It's time for another of my travel diaries. The occasion this time is the premiere of The Passion, the BBC / HBO co-production which will air in the UK on BBC 1 in Holy Week, for which I have been historical consultant. I have never done anything quite so bizarre as travelling to England for only 24 hours. I leave today, arrive in the morning and depart again on Friday morning. But I doubt that I will ever have an occasion like this again, an invitation not only to be at the premiere of a TV mini-series but also to have some involvement in it. At first I laughed off the idea that I might fly over specially, but then the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I could actually pull it off, not least because of when it fell, on a Thursday in a semester when my teaching is all on Mondays and Wednesdays.
So here I am, sitting at Raleigh-Durham International airport on the first leg of my journey. I have already had a beer and a burger in the sports bar and have watched a bit of a BBC4 documentary about Margaret Thatcher on my laptop. I'll be changing at Charlotte, arriving at London Gatwick in the morning. I have the blogging machine with me, as well as a pile of articles to read, lots of podcasts to catch up on and lots of sleep time. As I have said before on such occasions, I am one of those lucky people who really enjoys flying. I find the idea of sitting down doing nothing for hours on end, with food and drink provided, with reading, viewing and listening to do, very attractive; and I find it easy to sleep on flights (and anywhere else, for that matter).
There is one downside, other than the obvious one of being away from the family for a couple of days, and that is that I get to miss most of Dale Allison's tenure as this year's Clark Lecturer at Duke. Before setting off for the airport, I was able to get to the first of his lectures today, on the Historical Jesus and the Theological Jesus. Most of my Historical Jesus class and Kavin Rowe's Introduction to the New Testament class came along too, and the Goodson Chapel was the only place big enough to hold us all. It was an excellent and entertaining lecture, but I don't have the energy to try to summarize it all here. He gives the second lecture in the series tomorrow, and talks tonight to the New Testament colloquium about the "harrowing of hell".