Prospects

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)?

3 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Re. yesterday’s Doonesbury — Sure, it’s a generalization, but you don’t have to drill down too deep to see why it persists. How often does Jesus command genocide? Is there any NT analogue to the Book of Job? Sure, there’s a lot of wonderful, illuminating stuff in the OT, but here also we are instructed by God to execute homosexuals, adulterers, and “anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD.” We may sell disobedient daughters into servitude, but they are lucky by comparison with disobedient sons, who must be stoned to death. We must also stone to death a daughter whose virginity cannot be proven when we marry her off. In light of all this (and there is more, as you know), “snarky” doesn’t begin to describe it.

  2. >>Sunday’s Doonesbury presents the tired, poisonous trope <<

    OK, I’m biblically illiterate. But I saw that same comic strip and thought it both strange (why this? why now?) and wonderful (someone actually recognizes that Jesus taught about the importance of love) … and maybe a way of backing in to a snipe at the financial world. But it sure didn’t seem poisonous to me… Wanna wax on a bit more for us, the unwashed? Looks like we could use a bit of eddykashun.

    … and I agree with Mr. Hitchens.

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