Thursday, July 12, 2012

Disturbance in the Force

Things are out of whack in my life for two major reasons. First, I boycotted the Times Picayune because they aren't going to publish daily. So when I woke up today, instead of reading a daily paper as I've done for the past 25 years, I just got my computer and went to work. I feel like I don't know what's going on in the world. That's a bit ironic, as with the internet I should feel more connected. But I enjoy starting the day with the paper. I read just about all of it in order. I think that the newspaper helps me be  a better teacher, as I can model to my students what an informed conscientious person looks like. Second, my employer Xavier University is thinking about switching from a departmental model to one of divisions. That's pretty scary to me, as I imagine faculty would have much less of a say in the governance of this institution. Thinking about a Catholic University without a Theology Department is unsettling to me. Instead, I would be in the division of the Humanities or something like that.

So to fix this imbalance I am going to end my boycott of the Times Picayune and resubscribe to the paper, even though I wish Ricky Mathews would go home and sell the paper to someone who would keep it a daily publication. As for my second stressful change, well, that's ongoing and I'll know more in the next six months. I keep trying to tell myself that the change will be OK but I can't convince myself. Maybe in the end it is the paper and keeping abreast of all of the news that makes me such a cynical pessimist?

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Independence Pecan Brown Ale

To celebrate independence and to anger the queen, today I am making a pecan brown ale.
Pecan Beer

Here is my recipe:
12 oz of roasted pecans (I think I will include these from the very beginning. Some advise to add most during the final 15 minute boil but I am not listening).
6 lbs Briess dry malt (amber)
.5 lb Briess Victory malt
.5 Cara-Munich
.5 lb Crystal 120L
.25 lb Muntons chocolate malt
.25 lb Muntons roasted barley

Hops: Full boil: Fuggle pellet hoops 4.2% 1oz
Last 10 minutes same hops, same amount
Nottingham English Ale yeast (11gm), damn, I used metric on the 4th of July.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Online Teaching

I'm teaching a summer course on Prophets and Prophecy. I love the material, and I have taught this course several times. But what is atypical is that for the first time I'm teaching the course entirely online. Through "Blackboard" course management software and by placing my lectures on vimeo, I'm hoping that the course will be a success for the 40 students taking it. I will definitely miss the student interaction. Often times I can gauge the level of student learning by listening to students try to verbally make sense of the material. Now though I'll be limited to answering email and by giving feedback on their papers and study guide answers. But for self motivated students who are good with time management, I think the course format could be fabulous.

I've finished the Introductory lecture, as well as lectures about the four 8th century BCE prophets: Amos, Hosea, Micah, and Isaiah. The lectures can be seen in this Vimeo Album. I thought quite a bit about making them public. There are dogma police who will seek to cause trouble for me and my university for the things that I say in these videos. It's happened a few times in the past with things that I've published here in this blog and in other more academic publications. I'm also very aware of the escalating dogma battle between the U.S. bishops and Catholic Sisters in academia. But in the spirit of spreading knowledge about these amazing ancient prophets and the texts that bear their names, I decided to keep with my policies of transparency.