Monday, November 23, 2009

A Big (Easy) Day

(left to right: Scaer, Reilly, and Hollywood on Canal Street near Bourbon Street)

There has been a great convergence in the Crescent City these past few days, as the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS), (as well as the Evangelical Philosophical Society (EPS)), and the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) all decided to meet here this year. Actually, it is by intelligent design that the three meet in the same place every year, and is not the product of fortuitous randomness. And as it was explained to me today, it is a great exercise in ecumenical civility, as for a few days, the Evangelicals consider the SBL-types to be Christian, and the SBL-types consider the Evangelicals to be scholars.

Not knowing which I'm the least bad at (being a Christian or a scholar), I don't belong to either the ETS or the SBL.

But anyway, taking advantage of the fact that there was no school today, the Hollywoods made the trek across the river to meet one of the SBL attendees, the Rev. Dr. Peter J. Scaer. Dr. Scaer also happens to be the first professor I had at Concordia Theological Seminary, as he was my Greek instructor in the Fall of 2000. My class happened to be Dr. Scaer's first class at the seminary as well.

Somehow, we both survived the experience.

I had a few other classes with Professor Scaer, and a year or two later, Mrs. H. and I were most honored to have been able to help him proofread his doctoral dissertation. Professor Scaer invited me to Notre Dame to watch him defend his thesis and watch Prof. Scaer become Dr. Scaer - which was a great privilege for me. His academic adviser was the Rev. Dr. Jerome Neyrey, a prolific New Testament scholar and Jesuit priest. And all this time, we all thought Notre Dame was just a football team...

As hard as it is to imagine, it has already been nine years since Peter taught me my Alphas and Betas, my aorists, participles, and how much I hate the Greek textbook we were using. In deference to the author, I won't say the title nor my opinion that it is probably the worst book I have ever read. Did I type that out loud? Oops.

That sound in the background is Peter clicking his tongue and rolling his eyes, because he likes my writing much better when I avoid controversial topics, such as personal opinions and Christianity.

Although it is a personal opinion, I must say, we had a blast today!

The Hollywoods parked near the Riverwalk and strolled up Canal Street to the lobby of the Renaissance Pere Marquette Hotel, where we met Peter at just after noon. We crossed Canal Street and made a mini-pilgrimage to the Ignatius J. Reilly statue. For some perplexing reason, the iconic clock that used to mark time in front of the D.H. Holmes Department Store was not there today. Tempus fugit? One can only hope the timepiece is being repaired or cleaned, as its perpetual absence would violate the principles of Theology and Geometry. I shall have to write my elected representatives concerning this matter. Oh, there goes my pyloric valve again...

At any rate, we posed for the obligatory photo, and headed back down Canal for lunch at Gordon Biersch on Poydras Street.

It was a wonderful lunch. First, the food. I have learned that in any genre of writing in New Orleans, no matter how serious or frivolous, it must include a brief culinary excursus, presented here in the interest of Theology and Geometry...

Dr. Scaer had the Lump Crab Cake Sandwich with spinach and Cajun remoulade, accompanied by Garlic Fries. Mrs. H. and I shared the Barbecue Chicken Pizza: pulled chicken breast, onion, cilantro and mozzarella over our Märzen barbecue sauce. When he was human, Leonidas H. ate the Chicken Tenders and French fries from the children's menu. I don't believe he was eating while transforming into other creatures from the animal kingdom - which is probably best. Most restaurants frown on him eating the other customers.

The food was excellent, the service top-notch, but the company was the best of all. It was a nice leisurely lunch washed down by beer made on-site at the microbrewery, a relaxing meal with delightful conversation.

After the repast, we trekked over to the French Quarter. While en route to the St. Louis Cathedral, who should we run into but the aforementioned Rev. Dr. Jerome Neyrey, S.J.? After a nice visit, we parted company with Fr. Neyrey and took Peter to see the inside of St. Louis Cathedral, that is, after passing a Lucky Dog cart and a few fortune tellers.

We made the obligatoire visit to Cafe du Monde, drank cafe au lait, and ate beignets while the ubiquitous live music filled the air. Afterward, we strolled along the Mississippi River, as street musicians, performers, and a beautiful old riverboat dotted the landscape of our walk. We cut through the Riverwalk, and headed over to the parking lot, where we got into our sleek and stylish Maserati... okay, okay, it's actually a Toyota mini-van. Why let a little thing like truth get in the way of a good story. This is New Orleans, after all, dawlin'.

We dropped Peter off back at the Pere Marquette and said our goodbyes. From my perspective, it was a much too short visit, though we spent some five hours talking about Theology (without the Geometry), getting caught up on mutual friends, as well as engaging other deep intellectual topics such as cartoon characters.

Peter's flight back to Fort Wayne is at three-something in the morning tonight. The big question is whether to sleep and get up at two-something in the morning, or just stay up. I think the best advice came from a sage New Orleanian, whose proverbial wisdom Peter related in a really well-done New Orleans accent (not an easy thing to do):

"You don't come to the Big Easy to sleep, child!"

(left to right: Scaer and Neyrey on St. Peter Street at Jackson Square)

More pictures here.


Ariel said...

I read Confederacy of Dunces last summer. It was probably one of the few books I've read with almost no sympathetic characters (pretty much the only characters I really had any empathy for at all were Jones and Darlene), yet at the same time it still managed to be a really great story. It gave me a whole new understanding of the city of my birth. The next time I'm in New Orleans I'll visit some of the streets and landmarks from the book.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Mackey and I tried to get Dr. Scaer to switch to using Croy's Greek book, which is the best biblical Greek Grammar I've seen.

And yes, what the Sem had used is, in the hands of mere mortals, the most foolishly organized Greek Grammar I have seen - and as I was a Classicist in college, I've seen a lot of them. As in probably all the major ones of the 20th Century.

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

I find Ignatius Reilly to be not only a sympathetic character, but also one of the most memorable protagonists of all time. I found myself laughing out loud virtually every time he speaks. (And it is a frightening feeling when my life begins to resemble his, like last year when I was out of work for a few weeks, and actually pursued the possibility of working a hot dog cart downtown Milwaukee.)

Anonymous said...

Dr. Scaer certainly knows something about good food. That sounds delicious.

PS— I know the greek textbook you speak of. I have it in my library. Your good advice regarding using Mounce was spot on! Although... I still find it hard to work through the book while working and other fatherly duties.

Peter said...

To be fair, the instructor was worse than the textbook. And, I must say, the Beanes have been blessed with the good grace of hospitality. New Orleans is everything they say and more, a year-round carnival for the senses. I am thankful for the day and the friendship. (And the book helped through a LONG day at the airport . . .but no complaints, I got bumped, and have a ticket for my next adventure). Here's to theology and geometry! Happy Thanksgiving!

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Peter:

You wrote:

"To be fair, the instructor was worse than the textbook."

As usual, Peter, you're wrong about that. ;-)

We're really happy that you had a nice stay in the Crescent City, and we really got the better end of the deal. We had a great time, and hope we can do it again.

And I wait with joyful expectation to see if you will be teaching a class on Boethius...

Stacy McDonald said...

Off topic: Hey there! Hope y'all have a great Thanksgiving! I posted my PaPa's oyster dressing recipe, and thought of you! Here's a link, in case you're interested:

Past Elder said...

Boethius? Did someone say Boethius?

Who would spend some of his earlier years cranking out a doctoral dissertation entitled "On A Contemporary Boethian Musical Theory"?

I am afraid I shall be gathered unto my ancestors with as little experience of learning Greek and Hebrew as of NOLA culture. Thank God for etymologies for Latin students.

I don't hear in LCMS the phrase "confessional languages" for German and Latin and "Biblical languages" for Greek and Hebrew like I did in WELS. At 59, I think it will remain the confessional languages for me, along with English and that really really late Latin called Spanish.

Anybody wanna hit Miami or San Juan? That I can hack.

Happy Thanksgiving, uh, y'all.

Thursday's Child said...

I want to go back to New Orleans some time. I went with my parents and brother while in college. By the time Dad planned the drive we only had 1 night there. But it was a blast. I'd have been mad at Dad for only one night but the drive on the Natchez Trail was well worth it.

But I definitely want to stay longer next time.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Stacy:

Thanks! Sounds yummy.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Ariel:

Just today I mentioned to someone: "And some people think John Kennedy Toole was a fiction writer..."


Father Hollywood said...

Dear Eric:

I will have to have a look at Croy. I've never heard of it. I like Mounce quite a bit.

There is a new method that has been published in France, a kind of immersion and conversational approach to Koine called "Polis." It is found here:

It looks really intriguing. It is supposed to be published in English in 2011 - but the great majority of the course is "native" Koine with only brief notes in French.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Deacon:

I read a bizarre little autobiography that you might enjoy called "Managing Ignatius: The Lunacy of Lucky Dogs and Life in New Orleans" by Jerry E. Strahan. It is a memoir of a long-time manager who oversaw the iconic hot dog carts in the Quarter.

It is the kind of quirky read that weird guys like you and I can relate to.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Jim:

Time is always the issue. That is one reason I look forward to eternity. I will FINALLY be able to get some reading done. :-)