Just a set of scrap notes, something I like to do occasionally to remind myself of what my life is like at any given time --
6:15: Got up, checked my email and played online for way too long. I am intrigued by reactions to the television series The Book of Daniel that begins tonight (except where it's already been canceled before anyone's seen it.) The American Family Association views it as an evil, heretical, and flamboyant assault on Christianity. NBC and the cast and crew claim it is a sensitive portrayal of the dilemmas and struggles of a family in which the husband and father is an Episcopalian priest. Most reviewers seem to be taking a wait-and-see attitude. It looks okay to me so far; nothing much special for television. I am mostly perturbed by the selection of the actor who plays Jesus, a European Caucasian rather than a Jew. He looks more like he is about to stride out of the countryside of France toward the Crusades than out of the hills of Galilee toward the saving of the human race. One might think that the casting director could at least get the ethnic background right.
6:45 Went back to bed. It was miserably cold and dark outside and in the house.
8:15 Finally woke up and got started on the day.
10:00 Taught one of my two 8th grade groups the Deerfield lesson on the layout of an early New England town. The other class did it yesterday. We've noticed that our students struggle mightily with work that requires visualization skills -- inadequate art instruction in elementary school? This group did catch on more quickly than the other to the fact that the 1671 map on which we worked paralleled the 1996 map, once they began to color in the lots and river. The most interesting tidbit I have picked up this week is that the farm lots were long and narrow because the early settlers used oxen to pull their plows, and oxen don't like to turn around. Solution? As few turns as possible. On a more humorous note: my students have easily understood the Puritan penchant for getting in their neighbors' faces and obsession with details about private behaviors. Several of them report having neighbors who "spy" on their Shabbos observances to make sure that they are kosher enough. I guess community life is always a struggle, no matter who you are or in what century you live.
11:00 Spent an hour or so inputting grades and comments for the end of the semester into the computer.
12:00 Off to Office Max and Borders for CDs for photos and magazines to appease my endless need to read. The New Yorker has yet another article on NOLA and Time's cover features Martin Luther King, Jr., so I picked those up, along with the new Sojourners.
1:00 Lunch and computer playtime. We called Tulane and learned that the lovely daughter does indeed have a new roommate -- but we have no way of contacting her yet. I have designated Friday afternoons, when I get out of work early (although not usually as early as today -- it's exam period), as a time to work on the photo collections I have allowed to build up over the past three years. So I went off to the photo store with a disc full of pictures. 1250 pictures as it turned out. I ordered some prints and purchased and some frames and went to another bookstore. I've been looking for Christmas cards on sale since I really did plan to send some out after Christmas but I lost them. Success on that purchase, too, and, of course, just one more little novel to read. As I drove home, the little handle that controls the window-wipers came out of its socket. It still sort of works, but the electrical connection for the washer fluid doesn't. The car has 4,000 miles on it.
6:00 Took the silly dog for a mile walk. It's about 20 degrees and snowing lightly -- quite lovely, actually. Continued the second two miles on my own -- no longer snowing. Most people still have their Christmas lights up, so it was a very nice walk indeed.
8:00 Spent an hour fooling around on the computer, mostly with flickr.com. Nothing whatever about technology is intuitive for me. As you can see, I've added a Presby blogring to my repertoire -- but I have no idea what a blogring is.
9:00 Settled in to watch the dreaded Book of Daniel on tv. My take on it: Desperate Housewives II. I guess it could be called Desperate Clergy Families. The family dysfunction isn't any more offensive than it is on the real DH, where the girls bounce around in skimpy outfits and extra-curricular sex and murder are de rigueur. The Jesus character has a few potent lines, but mostly comes across as a somewhat stoned hippie -- not surprising, since a number of other characters have drug and alcohol related issues. The offensive part, to me, is the depiction of the female characters. The minister's daughter is a drab takeoff on Claire Fisher of Six Feet Under, one of the finest television dramas ever concocted -- same looks, same mannerisms, same artistic temperament. The minister's wife and her sister mostly flail around with their martinis, and the bishop played by Ellen Burstyn is no step up. The man bishop is astonishingly dense and not a little creepy in his denseness. It's entertaining enough -- but hardly a show that takes the life of faith seriously. In fact, I would say that most of the lay Presyterians I know -- and we belong to one of the more liberal denominations -- spend a lot more time taking questions of God's presence and our connection to God seriously than anyone on this show. Conclusion? I'm not offended, but I'm not impressed.
11:00 Time to hit the sack with my new novel -- a mystery of some sort set in the fourteenth century and concerning the transcription of a forbidden English translation of the Bible. Probably both more entertaining and more on target insofar as spirituality is concerned.