“So great was the extremity of his pain and anguish that he did not only sigh but roar,” Reverend Matthew Henry
April 11 started on a celebratory note with the arrival from Home Mountain Printing of my latest Steel Shavings issue, featuring a brilliant yellow cover containing a reproduction of Corey Hagelberg’s drawing “In the Garden.” My interpretation of “In the Garden” is that heavy industry is despoiling the edenic Lake Michigan shoreline. The cover page designer ingeniously melded the drawing with the yellow background.
In the afternoon the IU Board of Trustees met to ratify the President’s recommendations for tenure and promotion. The custom was for chancellors afterwards to call and personally congratulate successful candidates. Jonathyne Briggs received such a call, but Anne Balay did not. At first it was hoped that she couldn’t be reached, driving with students en route to a conference where they were to present papers. As the hours passed, it appeared that no good news was forthcoming. This in spite of the fact that every fair-minded faculty member who evaluated her credentials, including ALL members of her departmental committee, ALL members of her divisional committee, and the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs himself, had recommended her for promotion and tenure. What poisoned the process was a negative evaluation from her immediate superior, who claimed that her teaching was inadequate, despite very positive student evaluations, on the questionable grounds that Anne, a lesbian and feminist, was too outspoken in the classroom. What a chilling message this will surely send to untenured faculty and all those who believe in academic freedom, and what a mockery this makes of the university’s alleged commitment to diversity. I still cling to the hope that justice will prevail, but it was a long day of anguish for Anne and her many supporters, including students and faculty who appreciate her achievements in trying to make IUN a welcoming, academically rigorous, fulfilling place of learning.
Anne Balay in happier times
Presbyterian preacher Matthew Henry, who died in 1714 of apoplexy at age 52, produced a six-volume “Exposition” or commentary on the Bible that was a favorite of American evangelists during the Great Awakening. George Whitefield claimed to have read it four times, the final occasion while on his knees. Credited with coining the phrase “Better late than never,” Henry also wrote something that seems appropriate today: “None so deaf as those that will not hear. None so blind that will not see.”
“It’s a strange world,” Hunter S. Thompson wrote in “Generation of Swine”: “Some people get rich and others eat shit and die.” After Thompson committed suicide on February 20, 2005, Rolling Stone published the note he left to his wife, entitled: “Football Season Is Over.” It read: “No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun — for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your (old) age. Relax — This won't hurt.” Actor Johnny Depp paid to have his ashes shot from a cannon along with red, white, and blue fireworks while Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky” and Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” blared from loud speakers. Among those attending the ceremony were Bill Murray, Lyle Lovett, Sean Penn, Senator John Kerry and former Presidential candidate George McGovern.