17 April 2007

In the news

Mondays are difficult days to conduct archival study in Belgium. All city, provincial, and national archives are closed. Private archival institutions are generally open, and so yesterday I took advantage of a long-awaited trip to see an original Roman Breviary (1610) at the Plantin Archives in Antwerp. This would have been nearly identical to a Breviary that Peter Philips would have had at his disposal at the Archducal court in Brussels. It was a simple book, mass-produced for all religious institutions of Catholic Europe, and chock-full of images of Saints, martyrdom, and, of course, Mary. But I stray . . .

The Archives closed at 4PM, so I left to meet a friend on the beautiful summer-like afternoon. We walked, we parted, and then on my way to the train station, where I was to catch a train to choir practice in Bruges, I ran into another friend. We dined on the best Pad Thai I've had in Belgium, and off I went again to the station. On my way I got a call from my friend N, about to travel from Leuven to Bruges for choir:

"There's been a strike."

When I got to the station, at 6:30 on a busy Monday afternoon, sure enough I was met with a departure board that had only one train listed. And event though it was going to Bruges, there would be no guarantees that I would be able to get back to Leuven that night. So I decided against choir practice waited for a train. And rather than bore you with the mundane details of my sitting in a station, on a train, at another station, I'll just say that two hours later, I was finally home.

This was the big news in Belgium yesterday, but of course when I checked the New York Times headlines before heading to bed I was met with a very different story out of Virginia.

I have spent half of my life living and working on college campuses. They are unique communities that are in part designed to be safe havens for working, studying, and living. Eight years ago this week we watched TV and saw kids running out of a high school in Colorado. Several years ago a music professor was shot and killed on the college campus where Z now works. And then this.

Gun violence is horrific. And this kind of gun violence seems to be unique to the United States. Almost 1/3 of the world's 600 million guns are owned by Americans. I remember from when we lived in Texas that just about anyone can buy a gun at Walmart. What's wrong with this picture?

There isn't much else to say, I guess, but see how events unfold at Virginia Tech and wonder what tomorrow's news will bring.

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