Sharing knowledge, academic articles (my first!)

PC: Jess Strub

As my dear old friend and brother Theo would say, I am a bit of a late bloomer. I got into teaching later in life, I started my master’s at 42 and my PhD at 47. Once in the doctoral program I realized the importance of publishing academic articles, but I never really committed to it, I was focused on my dissertation which I managed in 4 years from start to finish. So I was never into the article publishing game; I tried a couple of times but halfheartedly…

Then life happened, and I did not worry too much about it, oh and Covid, and so on. Once settled in Florida, alone, in the long winter nights, I actually hammered out an article! When I mentioned it to Irene, my dissertation director, she liked it! and recommended I submit it to Romance Notes academic literary journal…

And they accepted it.

And it was just published!

What is it about?

Remember that Francisco de Isla wrote a scathing satire of 18th Century Spanish preachers: Fray Gerundio de Campazas? The moment it was published it sold out -literally overnight- but as was to be expected, the novel rubbed some people the wrong way and it was denounced to the Inquisition.

The article deals with the letters that Isla wrote in defense of his work. And that is where it gets fun: it is not so much a defense, as an attack on the fellow who filed the complaint of Fray Gerundio to the Inquisition.

You can find the article following this citation, and if you do not have access to academic databases and still want to read it, reach out on the comments and I will get you a copy.

Balsón, Antonio. “La Apología por la historia de Fray Gerundio de Campazas de Francisco de Isla. La anfibología como arma secreta.” Romance Notes 62.3 (2022): 419-429.

Here is the abstract (oh, FYI its in Spanish):

La Apología por la historia de Fray Gerundio es la defensa de Francisco de Isla contra la denuncia presentada por Fray Pablo de la Concepción, superior general de los Carmelitas Descalzos, ante el Tribunal de la Inquisición contra La Historia de Fray Gerundio de Campazas, alias Zotes. Fray Gerundio se publicó en Madrid el 21 de febrero de 1758 y fue un éxito rotundo. La reacción de los predicadores fue instantánea y, no queriendo ser tildados de “Gerundios”, empezaron a predicar sus sermones en un lenguaje más claro y sencillo. Cuatro días después de su publicación, de la Concepción, presentó su denuncia del Gerundio ante el Tribunal de la Inquisición. Isla rebatió la denuncia escribiendo cuatro cartas que se convirtieron en la Apología por la historia de Fray Gerundio. La Apología es una obra típicamente isliana en su retorica combativa. Isla utiliza todos los recursos aprendidos durante su larga carrera literaria, para defender su obra y usa un ataque minucioso para desglosar la totalidad de la denuncia, aunque finalmente fuese en vano, y la novela best seller del siglo dieciocho fuese prohibida. Una de las claves para entender la Apología reside en el uso de la anfibología por parte de Isla. El doble entendre ilumina la Apología como arma ofensiva más que defensiva. Esta obra, como la mayoría de las obras de Isla con la excepción del Gerundio, ha tenido mínima repercusión crítica y académica.

La apologia por la Historia de FG

Helping at church, on being an usher

One of the resources I leveraged years ago when I went through a rough crisis was going to church. While the church had always been there, I never really had a spiritual connection to it. Then I started going regularly, enjoying the time to recollect myself, the ceremony, the silences, begging for forgiveness, etc. and hopefully, if I was lucky a good lesson in the form of a sermon, these however are understandably rare.

The first church I went to during this crisis was St. Elizabeth in Milton, outside of Boston. I only went there for a couple of weeks and I spent most of the time (ok, all the time) crying. From there I went to Our Lady of Victories in Boston, which unfortunately has now closed. One day one of the Marist brothers who ran the church asked me to help during mass. I explained that I was not worthy of helping but they insisted. My first job was ringing the little altar bells before Consecration and Communion, then I started reading. Then I moved to North Carolina where I was warmly welcomed by the UNC Newman parish and Franciscan Brother Bill of whom I have written a lot about before here.

St. Ann’s in Naples was my home for a couple of years. Here in Madrid, I went to cute, tiny Our Lady of Lourdes for a while, and to the Jesuits for a few years, but my official parish and the one I have been going to for many years is San Fermín de los Navarros, which is basically across the street and where both my sisters got married. Like in Boston, the Pastor after seeing that I was a bit of a regular asked me to read, and I do so humbly and with pride.

Cut to the chase, after a few times at St. Marks in in Boynton Beach, I was approached by an usher and asked if I wanted to join their crew. I had never really thought about it, but I am happy to serve. The team is a fun, hodgepodge collection of characters, Christine who recruited me is, of course, the boss, the usher coordinator. I have to wear black pants, a white jacket, white shirt, and a tie. Yes, I look a waiter but since I am snob, I prefer to think I look like a sommelier. Since I did not have a white jacket, they lent me one… until I found a vintage one that I much preferred. The job is easy enough: be charming and welcome everyone as they come in, once mass has started guide the late comers to socially distanced seating, manage the Communion flow, at the end open the doors and say “goodbye”, then clean up bulletins left in the pews and put the collection in a bag. Easy peasy.

In conclusion, no job is too simple, too easy. Every honest job is honorable. I am happy to serve and to be useful.