Wednesday, April 27, 2005

1. Where I Am

2. Where I'm Going

And I think I've made the right decision. I talked to a lot of professors in the Analysis group, and believe I can find someone great to work with. Plus, there are at least five other students entering their department from the U of C. Plus, I'll be just a BART ride away from San Francisco and Alice.

Of course, I don't know where I'll live. To afford the area, I'll need roommates. If any of you nice Bay Area bloggers know of Catholic/Christian gents on the Oakland side in need of another roommate, I'd be much obliged for the tip.

Ditto for another thing I want to find in the area: a good place for daily Mass. (Father Keyes: I'm not traveling 20 miles to St. Edwards each day, so don't even suggest it!)

3. My Classes This Quarter

Latin 103, L. Behnke: Now dropped, sadly. I couldn't keep up with requirements, what with grad-school visits and getting sick and senioritis. But it won't be the last Latin course for me, God willing. I talked to Mrs. Behnke yesterday, and she more or less forgave me.

Analysis, Math 314, C. Kenig: Complex analysis, direct from Rudin's Real and Complex. The midterm was yesterday; I think I survived. It bodes well that I know what I'm doing with the Riemann sphere and residue theory. I like the subject, Kenig is good-natured and brilliant, the class is a pleasure.

Differentiable Manifolds, Math 274, S. Bloch: FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD, AVOID THIS PROFESSOR LIKE THE BLACK DEATH. He sucks the life from mathematics; in the two classes I've now taken from him, I haven't been able to pay attention for five consecutive minutes without wanting to defenestrate myself. Thank God it's an easy class (how did I find it so difficult last year, when I dropped after three weeks?), or I'd be failing.

Speaking of failing...

Algebraic Curves, Math 243, M. Nori: Man, is this class ever beating the mathematical stuffing out of me. So far, it has been entirely abstract commutative algebra without motivation (from an analytic standpoint), he writes so fast my hand hurts trying to keep up in my notes, and I've been lost since Week 2. Or as he put it, "We could finish the course in the next three weeks without ever saying what it's about!" Seriously- no mention of actual algebraic curves, all Dedekind Domains and exact sequences and fractional ideals, things that make my poor non-algebraic head throb. But of course I'll have to learn this all now or later, and it's better for me if it's now.

4. Signs of A Good Shepherd

What a gifted homilist our new Pope is! I ran into this online, and was stunned into reflection. What John Paul could do with an image, Benedict can do with words. The exegesis he makes of the readings is spectacular, both in its connections with patristic tradition and in the ever-new force of its imagery. The homily is deep and erudite without being pretentious, and I urge you to read the entire document if you can. One excerpt that moved me:

The symbol of the lamb also has a deeper meaning. In the Ancient Near East, it was customary for kings to style themselves shepherds of their people. This was an image of their power, a cynical image: to them their subjects were like sheep, which the shepherd could dispose of as he wished. When the shepherd of all humanity, the living God, himself became a lamb, he stood on the side of the lambs, with those who are downtrodden and killed. This is how he reveals himself to be the true shepherd: “I am the Good Shepherd . . . I lay down my life for the sheep”, Jesus says of himself (Jn 10:14f). It is not power, but love that redeems us! This is God’s sign: he himself is love. How often we wish that God would make show himself stronger, that he would strike decisively, defeating evil and creating a better world. All ideologies of power justify themselves in exactly this way, they justify the destruction of whatever would stand in the way of progress and the liberation of humanity. We suffer on account of God’s patience. And yet, we need his patience. God, who became a lamb, tells us that the world is saved by the Crucified One, not by those who crucified him. The world is redeemed by the patience of God. It is destroyed by the impatience of man.

This goes no little way in reassuring me that Benedict can win hearts and minds from the Chair of Peter, if his words can be made to reach them. The springtime of evangelization may have just begun in the West.

(more writing to follow soon)

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