24 December 2003

merry christmas!

Almighty God, you have given your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and to be born this day of a pure virgin: Grant that we, who have been born again and made your children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with you and the same Spirit be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

21 December 2003


Our fifth anniversary was this past Friday and we celebrated by taking ourselves out for dinner at a nice restaurant for the first time in many months (thanks to grammy for looking after the little one!).

We went to La Baia, a wonderful Italian bistro in center city that works to keep its prices moderate by serving only dinner, accepting only cash, and remaining BYOB. The food, however, is wonderful.

Laurel had a caesar salad followed by a selection of seafood (mussels, shrimp, and calamari) over angel hair in a marinara sauce. I had an arugula, parmesan, and apple salad followed by lobster ravioli in a tomato-cream cognac sauce.

Between us, we finished off a bottle of pinot grigio we had brought along and we were feeling quite warm and happy as we headed for a concert at nearby St. Mark's Episcopal, sponsored by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society.

The concert was a peformance of various Advent and Christmas selections, sung by Anonymous 4. St. Mark's, with its gothic revival interior, was the perfect space for the vocal artistry of Anonymous 4.

Having listened to a number of their albums over the years, it was great to hear them live. Their ability to blend perfectly, I can assure you, is not the product studio engineering, but great ability and practice. They performed without electronic amplification and, when accompanied, only with a single harp or psaltery. The selection of songs was varied and often interesting and unusual, though their expert rendering of each piece enabled one to really appreciate and enter into the music.

In any case, it was great to spend a relaxed evening together with my lovely wife and to enjoy her gracious company, which is more than I deserve.

collect for Advent 4

Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

16 December 2003

done grading!

Now let the holiday festivities begin, starting with a certain movie tomorrow.

14 December 2003


Apparently US forces have caught the dictator. Hopefully he will be brought to justice in a manner that will allow Iraq to transition peacefully to a more just society.

For more reaction see this.

collect for Advent 3

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

11 December 2003

garver gazette 2003

The online version of our annual Christmas letter is now up.

new words

So Claire is nearing 16 months old now and her language skills are really improving. She understands a great deal of what is being said, can identify colors and body parts and objects, and has begun to do all kinds of imaginative play (e.g., stirring pots, pretending certain toys are bottles and "drinking" out of them).

Claire's current vocabulary includes: mommy, daddy, no, bottle, baby, diaper, whoops, uh oh, tractor, ball, bath, duck, nana (=banana), and so on. She also can make various animal sounds: woof woof, meow, bzzz, moo, quack, and the like.

It's really amazing to observe how much linguistic and semiotic behavior is thoroughly learned: even words like "ouch" or "yay!" or actions like kissing dolls or petting the dog. I guess I knew that already on an intellectual level, since other languages use completely different terms and gestures, or some of the same but in different ways and contexts. But to see this in action really confirms it.

09 December 2003


Look who blogged again. ;-)


I almost never blog about politics and don't know if I really have anything helpful to say on the topic.

I followed with interest the exchange over on Jon Barlow's site concerning whether one should vote for Bush or a third party in the election. But the discussion assumes the context of the general election and that one wouldn't vote for the Democrat.

The more imminent election for many people, however, will be the primary vote to select a Democratic candidate to run opposite President Bush. And today the news is reporting that former Vice President Gore will endorse former Vermont Governor Howard Dean.

This will likely boost Gov. Dean's campaign and direct more funds his direction, a dire need in order to run against a sitting President with record-breaking levels of campaign finances.

But can Gov. Dean beat Pres. Bush? A lot of the pundits seem to think that Dean, while appealing to a strong core of left-leaning Democratic voters, cannot gain the middle ground and would lose against Bush by a significant margin.

With the possibility of that kind of vote margin, would Dean even be able to push the wider political conversation in a more centrist direction or could he be easily shrugged off by Pres. Bush's campaign?

In any case, a similar question to Jon's arises in the context of a Democratic primary. Should Democrats support Gov. Dean or is there some other candidate who would run better against Pres. Bush? A candidate who might even be able to influence the shape of the Bush campaign?

But who would that candidate be? Congressman Gephart? General Clark? Gov. Dean after all? What do folks think?

08 December 2003


Laurel's at choir practice Monday nights so I get to spend time alone with Claire. After doing the Advent wreath and prayers (she likes the lit candles a little too much, I think), I played the piano and sang her this Advent song:On Jordan's bank the Baptist's cry
announces that the Lord is nigh;
awake and hearken, for he brings
glad tidings of the King of kings.

Then cleansed be every breast from sin;
make straight the way for God within,
prepare we in our hearts a home
where such a mighty Guest may come.

For thou art our salvation, Lord,
our refuge and our great reward;
without thy grace we waste away
like flowers that wither and decay.

To heal the sick stretch out thine hand,
and bid the fallen sinner stand;
shine forth and let thy light restore
earth's own true loveliness once more.

All praise, eternal Son, to thee,
whose advent doth thy people free;
whom with the Father we adore
and Holy Ghost for evermore.
I don't think she quite understood what I was saying, but she did dance and clap her hands.

Well, time for bath. We get to splash and play with Ernie, Elmo, and Telly Monster. Too kewl, eh?

07 December 2003

collect for Advent 2

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

05 December 2003


I like to write but seem to find precious little time to do it.

Until last year I was adjunct teaching at more than one school year round and had little time or income for conferences, writing, and so on. Then Claire was born and Laurel returned to full-time work, which made life a bit crazy.

But now Laurel is at home and I feel like I've settled into some kind of nice groove teaching so that I would like to put more time into writing--starting over Christmas break and continuing next year and particularly next summer.

The one thing that really bugs me about academia, however, is just how damned useless and overspecialized much of academic writing has become, even in a field like philosophy where the "big questions" are supposed to be our telos. Moreover, I feel that as a Christian academic who's interests are as theological as they are philosophical, that I would like what I write to be of service to the church.

Say what you may about Bishop N.T. Wright's views on biblical theology, but one has to admire, I think, his ability to move between academic, popular, and devotional writing, in addition to his preaching.

So, with all that in mind, I'm curious about suggestions people might have for things to write about that you think would be helpful and beneficial to God's people and beyond. Come on, folks, you all know me well enough. Give me some feedback here.


I need to get out more. Do speaking engagements, publish things, and that sort of stuff.

I've done several talks in the past year, including ones at the International Institute for Culture and the Biblical Horizons Conference. I got a call a few weeks ago from a Reformed Episcopal parish that wanted me to do a seminar on baptism.

Still, this is all stuff that just kinda "happened" without any real initiative on my part. That should probably change.

I had noticed a while back that AKMA has a page of information for persons who might be interested in having him come speak at their conference, parish, and so on. I wonder if that's a good idea for me?

What do folks think? Where does an academic who wants to serve the church and wider world draw the line between "availability" and "shameless self-promotion"?


We have this great old aluminum Christmas tree from the early 1960's that once belonged to my parents.

We put it up in our bedroom this year and decorated it with antique ornaments from the 1920-50s that were passed down to us from my grandmother.

The overall effect is the height of kitsch, but provides quite the cheery sparkle in the corner of our room.


It's the last day of classes at La Salle for the term and we're also getting the first snow storm of the season, with up to 10 inches predicted by the time it tapers off tomorrow. Yipee!

02 December 2003

péguy on sleep

Péguy's poetry is a sort of free verse, almost prose-like, but still quite evidently poetry. Here's an excerpt from The Portal of the Mystery of Hope on the topic of sleep:

And yet they tell me
There there are men who don't sleep.
I don't like the man who doesn't sleep, says God.
Sleep is the friend of man.
Sleep is the friend of God.
Sleep may be my most beautiful creation.
And I too rested on the seventh day.
He who's heart is pure, sleeps. And he who sleeps has a pure heart.
This is the great secret to being as infatigable as a child.
To have that strength in your legs that a child has.
Those new legs, those new souls
And to start over every morning, always new,
Like the young, like the new
Hope. Yes, they tell me there are men
Who work well and who sleep poorly.
Who don't sleep. What a lack of confidence in me.
It's almost worse than if they worked poorly but slept well.
Than if they worked but didn't sleep, because sloth
Is no worse sin than anxiety
In fact, it's even a less serious sin than anxiety
And than despair and than a lack of confidence in me.
I'm not talking, says God, about those men
Who don't work and don't sleep.
Those men are sinners, it goes without saying...
I'm talking about those who work and who don't sleep.
I pity them. I hold it against them. A bit. They don't trust me.
As a child lays innocently in his mother's arms, thus they do not lay.
Innocently in the arms of my Providence.
They have the courage to work. They don't have the courage to do nothing.
They possess the virtue of work. They don't possess the virtue of doing nothing.
Of relaxing. Of resting. Of sleeping.
Unhappy people, they don't know what's good.

charles péguy

On Sunday I slipped over to St. Mark's Episcopal parish between services at my church. Their "Contemporary Christianity Forum" adult Sunday school class has had an interesting array of speakers this fall and Sunday featured an aquaintance of mine: David Schindler, who currently teaches philosophy at Villanova University.

David was speaking on the poetry of the Charles Péguy, the early 20th century French Catholic thinker who, after a youth of atheistic socialism found his ideals fulfilled in the Christian faith to which he turned. David is the translator of Péguy's The Portal of the Mystery of Hope (Eerdmans, 1996), a lengthy poem regarding the theological virtue of hope, the second in a triptych of poems.

Péguy portrays hope as a little girl alongside her elder sisters, faith and charity. The entirety of the poem is placed in the mouth of Madame Gervaise, a Franciscan nun who played a large role in Péguy's earlier poem concerning Joan of Arc. Gervaise becomes a channel for God himself speaking through her, unfolding a complex allegory and meditation upon the notion of hope.

Péguy was quite an influential figure, along with Paul Claudel and others, in forming the theological imagination of theologians such as de Lubac and von Balthasar and the nouvelle theologie as a whole.