June 20th, 2006

Loyola Faculty Portrait

Personal: Impulse Shopping

So is buying a chest of drawers just because it's marked down from $230 to $86 "impulse shopping?" Is it more justified when it's the same style as and makes a set with the drawers you just recently purchased?
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    "Father and Daughter" Paul Simon (on a new album kick)
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Strider (passage)

Personal: Dating with Carmen Electra; Sex at Duke; Dulles on Apologetics; and The Lord of the Rings

I found an answering-machine message waiting for me tonight from no less than Carmen Electra, apparently asking me to join her new online dating-advice service. (I confess I didn't make it to the end of the message.) Isn't this someone previously involved with both Prince and Dennis Rodman? That inspires confidence.

Read the Rolling Stone article on the sex/party culture at Duke off of daysprings' journal. Just sad, ultimately. Whatever the exaggerations or unrepresentativeness of the article might be, it does paint a wider picture of a student culture which I've seen that so mistakenly thinks sexuality is just a utilitarian pleasure principle of our bodies, and one that can be so exercised without harm to our ability to love and form deeply-bonded romantic relationships. It shows no awareness of the utter depth of human sexuality, as though it were only physical. A story I've seen over and over.

I've done much more reading today in the utterly-unrelated A History of Apologetics by Avery Robert Cardinal Dulles. I've been reading the 20th century sections of that – and after being dismayed at first to see a 1971 copyright date in the book (if I recall correctly), then finding it updated and accurate to 2005 – and more than impressed. It's very survey-ish, but that's its strength: you're talking about a mountain of 20 centuries of material, especially increasing in diversity after the Reformation. He is concise and accurate in his contextualizations, which I can say with particular confidence since I'm familiar-enough with a lot of this literature, and his talent for summation is something I'm particularly impressed with here. It has been like cleaning up and sensibly-ordering a vast mental index file in my head. I had to blink to see that I was out of the Evangelical loop enough to find out here for the first time of the deaths of Carl F. H. Henry (2003) and Langdon Gilkey (2004).

I've also been engaging in a long-overdue re-reading of The Lord of the Rings: my 40th reading, according to the old tally-marks in the front. This one has also been accompanied with a viewing of Jackson's adaptation as I go along. My old criticisms of Jackson being overly-explicit wherever Tolkien was subtle still stands. The schlock-horror movie director shines through in parts. I still wonder what another director might do with the material – particularly a more close reading of the text – in 30 years or so when someone might get away with proposing the project: I still am out as to whether Jackson made a great movie or if he made an average movie with the greatest novel of the 20th century.

Got a thunderstorm rolling in: wish I'd had that the night I was re-reading the attack in the dell below Weathertop: it's all about ambiance....