The Silly Season
I am reading—or re-reading—a book I read many years ago. It's clear that it registered far more deeply than I was aware at the time. Perhaps because it supported conclusions I had already arrived at, it didn't stick out in my memory.
In any event, The Suffering of God by Terence Fretheim blows to smithereens the stereotype of the Old Testament God as big bad Daddy in the sky. It also goes a long way towards showing how much of the understanding of notions such as incarnation, transfiguration, and the suffering of God are already established in the Old Testament from very early times onwards. It's a terrific read, highly recommended.
It's high summer here in Oxford and in the UK in general, often called 'The Silly Season'. The town is heaving with tourists to the point that it is almost impossible to walk down the Cornmarket or the Broad. It's quicker to take the longer routes, but I try to avoid the town centre as much as possible. We have had a couple of weeks of hot weather; badly-needed rain last night, thank God—the garden loves both. The beans looks as if they grew a metre up their poles in the rain overnight. The squash plants are enormous, and the pumpkins are crawling all over the place. I'm already thinning leaves to keep the air circulating.
Very concerned about pollinators, though: I haven't seen too many bees this summer. There used to be a bumblebee nest behind the shed, but there is no evidence of it now. I don't use any chemicals unfriendly to bees and I've set up various places bees can nest, so their absence is worrying. The apple tree has not set a lot of fruit, but this may be because it had a plethora of small apples last year. If bees go extinct, some scientist think that humans will follow in four years' time. The latest culprit named as deadly to bees, aside from pesticides, is diesel exhaust. Since so much trade and transport depends on diesel, it's hard not to be extremely pessimistic, because regulation is so difficult and from some points of view it is already too late.
On a happier note, it's the season of summer rituals in southern England, starting with Royal Ascot, continuing with the pre-Wimbledon tennis tournaments (Queens and Eastbourne), Wimbledon (the finals are today and tomorrow), the Henley Regatta, and the Proms to come from mid-July to mid-September, all lavishly accompanied for those who attend by champagne, strawberries and cream, and Pimms (needless to say, whatever I watch is on TV, without the accompaniments!).
The men's semi-finals day at Wimbledon yesterday concluded with a wildly funny evening doubles match played by flamboyant seniors. They were all in their early seventies, but still able to deliver excellent, if not remarkable, tennis, laced with wildly funny trick shots and antics, most of which looked entirely spontaneous, even if they weren't—it was hard to tell. These older men have been playing one another for so many years that they need no rehearsal, though it's clear that they all train hard—well, some harder than others. Their agility and muscle tone is enviable. Even the umpire and Hawk-eye got in on the act. At one point a player decided to serve two balls at once and the deadpan umpire named it a double fault. The server challenged, and Hawk-eye came up with three large question marks. For all the clowning, the seniors do have their own ratings so the match wasn't mere frivolity.
Nor is my life! But these events provide welcome intervals from the hard graft of research and of creating volume 2 of Silence: A User's Guide.
May your summer be richly blessed.