arkus returned to Marquette this week for his period in the States as part of his double professorships. In 2005 he graduated with a collection of essays and books as Dr. habil.
in Frankfurt and became appointed professor in 2006. Since 2007 he's been both professor of Historical Theology/Church History at Goethe University Frankfurt/Main
and at Marquette. It had crossed my mind when I was downtown on Monday that he ought to be back soon, and indeed it turned out that he arrived that night. He leaned in my door during my office hours on Wednesday and surprised me and we talked excitedly for a few minutes after a big hug of welcome. I mentioned Friday being the night I regularly gathered with the Lloyds and Harrises and he let me know that he was free this Friday, which was good to know as his social calendar fills up quickly while he is in America. So we made sure things looked good and reserved his company.
And so we had a great night of friendship around the table. When Dan, Mike, Markus and I got in from the University, I saw that Amy and Donna had put together a great set of hors d'oeuvres: shrimp, mussels, and lots of supporting vegetables, with dinner being postponed, I was told, until the kids were down at 8:30pm. That turned out to be a feast of chicken breasts in a kippers and lemon sauce, mashed potatoes, asparagus and broccoli, and lots of wine, with Dan breaking out the sherry toward the end, and Amy's insistence that she wasn't pushing it on me and that she ought not be further immortalized in this journal
as someone who goes out of her way to get me drunk. (So there that
is in print.) Everything went according to plan, playing lots with the wildly-wired kids – the 1 1/2 year-old Owen was hysterical, finding Markus to be very funny but was also nervous about being picked up by the stranger, yet kept coming back for more, like a horror-movie junkie insisting on terrifying himself – and then getting them calm and in bed so that we could tuck in and just enjoy one another without distraction. We remained a close, laughing circle around the table until 11:30, when Markus and Donna both confessed tiredness and we agreed that it was time to call it a night.
The conversation really took us in some new directions, tending to stay away from theology other than an occasional gloss on spirituality or living a Christian life, and a few notes on German university life. Mostly it was about family life: "Table Talk" of a Martin Luther kind, you might say, of our vision as applied to all the mundane and glorious moments of what's called "real life." We heard a lot more of Markus and Suzanne's story, of the long and solid friendship that lead to their getting married, and lots of conversation on child-rearing, with Markus' observations from further down the road than the Harrises and Lloyds. Childhood nightmares of the sorts the kids occasionally were now dealing with turned into an interesting psychological digression, and we spent quite a bit of time talking about German economics, what it takes to make life work over there in contrast to here with their particular social system and what struggles it faces. Normally economics puts me into a coma, but with the talk of American politics that popped up on occasion, it became a comparison/contrast sort of portrait that really kept us talking about our cultural differences. There was a long conversation on the remembrance of the Nazi past in German culture today, and how that had figured in German grade- and high-school education after the war (not at all, starting so far back in history that you never got up to it) and then after the 1968 cultural revolutions (very prominently, dominating the bulk of young teachers' agendas). The phenomenon of everyone's Nazi pasts being re-written as "Oh, I was a resistance fighter from within the system" was explained to us, and we found ourselves comparing that to the Northern and Southern remembrances of the American Civil War as it exists today. And lots more....