There have been many tributes to Tim Keller since his death last week; I could only add a few words. This from Russell Moore does much to capture the Tim I knew. And I love this from Tish Harrison Warren:
In my early 20s, I attended an event where Tim Keller, an orthodox, evangelical Presbyterian pastor, was having a public debate with a secular humanist. In the nearly 20 years that have passed since the event, I still recall one moment distinctly. The secular humanist struggled with a point he was making and was unclear, something that happens often enough in public speaking. Keller could have chosen to go in for the kill rhetorically and make his opponent look foolish. Instead, he paused and asked, “Is this what you mean?” Keller then restated the secular argument in a clearer, better way, arguing against his own point of view. The other speaker agreed that was what he had meant, and Keller continued, countering the (now much stronger) point.
Another death from last week was John Nova Lomax, one of the best journalists in the nation of Texas and the scion of a remarkable family, including his great-grandfather John Avery Lomax, his grandfather John Lomax Jr., his great-uncle Alan Lomax, and his father John Lomax III. What that family has done to preserve and disseminate American folk music, and American folk culture more generally, is incalculable.
John Nova Lomax wrote a lot of wonderful things -- and was a constant advocate for the city of Houston in a state whose artsy-minded folk are perhaps a little too enamored of Austin -- but in the aftermath of his death I found myself thinking with particular fondness of a handful of pieces. One concerns the intense love that many people from San Antonio have for the enchiladas served in their school cafeterias. Others come from his sadly short-lived podcast for Texas Monthly called Talk Like a Texan, in which he explored vital questions such as how to pronounce “pecan” (John Nova’s way is the correct way) and whether “y’all” can refer to a single person (it can’t).
About that last thing: All my life I have heard yankeesplainers tell me how Southerners talk -- as John Nova says, when discussing us they sound like people who study the Great Apes -- and their single most frequent declaration is that we use “y’all” as a singular pronoun, which we do not. But I think I know why they believe that. A Southerner will indeed go up to one person and say “How y’all doing?” -- and when that happens it seems obvious to your average deracinated atomized-individualist northener that the question addressed to one person is meant to refer to that one person. But this is an error. When we say “How y’all doing?” we mean it as a plural: “How are you and your people doing?” We’re not just asking you you as an individual; we’re asking about you and those you love. Because that’s how we think.
Craig Mod, in a post that’s mainly about what drumming and walking have in common:
Let’s get down to brass tacks: Why does walking help us think? For me:
- It’s a self-hypnosis. The steady beat of your feet on the ground, the beat of the world moving past.
- It pulls your stinkin’ noggin’ out of your stinkin’ phone. Mostly, anyway. In this way, it forces you to be present, to sometimes — even — be bored.
- Boredom is the source of many solutions. Boredom kicks the brain into processing mode — background or otherwise.
For my sins, I suppose, I am starting to blog my way through Augustine's City of God. Fair warning: This will take a while, and will be associative and unsystematic.
Georg Friedrich Handel and Jimi Hendrix, together again for the first time.
Learning about natural air conditioning from termites.
Death is but crossing the world, as friends do the seas; they live in one another still. For they must needs be present, that love and live in that which is omnipresent. In this divine glass, they see face to face; and their converse is free, as well as pure. This is the comfort of friends, that though they may be said to die, yet their friendship and society are, in the best sense, ever present, because immortal.