Sunday, August 11th, 2013

A good place to find some solitude is Cox Arboretum on a Sunday morning.

My first stop today was the Butterly House. I’d visited last month shortly after it opened for the season but that was a bust—tons of kids, both of the lepidopteran and human kinds, but hardly any butterflies and no peace or quiet. This morning was kid-free, and there were lots of butterflies.

Next was the Tree Tower, which is just beyond the Butterfly House. The tower is a new addition to the arboretum. A couple of ladies were descending as I arrived, but then I had the tower to myself. Pleasant breeze, nice views, good place to clear one’s mind.

I didn’t have a specific destination in mind after I left the tower, but I did decide to veer off the pathways and walk on the grass through the trees. I’m glad I did because I was able to get the nice shot of the tower that you see to the left.

My final stop was the south pond, or to be more specific a bench in the shade by the pond. A few walkers passed and one couple jogging but otherwise it was surprisingly quiet. A perfect place to spend an hour reading. I finished one book and started another.

The book I finished was Stephen Fry’s memoir, Moab is My Washpot, about his years growing up away from home at boarding schools. Fry’s making the news right now for having written an open letter calling on British Prime Minister David Cameron to get the 2014 Winter Olympics moved from homophobic Russia. I’d heard of Fry before this, at least vaguely (oh, yeah, he played Mycroft in the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes), but I didn’t know he’d written any books. This one’s ten years old.

Part of why I liked Moab is that I’m a bit of an anglophile. I grew up reading Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers. I don’t know why would an American kid from the Midwest would enjoy learning about an English way of life that doesn’t exist any more, but there are plenty of Americans who like the royals and watch Downton Abbey. Part of Fry’s vocabulary is like a foreign language, not all of which is available in dictionaries or online. It’s easy enough to figure out Heinz Salad Cream and buttons A and B and tuck shops, but what’s with dividend tea?

I also liked Moab because different though Fry’s life is from mine, I understand much of what he went through as an adolescent. He hated gym and sports (or in British, games and sport). He had to deal with kids at school calling him queer. He had an obsessive crush on a cute boy. And he loved to read, seeking out books that explained who he was:

Today the gay boy in every section of society has a world of gay music, dance and television to endorse his identity. … They don’t need a parcel of old poofs historically sequestered in Capri and Tangier to tell them who they are and where they come from and whether or not they have the right to hold their heads up high. I did need them, however. I needed them desperately and without them I am not sure what I would have done to myself.

I needed them too, although I didn’t discover that some of the old poofs like Auden and Forster were in fact old poofs until after I was out of high school.

Although his story is rather serious at times, what with growing up gay and a thief (finally hitting rock bottom at 18 and going to jail for his thieving), Fry’s a great story teller, taking a path connecting incidents in what at first may seem meandering but in fact works to keep our attention and hit all the points Fry wants to touch. I enjoyed it so much that I’ll be getting Fry’s novel The Liar (parts of which, Fry explains in Moab, are based on Fry’s life) and his second autobiography The Fry Chronicles.

The book I started today was Joan Didion’s memoir The Year of Magical Thinking, an account of her year of grief after her husband, John Gregory Dunne, died unexpectedly. I haven’t gotten far enough into it to say much about it, although already something Didion quoted has got me to thinking. Thinking about grief, Didion quotes from a letter a priest sent her after her mother died:

The death of a parent, he wrote, “despite our preparation, indeed, despite our age, dislodges things deep in us, sets off reactions that surprise us and that may cut free memories and feelings that we had thought gone to ground long ago.”

Perhaps why this struck me is that yesterday and today I’ve been thinking about my biological father and about my uncle Bill.

Yesterday, googling myself (sounds naughty, but don’t we all do it?), I discovered my father’s grave (on Find a Grave). Well actually it’s not his grave. I know where my father’s remains are, and they’re not where this tombstone is. I guess it’s rather fitting that he’s not there, because he was certainly not in my life when I was looking for him. I never mourned my father’s death—he wasn’t capable of being a father really—but it’s true that even now, thinking of him “cut[s] free memories and feelings that [I] had thought gone to ground long ago.”

I had a father figure whose death I did grieve, however, and that was my uncle Bill. His birthday’s this month, so I was already thinking of him, but this morning I happened to check my website’s log and saw that some Internet visitor had been on my page about my uncle. I pulled it up myself and re-read the eulogy I gave five years ago. It made me cry again. Uncle Bill was someone I could talk to about books, and I miss him.

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009
Click to read my review of this book

Although I’ve been lax in updating the “What I’m reading” section of my website, I have, in fact, continued to read quite a bit, most recently a fun book by Michael Arditti, The Enemy of the Goodread my mini-review of it.

Monday, November 22nd, 2004

In today's Dayton Daily News is a story by Laura Dempsey about the Big Read, a project to get everyone in the community to read the same book and to talk about it. I'm betting that most of you have never heard of the Big Read. Why? Because only 1,301 people participated in the vote to select a book for it.

There are many ways to slant a story, and I guess I'm taking the cynical one. I heard about the Big Read because I read the paper, I use the Dayton library and I go to Wright State, so I heard about it more than once. Over 10,000 people attend Wright State, the Dayton library circulates 6,149,550 books a year, the Dayton Daily News has an average weekday circulation of 126,642, and over 550,000 people live in Montgomery County. 1,301 people (assuming none voted twice, which was possible) voted in the Big Read. In other words not many people in the area care about the Big Read.

LOL, of course even fewer people read this blog.

In case you're curious, the winning book, which won by a landslide of 461 votes (including mine), was Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich, and is about whether it's possible to live in the U.S. working minimum wage jobs. I haven't actually read the book yet, but I read its first chapter before it was part of a book, as an article Ehrenreich wrote for Harper's. Ehrenreich lives in Key West, one of my favorite places in the world, and wanted to know if she could survive there on minimum wage. The answer is yes, but barely, and only working more than one job at a time. (One of the more interesting reader reviews on Amazon points out, however, that Ehrenreich tried to make it completely alone, no family, no roommates, no church.)

Dempsey proclaims in her article that "the people have spoken," but she doesn't get what they've said. After over two years Nickel and Dimed has nearly a million copies in print, which means that less than half a percent of the over 293 million Americans have read it. More people saw National Treasure in one day (1,375,000 last Friday if you take its $11,000,000 box office gross divided by an average ticket price of $8) than those who care to read about the working poor. The people have spoken, and what they've said, among other things, is that they don't care about reading.

Thursday, October 28th, 2004

Dayton Metro Library doesn’t have a big gay section, at least not in the sense of a section of shelving where one can go and physically browse through gay books, but through the miracle of technology it has something almost as good. Go to the online catalog, click advanced, enter “gay fiction” as the subject keywords, and you get a nice list of all the gay novels or short story collections Dayton Metro Library has in all its locations. Sort by publication date to see what’s new. Click on “Request first available copy” and they’ll send it to whichever branch you specify. Sometimes it takes a while since, although Dayton Metro Library does have a fairly wide range of gay titles, it usually has only one copy of each. That can make for a pleasant surprise, though, when a few weeks later you get a by-then unexpected e-mail to tell you a book you’d been wanting to read is ready for pick-up.

Why this little advertisement for the library? Because this week I’ve been feeling a bit down for various reasons, but I got one of those unexpected e-mails. I have plenty of stuff to read for school, including Hegel, Marx, Dilthey, Nietsche, Becher, Zwerenz, Bilke, Havemann, Bierrmann, Ulbricht (notice a German pattern here?), Joyce (one class is all Joyce), Dürrenmatt, Frayne, Rulfo, Borges, Cortazar, Garcia Marquez, Vidal (Virginia, not Gore), and Coloane (notice a Latin American pattern here? These are in translation though).

I was bad, though, and set all these other authors aside for a few hours Tuesday and Wednesday nights for Timothy James Beck’s newest (okay, published last year, but new to me) book, He's the One. You can read what I thought about it on my books page. It’s just the thing for a brief escape from the real world.

Thursday, October 14th, 2004
Remember how Chris Harbinson got so upset because he thought outsports.com called him gay?

Apparently Chris Harbinson is not the only one to think that being called gay (which actually he wasn't) is a horrible slur. Lynne Cheney is quite upset that John Kerry called her daughter a lesbian in last night's presidential debate. Lynne thinks that Kerry's having said that Mary Cheney is a lesbian is a "cheap and tawdry political trick." I can see why she might think that. Kerry making up something like that to further his liberal agenda really would be horrible, wouldn't it?

Except wait.

Unlike Chris Harbinson, Mary Cheney not only is gay, but she's also said so herself. Apparently Mary doesn't think being gay is so horrible. She even worked as the gay liaison at Coors. Of course one might question Mary's judgment since apparently she also doesn't think Bush having a second term is so horrible either and she also doesn't think a Federal Marriage Amendment is so horrible either, at least not so horrible that she should speak out against it. (If you want to ask her why, send her a letter.)

So Mary doesn't think being gay is so bad, but perhaps Lynne has deeply held religious beliefs that homosexuality is wrong and that homosexual sex is wrong.

Except wait.

Lynne Cheney is an author, and one of her books, Sisters, features hot steamy lesbian sex. Did Lynne write the book under a pseudonym? Nope, she sure didn't, but she did write the book long before she knew her husband would be Vice President in an administration that sells a conservative Christian agenda. It's okay for Lynne to write about hot steamy lesbian sex, but it's not okay for John Kerry to tell the truth about Mary Cheney's sexual orientation?

It seems to me that it's Lynne Cheney who's agreed to play tawdry political tricks. I also know a name to call Lynne Cheney that's worse than "gay" or "lesbian." Lynne Cheney is a hypocrite.
Tuesday, October 12th, 2004
Today was a pretty gay day for me. I was part of a queer panel for a psychology class at Wright State, and I attended a presentation at UD called "Gay and Straight, Our Common Ground" by renowned gay Catholic Brian McNaught. The panel was organized by the Rainbow Alliance (formerly Lambda Union -- I'd point you to a web site, but they don't have one, an issue I'll speak more about in just a minute). I don't go to many Rainbow Alliance meetings, in large part because I'm older than many of the members, but I'm on the mailing list and I wanted to do this panel. It was rather serendipitous that the panel and the McNaught presentation were on the same day since they stirred some of the same thoughts for me.

Part of the serendipity of today was that if a couple of things had been different I might not have gone to hear McNaught. I'm not Catholic and I've always sort of thought of McNaught's message as being more for Catholics. I knew some of his story, and left to my own devices, I would have thought it was good that he was speaking at UD, but it wasn't really for me. However, Juli Burnell, the woman who worked so hard to arrange McNaught's visit, not only for tonight's presentation but also for his workshops with UD faculty and administration, is a friend of mine from Cross Creek. Seeing her excitement about the event I wanted to go if only to support her. In addition, as it happens this quarter, I'm on campus at UD every Tuesday and Thursday evening for my GER361 class. How could I not go?

I'd seen a video of McNaught's years ago. Speaking of being older than most Rainbow Alliance members, I guess today is in some part also a day for me to feel old. His video was called "On Being Gay... A Conversation with Brian McNaught," which, when I looked it up on imdb.com, I was surprised to remember was from 1986, 18 years ago, and longer than I've been out. He also had a book with a similar title, On Being Gay: Thoughts on Family, Faith, and Love, which I also read years ago. The thing I remembered most about the book, however, (if McNaught ever googles himself and sees this, I'm in trouble) was thinking that he was cute. He's still not bad looking, but he no longer matches the picture I've always had in my mind of him.

McNaught is a very powerful speaker, more so than I remembered or could tell from a video, and what makes him so powerful is his ability to express things in ways to which so many people can relate. Part of what he spoke today of was the importance of "singing our song." He said that he thinks that after he dies, God is going to ask him whether he sang the song he was taught, and that each of us has a unique song to sing, songs that tell who we are and let people get to know us. As McNaught pointed out in his speech, his audience was made up of all sorts of different people, including openly gay people from the greater Dayton community, including PFLAG members whose meeting this month was to come to this presentation, including UD students and faculty who heard about the event and wanted to come and including students of Greek 101 who were required to come (I'm impressed that Juli pulled that off).
     I think McNaught's words were aimed primarily at the non-gay students in the audience, perhaps especially frat boys who are stereotyped as being unfriendly to gay people, to try to get them to understand what it would be like growing up gay and being unable to sing one's song and to get these non-gay people to understand how their own words and actions are songs that send messages to the gay friends they most certainly and usually unknowingly have. However, McNaught's words were also aimed at gay people in the audience to remind us how important singing our songs is both for straight people who think they don't know anyone gay and for gay people who are following us out of the closet.

I felt good because I've been singing my song, even though at times it's tempting just to let others sing. I arrived at Wright State this morning half an hour before the PSY200 class the panel was for was supposed to begin, only to find no convenient parking and tempted after 15 minutes of stalking to just go home. I went ahead and drove to the other side of campus, parked in lot 4 and made it to the classroom with a few minutes to spare, only to be asked, "Oh, are you in this class?" "No, I agreed to be on the panel; don't you remember?" As it turned out, they needed more men, so I stayed, and I'm glad I did. Students in that class needed to hear that although I am gay, I'm also Christian and that there are churches including mine that not only oppose Issue 1 but also support same sex marriage. A female African American student in the class responded emotionally to a panelist's comments about the civil rights movement by pointing out that she can never shed her black skin if she decides one day she's tired of dealing with discrimination or worst case wants to avoid anti-black violence but that gay people can simply deny being gay. Perhaps another panelist might have said something equally appropriate had I not been there, but I was glad to be able to tell her that she was right, that black people face oppression every day and cannot get away from it but that black people also are usually born into black families that love and accept them and help them to deal with the ugliness they encounter while gay kids are usually born to straight parents to whom they cannot turn for support when they first are called fag or dyke (a point that McNaught also brought up tonight).

There was something about which I thought briefly as I left that classroom that hit me more as I sat in UD's Kennedy Union later listening to McNaught, and that is how lucky I am that I'm in a place where I can sing my song. (Of course I wasn't thinking in terms of that metaphor earlier in the day at Wright State, but I like how McNaught uses it.) Taking a GER361 class now is not the first time I've been a student at UD. Exactly 20 years ago this fall I was a freshman at UD, attending courtesy of a full scholarship and feeling extremely lonely in the midst of a big crowd. I'd spent the past four years trying my damnedest to appear straight in high school, trying to date girls, even attending prom, being told that these years were the best years of my life, and failing really to fool anyone but myself. Yet I didn't know anyone who was gay, or at least I didn't know anyone who was honest about being gay, and there I was at UD, facing the prospect of four more years of the same thing. The guys on my floor in Stuart Hall were grabbing each other and pretending to butt fuck each other and calling each other fag, and to borrow McNaught's terminlogy, I wasn't liking the songs I was hearing. I dropped out and spent several more years feeling sorry for myself before I finally got to the point where I just had to come out, which I did at age 25.

     Look how much things have changed, despite so many things also not having changed. The Catholic Church still teaches that homosexual behavior is a sin (and accordingly endorses Issue 1), but the University of Dayton now has a non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation and has at least a few openly-lesbian and openly-gay staff members. Perhaps there are still guys in the dorms acting out their homophobic feelings by grabbing each other and pretending to butt fuck, showing through their nervous humor that they of course are not gay, but now prospective frat boys at least have to hear a gay man explain to them the effects of their behavior. I'm sure there are still freshmen at UD who think they will never be able to come out and be honest about who they are, but at least now they know there are gay and gay-friendly people on campus, including Student Allies, a gay/straight student alliance.

I suppose I should be jealous that Brian McNaught wasn't at UD to speak when I was a student there or that I should regret not having been smart enough to have come out then anyway, but I'm not and I don't. I've had a great time being in college this time around, at Wright State, not only saying things I wouldn't have said back then but also taking classes I wouldn't have taken back then. It's never too late to sing your song.

Now if I were a better person than I am, I'd end this posting on that idyllic note, but I'm not perfect and life does have some nitpicky frustrations, such as parking, as I noted above. Another frustration, also noted above, is that the Rainbow Alliance does not have a web site. It's great that Wright State, like UD, has a gay student group, but how do gay students find out about such groups? How do any students get information about anything these days? They google it. If I were 17 and picking colleges again, even if, or especially if, I were closeted, I'd want to know what gay groups were at the colleges. During the PSY200 panel today a student asked if the Rainbow Alliance had a web site, only to be told, "Um, no, we changed our name and therefore we don't have a web site." Stupid, stupid, stupid! Google "Wright State gay group" and you'll find the stale site for Lambda Union, the Rainbow Alliance's predecessor. There is a web site, it still exists, and they haven't bothered to even update the web site to say that there's a new name. To me not having done even that seems extremely bureaucratic.

However, as it turns out, I should cut the Rainbow Alliance some slack, not that they shouldn't update their stupid web site, but because it seems to be the nature of many nonprofit web sites to be rather stale and infrequently updated. The only event on UD's Student Allies' online calendar is a meeting from last January, no mention even of tonight's presentation by McNaught. The site for Sinclair's group is still under construction. And the site for my church, Cross Creek, still touts last month's Eyes Wide Open exhibit (by the way, another friend of mine, Bill Meers, has a simple but eloquent site documenting that event). So it's best to remember that these groups, including Rainbow Alliance, do good things such as today's panel, and nitpicky issues such as their web sites are relatively minor.
Tuesday, September 21st, 2004
Recently I saw an ad (I'm not allowed to say where [10-09-2004: I'm allowed to say now -- it was an ad served up by Google]) for The Coradella Collegiate Bookshelf, offering four free e-books as an enticement to pay $29.95 for their collection of 175 classics. The free books they offer are by Jane Austen, Mark Twain, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry David Thoreau, authors whose works are all in the public domain. And sure enough, at the bottom of the page is a statement that "The Coradella Bookshelf is a collection of copyrighted e-ditions of public domain texts published by TheWriteDirection.net."

Why would anyone pay for copyrighted editions of works that can be had for free at Project Gutenberg? Is it because the Coradella version is in PDF? No, wait, Gutenberg offers PDF versions, and besides, although a PDF reader is available for Pocket PC, I think Microsoft Reader is a more useful program for reading e-books, especially on Pocket PC. And Cordella's "unique two-page layout" doesn't seem to be what e-books are all about, especially if one uses a Pocket PC. Perhaps I'm missing something (such as the "hyperlinks to chapters" that "make finding your way around these editions easy"), but I can't see what Cordella adds that would be worth anything to someone who knows about Project Gutenberg.

Still Cordella's offer is a bargain compared, for example, to the $4.95 that Amazon.com wants for an e-book edition of Pride and Prejudice. That edition does contain some copyrighted material including an introduction and some notes on Jane Austen and the text, but if it's notes and background you want, an e-book version of an annotated edition would be worth more.
Wednesday, July 7th, 2004 *
Today my literature class went to Hamburg to see the places there that are featured in the novel we're reading, Die Entdeckung der Currywurst. Another American named Donovan and I are the only USAC students in the class; the others are Spanish students who as part of the Erasmus program have been in Lüneburg three fourths of a year already. Professor Werner asked Iris, the instructor of the Advanced German class Donovan and I are in, if we could leave early so we got to the Lüneburg Bahnhof by noon.

Donovan and I understood that we were to meet the other students, take the 12:29 train to Hamburg and meet Professor Werner on the platform there. The only thing was we couldn't find any of the other students. Fairly confident that we'd understood correctly, I went ahead and bought a ticket a few minutes before the train arrived, and off we went. We were still a bit unsure when we got off in Hamburg but soon saw the others getting off the train and then were met by the professor.

The spots on today's tour were new to me, but I've only been to Hamburg once, so it's not hard to go places there I've never been. We walked away from the river, ending up at Bruderstraße, where the fictional Lena Brücker lived. A friend of Professor Werner's owns a café on Bruderstraße, and we stopped there for refreshments and to discuss the book. Not far is the Großneumarkt on which Frau Brücker had her currywurst stand, not a very busy place this afternoon but pretty and sunny. We found a shop nearby selling what it claimed was the original currywurst, so a few of us tried some. Then it was off to the Gänsemarkt, where something in the book happened (I don't know what) and where there's a statue of the famous German author Lessing. Our last scheduled stop was to Dammtorstraße and the war memorial of 1876, which Frau Brücker and the book's narrator visit. It shows a company of marching soldiers and says, "Germany must live, and we die if we must." The narrator points out that two of the soldiers are smoking pipes, and we found them.

From there we walked to (I think) the Lombardsbrücke, near which stands a villa mentioned in the book. After that we were officially done with sites from the book, but the group wasn't quite ready to break up. Professor Werner wanted ice cream so we went to a nearby stand to get some (I abstained, still full from currywurst), and then we walked through a nearby park (featuring Planten un Blomen, as stated in low German) to the Japanese gardens. By that point the group was tired, so we headed back to the Bahnhof and home to Lüneburg.

Wednesday nights are karoake nights in the Old Dubliner pub in Lüneburg. I hadn't gone the week before but decided to tonight. Gay bars are a tricky thing since one doesn't want to get there too early. Not so with straight bars, or at least this one. I arrived fashionably late at 10:30 (which would be early for a gay bar) and the place was packed with people standing everywhere. I got a Smirnoff Ice (the one brand of "gay" drinks ala Zima that I can reliably find in Germany) and finally found a few USAC students at a table to one side. Ronnie sang, as you can see from the picture I took.
Saturday, May 22nd, 2004
If you've browsed the books I've gotten lately, you might have noticed The Man Jesus Loved: Homoerotic Narratives from the New Testament. I haven't gotten too far in it since I only read it in bed. I usually read for pleasure just before going to sleep, but not for the reason you may be thinking (the book's not about gay erotic stories, although I do have a book or two of those).

Theodore Jennings' argument is that Jesus' beloved disciple, mentioned thusly only in the Gospel of John, was not only a man but Jesus' gay lover. I've never really considered this before, nor, I'd bet, have most people. Certainly people have considered that Jesus might not have been celibate, but perhaps the best known candidate as a mate for Jesus would be Mary Magdalene, especially given the popularity (notoriety?) of works such as The Last Temptation of Christ and The Da Vinci Code.

I wouldn't be upset if the people who think Mary Magdalene was Jesus' lover or wife are right, but they have some explaining to do about the disciple whom Jesus loved. Jesus did have more disciples than the 12 apostles, and some of those disciples were women, but Mary Magdalene was not the disciple whom Jesus loved. During the crucifixion (see John 19:25-27), Mary Magdalene stood at the cross with, among others, the disciple whom Jesus loved. Jesus then presented his mother Mary and that disciple to each other as son and mother, and Jesus' beloved took Mary into his home. So if Mary Magdalene were Jesus' lover and especially if she were the mother of his children (the Merovingian dynasty?!), why is Jesus sending Mary his mother to live with some man instead of with her daughter-in-law and grandchildren?

Of course there are many theories about Jesus' life, the predominant one being that he was celibate, sinless and divine (How can I consider myself Christian if I consider that just a theory? That'd be a whole other blog entry, if not a book). From what I've read so far Jennings does a pretty convincing job of dealing with these other theories, although he acknowledges that gay people may be predisposed to accepting that Jesus was gay (just as homophobes might be predisposed to reject such an argument).

In the chapter I'm reading now (5, "The Hidden Tradition"), Jennings reveals something that is not only surprising to me but that was also surprising to him, namely that this idea that Jesus and the disciple he loved were gay lovers is not new. For example, at the inquest of the death of Christopher Marlowe, one of the men accused of murdering him tried to justify it by complaining that Marlowe had said that "St. John [who many people, but not Jennings, think was the disciple Jesus loved] was bedfellow to Christ." That's just one example Jennings found. Accuse him of being a revisionist homosexual activist if you want, but he's not the only one.
Monday, May 10th, 2004
I'm taking two classes at Universität Lüneburg this summer. One is Advanced German Grammar and Composition; the other is Government and Politics in Germany.

The fine people at USAC sent me a letter last week confirming my registration, and they included a form indicating the books I need, which I can order from their bookstore. Being the smart person that I am, I realize I can order the books from amazon.com and get free shipping instead of paying the $6 for the first book and $1 for each additional book that the University of Nevada, Reno bookstore (UNR provides administrative services for USAC) charges.

The books came today. But now that I've got them I realize they're for a June session class, The Expanding European Union: Politics and Culture, that I'm not taking. Guess I'm not so smart after all.

I did order a fun gay novel though.
Friday, April 23rd, 2004
Roselyn and Mark looking at pictures On Friday nights I'm part of a book group at Cross Creek. We're reading The Heart of Christianity by Marcus Borg. Tonight we talked about how literally we take the Apostles' Creed (not very). Marty and Linda
Judy and rod
Sunday, April 18th
Today was the last day of the Alliance of Baptists convocation held here in Dayton. I went to the worship service last night, at which the main speaker was Charles Kimball of Wake Forest University, to a dialogue this morning with James Fowler of the Emory University Center for Ethics and Public Policy Research, and to the worship service this morning, at which the main speaker was Karen Thomas Smith of Al Akhawayn University in Morocco.

Jeremiah Wright on Friday night was a very dynamic speaker, and I really enjoyed Karen Thomas Smith today. The daughter of a Baptist preacher, she became one herself and now serves as ecumenical chaplain at Al Akhawayn, a university founded by the King of Morocco in part to promote dialogue and work among people of different faith backgrounds. Part of what she stressed was that Christians who try to convert people of other faiths not only cause others to question Christians' motives but also lose an opportunity to learn what other faiths have to teach. She's definitely a woman who believes that Jesus had some important things to teach us but that Jesus is not the sole path to a relationship with God and God's creation.

If that's not enough to make you realize that the Alliance of Baptists are different from their more fundamental brethren, two books I bought today at the convocation's bookstore might be. Queer Commentary and the Hebrew Bible on its own might be enough to rile some Southern Baptists, but The Man Jesus Loved: Homoerotic Narratives from the New Testament would certainly make them indignant.
Sunday, April 11th, 2004
I've finally gotten around to setting up a form so that you can search my books database.
Saturday, January 31st, 2004
One of the reasons I wanted to move to a real hosting service was to be able to play with PHP and mySQL. Well, I've been doing that and now, in addition to being able to add blog entries through a web interface, I can update the blurb on the front page. And what's even more fun is that I've added a books database, which will make it much more likely that I'll keep my books section up-to-date. My ENG385/ENG346 professor, Dr. Beumer-Johnson, suggests that teachers keep a journal of the books they've read so that they can easily find information when students ask about a particular book or ask for a recommendation.
Wednesday, October 22nd, 2003
My grandfather and my great-uncle Today is old photo day. The photograph on the left is of my maternal grandfather and his twin brother, who were born in 1905. For as long as I could remember it hung in my grandparents' bedroom. My mother lent it to Wright State so they could scan it for their historical archives. They left it in the frame, glass and all, because apparently trying to unframe old photographs is a dangerous proposition.

A family whose old photo I found in a library book The other photo was a surprise. I'd checked out The Flying Nun (aka The Fifteenth Pelican) from the downtown library. (Why? On a whim since I'd seen in the credits of a Flying Nun episode on TV Land that the series was based on a book.) I had to request it from storage (which is easy to do over the web site -- they'll even have it waiting for you at the front desk to pick up). It was an original copy from 1965. Out of curiosity I pulled out the card from the back pocket and found this old photo. There's nothing written on it to indicate who the people are. I put it back so if by some coincidence you recognize them and want the photo, you can check out the book to get it.
 
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