Thursday, March 2, 2017


1. I spent a full eight hours at work in the library today. And if you mean, as I do, "work" in the sense of being a librarian rather than doing research, it's been a while since I could say that. But our new cataloging program must be installed and configured and tested, and the data from the old program migrated into it (always a hair-raising procedure), and the volunteer data inputters trained in the small but subtle differences between the programs. And this wasn't the first nearly-full day and won't be the last.

2. Found time to attend the C.S. Lewis book group's discussion of The Screwtape Letters. In a later preface to the book, Lewis said his insights into sin were not the fruit of deep theological study, and quoted "'My heart' - I need no other's - 'showeth me the wickedness of the ungodly.'" (Psalm 36: well, that's one translation) And one can see Lewis applying this tough self-critique in the work itself, as in Letter 3, where the devil uses the man's exasperation with his mother as a way of getting him to pray for an abstracted person while never noticing how uncharitable his real feelings are.

But then our moderator asked for examples of Screwtapian evil in modern life, and while the participants made many fine abstract declarations, when they got into specifics it was all about those pernicious liberals: a women's group cursing out a visitor whose only crime was to have voted for Trump, as if there were no harm in that; or hypocritically promoting scientific reliability while ignoring the American College of Pediatricians (and with a name like that, you just know they've got to represent the settled opinion of 98% of scientists) declaring that juvenile transexuality is merely a mental disorder. The members of this Lewis group call themselves Christian; did they really not notice that by their examples being only crude charges against their opponents how perfectly uncharitable they were being? Apparently not.

3. Also got out to a youth symphony concert featuring an excellent rendition of the rarely-heard work I went there for, Glazunov's Fifth Symphony. This is about my favorite of the lesser-known czarist-era symphonies. Here, this is a good performance, though various coughs and such from right by the videographer made me jump.

4. And what am I reading to cleanse my mind between intense bouts of Tolkien-editing? I'm re-reading Continental America by D.W. Meinig, the absolutely definitive geographical history of the expansion, developing boundaries (including internal), settlement patterns, and the geographic side of economic history and race relations, of the 19th century U.S. You've seen those popular books that explain how the states got their shapes? They're trivial fluff. This is the book with the full and real story.

5. B. sent me this. Oy.

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