kind of non-utilitarian appreciation. And if fountain pens can survive (and thrive!) in a disposable ballpoint world, books ain’t going anywhere soon.
And while I’m clearing out browser tabs, Michael Gilmour”s article on the Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible album exemplifies on of the things that provokes me to try to accelerate the discussion of popular music in theological discourse. On one hand, Gilmour does a helpful job of supplying interview and biographical fragments and of motif-spotting. On the other hand, though, the essay strikes me as journalistic in the unfortunate sense — it skims the surface of “things people said” or “apparent allusions” without engaging critically the implicit theology (or implicit philosophy or implicit life-world or whatever you want) that the music describes and promotes. That’s where I’m driving, sisters and brothers, and I have to work on that paper this summer. Hey, maybe since I’m presenting a paper on this at the SBL meeting in November, my visit to the Hall of Fame will be tax-deductible!
* When, long ago, our family unit made a trip to the equivalent institution for Baseball, our very young daughter enthusiastically identified it as the “Hal of Fame!” I’m not sure I can think up a rock’n’roll “Hal” to connect with this anecdote, but it has always appealed to those of us who heard her. The question is, does the Rock museum sell purple-pink baseball caps with a big “P” (for “Peoria,” or for “Pippa,” depending on your outlook)?