Beardsley Ruml

Current Projects:

I’m currently working on two big projects.

First, I’m gathering steam to program a web application which will make it easy to specify a history timeline like those I did for Harvard’s Hebrew Bible course. This requires that I update my web skills, particularly Javascript to the ES6 level (which is pretty much done), and learn the modern web development toolchain required to transpile ES6 to the earlier ES5 which all modern browsers can execute (in progress). I’m planning to use Vue.js as the user interface library but haven’t gotten into it yet. This fall semester I’m enrolled in a Harvard Extension School course on "Mobile App Development with React Native” in order to discipline me into steady progress. Unfortunately, the course is terrible although it’s part of the CS50 brand created by David Malan (now no longer my hero).

Second, I hope to write an article for a lay audience (e.g., The Atlantic, New York Review) to establish my recent hypothesis that it was the adoption of monotheism which provoked the emergence of most of the context of Christian theology. To that end, I’ll lead a study group at HILR in the fall called “The Fruits of Monotheism” for which this is the catalog description:

The thesis of this study group is that the adoption of monotheism (replacing the traditional monolatry) by the Jews who returned from the Exile (~400s BCE) precipitated a crisis: if the only cosmic force is Yahweh, how do we explain evil? Case in point: the Book of Job. The solution adopted by many Jews, apocalypticism, provided an entirely new understanding of the cosmos and the human condition. Although Jewish apocalypticism was a sectarian minority movement (the Essenes of the Qumran Dead Sea Scrolls are the best known exemplars), its views became the basis for most of what we call Western Civilization because John the Baptist, Jesus, and Paul shared them. Join us to explore the origins of the second antagonistic cosmic force (Satan), a meaningful afterlife (heaven and hell), and universal resurrection.
[March 2018]

Study Groups at HILR

I’m currently leading a study group called “The Golden Age of Rock and Roll” covering the years 1953-1963. This has given me an excuse to read a lot more about Elvis, Sam Phillips, Little Richard, Chuck Berry and the rest of the gang. I’ve also gotten to listen to a lot of the music again. The course website is at the moment on Harvard’s Canvas platform and accessible only by HILR members. I plan to duplicate it at ruml.com/goldenage as soon as possible.

My most recent past study group was “The Bible and Modern Scholarship” given in the spring of 2017. [course website]

And before that: “An Intellectual History of Judaism and Christianity” [course website] gave me an chance to consolidate a great deal of scattered reading about the biblical period.

Earlier study groups:

Summer Vespa Touring

Deb and I have spent the past seven summers touring Europe on our 300cc Vespa. (scroll down for photo) We’re expecting to be in Aix-en-Provence in July to attend the opera with a NYTimes tour group led by Fred Plotkin, who led an Oldways tour of Liguria we took at least 15 years ago. We’re trying to figure out how to rent or buy a Vespa in Amsterdam for touring northern Europe.

Here are the travel blogs we’ve done over the years:

Deb, let's eat!

Our food blog is here but here are some specialities of the house:

Turkey Sandwich

Here's the famous Ruml turkey sandwich, developed over many years. Reading from the bottom: Pepperidge Farm Seeded Rye lightly toasted, gravy, hard-boiled egg slices, emmenthal cheese, turkey white meat, cranberry jelly, ultra-crisp thick bacon, dressing, gravy, toast.

Olive Bread

I'm a hugh fan of olive bread, but nothing I can buy has enough olives (I guess the olives are a lot more expensive than flour). The solution has been to use Jim Lahey's no-knead bread recipe with about 3 cups of chopped olives to make the ideal loaf.

Cherry Tart

This is the tart we make at the villa during cherry season. Exactly the same recipe as for our classic blueberry tart; the cherries come from the nearby town of Vignola, considered the best source for cherries in Italy.

We're in Grossetto, returning to the villa from our eight weeks (5000km) in Greece in 2011, fortified with provisions from Volpetti (the Dean and Deluca of Rome).