The last few days have been of a routine since returning: I get up, chat a bit with magdalene1, who's become a good chum, medicate, eat, and bathe, and then at some point head over to the Department of Theology to price books. A professor emeritus donated some hundreds of books to AnGST (the Association of Graduate Students in Theology) I found out when I surprised the rest of the board by showing up for a meeting Tuesday afternoon (I had been excused because of the surgery for all our August obligations), and we're going to be selling them as a fundraiser. Since "sedate" is exactly my speed in life right now, I've taken on the task of pricing them all, which is slower work than I would have guessed. But I have found lots of treasures to offer folks. The evening has been consumed by Olympics-watching and long-distance conversations with the likes of Kevin and Kari-Shane and then some late-night recording as I start making a demo of "This Romance," which I hope to premiere in this space within the next week.
I have yet to run into Bryan Massengale, for whom I will be the Teaching Assistant this year, but I have just learned to my dismay that he's teaching two sections of Intro to Theology, both full, which means I'll be grading homework for 80 kids. And to make it truly horrid, the classes are MWF at 9 and 10, which will destroy my two-year streak of having no obligations before noon. So I'm saying good-bye to my former life of leisure. If not for that, I was looking to have my most luxuriously-scheduled semester with the first of my two MW doctoral seminars starting at 3:30.
I'm still devouring David McCullough's John Adams, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. I even heard a glowing endorsement from a Department of History friend today, who said that the only harsh words against it by professional historians seems to be coming from those embittered by their own lack of writing success. I was intrigued the other day to see that Adams shared the same distaste of mine (which has arisen over the last few years) for Jefferson's phrase in the Declaration of Independence that "all men are created equal." We both agree that this is not the case: that yes, all are equal in God's eyes, but the phrase in itself implies more and I've come to suspect that such "Enlightenment" phraseology betrays a nascent relativism.
My big news for the day is that Notre Dame's Center for Ethics and Culture accepted my paper proposal for "Salvador Dali's The Sacrament of the Last Supper: A Theological Re-Assessment" for the November conference that I was telling you all about, called Epiphanies of Beauty: The Arts in a Post-Christian Culture. Declined was my much less concrete and much more theoretical "The Arts as Prolegomenon to Theology in a Post-Christian Culture: Problems and Potentials." They also accepted my performance proposal, so I'm hoping to have all the artists that I brought together for the Renaissance Men--Mark Lang, J.P. Hurt, P.J. McCurry, Michael McGlinn and Kevin Fleming--performing our stuff together, along with the addition of Mark's girlfriend Dina Bembic, who is a writer of mind-numbing talent in my opinion. I have no idea how we'll end up doing all this, but all I know is that it'll be fun.