The assorted musings of Hugo Schwyzer: a progressive Anabaptist/Episcopalian Democrat (but with a sense of humor), a community college history and gender studies professor, animal rights activist, ENFP Gemini, avid marathoner, aspiring ultra-runner, die-hard political junkie, and (still) the proud father of the most amazing chinchilla on God's green earth.
I won't be posting again until next week; I'm spending the next few days in Santa Barbara at my father's bedside. For the Thursday Short Poem this week, I'm choosing a poem written for my Dad by his long-time dear friend, fellow Englishman and UCSB colleague, John Ridland. My father has been an amateur cellist for much of his life, and until just a few weeks ago, he was able to play.
Ridland, of course, is simply transposing a famous Dylan Thomas poem. My family and I are immensely grateful for this gift; my father loved it when he received it two months ago.
A Tune from Dylan Thomas (Transposed for Hubert Schwyzer by John Ridland)
Do not go quiet into that good light, Even in age a man should sing and play: Play, play his cello morning, noon, and night.
Though wise men at their end know left from right, Because their thoughts have opened windows, they Do not go quiet into that good light.
Good men, the last wave waved, crying how bright The sunlight dances on Goleta Bay, Play, play their cello morning, noon, and night.
Mild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, And always knew it must be on its way, Do not go quiet into that good light.
Grave men, near death, who hear with second sight Wide open ears can seize the failing day, Play, play their cello morning, noon, and night.
And you, dear friend, there on your happy height, Bless wife, sons, daughters, us, fiercely we pray Do not go quiet into that good light. Play, play your cello morning, noon, and night.
It's been a rather surreal time around here lately. We've been coping with Matilde's death, and of course, are heavily focused on my father's increasingly grave condition. For obvious reasons, I'm not prepared or able to blog about him at the moment -- but I thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers.
I have a week off between the end of final exams and the beginning of summer school on June 26. The nice thing about the time off is that I get to do a lot of sleeping -- and the combination of grieving and months of trying to get by on five hours a night has left me exhausted. I sleep in until the first World Cup games come on (they start at 7:00AM PDT), and my wife and I get some happy time on the couch together just watching the football. For both of us with our vaguely workaholic tendencies, it's nice to just sit and "be" for a while.
I've been thinking about patriotism, nationalism, and the World Cup. (Fear not, I'll be back on issues of feminism and faith eventually.) A few weeks ago, during a discussion on nationalism and patriotism in my modern European history class, I asked my students about the World Cup. Like most of my classes, the kids in this class were almost either immigrants or the children of immigrants: first or second-generation Mexicans, Central Americans, Chinese, Koreans, and Armenians all together made up, oh, 80% of the class.
I asked the students: "How many of you are going to follow the World Cup?" About two-thirds raised their hands.
"If you could pick any country in the world -- not just from among the final 32 -- to win the World Cup, how many of you would want the USA to win?" ONE hand went up; it belonged to a young man with a nice WASPy surname and a face that revealed he was stunned to be alone.
I followed up: "How many of you would like one of the countries from which your family came to win?" Almost all of the students raised their hands. (My substantial Korean and Mexican contingents showing particular, and perhaps warranted, enthusiasm?)
Now, Pasadena is not demographically representative of the USA. But discussing our favorite international soccer teams made it clear to me how so many folks in this country balance a sense of genuine American-ness with a continued passionate attachment to the lands of their birth or of their ancestors. And as I told my students, they weren't alone. Though on my mother's side, I've had family in this country since the 17th century, my father is an Austrian-born, English-bred immigrant. And since Austria is not, alas, in the finals of the World Cup, my devotion to England far outstrips any interest I have in the American squad. If England and the USA were to meet in this tournament (an exceedingly unlikely proposition at this point), I would root for England. I am, after all, a dual citizen of both this country and the UK.
My wife, who is of Colombian and Croatian ancestry, is rooting madly for the Eastern Europeans while grieving the continued decline in the footballing fortunes of the South Americans.
What does any of this say about me, my wife, and my students? Are we somehow less authentically American than those who frantically wave the stars and stripes and cheer wildly for Landon Donovan and Claudio Reyna? The easy answer is to say "No, of course not." After all, I know two current students of mine in the national guard and reserves who have fought for this country in Iraq -- but are still rooting for Mexico more than for the USA in the soccer tournament. It would be absurd to impugn the patriotism of a soldier because he or she serves one nation but longs for another's triumph!
On the other hand, the long-held suspicion of "middle America" that soccer is a "blue-state" passion may have some truth. I certainly know conservatives who love the game, and I have no hard evidence of its greater popularity among liberals. Yet given that the best soccer in the world is played outside of this country and by non-Americans, it's only natural that those of us who love the game will be more in tune with a "foreign" worldview. If I want to read good soccer coverage, I need to find it on an English or German website (I can only read English and German). It's only natural that those of us who care about soccer might visit, say, the Guardian's World Cup homepage -- and then stay and read some of the Guardian's left-of-center political commentary! To put it mildly, much of the the rest of the world is increasingly anti-American; caring passionately about soccer means that American fans of the sport are more likely than their neighbors to be exposed to these different views.
I'm eager for the Croatia-Australia match, and even more eager to see England put it together (please) against Ecuador on Sunday. But I have far less interest in whether or not the USA gets by Ghana and into the final 16. I don't actively root against the USA (as I do, say, against Argentina) but I won't root for them either. And when I've got my "football hat" on, America is indeed "them."
Hugo, I think that this comment is worthy of its own post, especially in light of a lot of the criticism you've been getting in the blogosphere lately. I find it fascinating that you're able to stand on principle when it comes to something like ordaining liberal female bishops, but you still have lunch with Glenn Sacks (to use an old and well-thrashed example).
Evil_fizz refers to my personal fondness for men's rights/father's rights commenter and columnist Glenn Sacks on whose radio show I appeared twice in early 2005. At various times as a result of various posts, I've been challenged in regards to Glenn and to my willingness to maintain warm friendships with men and women who hold strongly anti-feminist, anti-progressive views. And while I have consistently celebrated the possibility of close relationships across ideological lines, I wrote yesterday that I do think that the best solution for the Episcopal Church in the USA would be for progressives and traditionalists to go their separate ways, acknowledging that to work to stay in the same denomination would involve too great a compromise on both sides.
Friendship and denominational unity are two different things, just as friendship and marriage are different things. Last year, I wrote in defense of divorce. Quoting Hall and Oates, I suggested that when it comes to ending a marriage -- or, in this case, ending a theological union -- "the strong give up and move along, the weak, the weak give up and stay." That's not a defense of giving up at the first sign of trouble; it's an acknowledgment that after you've worked hard and unsuccessfully to bridge the gap, it's wisest and best sometimes to let each other go.
On a personal level, I'm grateful for all that my ex-wives taught me, even as I'm sorry for the pain I brought to them. I'm not close to them any longer, but there is no enduring spirit of bitterness either. We let each other go in peace. I truly believe that the Episcopal Church in the USA may have reached the point where divorce is necessary and healthy. The beauty of a "good divorce" is that it brings to an end the pointless fight over who is "right" and who is "wrong." Though in the end, we Christians all believe that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, we can in good faith and conscience disagree radically about issues of sexuality and faith. Though those disagreements will not, I believe, be impediments to our collective salvation, they are -- in this broken world -- real impediments to unity. And that's okay. In the name of love, perhaps now is the time to let the other go. Neither side (progressive or traditionalist) should have to sacrifice conscience any longer on an idolatrous altar of unity.
But giving up unity isn't the same as terminating a friendship. Nothing is more important to me than my faith. The Great Fact of my life is that Jesus Christ is my savior; I believe His blood atoned for my sins and I believe I am called to follow Him. But if I limited my social network to those who shared that set of theological beliefs, my life would be poor indeed! I have friends who believe in the ordination of women -- and those who are strongly opposed. I can disagree with the latter openly; real friendship is not about the denial of differences but the warm and polite exploration of those differences!
Of course, I have a great many friends who don't share my feminism. Indeed, I am fond of some men who are active in the anti-feminist movement, just as I am close to some folks who are involved in the anti-immigrant Minuteman Project. Yes, I acknowledge that "white male privilege" allows me to move in a variety of circles with a variety of friends, but I reject the charge that to believe in something passionately means forgoing a warm relationship with someone who actively believes the opposite. I've been told countless times that I'm "not a serious person" (the classic slur among the leftist intelligentsia) because I insist that political and theological convictions are not the sum total of our identities. One can believe execrable things (and be an activist for execrable causes) and do so with the best of intentions and the most loving of hearts. Real friendship means "calling" one's friends on their views and their behavior, but it also means acknowledging the possibility for mutual pleasure in each other's company despite vast differences. Ideology, folks, is not identity. Good hearts can coexist with bad judgment and appalling views (something I know some folks regularly say about me.)
Marriage and the church involve a special kind of unity. In order for a marriage to work, it may not be necessary to share the same views (we all know couples who cancel each other out every election day), but it is necessary to share the same ultimate goals for the relationship and a general agreement about how those goals are to be achieved. Similarly, in a religious denomination, there can be some room for disagreement about non-essentials, but there needs to be a shared understanding of the fundamentals of issues like human sexuality and identity. The Anglican Communion is, I believe, irrevocably split over these latter issues. A warm and amicable divorce, with as little squabbling over property and power as possible, is in my humble lay-person's opinion now the best course of action.*
But during and after a divorce, friendship can survive. And truly, we are all at our best when we surround ourselves with friends and family who challenge us regularly, whose beliefs trouble us as ours trouble them. We may not be able to marry them, or worship in the same house, but we can "do lunch" and go for long runs together, neither obscuring our differences nor allowing them to drive us apart.. Friendship without ideological unity? Not always easy, but almost always worth it.
*(Yes, I often mention that I'm fond of L.A.'s bishop, Jon Bruno, whom I've known for nearly a decade. As a layman, I disagree with his decision to engage in litigation with those parishes that wish to leave the diocese with their property. But I'm not the bishop; Jon is. My admiration for and friendship with him does not preclude my disagreeing with him on my own blog, but I do so with a humble recognition that he is surely privy to facts that I am not.)
Like many Episcopalians, I am rejoicing at the news that Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of Nevada has been elected the new presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, USA. A relatively young (54) progressive, Schori is the first woman to lead a province of the worldwide Anglican Communion. My friend and pastor Susan Russell wrote last night:
And so the very idea that the bishops of the Episcopal Church could elect a woman to lead them ... and the House of Deputies concur OVERWHELMING to that election with barely a murmur of dissent is so overwhelming I'm almost afraid to go to bed tonight lest I wake up and find out it was all a dream.
I am so proud of this church I could just burst.
Proud that we were ready, willing and able to put everything else aside and select the person the Holy Spirit anointed to lead us with grace, with concord and with great joy.
Proud that through the many dangers, toils and snares we have come over the divisive issue of the ordination of women we have emerged on the other side of those challenges stronger, bolder and more open to God's Holy Spirit.
Amen, Susan. (To continue my bad but exuberant habit of name-dropping, church scuttlebutt suggests that the bishop of Los Angeles, my old friend Jon Bruno, played a vital -- perhaps even the key -- role in advocating for Bishop Schori. That thought pleases me greatly.)
As a progressive evangelical Episcopalian, I'm thrilled by the choice of Schori. She's a strong supporter of same-sex blessings, and was an early backer of Gene Robinson, the bishop of New Hampshire whose election in 2003 led to the current crisis in the Anglican Communion. Of course, both her sex and her theological views will engender (sorry) significant opposition.
Now this presents an interesting problem for conservative traditionalists in the church. Some conservatives in the national church are open to female leadership, but not to acceptance of homosexuality. Others, farther right, are opposed to both same-sex blessings and women priests (not to mention female presiding bishops!) When they express concerns about Katherine Schori, smart traditionalists will need to differentiate between their objections to women in leadership and their quarrels with her progressive theology. If they don't, I can be fairly confident that my fellow liberals will deftly play the "sexist troglodyte" card against them!
As a pro-feminist Episcopalian (and dues-paying member of the evangelical, egalitarian Christians for Biblical Equality) I'm obviously enthusiastic about the Schori election. But even I struggled for years with the idea of women priests! As I've written before, I began my Christian journey with a conversion to Roman Catholicism in college. I seriously considered becoming a Dominican and giving my life to the church. Though at university I worshiped with liberal Paulists, I became comfortable with an all-male priesthood. It wasn't a theological objection to women preaching or consecrating the host, it was simply an issue of familiarity.
I remember the first time I saw a woman preside at an Episcopal Eucharist. It was about a decade or so ago; I was estranged from Christ and His church and in the midst of a long and troubled peregrination on the "dark side". A friend of mine invited me to All Saints Pasadena (for the first time), and I came. Our current rector, Ed Bacon, had just joined the staff, but the bread and wine were consecrated by a woman I (quite accidentally) already knew well, Mary June Nestler. Mary June, a priest and now dean of the Episcopal seminary out at Claremont, had been a classmate of mine in grad school at UCLA where we both got our Ph.Ds in medieval Christian history. Back in 1991 (1992?) we sat together in a very interesting seminar on early Irish canon law. (See, I was an intellectual, once; I wrote a paper, still lurking somewhere, on the office of the episcopos as conceived in the Collection Canonum Hibernensis. Fun!)
Anyhow, I recognized Mary June and was startled. I had known two woman priests at UCLA: Mary June and the philosopher Marilyn Adams, now at Oxford and in the early '90s, on my dissertation committee. But it's one thing to know that a professor or a schoolmate is a priest, and another to see them "on the job"! And let me admit this embarrassing truth: as I watched Mary Jane say the Eucharistic blessing, I felt scandalized -- and guilt-ridden for feeling that way. Intellectually and theologically, I was more than prepared to embrace women in leadership. Heck, by the time I showed up at All Saints that spring day ten years ago, I hardly considered myself a Christian anymore, so I didn't feel I had much say in who ought to say mass in the church! Yet my few but intense years as a Catholic had so conditioned me to an all-male priesthood that I felt distinctly uncomfortable throughout the remainder of the service.
Obviously, once I finally did come "home" to Christ a few years later, I quickly became completely accepting of women in church leadership. I was helped in this by a brief sojourn with some hardcore Pentecostals, who combined charismatic faith with a belief that all spiritual gifts were equally open to women. Today, I'm glad to worship in a church where most of the ordained staff is female; I haven't had even a flash of discomfort with a woman preaching or consecrating in years and years. But I haven't forgotten that embarrassing and shocking moment many years ago, as I watched a former classmate pronounce words that I had hitherto only heard from the lips of men. I'm thus quite sympathetic to those who are initially squeamish at the notion of female priests; I know (as they will know, if they don't run away screaming) that that discomfort vanishes with familiarity.
So, a big "hurrah" for Katharine Schori, our new presiding bishop, and for all of those women who came before her to open the priesthood to all.
Even before Matilde'sdeath on Sunday morning, I'd been planning to blog about animals and responsibility this week. Last month, a number of us in the blogosphere were moved by Chris Clarke's experience with a helpless baby squirrel he discovered on a hike. Chris celebrated the little creature's life with a fine poem, and explains eloquently why he chose to leave it to near-certain death rather than attempting a rescue.
Stentor Danielson, whose blog is one of the best in the 'sphere on matters environmental, made a powerful case that Clarke (and others in his situation) should intervene to help an injured wild animal, without worrying about "interfering with nature". Stentor writes:
Who among us would leave a human injured by a natural disaster to die, reasoning that we shouldn't interfere with nature? Why, then, treat a suffering non-human differently than a suffering human?
One might point out, rightly, that there's no such thing as a purely natural disaster. But there are disasters that are not purely social, and I would doubt that we can make our degree of responsibility for hurricane victims proportional to the share of the blame that human activities hold. And even so, it's strange to claim that there purely natural disasters claim no human victims, or that we should care only for the human victims of human-caused disasters.
Our moral obligation is not just to right the wrongs that we (individually or collectively) are responsible or blameable for. Our moral obligation is to relieve suffering, regardless of what the cause is.
Saturday night, just twelve hours before Matilde passed, my wife and I were taking a walk with my two younger sisters in Santa Barbara. Since my Dad received his terminal diagnosis in April, we've been spending most of our weekends up in the town of my birth. It was near dusk when the four of us came across a small fledgling starling hopping along the sidewalk. At first we thought it was a small bird with a broken wing, but on closer investigation realized it was a little one still too young to fly; he presumably fell (or was pushed) from a nest. We looked around carefully -- there was no sign of a nest (or anxious parent birds) anywhere nearby.
One of my sisters (who reads this blog and remembered my post about Chris and the squirrel) suggested gently we leave the bird alone and let "nature take its course." My sister is not a cruel person in the slightest; her environmentalism is simply closer to Chris Clarke's. But my wife and I, overcome as we usually are by sentiment and compassion, made a different choice. I raced back to the house for the car and a phone book, while my wife carefully guarded the evidently frightened and exhausted little creature.
We called a 24-hour vet and were quickly directed to our new favorite charity (besides Matilde's Mission, of course!) : The Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network. We called 'em, dropped by, and within half an hour our little rescue was in a safe place with half a dozen other birds who had been found in similar situations. (Here is their suggestion page for wild bird emergencies.) We were assured we had done the right thing -- given that our little friend was unable to fly, he would surely have been a meal for some domestic animal very quickly.
If we had been on safari in the African bush in a relatively unspoiled environment, I might have understood not interfering. But in an urban area already transformed by humans (or even in most local regional parks), there's no point in pretending that there's anything "natural" about leaving a helpless creature to be eaten or die of dehydration! More importantly, I am convinced that God places us in situations where we are given the opportunity to choose whether or not we will help the most vulnerable among us. Whether it is with the homeless or with the helpless, each encounter offers us a stark choice: will we be agents of God's mercy or not?
Few serious Christians expect God, acting sovereignly, to solve all earthly problems in an instant. The healing of the world -- what my Jewish and Kabbalist friends call tikkun olam -- is also accomplished by God working through human beings. The Apostle tells us in 1 Corinthians that we are God's fellow workers, and though it is God who makes all things grow and work out in the end, we are needed to plant seeds and water them. It's useless, in other words, to cry out to God about the injustice of injured fledglings; as far as I am concerned, on Saturday night, God sent me and my wife to be His agents in the life of that tiny and vulnerable creature. What happens to that little bird after we delivered him to the Wildlife Care Network is not in our hands -- but whether to intervene or not was. We did what we did not merely because it felt good, but because the healing of the human and the natural order comes, at least in part, through a billion small actions such as ours.
I am not for a minute trying to impugn the decision that Chris Clarke made to leave behind a baby squirrel. I understand his reasons, and there is a huge body of modern environmentalist literature that would agree that he did the right thing. My environmentalist credentials, after all, are suspect: I may be a vegetarian anti-fur activist, but I've got more than one pair of leather shoes and I do like to travel around in fuel-guzzling airplanes. I have to be careful to distinguish an intense sentimental attachment to individual animals from a wiser and broader love for all of creation.
But just as with my feminism, my environmentalism is a process -- a slow deepening of my commitment to nature and a slow intensifying of my ability to empathize and connect with all of His creatures. One way I measure my growth is by my commitment to those few individual animals God places in front of me. What happened on Saturday night with the little starling was not all about me, but it was a chance -- to give up an hour of my evening in service to creation, or to walk on by and remain absorbed in my (admittedly very pressing) cares. My wife and I can't save the world by ourselves in an instant; but when we can play a small part in tikkun olam, I believe we must do so.
By the way, we don't have a Pasadena equivalent to the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network... yet!
...and Mexico and Angola are still tied, and I've failed two students in my History 1A and 1B courses for internet plagiarism. It only takes a second to check, and can I say, I actually derive a real pleasure from catching the little creeps. They are expressly forbidden from using things like "Wikipedia" to write their papers -- both instances of plagiarism so far this afternoon involved large chunks taken from "Wikis".
I've got one eye on the Mexico-Angola match, and another on the computer. Once I finish this post, I will dive into some serious grading. I'm still wracked with sudden and intense bouts of grief over Matilde, but that is to be expected. No one said this would be an easy time. (I can say that we may be adopting two older chins later this year from Michigan, but that is still tentative. We are committed to these most extraordinary of animals, of course, no matter what -- we just need much more time to celebrate Matilde's life and cope with her unexpected loss.)
I'm taking a break from blogging about my views on teaching feminism; my attempts to explain (even when written after considerable reflection) only seem to exacerbate the gulf between my weltanschauung and those of many other feminists whose work I respect. (Violet's response to yesteday's post is here.) We can continue to be allies even while we mystify each other, and I remain happy to be provoked and challenged by those whose ultimate goals I believe I share.
It seems an eternity ago, but it's only been a week since my "Hey, put a shirt on!" post. I did want to address an important point made in the comments beneath that post made by Helen. She writes:
Frankly, I'm offended by men running shirtless, although it does depend on the situation (it really pisses me off in town but if I were out in the country or mountains I might not be as bothered, I don't know). It's just a smack in the face that I have to be so careful about what I wear and I'll still get hassled, whereas there's some guy running around half naked and confronting me with his naked chest. Of course, I'm not forced to look at him, but a mostly-naked person out of place (in a sea of clothes, sometimes) is likely to attract your attention before you look away.
I am curious as to how the expression "your rights end where mine begin" fits into this. I think you could argue that a man's shirtlessness does actually infringe on other people's rights and thus it's not entirely unexpected that some people will respond negatively. I just try and ignore it when I see it and I'm not defending the person in the car who should have kept his comments to herself, but I thought I'd share my opinion on why that might have bothered her (especially since it was a woman).
Helen makes an important point. As a man, I can (legally) run shirtless. I run shirtless because it's much more comfortable, particularly on longer runs, to do so. I'd rather be a bit too cold than a bit too warm, and I can do without all the chafing issues that even a Coolmax shirt presents on a long run. (And don't get me started on horror stories about bloody nipples.)
But women can't run with a completely bare chest. For many women -- perhaps most -- wearing at least a jogging bra is essential for comfort. But it's possible that there are women who would be quite comfortable running entirely bare-chested, but aren't allowed to do so thanks both to laws about public nudity and to cultural prohibitions. Leaving the sport of distance running aside, it's clear that there's a double standard when it comes to the exposed chest in our culture.
One of the things about privilege is that it isn't always enough merely to recognize it; one has to be willing to renounce it. If I read Helen correctly, she's suggesting that male feminists should think twice about running about bare chested -- not for aesthetic reasons, but for reasons of solidarity. Until women have the same freedoms that men do, men should -- whenever reasonably possible -- avoid taking advantage of unearned masculine privilege.
I can think of a clear parallel to gay marriage. I know two straight couples who have told me that they aren't going to get married until same-sex marriage is legalized. These couples believe that heterosexuals should make a conscious effort to renounce "special privileges" as an act of solidarity with their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. As one of my friends in one of these relationships put it to me, "You can't simultaneously work to end injustice while benefiting from injustice. While we all as privileged Americans benefit from injustice in ways we can't avoid, we do have a choice whether or not to legally marry -- and it's a choice we should choose not to make until that choice is available to everyone."
I think that's what Helen may have meant about men going shirtless in public. I can wear a running singlet without too much discomfort; shouldn't I be willing to do so in order not to enjoy a right that my sisters cannot? On the other hand, it's easy to take this to an extreme quickly: should I refrain from using a urinal in the men's room because only toilets are available in the ladies' loo?
I'll be running up the mountain bare-chested tomorrow morning, mind you, but I'm interested to hear what my readers think about naked chests and unmerited privilege.
Below this morning's post, Sophonisba has explained what she finds so infuriating about my writing. Steve, commenting at Violet's blog, suggests that I have some sort of saint-complex, of "trumpet(ing) (my) gentleness and sensitivity in self-celebration." There have been lots of similar comments floating about.
Honestly, I wonder if I would be a more successful blogger if I injected more sarcasm, irony, or even outright anger into my posts. What frustrates me is that I suspect folks assume that my "blog demeanor" is some kind of pose, and that I am deliberately obscuring a feistier, harsher, cleverer self. But truly, I blog as candidly as I can.
I've never appreciated irony or sarcasm; give me earnestness over subtle wit any day of the week! (Perhaps it's why I am so much more at home in Southern California than anywhere else, and why I always feel exhausted emotionally at the end of a visit to England.) Still, I wish I came across as less sanctimonious and pompous; when I try and be thoughtful and irenic (not ironic) it seems to exasperate and irk the very folks whom I consider my potential allies.
Look, I doubt I can change my writing style (or my personality), but given that I seem to have ticked off an unusual number of folks lately, I'd at least like to acknowledge that I am aware of the problem. Ultimately, though, I'm going to continue to blog the way I have been all along -- by relating anecdotes and sharing stories. I spent years and years of my life learning to write heavily footnoted academic prose; one published article in medieval English military history later, I was done. This blog is heavy on sentiment -- all that I was forced to exclude from endless papers and theses and dissertations can now flow out here.
But if I've been "self-celebrating" a lot lately, I'm sorry. Pride is a sin to which I am prone, and it is one I desperately seek to avoid. Sometimes, I realize, my tone is charged with hubris -- and for that, I'm sorry. I'll work harder to avoid the sanctimoniousness and pomposity that seems so alienating.