March 4, 2010

Sixteen people attended tonight’s gathering, an unusual number during the wintertime when eight attendees is considered a good turnout. The outside house lights were turned off, which is also unusual, making arrival seem like stumbling on a campfire in a dark forest, with shadowy forms crowded around the glow of hot coals.

Since there were several new people, Jerry had us go around the circle and give our names and how we became involved with Brotherhood of the Briar. One of the new attendees was Lucas, an economist, mathematician and philosopher visiting from Prague and staying with Jerry while he did some type of research, the nature of which I didn’t catch.  Jerry told him that there are now twelve different chapters of the Brotherhood around the world that began from our parent group and that he expected Lucas to go back to Prague and start a group as we don’t have one there yet. Lucas laughingly said he’d do his best.

At latest count, these are the known chapters:

Wheaton, IL
Phoenix, AZ
Miami, FL
Brea, CA
La Mirada, CA
Bakersfield, CA
Dallas, TX
Indianapolis, IN
London, UK
Sheffield, UK
Republic of Kosovo

Perhaps in future posts we can get the details of the various gatherings.

“Spring” by Gerard Manley Hopkins was read from Garrison Keillor’s book entitled Good Poems which prompted a story from Jerry. He was living in Oxford with his family and one day as he was walking home from his studies at the Pusey House theology/faculty library in St. Giles, he saw a sign in Blackwell’s bookshop advertising a reading by Garrison Keillor.  His two older children had seen the first televised prairie home companion and had liked it.  Sixty people were to be admitted for the price of £1 each.  The next day he  asked for three tickets, but the reading was sold out. The three of them waited at the door in hopes that some people wouldn’t  show up, but all arrived. The lady in charge took compassion on them and said they could stand in the back of the room free of charge. When Garrison Keillor saw them standing at the back, he said “you kids shouldn’t be standing there, come up here and sit down.”  So the whole evening he told his story to Jerry’s kids.  Afterwards, Jerry asked Keillor to sign a  few books and during conversation found out that Keillor knew about Wheaton College and considered it a great school. Jerry asked if he would  ever be interested in leaving his books to the college and Keillor said “I might be. Have someone contact me.”  So a librarian was duly told, but he didn’t think Keillor was serious about it, so he wasn’t contacted. Too bad for Wheaton.

There wasn’t much conversation as a group tonight, but many smaller conversations. As I cannot listen to everything, we have a short post this week. Before we broke up, the importance of having a place for men to talk was briefly discussed and it was agreed that gatherings around fires are an ancient ritual that have been carried on for ages. There is a magnetism in fire that draws us to it.

The coals were bright as the night leaned in over our shoulders. I upended the empty bottle of  scotch and tasted the last few drops, as I had arrived too late to get a proper glass.  But I was compensated for this loss by a little Czech hospitality when Lucas brought out a case of Pilsner Urquell and the few of us that remained toasted each other and life over the fire, clinking our bottles and drinking to good company and good conversation.


~ by Mark Neal on March 8, 2010.

2 Responses to “March 4, 2010”

  1. I heard about BOB through a good friend Chris Mitchell. I have been sitting in my hotel room in Chicago this evening reading the blogs with much enjoyment and facination. Great “ancient” concept to bring men together to talk. Maybe one day I’ll start one in Colorado. Best to you all. Marlen Wells

    • Thanks for reading, Marlon. Chris is a great friend. You should definitely start a group in Colorado. Men need to get together to talk, because there are important things to talk about. Thanks for the comment.

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