Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Bizarro Round

So, I'm playing at Buckhorn today, and I had one of those Bizarro rounds. You konw, when you do well on all the hard holes and poorly on the easy ones.

I took a 6 (+3 over average on hole 7). Other deviations--from the normal.

Hole 9 (OB penalty) +0.7 over average.
Hole 12 -1 over average
Hole 15 +1.2 over average.

That's quite a deviation from a 12 round average.

Oddly enough, my total score (57) was the average of my last 12 rounds, so overall I did the same, even though I did not do what I usually do on most of the holes.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Anniversary Disc Golf Musings

So Cindy and I went away this weekend to celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary; what better way than some disc golf. Played Valley Springs, UNC, and Cornwallis.

We scored a 55 at VS and at UNC.

The odd thing that happened was that be played doubles at Cornwallis, an easier course, and threw par (54). I played a second round, singles, and shot a -7 (47). I hadn't played the course more than once in the last two years, so I guess I just needed to refamiliarize myself with distances and lay out. Even so, I think a seven stroke difference between rounds on the same course on the same day is a bit flukey.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Annals of a Quiet Neighborhood (481)

And here let me interrupt the conversation to remark upon the great mistake of teaching children that they have souls. The consequence is, that they think of their souls as of something which is not themselves. For what a man has cannot be himself. Hence, when they are told that their souls go to heaven, they think of their selves as lying in the grave. They ought to be taught that they have bodies; and that their bodies die; while they themselves live on [....] It is making altogether too much of the body, and is indicative of an evil tendency to materialism, that we talk as if we possessed souls, instead of being souls. We should teach out children to think no more of their bodies when dead then they do of their hair when it is cut off, or of their old clothes when they have done with them.

This passage is full of a lot of wisdom. I wonder if there is any way for us who have been taught to think in the way described to unlearn our pattern of thinking and escape some of the influences of materialism. If we could, certainly the fear of death, even in Christian circles, might be lessened.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Apologia Pro Vita Sua (70-80)

For some reason it took me a long time to get through this section.

The Articles are 'evidently framed on the principle of leaving open large questions on which the controversy hinges. They state broadly extreme truths, and are silent about their adjustment. For instance, they say that all necessary faith must be proved from Scripture but do not say who is to prove it. They say, that the Church has authority in controversies; the do not say what authority. They say that it may enforce nothing beyond Scripture, but do not say where the remedy lies when it does. They say the works before grace and justification are worthless and worse, and that works after grace and justification are acceptable, but they do not speak at all of works with God's aid before justificaiton. They say that men are lawfully called and sent to minister and preach who are chosen and called by men who have public authority given them in the Congregation; but they do not add by whom the authority is to be given. They say that Councils called by princes may err; they do not determine whehter Councils called in the name of Christ may err.'

This passage has provided a lot of contemplation. The question I've been thinking about is whether this sort of ambiguity is a good thing or not.

In some lectures on American history, I've heard the Constitution celebrated as this sort of document--one that was necessarily ambiguous as a means of forging unity amongst participants while leaving open important issues dealing with currently unresolvable conflicts.

On the flip side, I've heard arguments that the failure to address key differences allows the status quo to remain or makes changing injustices more difficult. One issue that the Constitution deals with is that of slavery. I see the current situation in the church dealing with issues of sexual orientation as one in which this ambiguity is ceasing to be a good thing, in part because polarized sides do not want things left ambiguous; they want them settled in their favor.

I've been involved in institutions where policies were similarly broad--use "discretion" when watching movies, don't make political remarks about subjects unrelated to class discussion...sometimes these work, sometimes they don't. What's related to class discussion? How is it determined (and by whom), whether discretion has been used?

Newman says later in the same chapter that he has come to dislike "understandings." It seems to me that policies or principles of this sort work if there is an understanding between parties of what is intentionally left vague and why--and a reciprocal agreement to not push the point, even when the opposing side is in violation of some principle consistent with how you interpret the understanding. These understandings are a way, perhaps, of agreeing to disagree for the time being and to proceed in other areas in the hopes that an agreement can be reached dealing with the problem area later on.

As with all understandings, this sort of codified understanding gives more power to the status quo than the minority, I think.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

The Man Who Planted Trees... a really fine animated short film.

I especially liked the line about the man's "magnificent and consttant generosity."

We tend to think of magnificent generosity in terms of the size of any single donation of money or other resources. There is something equally magnificent about constant service, about slow and steady faithfullness.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

In Memoriam of a Professor, Colleague, Friend

Yesterday I received notice that my former professor, Gustaaf Van Cromphout passed away due to a brain hemorrhage.

Gustaaf's knowledge was immense, but his generosity of spirit was even greater. I have never met a man who was so learned and yet so humble (in the true way that Lewis describes in Screwtape--not a false humility but rather a lack of concern for personal glory.) I had 5 or 6 classes with him in graduate school, and I used to say that if he taught a class in the New York City Phone Book I would take it--and learn more in it than in any other!

He served as a reader on my dissertation and never failed to be supportive. Once, I shared with him that it could be slightly disheartening to take a class with someone whose breadth of knowledge so far exceeded my own that it could make me feel as though I could never "catch up." He asked me how old, I was, smiled, and said, "I have a few years on you, Kenneth [he always called me Kenneth], when you reach my age, you will know all the things I know..." It was such a typical reply, affirming, challenging, teaching.

Once, at an MLA conference, I spoke to a participant who did not know me and only knew him by his books say, "Well if you have Van Cromphout for a professor, you probably understand [Melville and Emerson] better than I do."

The day after I passed my candidacy exams, I greeted him in the department office and he pulled me to one side, awkwardly asking me to come by his office later. I spent most of the morning in fear, wondering if there had been some last minute problem found with my dissertation. When I got there, he looked somewhat embarrassed, took off his glasses and said, "You know, Kenneth, I did not want to say anything in the office where there were other students around, but you called me Dr. Van Cromphout this morning, and now that you have defended your dissertation, you should really call me Gustaaf." It was at that moment, more so than getting the actual degree, that I realized I had crossed some academic or professoinal threshold.

I last saw Gustaaf in March, when I was at NIU to give a paper at their conference. He came in on a Saturday because he saw I was on the program and wanted to say hello. He spoke of how few of the faculty were still there from my time of study, how much he missed some of his own colleagues who had moved or passed on. We chatted briefly, and I hugged him gently, careful of his burgeoning arthritis, honored that he would come to see me almost a full decade after I had graduated.

Afir Nafisi said that leaving a place always brings grief because we mourn for the person we were while we were there, knowing we will never be that person again. Perhaps part of my own grief is the realization that a place and time that were instrumental in my own life have now dramatically changed and past. But that is only a part. We did not keep in constant contact, so he wasn't exactly a mentor. He was--and still is--my role model, I guess. Even though we didn't communicate regularly, I am surprised (though perhaps I should not be) how much it saddens and hurts me to think that he is no longer there.

"If I am sorrowful," I said, "God lives none the less." And His will is better than mine, yea, is my hidden and perfected will. In Him is my life. His will be done.
--George MacDonald; Annals of A Quiet Neighborhood (410)

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince

My favorite line from the book...

"[...] anyway, love potions aren't Dark or dangerous..."

Not dangerous indeed.