Grinding Out

Two miles, coffee and (at home) Morning Prayer, and hard at work grinding and polishing tomorrow’s sermon. It’s raining, which threatens the Abingdon Passion Play, but there’s three hours till the first showing, and a long day ahead before the late show, for the sky and grounds to dry out.


I’m a long-time fan of Kant’s The Conflict of the Faculties, which I’m now revisiting for an essay, and I find the standard English translation/edition extremely irritating. Mary Gregor translated it in 1979 in an adequate German/English version (I’d tweak it here or there; I’m particularly frustrated that Gregor renders ein Schriftgelehrt as ‘one versed in Scripture’, missing the Luther Bible’s use of the word for the scribes, Jesus’s antithetical interlocutors), but the typesetting and proofreading are lamentable. Worse still, it has been reprinted and also incorporated into the University of Cambridge Press volume Kant and Rational Religion, which appears to have OCR-ed the previous text and proofed the result carelessly, so that problems in the original are carried over and intensified in the reprints. I tweeted a couple of examples on the Former Bird site, and may move the tweet over to BlueSky too.)

Isn’t it time for a fresh translation? And if one must simply make the Gregor translation an immortal standard, might not a reputable press clean up the typos when they reprint it?

More Ten Commandments

Two miles, fruit and coffee, now it’s time for me to clean up and get ready for Morning Prayer; then time to work on Sunday’s sermon.

Since interest in right-wing US politicians are once again indulging their fixation on imposing their imagined Ten Commandments on schoolchildren — I mean, honestly — (no, ‘honesty’ has nothing to do with it) — I’ll just drop this link to my essay on the unabashed idolatry that constitutes a central element of US political life (especially, though not exclusively, among Republicans).

Memory Confirmed!

Two miles, fruit and coffee, clean-up and Morning Prayer, and public-facing coffee ministry at The Missing Bean as I work toward Sunday’s sermon.

In answer to yesterday’s question, two of my four correspondents remembered the incident — which I’m counting as sufficient evidence to assert it as truth. From now on, ‘caught between two thoughts’ is an documented phrase referring to a condition of inattention (whether general inattention or lack of attention to what runs out to be the most important ting). (Edit: Sad Correction. The un-search-able phrase was ‘caught him between two thoughts’; alas, ‘caught between two thoughts’ yields abundant results. I’ll just go sit in the corner and sulk.)

_____ Memory Syndrome

For years — thirty-eight or so years — I’ve had a certain phrase in my head, a phrase for which I get no Google results. It arises from the context of Duke basketball, and the expectation that my mates and I would watch televised games together during our graduate studies in Durham.

One afternoon, or night, we were watching a game (I have the strong sense that it was an ACC game, and almost as strong a sense that it involved Duke) in which a player (it could’ve been Quin Snyder) was operating on the perimeter, the camera following him although he didn’t have the ball. He may have broken toward the paint, or may have been sizing up the defence, when we, the viewers, saw the ball flying into the frame and bouncing off the stalwart, startled young man — at which point the commentator observed, ‘[The ball] caught him between two thoughts.’ In my recollection, we all found this a side-splittingly funny remark, and it became a byword for situations in which someone was caught off guard, especially (in our academic setting) by an unanticipated question or observation.

But in retrospect, I realised that I couldn’t be totally sure about the whole memory; I am, after all, getting older, and the phrase seemed not to have left any trace on the internet. So this afternoon I wrote to my post-grad basketball buddies, to check my recollection with them….

I Would Run Two… Two Miles

Ran my morning route (mildly frustrated that my new, more ambitious pace hasn’t just become routine for sore muscles), coffee and hot breakfast, cleaned up, Morning Prayer, emails and admin, Staff Meeting, more email, a break for reading and napping, dinner, and shortly the parish marriage prep class for four couples (or fewer, if they don’t show up).


Two frustratingly stiff and short-winded miles; coffee and fruit breakfast; cleaned up and got ready for Morning Prayer, to which I’ll go next. Yesterday I cleared almost all my email, hallelujah, and began reading again — some time spent reading Don Camillo and the Prodigal Son, some time reading Candida Moss’s God’s Ghostwriters, some reading The Oxford Handbook of Interdisciplinarity. I’m still somewhat shell-shocked from obligatory reading/marking from term-time, but that usually diminishes over a week or so.

Eerie Prospect

Two miles, fruit breakfast and coffee, clean up, go to Morning Prayer — then (I whisper this) my week looks as if I won’t be manically busy. Maybe I’ll even make progress on the two essays on which I’m criminally late…

Unconfirmed, So Far

Another morning, another two miles, another fruit breakfast with coffee, another shower, another Mass and sermon, then another Confirmation Class, and just finished writing another column for the parish newspaper. The sermon went down well; Confirmation Class was fine; and now it’s time for reading and perhaps a nap.

Two Days In One

I was up late last night for the Finalists’ Dinner at Oriel, so I was not inclined to run this morning. On the other hand, I made my way downstairs in good time, and was drawn out by the gorgeous morning light, and (knowing that dark skies and rain were due for the afternoon) mostly walked, ran for very short spells, and ticked my two-mile box. Coffee, hot breakfast, and I’ll need to write a couple of pieces for church.

Last night marked, as usual, a splendid occasion for visiting with students with whom I greatly enjoyed working. We shared Finalists’ Dinner with Philosophy (Phil/The, to be exact) and, I think, Classics, and one of the philosophers observed to me that Oriel seemed to them to build community within the college distinctly more deeply and thoroughly than other colleges. That goes double for Oriel theologians; my philosophical interlocutor didn’t know how hard Bill Wood and Brendan Harris have worked to cultivate, nourish, and preserve the close-knit fabric woven of our students and staff. Floreat Oriel!

Last Day of Eighth (For Me)

Two miles, fruit breakfast, clean up, Morning Prayer, then to Oxford for my last tutorial of the academic year. After lunch, I’ll drift home and prepare for the PCC meeting tonight. Margaret is still home, thank heaven.