Neti Neti

I ran both Saturday and Sunday mornings, but today it was raining and I gave it a miss.

Saturday I went in to London to take part in the annual Sodality Day of the Sodality of Mary, Mother of Priests at St Mary’s, Kilburn. We had a fine day talking over topics of relevance (urgence) (yes, it’s a word): concelebration of the Mass, the policies of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, and the seal of the confessional. Discussion was refreshingly open, patient, and respectful. Three cheers for us! The weather was warm, but the church kept us cooler than the direct sunlight would have been, and my waalking (and running to catch buses) was not too unpleasant.

Yesterday was church, mostly, and some reading. My capacity to just sit still and read has been burned away after years of over-stress (arguably overwork and under-accommodation, but the point isn’t to moan); as I have fewer obligations for the time being, I will be working gently to spin up my reading capacity again.

And as I said, today I have not left the flat, first because of the rain, then because Margaret set out to spend the morning with a friend (so I stayed with the dogs), then because it was already early afternoon and Margaret needed a nap, so I sat with the dogs to keep them calm. I’ll get out tomorrow.

Red Herring Watch

Ran my 1.7 this morning (12°, decent pace), Morning Prayer, correspondence, travel planning for tomorrow morning’s meeting of the Sodality of Mary, Mother of Priests, and (here’s the red herring bit) resumed my eager consumption of Brian Vickers’s In Defence of Rhetoric, a feast for the mind. I was impressed to learn that Sir Brian is alive — nowadays, I’m impressed that anybody of who’s not younger than me is alive — and I have had the persistent feeling that I had read other of his books or essays, but it seems I haven’t. But this will contribute materially to the hermeneutics essay on which I’m working. (See, I’m working on it <— this is in case Scott is reading this.) Oh, and the red herring part arises because the topic covers so much fascinating terrain that I’ll be sore tempted to allow my attention to wander.

Another Morning

Another 1.7 miles. Down to 11° this morning, much more seasonable, though we didn’t get a fair share of warmth in July and August. Minke came out of the bedroom earlier than her friend, so I attached her lead, opened the door, and led her to the side of the flat where she and Flora, ahem, water the garden. As she was examining possible spots, I glanced back at the door, and Flora had come out the door and was standing there (with no lead). They’re a little groggy when they wake, so I just ducked back in, fetched her lead and attached it, and she stood still for the whole process. If it had been later in the day, either of them might have bolted to chase a squirrel or pigeon or, alas, neighbour — but at 7:15, they just wanted to do what they needed to do and then go back to sleep.

Next Horizon

Next on my menu of overdue obligations are two essays, one about half finished and one entirely unbegun. Luckily, they’re on (tangentially) related topics. The first is on Anglican biblical hermeneutics. In that essay I’ll be arguing that the vital heart of Anglican biblical hermeneutics in the interval at which people look back with nostalgia — the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries — was characterised by apparently unified hermeneutical practice not so much because of any unifying ideology as by a combination of contingent cultural and political factors.
Remember that these centuries include the English Reformation, the Scottish Reformation, the Wars of the Three Kingdoms (the British Civil Wars), the Monmouth Rebellion, the so-called Glorious Revolution, and the Jacobite resistance; while these were not necessarily determined by theology or biblical interpretation, the Bible certainly figured in these conflicts, conflicts that cost roughly a half million lives (perhaps 10% of the population of England). In this atmosphere, theologians who inclined either toward the rigorous Reformation or toward the more conformist or Laudian side will all still be reading the Bible in mostly the same hermeneutical way — just with divergent investments. (The right answer, bei mir, is ‘the same’ (that is, ‘effectively similar’) Prayerbook and translated Bible; the same, geographically small political entity (‘England-and-Wales’); the same educational system (Oxford and Cambridge plus schools), and a cultural outlook that favours literature and rhetoric over empirical sciences. Rhetoric evaporates through the nineteenth century; the colonies begin pushing back against the homeland; translations and adaptations of both Bible and Prayerbook/liturgy begin to destabilise their influence on biblical interpretation; education begins to extend to a wider populace, through more diverse institutions, and evolves to include further areas of study — no wonder biblical interpretation is less centred from the ineteenth century onward.

Oh, and I ran my 1.6 this morning in 12° (suddenly feels very chilly), and have been working on my study of rhetoric. And I’ll write about interdisciplinarity to take breaks.

This Is the Dawning of a New Era

Got up, ran my ? miles (15°, 94% humidity, actually a good, steady pace), said Morning prayer, watched the clip of the Postal Service that Nate sent me from the concert he saw, and now I begin the rest of my day without a thought about the epistle of James. It’s been so long that I’ve been struggling with that piece that I have lost touch with what it might feel like to have moved past it. Of course, I have a significant backlog of research and writing to tackle, but one item, at least, is off the list. (Now all I need to do is finish ‘Anglican Hermeneutics (part one),’ ‘Interdisciplinarity,’ a short book introducing readers to the epistle of James, and my summing-up book about differential hermeneutics. Plus whatever other responsibilities I turn out to have, assuming I ever have a job again (apart from tutoring at Oriel, which I love).

Old, Really, Old

Today’s my sixty-sixth birthday; by good fortune, there are no other sixes applicable to the date. I started by running (17°, ‘feels like 20°’), by cleaning up and going to church at St Andrew’s, by pushing more to the finish line of the James essay, and reminiscing about my lovely friends who have left birthday greetings online.

I love you all, and I’m deeply thankful for the chance to have studied and taught and ministered and played and celebrated among you. You’ve contributed all that’s best in me. You’re champs, and in you I am very, very blessed. And old. I have work yet to do that I hope eventually to complete — but that’s out of my hands. I begin every morning by praying ‘Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness; let the whole world stand in awe of him’, and I end every day by praying ‘So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom’; my wisdom is to revel in the beauty of holiness as long as I may, and to encourage everyone I can, as fully as I can, to share with awe in the glory of God.

That’s the Groove

(Yes, I ran this morning, though it was 17° and dire humidity. Another one point seven or so.)

Yesterday was actually a productive writing day, both in word count and more importantly in breaking up a long, long writer’s block with respect to my James article. I’m hopeful to keep cooking today, and put this baby… whoops, that metaphor was going somewhere inappropriate. I meant, ‘send it off to the editor’, long overdue but out of my hands and head at last.

My great hope as I make a transition to some new vocational configuration involves recovering my capacity to read and write as a rich aspect of my selfhood (rather than a desperate obligation). I do the obligatory reading and writing adequately, perhaps even ‘well’, but it will mean I’m a lot healthier if I just pick up a book and read it, or think ‘Wait a minute, that can’t be right’ and write out an argument that I care about for myself (rather than for an editor).

I can dream, can’t I?

Two Days in a Row!

This morning I ran my run (in relatively warm weather, and the humidity has been abominable all this late summer/early autumn, and now I’m just outside the Bodleian sipping a cup of coffee before going in to try valiantly to finish the James chapter. There’s a crux in the essay — not a particular problem with the essay, but a problem with me writing out what I think about a not-vitally-important point — that I need to nail down and put away, and after that I can send it off and get on with life. But as with so many molehills, having once stumbled over it I can’t now just turn around and walk past it.

My Monday interview was not successful, but I think that’s for the best. Once I saw the circumstances and what would be needed to make the post go, it became clear that the post and I were not a match. I’m still rueful that no chaplaincy availed for me, since that’s obviously the thing for which I’m very best suited, and which I’d do better than most of the new-minted clergy who usually get appointed to these posts. But there we are; it’s out of my hands, and there are always prospects of one sort or another around the corner. I have my eye on a couple of places that haven’t even been announced yet, so patience is the watchword.