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Monday, May 31, 2010

Theology and Author Jim Harrison

Gnosticism played a role in the last two novels I've read, The Other by David Guterson and True North by Jim Harrison. I've read almost all of Harrison's many published books: fiction, nonfiction, and poetry; and the short mention in this novel of The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels was enough to make me read it.

This is not the first time I've read a book about religion that Harrison complimented since his also was my first recommendation of Stephen Mitchell's The Gospel According to Jesus. Don't conclude that religion is a common topic of his writing, however, as the topic runs well behind drinking, fishing, and sex. In his novels there must be 10 times more descriptions of the beauty of bare female bottoms than of anything remotely theological (Harrison is clearly an ass man), but even though his religious references are unusual and brief his thoughts weigh heavily on me because I admire his writing

Harrison's memoir Off to the Side describes his embrace and subsequent rejection of Fundamentalist Protestantism as a teenager. He is well read in Buddhism which makes his interest in Pagel's and Mitchell's books logical since Mitchell is a Buddhist and Pagel's book on gnosticism discusses its similarity to some aspects of the Eastern religions.

Both The Gnostic Gospels and The Gospel According to Jesus challenge traditional Christianity although they show great respect for the teachings of Jesus. They both give me much to think about concerning religion and history.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Motorcycle sidecars are cool

Had a motorcycle for a few years but never had the opportunity to ride in a side car until today.

Pam and I drove down to Southern Maryland to have lunch with friend John who I'd gotten to know through Marv. Other than his loved ones, John's passions in life are guns and motorcycles. After lunch, I got in the side car, and we drove up route 4 to while Pam and John's wife Mary Catherine followed in our car to a store which sells model trains (a distant third interest of John's) and quilting supplies. I looked at the train stuff with John, and the ladies shopped for quilt stuff.

Before saying goodbye, Pam took the above picture of John and Mary Catherine:

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

One of Marv's Poems

On Things Not done

Though I put my thoughts to rhyme
Perhaps better would be to mime
But action I fear to do
Lest my fool folly to rue
And comes the day to fear
When dire blackness appear
It all is not to matter
For naught but dust to scatter

Friday, May 14, 2010

Marvin Hurwitz: January 3, 1933 to May 10, 2010

He was my best friend for almost 40 years.

His health has not been good recently, but the end came quickly. We had lunch together on Saturday and then visited a gun shop. When I dropped him off at his home we shook hands good-bye because he was planning to go out of town. He woke up late that night in severe pain and called an ambulance. His daughter, Dana, and I met at Holy Cross Hospital Sunday morning, and I stayed until mid-afternoon. Although still in pain at that time, he was lucid, but the calls from Dana later started to sound pessimistic. She went home to Southern Maryland in the evening, but the hospital called her back to come in the middle of the night. She called me, and we were there together until he died at 11 am.

Marv and I became friends when I was in my early 20's and he was in his late 30's, but he never talked down to me and always treated me as an equal. Since I retired 9 months ago we spent a lot of time together and never ran out of things to talk about. Lately he became interested in studying the history of the English language and, knowing I remembered much of the history I majored in long ago at college, he threw many questions at me to supplement what he read and heard on DVD's.

He was close to everyone in my family. My kids knew him their whole lives, and he was "Uncle Marv" to them. I think he was in love with my wife Pam but would have never done anything to betray my trust.

Good-bye, Marv. I loved you and will miss you always.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Largemouth Bass in Shallow Water

For a couple of weeks I've been watching them in the pond in the park. They come into the shallows this time of year to spawn, but I'm not certain at what stage of the process they're in now. Although they have generally disregarded flies I've cast in their area, I caught one the day before yesterday who put up a good fight for his size which was about a foot which is about the average size I've been seeing. He leaped twice which is something I always like to see. Even when I'm not fooling any bass, there are invariably bluegills that I hook. Actually, I've done much more looking than fishing lately.

The fish aren't the only animals reproducing right now.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

An Old Maryland Plantation

Today we had the fourth session of our archaeology course and the first that we actually got hands on.

This visit was to the Needwood Mansion between Rockville and Olney. There was a couple dressed as the Robertsons who owned the plantation at the time of the Civil War. Staying in character, they complained of the Yankee Army looting their belongings and their slaves running off.

After touring the mansion, we then organized into groups and began to dig.

We then sifted the dirt through screens in search of artifacts. We didn't find anything dramatic, just some glass and a nail which we placed in a bag and documented for further study by experts. It was fun, and we learned a lot about the process.