7 Takes Back to the Grind

7 Takes Back to the Grind August 27, 2021

This is the dog that came and sat on me.


Well, isn’t it late this morning. I’ve actually been awake for hours, but Bunter the dog was so appalled when Matt and the boys left for Bible Study, that he came and sat on my chest, pressing the full weight of his bulk onto me as heavily as possible. I was forced to give up on all my aspirations to be a productive and useful member of society. Instead, I read two chapters of The Two Towers until Bunter’s favorite people came back.


It’s always so stupidly difficult to go back to the reality of work. Every year I anticipate the sure and certain trouble in front of me, and I always manage to underestimate it. In this case, even though I have been waking up at 4am whether we are camping or at home, busy or with nothing to do, I am still shocked SHOCKED I tell you that I can’t just lie there, gazing out at the dark sky, considering which novel I should read next and whether we are plum out of bonbons and luxury. So that’s too bad.


Emma is finally reading Green Dolphin Street and is now stricken with remorse that she didn’t start it back in June. Why did she pick it up now, a mere shmear week before school starts? What should she do? Drop her whole life and fly through it to find out what happens (even though I accidentally spoiled it for her), or neglect the first week or school reading? And why is Marianne such a difficult person? For my part, I’m super happy she’s finding it as stressful as I always do. And also that she is reading it before she ever has a chance to fall in love with anyone. Remember, the point of marriage is to make you holy, not happy! (or at least, a little bit holy and perhaps slightly less happy than you expect)


Speaking of holiness and happiness, Matt is listening to the Rise and Fall of Mars Hill podcast in the background of my life and so I’m hearing snatches here and there of the horror. It is, of course, as shocking to relive it all again as it was the first time. But because I’m not listening closely (I don’t have time what with TLOTR), what is jumping out to me the most is the editing, rather than the subtance. It seems that whoever is doing it is trying to go in the vein of Malcolm Gladwell, who does do a brilliant podcast. But this doesn’t seem quite to reach that level, and therefore, with the pacing of the music, with the low “reasonable” tone of the podcaster coming in to explain what is happening in between interview clips, it feels a touch, well, if I’m honest, manipulative. Especially as just now he is interviewing Josh Harris. Really? I don’t doubt the facts on display about how manipulative and awful Driscoll was (and probably is), but must we just trade one kind very biased of narrative for another? Surely Harris and Du Mez did not need to add anything to the eminently more reliable testimony of Wendy Alsup and the others who were actually involved.


I had forgotten that I was reading Cynical Theories and picked it up again this week—or rather, pushed play. It’s really nice being read to by Helen Pluckrose and also very sanity-inducing to have someone recount back to me my own academic career. At the time (late 1990s), being naïve and basically a baby, when I heard Judith Butler speak—for she was invited to my department for a weekend to intimidate and bully all the undergraduates and make them feel foolish and worthless (that was my feeling at the time as I remember it now)—I was surprised at how incomprehensible was her prose. No one dared, (me most of all) in the spirit of gaping at an Emperor who so unfortunately has no clothes on in a brisk Ithaca icy breeze sweeping across Lake Cayuga and up into the elegant halls of intellectual power, to say anything. So it was nice to hear Pluckrose so summarily dispatch her (Butler) in one single sarcastic paragraph:

As befits one who is radically skeptical of the ability of language to convey meaning at all, Bhaba’s writing is notoriously difficult to read. In 1998, he won second place in the Philosophy and Literature’s Bad Writing Contest—beaten only by Judith Butler for the sentence….

I also remember being quietly amused, trying to get through that wretched Barthes book, about all the intelligible words he was using to explain how unintelligent language is.


We’re going to be burying a young man this evening who died of a drug overdose. This is event is awful and tragic, especially when cast against the light of great and terrible tragedies far away, of other kinds of death and despair. I read yesterday, for example, that some people in the American—what would you call it? government? military?—gave out the names of Americans to the Taliban, and also relied on the Taliban for some security screenings. I don’t know very much about this sort of thing, but, well, that does seem to be an excessively foolish kind of thing to do. Is it possible that some people in power don’t really know who the enemy (in this case) is?

Unhappily, I think what happened yesterday is a very good metaphor for humanity’s posture towards reality in general and God in particular. We don’t understand who the Enemy is, and we think that he is not very strong, nor very wicked. Indeed, sometimes we become so mistaken that we believe the Enemy is actually good and so put ourselves trustingly into his hands, rather than our friend, God, who would have rescued us if we had wanted him to.


Well, I must go and do some things. Go check out more takes and hopefully God will have mercy on some of our souls.

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