Monday of Fourth Already

I was well satisfied with last night’s homily, and it was great to have the chance to sit and catch up with Fr Chris. It would be great to have a weekend to unwind after five high-intensity days (starting with preaching at Oriel last Wednesday), but instead it’s back to the coal face for hand-out making and more marking.

This morning, 9° and overcast (surprise!), but the two miles went by relatively comfortably, at a pleasing pace.

One Foot Then

Another morning chillier than the 7° the Home Office measured, but light overcast and a decent pace. My legs weren’t as limber as yesterday, but all turned out satisfactorily. Morning Low Mass at Cowley St John, afternoon must-do marking, then preaching at Jesus College tonight. Back to work tomorrow, whee!

Almost Forgot to Say

The last three days had been so intense, filled with sermon prep and interview prep and being on best behaviour and (now) waiting to hear back, and dammit with hearing about Dooce (was it Dooce© with a copyright or Dooce™ with a trademark?), that when this morning came and I got up and ran and made myself breakfast, I forgot to say that it was a chilly 9°, overcast skies again, but my legs actually felt pretty good for a change, and I ran my two miles at a decent pace.

Now, one more sermon and the weekend is set, then right back to work on Monday. But Monday I may hear whether I have a job at last, so that would be all right, but I probably will get another ‘So sorry’ email, which will be a drag.

Dull and Heavy

9°, thick overcast, heavy legs, and a disappointing pace, but I ran my two miles. Feeling immense stress about today’s interview and micro-sermon, but there’s nowt for it but to press on.


I’m still knocked off my stride after hearing last night that Dooce had died, that she could no longer just go on living. And I’m not the only one; even after she’d dialled up some unwise* posting recently, her death has struck seismic shudders into a community of online readers for whose shared world Dooce provided one great pole star.

*‘Unwise’ was at least a strong flavour of her brand, after all.

I kept her RSS feed in my newsreader when her blogging sputtered. I’m not her therapist, or confessor, or friend, but something in what I heard in her sharp, self-deprecating, demanding, witty, obliquely honest (honest, but not exactly honest) held my attention even in her silences. She wrote, and felt, and thought, and loved in crackling torrents. Sometimes I shook my head and questioned her judgement, but hey — her decisions weren’t my job, and she could write out her follies with magnetic force.

I was surprised to read about her alcoholism when she first opened up about it, but in retrospect it fit the picture (and it wasn’t as though she had been writing about drunkenness for years). I wasn’t surprised to read about her experiences fighting for stability and for freedom from the deep bonds of trauma. She walked in fire, and told her readers about it, and every now and then she clambered above the smoke and flames to shout out to us in triumph.

We got to know her, and her families, in her long, intense posts: Jon, Leta, Marlo; Former Congressman Chuck, Coco, ; her mum, The Avon World Sales Leader, and her dad; GEORGE!; Tyrant LaCaze; Pete, her companion at the end. My heart goes out to them.

(I’m going to leave this incomplete now, and come back to it during the day.)


Overcast morning, 7°, and I initially set a walking pace because my right calf had a cramp during the night; I wanted to allow my muscles to stretch out slowly, and that seems to have worked out all right, because the second mile this morning felt good, perhaps even better than most days of the last week or so. Later today, marking, sermon-writing, and job-seeking. All prayers, best wishes, candles, crossed fingers, whatever, welcome.

Writ Large

I’m a [reluctant] descriptivist — if you really want to say ‘irregardless’ you may — but I’m also a zealous advocate of knowing as much as one can about the ways words work together. Often that has little or nothing to do with ‘rules’ or ‘grammar’, but simply the effect wrought by striking combinations of sense, sound, context, reference, and so on.

With that in mind: while one element of the sense of the phrase ‘writ large’ has to do with ‘on a grander scale’ or ‘to a greater degree’, surely when Milton wrote ‘New Presbyter is but old Priest writ large’ (as the concluding line of ‘On The New Forcers Of Conscience Under The Long Parliament’), the rationale for the line is less ‘you’re even worse’ (though he does accuse them of so being) than ‘it’s a longer word for the same thing.’

(a) OED gives Milton as the originator of the phrase ‘writ large’, though I’ve seen it attributed to one person a few years earlier than Milton (don’t have time to check); hence, it seems unlikely that it had currency as an idiom for ‘to a greater extent’ or ‘worse’ antecedent to Milton’s use of it to that effect.

OED s.v. ‘writ large’ ‘After Milton’s use in quot. 1673, where the sense is ‘written *at length* or more fully’.’ [my emphasis]

(b) If the primary sense is ‘worse’ or ‘even more so’, then the relative length of the words is adventitious. But if Milton (who, I’m given to understand, has a reputation as a pretty clever guy in some literary circles) used ‘writ large’ in the semi-literal sense to convey ‘same thing with more letters’, then the ‘worse’ sense — amply indicated by the rest of the poem — follows on from the wry observation that the only thing the Puritans had changed was the spelling, and intensifies the point.

I noticed when I posted this that I’d already used this header once, so I went to look up the prior use. Almost exactly fifteen years ago, when I was in Durham NC without any evident prospect of a job when my year teaching at Duke Divinity ran out, I posted this. Plus ça change…

Where Did Those Come From?

My utterly leaden legs would scarcely move this morning, slowing me to a snail’s pace during my two miles in clear 7° weather. Preaching and dinner tonight at Oriel — need to finish up my homily and really finish marking. Tomorrow is my next interview process, part one.

Just A Note

At this point, I’d simply like to remind people that human beings in complicated social-economic systems have a long track record of poor preparation for unanticipated consequences of structural change.

Boring Bank Holiday Update

Two miles, leg muscles that just wouldn’t get loose, 9°, overcast (heavy rains apparently due in an hour or so), but got my run in. It’s a Bank Holiday thanks to His Majesty, but I’ll go in to work to clear up my marking backlog and prepare handouts for tomorrow’s classes.