The Neighbor Who Vanished, or Didn’t

David Corbett

I didn’t know what Louise had planned for yesterday when I decided to post this. It’s either a different slant on the matter or maudlin overkill or something else entirely—I’ll let you be the judge of that.

To borrow a phrase from Richard Ford: This is not a happy story, I warn you. More troubling than that, I’m not entirely sure it’s true, even though I remember it all vividly.

I grew up in Columbus, Ohio. When I was four-to-five years old, I was one of the younger members of the neighborhood pack of kids, a collection of maybe a dozen brothers and sisters from five families in a residential part of town called Beechwold.

I was not just younger, but inward and awkward, relying heavily on my older brother John to help me navigate the social minefield that childhood so often becomes.

Normally, John was stellar, protecting me from embarrassment or harm. In the instance I’m about to describe, that excellence faltered. I don’t blame him. He was becoming aware of his own homosexuality at the time, and was plagued with his own fears of embarrassment and being found out. So in this case, I was on my own.

Two doors down from us lived the Lehman family, and they had a son named Gary who had Down Syndrome. We didn’t call it that back then. We called Gary retarded.

Gary would sometimes come out into his yard to play with the rest of us, and he had a fascination with the cartoon character Popeye. The other kids would goad him, saying, “Popeye, Gary! Popeye!” And Gary would mimic the cartoon, reach inside his shirt for his can of spinach — in truth, just slapping his chest — down the spinach in one gulp — he would lick his hand — then flex his muscles and, with his arms windmilling, charge whoever the instigators pointed out. More times than not, it was me. I was the designated Bluto.

I had nothing against Gary but I knew I couldn’t afford not to prevail in our encounters, or so I believed. I wonder about that now, wonder what would have really happened if I’d let him win, but the world that choice would have created was lost long ago. He was bigger and heavier and stronger than I was, but I could usually wrestle him to the ground and pin him without too much effort, at which point the others would cheer, the bout would be over, and things would eerily return to normal, as we knew it.

The shame of this was heightened by the fact I had a crush on Gary’s mom. Mrs. Lehman was young and far more attractive than the other mothers in the neighborhood, with short black hair cut in a pixie style so fashionable back then. She wore capri pants and men’s shirts with the sleeves rolled up, an arty look back then for the Midwest. She mesmerized me, haunted me. She at times watched as the kids crowded around Gary, lured him into the Popeye bit, then gently called him inside afterward. He would bound toward her, oblivious to being the butt of our jokes; she would not look at us, just let her son into the house, the door would close. I cannot envision her in my memory without an expression of helpless sorrow. And that sadness made my shame and guilt unbearable.

At some point Mrs. Lehman vanished, and another woman appeared in her place — older, frumpier, aproned, more conventionally maternal. She led Gary out among us one day and smothered him with kisses and hugs and told us all how much she adored him, called him her precious, her darling. The love was almost garish but sincere, there was no mistaking that. But who was this woman? Where did the other, mysteriously lovely Mrs. Lehman go? As ashamed as I felt, I missed her, even pined for her in the way young boys do for beautiful mothers, even when they’re not their own (perhaps especially then). How could I ever tell her how sorry I was, which would begin my rehabilitation in her eyes? How could I atone and so begin what, in my five-year-old heart, I perceived as our romance?

Sometime later, I don’t remember exactly when, the Lehmans moved away. And sometime after that — or so I recall — my brother told me that the beautiful Mrs. Lehman had committed suicide.  No one knew why. Or if they did, they never said.

Again, I’m not entirely sure this beautiful woman really existed. Maybe the sweet, frumpy Mrs. Lehman had been there all along, and the arty woman in the black pixie who died so tragically was just a figment of my imagination, a false memory forged from loneliness and guilt. I’d ask my brother but he too is gone now, a victim of that first wave of AIDS that swept through San Francisco in the 1980s. And so I’m left with a hesitation where a memory should be, a silence in need of a ghost.

Are you unsure of a seemingly seminal memory? Does the past sometimes seem as hypothetical — or illusory — as the future? Is there an incident from your past that puts the lie to the myth of “normalcy.” Have you ever been goaded by others into an act that, for years afterward, stirred the deeper waters of your conscience? Has such a moment found a way into your fiction?

* * * * *

Jukebox Heroes of the Week: I couldn’t leave you with such a troubling story and not try to pick you up, at least a little. Here’s one of my favorite love songs, a bit of poignant gentleness (with ukelele!) from a band not normally known for it, The Who — a tune that puts all the world’s wisdom in two simple lines:

The pleasure seems to balance out the pain

And so you see I’m completely crazy …


42 thoughts on “The Neighbor Who Vanished, or Didn’t

  1. Barbie

    Why do your blog entries always give me chills?

    I have some blurry memories and events I'm not sure are real or not, but nothing of this magnitude.

  2. Louise Ure

    David, those moments of remembered (or misremembered) shame rule all of my writing and most of my life.

    Thank you for this portrait of the unforgettable Lehmans.

  3. David Corbett

    Louise: When I teach character, I tell my students the moments of shame in their lives are, sadly, golden. Emrace them. Shame is that terrible feeling that we’ve done something that will isolate and exile us forever, that we really are the loser, the punk, the fool, the nitwit, the mistake. True vulnerability can’t exist without being able to handle all that – we’re secretly terrified of being seen for who we are. But that’s exactly what love requires – allowing ourselves to be seen.

    Barbie: Chills, yes, well – ahem. I seem to have that effect on a lot of women. (Joke. Sorta.)

    I'm not sure of the magnitude of this memory myself — and that's what haunts me. I wonder if it's a memory at all, or just a story created by my unconscioous to embody a very specific feeling of guilt/shame/longing/loss, one that I had as early as I can remember — why? It has more the quality of a dream now than a memory. (Though I know Gary was real. That feels solid.)

  4. Jake Nantz

    Goaded by others? Only one that I can remember, and when I got caught (I was 12) the 20-something camp counselor who nudged me to cheat in the camp-wide game clammed up. Asshole. I tried to play it off, but I was incredibly ashamed inside, and still remember the "this is what we do with cheaters" speech the camp director gave everyone as he singled me out. But that's about the only one I can think of.

    Now, goaded by my own weaknesses and inner evil? Oh my, have I got a lot of those. People firmly believe I have such a self-deprecating sense of humor because it's my way of deflecting my own garish ego. Maybe a small part, but the truth is, I remember all of the things I've done for which I am incredibly ashamed…even the ones I still continue to do to this day.

    Every. Single. One.

    If anything, my sense of humor is more of a warning to people that may not realize what a shitty, lousy person I can be much of the time.

    I think it was SJS that pointed out a "saying" that a lot of addicts have, those who are at once self-centric and terminally ashamed of what they do, in BOULEVARD. Well, Depressives and Manic-Depressives cover very much the same range of emotions, especially when the all-seeing eye is directed inward. "I am the piece of shit the world revolves around." Ain't it the fuckin' truth.

    But stuff like that makes us who we are. Without it, we'd be those smiling, happy, obliviously irritating and chipper people I kind of want to shoot each day. I guess if pain or self-loathing can make a great writer then I've got a shot. Hell, Hemingway was a miserable shit, and look what he managed!

  5. JT Ellison

    Fascinating that you wonder if your memory is accurate here. I have a horrid memory. I've talked about that here before, that it actually freaks me out. Things are hazy and swim into focus and then out again and it's only with pictures and long talks that I can grasp it all again. Weird.

    It's a great story regardless. You and I have been talking a lot about shame lately, and now I see what you're talking about. We all have these kinds of shames. One of the things I try to teach is to truly know a character, you need to know their biggest shame. The reader doesn't necessarily need to know what that is, but you, the writing, do, or you're not being honest with yourself.

    Another thought provoking post, David. You know, if you wanted to find out if she was real, you can go look at the old voter registration rolls. They might have a clue. Or maybe you've done that already????

  6. David Corbett

    Jake: I loved this: “But stuff like that makes us who we are. Without it, we'd be those smiling, happy, obliviously irritating and chipper people I kind of want to shoot each day.”

    If you’re ever looking for a sidekick for shooting practice, drop me a line. (I want a bumper sticker that reads: Chipper Must Die.)

    Yeah, I’ve heard that “piece of shit the universe revolves around” line used by a friend to describe her depressive-narcissist ex. People think I’m a cheerful guy, an impression that fades after getting to know me for about, say, ten minutes. (Except for my main squeeze, who has a seriously warped view of my virtues.) And the woman I knew who took her own life recently could be one of the funniest, most generous, volcanically outgoing human beings in the world – but her inner life was savage. The ghosts just wouldn’t let her go. Or she wouldn’t let go of them.

    You raise an interesting point – was I really being goaded? Okay, I was five, but I knew what I was doing was creepy and obnoxious if not exactly wrong, and I didn’t want to do it. What stopped me from saying no? It’s at that point in the scene that things get interesting for me as a writer.

    JT: I could check the voter rolls, but that require my going back to Columbus, Ohio — a place which, as a fellow refugee recently quipped, looks so much better in the rearview mirror.

    Alafair: Once again, you make me feel like I sneezed in your margarita. I gotta tell ya, it wears on a guy to constantly be called "dark" as opposed to, I dunno, "serious" (though even that comes out as an insult these days). But I promise, if Jake and I do go on our Kill Chipper rampage, I'll remember your sulkier side, and give you a pass. (Who loves ya, babe?)

  7. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Beautiful writing, buddy. I'm pining for the pixie-mom now, too.
    I was also goaded into playing along with the other elementary school kids. There was this very sweet, very sickly-looking girl at my school named Mia and everyone would touch her shoulder, then touch someone else and say, "Mia's coodies!" And she just took it, smiling. I think I only actually participated in this activity once, but it left me with a terrible feeling of shame. I remember looking into her sweet, soft eyes when people did this – she harbored no ill-will. And then one day she wasn't at school, and our teacher gathered us all in a circle to tell us that God wanted Mia back, because she was really too kind to be on Earth. That was tough stuff for a 4th grader to comprehend. I still miss her, though I barely exchanged a word with her.

  8. David Corbett

    Stephen: I can imagine that sad, diffident girl haunting you. If only Mia and Mrs. Lehman and Gary could save us from ourselves. That was a frequent device in medieval parables – Jesus appearing as the person you were natually inclined to mock or shun. And it was Mark’s major point in his Gospel, his key innovation and insight: The Jews were expecting a warrior king as a messiah, what they got was a lowly criminal – that was the point. It didn’t sell very well, so the editors passed the job on to Matthew, who aligned Jesus with the House of David – i.e., he really was royal stock. Still didn’t go over, so Luke, a consort of Paul, said, “Screw the Jews, let’s go Gentile,” and they made the messiah a universal savior and traced his lineage back to Adam (never mind that Luke’s and Matthew’s family trees don’t match – picky, picky). When even Luke’s version didn’t fly off the shelves, John of Ephesus went even bigger: He identified Jesus not as the messiah but God himself. And the original point got lost in the shuffle – our salvation lies in humility and compassion, not grandiosity. Enter: the papacy. (BTW: Did anyone else just love Jeremy Irons as Rodrigo Borgia, aka Pope Alexander VI? Talk about gangsters.)

  9. Allison Davis

    Yes, yes, I have several of those stories, only some from the other side. When the girls walking ahead of me in first grade, as I watched their backs, and tried to keep up, one turns arounds and says, "we don't want to walk to with you." Forever, I have only wanted to belong (and odd man out that I am, and noisy, I never quite do). Years of catholic school, being the oldest, wild times in the 70's, all kinds of memories drive my writing — many vulnerable moments (living nearly on the street in North Beach in the 70's comes to mind, what was I thinking?). And I have a doctorate in narcisstic husbands.

    When you and Jake go hunting, I want to go.

  10. Allison Davis

    And then there are moments of embarassment that I never forgot, making a bad (and racist in hindsight) joke about "Puerto Rican Fence Climbers" (fancy shoes with pointy toes) to my english teacher who was married to a Puerto Rican (I had always wanted to please him and did the opposite always). Those moments still make my face burn.

  11. Gar Haywood


    Great post.

    I was six, maybe seven. Baseballs and footballs were always getting trapped on the roof of a garage behind our duplex, and to rescue them, my boys and I used to go around to the back of the garage and climb a dead tree that sat there on a thick bed of perilous garbage (broken glass, sharp metal, rusty nails, etc.). I went up on the garage once myself, saved the hostage ball, and on my way back down the tree, slipped and started to fall, face-down onto God-knows-what kind of razor-edged crap that lay below. By some miracle, however, the cuff on one leg of my blue jeans caught on a branch to stop my descent, leaving me hanging upside down like a prize fish in a dockside trophy photo. I tried to reach up to free myself, but couldn't, so all I could do now was scream for help.. Finally, one of friends showed up, climbed the tree, and helped me get down safely.

    Now, here's the thing: As vividly as I remember this "experience" to this day, I don't have a clue whether it really happened or not. It might have just been a dream I had at the time that I've never been able to forget.

    Weird, huh?

  12. David Corbett

    Allison: I try to write down those moments when I remember something and unconsciously avert my eyes because of shame. It's such a fascinating physical response, and so revealing.

    I also try to remember the scenes in movies where I look away form the screen, thinking: Oh no, please don't … Cassavettes' films always have a lot of those for me. People (men especially) just blundering and thundering into excruciatingly painful, revelatory idiocies.

    Not that I ever do that kind of thing.

  13. Jake Nantz

    David – I'm game, and Allison can come along too. Just don't tell my wife, because she's a Braves fan and may take "Kill Chipper" the wrong way.

    The worst part is that I don't actually hate people who are happy, though the oblivious morons out there stand a deserving chance of being a live target. But people who are intelligent, can look at all they've been through and all that is wrong with the world around them (and not just in this country, though don't get me started there…), and those folks can still be happy as a general rule? Nah, I don't hate them, I just envy them. And jealousy is an ugly, ugly beast.

    And Allison, yeah maybe that's why I just have the one story myself. I was usually on the other side of things, and I can still remember being introduced to my new 7th grade Honors English class, who already had one Jake in it, and Avera R. turing to her friend in the silence and saying, "Oooh, it's THAT Jake." Yeah, being on the other side of those moments, the shame is just as strong, just as lasting, and tends to cement itself into your memory with crystaline clarity. As a matter of fact David, if you don't mind the occasional detour on our hunting trip, I think that uppity you-know-what might have to catch a stray round in the knee or something…

  14. David Corbett

    Jake: What can I say but: Lock and Load.

    I think what we're both getting at is the pretense that sadness and shame and guilt and doubt are all for suckers, losers, has-beens, shmucks. It's a prettified variety of sociopathy. The Mr. Priss pathology,

    Or as someone put it back during the Vietnam era: My mind is filled with hideous things. If your isn't, why don't you stop the war?

    And, on the other hand, there's this (can't remember who said it, some Spanish novelist): What a curious kind of courage — the courage to be happy.

  15. David Corbett

    Gar: I know, I know, it's utterly mysterious. For years I had this memory of going with my dad when I was again around 5 or so to a boat dealership, one that sold speedboats, nothing bigger than a cabin cruiser. Swear to God, I still have it in my memory, the image of going out to the back lot and seeing an ocean liner sitting there.

    Excuse me if I go Tarot on you, but if your memory was in fact a dream, it bears a strong resemblance to the Hanging Man tarot card.


  16. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Very noir memory there, D. I hope you write a book about all that one day, I'd read it in a second.

    I don't THINK I have any memories that didn't really happen. But how would I know if I did?

  17. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    I do have this vivid memory of being the only hobbit in the shire who defeated the angry giant. He came into our village, stomping on all the homes, and when he stepped on me I lifted him up and threw him high into the air. I remember seeing him disappear over the hills. I was treated as a warrior hero after that.
    I'm pretty sure that actually happened, but I could be wrong.

  18. Jake Nantz

    Honestly David, the only thing I 'remember' about Vietnam is my dad came back from being stationed in Germany and talked about people in the airports spitting on GIs and calling them baby killers. I'd say plenty of those folks had minds full of hideous things, but you'd never get them to acknowledge the fact because they felt they were unimpeachably right.

    Maybe it's more about the courage to admit that you're at least capable of horrors, whether it's taking a man's life or degrading a man for doing something you have no idea whether he's done or not. I'll never tell a living soul some of the things I'm ashamed to have floating around in my head, but at least I can admit they're there, and they're horrible. I think there are plenty of holier-than-thous in this world who–if you ask them–are absolutely right and absolutely righteous, not just in their words and deeds but in their own minds. And you can show them the awful things they have done and still do over and over, and never even make a dent.

    Worst part is, it's not limited to any particular background, ideology, or theology either. I've seen these people in every race you can imagine, in the ranks of Dems, Pubs, Libertarians and Independents, in the walks of every major world religion plus agnostics and athiests, and I've seen it in 14-18 year olds, grown men and women who should know better, and senior citizens alike. Hell, we may have to stock up on ammo, buddy, because if I keep adding to the list of people out there stealing perfectly good oxygen from the rest of us, there might not be a whole lotta folks left when we're done….

  19. Zoë Sharp

    Hi David

    Fascinating post. And if we don't do things that shame us when we're young, how can we learn not to do them when we no longer have the excuse of youth to fall back on?

  20. Shizuka


    I can't trust my memory because sometimes I'll talk to people who are supposed to have experienced things with me and they say, "What trip?" or "Sweetie, that didn't happen." "There wasn't anyone like that in our seventh-grade class." Some of my dreams are that realistic and mundane. And then there are other, sometimes really good things, that I don't remember. Like getting into a great high school I decided not to go to. It was too far away. I remembered it as failing the test and a friend recently corrected me. Which means there must be other horrible things I've erased or edited the crap out of.


  21. Shizuka

    I just thought of a disturbing, alternate reason I don't remember that many shameful moments.
    Maybe my sense of shame and guilt were (and still are) underdeveloped.
    I don't like where my brain is going with that so I should sit down and poke at it some more.

  22. David Corbett


    Don't poke your brain too hard. Icky fluids ooze out your ears.

    Your confusion between dreams and memories is very much what I'm thinking about with this. And the fact that part of what we consider our past might be constructed of such illusions can be unsettling and humbling but also strangely liberating. When the ground beneath us is clearly comprised of sand, we're free from the need to build mansions and castles and other temples to our pomposity. When the hard and fast turns slippery, many things become possible. (But the rent is still due.)

    My koan for the day.


  23. Katherine C.

    I'd love to say I've never had one of those moments, but sadly, I have. I was more often than not on the other side of the shameful moments myself (or at least I'd like to think that in retrospect they are ashamed of the way they treated me, who knows?), but there is one chapter where I was the one being mean, and I'm still ashamed of it 15 or more years later. There was a young (2-ish, maybe 3, I don't remember) boy my mother babysat when I was in middle school who, for whatever reason, I took a disliking to, although he was someone I should have gone out of my way to be kind to. Instead of playing with or at least treating this young child — who had a single mom who worked too hard for not enough money (don't they all?); was scrawny and seemed to have a perpetually runny nose; seemed scared of so many things for no apparent reason; followed my sisters and I around no matter what we were doing; and was in general a figure that should have generated sympathy — with kindness, I instead went out of my way more than once to be mean to him. I don't remember exactly what it was I did or said to him (although I'm pretty sure I convinced him once that his mother was never coming back for him, which is EVIL and so out of character for me, generally) but I do know that when I think back, I am deeply ashamed of how I treated this kid who needed nothing by love. The only thing I can think of that may have spurred this dislike was jealousy: Mom (clearly a much better person than me) always went out of her way to be overly nice to him, often letting him do things my sisters and I were never able to get away with, and I do remember being so angry that she "treats him better than her own children." And in retrospect, that awful, selfish thought is just as bad and unfair as my treatment of him. I am still haunted by that kid's face and that semi-bewildered/wounded expression he would sometimes get that clearly said he didn't understand why I treated him that way (especially when I would go back and forth between being nice and being mean, which really makes it worse). I'd like to think I'm exaggerating in my memories of how I treated him, but I'm pretty sure I'm not — my sisters and I have talked about it. And I would love to go back and do it differently, because in my opinion there is a special circle in hell for people who are cruel to or abuse children. And apparently I will be serving some time there. Sorry this got long, but that's a confession I needed to get out. Of all the things I've done in my life, this is the only one that springs to mind of which I am truly ashamed.

  24. Katherine C.

    Don't you love going back and reading your posts and wondering where that person got their education?

  25. Reine

    David, I love " . . . Jeremy Irons as Rodrigo Borgia." But enough about Pauline theology – what about Q?

  26. lil Gluckstern

    Very powerful posts everybody. I have tears in my eyes because I was the one who was shamed, taunted, and then, as if in a miracle, I found good friends and became more trusting of my self. Damn, if I didn't become a snob for a while, very self-protective, and now I am annoyed with myself for doing what I swore I would never do-which is to never consciously hurt someone. David, you are such a compelling writer, and Jake and Stephen, and Alex and Louise,and Zoe and anyone I missed-I now know why I am so drawn to your books.

  27. David Corbett

    Sorry for being away from the wheelhouse – I had a deadline to meet and by God I met the sucker.


    Katherine: I actually think there may have been something else besides jealousy motivating your one excursion into cruelty. (I’ve had them too – believe me.) There’s something about the weak, the vulnerable, that inspires a small, miserly, vicious contempt. It’s largely unconscious, very much below the radar as we get older and become schooled in ethics and such. But when we’re kids – and at times as adults in moments of weakness (or unmodulated snottiness) – that visceral hatred just leaks out. You see it in animals sometimes. I had the sweetest golden poodle named Bugsy and I’d see him just get a look in his eye sometimes and go at one of the smaller dogs, or a sick one. And seriously, he was the gentlest dog I’ve ever owned.

    I actually think the whole “welfare queen” argument and its various iterations is motivated precisely by this kind of contempt. It isn’t just that poor people may game the system. It’s that their poverty conjures an air of weakness that some people just find noxious. It’s projection – if I crush the weak I defeat my own weakness.

    (Thanks for sharing that anecdote, by the way. I can tell it’s still roiling around inside pretty fiercely.)

    Stephen: Actually, I can kinda see you as a hobbit. With a saxophone.

    Shizuka & Gar: I also think we may have certain emotional knots in our minds or hearts that, as in dreams, we’re trying to reify symbolically. The memories are in fact a kind of waking dream. They’re not illusions – the psychic impulse that triggered the “memory” is damn real. It just had nothing in the physical world to anchor it, so it conjured its own image. And it fooled us, in a weaker moment. (This is a correlate to the axiom: Memory makes liars of us all.)

    Reine: I actually prefer Perils of Pauline theology. That’s where Mary Magdalene gets captured by Judas and tied to the railroad tracks, and Jesus swoops in and rescues her AT THE VERY LAST MOMENT! (BTW: I was unaware I was offering up Pauline theology; I was pretty much just regurgitating what I’ve learned from Bart Ehrman.)

    As for Q: Do you mean the techy character in the Bond films who always outfits 007 with all his nifty gear?

    Okay, seriously: I think Q is very much like the compelling but likely false memories we’re talking about. It’s assumed the common source for Matthew and Luke exists, but no one’s ever seen it, and everyone has a different idea of what form it takes – if they agree it existed at all.

    L’il Gluckstern: Thanks for the props, and I agree, what I love about this experience is that, no matter what I write, it’s deepened and expanded upon and improved tenfold over the course of the day by everyone who chimes in.

  28. MJ

    This is the best site for meaty posts, it really is.

    I was the pudgy picked-on kid in glasses and braces. I'm fine now, really – it could have made me a serial killer, or compassionate, and thank God it made me compassionate. And tough about it.

    But I get this post. I had a cousin vanish this way when I was 15 and he was 16. There was a funeral, overheard murmurs about the note found that someone destroyed, and then it was like "poof" he'd never existed. But I remember. I bet others do too – but we can't talk about it because it mars the illusion that we'd risen from the lower class to solid upper middle class, suburban, white respectability. When you're respectable, you're perfect, right? That's your wall against the other.

    I've found that a lot of my work deals with secrets and missing family members. DUH, ya think so?

  29. David Corbett


    It's so unfair that you had to pretend this cousin had somehow magically never materialized. There should be someone in every family who those who want to know more can go to. "Mom, what happened to Vinnie?" "Go ask Uncle Preston."

    That kinda thing.

  30. Reine

    I like that – Perils of Pauline theology! Some assume Q exists, or existed, but as it was taught to me, it represents at least one other source common to the two, but for the most part not included in the third, or just redacted out of the two leaving the other unnoticed as part of the cannon. Dunno. I was just goofing with Paul, the Roman, but you knew that. And . . . I had a beagle named Bugsy.

  31. David Corbett

    I think Q's real name was Bugsy. It explains everything.

    BTW: I'm sorry for the glitchy YouTube video. It worked when I first tried it. Oh well …

  32. David Corbett

    If you're at all interested in the Jukebox Hero vid, I just repaired it, i.e., replaced the glitchy one with a non-glitchy substitute. The video is one still image — boring — but the music works, which is, well, the point.

  33. Reine

    Yeah well, Bart Ehrman takes an odd stance on pseudepigraphy, especially as it concerns Paul, see Bernadette Brooten. So you went to UNC?

  34. Reine

    He does get students thinking and questioning, a great thing. I often find I agree with his conclusions, just not the historical argument regarding writers and redaction. I think the story is the important thing, not the historicity.

  35. David Corbett

    Reine: You're way beyond me on this one, since I've not studied it too closely, just some lectures and a few books. But Ehrman was the first person who pointed out the progression of the Gospels to me, and the significance of beginning with Mark (with its earliest known ending at the finding of the empty tomb — NOT the subsequent sightings and ascension. Great ending, imho, speaking as a writer.) He also laid out the whole progression from the Covenant to the Prophets to the Apocalyptic views of man's relationship to God and the cause of evil in a way I'd never heard before and it made sense to me. I'm sure there is scholarly disagreement — well, duh — but he lays it out in a way that I find both skeptical and respectful. I haven't read karen Armstrong's recent work, but was very impressed with her History of God. I also read a History of Satan that was eye-opening.

    Anyhoo, thanks as always for chiming in. I think we've gone a little inside-baseball on this one, but it's been fun.

  36. Reine

    Hah! Sorry, but you can blame the Red Sox for that. They invade my consciousness whenever they're in the process of slaughtering the evil empire, and out come my references to the unknown.

    I HUGELY admire and enjoy the way theology unseen is prequels in your work, in itself a practical theology, the only kind I practice. I do love Karen, a brilliant voice for the practice of lived religion.

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