Discouragement and Endurance

Runs yesterday and today, 7° and 6°, adequate pace though a bit… weary.

Tomorrow is May Day, the international version of Labour Day, and my notional anniversary of being told that I was to be made redundant. Further, I got some job discouragement this week: a couple of rejection letters. And what’s even more frustrating than being rejected, they mean that I have to keep on pouring energy into a black hole of unproductive self-selling until something turns up. One can’t just say, ‘You know me, you know I’m good at X, Y, and Z, just put me to work…’ I’ll keep at it — no choice, really — but my heart is cracked by this experience, and if my [prospective] unemployment continues much longer, it will be broken.

Monday of First

Two miles, 6°, clear and dry and no real breeze, and a startlingly good pace, since my joints were a bit unhappy at the start. I just pushed on, and the run went by rather quickly.

Plod, Plod

Two miles, several puddles (there was a downpour moments before I started this morning), 8°, footsore from a long day in dressy shoes yesterday. I gave myself latitude to just register the two miles, without striving for a pace; I felt great, positively springy, for the first third of a mile, then my joints and muscles all began reporting in as having forgotten how weary and stuff they felt. I permitted myself some walking, some barely-jogging, but I clocked two miles, and therein lies the victory.

Morning Chills, Afternoon Adventures

A good run this morning: two miles, one degree, good, steady pace, in another spell of MIST .

I will soon leave for Newcastle, where my former student and very dear friend Bishop Helen-Ann (Francis) Hartley will be installed as Bishop of Newcastle (after having already served as Bishop of Waikato in New Zealand, and Bishop of Ripon here in England. Then I’ll dash to the rail station (blessedly near the cathedral) and come back to Oxford. It’s a 7:00–24:00 day!

The Sixth Degree

Two miles, six degrees, dark skies, a positive pace, overall a decent morning run.

Yesterday or the day before, Alan Jacobs posted his approval and challenge to Brad East, concerning Brad’s straightforward use of “culture’ in a treatment of H. Richard Niebuhr’s famous typology. Alan would require a more robust, critical analysis of ‘culture’ in any treatment of Niebuhr’s topic. In this, he chimes in with the work many of us did in graduate seminars with Stan Hauerwas and Ken Surin (not so odd-sounding a combination then as it may sound now). Stanley mostly reminded us that there’s no such thing as a typology without a concealed ideology, though he also insisted on a more nuanced approach to culture; Ken insisted that there’s nothing without ideology, and led us into the intricate byways, intersections, pitfalls, and illuminating flashes of insight afforded by critical theory, and especially Raymond Williams (whom Alan also cites and discusses) (in this regard, I thank Ken again for his helpful contribution on ‘Culture’ in the Handbook to Postmodern Biblical Criticism).

So, yes to Alan and yes to Stan and yes, and thanks, to Ken. If you want to talk about culture, hear, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest what Raymond Williams, Stuart Hall, and numerous others have had to say about the topic.

Grumble, Grumble

4° (I mean, really), clear skies, a breeze from the northeast, wobbly joints that eventually settled into a satisfactory, comfortable pace for my daily two miles.

Today is ‘personal statement for another job application’ day, ‘finally hammer out my plan for the A2 Intro to the New Testament: Matthew and 1 Corinthians’ class’ day (complicated by my dissatisfaction with most sources on Matthew, for teaching purposes), and tardy thank-you note day for several recent kindnesses. Plus, Margaret returns from her busy conference at the Society for the Study of Theology.

Warmer and Still Cool

8° but it felt chilly nonetheless, felt all right but not strong or especially limber, pace was undistinguished. Yes, two miles.

Hey, Anil Dash (whom some of us actually remember from the old days at Movable Type) has a very apt reflection on ‘selling out’, a concept that seems to be coming back into vogue. The discourse complements my arguments (again from the olden times of blogging) concerning ‘authenticity’, and if the Internet were a smaller world again, and I were to tag Anil in a post and he could actually read referrer logs that pointed to this blog, he might respond. But that was a different world, with different mediations of friendship, and different malefactors whose practices require concealing the desire lines from one link to another…


It would be useful if, instead of referring to Barry Bonds (simpliciter), people referred to Bonds I (the star outfielder for the Priates from 1986 to 1992 or ’93), or Bonds II (the peak value version, who played for the Giants from ’92 to let’s say ’99, when he was still an amazing star but was showing every sign of ballplayer mortality, his stolen bases diminishing, the years perhaps beginning to take their toll), or Bonds III (the unnerving increase to almost superhuman baseball accomplishments, though it’s worth noting that he was still no longer stealing bases), to Bonds IV, the shell of the spectacular ballplayer who had finally begun to decline, a little, and was forced into retirement by the judgmental baseball establishment after a season for which most players would give years off their lives to attain.

Now, I’m not ignorant of the odds that he achieved Bonds III status by the judicious employment of performance-enhancing drugs. I’m not arguing that people should declare him innocent solely because he has not admitted or been proven to have knowingly used PEDs (though it’s pretty clear that his trainer used steroids in treating him). I don’t like those circumstances a tiny bit.

But he’s also a proud Black man whom the predominantly white power brokers in baseball and the media wanted to break — as white folks have used their power against other ‘uppity’ Black folks. Even as at the time I was wishing he weren’t so prickly, were more like his godfather Willie Mays, I had to respect his unwillingness to play by the rules others tried to impose on him. And to be fair, even Bonds III, the man who in his late thirties was improving his game and achieving baseball accomplishments that may never be equalled (with chemical support), was so good a hitter that he should go down in history just for those years.

An early season reminder that plenty of white ballplayers were disagreeable, cheated, were aggressively dangerous to other players, and the world of baseball noted approvingly how ‘competitive’ they were. Barry Bonds was better than most people who were alive at the time can remember, better than most who didn’t experience his presence in the game can believe, and he’s still around. It’s time. I acknowledge, honour, and respect him as the best there’s been (though we should also begin to make room for Shohei Ohtani to redefine baseball greatness over the next few years).

Yes, Trinity

Yesterday I met with students for a revision, and today I had a make-up tutorial (making up a missed tutorial, not a tutorial on how to make this pig’s ear look more silk-purse-ish) so it really is Trinity Term. I got a [North American usage] slew of emailed tasks last night, so I worked late into the evening, and I’m hoping to get through them today so that I can take this evening off.

I did run this morning, a desultory two miles in 6°, clear skies, light breeze. Nothing remarkable about my pace or circumstances, but I did it.

And I’m on a short list (obvs can’t go into detail for reasons you will understand), so there’s that.

Is This Really Nine?

The BBC assured me that it was 9° this morning during my run, though I’d have reckoned that it was five or more degrees chillier. It had rained overnight, but I encountered no showers as I made my somewhat slow way through my two miles, but I didn’t feel bad — just slow.
Trinity Term begins today for me, meeting some of my first-years to coach them for their upcoming Bible collection (= ‘practice exam’), and my dear one sets off to Coventry to take part in the annual Society for the Study of Theology conference. The ladies (Minke and Flora) and I will have to manage on our own for three days.