Ran my 1.7, said my prayers, fruit for breakfast, joined Margaret at a café, at noon to the third of Prof. Bowens’s Speaker’s Lecture at Keble, and home for the afternoon. Still ebulliently pleased to have submitted all the paperwork requisite for the various safeguarding, credentialing, and international-traveling authorities to acknowledge that I’m a known quantity, nonviolent and candid, and safe with children.
The riptides of crossing agendas, vital agendas, requires that people with the slightest online presence take sides in the present conflict between Israel and Hamas. Anybody who knows me even slightly well can imagine what I think about this, and what I think about requiring other people to state their position. Still, to guard against ignorance or misprision, here are relevant convictions to which I hold.
(I disapprove of privileged folk trying to prove their solidarity by citing persiflage of the ‘I marched with Martin’ sort, so I’m not playing any of those cards. Maybe I don’t have any, maybe I do. My life is the most honest testimony to my character; if you know me, judge by that, for better or worse. If you don’t, I won’t try to twist your arm by claiming a highlights reel of my ally-ness while skipping over my complicity with power and oppression.)
So: First, don’t kill people. Any people. Just stop it, everyone.
Second, if you’ve decided that you’re among the people who are responsible enough to kill other people, it is utterly, unalterably obligatory that you restrict your killing to people who have made clear their own willingness to kill others. Not ‘associate with killers’, for that’s a different, subtle calculus (and calculus is always hard, especially when it’s subtle); not ‘supports killers’ (that’s true of people who support you, and most of them haven’t volunteered to be eligible to be killed); not ‘people on the wrong side’ or ‘people who apparently haven’t stopped the killers on their side’. You see where this is going: there’s no excuse for killing people who are themselves unwilling to kill. And you can only tell who’s willing to kill if they wear a uniform that indicates, ‘Yes, that is I, I am a willing killer.’ We can reduce this to ‘Especially don’t kill noncombatants.’
Yes, I abhor the Hamas tactics of massacring noncombatants and taking hostages.
Yes, I detest the Israeli tactics of bombing and besieging noncombatants.
I have a very long history of having life-affecting friendships with Jewish contemporaries, friends, teachers, and theology. I oppose antisemitism unreservedly.
I oppose the dispossession of indigenous peoples, their confinement on reservations, camps, their forced relocation or ethnic cleansing. Islamophobia is culpable and hateful (and doesn’t pertain to all Palestinians any more than hatred of Jews pertains to everyone who lives in Israel). I would not want to live under the conditions that obtain for most Palestinians for even a short time, much less for years without prospect of an end. I don’t know anybody who would want to live under those conditions. Insofar as the government of Israel compels Palestinians to live under intolerable conditions, I oppose the government of Israel.
I am repelled by Hamas’s terrorist tactics. Insofar as Hamas governs Gaza without the consent of the governed and pursues terrorist policies, I oppose the Hamas authorities.
Pretty much everything else follows from what I’ve said above. I embrace my nonviolent Israeli friends, and I embrace nonviolent Palestinian colleagues. And don’t tell me that this really means some thing that you oppose; if I didn’t say it, ask me whether I believe it before you tell me what I believe.
(And be aware that pretending that your reasoning must be what I’m reasoning will very quickly lose all sympathy from me. You probably don’t care at that point, but at that point neither will I, and I’ll stop paying attention. Knock yourself out.)
I ran my 1.7, stopping along the way at Tesco and Sainsbury’s to ask whether they stock any staplers (info for curious Headington readers: as of this morning, they don’t). ‘Why,’ you may ask, ‘did you want to buy a stapler?’ Because a form I had to submit had as a stipulation that I had to staple my picture to it, and to staple a further certification to the main document, and all our staplers are in storage in heaven only knows what box. There we are, in the age of digital documentation, scrounging for staples in the wee hours before someone comes to collect my envelope of documentation. ‘But wait,’ I hear you cry, ‘if you couldn’t buy a back-up stapler on ypour morning run, how did you get your certification stapled?’
When I got home (and cleaned up), I strolled next door to The White Horse, only to discover that they hadn’t opened yet, despite their offering a breakfast menu. Hmmph! So I crossed the street and ventured, cautiously, onto the grounds of The Headington School. There, after the Reception Desk opened, I was welcomed and offered the use of their stapler (one of the many I was assured that the school had at its disposal).
All this adds up to saying that as of this moment, all my documentation debts are fully paid from my end. I’m still waiting for various permissions, approvals, renewals, and so on — but those are all dependent on material that I’ve already submitted. I’m all clear. That’s me done.
I knew what was coming, but my body clock evidently didn’t: I woke up at 4:15 and that was that. I did have a pleasant, isolated morning run, and will head to St Andrew’s for Mass in an hour or so. Perhaps I’ll have a nap this afternoon.
I took this morning’s run at a very, very slow pace. I just felt weary from when I woke up, unusually late at 6:30. But run I did, and pray, and make hot breakfast (this being the weekend) (or le week-end, as DuoLingo reminds me), and relaxed through the rest of the morning. Then a large-scale grocery shop, lunch, and blog.
The big news from yesterday was that Oxfordshire County Council has decided that (a) I am A K M Adam, (b) A K M Adam is an old geezer who (c) lives in Oxfordshire so that (d) I am eligible for and will be sent by 2nd class mail a bus pass so that I can travel the length and breadth of Oxfordshire without charge. Wheee!
No run yesterday because of morning rain. I ran a wee errand, then dashed to Keble for the second Speaker’s Lecture, then lecturer Prof. Lisa Bowens joined me for a burger (each) at the King’s Arms to talk about Princeton Seminary, hermeneutics, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Book of Revelation. After a quick stop back home to change to formal clothes, I joined my colleagues for Oriel Theology teaching staff’s get-together, then dinner at Oriel’s High Table, then Theology Drinks Night. After a royal time talking mostly with students and former students, I hobbled back home and slouched into bed.
This morning I did my run in the MIST, then prayers and fruit breakfast, and in a short while I’ll return to Oriel for lunch, then on to Keble again for a word from Prof. Bowens, this time not as the Speaker’s Lecturer but as the seminar leader. Then home to Margaret, thank heaven, and a bit of a rest.
Ran this morning despite Home Office warnings that rain was expected, and sure enough, when I got to St Andrew’s — the point farthest from home — the intermittent mist coalesced into a steady (but light) rain. Home, prayers, Duolingo lessons, and now off to work on tonight’s homily. I bought a copy of Alasdair Gray’s version of The Divine Comedy to source the passage I’ll work with (Mansfield College has one biblical reading plus one extracanonical reading for Evensong) (I don’t make the rules), and I was delighted to read what Gray did with it:
ENTER THROUGH ME, CITY OF ENDLESS WOE.
ENTER THROUGH ME ETERNAL AGONY
ENTER TO JOIN THE WHOLLY LOST BELOW
CREATIVE LOVE, CREATIVE INTELLECT,
ESTABLISHED ME FOR ALL ETERNITY.
INFINITE JUSTICE IS MY ARCHITECT.
NOTHING EXISTED BEFORE I WAS MADE.
NOTHING EXISTING WILL ESCAPE MY SCOPE.
ALL YOU WHO ENTER HERE, ABANDON HOPE!
These fearful words carved deeply I could see
above a great dark doorway, so I cried,
“O Master, do these words apply to me?”
Like a good teacher giving calm advice,
“Don’t think that I mislead you,” he replied.
“By now you should have lost your cowardice.
I am assigned (recall) to help you view
the final state of those dead sinners who
chose to corrupt the goodness of their minds.”
Smiling to cheer me on, he took my hand
and led me in beside a dreadful band
who hurt my ears with horrid lamentation.
Screams, wails, howls, groans and other ugly cries
went blasting by us in a starless dark
with skirls of rancorous denunciation,
wild curses yelled in tongues of every nation
or hoarsely growled, or hissed in execration,
mingled with bitter moaning, sobs and sighs
that had me weeping too in emulation.
This madly squealing, roaring, snarling throng
arms flailing, clutching hands and trampling feet,
went reeling, shambling, charging, tumbling by,
like sands in whirlwinds, birling round and round
until their foggy billows hid the sky.
(Canto III, lines 1–33)
Now all I have to do is develop a short homily to birl round and round Gray’s text…
I didn’t run right away this morning, as it was still raining — but after morning prayers and my first coffee (and some grapes), the rain had cleared and I felt confident that I could run miles without uncomfortable soaking. No rain, then, nor any unhinged automotive stalkers. So that’s a win.
Later this morning I will roll down to Oxford, see about applying for a pensioners’ free bus pass, pick up some odds and ends for my jazzy new back-satchel (doing Duolingo,* so I remember to say ‘sac-à-dos’), and to to Prof. Lisa Bowens’s Speaker’s Lecture on Martin Luther King as Apocalyptic Seer, a topic right up my hermeneutical alley.
The series is called ‘the Speaker’s Lectureship in Biblical Studies’ and I can find no easily accessible source to suggest the origins of the scheme. Maybe it’s even named after somebody named Speaker, or after the Speaker of the House of Commons (a post for which the UK government has no difficulty in filling, unlike the US Speaker of the House of Representatives).
* You may say, ‘AKMA, you studied French for ten years and have translated several works from French; why are you doing Duolingo French?’ Well, it’s none of your business, but I am an open book so I’ll say that theological- or philosophical-book French is one thing, and conversational French is another, and I’d like to be able to say things more useful than ‘John’s Gospel shows indications of several levels of redaction.’ Further, I want to enhance my German, especially conversational German (again), and starting wiht a language I already know well should give me a confidence boost for my German.
This morning, halfway into my morning run, a car pulled over beside me and began harassing me — ‘Hey, what you doin’?’ ‘Hey moron, what you doin’?’ The first few times I answered, ‘I’m running,’ ‘It’s healthy’, but the driver (wearing high-viz vest) just persisted, rolling along, keeping pace with me, weaving out to avoid parked cars and then back to the kerb to shout at me more.‘Why you not answering me? Can’t you talk?’ He followed me that way from the halfway mark for a half mile or more, shouting the same refrains for no evident point. I neglected to get his number plate, but if he returns, I certainly shall.
Apart from that, a normal start to the day. Margaret and I will go to Rick’s for a while; after that, who knows what wild business we may get up to?
Ran my (leisurely) 1.7, prayed, off to church, groceries on the way home, perfect hot breakfast, did some Duolingo lessons, now setting to work at the four small marking tasks I have. It would be a great thing if I could knock them off before I go to Oriel tonight for Evensong.
Our placement ordinand (or perhaps they’re just an aspirant) stopped me this morning after Mass to say, ‘Father, I hear you’re preaching at Mansfield soon…’ I was thunderstruck; I suddenly remembered that Fr Nathan had asked me to preach at Mansfield sometime this term, but I had absolutely no idea when. For all I knew, I might have missed the day altogether. When I got home, I looked up the date and was relieved to se that it’s Wednesday — time enough to come up with a sermon on Hell (which topic Fr Nathan chose just for me — whatta guy!).
A slow, dry 1.7 run this morning, prayers (of course), grocery shopping; and in welcome progress on the fronts of ascertaining proof of identity, passport photos arrived and Margaret (bless her!) retrieved my passport from its safe storage place. On top of that, I received a gift of a posh deep plum backpack/tote which will make me seem both smarter and cleverer. The weather was rubbish, but the day was pleasant indeed.
I just received a copy of the New Revised Standard Version, Updated Edition (styled the nRSVue). It’s a Zondervan product with a soft pseudo-leather binding and (importantly) the Deutero-Canonical books, and some maps. It’s a review copy, so over the next few days I will drop in posts that respond to various features of the book.