Friday 30 December 2011

James-ism: on growing up

My four-year-old son was playing with one of his friends here in Pasadena and she asked him, 'Jamie, what are you going to be when you grow up?'

He looked at her curiously and said, 'I'll be James.'

'No,' she said, 'I know what your name will be, but what will you be?'

But he was quite adamant. 'I'll just be James.'

Tuesday 27 December 2011

Best books (films, music, TV, websites) of 2011

OK folks, it must be time for a round-up of some highlights from the past year – mainly books, but also music, TV, films, and websites:
  • Denys Turner, Julian of Norwich, Theologian (Yale University Press). An exciting theological reading of Julian of Norwich, collapsing the divide between mysticism and systematic theology.
  • Lewis Ayres, Augustine and the Trinity (Cambridge University Press). A deep reading and thoroughgoing reevaluation of Augustine's De Trinitate.
  • Ralph Wood, Chesterton: The Nightmare Goodness of God (Baylor University Press). An exploration of the darker side of Chesterton's religious imagination.
  • Geoffrey Rees, The Romance of Innocent Sexuality (Cascade Books). A sort of meta-critique of the contemporary sexuality debates, and a retrieval of the good old Augustinian doctrine of original sin.
Theological memoir: 
  • Margaret Miles, Augustine and the Fundamentalist's Daughter (Cascade Books). One of my all-round favourites of the past year – a delightful autobiographical narrative that follows the structure of the 13 books of Augustine's Confessions. More than an autobiography, it's really an autobiographical commentary on the Confessions. I read this on the way home from San Francisco after AAR, and it reminded me why theology matters.
  • Eberhard Busch, Meine Zeit mit Karl Barth: Tagebuch 1965-1968 (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht). Eberhard Busch's diaries from the last years of Barth's life are crammed full with insight and incident. An enormous contribution to Barth studies.
  • Eugene Peterson The Pastor: A Memoir (HarperOne). I'm awarding this one preemptively, since I haven't actually read it yet. I've dipped into it, and it looks like a beautiful memoir – I hope to get to it soon.
Theology translations: 
  • Erik Peterson, Theological Tractates, translated by Michael Hollerich (Stanford University Press). A very important contribution to English-language theology. This collection includes some of Peterson's most brilliant and influential essays.
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Theological Education Underground, 1937-1940, translated by Victoria Barnett (Fortress Press). Letters, journal entries, sermons, and lecture notes from Bonhoeffer's time in the Finkenwalde seminary. As the young folks say: epic.
  • Sergius Bulgakov, Relics and Miracles: Two Theological Essays, translated by Boris Jakim (Eerdmans). This sounds like a quirky topic – but actually, this little book offers penetrating reflection on the doctrine of creation, the theology of the body, and a theology of transcendence and materiality. Definitely one of the most profound pieces of doctrinal writing that I read all year. Light-years ahead of most of the tosh that gets written about the doctrine of creation.
Edited collections:
Popular theology:
  • Rob Bell, Love Wins (HarperOne). I've recommended this book to several people, and I've talked to people who found it enormously helpful. In spite of all the kerfuffle surrounding it, it's really an excellent little book. Even my wife read it – twice! No theologian could ask for more.
  • N. T. Wright, Simply Jesus (HarperOne). I haven't read this yet – but again, it looks like just the kind of book to recommend to people. It's a shame we don't have more theologians who can write in this kind of attractive plain speech.
Reference work:
  • Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending (Knopf). A tender, hurtful meditation on time and memory.
  • Téa Obreht, The Tiger's Wife (Random House). A spell-binding first novel from this young Serbian writer. It's a delightful story, told in gorgeous prose. First sentence: "In my earliest memory, my grandfather is bald as a stone and he takes me to see the tigers."
  • José Saramago, Cain (Houghton Mifflin). Translated posthumously, this is Saramago's irreverent and funny re-telling of the Pentateuch. It's not one of his best books, but it's – well, its Saramago.
Children's novel (chosen by my daughter):
  • Clare Vanderpool, Moon Over Manifest (Yearling). My daughter loved this book so much that I've started reading it too. Here's a few lines from the first chapter: "The seven-forty-five evening train was going to be right on time.... Being a paying customer this time, with a full-fledged ticket, I didn't have to jump off, and I knew that the preacher would be waiting for me. But as anyone worth his salt knows, it's best to get a look at a place before it gets a look at you."
  • Francis Webb, Francis Webb: Collected Poems (UNSW Press). A major publishing event, collecting the luminous work of this tragic, strangely neglected religious poet. Read it, and you'll understand why Sir Herbert Read called Webb "one of the most unjustly neglected poets of the century."
  • Kevin Hart, Morning Knowledge (University of Notre Dame Press). Poems of grief, loss, faith, and love, surrounding the death of a father.
Literary criticism:
  • Harold Bloom, The Anatomy of Influence: Literature as a Way of Life (Yale University Press). I'll be the first to admit that Bloom can be more than a little annoying. But his great virtue is his enormous – really, his megalomaniacal – love of reading. And that infectious love comes booming through in this boisterous swansong about a life lived through literature.
  • Nathaniel Philbrick, Why Read Moby-Dick? (Viking). Quirky, concise, lucid, brimming with energy and personality – and it's all about Moby-Dick. What more could you want?
Best fine edition:
  • Oscar Wilde, Salomé: A Tragedy in One Act, illustrated by Barry Moser (University of Virginia Press). A lavishly produced book, with Barry Moser's wonderfully dark and vivid engravings.
Art book:
Best new book series:
  • Princeton University Press's Lives of Great Religious Books. What a great concept for a book series! So far I've only read Garry Wills' biography of Augustine's Confessions – and it was a real treat, especially the opening chapter on the practice of writing in antiquity.
Best older books I read this year:
  • Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain (1948; Mariner). It's true – somehow I'd never got around to reading this before. What a book! What a writer! What a life! Not so much a life as a one-man Broadway show, a runaway steam train, a carnival of sin and grace. Absolutely tremendous.
  • Mark Van Doren, Shakespeare (1939; New York Review Books Classics). One of the most beautiful, precise, elegantly crafted pieces of literary criticism I've ever read.
  • Tom Waits, Bad As Me. Nobody is as bad as Tom Waits. Or as good.
  • PJ Harvey, Let England Shake. A blistering, rich, eloquent, disturbing provocation about warfare and the violence underlying contemporary society.
  • Fleet Foxes, Helplessness Blues. Fleet Foxes: enough said.
  • We Are Augustines, Rise Ye Sunken Ships. A pretty compelling rock debut. I discovered them by accident because I thought it had something to do with Saint Augustine. But I kept on listening long after I realised my mistake.
  • Australian: Cloudstreet (Showcase). Wonderful mini-series about two working-class families sharing a house in Perth. It's a poignant family drama punctuated by moments of magic realism. Geoff Morrell's Lester Lamb is one of the grandest TV characters I've seen in years – a character of Dickensian proportions. (Honourable mention: ABC's The Slap, another excellent Aussie series.)
  • American: Boardwalk Empire (HBO). Only halfway through this at the moment, but I'm loving it – a smart, classy series about organised crime during 1920s Prohibition.
  • British: The Hour (BBC). Utterly gripping edge-of-your-sofa suspense about a 1950s current affairs show. Ben Whishaw is captivating as the slovenly genius Freddie Lyons.
  • Australian: Brendan Fletcher, Mad Bastards. A raw piece of storytelling about three generations of indigenous Australians. The film used non-professional actors from indigenous communities, and the result feels gritty and confrontingly authentic.
  • American: Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life. This beautifully filmed cosmic/domestic epic is a sort of visual commentary on the Book of Job, a cinematic theodicy in answer to the dark Manichean theology of Lars von Trier's Antichrist.
  • European: Lars von Trier, Melancholia. The end of the world has never been lovelier.
  • Religion site: ABC Religion & Ethics. Scott Stephens' work on this site has catapulted public discourse about theology and religion to completely new levels of depth and sophistication.  
  • Innovative site: Bibledex. A video for every book of the Bible. Why didn't someone think of it sooner?
  • Blogs: Women in Theology and An und für sich. These team-blogs have produced some of the most fruitful and sustained discussions about theology in the past year. I've learned so many interesting new things from these discussions. When I only have time to lurk at a couple of blogs, those tend to be the ones I go to – and then I head over to Jason's relentlessly productive Per Crucem ad Lucem.

Sunday 25 December 2011

Thirty: a Christmas sermon

A Christmas sermon by Kim Fabricius

This is my 30th Christmas at Bethel. (I know: given my youthful good-looks, it’s hard to believe…)  In preparation, I’ve been looking at my previous 29 sermons.

On my first Christmas (which some of you will remember … Yeah, right!), I focussed on two specifics of the message of the angels to the shepherds, highlighting the personal and the now: “To you … this day …” I named names – Ernie, Gareth, Pat, …, and said, today, December 25th 1982, the good news strikes again: “A Saviour is born!  Your Saviour is born!!”  Very in-your-face.

A year later I did a Patrick Moore (today it would be BBC pin-up Professor Brian Cox) and took you star-gazing.  “Lift your heads!” I said.  “There’s another world out there that has flashed into our world like the star the wise men saw and followed, leaving their familiar ecology, recklessly risking everything in their passionate hunt for the holy, for the real, (in T. S. Eliot’s words) “no longer at ease here in the old dispensation.”  Will you raise your gaze from the flatlands of 24/7 and follow that star on a journey of faith into the New Year?  Very get-up-and-go.

Then, in 1984, I deployed a visual aid.  I borrowed a shopping trolley from the International (which became Spar, which has become Sainsbury’s) and strolled up and down the aisle filling it with the presents you brought to the service.  So full, in fact, that they covered the child’s seat – which was precisely my point: in all the clutter of our lives, no room for the child.  But – more – God is a God who “makes room” – that’s what the Hebrew word for “salvation” literally means – “roominess”.  “So make room for the Christ-child!” I exclaimed, as I cleared the seat in the trolley.  What a clever-clogs I thought I was!

In 1985, it was the occasion for a word-play.  Huge letters Blu-Tacked to the backs of chairs set up at the front: “GOD IS NOWHERE”.  Such, I said, is the claim of atheism.  But if you take the word “NOWHERE” – and I took the word “NOWHERE” – and break it after the “W” – and I broke it after the “W” – well, presto!: “GOD IS NOWHERE” becomes “GOD IS NOW HERE”, the Christmas claim.  Neat, huh?

In 1986, I got scholarly.  Mary, according to Luke 2:19, “remembered”, or “treasured”, all the things the shepherds had told her.  But the original Greek actually means “kept them in good condition”.  Our toys will break, our jumpers will wear, or jewellery will tarnish, but, I said, God will always keep Jesus as good as new.  So getting up for Greek class at 8:30 in Oxford, I thought, was worth it after all!

That’s my first 5 years here.  Only 25 to go…  Okay, I know, at this rate it will be Boxing Day before I finish!  So suffice it to say that, in subsequent years, among other things …

I’ve used a Christmas card showing Santa in Australia riding Rudolf the red-nosed wallaby, to contextualise the good news, to earth it wherever you happen to live.

I’ve done a reflection on “Christmas is dynamite”, Jesus as “an explosion of humanity”: handle this kid in the cot with care, for he will grow up to be the man from Nazareth who lives very dangerously – and he will call us to follow.

I’ve told you about the 4½ foot-high door in the Church of the Holy Nativity in Bethlehem, and said that we have to become very small, like a child, if we want to enter the kingdom of God.

I’ve done a meditation on Jesus the “disarming” child who couldn’t care less about our nationality or sexuality or theological correctness, who “reaches out, unquestioningly, to your elemental humanity, desiring only your tenderness, moist like cattle breath, warm like straw.”

I’ve exploited Harry Potter mania, suggesting that J. K. Rowling is quite heavily reliant on the story of Jesus for her magical epic drama – which isn’t nearly as good as the original.

I’ve made up a meeting of the IMF – that’s the Incarnational Management Forum – imagining what such a focus group might come up with for Christmas – and, of course, getting it all wrong by turning Christmas into a summit meeting of the world’s power brokers.  You can imagine the mess!

I’ve done a send-up on “Round Robin” Christmas letters, imagining what Mary might write for Hello magazine with all its razzmatazz celebrity junk: “Joseph is an amAAAzing partner, the birth was AWEsome, and three Kings gave us LOTS of bling-bling, while some shepherds sang ‘Hark! the Harrods Angels sing’.”

I’ve asked if you’re good at remembering important dates, pointed to dates we all seem to remember – great ones like the release of Nelson Mandela, terrible ones like 9/11 – but concluded that there is no day like Christmas Day for a world-changing event – apart, of course, from the Good Friday it anticipates, crib and cross cut from the same wood.

I’ve deployed Dr Seuss’ classic tale How the Grinch Stole Christmas? to advance the claim that, in fact, Christmas is un-nickable, that we are safe and secure in Christ, the one who never treated others as rivals, never acted in self-protection, lived a life of dispossession, not accumulation.  If you can’t buy or sell love, you certainly can’t steal it.

I’ve shocked some people by proposing that, given the rather odd, indeed preposterous way the Christmas story unfolds, what with weird Babylonian astrologers, and shepherds who hear music in the sky, and a stable of a maternity ward – I proposed that, by the world’s standards, frankly, God is an idiot.

Finally, last year – “Land the plane!” I can hear Angie thinking! – I mocked the fashionable obsession with technology in worship, insisting that Christmas is God’s “Powerless Point Presentation”, God’s coming in the weakness and vulnerability of a neonate to counter and critique the world’s wowing us with the state-of-the-art.

So 29 years of annually looking for a different angle, a new gimmick, a catchy phrase to preach the Good News of Christmas.  But really – as if the Christmas story needs a re-write!  As if the Christmas message needs spin!  As if I could re-market the meaning of Christmas, “new and improved”!  O Kim, Kim, Kim – what a jerk!!

Listen!  A simple story that unlocks the hidden treasures of the universe, addresses the deepest desire of our hearts, and fills us with wonder and joy.  The mystery of the world turns out to be the reality of God, and the reality of God turns out to be a little human being. Homer, Shakespeare, Dickens, Tolstoy, all the great storytellers – they can all but grandly gesture to the simple story of Jesus in Luke.  So this year let not the sermon interpret the story, let the story interpret the sermon.  Yes, listen …: “In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus …” [Luke 2:1-20].

Saturday 24 December 2011

Audio: Bruce McCormack's lectures on election

Thanks to Jason for noting that Bruce McCormack's recent Kantzer Lectures are now available in audio:

The God Who Graciously Elects: 2011 Kantzer Lectures

1. Is the Reformation Over? Reflections on the Place of the Doctrine of God in Evangelical Theology Today

2. From the One God to the Trinity: The Creation of the Orthodox Understanding of God

3. The Great Reversal: From the Economy of God to the Trinity in Modern Theology

4. The God Who Reveals Himself: The Mystery of the Trinity in the New Testament

5. Which Christology?  Refining the Economic Basis of the Christian Doctrine of God

6. The Processions Contain the Missions: Reconstructing the Doctrine of an Immanent Trinity

7. The Being of God as Gift and Grace: On Freedom and Necessity, Aseity and the Divine 'Attributes'

Sunday 18 December 2011

We hang our heads in shame and guilt

A hymn by Kim Fabricius
(Tune: Mit Freuden zart)

We hang our heads in shame and guilt
for ruthless exploitation:
we heat the earth and watch it wilt
for capital and nation.
In pitiless pursuit of oil
we poison air and sea and soil –
the lords of de-creation.

“Have mercy on us, Lord!” we plead,
but is it false confession?
We mask misdeeds, we gild our greed,
as peace we spin aggression.
We’re skilful at the apt excuse,
and the dark arts of word-abuse –
the truth is in recession.

O God, this is our world of vice,
come, judge us, test us, try us;
though we deny you, Jesus Christ,
Deliverer, don’t deny us;
break down the selves in which we hide,
evict our vanity and pride –
O Spirit, occupy us!

Thursday 15 December 2011

The song: a short story

After dinner he felt so happy that he went into the other room and wrote a song, full of small words of simple gladness. When it was finished he brought it to her and said, Look, I wrote you a song.

She said, All this time you were so silent, I thought you must be mad at me, I thought you must be brooding, I thought you no longer loved me, I thought you were all alone, I thought you might be thinking of someone else.

He said, But I only think of you.

When she sat down to read the song, she was silent a long time while her heart within her grew glad and boundless as the heart of a child. Watching her carefully from the corner of his eye, he wondered if it was his fault that she had suddenly grown so quiet, so sullen and so subdued, if he had done something to offend her, if she still loved him, if she had ever really loved him, if she was thinking of somebody else, if she was all alone in her thoughts, alone beside him in the pale lamplight with the song of his heart in her hands.

Sunday 11 December 2011

Karl Barth for beginners

No doubt about it, when it comes to theology Charlie Barth was a bit of a genius. Trying to get your head around even a few of his ideas is no mean feat: if you're not careful it has been known to induce migraine, vertigo, religious conversion, or even doctoral studies.

So to help you out, here's a quick colloquial abridgement of Barth's whole theological career:
  • Romans commentary (early 1920s): God judges
  • Göttingen dogmatics (mid 1920s): God speaks
  • Anselm book (1930): God knows
  • Church Dogmatics I (1930s): God gives
  • Church Dogmatics II (1940s): God loves
  • Church Dogmatics III (1940s-50s): God blesses
  • Church Dogmatics IV (1950s-60s): God befriends
  • Church Dogmatics V (never written): God heals 
As you can tell, old Charlie Barth wasn't a fox, he was a hedgehog. He knew only one big thing – that God is God, and that the word "God" is a good word.

Wednesday 7 December 2011

The icon of theophany: one lingering glance

Then suddenly, like an axe laid violently at the roots, a voice splits the silence of eternity and some holy thing plummets straight down towards the one who stands alone amid the flowing waters, 

whose life is as purposive as running rivers, shunning the heights and seeking out the lowest place, rushing down so far and so fast that our hands can hardly reach him, not without leaning dangerously near the edge, just as startled strangers once stooped to touch him in the cradle and afterwards to feel his cold unyielding body in the ground, 

all his flesh exposed to those cleansing Jordan waters as he stands in silence, as low as any river's end, so that the baptist has to bend his frail starved body like a bow to discharge the quick sharp blessing, reaching down to touch the head of him whose sandals none is worthy to undo, as though this one had need of human blessing or approval when he himself is the silent benediction resting on all creatures, or as though he could win glory from any of the sons of men when he is the holy brightness pulsating at the hidden heart of things, the still point about which all the worlds revolve, 

so that even the holy angels, bright in heaven's raiment and terrible beneath their wings of fire, lean hungrily towards his gentle silence, zealous for the devastating undreamt-of majesty of his unexceptional and still unwounded flesh, poised beside him like runners before the race and clutching their robes as towels, having waited longingly through all ages for one chance to pay him menial honour, as though the highest hope of dreadful cherubim and seraphim were to wipe cold bathwater from human flesh (for eternity's immortal monsters covet meekness, lowliness, and anonymous service just as the mortal children of Cain crave power, fame, and recognition), 

this fleshly being who transcends us only by standing infinitely lower than us, almost inaccessible in the extremity of his poverty and abnegation,

and who might remain forever hidden from a world that worships power had not the tremendous voice like thunder announced his rank as first-born of creation, and the birdlike lightning energies cascaded down upon him without measure, cleansing him whose touch makes all things clean, 

while the baptist's mad wild eye looks on in terror and the angels turn their faces meekly down, folding their burning wings and bending with shimmering towels to dry his body in preparation for his second baptism, that funereal pyre in which the dove will descend as cataracts of flame,

and what has fallen to earth will leap again heavenwards like tongues of fire.

Monday 5 December 2011

New Rowan Williams book: coming soon

One of my favourite songs is about going to California – and that's what my family and I will be doing in the morning. I'm on sabbatical, so for the next few months I'll be a Visiting Scholar at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena.

My new book on Rowan Williams should be out pretty soon too. There's an edited extract at the ABC site, from the chapter on politics: Politics of the Empty Church: Why Rowan Williams Defended Sharia Law.

And here's a blurb from Lewis Ayres:

Myers’ book exhibits many of the traits he describes in the theology of Rowan Williams: an attentiveness and care that makes the familiar strange, a sparse but rich prose that bears re-reading, a seeking always for historical foundations and resources. In fact, this elegant book is a complex intellectual biography that convincingly roots its hero in a series of engagements – the centrality of MacKinnon, Wittgenstein and Hegel in Williams’ thought is revealed – which are then shown to occur within an on-going reflection on the life of prayer. Throughout, the complex paths of Williams’ theology are introduced with clarity and verve. —Lewis Ayres, Durham University
It's a small book, short and snappy, with 14 chapters. Here's the table of contents:

1. Sociality
2. Tragedy
3. Language
4. Boundaries
5. Tradition
6. Growth
7. Mission
8. Saints
9. Desire
10. Hope
11. Prayer
12. Fantasy
13. Renunciation
14. Writing

Saturday 3 December 2011

Doodlings piled higher and deeper

by Kim Fabricius

We pray so that we may learn how it feels and what it entails to be loved by God. All “problems” with prayer are, ultimately, problems with love.

I don’t pray the Lord’s Prayer because I believe in God, I believe in God because I pray the Lord’s Prayer.

A life without prayer is an empty house.

I hear Quentin Tarantino is making a director’s cut of the Nativity. It’s called The Massacre of the Innocents.

The only substantive criticism to be made of Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life is that this inexhaustibly rich, mysterious, and tender film ends. The scene with the wounded (female? pregnant?) plesiosaur and the predatory velociraptor that doesn’t predate (WHY? – we are teased to project) haunts me.

I reckon that adults should be admitted to the Bible only if they are accompanied by children.

Here is an example of a Christian who doesn’t “get it”: he infers from Jesus’ saying about the hairs on our head being numbered by the Father (Matthew 10:30) that God actually has a calculable figure in mind, because God knows everything, right?

In a theological critique of the Occupy Movement, an otherwise fine Christian blogger recently opined that “there is, in principle, no gradation of right and wrong before a Holy God. There is either right, or there is wrong; there is no political or social theory that is more or less proximate to God’s ways in Christ.” This is a view that Bonhoeffer would label a Christian “radicalism” that despises the “penultimate”. Bonhoeffer urged, in contrast, a faith that discerns in the world practices of decency that Christians should affirm, and practices of corruption that Christians should oppose. He also advocated supporting and working with the good guys. Indeed. We may live in an age of darkness, but not all the cows out there are black.

Believing that non-Christians who, manifestly, are good are not really is like believing that fossils that, manifestly, are antediluvian are not really. Virtutes gentium splendida vitia? Rather, if it looks, walks, and quacks like an anas, it’s probably an anas, not an anus.

Why are the US and Europe so bollixed? Because the leaders of the West who came of age in the sixties no doubt remember them.

Is it morally permissible to torture another human being? Even to raise the question is to be lost.

Is God more powerful than Satan? No.

The geometry of the kingdom is non-Euclidian: the shortest distance between here and there is not a straight line, it’s a detour of indeterminate length.

Advent prayer: Hound of heaven, make us your prey, we pray.

Is time-travel possible? Of course. As suggested by the initial results of the Opera collaboration on the acceleration of muon neutrinos, faster than the speed of light? No, as realized in that experiment with a Maranatha we call Advent: Christ comes to meet us from the Future.

Do not be deceived: famines, earthquakes, wars, even portentous astronomical phenomena – none of these things are signs that the parousia is imminent. On the other hand, if the Cubs are leading the league come mid-September …

Nature abhors a vacuum, grace loves one. That’s why God made hell.

The fundamental difference between traditional Methodists and hyper-Calvinists is that traditional Methodists never gamble, while for hyper-Calvinists it’s always double or nothing.

“Awesome”. “Amazing”. “Incredible”. New Christians talking about Jesus? Yes, and the judges on The X Factor talking about their acts. Remove these three words from their vocabulary and they would sit there like Trappist monks.

It may be easier to negotiate with a terrorist than with a church organist, but it is easier to negotiate with a church organist than with a cat.

I don’t have a PhD (for me the suggestion to do one was a temptation, not an opportunity), but tell me if I’m wrong in saying that unless it bears fruit in the virtues of gratitude, humility, and friendship, it does indeed amount to poo “piled higher and deeper”.

Jesus said that “you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32). He had obviously never met anyone with Alzheimer’s.

I expect to live to 100. Only the good die young. And blues singers. And maybe doctors. Have you ever met an old doctor? It makes you wonder.

Ignatius called the eucharist is the “medicine of immortality”. You could also call it the gingko biloba of the church.

Prayer for a funeral: Veni, Cremator Spiritus!

Ben has just returned from the AAR Meeting in the City by the Bay. Damn, he forgot to pack his copy of The Beauty of the Infinite, which he’d been rereading for the Eastern Orthodox Study Group. That is, he left his Hart in San Francisco. [I know – that was AWful! I’m outta here…]


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