I had a kind of fabulous academic exchange with Mike Harris on the Odes of Solomon based off of my recent entry, and tying into the chapter he is currently writing for his dissertation, which partially deals with the Odes. He got an advance copy of my article "The Odes of Solomon as Apocalyptic Literature" that is being published in Vigiliae Christianae, and so that material got its first citation as a footnote in his chapter. It's like being a real scholar. But that exchange was interesting enough that I thought I might need to copy it into an entry of its own.
I had a fun note the other day from the editor of the journal, admitting that they were a bit backlogged with accepted pieces and it might be a few issues before I saw print, but also wryly noting,
In your text we came across one problem, at the beginning of page 8. You write: 'The first song, quotation, is more exultant than the first'. It took us some time to probably solve this riddle, but for our readers we prefer a simpler wording.So I conjured up such simpler wording to him with my apologies for not having caught that howler on my own.
Speaking of being a real scholar, I was amused to see posters of my upcoming Yamauchi Lecture in Religion go up around campus last week. I took a shot of one on a bulletin board and posted it to Facebook with the simple notation, "I have a poster." Another tiny first in the academic journey. I can't think of having had a poster before, unless we did a poster back in 2000 for the final final Dalloway's gig. I can't remember. Anyway, I have a poster. The lecture, I'm still working on.
On Tuesday I took in a fine presentation by Paul Mendes-Flohr, Professor of Modern Jewish Thought in the University of Chicago Divinity School, who was Mari's dissertation director, who spoke at the local Hillel House on "Jewish Spirituality in Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig." It was masterfully casual in his storytelling, while staying full of content. So that, too, has given me something to think about in terms of my own upcoming public lecture.
The nieces are still enjoying their videoconferencing technology, though as I suspected, it is little Sophie who is most into it. I get the feeling that for her especially, the visual aspect makes conversation seem much more "real" than talking to a voice on a telephone. On the flipside, though, she can go on for quite some time, and I say that as someone possessed of the bona-fide Irish Gift of the Gab. I get the feeling that, as she wanders around the house yammering to me with my electronic presence tucked in her hand, I have become something like an electronic teddy-bear. Am I "Uncle Mike" who really exists somewhere else, or am I part of her menagerie of pets and cartoon characters that accompany her through her day? There are worse fates, I suppose, though eventually I have to feel un-entertaining by having to disengage myself and turn to some work. Sophie completely and utterly charmed 30 college students Thursday, calling me right as I was getting ready to start teaching my Jesus Christ class (I'd tried to call a few minutes earlier, just to say Hi beforehand). I explained that I had to teach and couldn't talk right now, holding the camera for a moment to show her all the students sitting behind me. She took this in, but then told me in no uncertain terms that I had to promise to call back after I was done. The entire class, a bit curious or amused and listening in to this exchange, broke into universal coos of "Awww..." and so I showed the class to Sophie again and told her that she had 30 college students who thought that she was very cute, and she seemed rather satisfied with that as she hung up. So she'll call me several times a day, if given the opportunity, which probably matches my eagerness to peak in on the girls every few days. Communications tech is like a sacrament in its ability to be a medium for the transmission of love and the "real presence" of those we love.
Grace gives me her news (although she neglected to mention – I heard it from Dad – that her soccer game has come on so strong that she scored three consecutive goals in her last game), but hasn't called to just talk so much since the first few days of having her iPod Touch. Haley, brilliantly snarky, called me up the other day, spoke briefly, and then muted her side of the connection and put her iPod camera-down on the carpet and left me like that. Nice! Maybe that's her revenge for me telling her the other day that she had been misunderstanding her own name all these years: that she wasn't named "Haley," but that everyone had been saying to her, "Hey Lee!"
What else? Some good talk with Kevin while he was in the Vegas airport the other day, touching some more on the neuro work he's doing and how my spirituality work can plug into it. A few notes were also exchanged about how freaky it was for him and Frannie to feel the earthquake in Oklahoma the other night (the kids slept through it), before he had to take off for Chicago. He was also delighted to hear the news I shared that Dan O'Brien had gotten a regular sit-com gig on an NBC show called Whitney, so I had to go online the other night and see the latest episode of that, which heavily featured Dan. He'd been getting lots of national commercial work the last few years, but I can only imagine he likes having the steady gig with two kids now. He's much less hairier now than I remember him being.