Friday, December 31, 2004
While my peas soak ...
There are a bunch of different ways to make it. The following comes from Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer and Ethan Becker, The All New All Purpose Joy of Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1997), 257.
A friend of mine, a correspondent for me when I was a state editor at a Texas paper, gave the book to Dr. ER and I as a weddin’ present in 1997.
My friend, a native rural Texan, took the extra step of copyin’ the game instructions and recipes from the original Joy of Cooking (how to skin a squirrel, how to prepared jugged hare, cook a muskrat or armadillo, things like that) and including copies in the newfangled cookbook. Ol’ ER cherishes it all.
Danged if there’s not a connection to the Reformation in this write-up!
Hoppin’ John (Carolina Rice and Bean Pilau) – 8 to 10 servings
Pilau, that is, a rice dish made with meat or vegetables, was probably brought to the Carolinas in the early seventeenth century by the Huguenots, French Protestants who came to America in order to escape persecution in their homeland. Pilau is Middle Eastern, not French, but it had come to be made in Provence during the late Middle Ages, when Muslims settled widely throughout Mediterranean Europe. When French-style Middle Eastern pilau came to America, it blended with rice dishes made by African Americans, who were experts at cooking rice. What resulted were various American pilaus – or pilafs, purlows, perlews, and so on – of which Hoppin’ John is today the best known. Southerners traditionally serve Hoppin’ John at New Year’s, but it is delicious at any time.
Pick over and rinse:
8 ounces dried black-eyed peas (about 1 ¼ cups)
Turn the peas into a large ovenproof pot and add enough cold water to cover by 1 inch. Boil rapidly for 1 minute, then remove from the heat, cover and let stand for 1 ½ hours. Drain the peas and rinse thoroughly. Return the peas to the pot and add:
3 cups water
1 ½ cups chopped onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic (optional)
4 ounces smoked ham, diced
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 large bay leaves
Simmer gently, uncovered, just until tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid. Discard the bay leaves. Season the peas and ham with:
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Cover and set aside. Let the pea cooking liquid settle for 5 minutes, then pour it into a 4-cup measure, discarding the residue at the bottom of the pot. Add to make 2 ¾ cups:
½ to 1 ¼ cups chicken stock
Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Set the same pot you used to cook the peas over medium heat and add:
2 tablespoons butter
2 to 4 slices bacon, diced
Cook, stirring, until the bacon has released most of its fat and has begun to crisp. Stir in:
1 ½ cups long-grain rice
1 teaspoon salt
Cook, stirring to coat the grain with fat, for 1 minute. Add the pea cooking liquid and bring to a simmer. Stir once with a fork, then cover and bake until the rice has absorbed all the liquid, 20 to 25 minutes. Scatter the peas and ham over the tops, cover and return to the oven for 3 minutes. Sprinkle with:
¼ cup minced fresh parsley
Toss lightly with a fork until the rice is fluffed and all the ingredients are mixed. Cover and let stand for 10 to 30 minutes before serving. Hoppin’ John can be made 1 day ahead, coverered, and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature, then bake, covered and without stirring, in a 275-degree F oven until just warmed through.
Thursday, December 30, 2004
Ol' ER worked in the same joint, as well as three others along Interstate 40 in eastern Oklahoma, in the early '80s. Ol' ER, in other words, and his friend who wrote the following, are lucky to be alive.
Click on the link or go to http://www.10buck2.blogspot.com/
Man, that was the worst game I'd seen since ... OSU vs. Texas Tech, in Lubbock. I was hoping the Alamo Bowl would let me get the bad taste of THAT fiasco out of my mouth. Alas ...
There's always rasslin'. I may very well make one of the following trips to see the boys grapple.
Thu, Jan 06 Michigan State - - Stillwater, Okla. 7 p.m.
Sun, Jan 16 Iowa - - Stillwater, Okla. 1:30 p.m.
And with Bird there now, and my own academic sojourn at an end (a lull anyway), I WILL be sittin' in Allie P. Reynolds Stadium some this spring to see some baseball games.
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
Bird went with me to Stillwater (home of Oklahoma State) this morning, me for a work thing, her to clean up her dorm room -- uh, suite.
Then, we had the world-famous cheese fries at Eskimo Joe's -- recommended by none other than then-President George H. W. Bush, who had them on a campaign stop back in the day -- and a Joe's Special apiece.
A fine day, all in all. GO POKES!
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
Our Bird keeps flying into a window. The window is our will, Dr. ER's and my own. We wonder what she sees in the reflection.
Bird just keeps daring us and defying us and sassing us. She's a good kid. But she can be so stubborn and blind to her own attitude and ingratitude sometimes it makes us crazy.
Sayin' your grateful ain't being grateful. Being grateful is showing respect, deference even, to those to whom you owe your income and well-being. Or are we silly to think that?
Anyway, the window is battered tonight, and Bird feathers are flyin' all over. We love our Bird dearly. But she sure makes it hard to like her sometimes, and tonight is one of those times.
Monday, December 27, 2004
Cure for "impudent anus"
Keep the following in mind when some self-righteous lawmaker, or scientist, bellows about the need to root legislation in "sound science."
Yes, of course. But in a generation, if not before, today's science, and today's doctrine, will be history.
"It didn't take long to see, he wrote in later years, that learning at the university was more about fancy robes and winning arguments and citing the proper authorities than it was about the pursuit of truth: he had bitten into the apple of knowledge and came away 'naked as Adam and Eve.' He felt like a fool, because he knew nothing except how to argue, and merely to support a predetermined position rather than to find truth." -- Craig Harline, Miracles at the Jesus Oak: Histories of the Supernatural in Reformation Europe (New York: Doubleday, 2003), 182.
The author was writing about the young doctor Jan Baptista van Helmont, Natural Philospher, who later cited the following in a tract that explicated the interplay of science, natural philosophy and the Christian faith as he saw it in the 17th century:
"To avenge yourself memorably on those who might excrete on the threshold of your door, place a red-hot iron on the excrement itself, and in very short order the offendor would develop sores and scabs on his buttocks, for 'dorsal magnetism' was driving "the acrimony of the burning into his impudent anus." -- Harline, 201.
"Impudent anus" sounds like what the extended ER family (on the Dr. ER side) calls havin' "a case of the ass."
Old St. (Red)Neck
Bird got me a Zippo. Might be my favorite present this go-round for a bunch of reasons. It was thoughtful. Bird said, "At least you can be cool when you're being gross," referrin' to the fancy cigars I smoke when I can afford 'em and the Walgreens cigars I smoke most of the time. The Zippo makes me think of Daddy. And, well, Zippos are just cool, dang it, especially if your inner child is a little redneck with a touch of pyromania. :-)
Bird's PaPa was in charge of procuring me a new pocket knife to replace the one I've been carryin' the past five or six years. It's a fine three-blade piece, by Winchester. Excellent.
Good friend of mine in Texas got me a fancy set of dominos, with the Texas flag on 'em. Very cool.
Dr. ER got me (and Bird) poker sets, and a bunch of other stuff, including the best Western ever made, "High Noon," which was a real surprise since her main gift to me was supposed to be a class ring (not yet procured) to go with my hoity-toity degree.
Lighter. Knife. Dominos. Cards and chips. Happy as can be. (And I woulda worn the Old Spice, which might be why nobody got me any!) :-)
I'm old. The dominos sealed it.
But almost everyone around me the past two days was older! Ha! Except for bird and a grown niece. Fa la la la la, la la ha ha! I am STILL one of the babies of the family.
Saturday, December 25, 2004
Here's a great message for Christmas Day, from Edward Fudge's gracEmail, which I've been getting as long as I've had the 'Net. Merry Christmas!
gracEmail (CHRISTMAS -- PROPHECY FULFILLED)
Dec 22, 2004
This Christmas I am impressed anew that we are seeing biblical prophecy fulfilled before our eyes. Not the kind of prophetic fulfillment about which the sensationalists talk and write best-seller books for the gullible masses -- about Middle-eastern conflict and geopolitics and world banks and bar codes at the supermarkets. No, something far more solid and biblical than any of that! God's word to Isaiah 2,700 years ago has come to pass: "The root of Jesse will come, and the one who rises to rule over the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope."
All you have to do is turn on the radio, or go to a mall. You will discover that throughout the Gentile world, in word and in song, people of all nations are celebrating the birth of the Jewish Messiah, the Light to the Nations, the descendant of Abraham through whom the whole world is blessed! "I make you a covenant mediator for people, and a light to the nations," God said to Isaiah concerning the Messiah (42:6-7). "Arise! Shine! For your light arrives! The splendor of the LORD shines on you!" (Isa. 60:1) "Nations come to your light, kings to your bright light. Look all around you!" (Isa. 60:3). And so they have come -- from the first Christmas, when Magi came from the East, until this very day!
This little e-mail message is traveling at lightning speed around the world -- across North, Central and South America, throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, to the British Isles and islands in the Atlantic and Pacific, to the Near East and Far East and the Pacific Rim, to countries predominantly Moslem and Hindu and Shinto and Buddhist and animistic and communist and theoretically Christian. To a world that once sat in great darkness, whose inhabitants worshipped sticks and stones, or the sun and moon, or forces of nature. A world which once did not know the Creator, did not enjoy covenant with him, did not hope in his promises. But today, in every one of these places, people are serving God's Messiah, the Christ-child, who became a man and died for our sins and rose again, who is coming again one day to establish peace forever!
Have a blessed Christmas, my friends! May his Presence gently hover above the presents, and "may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in him, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 15:13).
© 2004 by Edward Fudge. Unlimited permission to copy without altering text or profiteering is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice. For encouragement and spiritual food any time, visit our multimedia website at www.EdwardFudge.com .
Poor Bird, lucky Bird
Lucky bird! She was still within an easy drive of her grandparents, my in-laws, who were fixing to head up here on the very same highway that Bird was heading for -- so between her PaPa and her biological father, Bird's broken-down car got limped back to BF's house, and Bird and her stuff got loaded up with PaPa and Grandma, and all are finally headed up the H.E. Bailey Turnpike to get here fer Christmas.
Said Bird, after the boohoos had passed, "I NEED presents." Yes, she does.
Merry CHRIST mass, y'all
Friday, December 24, 2004
Merry Christmas Eve, y'all!
Thursday, December 23, 2004
“It smells of boy in here.”
— Jedediah Nightlinger, black cookie hired by drover Wil Anderson (John Wayne) to feed the youngsters he is forced to hire to cowboy on a cattle drive in the 1972 classic “The Cowboys.” Nightlinger, played superbly by Roscoe Lee Brown (both actor and character plenty strong enough to play the first black man most of the boys had ever seen), utters the verbal sneer upon entering the bunkhouse where the rambunctious lads are sleeping.
“It smells of dog in here.”
— Me, this morning, the aged yet still regal Pembroke Welsh corgi, Riker, asleep on his pallet near the foot of the bed. (Not that Riker is stinky! He would be so offended at the mere idea! His pallet, though, might could use a cleanin'.)
Those little cowboys, who came to mind this mornin’ at first light (and first whiff), were out of their element all cooped up together like that in the bunkhouse. The livestock that have taken over our house during this cold spell, likewise, are in the wrong place: inside.
Don’t get me wrong. Our primary dog, Riker, deserves every minute he gets to spend inside. And our auxiliary dog, Bailey, the alleged miniature Dachshund, deserves to be in, the sun room, at least, because his little ears get like icicles this time of year.
But it just ain’t fittin’ to have livestock in the house overnight. Which is the main reason I’ll be glad when this spell of winter has passed. Havin’ critterdogs in the house is somethin’ I had to get used to when Dr. ER and I got together.
Ol’ ER grew up on a farm. And on this farm, the people lived in the house and the animals lived outside. Except for a rat terrier we rescued from the pound in Fort Smith — Prissy, obviously abused and traumatized — I can’t remember a critterdog bein’ in the house for more than a minute at a time, if that.
Prissy was a special case. She laid shakin’ in her blanky, in a warm house, with people doting on her, for weeks and weeks before she came out of whatever shell she’d surrounded herself with to deal with whatever human evil befell her before we rescued her.
When she came around, she loved us like there was no tomorrow. Then, out she went. Outdoors. Houses can be intensive care units for critterdogs, even crittercats, I reckon, but not homes.
The notion of a cat as “pet” is relatively new to me, too.
When I was growing up, cats were half of what lived in the haybarn, the other half bein’ rats. The best we could hope for, it seems like, was to maintain a balance of power between them.
But to have a cat as a pet? Huh. Hadn’t though of that until Mao, the crittercat that showed up and adopted us on 9/11, came along. Mao sneaks in once in awhile, especially when it’s cold — it was 14 degrees this morning, surely the coldest day of the year here — but she does not live in the house.
Nor do Riker and Bailey, usually.
Greater love hath no man than this: That a farm boy who grew up with a strict concept of ag society and class structure — animals live outside, people live inside — loves his critterdogs, even his stepcritterdog, enough to let ‘em stay in the house when it gets real cold outside.
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Havin' the Broncho's hind end against my cheek was totally unplanned. I was rushin' Dr. ER. My bad.
You're doin' about 90 mph on a county road and accelerating. Just as the pavement ends and the road turns to gravel, you take your foot off the gas.
For an instant, between the hum of the asphalt and the crunch of the gravel -- in that half-second when you start to decelerate -- it's like floating.
You don't touch the brake. You just coast. After going so fast on smooth pavement, feeling the gravel under your tires is a little weird, and the pliability of the roadbed, compared to the tight asphalt before, makes the steering wheel a little loose, which makes you grip it harder at first, until you adjust.
The whole truck seems just on the verge of out-of-control, but if you're an experienced driver you know it's not. You know that gravity will win out over intertia and the truck will coast to a stop -- if you just let it.
You have to refrain from either turning the steering wheel too much or keeping it locked with the truck pointed dead ahead. You have to be just a little flexible, but not too much.
That's how I feel. I'm just keepin' the shiny side up and the dirty side down, keepin' myself betwen the ditches, lettin' myself coast. After goin' 90-to-nothing for so long, it feels weird.
A little while ago, I was ambling down a hallway on campus, just outside the graduate college, where I was headed to pick up a copy of a document I need to enter my thesis in a contest. An assistant dean saw me sort of strollin' and said, "Can I help you? You look lost."
"Nope, I know where I'm going," I replied. "Thanks, though."
I'm coasting. And I don't wear it well, apparently, if even a stranger thinks that with the pressure off I look out of sorts. Fine with me. I will coast awhile longer, though.
I don't think I'll come to a complete stop, however. It'd be more like me to slip into second gear at the appropriate speed and take off again until I get back up to speed.
Coming to a complete stop is definitely not my style. Scares me to think about it, in fact.
Monday, December 20, 2004
Now, Texas A&M is a right fine institution of higher education. But I couldn't help but wonder the kinds of imponderables he pondered.
What is the sound of one hand milking?
If a calf is dropped in the middle of a pasture and there is no one around to hear it, does it make a sound?
Is the feed trough half full or half empty?
And, of course, which came first, the chicken or the egg?
Why did that chicken cross the road?
Feel free to contribute! What other kinds of agistential questions might be thunk of in a philosophy program at A&M? (Which I wonder in good humor, havin' picked up a couple of sheepskins at an aggie school -- Oklahoma State -- my own self.)
Sunday, December 19, 2004
At our Christmas luncheon at work the other day, the top dog of the outfit sidled up as I was pilin’ brisket and beans onto my plate and said, “A down-home meal for a down-home columnist.”
Well, I reckon. It’s not that I try. If anything, it’s that I don’t try to be what I’m not. The natural me comes out, is all.
Admittedly, I have to rein in the natural me quite a bit sometimes; a major daily newspaper can only stand so many colloquialisms – which means actually writin’ the way people talk – before the copy editors start freakin’ out.
But, here’s my question: What makes brisket and beans any more “down home” that turkey and dressing? Or Cornish game hens and asparagus? Or pizza. Or jambalaya? Or meatloaf and mashed taters? Or pecan-crusted trout and caramelized carrots?
“Down home” depends on whose home you’re talkin’ about, doesn’t it?
Reminds me of two incidents in my development as a redneck gastronome: the first time I ate Ethiopian food and the first time I ate “soul” food.
Numero uno. The first time I ate Ethiopian food was in Washington, D.C. Fancy place, fancy date with a fancy girl. Honey wine. Very heady stuff for a twentysomething ER.
We ordered, me deferring to her, she bein’ a woman of the world. I drew the line at sittin’ on the floor. I did, at her insistence, eschew silverware.
She ordered, of course, since I didn’t know doro wat from gomen – and still don’t. The food came. As I was joyfully eatin’ this way different meal with this fine lass, using the thin pancakes to scoop bites at a time from communal bowls, I realized:
Hey, this is real familiar. Beef chunks? Collard greens? Some kind of taters? Well, I’ll swan.
Except for the honey wine, there wadn’t a thing in them bowls I hadn’t eaten before. Not a thing. Made me feel right at home.
Ask Dr. ER for a completely different Ethiopian eatin’ experience involving myself, her and Bird on a much more recent trip to Washingtennessee, as D.C. is known in our house. But the first time, back in the middle of Reagan’s second term, was very cool.
Numero two-o. The first time I ate “soul” food was in the town in Texas where I lived and worked before now.
The lone black city councilman, a preacher-pastor-community builder-people person in the legacy of the Rev. Dr. MLK, decided to open a “soul” food restaurant, to cater to the black community in town, but also to be a place where blacks and whites could get together just to get along, which is always a good thing.
A bunch of us at the paper loaded up, at the reverend’s invitation, and headed over to his new eatin’ joint to try out his vittles.
Why, it was like old home week for ER, who is as whitebread as they come. His menu was loaded with fried chicken, cornbread, black-eyed peas, greens, barbecue, corn, mashed taters, chicken-fried steak, greenbeans and other kinds of “soul” food.
Do what? That’s just good eatin’. Even the chitlins were nothing new for me, since Daddy used to eat just about anything that didn’t crawl off his plate (pig brains and eggs, potted meat and head cheese, for example) a trait that I inherited – ‘cause I do love menudo. (Copy editor lurkers: “chitlins” is what real people call “chitterlings,” the small intestines of hogs.)
Soul food is Southern food, is all. The West picked up a lot of it, partly because of the poor whupped Rebels who headed to the land of the settin’ sun after the War of Northern Aggression, and added some Spanish and Indian spice to lots of it.
And, not to make too big a deal out of it, but if white folks and black folks can come together to break bread and share a meal – especially if its cornbread and the meal is a yardbird fried to a scrumptious golden hue – then we’re all already more than halfway to getting’ along.
Saturday, December 18, 2004
I've spent more time in the library in the past three and a half years than in my previous life combined. That's throughout two bachelor's degrees and a minor.
Every time I was in the library working on this master's degree, I was in the distinct minority as a white American male. Sometimes, I was the only white guy in the entire place -- except for a few who work there. And I am not stretching it.
Today, that was reflected when they called the names of those of us who earned master's degrees "with honors," which means we got out with a 4.00 grapde-point average -- straight A's.
It went like this:
Foreign name ... foreign name ... foreign name ... foreign name ... Erudite Redneck ... foreign name ... foreign name ... foreign name ... foreign name ... and so on.
My real first name is as Anglo as they come, and my last name is four letters long, one syllable with a long vowel sound -- not common, but it sounds Anglo, nonetheless. They were the only such names in the list of honors graduate students.
Made me proud and somewhat concerned at the same time.
The most statisfying moment was when I sat back down after being recognized with the other honors grads, and my seat mates, fellow worn-out-and-torn-up, bedraggled working adults taking grad classes on top of everything else in life, all rank strangers, each congratulated me. They know how hard it was. I was touched.
Touched also, I was -- or "tetched" as we say in the hills -- when, as my name was called later to walk across the stage and get the empty sheepskin (real diplomas come in the mail, recall), Dr. ER, from up near the rafters in the University of Central Oklahoma's Hamilton Field House, hollered out "Git 'er doooonnneeee!" a la Larry the Cable Guy.
We truly are erudite rednecks, Dr. ER and I. :-)
Friday, December 17, 2004
Only now do I know for sure that I made an A in that dang class on the Reformation, which means that I made straight A's in grad school.
That means that the honors cords that I was going to wear with hope tomorrow I can now wear in truth.
Seems silly, maybe. But it was important to me!
Here's the message from my prof, who was sort of ribbing me because she knew I was agonizing over this. It came at about 6:30 p.m. tonight:
Without fear of misleading any viewer, you may feel free to wear the most elaborate and elegant regalia for your graduation tomorrow. I trust your wife will be there to cheer the end of her sufferings as enthusiastic student's wife.
(Professor Etcet Era)"
What a hoot!
And, yes, Dr. ER and B. Bird both will be present, and, hopefully, my oldest friend and my big brother, who are supposed to be makin' the drive in from eastern Oklahoma in the morning!
And therewith will this three-and-a-half-year saga end -- at least until my diploma comes in the mail, and the bound copies of my thesis come sometime in February, the receival of which will warrant comment here. :-)
Thursday, December 16, 2004
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
I will have a mortarboard on my noggin -- with my thinking cap on under it!
I will be wearing the gown (I prefer to call it a "robe") the event demands -- and under it I'll have on my smarty pants!
And, I will be adorned with the honor cords that indicate that I kicked major buttocks the past three and a half years in grad school. I will later use them to tie one-half of my brain behind my back to keep things fair during the inevitable bar bets that are sure to follow.
And then, y'all may all call me "master."
--ER, B.S., B.S., (M.A.)
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
After several such field trips, we then took a field trip to a bakery in Fort Smith, Ark.
I was so confused. "Where's the dang field," I thought!
This was about the same time all the Head Start moms had a good belly laugh at my expense when they asked me what I was drawin' at the easel (great word) one day, when it was plainly a big green tree covered with purple spots, and I announced easefully, "a grape tree!" How embarrassing. We even had a fence row of grapes on the farm.
Thus began my love affair with words and their various meanings!
Monday, December 13, 2004
Holy Roman Cow
My best guess is that I made 77 on my final. All I needed for an A for the course was a 68. We'll see.
My entire academic career rests largely on my answers to the following two questions:
1. From the perspective of the Holy Roman Emporer, explain the goals, objectives and obstacles encountered and overcome by participants in the Thirty Years War.
2. Outline the issues and events in the 1640s leading to the English Civil War. How did the Restoration government deal with the same types of issues?
Plus eight IDs, including "Livonian War," "Jansenism," "Ivan III," "conquest of Kazan and Astrakhan," "duke of Sully," "Uniate Church" ... and two others that I can't immediately recall.
SIGH. I was just now looking over my transcript on-line, and danged if I haven't enrolled in, and paid for, one more hour than was required for my thesis. Holy Roman crap!
Sunday, December 12, 2004
25 hours from now
Today I will spend chained to my notes and the dining table -- except at 2 p.m., I will watch Bedlam wrestling -- Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. University of Oklahoma (Go Cowboys!) on TV.
And sometime today I have to rake leaves in the front yard, in self defense. Stiff southwest winds last week piled the things up on the porch; I can't see the front flowerbed; and they're drifted up on top of some of our Christmas lights, and I need to rake them away before I'll be comfortable turnin' the lights on again.
But first, I have to get a good handle on the Muscovites and the Ivans, the Poles, Livonians, Swedes, the Stuarts and the Jameses, and about 40-some other members of the cast of characters and issues and events in Europe, circa 1550 to 1650 or so!
Wish me luck, and send prayers up, about 11 a.m. Monday. Three book reviews: done. Two previous essay tests: done. Two evil map tests: done. Two previous classes, six seminars and a 236-page thesis: done, done and done.
Just one more test and Dr. ER, as she says, gets her ER back!
Saturday, December 11, 2004
My affections for things porcine pale compared to my bovine proclivities but they are real, nonetheless.
I just got done standin’ at the stove, fixin’ a pound of sausage for the first time in a long time, then eatin’ some with some eggs over easy and oven-broiled, buttered toast, and so I’m thinkin’ about pigs.
We did not, as far as I can recollect, have pigs when I was growing up. My dad did raise them, but it was either before my time or when I was so little I can’t recall it.
I do seem to recall a particular garden plot – not part of the main vegetable patch – that was where a pigpen used to be. A bunch of tomato plants were there anyway, because of the natural fertilizer the pigs left behind. If I have dreamt this, someone will let me know.
Mama tells of a big hog that ate one, or some, kittens that managed to get in the wrong place. Somewhere along the way, I picked up the notion that a, or some, hogs had eaten a baby that crawled into a pen -- not on pur place but nearby. That might’ve been a rural legend, but big hogs certainly are capable of such.
One of my buddies in school was in FFA and had a horse, a heifer and a pig, the latter two for showing purposes. We were messing with his pig one day and I stuck my foot through the hog wire fence.
The critter clamped his jaws around my toes – COLLAPSING THE STEEL TOE OF MY BOOT AROUND THEM. Them hogs got some powerful jaws.
This made for an amusing moment many years later in Texas, at the newspaper where I worked. A young woman working there was from Long Island, I believe, and felt like she had been banished to the frontier by having to take the job.
She had worked for New York Newsday and was only in this town in Texas because her husband, a jet pilot, was stationed at the nearby Air Force base.
She was going on one day about the odd brief items that would appear in the paper from time to time, usually at my behest as farm-and-ranch editor. Things like:
BUGTUSSLE – Bugtussle County 4-H’ers and FFA members are reminded to bring their show rabbits in for tattooing Saturday between 2 and 4 p.m. at the Bugtussle School Ag Barn.
BULLWAGON WASHOUT – Ranchers around Bullwagon Washout who want their herds tested for worms should bring pasture samples and $15 to the Bull County Ag Extension Office no later than 5 p.m. Friday. Samples will be sent to the testing center at College Station.
RANGEVILLE – A seminar for ag youth raising pigs for the local, county and state fairs, “It Takes More than an Egg a Day with Their Feed,” will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the Rangeville 4-H Barn. Bring a side dish. A main course of ham will be served promptly at 7.
So, this Long Island lady, so out of her element, was wondering out loud what things like the above meant, because she had no idea. I was always teasin’ her about her findin’ herself in such a place considerin’ where she was from, and one day when she was musing about her predicament I randomly said to her the following :
“Hey’ve you ivver hed a hahgbatcha?”
I’m sure that’s what she heard. My dialect is Ozarkian. She replied with the New York equivalent of “Do what?” which is “pardon me?”
“A hahgbatcha? What the heck is a hahgbatcha?”
So I said it even slower: “No, hev … you … ivver … hed … a … hahg … bat … chew?”
It took forever for her to figger out what I was sayin’. I might’ve even had to write it down for her: “Have you ever had a hog bite you?”
Anyway, I told her the story about a 4-H pig bitin’ down on my steel-toed boot hard enough to peench my toes. She was amazed, of course, havin’ never heard of such.
Me and pigs kept up with one another in college, too. Not hard at a land-grant university like Oklahoma State.
We used to eat regularly at a restaurant on the main east-west highway through Stillwater. More than a few times, I’d be plowin’ into a plate of bacon and eggs or sausage and eggs, glance out the window and no more than 20 or 30 feet away would be a bunch of pigs. The OSU Swine Barn was right next door.
On a trip to North Carolina to commit an act of journalism back in ’96, I learned the difference in the Durocs, Hampshires, Chester Whites, Spots and other breeds kids still raise and the genetic mutants raised in corporate hog farms. Modern pigs have breed names like “PIC 34758,” the initials standing for Pig Improvement Company.
At this “farm” in North Carolina, a photographer and I were in a barn with 600-something pigs, which were packed in like slices of bacon. They were all, I don’t know, maybe 60 or 80 pounds or so and were manically sucking on feed tubes.
There was a sick pen, of course, because there are always sick pens when large numbers of livestock are involved. I will spare you the details. But amid all the noise and craziness of that madhouse, one thing sent me a chill and made me realize that these were not my daddy’s pigs, nor the more-or-less natural variety that ag kids raise.
The photographer was loaded down with equipment. We were walking down the center of the barn, talking to the “farmer.” Suddenly, my photo man stopped dead in his tracks and almost tumped over backwards.
While walking, he had accidentally let the feet of his closed tripod, on his back, slip into one of the pens, and a pig as wild as the Tasmanian Devil cartoon had clamped down on one of them and was trying his damnedest to eat the thing.
The critter was makin’ dents in it. The farmer hauled off and jackslapped the thing to get it to let go. Made me think of my bent steel-toed boot back in high school. Made me realize that corporate “farming” ain’t “farming” as I know it.
Not that I’m against corporate agriculture. We all do have to eat. Just realize that pig barns like the one in North Carolina – and the ones in the Oklahoma Panhandle – really are factories, not farms.
Not that any of the above has a thing to do with the taste of the sausage me and Dr. ER just had for breakfast. It beats Soylent Green – but the fact that Soylent Green (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0070723/) even came to mind says something, doesn’t it?
Friday, December 10, 2004
Heard on the radio comin’ in to work that cows were out on one end of town and horses were out on the other. That’s why, in some ways, Oklahoma City is my kind of town.
It’s one of the biggest in the country, sizewise -- 600-some-odd square miles, straddling several counties. The city limits has big swaths of farm land (wheat mostly) and pasture (for those cows and horses.)
When I started my job in 1999, I could look out the eighth-floor window over my left shoulder and see -- cows. In town! I love it.
Oklahoma City is a “big city” only in the technical sense. The city proper, I think, has between 500,000 and 600,000 people. The surrounding metro area has just more than 1 million -- and that’s dang near half the people in Oklahoma, the other dang-near half bein’ around Tulsa, which is 90 miles to the northeast. (Those numbers might be off a little, but not much).
In ’99, curious, I called the county ag agent for Oklahoma County and asked how many cows lived around here.
He said Oklahoma City proper is home to something under 2,000 cows, and that Oklahoma County is home to around 21,000 -- and I am using the generic “cow” to include cows, heifers, bulls and heifers, babies, weanlings, yearlings, stockers, feeders — whatever, the whole lot, so to speak.
Bovine visitors and passers-through are another thing, though. Some 500,000 head pass through the Oklahoma National Stockyards, in the southwest part of Oklahoma City, every year. The stockyards, founded in 1910, bills itself as the “World’s Largest Market of Stocker and Feeder Cattle.”
That’s sayin’ something: “Moo,” if it’s cows talkin’.
Or, “Yum,” actually, when it’s people talkin’, when what you’re doing is sittin’ down at the Cattlemen’s Steakhouse (see link to the left), which is right next door to the stockyards, fixin’ to plow into a steak and tater!
Now, Oklahoma City is not the cowiest cowtown in the West, not by a long shot -- even with the “World’s Largest Market of Stocker and Feeder Cattle.” Amarillo, Texas, surrounded by scores of feedyards and packing plants that feed, finish and kill something like 6 million head of cattle a year, probably deserves that honor.
Several years ago, The Associated Press ran a photo of a steer being lifted out of a manhole in downtown Amarillo. I swear: There are so many cattle in the Texas Panhandle they get into the sewers!
But Oklahoma City is bovinish enough for me. I can’t hear cows mooing from my house, like I could growing up, but I don't have to go very far to see ‘em grazing wheat this time of year.
Cows, seeing ’em, hearing ’em, hell, even smelling ’em (“smells like money,” they say, when times are good; just smells like s--- when times are bad) — all that’s important to any erudite redneck.
Thursday, December 09, 2004
Gotta book handy?
Grab the nearest book and in the comments section below write, oh, the second sentence on Page 23, and cite the book. And feel free to do the same on yer own blogs! This is a fun way to get a glimpse into what's important to each of us.
"Hank had a real kick-ass street rod that he was always working on in his garage: a 1932 Ford three-window coupe with a Mercury flathead V-8, lots of chromed engine parts, and great big racing slicks for rear wheels."
-- Fixin' to Git: One Fan's Love Affair with NASCAR's Winston Cup (2002), by Jim Wright.
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
"Ottoman Imperialism During the Reformation: Europe and the Caucasus" -- book review
(Footnotes available on request)
Kortepeter, C. Max. Ottoman Imperialism During the Reformation: Europe and the Caucasus. New York: New York University Press, 1972. (278 pages).
C. Max Kortepeter chases away shadows at the edge of the main stage of Reformation Europe in his book, Ottoman Imperialism During the Reformation: Europe and the Caucasus. He illuminates roles taken up by the Ottomans, Muscovites, Safavid Persians, Crimean Tatars and others as events played out elsewhere, in areas that Western historians usually place in the spotlight: the Habsburg domains, western Mediterranean, Holy Roman Empire, Italy, France, the Swiss states and other environs.
Kortepeter dwells almost exclusively on the Balkan, Crimean plain and Caucasus regions. He spends considerable time in Hungary, where the Islamic Turkish East met the Catholic Habsburg West in the early sixteenth century. Kortepeter’s use of “Reformation” in the title seems to be a misapplication. Except for narrow consideration in explaining the influence of the Habsburg-Catholic-Counter-Reformation powers in Hungary, the Reformation is virtually absent from the work. East-West balances of power, but not Christian-Islamic tension, seem present just under the surface of the main narrative. Kortepeter concentrates on the period between the end of Suleyman the Magnificent’s reign in 1566 to the death of the Crimean khan Gazi Giray II in 1608, although he briefly reviews such important events as the Battle of Mohacs in 1526 and the fall of Kazan and Astrakhan to Muscovy in 1552.
Kortepeter starts by considering the historical, economic and political significance of the various sections of the Ottoman Empire as it expanded in the early- and mid-sixteenth century: the Black Sea area, Danube basin, the Balkans, the Crimean steppe, the Caucasus and Anatolia. He concludes the first of eleven chapters with an outline of the political structure of the Crimean khanate and the politics of the plain. This sets up the bulk of the remainder of the book, which keeps Giray, a descendent of Genghis Khan, the Mongol, at center. Chapter 2 outlines Crimean Tatar affairs and Giray’s early years, from his birth in 1554 to 1578. Next, Kortepeter turns to the Ottomans’ rivalry with the Safavids and their contest for control of Transcaucasia.
Kortepeter then gets to the meat of the work, the role of the Crimean Tatars in Ottoman affairs in general – they usually comprised the front line of Ottoman expansion – and in the Ottoman-Persian rivalry specifically. He utilizes his doctoral dissertation, “The Relations Between the Crimean Tatars and the Ottoman Empire.” The Tatar revolt of 1583, which resulted in the Ottoman sultan sacking the Crimean khan Mehemmed Giray Khan and the escape of the future khan Gazi Giray, comprises a short Chapter 5. Kortepeter draws connections between Ottoman-Crimean relations, the Tatars’ position politically and geographically vis-à-vis Poland-Lithuania, Muscovy on the decline and the final stages of the Livonian War. The author explains the revolt by pointing out that the Crimean khan probably was distracted by ventures, along with the Nogays, into the southern Muscovy regions. Kortepeter then turns to Giray’s accession to khan in 1588 and subsequent Crimean Tatar relations with the Nogays, the effect of the Ottoman-Crimean muddle on the empire’s growing tensions with Poland-Lithuania, Ottoman aggression toward Muscovy, and Tatar-Ottoman affairs just before the war in Hungary.
Kortepeter, in Chapter 7, explores general unrest in Eastern Europe in the 1590s, in particular the social climate in Hungary, before looking at the positioning by royals in Transylvania, Wallachia, Moldavia and other regional states, including Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II, an Austrian Habsburg, to form an anti-Ottoman alliance. The league succeeded only partially because strong states such as Spain, Venice, Poland and Muscovy declined to participate, Kortepeter points out. The author then recounts the early stages of the Hungarian war, the involvement of the Crimean Tatars, the demoralization of the Ottomans and dismissal of Giray. Kortepeter traces the Ottoman-Habsburg war to its conclusion in 1606, spending considerable effort on Habsburg-Catholic efforts to fend off Protestantism, the Counter-Reformation’s effects on Hungarian loyalties, and the Habsburgs’ unintended role in fostering the establishment of both Protestant and Ottoman influence.
Kortepter concludes with a look at how decisions of politics, war and peace were made in the Ottoman Empire at the turn of the seventeenth century, giving special attention to the empire’s war with Safavid Persia in 1578 and the eruption of war with the Austrian Habsburgs in 1592-1593. He closes with a last look at the last days of Giray in Chapter 10 and offers “apparent and elusive” conclusions in Chapter 11.
Kortepeter bemoans the “many gaps in our knowledge of the Ottoman Turks” in his preface. Perhaps because he assumes even most educated readers know so few details about the subject, Kortepeter saves a clear statement of his main thesis for the antepenultimate and penultimate paragraphs of the book. According to Kortepeter, Ottoman political elites responded more prudently to challenges on the Ottoman frontier, specifically with problems arising from the Reformation in Hungary, than they did with trouble spots in their own territories, such as problems with tribes in Asia Minor and violence associated with the spread of Shi’ism. He spells out his assertion:
"The Ottoman elite, acting on expediency, found it easier to employ its armies to make war on a neighboring state, in hope of seizing that country’s movable wealth and population, than to create a healthy social environment and to use wisely its own vast physical and human resources. The great Ottoman state, on the eve of the seventeenth century, was slowly being destroyed by the cupidity, venality, and insensitivity of its own ruling classes."
Kortepeter saves his last paragraph to point out that, despite the decline that began immediately after Suleyman the Magnificent’s peak military and political accomplishments early in the sixteenth century, the Ottoman State, after all, did survive until the twentieth.
Kortepeter’s deep knowledge of Crimean-Ottoman relations gives him a certain expertise on the politics of the vast regions of Central and Eastern Europe in general. His command of the subject allows him to get under other historians’ somewhat superficial treatment of important events.
For example, Kortepeter points out that the fall of Kazan and Astrakhan came after a few years of political wrangling, but following decades of social and economic decline. He emphasizes the Ottomans’ neglect of this northeastern part of their frontier, caused specifically by contretemps and war with Safavid Persia. Historian Richard Bonney, in The European Dynastic States: 1494-1660, seems to credit only the ambition of the Muscovite Tsar Ivan IV for the conquest of the two khanates and subsequent warring against the Crimea. In another instance, Kortepeter asserts that the Safavids might have beaten the Ottomans had they had access to seas, waterways and other natural resources, had comparable technology to the Ottomans’ and enjoyed their foes’ adeptness at army logistics. Bonney just blames the Safavid army for its failures.
Central to Kortepeter’s interpretation is the role of the Crimean Tatars as “forward scouts, as skirmishers, and even as assault units” in Ottoman military campaigns. The Tatars’ reputation for invincibility surrounds almost every angle of the author’s explication of Giray’s role and importance. Bonney barely considers the ramifications of this, although he does point out that the Ottomans had a vassal state in the Crimea that provided a power base from which to rule the Black Sea, as well as “a regular supply of fighting men.” Kortepeter’s interpretation of peace, the settlement of the Ottoman-Habsburg “Long War” of 1592-1606, has him again at odds with Bonney. Kortepeter lists seventeen major clauses of the Peace of Szitva-Torok, which ended the war, then expressly points out that in contrast to “most textbooks and histories,” which emphasize it as a landmark in the Ottomans’ history with the Habsburgs, he sees it as a “convenient accommodation for both parties.” Bonney acknowledges the benefit Rudolf II gained by being allowed to pay a one-time lump sum to Ahmed I, rather than continuing “the humiliating annual ‘gift’ to the Sultan for his retention of Royal Hungary,” but seems to emphasize the more strategic benefit to the Ottomans that accrued from the transfer of Habsburg fortresses in Hungary to Turkish control.
Finally, the two historians differ in their interpretation of the creation of the Uniate Church in Poland-Lithuania. Kortepeter has the Swedish-Polish King Sigismund Vasa III, a converted Catholic, instigating the Union of Brest and “establishing the Uniate Church to wean (the Cossacks) away from Orthodoxy,” which brought peace to his borders but strained the Polish crown’s relationship with Giray and the khanate. Bonney has “a section of the Orthodox hierarchy based in Lithuanian territory” forming the Uniate Church. Kortepeter stressed the role of the king in permitting the creation of the Uniate Church because it affected his relationship with Giray. Bonney stressed the role of the “Orthodox hierarchy” to point out that, while it lent stability to the Vasa kingdom, the Union of Brest strained Polish-Lithuanian Christians’ relations with the Muscovy Orthodox, who saw the Uniates as heretics.
Kortepeter’s research on Ottoman Imperialism is strongest when it draws on his dissertation on the Crimean Tatars’ relations with the Ottoman Empire, which he completed at the University of London in 1962. He conducted his work from 1957 to 1961, under the direction of Professor Bernard Lewis, head of the Department of Near and Middle East History, and Professor Paul Wittek, Professor of Turkish, whose seminars on the Ottoman Empire and Ottoman historiography Kortepeter found especially enlightening. Kortepeter also expressed debt to Professor Halil Inalcik, historian at Ankara University. The springboard for Kortepeter’s research was Stephen A. Fischer-Galati’s 1959 book, Ottoman Imperialism and German Protestantism, 1521-1555. Several reviewers laud Kortepeter for the Crimean Tatar aspects of his Ottoman scholarship, for which he used a wealth of primary sources, most of them Turkish. The praise mostly ends there.
Many reviewers find Kortepeter’s book poorly organized and weak in areas outside his main expertise. The unkindest cut, perhaps, comes from Fischer-Galati, Kortepeter’s inspiration, who praises his scholarly descendant’s research on the Crimean Tatars, but otherwise demolishes his book for its lack of cohesion and failure to prove his thesis. Fischer-Galatin, from the University of Colorado, praises Kortepeter for his use of primary sources in Latin, Romanian and Russian, but then damns him with faint praise for uncovering “marginally novel” data – then dismisses him as a linguist, suggesting he is not a genuine historian. The reviewer lowers the boom with his assessment of Kortepeter’s historical methodology: “The individual chapters appear to have been put together directly from index cards.”
Not every reviewer heaped praise on the Crimean Tatar aspects of Kortepeter’s research. Andrew C. Hess at Temple University criticized “the undue concentration on Crimean affairs” for drawing attention away from the grander narrative of this period of Ottoman history: the end of the empire’s expansion. Hess also wondered why the author made no attempt to explain why the Ottomans did not try to directly control the Tatars. On the other hand, reviewer Alan W. Fisher of Michigan State University found Kortepeter’s concentration on the Crimean Tatars the most interesting part of the book. However, Fisher criticized Kortepeter for failing to sift the “massive amount of detailed information” to reveal clearly his own views of the structural problems of the empire, which, Fisher points out, Kortepeter promises to do in Chapter 7. Fisher also complains: “the title itself is misleading.”
The title of Kortepeter’s book irked other historians, as well. Alexandre Bennigsen of the University of Chicago found it disconcerting simply for mentioning the Reformation and the Caucasus together. Bennigsen criticizes Kortepeter for his book’s weakness on the Reformation, as well as its demonstration of limited understanding, stemming from the use of questionable secondary sources, on the Caucasus. Further, Bennigsen asserts, for Kortepeter’s chronology to match his own title, he should have dealt more with the reigns of the Ottoman sultans Suleyman and Selim II, which paralleled the beginnings of the Protestant movement. Harlie Kay Gallatin of Southwest Baptist College also criticizes the title, insisting that the reference to the Reformation is misleading for a work that concentrates largely on the Crimean Tatar khanate’s service as a tool of Ottoman administration and international relations. Gallatin expresses appreciation for Kortepeter’s work on the Habsburg Counter-Reformation in Hungary, but points out that he spends as much effort on the role of Shi’ites and Sunnis in explaining the Ottoman-Safavid war. Gallatin praises the book for giving English readers a digest of materials accessible only to Turkish specialists but suggests that the merely curious about Ottoman history could bypass it.
Rare unabashed praise for Kortepeter comes from Andreas Tietze at the University of California, Los Angeles, who fairly gushes over Kortepeter’s work. Tietze praises its “illuminating insights’ in bringing “sense to the chaos” of the Great Powers’ wrangling for supremacy and control of tribes on “these monotonous steppes,” the “misty plains” in a “far-away no man’s land” north of the Black Sea between the Balkans and the Caucasus mountain ranges. Tietze even finds justification for Kortepeter’s title, asserting that the author earns the use of it by bringing out the interplay of Ottoman success and the division in Christendom in his argument that the Holy Roman Emperor’s Counter-Reformation fervor added a century to Ottoman influence in Hungary.
After earning a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University in 1950, a master of arts from McGill University, Montreal, conducting graduate study at the University of Michigan and obtaining his doctorate from London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies, Kortepeter spent his career as a professor and researcher of the Middle East and Near East, returning to the student desk for a master of science from Rutgers University in 1989. He retired in the late 1990s after 29 years as a professor of Middle East history at New York University. His membership and leadership in academic organizations such as the Middle East Institute, Turkish Studies Association, Association of Russian-American Scholars and Americans for Middle East Understanding indicate the depth of not only his knowledge but his personal involvement in applying the lessons of history to the present. Kortepeter, in fact, opens Ottoman Imperialism with an explicit comparison to what he considers too much involvement by the United States in other nations’ affairs, and closes it with a similar implication.
The book clearly is steeped in Kortepeter’s specialty, although coming as it did early in his career, it obviously does not express his full capabilities as a researcher and writer. Kortepeter plainly was greatly influenced by the four years he spent studying as a young man in London in the late 1950s and early 1960s, at the height of the Cold War between the American and Soviet superpowers. The experience seems to have thereafter influenced his interpretation of historical imperialism. In short, he sees nation-states that overextend themselves and squander their natural and human resources as destined for eventual comeuppance, especially if meddling in other nation-states’ internal affairs. Selected publications include authorship, co-authorship and editorship of numerous journal articles and larger works. Among others, he authored “Ottoman Imperial Policy and the Economy of the Black Sea Region” in Journal of the American Oriental Society; he wrote “The Islamic-Ottoman Social Structure: The Quest for a Model of Ottoman History,” in Near East Round Table I; he edited the “Literature and Society” section of The Modern Near East, a textbook; he authored “The Origins and Nature of Turkish Power” in Fakueltesi Tarih Arastirmalari Dergisi, a publication of Ankara University; and he co-edited The Transformation of Turkish Culture: the Ataturk Legacy. His work as a linguist and historian has him cross-listed in Directory of American Scholars.
Kortepeter’s harshest critic, Fischer-Galati, dismisses Ottoman Imperialism as “informative but not very important.” The book is enlightening, especially to one with virtually no prior knowledge of the Ottoman Empire of the sixteenth century. In addition, while the book primarily is concerned with the Crimean Tatars’ relationship with the Ottomans, it does provide limited but useful information and analysis of peripheral issues and events important, but not critical, for grasping the influence of the Protestant Reformation in Central and Eastern Europe, especially the sections on Hungary, Transylvania and Poland-Lithuania. The book provides an appendix of nine charts and tables outlining royal lines and leadership and societal structures, three basic maps, as well as a thorough bibliography. However, Kortepeter’s main text is difficult to read because of his disjointed lines of thought. In some places, he stops to list specific points or summarize his subtheses, but his main point is not made until the last page – and even then it is not at all clear that the previous 243 pages have backed it up.
Monday, December 06, 2004
On TV, tractors and tater wagons
Somebody asked me today how I find time to sleep. Well, by not watching much TV.
Lordy, it ain't hard. A couple of hundred channels are on that TV in the other room, and it's ususally on CNN, MSNBC, or Fox. Or the Western Channel.
If it ain't a Western, the news or a Sherlock Holmes movie that Dr. ER has persuaded me to watch, I haven't been watching it. Oh, I do try to catch the Blue Collar Comedy guys. But the TV is not a big deal to me. Ask Dr. ER. I would just as soon not have the TV that is in our bedroom in our bedroom.
Today was a bear. I was up at 4:30, did some homework, back in bed at 7:15, back up at 8:30, then off to school and work; back home at 7:30 p.m., behind this computer at home until about 9, then off to Kinko's and back.
Since then, I've kind of been piddling. Fiddling around on-line. Looking through a book on the last days of the Confederate government that is in one of my to-read stacks.
It was a rare couple of hours of coasting after a particularly hellacious stretch.
Break is over at 5:30 in the a.m. of the mornin'!
At times today, I was mentally trudging. And when my friend asked me if I ever slept, what she meant was, how do you find the energy to do all the things you do? I don't know.
I do know that I have spent daylight-to-dark on a tractor; I have hoed from sunrise to dang near sunset on long summer days; I have hauled hay all day; and I have worked 10 or more hours at a time at a factory where the temperature was well over 100 degrees.
I'm busy, but what I've been doin' ain't work. Not compared to that.
I was raised amongst an extended family of farming-ranching types who tended to work until the work, or the day, was done. I guess that rubbed off on me.
I don't think it's that I'm dedicated or committed or any of that, although I guess I am. The truth is I'm stubborn and prideful. Once I start something, I'll be danged if I'll wimp out of it, if I can help it.
I'm like the turtle that won't let go until it comes a tater wagon*, I reckon.
The wagons will rumble bigtime at about noon next Monday. I'm liable to relax so fast I pee my britches.
--* "Tater wagon." What Mama used to tell me was makin' the scary noises in the sky when it was stormin' when I was a little bitty ER: a potato wagon, as in a noisy wagonload of taters: thunder. I'll bet she got that from her own mama!
Saturday, December 04, 2004
Griswolding is Griswoldone!
Got the third and final Reformation book read. The plan is to write the review Tuesday night-Wednesday morning. It takes me about one hour per page when I'm writing academic-school-type stuff. So, if it works out like the second book review did last Wednesday night-Thursday morning, I'll start at 7 p.m. and be done by 3 or 4 a.m.
Tomorrow, though, I've got a bit more reading to do in one of my textbooks, and I have 17 ID's to look up, write up and begin to commit to memory, for a mini test on Monday. Getting that together will take about four or five hours. Which I plan to have done by high noon. Then I will give a final tweak to book review 2, which I will turn in Monday, then I will give one final-final-final run-through to my thesis before taking it to Kinko's to have six copies made for about $300, so I get them to the various departments that need them. Egad. Then ...
The items remaining from the voluminous list of to-do's remain to be to-done! :-) Dr. ER was fairly vicious in her list-making. She included a "glossary," which began: "Clean = CLEAN." Another one was something like "Clean the kitchen means WITH CLEANING MATERIALS AND A RAG." "Sweep means WITH A BROOM, THOROUGHLY. Those are not direct quotes. But they're close! She can be a real gas, Dr. ER can.
Which reminds me: The two-way, cheeseburgers, Spanish-fried okry and bacon-cheese fries at Ron's (Mayfair Village, NW 50 and May, OKC) tonight was dang superb, since we'd all been workin' our heinies off today! :-)
Thursday, December 02, 2004
"The Swiss Reformation" -- book review
By The Erudite Redneck
Gordon, Bruce. The Swiss Reformation. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002. (368 pages).
In The Swiss Reformation, Bruce Gordon gives life to the skeleton of facts most English students of the Reformation know of the Swiss Confederation following Huldrych Zwingli’s appointment as priest in Zurich in 1519 and Heinrich Bullinger’s succession in 1531 after Zwingli’s battlefield death. In this survey, a synthesis of works mostly available only in German, Gordon goes well beyond the personalities of Zwingli and Bullinger to explore general religious impulses and how they dovetailed with social and military goals, or failed to, and outline the socio-cultural effects of Zwingli’s brand of reform on Swiss cities, rural settlements and churches. The book, which deals only with the Protestant territories, concentrates on the period from Zwingli’s early preaching to the Second Helvetic Confession of 1566.
Gordon starts by summarizing 200-plus years of social and political history, starting with the Swiss Confederation’s origins in 1291, when Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden united in the power vacuum left after the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf I, a Habsburg, died. Gordon traces the development of a “Swiss” consciousness through the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, explaining it mainly as “not” Habsburg while ambiguous, not necessarily hostile, toward the empire. Zurich’s emergence as a major city, particularly its defiance of the pope and expulsion of Catholic clergy in 1245, made it an automatic leader of the confederation when it joined in 1351, and Gordon gives it considerable attention. Gordon points out the lack of a “Swiss church” per se, as the confederation straddled five bishoprics. The influence of the church councils of Constance and Basle, both of which bordered Swiss lands, brought scholarly and Renaissance influence north of the Alps, which, Gordon asserts, helped sow the seeds of reform. Swiss reform, according to Gordon, was fertilized by no high ideal, but by anticlericalism born of distaste for priests who failed to do their duty. Gordon gives context for understanding why confederation members, especially Zurich, acted and reacted as they did as Zwingli’s influence emerged and the Zwingilian movement, guided by Bullinger, sustained after Zwingli’s death.
The next four chapters are more concise histories of periods more salient to the broad topic of the Swiss Reformation. Gordon details the emergence of Zwingli and the role of Zurich. He explains the spread of the Reformation, mainly outward from Zurich. Gordon narrates the failed reformations, the ordeal of confederates united loosely by politics but divided by strongly held religion, war and Zwingli’s death on the battlefield at Kappel, and the aftermath, from 1529 to 1534. The author then outlines the confusion following Zwingli’s demise, negotiations with Lutherans and the mediation of Martin Bucer, the competition and violence of the Reformation as it spread to French lands and Zwingli’s ideas encountered John Calvin’s, the political-religious storms surrounding Emperor Charles V and the Council Trent and their effect on the different strains of Protestant thought, the defeat of the Schmalkaldic League and what it meant for the broader strategy of Protestant states, and other key military, political and religious events and issues between Zwingli’s death and the Second Helvetic Confession.
Before shifting from chronological narratives to topical chapters, Gordon allocates one chapter to Anabaptists and other radicals, including Spiritualists and Antitrinitarians, but confesses to merely touch the surface of the diverse movements spawned, and attracted, by Zwinglianism. The author then broadens the scope of the book from narration and interpretation of people and events to the explanation of broader ideas by topic. Gordon explores the structure of Swiss churches and parishes, the social role of priests and ministers and the place and importance of worship in the wider culture. Next he considers Swiss society in general, considering the role of women, death and disease, the economy and other issues not directly tied to the religious upheaval. In his penultimate chapter, Gordon places the Swiss churches within the context of the Reformation generally, with special attention to southern Germany, England and Eastern Europe. Finally, Gordon considers the legacy of the Swiss Reformation, concluding that the presence of numerous erudite foreigners during its formative years ensured that the mix of Erasmian humanism and Protestant evangelism would spawn intellectual inquiry and achievements that went well beyond the immediate concerns of the rebel priest Zwingli.
After alluding to it throughout the work, Gordon declares his simple yet stark thesis in the opening sentence of his conclusion: “The Swiss Reformation occurred because of Huldrych Zwingli.” Gordon expands his thesis to incorporate Zwingli’s own ideas by asserting that “the Swiss Reformation, under the guidance of Zwingli, developed a unique theological profile.” According to Gordon, Zwingli’s main concepts -- a person can either serve God or serve the world, God is omniscient and omnipotent, personal redemption comes via grace based on election, the law is a guide to holy living, and only the perfection of Christ can unite the material and spiritual polarities of reality so the church should be united with the state for the renewal of society as a whole -– were at once inspiring and revolutionary to a people already suspicious of religious as well as social leaders. It is on this basis that Gordon argues further that “Zwingli’s attack on what he saw to be the materialistic nature of late medieval religion,” coupled with his emphasis on the Apostle Paul’s reliance on spirit to conquer the weakness of the flesh, “attracted a wide range of figures who, drawing on late medieval mysticism and ... spirituality ... looked to an immediate relationship with God.”
Gordon sees complexities in Zwingli that are lost in others’ accounts of the Zurich priest’s seminal role in the Swiss Reformation. It is superficial to label Zwingli “as a humanist, a rationalist , or anything else,” according to Gordon. Zwingli, Gordon wrote, came to advocate the principle that Scripture was the sole guide to faith and religious life, “but the lens through which he read the Bible was ground from a mixture of humanism and scholasticism, of politics and personal experience.” With his complex Zwingli, Gordon contrasts with historian Donald J. Wilcox, whose Zwingli simply comes out of the “Erasmian tradition,” as Wilcox writes in In Search of God & Self: Renaissance and Reformation Thought. Historian Richard Bonney gives Zwingli a little more credit for intellectual curiosity, but not much, in The European Dynastic States, 1494-1660. Bonney points to Erasmus and the Hollander reformer Cornelisz Hoen as influences. It was Hoen, whose assertion that it does matter what the Bible’s definition of “is” is, influenced Zwingli’s concept of the Eucharist; Hoen argued that when Jesus said “this is my body,” he meant “signifies” rather than literally “is,” an idea that put Zwingli at odds with both Luther and the Catholic Church.
Zwingli’s death in battle, according to Gordon, makes it easy to mistake the Swiss Confederation’s conflict as between the Swiss and the Holy Roman Empire. Wilcox, for example, states, “Surrounded by his supporters from Zurich, Zwingli died in battle against the troops of the emperor in 1531 ...” Bonney gets closer to what Gordon considers the crux of the fighting, pointing out that events leading to the Kappel Wars had much to do with Zwingli’s desire to secure an anti-Habsburg alliance to counter Habsburg power in the person of Charles V on the throne of the Holy Roman Empire. Gordon, pointing to the origins of the confederation as the military alliance of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden, separate from the Habsburg lands -- and formalized by treaty, reluctantly, by a defeated and demoralized Habsburg dynasty, in 1315 -- states it plainly: “It was the Habsburg dynasty, and not the Holy Roman Empire, which the Swiss saw as their great enemy. ... The Habsburgs stood by their claims to territories within the Confederation, whilst the Swiss countered that they were free communes directly subject to the Holy Roman Emperor.” However, Gordon himself wonders how serious the Habsburg threat really was, pointing out that Charles V, by the mid 1530s, had more important issues to deal with elsewhere, particularly in southern France, where he had been defeated, and northern Italy, where he was consolidating his territorial rule.
In his treatment of earlier violence, the Peasant Revolts of 1525, Gordon sees no direct tie between those holding Anabaptist and other radical views and those leading the uprisings. He acknowledges that in the earliest rebellions, in Hallau and Gruningen, it was nearly impossible to tell the two movements apart, but argues that the apparent convergence was one of many alliances that formed then expired as expediency warranted in the tumultuous period. Here, Gordon seems to be at odds with Bonney, who points out the direct involvement of Lutheran and Zwinglian lay preachers in the peasant movement; Bonney examines the partial authorship of the Twelve Articles of the Swabian Peasants, which demanded ecclesiastical and economic reform in February 1525, by the Zwinglian preacher Christoph Schappeler. Gordon also seems to be at odds with Wilcox, who points out the millenarian radical preacher Thomas Muntzer’s support of the peasants. Wilcox does see a disconnect: Muntzer backed the peasants, but they, concerned with daily bread, not eternal life, did not offer collaboration.
Looking to England, Gordon writes of an early vestment controversy that he interprets as a sign of Zwinglian influence. John Hooper, a close friend of Bullinger in Zurich, helped bring Zwinglianism to England. In 1550, Hooper’s consecration as bishop of Gloucester was caught in a debate over vestments. Hooper, finding no direction in Scripture, declined to wear the garb of the church office. Bullinger did not support Hooper, and Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, insisted he don the special clothing. Hooper was forced to submit. Historians Robert Buchol and Newton Key do not mention the incident in their account of vestment controversies in England. In Early Modern England, 1485-1714: A Narrative History, they explain the vestment controversy only within the context of Puritans’ disagreements with the Church of England later, in the 1560s.
Details get lost in works comprised largely of summaries. Gordon attempts to rehabilitate Martin Bucer’s reputation as a failed mediator between Zwingli and Luther by pointing out that Bucer’s tireless work to forge reconciliation forced the Swiss to start to develop a coherent theology. To Bonney, Bucer practically capitulated to the Lutherans by subscribing to the Confession of Augsburg in 1532. To Wilcox, Bucer’s attempts to keep Protestants unified simply “foundered” when Zwinglians balked at the compromise over the Lord’s Supper in the Wittenberg Concord of 1536. Wilcox does point out Bucer’s lasting influence on Calvin.
Another example of omitted details leaving an incorrect impression occurs in the authors’ accounts of the burning of Michel Servetus for heresy in Geneva in 1553. Wilcox, in a discussion of radical movements within the Catholic Church, mentions in passing that “Calvin had just burned Servetus, a famous anti-Trinitarian,” giving Calvin sole credit for the execution. Bonney, likewise, attributes the execution of Servetus solely to Calvin, although Geneva’s civil-church authorities handed down the sentence and fired the stake, and Calvin wanted the sentence reduced to beheading. Only Gordon points out that the radical theology of Servetus enraged both Catholics and Protestants and that his execution alarmed some in Geneva, especially Italians who had fled the Roman Inquisition.
The chief value of The Swiss Reformation is as a bridge between German and English scholarship. Gordon uses secondary sources unavailable in English. Reviewer Randolph C. Head of the University of California, Riverside, points out that the book is the first survey of the Swiss Reformation in English, “and one of few in any language.” Another reviewer, Amy Nelson Burnett of the University of Nebraska, points out Gordon’s use of German scholarship ranging from studies of the Zwinglian Reformation and Swiss history in general to local and territorial histories and numerous shorter, specialized works on specific topics. Burnett serves as a series editor for the St. Andrews Studies in Reformation History, a project of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, where Gordon is a professor. Her familiarity with Gordon’s work is clear in her observation that he relies much on his own research and his familiarity with Zurich.
In his introduction, Gordon says will outline the Protestant states’ experience in the Swiss Confederation and that he will not consider the Catholic Reformation in Swiss lands. He says he will stop at the Second Helvetic Confession. He says he will address but not dwell on Anabaptists and other radicals. He accomplishes what he sets out to do. Head and Burnett slightly chide Gordon for his self-imposed strictures. Given Gordon’s background in the Zurich Reformation, including Catholic reform, Head finds his avoidance of the Catholic experience somewhat off-putting, and he wonders why Gordon wrote so little about the rural reception of Zwinglian idea’s in Zurich. Burnett, likewise, chafes under Gordon’s cutoff at 1566, insisting that he owes readers some discussion of Zurich’s later ties to reformed states within the Holy Roman Empire. Burnett also criticizes Gordon slightly for delaying his discussion of Zwingli’s theology to the end of the second chapter, which, she opines, creates “a curious sense of emotional distance from the controversies of the early Reformation in Zurich.”
Gordon’s style is authoritative, at times insistent, especially for a survey, but never argumentative or strident. Head points out that Gordon balances his own views with enough context for readers to determine the source of his reasoning. His narrative sections drift into recitation at times, which makes some interpretations seem more provocative than they might otherwise. The late-medieval background of the first chapter seems crucial for understanding the political and social stage upon which Zwingli and his followers acted. The narrative chapters are pedantic in places. The topical chapters are easier to digest in comparison. Some sections treat great swaths of information with necessary brevity, including a useful list of 80 principal figures at the front of the book with extended “snapshots” of ten of them at the back. The book includes a chronology fitting for any survey.
Gordon obtained his Ph.D from the University of St. Andrews. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Institut fur Europaische Geschichte in Mainz, Germany. He is principal editor of the St. Andrews Studies in Reformation History series. His main publications include Clerical Discipline and the Rural Reformation: The Synod in Zurich, 1532-1580 (1992), which he wrote, and three major works that he edited: Protestant History and Identity in Reformation Europe (2 vols., 1996), The Place of the Dead in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe (2000), and Heinrich Bullinger and the Formation of the Reformed Tradition (2004). He also has written numerous articles on the Swiss Reformation and late medieval religion. His present research is on Bullinger and the development of Zwinglian spirituality. The Swiss Reformation is squarely within his expertise. Gordon’s religious and other personal background could not be determined. However, his education -- a bachelor’s degree from small University of Kings College at Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada; a master’s degree from Dalhousie University, a leading Canadian institution, also in Halifax; his doctorate from St. Andrews and study in Mainz and Zurich -- give him a broad and varied background of intimate and grand educational experiences from North America to Europe, which serves him when putting local religious, philosophical and political affairs within the context of a movement as sweeping as the Reformation.
Gordon stuck to his thesis in The Swiss Reformation, and is convincing in his argument that it occurred because of Zwingli and his legacy carried by Bullinger. By starting with the late-medieval developments that made the Swiss states a loose defensive alliance of independent-minded kingdoms, by going beyond the personality and struggles of Zwingli the individual, and by providing ample socio-cultural and political context for Zwingli’s developing theology and flexible, realistic-minded political influence, Gordon has proven his thesis. He also has given German researchers cause to update some standard works and English researchers insight into generations of German scholarship. He has laid the groundwork for others to take his many sub-theses and pursue their own studies. Gordon’s synthesis likely is the bedrock for the first generation of broad English study of the Swiss Reformation.
Wednesday, December 01, 2004
:-) I tried to post that multiple times yesterday. If I'm absent now, it's Blogger's fault, not ol' ER's. I'm still busy as a one-legged man in an ass-kickin' contest, but the pressure's mostly off! ;-)