There's been a lot going on. And yet somehow I've also felt like I've managed to do very little. aristotle2002 came by on Wednesday, on his High School Spring Break Tour. I was impressed that Nathaniel even prepped for Professor Barnes' seminar on Augustine's De Trinitate, and flowed right into our conversation on Book VII. (By the way, Nathaniel, you left your De Trin on my coffeetable--tell me where to mail it back to you.) A dinner down at Mo's Pub was supposed to be followed by a late Ash Wednesday Mass, but I think that the fish did something funny to me. We got in the doors for the readings and I had to get out, so we gave one another Official Theologian Dispensations and called it even. I thought we might crash before too long, but conversation kept rolling on until past 4am. With a weblink handy from the couch for occasional fact-checking, we managed to dive through a number of topics, whether the Augustine of the day, natural law arguments, personal stories like the origin of his friendship with Tristan Engelhart, John Paul II's significance, more about BMWs than I could have guessed, teaching theology at the college and high school levels, and who knows how much more. Good times. We hadn't actually seen each other since August 2004, other than the fly-by-night get-togethers at the Center for Ethics and Culture at Notre Dame, so this was a big-time treat.
Thursday featured the longest, slowest bus ride through Milwaukee's transport system, ever. After a hurried chat that I couldn't afford with clerk/friend Diane, who just started reading Merton's Thoughts in Solitude with her husband on my recommendation as an intro to spiritual reading (I was thrown and amused by the fact that she really liked it until she said she was thrown when "God" showed up. I'll have to find out more about why this was a problem or a surprise.), I made it back to campus a full half-hour late for the reading/presentation of the first chapter of Barnes' book on the Holy Spirit, the "Spirit as Creator" business that I mentioned was available for download on the website of our ongoing Seminar on the Jewish Roots of Eastern Christian Mysticism. Deirdre Dempsey was just starting her response, but took time to make fun of me as I was creeping in through the door. As Deirdre looks/sounds/acts like she could be one of my Irish aunts, the being-made-fun-of was brief, to the point, and effective. I nodded in chagrined guilt as everyone had a good laugh while I sat down. Her criticisms of Barnes' approach were sensible ones. She had a few questions about dating, or about what she thought tenuous lines-of-influence, such as a connection between Genesis 1:1-3 and Job 26:4, 27:3. It was a very large and packed crowd, for the Seminar at least, meaning that it was about 30 whereas usual attendance is about 12-15 at any given session. There was a lot of interchange picking up after Professor Dempsey was done, and I even jumped in on a clarifying point after an exchange between Barnes and Prof. Mueller. It seemed to me that the talk was starting to assume that "God" in Genesis 1 was beginning to be distinguished from "the Spirit of God" who only appears in Gen. 1:2. Granted that Gen. 1:1-2 may be of a different origin than the rest of Genesis, it still seemed clear to me that in its final edited version, "God" and "the Spirit of God" were being identified as the same actor by the editor of the text. I was afraid that in the snowballing conversation of original source speculations that that simple fact about the text as it stands was being forgotten.
After the session, Dan Lloyd cornered me and appeared absolutely frisky for something to do, even though we had plans for the following night. Amy Lloyd and Donna Harris were off at Mayfair Mall with the little girls, having dinner, and so it seemed an opportune time to do something festive. When I mentioned that I was going to go over to see Julie's improv troupe, the Studio 13 Refugees, open up for a few stand-up comedians as a fund-raiser for Habitat for Humanity, that seemed just the ticket for Dan. Mike tagged along. As it turned out, the Refugees were finishing up as we walked in ten minutes late after a very brief opener for the two guys. They were definitely more beginners at stand-up, but did all right and so it wasn't a total loss. I talked to Julie for a brief moment afterward, met her other female troupe member and a friend of hers and recent MU grad visiting for the weekend who turned out to be a friend of Meg Rothbart's that I'd met last year. Dan, Mike and I drifted over to Caffrey's Pub afterwards for a drink and some talk.
Friday featured a turkey dinner/feast over at the Harris' where I consumed vast quantities of wine and sherry, at least for my normal standards. I tend to mix it up with enough non-alcohol that I have no unpleasant aftereffects, but I came out with a bit of a headache the next morning. Dan pawned Renee off on me early on with the assurance to her that I loved to read The Cat in the Hat, so much so that I became the default reader for the rest of the night, which I think the parents loved, or at least welcomed as a relief from the duty. While I get the benefit of fun with the kids and then get to hand them back, I admit that I was pleased to discover that I could turn 10 or more pages at a time without Renee being the wiser. I also developed great hopes that the wonderful rhythm of Dr. Suess would result in bringing back a love or preference for the rhyme and meter in classical forms of poetry for the kids. BSG was another classic episode from the fellow who directed "33" and "Water" and so loud conversation cut off with a snap whenever a commercial break ended.
The weekend featured the classic annual Hollywood Oscar party over at the Smiths' and that capped off a run of several days in which I managed to do virtually nothing on my dissertation outline. Tonight is being similarly lost in that regard, to TA duties. In other news, I got a tentative confirmation on teaching afternoon sessions of Intro to Theology today from the undergrad scheduler, so that's all to my preference.