Tuesday, May 26, 2009

On the Goodness of Fresh Sweet Corn

If you aren't familiar with Garrison Keillor, well then I just feel sorry for you. Keillor is the host of the biweekly two hour radio variety show called, "A Praire Home Companion". PHC is a mix of everything that is good about American culture, in the folksy Americana sense. It always makes me feel like televisions don't exist and the highest form of entertainment, other than listening to Red Barber broadcast Brooklyn Dodgers games of course, is to sit in front of a big box radio and listen to folk music and story-telling.

Keillor is most famous for his hometown, Lake Wobegon, Minnesota, which doesn't exist. The stories of Lake Wobegon, normally told during the "News from Lake Wobegon" portion of PHC, is modern American mythology. It's great stuff, partly because no one (not even Vin Scully) has a better voice for radio than Garrison Keillor, and partly because no one (not even Vin Scully) tells a story so well.

Well anyway, Keillor wrote a couple books of Wobegon stories told, which my Dad tells me are not that good compared to his radio stuff. Maybe so, but this is a hilarious little piece from the preface of Keillor's Leaving Home, titled "A Letter from Copenhagen":
Sweet corn was our family's weakness. We were prepared to resist atheistic Communism, immoral Hollywood, hard liquor, gambling and dancing, smoking, fornication, but if Satan had come around with sweet corn, we at least would have listened to what he had to sell. We might not have bought it but we would've had him in and given him a cup of coffee. It was not amazing to learn in eighth-grade science that corn is sexual, each plant containing both genders, male tassel and female flower, propagating in our garden after dark. Sweet corn was so delicious, what could have produced it except sex? Sunday after church, when the pot roast was done and the potatoes were boiled and mashed and a pot of water was boiling- only then would Dad run out with a bushel basket and pick thirty ears of corn. We shucked it clean in five seconds per ear and popped it in the pot for a few minutes. A quick prayer, a little butter and salt, and that is as good as it gets. People have searched the world over for something better and didn't find it because it's not there. There's nothing better, not even sex. People have wanted to be as good as sweet corn and have worked hard to improve it, and afterward they lay together in the dark, and said, 'Det var dejligt.' ('That was so wonderful.') 'Ja, det var.' 'Men det var ikke saa godt som frisk mais.' ('But it wasn't as good as fresh sweet corn.') 'Ney.'

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Witherington on Mark, and Future Posting

What with the reviving of Farismaticism after the month layoff, I figure I should tell you what's on the agenda.

I have a new plan: read each of the four Gospels in Greek throughout the year while reading through one major commentary on each as I go. This is something I've wanted to do for awhile, but have finally started. So since I'm starting at the beginning of fifth month of the year, and in the future I'll be wanting to have the full three months for each Gospel mostly because of how long it will take this quite slow reader to get through some commentaries (e.g. Bock's 1600 pages on Luke).

In the mean time, since I only have two months for Mark, which works since it is only 16 chapters, I need to read twelve verses per day to finish at the end of June. I was going to begin with the oldest commentary that I own for each book, which for Mark means Bob Gundry's magisterial 1000 page work. But then I started realizing that it was taking my hours to get through twenty pages and thought better of it. Instead, the adventure begins with my second oldest, the 450 page work by Ben Witherington. Much more reasonable.

So considering this course of events personally (which, let's be honest, will probably not last more than a couple weeks before I give up...), I imagine a fair amount of my posts will be on Mark's Gospel in the coming months.

For starters, how about this beautiful introduction to Mark's opening scenes:
The opening scenes of the Gospel of Mark remind one of minimalist theater collapsing a world of meaning into a few concentrated images, or of a chiaroscuro painting, with vivid profiles etched in a dark, obscure backdrop. Punctuated by divine voices offstage and human cries at center stage, the prologue narrates the story of an invasion, throwing existence-as-usual into sharp relief. Prophetic muses, long silent, suddenly sing again. A messenger is announced and in turn heralds the advent, at long last, of one strong enough to wrestle the world away from the death grip of the powers. This leaders appears on the horizon of history, and in a dramatic symbolic action declares himself an outlaw. This immediately provokes a challenge from the prince of the powers himself, who takes the leader deep into the wilderness, where he disappears....In this prologue Mark wields the scythe of apocalyptic symbolics, clearing narrative space from among the weeds so that the seeds of a radically new order- to borrow the author's own metaphor (4:7)- might be pressed into the weary soil of the world. This subversive story is what Mark entitles good news.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The End of a Silent Month and My Wife's Blog

Most of you who read this blog do so because you are either (a) already friends of mine, (b) read Christians in Context and followed my link to it from there, or (c) already friends of mine who read Christians in Context.

Therefore, you know that I got married in the beginning of April. You also know that my wife started a blog all-too-cleverly titled, "Penny for your Watts". So before I say anything else, stop what you are doing and add it to your RSS feed. Seriously. Britt is witty, articulate, and has good things to say.

One reason she has good things to say is her internal makeup: she is brilliant and godly. But the other reason is her occupation. Britt is a high school Spanish teacher in Watts, CA. Watts, for those who weren't sure, is famous for hosting the "Watts Riots" some time ago. Not exactly a glowing reputation. It's the ghetto. South Central. A place that rappers talk about...

At this moment I ask you to take a look at the picture to your right. Note that Britt is a young, attractive white woman. Teaching Spanish. In the ghetto. It makes for all kinds of fun.

A snippet from her most recent post that I loved (but then, I could be biased...):
Never before in my entire life have I ever encountered a situation where disrespect is thrown about with such ease. As an educated adult in a room full of pubescent teenagers I do not expect bubbling adoration, but I would settle for common courtesy and not the "f" word every 5 seconds. I hate that respect is earned by fighting for it and then empathize with my kids who live this way day in and day out. No one bestows respect upon them unless they demand it. Demanding that respect usually looks like two fists swinging or a quick verbal lashing that cuts deeper than most punches. How do you teach a kid to give respect when all they've ever done is grudgingly give it to those who pull it from them? How do you convince them that the female standing in front of them may just have something worth hearing?
So all that to say, go read her blog.

In other news, now that the flurry of wedding bliss is over and I am settling into my new home with my wife, I plan on writing here a little more often. So in the off-chance that you care, you might occasionally have something to read here again.