Sunday, March 18, 2018

Yet more file disposal

Lecture notes from a course with Jerald Brauer at Chicago from the 1950's.  Deals mostly with English Puritanism. Course was in Jan-March, 1956. Includes course syllabus. Might be worth saving- some bibliography. 60 years dated but still valuable. Jerry Brauer was a good prof. If I went through and typed up these notes, I would learn a lot. But would it be worth it? And would I remember it? If I wanted to understand more about English Puritanism, I could just read a good book.

Decision: Toss

These are documents going back to 1973 when Jackie Jakovleff and I started a career planning office at Marlboro College called After Marlboro (at the instigation of President, Tom Ragle).  Includes reports of our activities to the President and Faculty, planning notes for workshops on career planning, etc. I remember that starting this office at Marlboro  ruffled some feathers there, esp. among faculty, who thought that it was making the Marlboro "ivory tower" into a "vocational school." I think they eventually came around as they saw we were helping students with real, perceived needs. I don't expect to open another college career planning office, so these can go.

Decision:  Toss

This file is a companion to the one titled Revolution above. This file has course syllabi and other materials relating to the course. I learn from this file that I actually  taught this course three times, each one a little different:
(1) In 1969 at Keuka College (Religion 413. Studies in the New Testament: Was Jesus a Revolutionary Figure?)
(2) At  Lawrence University, Spring 1970 (Religion 32. Studies in Biblical Thought: The Bible and Revolution).
(3) Again at Lawrence, in Winter 1971 (Topics of Inquiry: Christianity and Revolution).

This file includes materials I handed out to the class, my own personal reflections on the course and how it was going, and most interesting, three final papers from students evaluating the course itself and its impact on them.

The course definitely evolved over these 2-3 years and the third version of was clearly the most effective because it not only included the typical aspects of college work: classroom lectures and discussion, readings, papers and exams (with strong emphasis on black Christian authors advocating "black power" as an authentic form of Christian faith and life) it also included a field trip to Chicago mid-way through the course in which the students met and talked with both black activist leaders like Jesse Jackson at Operation Breadbasket, and white Christian "radicals" like Stephen Rose and John Fry.  It also involved them in four trips to a cross-section of local churches in Appleton: a Methodist Church, an Assembly of God church, a Catholic Church and a UCC church, in which they interacted with a variety of white, largely middle-class Christians around the issues raised in the course.  The evaluations make clear that these "field trips" were very powerful experiences for the students and made them hungry for more experiential learning. It was also a powerful learning experience for me.

Assessment: Reading through these materials makes me ponder the similarities and differences  between then and now. There was a lot of "revolution" in the air back in the late sixties and early seventies: both the need for and the possibility of radical, even violent change in our society, and along with that a palpable hope and expectation that change for a more just and equitable society was not only possible but immanent. It doesn't feel that way today. The "Bernie Revolution" was (is?) much more modest by comparison, more about incremental change in government policy. And the young people are passionate, but much more modest in their goals - and running into a lot of implacability even then. "Trumpism" isn't a revolution. It's a sick and deluded nostalgia. We are desperately in need of a true revolution. It would be interesting to see what kind of a reception a course like this would get today. It would need an updated bibliography, but some of this would still be relevant.

Decision: Save for now on the slight chance I might revive this course at, e.g., one of the local churches. That might mean pulling some of those photocopies out of the recycle bin!

5. File Label: REPRINTS
This is an interesting collection of "reprints," i.e., individual copies of journal articles which are typically sent by the publisher to the author. They are complimentary copies not of the entire issue of the journal the article appeared in, but just that one article. Then the author gives them out to friends, etc. So these are all articles by people I know. Four are by Bill Schoedel, who was my thesis advisor at Brown; two are by Kees Bolle, who was a Brown faculty member in History of Religions and had an office next to mine; one is by George Morgan, a "University professor" at Brown who I did not know at that well but liked; one is by Raymond Gibson, who was minister of Central Congregational Church in Providence where I had an office while I was a campus minister at Brown; one is by Bernard Loomer, who was my Constructive Theology professor at Chicago. In addition, there is a mimeograph copy of a sermon by Paul Tillich and, for some reason, a photocopy of an article on "Agape," from the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Assessment: This almost all falls into the category of "redundancy." If I wanted to, I could access 90% of this online through JSTOR. 

Decision: Toss.


A different kettle of fish

UNC is playing Texas A&M and it is indeed a different kettle of fish. They are behind by 14 pts. at the half! Go Heels - let's see a turnaround in the 2nd half! 

2nd half: A&M are up 48-30 after just 3 minutes. Oops! 

      Garrison Brooks just made a point

They're down 20 now. Not looking good. A  20pt. deficit is almost impossible to make up. 

Yup. The Heels lost by 21 points! Coach Roy Williams' worst defeat in the NCAA tournament, ever! 

Friday, March 16, 2018

In Shutesbury

At the moment, I'm sitting in the living room at Katie and Savanna's house. Ellen dropped me off here at about 11:30a.m. this morning on her way to Swarthmore, where she will attend a funeral for Frank Mustin, who died earlier this week at age 94. Harry and Sarah have been part of the Mustin "family" for many years, living over a carriage house which is part of the Mustin "compound;" Harry working for them as a gardener and maintenance person. Ellen has know the Mustins for decades, and she will see people at the funeral she has not seen for years. I'm still getting over a chest cold, taking antibiotic, still coughing some, tho not so much), so I decided to say home and rather than stay at the house without a car, I'm here with Katie & Savanna. There is a pot-luck supper at their church tonight, but only Katie and Brendon will be at that. Savanna and I will stay here and eat a wonderful  stew Ellen prepared (bless her heart).

I just watched the first round of March Madness - UNC (a #2 seed) played Lipscome University (a #15 seed), and won handily, though the first fifteen minutes of the first half, Lipscome kept up with them and even led at times. But UNC ended the first half with a 12-2 run, and dominated throughout the 2nd half. Lipscome is a Church of Christ college in Nashville, TN. I had never heard of it before and this was their first time in the NCAA Tournament. They did well and can go home with heads held high, I would think. UNC will play Texas A&M in the 2nd round on Sunday. That will be a whole different kettle of fish, as they say.

Another Case Study in Disposal

2. File Label:  Revolution: 
This is a very fat file of Xeroxed articles from a course on "Christianity and Revolution" which I gave at both at Keuka College and Lawrence University (somewhat different versions). Most of these articles have a label on them indicating that they had been put on Reserve in the Library.

a. Richard Schaull, The Revolutionary Challenge  from an unknown anthology, but reprinted from Theology Today, XXIII  (Janurary 1967), 470-80).Draws on (or criticizes)the thought of Roger Mehl, Herbert Marcuse, Andre Philip, Candido Mendes de Almeida,  Robert Theobald, ?? Wendland, Harvey Cox

b. _________________, Revolutionary Change in a Theological Perspective in The Church Amid Revolution. n.d. , 28-47. Draws on Denis Munby, A van Leeuwen, Charles Cochrane,  Paul Lehmann, Augustine.
            Both these essays are arguing the necessity of revolution in totalitarian societies, the need for Christian involvement in revolution, and the specific roles Christians can and should play to avoid the pitfalls of revolution.  Issues of non-violence vs. violence, building grassroots communities, etc.

*c. Father Berrigan's Letter to the Weatherman from The Village Voice Jan 21, 1971.
  This is a classic. Worth re-reading.

d. Libretto from Jesus Christ Superstar  by  Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice.

e. Article on "Zealots" from The Jewish Encyclopedia.

f. Herbert Loewe,  "B. The Question of Tribute" and "C. The Coin Symbol and the Action which Jesus Took,"  D. Conclusions."  pp. 38-116,  from his book Render Unto Caesar, 1940.  Very detailed discussion of "render unto Caesar," and its context in the Roman tax system and the Jews. Loewe is a Jewish scholar.

g. P.R.  Regamey, "First Thoughts on Violence," Chapter One of Non-Violence and the Christian Conscience   (Herder and Herder, 1966). pp. 43-75.

h. Stephen Rose, On the Possibility of Revolution in America  from his book Alarms and Visions: Chuches and the American Crisis, (Chicago: Renewal Mag. 1967),  pp. 148-170 (pp.166-67 missing).
An unnamed interviewer questions Stephen Rose (who had a connection with the UCC Church in Stockbridge). Interesting interview!

i. Hugh Montefiore, "Revolt in the Desert? Mark 6:30ff." New Testament Studies, 8 , 135-141. From an unknown collections of essays.

j. Charles C West, Community - Christian and Secular;  and Emilio Castro, Conversion and Social Transformation; two chapters from  Harvey Cox, (ed.) , The Church Amid Revolution, (NY: Assoc Press, 1967)  pp. 228-256. Papers from the WWC meeting on Church and Society in Geneva.

k. Report of Section II: The Nature and Function of the State in a Revolutionary Age., pp. 96-119.  No named author. This is also a World Council of Churches document from Geneva

l. George Mendenhall, "The Hebrew Conquest of Palestine," Bibilcal Archeologist, XXV, 1962, 3, 66-87.

m. William C McLoughlin, "The American Revolution as a Religious Revival: 'The Millenium in One Country,'" a review of Alan Heimert, Religion and the American Mind from The Great Awakening to the Revolution (Harvard U.P., 1966), in New England Quarterly  date??
            Acc. to McLoughlin, this is a ground-breaking work, though he has reservations about it. It gives a great deal more significance to the role of Edwards and Evangelicals in the Revolution.

n. Sidney Mead, Through and Beyond the Lines" from Journal of Religion date?
              Also a review of  Heimert, but very critical of it's methodology.

o. Robert N Bellah, Civil Religion in America. Source not named.
  A seminal article.

p. Two articles on Revolution from NOMOS VIII (The Yearbook of the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy) 1966, ed. Carl J Friederich.
            George Pettee, Revolution-Typology and Process
            Melvin Richter, Tocqueville's Contributions to The Theory of Revolution
q. Karl Kautsky, The Foundations of Christianity. First published in German in 1908. English edition, Russell & Russell, 1953. Book Four: The Beginnings of Christianty, chapters 1-4.
            A study of the proletarian origins of Christianity by a Marxist.

*r. Arthur Waskow, A Radical Haggadah for Passover from Ramparts, 1969.

s. "The Alfano Case," from First Presbyterian Church, Chicago, 1971.
            An account of the murder of a Chicago Police Officer, James A Alfano,, Jr., in which 8 black young men, members of the Black P Stone Nation were charged, tried and acquitted. Their defense was supported in part by a fund at the FPChurch. I took my class to this church and we met the pastor, John Fry, who was a radical activist at that time.

Note: This is interesting. Contemporary writing on the BPSN portrays it as an Islamist terrorist group!   One author says John Fry was "duped."

*t. Robert Coles, The End of the Affair from Kattalagete  pp 46-57 (last page{s) missing). N.D.
            This is a fascinating account by Coles of how his vocation as a pediatrician and advcate for children was formed, and the dynamic of his parents - his father a secular Jew and mother a pious Episcopalian. I don't know why this article is in this file. But it is really interesting and I think Ellen would love it. I might read it aloud on a trip. 

Assessment: There is a lot of interesting material here! I spent a lot of time reading parts of this trove, which I had not looked at for over fifty years!  The pieces marked * I'm going to digitize.  Most of the rest of it I could probably find in a library if I really wanted to, but I probably won't. I suppose the question might be: given the state our country is in, would I want (or "need") to offer a course in "Christianity and Revolution" again? Not sure I have much credibility as a revolutionary any more (if I ever did !). I'll have to say though, this is one of the most popular courses I ever offered. Students loved it and a few even said it changed their lives.
Decision: Put most of these photocopies in the paper recycle bin except those marked *

Case Studies in Disposal

Case Studies in Disposal

Tuesday (March 13th): After several days of dealing with a bad cold (which kept me from a birthday open house on Sunday), I felt well enough this morning to get up, take a shower and do some things in my study, which is right next to the wood stove, and thus is quite cozy. It has been snowing today. Both our River Singers rehearsal and a make-up Concert Choir rehearsal have been cancelled because of the storm. (If not for the snow, we would have had to decide which to attend).  At the moment the snow seems to have paused. But we are unplowed, so we are not going anywhere.  We have another unexpected "free day" at home.

So what have I been doing? Going through old files in the four-drawer file cabinet. These files go back 50 years or more. What to toss? What to keep?  I could take the view of tossing everything. That, I presume,  is what will happen if I die before these files get cleaned out. So why not spare my family that and do it for them? I could, and that may be what I will do. But these files have interest for me while I am still alive. The question is whether they have enough interest to hold on to them, at least for a while.

Each file presents a different situation. I have come to look upon them as "case studies in disposal." Some questions I ask of each file: (1) Is there material in this file I want to have access to as a part of a writing project I hope to complete before I die?
(2) Is the material in this file redundant? (3) Is there anything in this file I want to share with Ellen (or someone else) before I dispose of it? (4) Would it make sense to preserve this file by making a digital copy of it?

Here are some specific instances:

File name:   Corpus Hermeticum

This file contains a 29-page term paper (and related notes) which I wrote in graduate school at Brown University. It seems to have been written for a course in "Greek Religion" which I took in Fall of 1960 - my first year of graduate study. William R. Schoedel was the professor.

(Bill ultimately became my thesis advisor and a good friend. He and his wife, Grace, are still living in Urbana, Illinois, and we stay in touch at Christmas time. Ellen and I visited them almost exactly 12 years ago, March 4, 2006, as a part of our "Big Journey" in which we went to many of the places one or the other of us had lived  before we met. I had never lived in Urbana, but we were going right by there, and Bill and Grace had been a big part of my life in the 1960s, so we made a point to stop).

The paper is an analysis of one tractate (No. 3, "The Holy Sermon") of a larger collection called The Corpus Hermeticum. According to my paper, this work , composed originally in Greek (abbreviated C.H. III), is sort of  a mishmash of  Hellenistic Greek/quasi-Egyptian/Philonic (i.e., Jewish)/Platonic ideas which dates from probably the 1st/2nd century, C.E., and most likely from Alexandria, Egypt (which was sort of a hot-bed for this sort of writing at that time).  It has some affinities with what is called "Gnosticism," and in fact parts of the Corpus Hermeticum were found at the now-famous trove of Gnostic writings discovered at Nag Hammadi, Egypt, back in the mid-20th century, which, e.g., brought the full Gospel of Thomas (in a Coptic MS)  to the light of day.  Bill Schoedel had learned Coptic and translated the newly-found Gospel of Thomas when he was a graduate student at University of Chicago, so he had some interest in this area. He may have harbored some hope of grooming me to do something like that myself. In any case, this was my first foray into this sort of work - careful textual and historical/cultural analysis of a little known, esoteric manuscript which presented multiple issues of provenance (i.e., when and where did it come from?), textual corruption (in plain words, "gobble-de-gook"), overall purpose and meaning and relationship with other known works. I lacked the background in Greek that Bill had, but I made a brave effort to "be a scholar," though I have some memory of feeling inadequate to the task. I did prepare an extensive "appendix" in which I carefully typed out ( I had access to a typewriter with Greek characters! ) in parallel columns of Greek text the possible verbal similarities between C.H. III and other ancient works, including the Hellenistic Jewish works The Wisdom of Solomon, and The Wisdom of Sirach (see photo below).  Bill's comments on the paper include the observation that my writing style was "wooden at times," but I did get an "A" on the paper.

Assessment: This file has some personal significance as an early marker in my journey toward becoming a scholar. Undoubtedly, I used some of the skills employed in the research for this paper in my later work on my own doctoral dissertation. I doubt that I will ever revisit this particular line of research again; I don't think Ellen would be interested in it, and I don't see the need to preserve the paper digitally.  At best, I can see saving some of the research notes. 

Decision: Toss the file, but digitize 2 pages of bibliographical information.

Note: If you go on-line and search "Corpus Hermeticum" you will find lots of information, and might bump into David Myatt, a contemporary neo-Nazi and self-proclaimed Muslim convert (and suspected terrorist) who has spent a lot of time working on the C.H., including C.H. III, and who regards it as a very ancient, sacred text going back millennia to the fount of cosmic wisdom.  But he is just the latest in a long line of people, including, e.g., the Rosicrucians, who have found deep wisdom in this esoteric text.  
Parallels between C.H. III and LXX "Wisdom" materials

Monday, March 12, 2018

I didn't make it : (

Sunday afternoon there was a birthday open house at Kathy Leo's home to celebrate her birthday and mine. But I didn't get there. I was constantly coughing and blowing my nose, and even if I had felt up for going, I don't think    my friends would have enjoyed my presence. I was sad to miss the gathering but glad to stay home and keep warm. Better to be missed and loved from afar in those circumstances! Ellen went, though, and took a lovely cake and other goodies for the buffet.
Tom Goldschmidt sent some pictures. I think everyone had a great time.

            Eliza, Ellen and Manny

          Part of the buffet

Peter, Mary Alice and Mary Cay with Tom behind with guitar.

Thursday, March 8, 2018


We had a snow storm yesterday which cancelled our usual Wednesday eve Concert  choir rehearsal. We went out earlier in the day - I went to the landfill with recycle stuff and to the pool - but after about 3pm we just stayed home by the fire. It was great! In the evening we watched a movie: Northern Borders, a Jay Craven adaptation of yet another Howard Frank Mosher novel we are reading. We haven't finished the book yet, but it was clear that like Stranger in the Kingdom, Craven had taken significant liberties in his screenplay which changed the tone of the book and affected how you felt about key characters. But it was still an intriguing movie in its own right.

Ellen took some photos of the snow out the windows this morning:

      Looking north out the front

 Out the bedroom window looking west 

           Out the back window

   Out the kitchen window looking east

Last Saturday, John demonstrated his shruti  box, which is a drone instrument used in Indian music. Normally, one holds it in the lap and operates it with a hand, and sings with it. John wants to play the whistle with it, requiring two hands. So he fashioned a foot pedal to control it.  It sounds great! 

John playing the whistle using the shruti drone box.