Monday, January 21, 2008
Canny Carnoustie and Delightful Durham
Behold the clubhouse at Carnoustie in Dundee, Scotland. The day was 1 /16/ o8, and the weather was bonny. The next picture is of me with my doctoral student at St. Andrews Aaron Kuecker. This word just in-- he beat me by 9 strokes, but then again, he is half my age and taller. We both scored under triple digits on this most difficult of all British Open courses on a truly bonny day in Scotland. The sun however, when it does shine, only does so from about 8:30 to 4ish in northern Scotland in January. We were truly blessed to have such a day to play.
Behold a little further down the obstacles in our way-- heather, still blooming, and gorse-- faith and begorry. Its enough to make a man want to hurl his haggis. And then there are the undulated greens and pot bunkers. You will also find here a picture of the hole called Spectacles due to its two massive man eating pot bunkers. Whilst my golf balls managed to avoid a watery grave throughout the round, as I baptized none, I did manage to find 3 pot bunkers and some rough rough along the way. If only, after parring the first hole I could have kept going that way throughout the round. But it was not to be. You'll find as well a further picture of Aaron and myself at the end of the round as well, near the clubhouse.
The remainder of the pictures in this blog are from my spiritual home, Durham, where I did my PhD between 1977-80. The first picture is of one of the stained glass windows in the Galilee Chapel of that great Norman Cathedral, Durham Cathedral. It is certainly the greatest Norman structure of any kind in Europe, dating to the late 11th century A.D. The second picture shows the Cathedral as it appeared last week from the Wear river. The Cathedral sits on a peninsula as the river winds in a remarkable U shape around this bit of land, turning it nearly into an island. The second cathedral picture looks from the opposite direction on Framelgate Bridge, the main bridge into the old city across the Wear. I also took a picture from within the cathedral cloister on Saturday morning when it was a bit more sunny.
Below these pictures we have a shot of a house on the Bailey at dawn in the shadow of the cathedral (note the three bottles of milk-- yes they still deliver them that way. It beats wasting carton after carton). The next picture looks out the window from my room at St. John's college where I lectured on Friday. What you see is the Norman chapel across the road, which also lies in the shadow of the cathedral, and the last picture is of the same little chapel. Sir Walter Scott was to say of Durham Cathedral and Castle that it was half castle against the Scot, have cathedral to God's glory. Here the bishops who were also princes resided. Originally on Palace Green there was not a proper University, but rather Bishop Cousins library, a hospital or infirmary and the usual ecclesiastical buildings that would surround a cathedral, such as the chorister's residences and school. Today, all the buildings on the top of the peninsula belong to Durham University save for the cathedral, the cathedral close, and its buildings.
There is however still the finest Theology department in the land to be found here, perched next to the Cathedral in Abbey House on Palace Green. It is still one of the finest places in the English speaking world to take a theology degree, whether at the Undergraduate, Graduate, or Post-Graduate level. I remember all too well my first class I sat in on as a doctoral student at Durham. It was John Rogerson's class on the Dead Sea Scrolls. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the class consisted of 3 under-graduates and me. Imagine my further surprise when these three under-graduates could all rattle off the proper translation from the unpointed Hebrew photocopies without batting an eye. If this was what under-graduates could do , I could only imagine what it took to do doctoral work in such a subject.
Then there was Barrett's famous NT seminar which I attended weekly during term. I was seated beside Lord Michael Ramsay, the former archbishop, whose eyebrows were so grand and bushy, I could barely see Barrett at the end of the the table through them. Cranfield was there, Rogerson was there, guests like Metzger and Davies were there, and of course Barrett's petrified doctoral students. We all sat there awaiting our turn to translate from the Didache, after which we would be asked questions. It was rather random, so one never knew when you might be called upon. I was asked early on to translate from the Lord's Supper bit of the Didache. I did so mustering up my courage and then gave a rather timid explanation for the text's meaning. Barrett, peering around Ramsay's eyebrows asked me-- "And what precisely do you mean by that?" I was sorely tempted to respond "Honestly, I didn't mean anything by that." But I gave some sort of feeble reply, and the conversation moved on. These were deep waters, and there was no chance of faking it when it came to the reading of the primary sources-- you would be quickly exposed if you tried to bluff your way through it. After many more courses (which were all voluntary so far as the degree was concerned, but ever so necessary if one wanted to become a real scholar), courses like Theology and Ethics of the NT (Barrett), Romans (Cranfield), Calvin and Luther (T.H.L. Parker), and various others, I managed to write and finish my doctoral work, and went home with our new daughter (Christy, born in Durham), and the prospect of pastoring four churches-- I figured it couldn't be more daunting that Barrett's seminar--- I was right, if the issue was the intellectual challenge, but wrong, when considering the personal and spiritual challenges of pastoring four churches.
Hope you enjoy the shots and the reverie.