At Home He's a Tourist

He fills his head with culture/ He gives himself an ulcer.

Saturday, July 10, 2004


We definitely need these robot book shelvers because our student workers do a half-assed job of it. We've found entire rows of books out of place, obviously due to the student workers dumping a cart of to-be-shelved books onto the nearest empty space. How lazy do you have to be to find shelving a couple of dozen books burdensome?


Church of England to consider reinstituting heresy trials to curb unorthodox clergy. In principle a good idea, but only if the judges of ecclesiastical courts were orthodox, something which certainly cannot be depended upon. In the middle of the story the Guardian journalist editorializes: "Heresy trials would be a fertile ground for showing the Church of England at its most arcane. There is a long history of clergy contesting matters of doctrine, most recently in the mid-1980s when the then bishop of Durham, David Jenkins, raised doubts about the virgin birth and the resurrection of Christ." Only a liberal or an ignoramus would think that the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection are "arcane" points of Christian theology.

Update: The council rejected the proposal. Oh well, back to business as usual--making the Anglican church a fancy-dress branch of Unitarian Universalism.


Beautiful Atrocities compares mainstream critics' reviews of Fahrenheit 9/11 and The Passion of Christ and finds--surprise, surprise--that Gibson's film got reamed for the same things that Moore's is now praised for: violence, partianship, demogoguery, etc. (Ripped from Church of the Masses.)

Friday, July 09, 2004


I've been checking circ stats for the books we purchased last fiscal year. Not all of them have arrived, and not all that have arrived have been catalogued, and not all that have been catalogued have been shelved. But of those that are ready for check out, the following have been pretty popular, at least relative to the ordinary sluggishness of academic library circulation:

  • Oxford Dictionary of Genetics--3 checkouts since last July. This surprised me because biological resources don't get much action here. Come to think of it, though, why is this in circulation at all?
  • The Buffalo Soldier Tragedy of 1877--3 checkouts in 3 months! I got this for the local angle, since the incident referred to in the title took place on the Llano Estacado near Lubbock.
  • Marianne in Chains: Everyday Life in the French Heartland Under the German Occupation--2 checkouts since January. Maybe Felix was right: Nazis sell.
  • Uneasy in Babylon: Southern Baptist Conservatives and American Culture--5 checkouts since last October. A no-brainer.
  • Getting Right With God: Southern Baptists and Desegregation--2 checkouts since last October. As above.

Some disappointments:

  • None of the field guides to local flora and fauna that I selected (Butterflies of West Texas Parks, Wildflowers of the Llano Estacado, Birds of the Texas Panhandle, and Flora and Fauna of Playa Lakes) have been checked out.
  • Making of Revolutionary Paris and The Great Nation: France From Louis XV to Napoleon--these two books on French history were very well reviewed, but no takers so far.
  • Oil in Texas: The Gusher Age--Although West Texas figures prominently in this account, it hasn't piqued anyone's interest here. It's only been on the shelf since March, though.
  • O Dammit!: A Lexicon and Lecture From William Cowper Brann, The Iconoclast--This chrestomathy from the Texas Mencken has been gathering dust since we got it last August.
  • James Madison (Garry Wills)--By the author of the classic Lincoln at Gettysburg.
  • Texas Trilogy--Famous plays from Preston Jones, a student of Paul Baker at Baylor.

So is this sample too small for me to draw any generalized conclusions?


Lubbock activist having hard time collecting enough signatures to force a referendum on legalizing alcohol sales on the north side of town. The problem, he says, is that he didn't receive the petition forms until June. The journalist writes, with delicious understatement:

He wanted to start the petition in May to target college students, a group he described as more receptive to expanded alcohol sales.

Thursday, July 08, 2004


Swedish pastor jailed for preaching against homosexuality. This quote is so ridiculous that fisking would be superfluous: "Soren Andersson, the president of the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender rights, said on hearing Green's jail sentence that religious freedom could never be used as a reason to offend people."

Wednesday, July 07, 2004


Milk consumption decreases chance of colorectal cancer.


Although most of these reviews are not exactly adultatory, the religious slant of the book may make it appropriate for our library.

DeCaro Jr., Louis A. "Fire from the midst of you": a religious life of John Brown. New York University, 2002. 349p bibl index afp ISBN 0-8147-1921-X, $32.95.

Journal of the American Academy of Religion: “The revisionist treatment of Brown is brilliantly advanced, but it raises as many questions as it answers. Heavily documented and packed with rich information. DeCaro’s tendency to compare and contrast Brown with other pivotal figures in the abolitionist crusade adds significantly to the quality of the book. Perhaps more important than anything else, this book places Brown within the broad context of what was occurring in the struggle against racial oppression and economic exploitation in the nineteenth century. Well organized and superbly written, it should become a classic in religious biography.”
Choice: "A well-researched and enjoyable biography. DeCaro successfully argues that scholars must take Brown and his religious views seriously, rather than dismissing him as a crank or zealot. But John Brown's belief system often gets lost in the details of his fascinating life. Though DeCaro depicts Brown as increasingly alienated from institutional religion, he does not describe how Brown's thought evolved from his contact with Frederick Douglass or other black leaders, or during his experiences in Hudson, Ohio; Springfield; and Kansas. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/collections." Christian Century: “DeCaro’s book will appeal to readers interested in ante bellum evangelicalism; Oates’s will remain standard for those who are fascinated with Brown’s role as a precursor of the Civil War." Library Journal: “More ambitious than a popular history but not quite a scholarly treatise, DeCaro’s plainly written book may find an audience among readers with a deep interest in history and religion. Recommended for larger public and academic libraries." Publishers Weekly: “DeCaro’s portrayal of John Brown is hardly pathbreaking…Nonetheless, this useful book-length study is a welcome addition to the literature on John Brown.” Journal of American History: “DeCaro makes little effort to place Brown within a broad social, intellectual, cultural, or political context. He does provide a concise, sympathetic, and, on occasion, dramatic and compelling account. This is an accessible interpretation that should attract popular as well as academic interest. There are aspects that may frustrate. He often uses reminiscences anachronistically. The endnotes are haphazardly placed, and he usually does not cite secondary sources that he alludes to in the text. He prefers to rely on the older secondary literature. Most striking in a religious biography is the absence of an extended analysis of Brown’s theology.”

Tuesday, July 06, 2004


I hope whoever gets this library job decides to blog about it.


Fulton, Rachel. From judgment to passion: devotion to Christ and the Virgin Mary, 800-1200. Columbia. 676p bibl indexes afp ISBN 0-231-12550-X, $40.00.

Choice: "Fulton's sophisticated analysis of medieval prayer and liturgy reexamines the medieval conceptions of judgment, passion, and salvation, and presents valuable new insights into the development of the cult of the suffering Jesus and the compassionate Virgin Mary. This is truly an important book. Summing Up: Highly recommended." Church History: “This is an extremely ambitious book. If the project falls somewhat short, it is not for any lack of scholarly erudition, insightful reading, or graceful writing. It is simply that the reader cannot help but be reminded that Fulton is following closely in her mentor’s footsteps. The result is a study that is as humane as it is eloquent, as methodologically sophisticated as it is historically empathetic. Fulton provides detailed analyses of numerous major authors and texts. Her reading of these works is insightful and compelling. Less successful, in my view, are Fulton’s attempts to specify the cause of various events and movements in her historical account.” First Things: “Brings together an astonishing range of materials. Her thesis gets lost in the massiveness of the texts discussed, but the book nonetheless provides a richly informative tour.” Library Journal: “The book offers remarkable depth as well as breadth in a most commendable manner, though the sheer size makes this a daunting undertaking for the reader. Recommended for scholarly history and religion collections.” Publishers Weekly: “An intellectual tour de force. Fulton’s argument is sometimes obscured by jargon, but she paints in breathtaking strokes a gorgeous tapestry of the loyal devotion to the Man of Sorrows and the Mater Dolorosa.” Journal of Religion: “Magisterial. A distinguished contribution. However, I did not find the pre-Anselmian experiments in compassion in the book. Though essentially a chapter in the history of empathy, Fulton’s book also brings welcome contributions to the history of scriptural exegesis. Throughout her book, she deploys an admirable array of up-to-date forensic skills, enriched by a discerning measure of contemporary literary theory."


Lisa to call for Cornish independence with the rallying cry "Rydhsys rag Kernow lemmyn."

Monday, July 05, 2004


O'Dell, C. Robert. The Orion Nebula: where stars are born. Belknap, Harvard, 2003. 170p index afp ISBN 0-674-01183-X, $27.95.

Publishers Weekly: “O’Dell is eminently qualified…His account is both engaging and clear enough for beginners.” Choice: “an exceptionally lucid manner explains how we have been able to derive models of the physical conditions that exist within the nebulosity…Seamlessly interjected into the narrative are short passages explaining the basic physical principles…An excellent book for collections of any library serving general readers. Highly recommended. General readers; lower-division undergraduates; two-year technical program students.” Astronomy: “In-depth. O’Dell is an impeccable and eminently qualified tour guide. O’Dell deftly weaves his own experiences into this entertaining and informative book, and beautiful photographs, portraits of astronomers, and historic sketches complete the volume.” Science News: “Accessible to a wide audience. O’Dell offers a rare insider’s view of Hubble and provides many images from it to further his discourse.” Booklist: “The author instills a sense of the allure Orion exerts on professionals such as himself, thereby hooking his audience of interested amateurs.”


Heard about this on The Shape of Texas this morning: Robert Bruno's Steel House outside of Lubbock. I'll have to go take a look, since I enjoyed Jim Pendleton's Barn House near Bloomington IN.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

What did I accomplish this weekend?

  1. I applied for a couple of more jobs which, even if not as ideal as the dream job mentioned earlier, are still appealing. God willing, I'll get out of Texas one of these days.
  2. I had a good workout in the gym on Saturday. It's a summer project of mine to get from a 36 to a 34 inch waist, so I've been using Splenda in my coffee and exercising on the weekends as well as during the week. Progress is slow but steady--I lost 3 lbs in June.
  3. I finished Myst III: Exile, which I recommend highly if you like detailed and imaginative scenery, atmospheric mood music, and moderately difficult logic puzzles.
  4. I saw the first Spider Man on DVD and liked it more than I expected.
  5. I tried to watch Serbian director Emir Kusturica's acclaimed Underground, winner of the Palme d'Or at Cannes in '95, but I found it tiresome. Perhaps part of the problem is that the two main characters, outrageously uninhibited Yugoslav brothers in sports jackets, reminded me too much of the Festrunk brothers to take seriously.
  6. At Hastings I found a copy of Merde!: The Real French You Were Never Taught at School for seventy-five cents, and it's already been useful in helping me understand the Simpsons en français. I now know what the producer of Itchy and Scratchy meant by calling Marge une emmerdeuse, and it's considerably less polite than the "screwball" of the English original.