Dallas was lovely. I landed around noon and was immediately scooped up and treated to lunch by a priest friend, one of several online-only acquaintances that I got the chance to bump up to the in-the-flesh level of friendship that day. As we drove around, his phone beeped, signaling the Angelus. It was pleasantly surreal to launch into a centuries-old, call-and-response, archaically-constructed prayer, at the drop of a hat, with somebody I’d never met. Being Catholic is weird and cool.
I spent the afternoon lazing around the UD campus, making last-minute adjustments to my talk, watching the grackles swoop and skreak, and ingesting too much caffeine. I ran into a few old friends — including a former student I hadn’t seen in, gulp, seven years — and a few more hitherto online-only friends.
After snarfing down some In-N-Out — it’s the eastmost location, I gather — I met my gracious hosts from the Aspiring Theologians Society. I was nervous about how well the thing would be attended; it was a Monday night, and there were no refreshments. But, if the auditorium wasn’t packed, it did fill up pretty nice. I spoke for a full hour, and answered questions for a second hour. People seemed ready to keep going, but we only had the building for a limited amount of time.
I’ll be posting a slightly edited version of the talk eventually, either here or elsewhere. I read with interest two pieces in the UD online student newspaper: one by Andrew Doyle and one by Adam Brill. The two authors are, broadly speaking, liberal and conservative, respectively. Brill notes that I “challenged everyone in the room” — I assume he is talking about the part where I defied any mother’s son to defeat me in a kung fu battle to the death1 — and Doyle recounts dreading the talk but pays me the excellent compliment of having been “happily mistaken”.
Thank you, UD! I hope I get to see you again soon.