30 November 2004

brief hiatus

There are only a couple weeks left in the term and I've got tons of stuff to do. So blogging here will probably be uber-minimal or non-existent until around December 15th or thereabouts. A blessed Advent!

28 November 2004

advent 1

Almighty God
give us grace to cast away
the works of darkness
and put on the armor of light,
now in the time of this mortal life,
in which your Son Jesus Christ
came to us in great humility;
that on the last day,
when he shall come again in his glorious majesty
to judge both the living and the dead,
we may rise to the life immortal;
through him who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

25 November 2004

with grateful hearts

Another Thanksgiving holiday is upon us. The feasting will take place at my parents' place, though later in the day we'll be heading down to visit Laurel's brother's family in Virginia, leaving the dog and cat behind with a sitter.

A Collect appointed for today is:

Almighty and gracious Father, we give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make us, we beseech thee, faithful stewards of thy great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Last night Claire was saying, "Thank you, God!" during supper for the mac and cheese she was enjoying. We began to talk about the importance of being thankful and all the things we thank God for.

I asked her, "What are you thankful for most of all?"

"I thank God for Jesus!" she replied.

"Wow!" I thought, "that's a great answer." So I went on to ask, "What else are you thankful for, Claire?"

"Hmm," she replied. "Jesus...and...Mickey Mouse!"

Disney should be gratified to know that their cartoon mouse ranks right after the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity in one toddler's scale of gratitude.

Claire did go on to express thankfulness for her mommy, daddy, grammy, and the dog.

23 November 2004

the bible in the middle ages

I've been meaning to say something about a talk that took place here on La Salle's campus a number of weeks ago at this point, but I just haven't had the time. It was a presentation made by E. Ann Matter, chair of the department of religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania, about the Bible in the middle ages.

Little of the information was entirely new to me, much of it building upon Beryl Smalley's classic 1959 book The Study of the Bible in the Middle Ages (Blackwell). Nevertheless, it was still an interesting talk on a topic I've been trying to think through some in recent years. The basic question is this: What is "the Bible"?

The fact is that what we encounter as the Bible--a privately owned, printed bound book, in a single volume, organized in a particular way--is not what most Christians encountered as the Bible until the early modern era. This is not merely a matter of largely oral communication of the content of Scripture as opposed to the Bible as a written text (though that is also an important issue, see below). Rather, it is a matter of the nature of the Scriptures precisely as a written text.

And this has implications for a host of issues: our ontology of what sort of object the Bible is, the ecclesiological use the Scriptures, our reading practices, hermeneutics, the relation of the individual to the Bible, and so on. I suspect that most Christians today have never really even begun to think through how different their relation to the Bible is from that of earlier, pre-modern generations and, indeed, from that of the original recipients for whom the Bible was written and by whom it was received as the Word of God.

To begin quite generally, a book today is a very different sort of thing from a book in the early church or middle ages. The production of a medieval book was an incredibly labor-intensive process, which made for a rather expensive volume. Book production involved the death of animals from whose hides the parchment would be made through a process of curing and scraping. It involved the creation of inks and pens. And it involved the careful copying of texts, often adorned with meaningful illustrations and iconography, all packaged in hand-wrought bindings. The Scriptures, therefore, were quite literally "scriptures"--that is, writings, copied by hand, rather than printed pages.

As a result, a book was an extremely precious commodity and the care and expertise that went especially into liturgical and biblical texts was tremendous, embodying the value and centrality of those texts in the life of the communities that produced them and used them. While it is a wonderful thing that we can produce texts cheaply and in massive quantities for wide distribution, it does affect how those texts are handled and valued as cultural artifacts. The notion of the "sacra pagina" (the sacred page) carries different connotations, after all, when that page is not produced and handled as hand-crafted object deserving extreme care and reverence.

With regard to the Bible in particular, the first thing to realize is that there were no "Bibles" in the middle ages in the sense of a single volume containing the whole of the Scriptures. A complete medieval Bible would have required approximately 95 quires, adding up to around 1520 parchment pages. Binding such a tome together in a single volume would produce an unusable text, too heavy to lift, and easily damaged (though the 12th century did see the production of a handful of three-foot high "display Bibles," typically containing only a section from the Scriptures).

Instead, a complete medieval Bible (or "pandecta") would typically be divided into nine volumes. And such complete Bibles were, actually, exceedingly rare, though we have records (and, in a few cases, extant copies) of such Bibles dating primarily from the 9th and 12th centuries.

More commonly, books of Scripture were circulated in even smaller volumes containing, for example, the writings of Solomon, thereby allowing for a flexible and open-ended ordering of the books within the Bible (the four Gospels, for instance, appeared in various orders, with John often second). Moreover, the biblical text occurred without the kind of "navigational" apparatus to which we are accustomed: chapters and verses (though chapters predate verses). And so, while the text was less readily accessible to organized study, it was also not subject in the same way to the kind of dissection into discrete units that can be then isolated from a larger narrative flow. Thus, a medieval "Bible" was more a continuous circulation of texts that repeatedly came together along certain patterns of interpretation, liturgical juxtaposition, typological resonance, and redemptive narrative.

All of these observations, however, direct us to the larger point that it would be quite rare for a medieval school, monastery, or university to own a complete Bible, even if composed of smaller volumes. This is not to say that the complete text of Scripture would have been unavailable to a medieval school or religious community. Rather, it is to say that the way in which the text would have been available was in a form other than that which we would recognize as a "Bible." The medieval student of the Scriptures thus would have encountered biblical texts in two primary ways: as liturgical texts and as embedded within commentary.

As a liturgical text, medieval Scriptures would be found in the form of Gospel books, lectionaries, sacramentaries, Psalters, missals, and so on (interestingly, Gospels seem to have outnumbered Psalters in medieval England 3-to-1, assuming the extant texts are representative). As such, they were not encountered except within an already existing hermeneutical context and primarily in an oral form, whether spoken or sung.

With regard to the hermeneutical context, the Scriptures were placed within a doxological fabric of liturgy, prayer, festivals, and practices, juxtaposed against other texts. Thus, for instance, the Paschal Vigil would place narratives of the Flood, of the Rea Sea crossing, and so on, alongside one another as mutually interpretative, and against the backdrop of Christian initiation, reaffirmation of baptismal vows, and the death and resurrection of Christ, celebrated in the eucharist, as part of the ongoing story of the church.

Moreover, to primarily relate to a text by hearing is a different relationship with that text from that of merely reading it. For one thing, reading is typically a private exercise, while hearing can remain public, God's people listening in common, thereby situating the text in a community of listeners, rather than primarily placing it into the hands and under the eyes of an individual interpreter.

This points further to the differing phenomenologies of reading and hearing. Hearing suggests a posture of attentiveness, a hearkening that is tied to sounds that enter into the mind unwilled and therefore call for reaction and submission, placing the hearer at the text's disposal. Reading, on the other hand, requires a choice to look, a gaze that places the reader above the text, controlling how that text is divided and appropriated, placing the text at the disposal of the reader.

Besides liturgical texts, the other way in which the Bible was typically encountered in the middle ages was as a text embedded within other texts in the form of various commentaries and within the Gloss (glossa ordinaria). As such the biblical text again was not encountered in these contexts except within an already existing hermeneutical relation, though now primarily in a written form (even if the Gloss was sometimes read aloud in monastic settings).

Medieval commentaries were not designed merely to comment upon the text as an object of study, but rather to inculcate a particular way of reading that functioned more as a spiritual discipline, unfolding the meaning of the text as a site of grace and in a way that confronts and changes the reader (see Peter Leithart's report on a couple of presentations on de Lubac and medieval exegesis from this year's AAR/SBL).

In the case of the Gloss, there was a combination of marginal and interlinear commentary that marked and surrounded the text itself, physically situating it at the center of a larger textual negotiation. While the interlinear gloss was usually more philological in character, the marginal gloss drew upon centuries of earlier commentaries, assembling snippets of them as an ongoing interpretative tradition. Interestingly, the gloss text itself emerged quickly and was very stable in content while the biblical text it surrounded was often quite variant in its translation from the original languages.

All of these observations about the medieval Bible should be a cause for reflection.

What would a medieval theologian, for instance, have made of the Protestant doctrine of "sola scriptura"? While I'm convinced that a number of medievals did, in fact, hold to something quite like that doctrine, they did so in a context where it would be far more difficult for it to devolve into an individualistic practice of subjective interpretation. To what degree has the production of modern printed Bibles been complicit in pushing the Protestant doctrine in sometimes strange directions? For that matter, to what degree has such Bible production been complicit in the rise of certain earlier Roman Catholic notions about "tradition" as a distinct deposit of teachings alongside Scripture?

Looking at the ways that medieval Christians encountered the Bible should also help free us from the illusion that we come to the Scriptures as a "mere text," discovered in its "plain sense," as an "object" to be studied and scrutinized or as something that is designed primarily to speak to "me," the reader. Rather, those ways of approaching the text, however helpful they may sometimes be, are revealed as themselves historically situated and contingent, embedded within certain reading practices that are not the only (nor perhaps the best) ones available. And this lack of awareness of our own hermeneutical assumptions seems often to sidetrack any progress when we find other Christians reading Scripture in a way that is at variance with our own.

I've only barely gestured at some of the significance of the shifts from medieval to modern Bibles, but these shifts do seem to me to be quite important, seldom addressed, and certainly deserving of further reflection.

22 November 2004

god's hand on the lever

I don't know if the problem is a secular newspaper asking the questions or whether it was the pastors answering them, but here is what strikes me as a fairly unhelpful interview with pastors Peter Lillback and William Borror regarding the recent Presidential election and divine providence. It appeared in yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer.

Rev. Lillback is the pastor of Proclamation PCA in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, as well as the executive director of The Providence Forum, a foundation whose mission is to call America back to the "deep faith" and "Judeo-Christian worldview" of our nation's founders. While Lillback's scholarship on the origins of covenant theology has been helpful, I've got serious misgivings about much of his work in the more political sphere.

Rev. Borror is the pastor of Media PCUSA in Media, Pennsylvania, which could probably be aptly described as theologically orthodox, but socially progressive. In my experience, he's quite a good homilist, though the sermons I've heard, in sticking to specific biblical texts, come across much more clearly than his comments in the interview, though the interview with regard to both pastors may have suffered at the hands of an editor.

mosh

Ever notice that in the video for "Mosh" Eminem looks a lot like the Emperor from Star Wars? That's not meant as a political commentary, but as an aesthetic one.

21 November 2004

no more crib

The past couple of days we've been trying to transition Claire from her crib to her "big bed." It's actually gone fairly smoothly at nighttime, but afternoon naptime hasn't been so easy.

We took apart the crib and stored it in the basement, which Claire took in stride, enjoying the additional space in her. The bed has been in her room since she was born, so she's used to it being there, sitting on it, reading stories or playing on it, and so on. But until a couple of nights ago, she had never slept through the night on it.

Here's a recent picture of Claire, from last week:



I'm still amazed by language acquisition and the ability of children to learn language from such a limited and imperfect sample.

Claire also seems to be able to distinguish when a language isn't English, sometimes only with a single word.

The other night we were having sandwiches for dinner and I held up my sandwich and said to her, "Sandoitchi ga arimasu."

"Noooo!" she yelled. "Claire doesn't like Japanese!"

On the rare occasion I use a phrase or two from various languages around the house: Latin, Greek, Hebrew, German, etc. I don't know how Claire was not only sure that it wasn't English, but also knew it was Japanese. Go figure.

18 November 2004

computer woes

Laurel's Gateway computer is only a few years old and the extended warranty ended just a little more than a month ago. So, I guess it's no surprise that it wouldn't start up this morning and it turns out that the motherboard is shot. I suppose the good news is that all the files on the harddrive are still intact and should be retrievable.

I guess our Christmas gifts to each other this year will be limited to a new desktop for Laurel and a laptop we'll be able to share, along with a wireless router so we can use the laptop anywhere in the house and out and about in "Wireless Philadelphia."

Last November brought us a new (albeit used) car. This November began with our kitchen range giving up the ghost, the microwave rusting out, and now the computer dying. I wonder if unexpected large purchases will become a late autumn tradition in the Garver household? Well, at least then we could budget for them...

17 November 2004

ya know...

...I'd love to post something interesting and insightful, but I just don't have the energy. Sometime yesterday I lost track of how many meetings I've been to in the past week, in addition to piles of grading and freshman advising for pre-registration. I'm very much looking forward to Thanksgiving break.

I just finished up preparing my notes for the Bible study I lead on every other Thursday evening. We're going to begin doing the "minor epistles"--Philemon, Titus, 2 and 3 John, and Jude--all the ones that fit on two pages or less. We just finished up Daniel, which is long and complicated and I'm glad to have survived.

Tomorrow we start with Philemon which is really a great little epistle that's beautifully written. The identifications and interchanges Paul suggests between himself, Philemon, and the runaway slave Onesimus really get at the heart of what it is to be in Christ. The way in which Paul reasons and calls upon Philemon to discern and act says a lot about Christian ethics.

And now, off to sleep, perchance to dream.

14 November 2004

calvin's confessionalism

John Calvin was no despiser of churchly creeds and confessions. Not only did he have a hand in writing several confessions and catechisms for use by Protestant churches in Geneva and France, but he also maintained that the teachers God has ordained for his church possess a necessary ministry and significant authority from God, individually and in council "to lay down articles of faith...and to explain them" (Institutes 4.8.1; cf. 4.3.2-3). Moreover, while Calvin goes on to criticize how the church's teaching authority has been often been exercised and abused, he insists that this "does not mean that I esteem the ancient councils less than I ought, for I venerate them from my heart, and desire that they should be honored by all" (Institutes 4.9.1).

Indeed, Calvin goes on to say,
...if any discussion arises over doctrine, the best and surest remedy is for a synod of faithful bishops to be convened, where the doctrine at issue may be examined. Such a definition, upon which the pastors of the church agree in common, invoking Christ's Spirit, will have much more weight than if each one, having conceived it separately at home, should teach it to the people, or if a few private individuals should compose it...And the very feeling of piety so instructs us that, if any disturb the church with a strange doctrine, and the matter reach the point where there is danger of greater dissension, the church should first assemble, examine the question put, and finally, after due discussion, bring forth a definition derived from Scripture which would remove all doubt from the people... (Institutes 4.9.13)Calvin insists that any such decisions made in the past and appealed to in the present should be diligently pondered and given their proper weight (Institutes 4.9.8).

Nevertheless, Calvin also maintained a strong doctrine of the liberty of conscience of the Christian under God and in submission to Scripture, even if placing this liberty in a context that emphasizes the due submission of the Christian to those authorities God has ordained. Regarding liberty of conscience, Calvin notes three aspects: freedom from the condemnation of the law; freedom to obey God with a willing heart; and freedom from religious obligation with regard to things indifferent (adiaphora; cf. Institutes 3.19.2-8). It is with the third aspect that the issue of ecclesiastical authority is pertinent since church authorities may propose creeds and confessions for the expression of the faith of the church.

Calvin, as we shall see below, does not think that the authority of the church itself can bind our consciences to a particular formulation of doctrine stated in extrabiblical terminology and categories, even if such formulations are theologically necessary, as well as edifying and useful to the church (cf. Institutes 3.19.8). Still, as we have seen, Calvin does not think this sort of liberty gives us freedom to disregard ecclesiastical authority with regard to either doctrine or customs, which would then allow such liberty thereby to devolve into an individualist subjectivism. Rather he always places such freedom of conscience within the context of a pious submission of the mind to the teaching authority of the church.

All of that being said, it is also of great interest to note how Calvin actually handled the authority of ecclesiastical traditions - including the ancient Creeds - when it came down to the binding of the Christian's conscience in the face of church authorities.

It should be evident that Calvin was no despiser of the ecumenical Creeds and that he was an insistently orthodox trinitarian in the face of certain Renaissance anti-trinitarianisms (not the least, that of Servetus). Nevertheless, when his interlocutor, Pierre Caroli, required that Calvin subscribe to the precise language of the ancient Creeds in order to prove his trinitarian orthodoxy, Calvin refused.

Calvin's point was not to reject the Creeds, of course. He himself states, "I never had any intention of depreciating these creeds or of derogating from their credit" (Calvini Opera 7:315). Rather, in commenting upon this episode in Calvin's disputes with Caroli, B.B. Warfield writes:
...he refused to be coerced in his expression of the doctrine by present authority or even the formularies of the past...Calvin refused to subscribe the ancient creeds at Caroli's dictation, not in the least because he did not find himself in accord with their teaching, but soley because he was determined to preserve for himself and his colleagues the liberties belonging to Christian men, subject in matters of faith to no other authority than that of God speaking in the Scriptures. ("Calvin's Doctrine of the Trinity" in Calvin and Calvinism, Oxford University Press, 1931:206-7)The issue was not one of whether the Creeds were correct in their doctrine - Calvin readily admitted that they were. Nor was it a matter of the authority of the Creeds and the submission and reverence a Christian ought to pay to them - Calvin often expressed such pious deferrence.

Rather, it was a matter of a theologian insisting that the extrabiblical language of the Creeds was the only acceptable and authoritative language in which to express one's faith in the holy Trinity and that a Christian was compelled, as a matter of faith and orthodoxy, to confess in precisely that language. This is was what Calvin deemed unacceptable. B.B. Warfield's comments here are again apt when he writes that Calvin's "sole design was to make it apparent that Caroli's insistence that only in words of these creeds could faith in the Trinity be fitly expressed was ridiculous" (211). As Calvin writes in his Institutes, "I have long learned by experience, and that over and over again, that those who contend thus pertinaciously about terms, are really cherishing a secret poison" (1.8.5).

Warfield summarizes the matter well when he writes that:
[Calvin] considered it intolerable that the Christian teacher's faith should be subjected to the authority of any traditional modes of statement, however venerable, or however true; and he refused to be the instrument of creating a precedent for such tyranny in the Reformed Churches by seeming to allow that a teacher might be justly treated as a heretic until he cleared himself by subscribing ancient symbols thrust before him by this or that disturber of the peace. (208)This perspective, articulated by Calvin, the Geneva Reformer, and reaffirmed by Warfield, that great expositor of Old Princeton, is one we would do well to keep in mind.

13 November 2004

preference pollution

One of my colleagues at La Salle who teaches in (and is the current chair of) the economics department is a fellow by the name of David George. Over the years I've heard him give several talks, at least one of them co-sponsored by the philosophy department, where he has discussed the nature of human desire, how our preferences function, and how philosophical reflections about the will intersect with the concerns of economists.

I'm not an economist and have no head for mathematics, but I did recently obtain a copy of David's 1991 book Preference Pollution: How Markets Create the Desires We Dislike (University of Michigan Press). I've not had a chance to read it yet (and, honestly, the charts, graphs, and formulae are a bit daunting), but I did notice that philosophical articles (such as Harry Frankfurt on free will) show up in the bibliography, which does stir my interest.

10 November 2004

early english books online

I must say that this is just an absolutely incredible resource, one that will make available almost every book printed in Britain from 1473 to 1700 with powerful search options and providing documents in downloadable format.

Unfortunately, it's fantastically expensive for a library or institution to subscribe to the service, so EEBO might not be available to you unless you have access to or privileges at a university or seminary.

If you do have access, however, it's very helpful not only for scholars of English literature, but also for work in British historical theology, providing a wide range of rare and long out of print Puritan, Scottish, and Anglican texts, as well as a number of Continental Reformed texts that were translated into English or otherwise printed in Britain.

Until EEBO came along the breadth of texts available (through reprints and the like) has been rather idiosyncratic, so that a number of texts that, in their own day, were very highly regarded and widely disseminated have been left simply to moulder away in the obscurity of rare books rooms.

I've been using EEBO recently to read through some Puritans and Reformed Anglicans and have been very impressed by the quality, insight, and sheer diversity that existed in the late 16th and early to mid-17th centuries, on a whole range of issues within Reformed dogmatics. And one of these days I'll get around to reporting on some of what I've found.

08 November 2004

as i said...

...about the recent election: I didn't really have a horse in this race.

But those towards the left certainly did. Given their disappointment, it's no surprise, I suppose, to watch the conspiracy theories begin to circulate the blogosphere.

I'm not up on all the ins and outs of polling technology, but I suspect the heavily Bush-voting Democrats in Florida (mostly along the border with Southern states) can be pretty easily explained by the presence of lots of old time Dixiecrats in the Zell Miller mold.

With an incumbent President, most Americans approving of the war in Iraq, consumer confidence high, and lots of folks trusting the administration to be tough on terrorism, Bush won the election fair and square, whether the left likes it or not.

website update

Among the writings on my personal website, I have added "On Regeneration, Baptism, and the Reformed Tradition." This is simply an updated version of a blog entry from earlier this year, outlining the various ways in which the term "regeneration" has functioned within the Reformed tradition and how it has been connected with baptism.

Since several people expressed that they had found it helpful, I thought I should make the content more readily accessible.

hmmm

I haven't blogged anything in five days, though I've got a couple of half-finished posts waiting in the wings (philosophical and theological topics, of course). I just haven't have had the presence of mind to compose anything particularly coherent in the past few days.

Maybe it's post-election blues (and, face it, for a lot of people any outcome in this election was less than ideal), though more likely it's just autumnal allergies, the effects of medication, and mid-semester overwork.

The election will have been a week ago tomorrow--although, judging from the sheer quantity of Kerry/Edwards signs still placarding lawns, houses, and cars around here, you'd think the election was yet to come. I guess, however, I should allow my neighbors a decent period of mourning before they take down the signage, especially in a city where the Democratic candidates received over 80% of the vote.

David Brooks, an editor for the Weekly Standard, had an interesting op-ed piece in the New York Times on Saturday, entitled "The Values-Vote Myth," in which he questioned the over-hasty conclusion that the "evangelical vote" somehow was the primary determinant of this election, a conclusion that functions as scapegoating for the left and as victorious living for the Christian Right. Even if Brooks's analysis itself might be open to some criticism, it should at least dampen the triumphalistic head trips of some folks on the Christian Right.

I did attend a very thoughtful (though, given the topic, somewhat distressing) panel discussion last week on the Rwandan genocide a decade ago and lessons that might be gleaned from it concerning the current situation in Sudan. The speakers were Carl Wilkens, an Adventist pastor who was the only American to stay in Rwanda during the violence, Stanislas Kamanzi, the current Rwandan Ambassador to the United Nations, and Jemera Rone, a Sudanese professor at NYU and member of Human Rights Watch.

While there are both analogies and disanalogies between Sudan today and Rwanda ten years ago, the conversation among the panelists and audience members helped students understand better the potential for violence that can exist in human cultures, even among those who have lived as neighbors. It also raised important questions about what the wider African and international communities might do to prevent further violence in Sudan.

Much more could be said I'm sure, but I've got an Arts and Sciences technology committee report due today.

03 November 2004

wheaton conference

The Society for Continental Philosophy and Theology is hosting a conference at Wheaton College in March entitled, "The Wisdom of Love." Keynote speakers are John Caputo of Syracuse Univeristy and Amy Laura Hall of Duke Divinity School.

02 November 2004

decision 2004

Well, it came down to Election Day itself until I was able to make a decision.

There I was in the voting both, weighing the options, and then, finally, I made my choice.

We are obviously a nation under God's chastening rod and, unless I wished to resist the clear workings of providence, there was only one reasonable path forward:



If you'd like to jump on the bandwagon, a whole line of products in support of the candidates are available online.

01 November 2004

can implies ought?

Imagine a scientific and technological possibility that has the purported potential to save thousands of lives and perhaps even protect many millions more. But while these claims are based upon a handful of interesting discoveries, they largely involve slim evidence, faith in the inexorable progress of science, and unproven and untested promises of spectacular results.

Some claim perhaps that it is necessary for the government to invest vast sums of money into these lines of research, even at the expense of other proven programs, even though many citizens have grave objections to such research, and even when those citizens protest that the research compromises the nature of human moral community and the future of the species.

The bottom line remains for proponents, however, that if we possibly can do something--even in the face of less problematic alternatives--then we must at least try to do it.

As a friend pointed out yesterday, in the 1980s and early '90s this might well have been a diatribe against a space-based missile defense system that was touted by the Reagan administration. Today, of course, the tables have turned as many of those critics of "star wars" have eagerly embraced embryonic stem-cell research.

None of this, of course, decides the substantive moral and scientific questions that run through both issues and the parallel is not, perhaps, precise. But it does seem to me that there is a peculiar irony somewhere in there.

the day before

Well, if this is correct, Kerry might win the election by 298 electoral votes to Bush's 231. Of course, given polling difficulties in this year's race it's not very likely that the data is correct and the only poll that matters in the end is the one tomorrow.

Zogby has done a first-ever text-messaging poll of cell phone users, attempting to get a handle on the preferences of that elusive 18-29 year old demographic, which much of the traditional land-line polling seems to miss. The result is (unsurprisingly) that they favor Kerry over Bush, 55% to 40%.

But this demographic also has notoriously low voter turn-out on election day. Still, it is difficult to tell, but I wouldn't be surprised if the younger voter turn-out this year were higher than expected. I've had a number of students tell me that they will be absent from class since they are going home to vote, in some cases, several states away. I've never seen my students quite so interested in an election, though this is only the third presidential election during which I've been teaching college-aged voters.

Well, we'll know tomorrow, I guess. Maybe. Or in a couple weeks at least...