Sunday’s Best: Bored and Boring

Something about today’s WuMo by Wulff and Morgenthaler rings true, even if it isn’t quite accurate.  ADHD probably doesn’t simplify that way, but there’s also something to be said for the task of meeting people where they are, and that includes people who struggle with focus and attention.

WuMo BoredThe role of technology in all of this, especially as a potential accelerator, is interesting to me.  Technology exploits our weaknesses, it has been said.  And so it both contributes to the problem and it serves as a kind of solution, too.  Which obviously isn’t the best way of going about things.

Food for thought on a Sunday morning, if nothing else.

(image from gocomics.com)

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Sunday’s Best: Thinking Metric

But if you start to catch on, does it mean that they are winning?  Today’s classic Peanuts from Charles Schulz.

Peanuts Change(image from gocomics.com)

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Sunday’s Best: What You Jump Into

Autumn leaves are almost a theme in the Sunday funnies this week.  Here’s today’s classic Calvin and Hobbes.  Both gags (the two-panel at the beginning and then the main strip) are funny.  You just never know what’s going to find you when you rake and pile up leaves.

Calvin Leaves(image from gocomics.com)

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Sunday’s Best: FoxTrot and the Force

Bill Amend gives us a little Star Wars humor to help celebrate the day.

Foxtrot and the ForceWhat’s really scary is that they consider midi-chlorians a viable plot point . . .

(image fro gocomics.com)

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Fearful Pumpkins

It’s almost Halloween.  This time tomorrow at least some people will be gearing up to walk their neighborhoods in search of more treats than tricks.  The scale of things here is still up in the air: many of the local “haunts” aren’t decorated, which makes the passing out of candy more questionable.  So it will be interesting to see how tomorrow night goes.

It’s been a doozy of a second quarter so far.  The first week back was packed in a way I had not anticipated.  Then last Saturday was a virtual open house day for school, so that took up a good chunk of the day.  This week we had a different schedule to accommodate the PSAT.  On top of that, it was a record-three-chapel-talks week.  I can take some blame for that, as I’m the one who has pushed to make sure our students get some of the stuff they can’t get through regular means because of Covid.  We’ll do it like this up until Thanksgiving.  Then the holidays will bring us back together.

One of the unexpected joys of the week has been getting to watch the Gifford Lectures from St. Andrews.  This year’s speaker is Oliver O’Donovan, an ethics professor currently living in Scotland.  He was kind enough to join me for lunch on my first day in Edinburgh a few years ago.  He says some pretty heady stuff, but he also has this strange knack for bringing it back down to earth in a comforting way.  There are about four lectures left, I think.  He’s talking about the disappearance of ethics, which is a nice prep for my spring semester, when I spend a quarter on that topic with seniors.

Saturday really has become a catch-up day for me.  I’m very grateful the people at Zippy’s let me hand out there for a good chunk of time.  I catch up on any lagging Bible reading.  Then I sketch out my Bible reading for the next week.  I write some in my journal.  I work through my personal email account.  I usually get some reading done, either from whatever tome I’m working through or (more recently) reading Esolen’s translation of The Divine Comedy (after reading Kirkpatrick’s throughout the work week).  I’m not sure if “caught up” can ever really happen in this digital age, but it’s nice to think it’s possible.

Here’s today’s WuMo.  It’s holiday-themed and represents a very modern fear quite well.

WuMo No Wifi(image from gocomics.com)

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Sunday’s Best: Signal of the Season

Halloween is a week away.  The next Batman movie is a few months away.  Today’s FoxTrot by Bill Amend brings the two together . . .

FoxTrot Pumpkins(image from gocomics.com)

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Sunday’s Best: Ill-Prepared for Re-entry

Today’s WuMo strip is quite fitting considering today is the last day of fall break.  While I’ve spent some time getting ready for tomorrow’s re-entry, I know that there will be things that I missed or that I forgot.  I imagine it might feel a bit like what this oblivious couple is about to experience.

WuMo Vacation(image from gocomics.com)

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Entering the Every

For the first time in months, I’ve changed the “currently reading” information on the side of this page.  I finished A Secular Age by Charles Taylor last night around 11:00.  I’d made that commitment earlier in the day and then, with 30 pages left, made my way for an evening mostly away from home.  So it finally happened, though not at the highest level of excitement on my part.

Taylor says a lot in the 700+ pages of the book, so I imagine that I’m “done” with the book in one sense but not in others.  A lot of what he wrote over a decade ago is still applicable for us today.  I’m tempting to go back and reread Jamie Smith’s book “explaining” ASA (it came out in 2014 and I read it quickly as it was much, much shorter and less expensive than Taylor’s tome).  It’s an interesting historical survey of the last 500 years (how does anyone hold all of that in one’ head for so long?) that makes many connections that I still see resonating today.  So maybe I’ll give it a couple of days before looking back over my annotations in the book.

Today I got my copy of the new Dave Eggers novel in the mail.  The Every is a sequel to The Circle, which I remember buying at a bookshop outside Windsor Castle during my first trip to England years ago.  That novel was intended to be a page turner, a story that escalated into almost-absurdity.  I’m not sure that translated well in the movie version (at least not for some viewers), but that’s okay.  I’m a couple of chapters into the book and enjoying it.  There’s a certain playfulness in both the text and in the features of the book itself reminiscent of early Eggers.  I mean, the book is called The Every, but it also has three other (sub?)-titles: The Every or At Last a Sense of Order or The Final Days of Free Will or Limitless Choice is Killing the World.  And the dustcover flap copy?  Heh.  Beyond that, there’s an interesting self-awareness in the storytelling and characterization that resonates on a basic level and that, so far, keeps you interested.

You can find a copy of one of the early chapters of the book here at Wired.  I haven’t actually gotten to that chapter in the book.  I imagine it might happen soon, but with Eggers you just never know.

I imagine it will take me a while to finish The Every.  But I imagine it will be a quick 577 pages, especially when compared to A Secular Age.

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Sunday’s Best: Getting with the Program

This classic Peanuts strip by Charles Schulz feels particularly appropriate, as the weather this weekend has been quite autumnal.

Peanuts ProgramAs always, there’s something frustratingly true about Lucy’s approach to things (in this case, “programs”).  On one level, Charlie Brown can safely assume that the printing of a program means that things are “a lock.”  Until they’re not.

(image from gocomics.com)

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Traction and Distraction

If you can’t already tell, I’m trying to use this two-week “break” to find my way back to posting here regularly.  This last quarter has been a lot busier than I had anticipated.  And while I’ve mostly been able to keep up with regular reading, regular writing has been more difficult for me.

The two thinkers who helped me most at the beginning of the pandemic have gone a little more quiet over these last few months.  Andy Crouch’s pieces from the beginning of Covidtide really helped me think institutionally and broadly, particularly his images of blizzard and ice ages.  The other thinker, Ephraim Radner, helped me think a lot about the life of faith (and the communal life of faith) in light of The Current Moment.  I think often of his First Things piece titled “Theology after the Virus” from just over a year ago.  He teases out some of the ideas that he had introduced earlier in 2020 about churches and the quick move to online services, this time wondering about the future of theological education and training across the board “after the virus.”

I think it’s because of these two thinkers that I’ve tried to make clear adjustments to work over these last few months.  Working with our school administration (and knowing that gathering everyone back in the gym for weekly chapel wasn’t an option), I pushed for a more “small groups” model to chapel time, where there is still a “chapel talk” and worship/reflection song and even student “micro-interviews” but that also had a greater “conversational” component.  This is because conversation is easily lost in a digital (and particularly concurrent) learning environment.  And so this quarter has seen my team (my wonderful team) helping with videos but also with slides and scripts to equip our teachers to engage in better conversations with their students.  We’ve also been given time to do some of that “faculty equipping” in person, which has been good (I hope).

Church has been in-person for a good while now.  Our pastor left back in May.  I preached for three weeks in July.  Well, I suppose I tried to lead them in some conversations more than anything else.  I tried to bring to mind potent New Testament images of the church that are as much about being as they are about doing.  They did some talk and turns, some writing and reflecting.  I’m now serving again on the pastor search committee, which is mostly meeting via Zoom.  Much of the old committee is back, which gives us a decent amount of familiarity.  But I’m also trying to ask some questions to build some community and make some connections.  We’ll be meeting in person soon (at least once), which I’m looking forward to quite a bit.

Now that we are this far into the pandemic (and now that I’m involved with approximately three search committees), I am more mindful of wondering about “what has been learned” from these last 18 months.  Perhaps learning something isn’t the most important thing.  Perhaps surviving these days is the more important thing.  But I can’t help think that a good stewardship of This Moment would bring some fruitful reflection that could lead to some intentional action.

Having said all of that, I’ve got a stack of articles to post about over these next few days.  It’s a hodgepodge ranging over the last few months (with nothing from Crouch or Radner).  So consider this the warning.  While I’m grateful for things learned and done this last quarter, I’m also hopeful about getting some traction back here (and with getting my thoughts down again, in general).  Not that one thing is a distraction from the other- in the best of all possible worlds everything works together well.  Maybe the next few days will allow a course-correction for that.

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