I will be suspending my running campaign for a bit, for health-related reasons. Much as I hate running, I am even more nettled to risk losing ground in this way; my ideal is to spend as little time as possible running, by building myself up to the point of being able to run my bi-weekly mile relatively quickly and smoothly. For now, though, the health of the whole body takes precedence over the legs and lungs. (By the way, my lungs were scanned last week and were found ‘pristine’, so at least they look okay relative to my father’s pulmonary fibrosis.)

For the Record, From Twitter

Margaret and I were tickled by a tweet from Breakfast Haver, in which he answers his 3-year-old son’s questions with responses that sound as if they belong to a sport presenter. ‘That’s absolutely right.’ ‘The facts don’t lie.’ ‘One hundred percent.’

So now when we’re conversing at home, any question that calls for an affirmative answer now evokes on of these responses. “Are you turning the heat up?’ ‘The facts don’t lie, do they?’

It’s the small things, after almost 36 years of marriage.

Long Plateau

The timer said 11:03 this morning, but I’m going to knock three seconds off to account for geenral faffing about with the buttons and to allow for the effect of a slow-moving pedestrian who was approaching our gate at the same time I was. No particular aches, stiffness, or breathing problems (though there was a bit of a headwind on the Iffley Road), and I pushed my break-stride mark all the way to Stanley Street (where it intersects Magdalen Road), so although the time was nothing to crow about, my ultimate goal came a few metres closer to fulfilllment.

Clement to Theodore / the Secret Gospel of Mark

Herewith you may find, read, download, remix into a hit record, or mostly what-you-will copy of the Greek text and parallel English translation of MS Smith 65, the letter of Clement to Theodore which includes several short passages from what the letter identifies as a ‘mystical’ version of Mark’s Gospel.

This link leads to a single-page A5 layout PDF of the booklet. It’s not the ideal format for reading this text on a screen, since the Greek-and-English alternating pages mean a degree of skipping around, but some people may have a use for it.

This link leads to a side-by-side A4 layout PDF, which pairs the Greek and English pages. It’s easier to compare the Greek and English, which was part of the point of my making it this way in the first place, and it should scroll nicely along a large computer screen.

I’ll try, someday, to post Kindle and epub versions of it. Not right now.

Clement to Theodore / the Secret Gospel of Mark

Once upon a time, back in the days of the Mac Plus and dot-matrix printers, when I was writing my doctoral thesis on an entirely different topic, it occurred to me that I might someday want to have a digital copy of the Greek text of the [alleged] Secret Gospel of Mark. I used the pre-Unicode Greek typeface I had clumsily designed, and copied out Morton Smith’s transcription of the relevant texts — first just the supposed ‘Secret Gospel of Mark,’ then eventually the entire fragment, in a file format I can no longer open. I lost, found, puzzled over opening the file, gave up, and started over at having a searchable copy of the Greek and of the English versions of the fragment. Now, with better tools at hand, I want to share the basic text in question, so that others can freely consult and reason about it.

I’ve run this version past some good and careful readers, but I don’t assume we’ve caught all the possible mistakes. After a while, if you let me know of typos or errors that I want to fix, I’ll post a corrected edition.

Definite Plateau

Felt stiff, thought (correctly) I was going more slowly than I had in a while; break-stride point fell back to the corner of Magdalen Rd; but it was still below 11:00 (just barely — 10:58).

Holding Pattern

Nothing felt especially bad this morning, and I pushed my ‘didn’t break stride’ mark to Sidney Street, but I still took 10:54 for the morning. That was a lot of short striding when running, and too many slow walking steps. Three days in a row of times in the 10:50s means a plateau — but as long as I’m pushing the striding distance, I’ll contentedly settle for it. Speed isn’t the goal; it’ll come along with limberness, wind, and being able to run, actually run, the whole mile.


Oh, man, how much I did not want to run this morning! But not wanting to is not a sufficient reason not to do, so I stepped out into the rain to fulfil my obligation to better fitness.

It’s odd to observe how many body parts seem to affect my exercise. For the past two miles, my upper body has ached (mildly) and groaned at its part in the whole endeavour, hardly a fair response considering the relatively easy role my shoulders, arms, and torso play. Legs were not happy, and my breathing was laboured. Still, in spite of reluctance, grudging musculature, and wheezy respiration, I shaved a second off Sunday’s time (while I anticipated that I had lost ten or fifteen seconds).

Big Step

On this morning’s mile, I pushed my break-stride point beyond a half mile, to the Samaritans office on Magdalen Road — not exactly Roger Bannister, but continuing progress. The new approach to breathing continues to help, and the new trainers are more comfortable; and the result was a time of 10:50, my first time sub-11:00, so that’s encouraging. Next comprehensive milestones are (a) making the whole mile without breaking stride and (b) 10:30.

About two years ago (or was it three? must be two), I started skipping rope first thing in the morning to start my blood pumping and to improve my aerobic capacity. The first time I tried to skip rope (after years of decreasing ‘athletic’ activity) I managed to swing the rope over my head and jump over it ten times. That’s ten individual times, interrupted by many more feeble failed attempts. I was gasping for air, perspiring copiously, and at a loss for how I could have gone from playing Ultimate Frisbee for hours on Friday afternoons in the Princeton Seminary summer season, to struggling to make my stout frame get over the skipping-rope at all.

Today, while I’m still very, very far from being fit, I daily skip-rope between 500 and 1000 bounces, except on days I set out for my mile, and hard as running is for me, I have cut three minutes off my mile time and can now run a half mile without breaking stride. That’s what they call ‘improvement.’ I’m not especially proud of my condition, but I am proud that without revolutionising my life and making fitness a rival for my days’ time and energies (work, prayer, and devotion to Margaret come in the first three places), I’ve changed the way my body functions slightly for the better. And I will keep at it. This morning, about two-thirds of the way through my mile, I had the fleeting thought ‘Someday I’ll try two miles’ and ‘I could do this another time a week’ (this last is false, at least during term-time — 7:30 Morning Prayer is an unforgiving governor of my time).

Easter Blessing

First, of course, Easter blessings for anyone who still haunts this ghost blog! As so many matters of state, matters of the polis, matters even ecclesiastical and sporting (shame, Australia!) seem to go from ugly to rotten and worse, Easter is a sign that in a fractured world, accelerating entropy does not have the last word —

And our love is like Jesus, but worse
Though you seal the cave up where you’ve lain its body
It rises
It rises

That’s John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats, performing ‘Going to Marrakesh’ with his pal Franklin Bruno as The Extra Glenns. ‘I wish our love could go the way of all flesh / But it’s not right, and it’s not nice / To try and kill the same thing twice’: no matter how hard you try, love keeps rising. Bless you all!

On a less weighty note, on this morning’s ‘run’ I tried breathing differently. That sounds weird, and it felt a little weird, but hey mindfulness and breath and so on, and by breathing deliberately in a different way, I didn’t begin gasping and panting nearly as fast. As a result, I attained my first mini-goal of the whole ‘running’ enterprise, that being that I made the first half-mile (from home to the corner of the Iffley Road and Magdalen Road) without breaking stride, woohoo! Likewise, as you may have anticipated, the time of the whole mile was slashed from 11:32 last Wednesday to 11:07 today, by far the fastest I’ve ‘run’ this distance.

And I have a new pair of trainers arriving before Wednesday, so….