Dear Harriet Walter,
There have been two extremely brief moments relating to massively influential 16th-century Christian theological reformer John Calvin in my life recently.
The first was at a church's book sale that my parents decided to stop at and at which I did not initially object to stopping at. They like books and will stop for almost any garage-sale-type happening they find.
We had just entered the building full of books for sale, which managed to look like a basement even though it was at ground level, when we were accosted by over-helpful and understimulated church people who were supposed to be selling the books.
One of them, a man with glasses and dull brown hair, pointed out the various tables by booky subject matter and told us to ask us if we wanted help finding anything.
"Any collected works of John Calvin?" asked my dad, brightly.
"Um, maybe! He'd be over here if we have that," said the man, starting to lead my dad to the "Christian" table.
"Is he, like, a crime or thriller author?" asked one of the church people, a woman seated on a black faux-leather couch.
"No, John Calvin, the theologian," said the man.
"Oh, that John Calvin," said the woman.
I was not completely successful on the "not snorting audibly" front.
The second moment was a sleepy revelation of my own mental failings, which I had last night as I was drifting towards sleep in my temporary cot in the middle of the living room. (Have I mentioned that I'm staying in a retirement home right now?) First, some background info.
All semester long this spring, several of my fellow students had been carting around a pair of matched books for Professor Mine Enemy's class on pneumatology and soteriology. (Calvinism was probably more relevant to the soteriology bit, I would think, but then I don’t know anything about anything.)
This is what those books looked like.
And the joke hit me just last night, two weeks after the end of a semester where I'd seen them around all the time, including over spring break because friend Gabby was in Pneumatology and Soteriology and brought her books home like a good girl, and I'd heard passages from them read aloud several times by entertained students in the lounge.
Whenever I'd seen them and mentally contrasted the covers I'd always just thought "oh look happy growing things are on the nice green positive side and sad dead flower things are on the negative grr angry bad side," and then for some reason last night - I can't even remember why I was thinking of these books, I never read them - for some reason last night it just hit me like "oh yes happy flowers and bad flowers - oh my fffffuh they're tulips i'm an idiot"
the books on Calvinism have tulips on them
like the acronym T.U.L.I.P. which is a famous mnemonic for the five points of Calvinism
so the tulips on the covers are alive or dead based on the author's argument for or against the theological integrity of the major tenets of Calvinism
I think I'll go exchange my brain for a sack full of week-old overcooked oatmeal now
I don't even like oatmeal
and it would probably do me more good