Thursday, July 31, 2008

Don't Cry in July

There's plenty of time for that, and for your prayers, in August. Can't wait? Then, read all about it at the Lingamish blog.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

after the fall, friends

You know, more and more I think that for many years I looked at life like a case at law, a series of proofs. When you're young you prove how brave you are, or smart; then, what a good lover; then, a good father; finally, how wise, or powerful or what-the-hell-ever. But underlying it all, I see now, there was a presumption. That I was moving on an upward path toward some elevation where – God knows what – I would be justified, or even condemned – a verdict anyway. I think now that my disaster really began when I looked up one day – and the bench was empty. No judge in sight. And all that remained was an endless argument with oneself – this pointless litigation of existence before an empty bench.

My friend Daniel sends me these words he's read recently from Arthur Miller's After the Fall. And Daniel (who's not alone after two divorces as Miller was when writing) goes on to say (out of his own experiences) that

We all have a basic need to be justified or vindicated in some sense, especially in a relational sense. It gets at the heart of who we are. If I and my friend or my spouse have mutual trust and respect, we are justified to each other. We are right with each other. There may be disagreements and offenses, but we are on the same team and are allies who depend on each other.

To which Pindar says

Hesykhia (Tranquility), goddess of friendly intent, daughter of Dike (Justice), you who make cities great, holding the supreme keys of counsel and of wars
φιλόφρον Ἡσυχία, Δίκας ὦ μεγιστόπολι θύγατερ βουλᾶν τε καὶ πολέμων ἔχοισα κλαῗδας ὑπερτάτας

“Choose your friends by their character and your socks by their color. Choosing your socks by their character makes no sense, and choosing your friends by their color is unthinkable.”

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

running away from loneliness

Yesterday, we followed a coyote puppy as she ran across the field into the bush toward the Trinity River; my Labrador retriever, "Bear," and I make the run at least once a week from my home in Fort Worth, Texas.

This weekend, we celebrated my earthly daddy's seventy-third birthday at a restaurant in Grapevine; his extended family, his wife of over fifty years, their children and grandkids were all there for the rare fun together.

Bear and I have encountered snakes, raccoons, possums, beavers (he was bit by one twice in a tangle), birds of prey, skunks, and even a pack of coyotes, but never a coyote pup by herself.

Dad has asked all us to to canoe with him down the Brazos, but he had to get us all in the same room before we "busy" people could actually schedule it.

The little wild canine had no idea I'd put Bear on his leash, that he was just curious and I just concerned to learn why she seemed so lost and alone.

The man I measure all men by, and all my fathers by, is an orphan who grew up passed around from family to family and who's taken his own family with great purpose to the remotest parts of this earth.

In a few moments, I'm leaving my quiet office and headed home to the ones I love the most. Loneliness is bothersome to me a great deal, and sometimes I feel like I know why.

seldom been so sure

She's alone tonight,
With a bitter cup and,
She's undone tonight,
She's all used up,

She's been staring down the demons,
Who've been screaming she's just another so and so,
Another so and so

You are golden,
You are golden, Child

You are golden,
Don't let go,
Don't let go tonight

There's a fear that burns,
Like trash inside
And you're ashamed of the curse,
That burns your eyes

You've been hiding in your bedroom,
Hoping this isn't how the story has to go
It's not the way it goes, It's your book now,

You're Golden,
You are golden, Child

You are golden,
Don't let go,
Don't let go tonight

You're a lonely soul,
In a land of broken hearts
You're far from home,
It's a perfect place to start

So this final verse,
Is a contradiction
And the more we learn,
The less we know

We've been talkin' about a feeling,
We both know inside but couldn't find the words
I couldn't write this verse,
I've seldom been so sure,
'bout anything before

You are Golden, Child

You are Golden,
Don't let go,
Don't let go tonight

This world is a dead man down (Golden, you are,)
Every breath is a fading crown we wear, (Golden, Child, you are,)
Like some debilitated king, (Golden, don't let go,)
Don't let go tonight

Earth Spins and the moon goes round (Golden, you are,)
Green comes from the frozen ground, (Golden, Child, you are,)
And everything will be made new again, (Golden,)
Like freedom and spring, (Golden, Golden,)
Hey, like freedom and spring, (Golden, you are, hey,)
Like freedom and spring (Golden, Child, you are,)

Monday, July 28, 2008

you are the greatest woman I have ever met

And she continued . . .

It is true that it is a powerful occurrence to have somebody look you in the eye and say you are worth something. I was reading an issue of Smithsonian magazine the other day and in it was an interview with the poet Maya Angelou. In the interview she talked about the time, as only an eight-year-old girl, that she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend. She spoke about having to heal from the crime, but also about how she told on the man, and how he had gone to prison and, shortly after being released, was beaten to death by men in the community. Angelou believes she was the one who caused the man’s death because she told about the rape. I was amazed to read that after the beating, the terrified young child couldn’t speak for years. It was much later, during a walk with her mother, that she would find the source of her life of freedom, beauty, and creativity. Walking down a street near their home, Angelou said her mother stopped, turned, and said to her:

“Baby,” she said, looking the young woman in the eye. “You know something? I think you are the greatest woman I have ever met. Yes. Mary McLeod Bethune, Eleanor Roosevelt, my mother, and you—and you are the greatest.” Maya Angelou said in the interview that she boarded a streetcar with tears flowing down her cheeks, stared into the wood paneling of the car and thought to herself, Suppose I really am somebody?

And yes, she was and is somebody.

which, again, is Donald Miller translating. So here's Maya Angelou, and others translating too:

Yadaʻti lamah ha-tsipor ha-keluʼah sharah
by Maya Angelou, Dafnah Leṿi

Utae, tobenai toritachiyo
by Maya Angelou, Midori Yajima

Je reprendrais bien un peu de rêve

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Watashi no tabi ni nimotsu wa mō iranai

Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now

Ta dynata poulia tēs epangelias
By Maya Angelou, Kōstia Kontoleōn

Samlas i mitt namn

Gather Together in My Name

En kvinnas hjärta
By Maya Angelou, Pelle Fritz-Crone

The Heart of A Woman

. . . Speaking only a few words of English, Mongo taught me the song syllable by syllable. Although he couldn't translate the lyrics, he said the song was used in black Cuban religious ritual. . .

. . . The trip was riotous. Many passengers were incensed that four white men and a black woman were laughing and drinking together, and their displeasure pushed us toward silliness. I asked Liam to translate a Gaelic song that I had heard him sing a cappella. He said he'd sing it first. His clear tenor floated up over the heads of the already-irate passengers. The haunting beauty of the melody must have quelled some of the irritation, because no one asked Liam to shut up. . .

A Pledge to Rescue Our Youth
"you are the best we have"
by Maya Angelou

Saturday, July 26, 2008

What Eyes Lit Up Do

My wife read this to my son and me today as we were all riding in the car together:

I recently read an interview in which the Nobel Prize–winning novelist Toni Morrison was asked why she had become a great writer, what books she had read, what method she had used to structure her practice. She laughed and said, "Oh, no, that is not why I am a great writer. I am a great writer because when I was a little girl and walked into a room where my father was sitting, his eyes would light up. That is why I am a great writer. That is why. There isn't any other reason."

It's Donald Miller writing. So here's Toni Morison talking, accepting that Nobel Prize, with a parable, which I excerpt:

The systematic looting of language can be recognized by the tendency of its users to forgo its nuanced, complex, mid-wifery properties for menace and subjugation. Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence; does more than represent the limits of knowledge; it limits knowledge. Whether it is obscuring state language or the faux-language of mindless media; whether it is the proud but calcified language of the academy or the commodity driven language of science; whether it is the malign language of law-without-ethics, or language designed for the estrangement of minorities, hiding its racist plunder in its literary cheek - it must be rejected, altered and exposed. It is the language that drinks blood, laps vulnerabilities, tucks its fascist boots under crinolines of respectability and patriotism as it moves relentlessly toward the bottom line and the bottomed-out mind. Sexist language, racist language, theistic language - all are typical of the policing languages of mastery, and cannot, do not permit new knowledge or encourage the mutual exchange of ideas.

translatin' like: Clarence Jordan

This morning I read that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sent Clarence Jordan a very compassionate letter. You've got to be impressed with both people. Here's the letter. And here's where you can read Dr. Jordan's translating of much of the New Testament. His notes on translation inspired me to try. So reading Luke 12:41-48 anyway, I took a stab at it. Can you tell which is Jordan's and which is mine and which is Luke's?

“Massa,” continues Rocky, “You just makin’ this here story up for us? Or you tellin’ it for all them people?”

And the Master says,
“Who be da housekeeper ya just gotta’ believe, makin’ da rules of da home? Who got some deep sense? Who da masta’ leanin’ on for nursin’ his own an’ givin’ ‘em, at just THE right time, da wheat? It be da happy slave, da one da masta’ find doin’ da creatin’ stuff.

Yall want da unveilin’? Here go: she da one be gettin’ leaned on for all his doin’s.

Now s’pose there be da slave sayin’ deep in his heart sumpin’ like this?
‘It bin takin’ a good long time fa Massa ta git by here.’
S’pose he start beatin’ up da workin’ boys and girls? Suppose he start eatin’ right away, an’ drinkin’, an’ gettin’ drunk? Well, da slave’s masta’ goin’ come ‘round one day when he aint ‘spectin’ him. Aint goin’ know da hour. Da slave’s masta’ goin’ tear him up, leanin’ them parts he got left on nothin’ ‘cept them slaves he don’t no longer believe.

So ya gots da slave who aint know nothin’ his masta’ wish for and aint preparin’ or creatin’ much ‘long da lines of what he be wishin’. Lots a thrashin’s comin’ to him. An’ ya gots da one aint know nothin’. He be makin' a ruckus an’ just get them thrashin’s to spare.

All them people who been gettin’ lots a things, lots goin’ be sought from ‘em. And them leaned on for lots a things, goin’ get lots more things asked from ‘em.

εἶπεν δὲ ὁ Πέτρος κύριε πρὸς ἡμᾶς τὴν παραβολὴν ταύτην λέγεις ἢ καὶ πρὸς πάντας

καὶ εἶπεν ὁ κύριος
τίς ἄρα ἐστὶν ὁ πιστὸς οἰκονόμος ὁ φρόνιμος ὃν καταστήσει ὁ κύριος ἐπὶ τῆς θεραπείας αὐτοῦ τοῦ διδόναι ἐν καιρῷ τὸ σιτομέτριον μακάριος ὁ δοῦλος ἐκεῖνος ὃν ἐλθὼν ὁ κύριος αὐτοῦ εὑρήσει ποιοῦντα οὕτως

ἀληθῶς λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ἐπὶ πᾶσιν τοῖς ὑπάρχουσιν αὐτοῦ καταστήσει αὐτόν

ἐὰν δὲ εἴπῃ ὁ δοῦλος ἐκεῖνος ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὐτοῦ
χρονίζει ὁ κύριός μου ἔρχεσθαι
καὶ ἄρξηται τύπτειν τοὺς παῖδας καὶ τὰς παιδίσκας ἐσθίειν τε καὶ πίνειν καὶ μεθύσκεσθαι ἥξει ὁ κύριος τοῦ δούλου ἐκείνου ἐν ἡμέρᾳ ᾗ οὐ προσδοκᾷ καὶ ἐν ὥρᾳ ᾗ οὐ γινώσκει καὶ διχοτομήσει αὐτὸν καὶ τὸ μέρος αὐτοῦ μετὰ τῶν ἀπίστων θήσει

ἐκεῖνος δὲ ὁ δοῦλος ὁ γνοὺς τὸ θέλημα τοῦ κυρίου αὐτοῦ καὶ μὴ ἑτοιμάσας ἢ ποιήσας πρὸς τὸ θέλημα αὐτοῦ δαρήσεται πολλάς ὁ δὲ μὴ γνούς ποιήσας δὲ ἄξια πληγῶν δαρήσεται ὀλίγας

παντὶ δὲ ᾧ ἐδόθη πολύ πολὺ ζητηθήσεται παρ' αὐτοῦ καὶ ᾧ παρέθεντο πολύ περισσότερον αἰτήσουσιν αὐτόν

Rock said, "Sir, are you telling this Comparison just to us, or to everybody else, too?"
The Master said, "Well, who is the loyal and efficient employee whom his employer will put in charge of the payroll to see that everyone is promptly and accurately paid? Happy is that worker who, when the boss shows up, is doing a good job. I'm telling you a fact, he'll give him one promotion after another. But if that worker begins to say to himself, 'My boss will be late this morning,' and starts throwing his weight around and abusing those under him, then he goes out to get something to eat and a few beers, sure as everything his boss will show up just when he is least expected, and will chew him out and fire him.
"Now that worker who understands fully what his boss wants done and doesn't get busy and do the job, will have the book thrown at him. But the worker who didn't understand, even though he did what he shouldn't have, will get off light. The more one is given, the more is expected of him; the more somebody is entrusted with, the more he must account for.

Friday, July 25, 2008


Far From Ole's has been a blog a month now (Happy Birthday?) and has already gone into reruns (happy vacation!).

So rewind to the hilarious post Don’t Let the Door Hit ‘Ya Where the Good Lord Split ‘Ya. Charlotte confesses, "Okay, so I’m pretty much a rule follower, and in fact, things that anger me about others often boil down to them not following the rules..." And asks "Where do y’all come down on this issue, and do you practice what you preach?"

Great question. My answer? well, lessons I learned as a little kid (a fundamentalist-Preacher's kid):
  1. "Don't" means "the real fun is behind door number 1" even if you pay for it later in the behind.
  2. if you get to choose, choose "practice" (preaching always puts you to sleep).
Your turn to confess... (No, no Don't do it. Don't talk about yourself on a blog).

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What If: a Summary of My Dissertation (Story), so far

This dissertation offers the beginnings of a new and, I think, needed translation of an ancient Greek text into English. The text is the Rhetoric of Aristotle. This particular treatise has been translated at least nine different times, and I’ve looked at all of them and at Aristotle’s Greek. So what makes me want to try this again?

Well, I’ve been in grad school studying rhetoric where Aristotle’s this iconic figure and his Rhetoric is the book we’re all supposed to know and refer back to. From it, supposedly, we get the definition of “rhetoric.” We also get the definition of “enthymeme,” “logos,” “pathos,” “ethos,” “pistis,” “stasis,” and a whole host of such important things. Want to hear the definition of rhetoric? “Rhetoric is the antistrophos of dialectic.” Now, I’ve been reading Greek since undergrad school, about a quarter of a century now. And I’ve been to grad school before, for a Master oFarts in linguistics. Published and presented stuff internationally on research I did in other countries in other languages. I’ve been a college level writing instructor for more than two decades and have run English as a second language programs that long too. I can write simple, and simply, and clear. Did any of that prepare me for “rhetoric” and Aristotle? No.

Aristotle is a sexist and a bigot. He’s obsessed with animal sex, and he puts males over females. He puts logic over rhetoric, whatever that is. And if he had his way, none of what he wrote in “pure Greek” would ever get corrupted in translation.

So in grad school now we read Aristotle and his Rhetoric in translation. Except most of the time these translators just follow Aristotle’s logic faithfully. They don’t really want to translate; they just gloss over the Greek letters with their English alphabet. They also gloss over the fact that Aristotle writes women down and out of his texts. He’s got a daughter, and had one wife and then a concubine. He sees them all as botched, as reasons to watch the animals more. One of the women, finally, gives him a son. He writes a book of “Ethics” that he names after that boy. Won’t name his wives or his daughter. Why?

Now I’m finding that women are rightly pretty pissed at that. I am too. The whole idea that women are somehow lower than men, by Nature, is an affront to Mother nature. My wife and my son and my daughters now call me a feminist. My youngest daughter asks why all people aren’t feminists. Exactly.

Except there are men like Aristotle, men like his translators, men like my own dad. They see translation as following the original intention of the author and his text. Some women “submit” to that whole notion too. The text. Only problem is they think feminists are too shrill when calling this text, “phallogocentric.” A French feminist (woman) translates that word from a Brazilian Portuguese speaking feminist (woman) and lets an English feminist (man) with a Polish name make it English. (Hey, I learned not to “name-drop” in grad school, so email me privately if you want to hear my thoughts about the fab Hélène Cixous, the amazing Clarice Lispector, and the incredible Eric Prenowitz). They make “phal-” from Aristotle’s φαλλικὰ (“ph-a-l-l-ika”); “logo,” from Aristotle’s λόγος (or “l-o-g-os”) which he himself makes (by) his λογική (or “l-o-g-ikē” aka LOGIC). The centric thing? Well, that’s from Aristotle’s κεντρική (or “k-e-n-tr-ikē”). The Portuguese speaking Brazillian feminst (woman) calls all of that Aristotle’s “system of inflexible last judgment.” Icky stuff.

So, I’m writing a dissertation. It’s part and parcel of some system. Can’t figure out yet which one. If I had to write so systematically, I’d probably start chapter 3 (as I did a week or so ago in a draft, this shitty one that Ann Lamott told me to write) with a quote from an American feminist (woman). I read this for my qualifying exams, once upon a time. It goes like this:

According to Aristotle’s aesthetics, a narrative must be arranged according to some organizing principle. . . . Aristotle also offers us the classificatory system of binaries to help us order our stories, to order our experiences, to order ourselves. . . .But perhaps Woman can (un)speak in the unthought, not-yet-thought, non-spaces produced by alternative paradigms, by new idioms, by paralogical and paratactical and, thus, illegitmate discourses. What . . . if our narrative had no syllogistic, metonymic, linear or triangular structure? . . . What if Truth were a Woman . . . what then? Cixous replies, Then all stories would have to be told differently. . . .

A Meditation on the Sea

In a week, summer school's out. My family and I are headed to the beach to a cottage there to hang out with good friends. I'm not even going to think about my dissertation (yeah, right). Trying to figure out what novel I'm going to take with. Know what conversations we're going to have. Imaging all the play, some without words . . .

Anyway, all this looking ahead while things are so crazy makes me love one essay. It's Phyllis Chesler's A Meditation on the Sea. She begins. . .

When in doubt or trouble, but also in times of joy, I always return to the sea: to put things in perspective. In America, only the elements seem eternal, and as such, afford splendid relief. Elements have the power to transport me out of my self. Perhaps the sea is my Confessional. Always, I come down smelling of the city and secular anxiety, grimed over with it. The sea washes all that away, I am reborn in her salty beginning.

I meant to go to France, but when the trip fell through, I found myself driving out to the Hamptons, on New York’s Long Island, a place that, for me, is far more than merely “trendy.” I’ve written books here; the place is my own splendid, shining, American Riviera. I need only squint, slightly, and I can see Monet’s Mediterranean: lush green foliage, dazzling white light, sails on the water, umbrellas on the beach, the human enterprise—sandy, wet, impossibly hopeful.

Before I see her, I can hear her, smell her, taste her in the air; she is misty-salty on my tongue, pleasantly rank in my nostrils, a rhythmic pounding in my ears. It never fails. I am always slightly overwhelmed each and every time I first catch sight of the sea, it is so heart-stoppingly enormous and yet utterly familiar; it brings one back to childhood summers—no, to a world far older than that: to the very origin of our species. When we left, we took the ocean with us; it is in our every cell, we are, as biologist Carl Safina writes in his recent book Song to the Blue Sea, “soft vessels of sea water…70 percent of our bodies is water, the same percent that covers the Earth’s surface. We are wrapped around an ocean within.”

In America, the elements remind me that life is short, and therefore precious. Only the elements truly comfort me. Sky, sea, stars, all were here long before human beings first built campfires; with any luck, they may still be here at the end of time. The elements test your mettle against natural forces. The sea reminds us that we have to take what comes as it comes, that some disasters cannot be avoided; that luck or fate is everything, but skill and courage count too. Especially, expect the unexpected and prepare: to ride it out, pray, die, live—and live hard.

and Chesler continues . . .

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Visitor

This morning, I was the visitor observing a newly hired instructor and her ESL class here on campus. People, women, men, young, not so young, from Afghanistan, India, Italy, Iraq, S. Korea, Mexico, Nepal, and the U.S were learning from and talking with one another. And a few days ago, I joined two other classes and instructors for their field trip out to eat Chinese food in Fort Worth, Texas; I sat and visited with two from Vietnam and two from Iraq (recounting with them my having lived as a boy, a visitor, in the one war torn country, Vietnam, and hearing for the first time of experiences of the tearing of war in the other country, Iraq). I know these are not normal kinds of gatherings in the world, and I always feel quite fortunate to be among so many so different joined together in peace, in common causes and new friendships. (And, for some reason now, I recall Phyllis Chesler's review of Thomas McCarthy's The Visitor. Sometimes a good film is all we have, and sometimes there really can be more.)



He llorado los días perdidos
cuando no logré nada de importancia.
Pero no últimamente.

Ultimamente, bajo la marea lunar
del océano de un mujer, busco
mi propio cambio en el mar:
transformar granos de arena en ojos humanos.
Sueño depierta después del desayuno
mientas el espíritu de huevos y tostadas
teje un largo de huseso
fino como espiga de trigo.
Más tarde, mientras aplazo desmalezar el jardin
haré dos manos
que cuiden cien jardines.

Necesito exactamente diez lunas llenas
para cumplir la promesa animal.
Me ofrezco, sin santidad, pero
transmutada de todas maneras
por el milagro más simple.
No soy nada en este mundo fuera de las cosas
que hace una mujer.
Pero aquí están los ojos que una vez fueron perlas.
Y aquí, un porvenir donde antes no hubo nada.


I have mourned lost days
when I accomplished nothing of importance.
But not lately.

Lately, under the lunar tide
of a woman's ocean, I work
my own sea-change:
turning grains of sand to human eyes.
I daydream after breakfast
while the spirit of egg and toast
knits together a length of bone
as fine as wheatstalk.
Later, as I postpone weeding the garden
I will make two hands
that may tend a hundred gardens.

I need ten full moons exactly
for keeping the animal promise.
I offer myself up: unsaintly, but
transmuted anyway
by the most ordinary miracle.
I am nothing in this world beyond the things
one woman does.
But here are eyes that once were pearls.
And here is a second chance where there was none.

by Barbara Kingsolver and Rebecca Cartes
Another America / Otra América

Monday, July 21, 2008

Modern Complementarianism

Conversation with My Youngest

A: So has no one else translated Aristotle's book?

me: Oh no, lots of people have; but just not being completely aware that he said "girls are messed up boys." Feminists don't really like what Aristotle said.

A: So pretty much everybody's a feminist, right?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Declaration of Sentiments for 160 Years

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) addresses the first woman's rights convention, held in the Wesleyan Methodist chapel in Seneca Falls, New York, July 19, 1848.
Courtesy Corbis-Bettman.

This Sunday, July 20, will mark the 160th anniversary of the signing [and reading] of the Declaration of Sentiments at the 1848 Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York. Most historians choose to mark the beginning of the organized American feminist movement from this moment, which had its antecedents in the abolitionist and temperance struggles that had begun earlier in the nineteenth century.

Mary Sidney Herbert, translating

The first English translator of Aristotle's Rhetoric in 1685, writes the Preface to King James II and VII. There is reference to Sir Phillip Sidney and to "his sister, the Countess of Pembroke." The one is praised for his rule and his military accomplishment, the other for being "the ornament of her age":
Accomplifhments, which you your felf fo confpicuoufly inherit by a long defcent of Famous Anceftry. Story, that near will dye, admires Ireland once govern’d with applaufe by Great and Prudent Sidney; no lefs Famous for the overthrow of Shane, Oneal and all his Rebel Crew. Nor can Time deface the Memory of Sr. Philip, of whom Thuanus, Juvenis virtute, ingenii foleria & eruditione preftans; nor of his Sifter the Countefs of Pembook, once the Ornament of her Age.
I'm not going to say much more here. Below is a snippet from Mary Sidney's translation of Psalm 139, in comparison with the Geneva Bible, the King James I Bible, and the original Hebrew and the first Greek translation. See how different the translating by Mary Sidney Herbert! (And note that Robin P. Williams as done a fair amount of research speculating that Mary Sidney wrote the works attributed to William Shakespeare. See

Friday, July 18, 2008

PostScript: BarBQ Sauce

A couple more (of my) purely objective observations while eating lunch w/ my brother:

In Cowtown Texas USA at around 11:38am Central on Thursday July 17 2008, the Railhead was packed. Packed, that is, with us EuroAmerican men, around 100 of us. There were just 3 EuroAmerican women, each accompanied by men. In the open kitchen were 5 HispanicAmerican men cooking, slicing, and serving up. The 1 cashier was a Latina. The 2 bus"boys" and 2 bartenders were EuroAmerican women. There were 0 [zero] persons of African, Asian, or MiddleEastern descent.

Now I'm not asking Why there's such contemporary segregation, or Who's choices have made for such a "melting pot" in the Bible Belt. Let's just let the former slaves and the present feminists pre-occupy themselves with such subjective, perhaps imagined, and alltogether tasteless questions. Ah'm just lickin' the BBQ sauce off my fingers.

Oh, and I'm not reading any more of Carolyn Osiek, whose final paragraph in "The Feminist and the Bible: Hermenuetical Alternatives" goes like this:

"In biblical times [Thank God for the good ol' days, when we could eat out and git served as we liked],

patriarchy and androcentrism were not seen as sinful but as necessary for maintaining order [We see nothin' like that here: pass the ribs and sauce please, and a napkin].

With consciousness now raised, the primary hermeneutical task is a redefinition of order in human society [Redefinition is for them libs only, Ah'm sure],

a hermeneutic already applied in the case of slavery [Can't we just git past bringin' this up all the time? That war's done been fought]

currently being applied on the issue of the necessity of deterrence for the preservation of peace [Hey, ain't this why we're proud 'Mericans fightin' terror in Iraq?].

There is no reason to treat the evil of patriarchy any less seriously [hmmm, I wuz thinkin' John 'n Sarah 'n Hegel had a better plan--can't we all just git along?]."

[Sorry for them interpolations here; ya know, them biased opinions just cain't go unchecked!]

(Y)our Traditions & Connections

Had the absolute joy of eating Texas barbecue yesterday at lunch in Fort Worth with my brother who's visiting briefly from London, where he lives and works. (He's off to Paris this weekend for a three-day meeting; the food may be better most places in France but it's just not the same as at the rustic Railhead joint here.)

We talked all the "traditionally" taboo subjects: sex, death, religion, American politics, and family secrets that have tried to stay suppressed. And we laughed. together. (Blogs may be a better place to put "traditionally" questionable stuff out there but it's wonderful when you can speak some of the same languages with a kid who you've grown up with).

This morning I hear Jane telling the story of her "story of hope, justice and love; a story the text of which is continually being torn up and scattered, rewritten and writen against - but a story which I still try to piece back together, make sense out of, on my own and with others; coping all the time with maybe only perceiving fragments of meaning." (And I'm struck by how Carolyn Osiek has written something very similar, something that's going into the dissertation draft:

[I]t is my conviction that the illusive entity that we call “tradition” is the all-encompassing movement that contains within itself the biblical text and the factors leading to its production. It contains as well the reflective interpretation of that articulation in subsequent generations, including our own, as persons in concretized life situations bring the text to bear on their own experience and, no less important, their experience to bear on the text. In other words, tradition is not a boundary but an open road that connects us with the past and points us in the direction of the future [pardon my, JKG emphases here]).

Then I imagine you reading this blog, yes you. (And you remind me of Nancy Mairs who says something out loud, thinking about her daughter and her writing and what that means for connections and tradition and us. together:

"Publication of any sort is an intrinsically social act, 'I' having no reason to speak aloud unless I posit 'you' there listening; but your presence is especially vital if I am seeking not to disclose the economic benefits of fish farming in Zäire, or to recount the imaginary tribulations of an adulterous doctor's wife in nineteenth-century France, but to reconnect myself—now so utterly transformed by events unlike any I've experienced before as to seem a stranger even to myself—to the human community....lending materiality to my readerly ideal, transform monologue into intercourse.")

Thursday, July 17, 2008

What YOU Make of this Blog

Stefan's blog is having a birthday. Dave's is having a gender-identity crisis. (Go say Happy Birthday and go help with the confusion. Go on.)

This blog of mine is trying (unsuccessfully) to stay quiet while I start drafting page three of the fourth of five dissertation chapters.

But since it's talking (again) and since you're listening (again)...

this blog had it's happy first anniversary back in February...

and its most-read post looks like this...
This is a wordle (HT Lingamish) of the most-read post on this blog.

So what's the most-read post on this blog? Well, YOU, you readers have decided that (not the blog itself or, heaven forbid, its writer/s). (And we do say, Thanks for stopping by and Thank you so much for commenting from time to time.)

Here's your best baker's dozen, your top-most-read posts of this blog since it's happy birthday:
  1. Sexism: A Multiple Choice (Quiz)

  2. Are We Ready for a Woman President?

  3. The Resounding Bible (Women)

  4. Same Kind of Different As Me

  5. Possessions and Positions of the Translator

  6. Aristotle's Sexism: the Two Best Contemporary Resources

  7. Jobes on Better Bibles

  8. translation method: better Bibles

  9. Oh my! Opinions are subjective. Oh my!

  10. Our English Hosts Their ελληνικοις

  11. Women Influencing (Aristotle)

  12. Suffering Suffixes: "-ική" and "-ic"

  13. Why (You Can’t Ask Me Why) I Am A Feminist: Some Frank Thoughts

Bloggin in 1969 (when other things are goin on)

Ha ha world

Every day I used to write you a letter

But you never wrote back

And you never made me feel any better

Always sittin’ here frettin’ and gettin’ confused

Half-way desperate for a headline of hope in the news

When the telephone rang

I spilled it all over my sweater

(oh yeah)

The call was for me

And I answered the phone in the kitchen

(ha ha world, ha ha world)

But the room was too hot

I forgot I was cookin’ my chicken

(ha ha world, ha ha world)

I was burning like Hell

But the stove wasn’t on

Then the voice on the line says,

“The chicken is done.”

The receiver goes dead,

And it honks while the plot starts to thicken

(oh Oh, yeah, AHHH)

Would I have hung up the phone

Had I known the whole room would start swayin’?

(ha ha world, ha ha world)

I was instantly cold

And I knew why my life wasn’t payin’

(ha ha world, ha ha world)

I had money, and fame,

But my wealth wasn’t wise.

What good are the coins

on a dead man’s eyes?

And the ringing of chimes in my head said,

“It’s time to start prayin’”

(oh Oh, yeah, AHHH)

I’ve been sittin’ here prayin’

And layin’ up treasures in heaven.

(ha ha world, ha ha world)

I was home and the front door was locked

When the clock struck eleven.

(ha ha world, ha ha world)

I heard the bride outside yell,


Though the sun was still up

The twelfth hour had come.

The Bible says,

“Without a vision the people perish.”

Monday, July 14, 2008

officially down, but actually pretty high

This blog is still officially down while I still officially draft my dissertation. Last week, my dissertation committee played musical chairs. (Officially, there is a new committee chair and a new member, who I'll officially meet this week. Oh, and my new chair is a blogger, but shhh, no one's supposed to know, even though she got me into blogging herself, once upon a time, unofficially of course.) This week, I'm happier.

So this post is not official. I'm officially not reading anyone else's blogs either. So don't read this blog or this post.

You'll just overhear that I had absolutely my happiest day ever yesterday, spending time with my best friend and her children (who are my son and two daughters) laughing and enjoying our differences around an unnecessarily drawn out meal together followed by sno cones in the Texas heat. Damn heat! Stupid dissertation. They all call it, "the thing."

You'll just listen in on me confessing that I think Iyov's post on the need for multiple voices in translation is one of the best statements I've eavesdropped in on in a long time. And he's labeled it post 1, so I'm going back unofficially.

You'll find me reading and pasting in for my dissertating stuff from Krista Ratcliffe, whose stuff is sponsoring my friend Jason's dissertation. Here's the quotation he sent me from her unofficially:

Defining rhetorical listening as a trope of interpretive invention not only emphasizes the discursive nature of rhetorical listening but also plays with the etymology of the term trope as “a turning.”

For rhetorical listening turns hearing (a reception process) into invention (a production process), thus complicating the reception/production opposition and inviting rhetorical listening into the time-honored tradition of rhetorical invention.

Second, rhetorical listening turns the realm of hearing into a larger space, one encompassing all discursive forms, not just oral ones.

Third, rhetorical listening turns intent back on the listener, focusing on listening with intent to hear troubled identifications, instead of listening for intent of an author.

Fourth, rhetorical listening turns the meaning of the text into something larger than itself, certainly larger than the intent of the speaker/writer, in that rhetorical listening locates a text as part of larger cultural logics.

And fifth, rhetorical listening turns rhetoric's traditional focus on the desires of the speaker/writer into a harmonics and/or dissonance of the desires of both the speaker/writer and the listener.

[dear eavesdropper, guess what book that's from, and what page? If this were an official post, we might talk to each other. I might say something like "rhetorical listening is feminist rhetorical translating," and you might laugh or try to argue. Then, I'd say the same thing with a Texas twang, then a British air, then you'd see that the official names need translation, and we'd both laugh, all of us. I'm officially off some where else writing, drafting shittily, as if I've overheard Ann Lamott's voices well enough. Well, enough then.]

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Blessings on you

οἱ ὀφθαλμοὶ οἱ βλέποντες ἃ βλέπετε

λέγω γὰρ ὑμῖν
ὅτι πολλοὶ προφῆται καὶ βασιλεῖς
ἠθέλησαν ἰδεῖν ἃ ὑμεῖς βλέπετε
καὶ οὐκ εἶδαν
καὶ ἀκοῦσαι ἃ ἀκούετε
καὶ οὐκ ἤκουσαν

I read the above this morning and thought of Janet Porter and her son David Ker. A translation:

Blessings on you:
for your eyeing, for your watching what you’ve watched.

Here’s a statement of mine to you:
Many interpreters of god(s) and many rulers of humans
wished to see what you’ve watched
but haven’t seen it
to hear what you’ve heard
but haven’t heard it.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Cyber-Psalm 40

My wife and I ate lunch today with friends who are very close friends of David Ker's. They told us that his mom, Janet Porter, passed away and that he's in transit to the States. You blogger friends of Dave's will know that too. Our condolences to him and his family. (He, my favorite blogger, and some of my other blogger friends advised me well a few days ago to give blogging a rest so as to get after my dissertation. Stupid dissertation.)

Anyway, here's David's post, Cyber-Psalm 40, from yesterday (and other things he's said about his mom recently).

Mom is gone.
Such silence now.
After so much laughter.

Still here.
Wondering and wishing.
Now only to remember.

Heavenly laughter.
Not to linger in pain.
So why am I crying?

Without you.
Living like you loved life.
Loving the Savior who saved you.