October 14, 2018

About half way through the 1989 film “Field of Dreams,” Ray Kinsella (played by Kevin Costner) and Terrence Mann (played by James Earl Jones) are in the bowels of my beloved Fenway Park. Ray has brought Terry there in an attempt to involve him in a ludicrous scheme that Mann is trying to resist getting sucked into. Mann was a major player in the 60s civil rights and anti-Viet Nam protests who now, twenty years later, is tired of being… Read more

October 11, 2018

Autumn is my favorite season, and October is my favorite month. This is not surprising for a native New Englander—fall weather is the best that the Northeast has to offer and October promises cloudless skies, reducing temperatures, turning leaves, and no humidity. I love it. But those of us fortunate enough to be living the academic life welcome October for more reasons than beautiful weather. By the time this month arrives, the fall semester has been in session for a… Read more

October 9, 2018

According to the gospel accounts, Jesus had little regard for traditional honorifics, titles, or the ways in which we construct human pecking orders. He criticized the Pharisees for their concern about externals rather than the heart, promised that in the kingdom of heaven “the last shall be first,” and criticized his disciples as they jockeyed for position in his inner circle and competed in order to establish who was Jesus’ favorite. I get all that. But over the past week,… Read more

October 7, 2018

It’s been a rough couple of months at our house, as two members of the family passed away. Our beloved dachshund Frieda died a bit over three weeks ago–I haven’t been able to write about that yet (although I will eventually). A month or so before that, I received a call at the office from Jeanne–she said “Ezekiel died.” “How do you know?” I asked. “He’s floating on his side on top of the water and isn’t moving.” Ezekiel lived… Read more

October 5, 2018

One of my many fond memories of my sons’ youth was our early Saturday morning routine. Their mother worked the night shift at a nursing home; I would wake the boys up around 6:00 and throw them in the car as I went to pick her up (she didn’t drive). Upon returning and seeing their mother off to bed, I would cook the boys breakfast and we would settle in for television fare that was even better than the cartoons… Read more

October 2, 2018

A couple of Sundays ago, it was my turn to be lector at the Episcopal church I attend. I got there early to take a look at what I would be reading and saw that the first reading, from the Hebrew scriptures, was from Proverbs 31, starting with verse 10. “A capable wife who can find?” Shit, I thought. In a world of #MeToo, lack of respect for women who do not immediately report sexual abuse and rape, and old… Read more

September 30, 2018

In her wonderful book Take This Bread, Sara Miles describes a conversation she had with one of the priests at her Episcopal church. Sara was new to the church, an atheist who was knocked on her ass by something greater than herself when she wandered into St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal in San Francisco a few months earlier. She asked the priest about the Nicene Creed, which seemed to her “like saying the Pledge of Allegiance in second grade.” The… Read more

September 27, 2018

Although it often caused trouble and brought me grief during my primary and secondary education years, I have never tried very hard to hide my serious geekiness. Accordingly, I start today’s blog post with the ancient Greek lyric poet Pindar. I need to be careful here, because I have four colleagues and friends on campus who are trained classicists—for all I know, one of them might have written their dissertation on Pindar. Many of Pindar’s surviving poems are “victory odes,” celebrations… Read more

September 25, 2018

Last spring I taught a colloquium called “Apocalypse” with a colleague from the English department. Although this is well removed from my purported “areas of expertise” (one of the reasons I happily agreed to develop this new course), I focused our attention on what can be learned about human morality and psychology by studying apocalyptic stories in literature, movies, and television. One of my first self-assigned tasks as I prepared for the course in the weeks before the semester was… Read more

September 23, 2018

One of the many things that make teaching a rewarding vocation is receiving unsolicited testimonials from former students about things they have carried away from a class they took with you. I particularly enjoy such testimonials when enough time has passed for the student to truly test whatever she or he has taken from the class in the crucible of real life, when what the student has learned has percolated and matured for a while. I received such a testimonial… Read more

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