U2charist Tonight at EDS

More info, and a legible copy of the info, at the EDS website.


And they're off...

Off to chairs of search committees around the nation, that is. In Phase One of "Operation Tenure-Track Professor Baptized Pagan," I've sent out all of my applications for teaching positions to a variety of colleges, mostly Catholic, around the country. This is all in preparation for the American Academy of Religion meeting next month in Washington, D.C., where first-round interviews for many of these jobs will be held. In the exciting "Employment Information Services Center" (read: temporary cube farm created out of not-so-soundproof curtains, housing tired search committees and stressed-out, over-caffeinated hopefuls), applicants wend their way through a maze of departmental politics in the search for the ultimate cheeese, a tenure-track position.

But at this point, applications all sent and no interviews yet scheduled (still too early, I think...right?...RIGHT???), I can relax into the bliss of envelopes of C.V.'s, cover letters and statements of teaching philosophy wending their way across the country. Oh, and into finishing the dissertation. Right.


2007 Commemorative Stamps

Just when you thought my combined interests in theology and revolutionary war re-enanctment made me geeky enough, I thought I would add to the overall dorkiness by coming out again: I, BaptizedPagan, am a philatelist. I've been one since I was younger, and though I managed to resist the lure of philately for some time in my adolescence, as I've gotten older it's become something that I can't and won't deny. I am what I am. I'm particularly fond of first day of issue commemorative cancellations, the often beautiful and historically significant connection of a new stamp with a place associated with its subject. And I have a whole lot of them these days, thanks in large part to inheriting a large part of my bf's late grandmother's _astounding_ collection.

In that theme, I thought I'd pass on the postal service's release of next year's commemorative stamp issues. Some of the best looking ones, this year's corporate-inspired "Love" stamp, the 400th anniversary of Jamestown triangular stamp, and the Tiffany window stamp, are displayed here. (If you're still looking for the best stamps available right now, for my money you can't go wrong with the Samuel de Champlain joint U.S.-Canadian issue, the (lovely) Judy Garland stamps released in June just in time for pride, or the Chacón Madonna and Child for Christmas this year.) I'm just waiting for the reaction against the fact that the postal service is promoting magic in its Disney stamps this year...pagans!

Philatelists of the world, unite! We have nothing to lose but our shame.


Weekly poem from slate

To get you into the swing of the upcoming holidays, Slate's weekly poem, by Kathy Fagan.

" 'There's just one little thing: a ring. I don't mean on the phone.' -- Eartha Kitt"

In lieu of the latkes,
the usual caroling,
and adorable Kazakh
orphans, instead of the crèche
and, après ski,
the figgy pudding slash
kwanzaa stew,
the yuletide blogging,
the tinsel, the garland,
and eight maids eggnogging,
allow me to mince
neither word nor pie
and provide advice
and a list forthwith:
Do not buy and regret,
dear. A diamond
is what to get,
dear. Its extra weight
I'm built to carry.
The starboard lilt,
the opiate
drag on one knuckle,
I'm willing to accommodate
and promise not to buckle
under. Been bottom.
Done shouldered.
It's my time to
plunder, and have a little lovely
something, a nothing-too-modest
something, to set off
all this black
and dazzle the crosshatch
right out of my skin.
O halogen track,
O twinkling lights,
O shining star
upon the highest bough:
you'll soon learn how
to be the ladies in waiting,
stable pony to the thoroughbred,
Martin to a Lewis,
Cathy to a Patty,
mere vein to the carotid—
i.e., to be outwatted.
O Christmas
tree, dear dreidl,
could it be more plainly said?
Some demand the head
upon a platter, others lick
the silver off their spoon.
This childless mother
desires neither moon
nor man but the carat
dangled all this time.
So snare it,
Santa, from that other
sorry cow.
The Baby Jesus phoned,
says I should wear it now.


Tom Wright at Harvard

Or, as you'll find him in the glory of flowery Anglican titles, the Right Reverend Doctor N. T. Wright, + Durham.

N.T. Wright is, for my money, one of the best living theologians in the world right now, a biblical scholar by training who not only is the bishop of a diocese and the kind of author we all hate for writing numerous books of outstanding quality, repeatedly, but also a husband and father. Sheesh.

If you're in the greater Boston area, though, there are some great opportunities to hear him in the next few days. He'll be preaching at the Sunday 11 am service at the Memorial Church, Harvard, on "Apocalyptic and the Beauty of God", which you will also be able to hear at whrb.org. He'll also be giving the William Belden Noble Lectures on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings next week at 8 pm, on "God the Creator: The Gospel in a Gnostic World”, “Jesus the Lord: The Gospel and the New Imperialism”, and “Spirit of Truth: The Gospel in a Postmodern World”, respectively. He's definitely worth the time, and what else are you going to do on a Wednesday night anyway, now that Project Runway is over (and those fools chose Jeffrey over perfect, wonderful, so-put-together Laura...).


Paulist Associates

Yesterday was very exciting for me, I took my first promises for a year of membership as a Paulist Associate down at the Center. The closest equivalent might be something like a Third-order Franciscan...the Associates are lay people who join the Paulists in their mission and charisms through prayer and embodying the Paulist mission to North America in their daily life. I'm very excited to be part of this group, since the major Paulist charism -- "incarnating the
Roman Catholic faith in North American culture" -- is important to me both personally and professionally...all of my theological work on Tillard's theories of inculturation and ecclesial diversity springs from my own experience of the vibrancy of the church in the United States.

In preparation for the 150th Anniversary of the founding of the Paulist Fathers in 2008, they've also done a pretty extensive update of their website, with a new blog entitled paulisttalk.org, links to their other ministries, including the ever popular bustedhalo.com, and the resurrected journal The Catholic World, which first existed as Father Hecker's magazine in 1865 and now will exist again online under the direction of Paul Robichaud. Enjoy!


Hard Rain

Beautiful, disturbing poem from this past Friday's Writer's Almanac, the title piece from Hard Rain by the poet Tony Hoagland.

Hard Rain

After I heard It's a Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
played softly by an accordion quartet
through the ceiling speakers at the Springdale Shopping Mall,
I understood there's nothing
we can't pluck the stinger from,

nothing we can't turn into a soft drink flavor or a t-shirt.
Even serenity can become something horrible
if you make a commercial about it
using smiling, white-haired people

quoting Thoreau to sell retirement homes
in the Everglades, where the swamp has been
drained and bulldozed into a nineteen-hole golf course
with electrified alligator barriers.

You can't keep beating yourself up, Billy
I heard the therapist say on television
to the teenage murderer,
About all those people you killed—
You just have to be the best person you can be,

one day at a time—

and everybody in the audience claps and weeps a little,
because the level of deep feeling has been touched,
and they want to believe that
the power of Forgiveness is greater
than the power of Consequence, or History.

Dear Abby:
My father is a businessman who travels.
Each time he returns from one of his trips,
his shoes and trousers
are covered with blood-
but he never forgets to bring me a nice present;
Should I say something?
Signed, America.

I used to think I was not part of this,
that I could mind my own business and get along,

but that was just another song
that had been taught to me since birth—

whose words I was humming under my breath,
as I was walking through the Springdale Mall.


In Praise of Foley

Well, not really. While I might take pleasure in the problems this causes for the Republican party, I still feel sorry for this poor man and the publicization of his private life in this way. This is not to approve of what he did, but simply to have some compassion for a man who allegedly did something very wrong, and was aided by friends and colleagues to keep doing it.

David Link of the "Independent Gay Forum" has an op-ed in today's Globe comparing the Republican leadership's treatment of this to that in the Catholic church. He writes:

If this has a familiar ring, look in the Catholic Church for the bell. Republican leadership was acting like the Catholic hierarchy, which played shell games with men accused of sexually abusing children. And there's a good reason for the similarity. The inability to deal straightforwardly with gay people leads to other kinds of truth-avoidance when things go south. But that's what comes from not wanting to know something, and going out of your way to remain ignorant.
Brian McGrory, who usually annoys me, made a similar point on Tuesday in a column entitled "Back at you, Santorum", reminding us that back during the height of the clergy sexual abuse crisis, Rick Santorum suggested that it was we Massachusetters' liberal attitudes that created the climate for the abuse of minors. Apparently the House Republicans had the same problem.

But for my money the best commentary on how this isn't a gay issue so much as a gay-man-not-dealing-with-his-sexuality issue is from a letter in today's Globe by Christian Diaz of Boston. I've reproduced it in full:

AS A gay man living for more than two decades in Boston, I have known many gay men raised in strict Catholic homes, two of whom were molested by their priests. Not one of them grew up to be a closeted Republican who worked to criminalize his own behavior.

Foley should have sought professional help, as many of my friends did, long before he mixed alcohol, his own apparent homophobia, congressional pages, and the Internet, and brought himself to this ignominious place.

If he had taken personal responsibility for his mental health earlier, it would not be thrust upon him now by events he set in motion by his very failure to do so.


Responses to Benedict, on Chiesa

From Sandro Magister's www.chiesa, two Muslim responses to Pope Benedict's words on Islam at Regensburg (though only the 2nd really is in response to the entire situation, Muslim reaction included). Worth a close read.

Harvard's Possible Core Curriculum

Or, Why I Might Still Have a Job in Twenty Years' Time.

Today's Crimson reports that the proposed overhaul of the Harvard College Core Curriculum includes a required course in matters religious and their relation to the modern world. With a nod and a twist on JP II's Fides et Ratio, the "Reason and Faith" course would obviously not be a full-on Christian theology course -- nor should it be, at a non-Christian school like Harvard. But it would at least have the advantage of introducing every undergraduate student to the importance of religion as a phenomenon and a system of meaning for the vast majority of their fellow human beings throughout the world. A flagship school like Harvard's putting religious studies so front and center, after decades of assuming that religion was on the cusp of withering away, would do much to remind the academy a) that religious beliefs of millions of people still play a major role in their lives and are not quite as backwards or incoherent as might otherwise have been thought in some circles, and b) that there are more and less adequate scholarly ways of studying religion, e.g., that there's a vast difference between academic theology and religious studies and Dan Brownish "scholarship" and the "inspiration" section of your local Barnes and Noble...

We'll see if it stays in the final proposal.