Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Book Groups and the Education Center

A couple of weeks ago I was worried I was giving a Pollyanna impression of life in Iraq. During the last two weeks you could wonder if chicken shit and job confusion are the sum of my days. That would be just as wrong. Yesterday, after all the job drama was over, I finished my work in the motor pool, then spent a couple of hours before dinner transferring and shrinking photos for the company newsletter.

At dinner I saw a young woman in my squad eating dinner with two older female sergeants. This might be the third time I have seen them as a dinner group in the last week. The young sergeant-to-be is 23 and will be a lot better off with female mentors.

Next was the first meeting of "Beyond Narnia" as CS Lewis reading group I started. There were four soldiers at the first meeting and four more who should be coming next week. Three of the four people were from the Dante group, so the fourth, a chaplain with a unit that arrived recently, introduced himself, then I told the group about CS Lewis's life and work after which they asked questions for about 20 minutes. It was a lot of fun. One asked about Shadowlands (the CSL movie) and about his family. Another asked for more details about CSL's conversion.

We will be reading the book of essays titled The Weight of Glory and out first essay will be "Learning in War Time." Thanks go out again to the father of one of the lieutenants in our unit who sent us most of the books. Three more were sent by Brigitte Van Tiggelen, a historian who regularly visits the library/museum where I work.

Today I worked in the motor pool until 3pm then drove over to the repair hangards on the other side fo the base to shoot pictures of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter going through major maintenance. I got some good shots of a crew removing the rotor hubs from the top of the bird. Tomorrow I will get more shots of the overhaul work.

After the photos, I went to the education center. I helped a couple of soldiers with word problems then spoke to the woman who coordinates the tutoring sessions. Barring schedule changes, I should be able to volunteer an hour on Tuesday and two hours on Thursday.

At the Dante group tonight, the first order of business was voting on the next book. Aeneid won by one vote over Purgatorio. But everyone agreed we would go back to Purgatorio after Aeneid. We should be able to read Inferno, Aeneid, Purgatorio and start Paradiso before I rotate out, and maybe someone else can take over.

We got our first question for the translator tonight. Tony Esolen, who translated the version we are reading, agreed to take questions by email if I can't answer them. Tonight's question: Cleopatra and Dido are suicides, why are they in the higher part of Hell where Lust is punished (easier punishment) not five levels down with the suicides?

Life is mostly good.

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