Re: Apologies to Carl Conrad re: his valley and mountains

Carl W. Conrad (
Sun, 17 Nov 1996 06:28:10 -0600

At 2:19 PM -0600 11/16/96, Randy Leedy wrote:
>I'm sorry that my private note to Carl made him feel a need to post
>an apology. I saw no need for an apology even to ME (one of only two
>individuals named in Carl's original post) let alone any unnamed
>parties. My note to Carl was an inquiry about a possible fault of my
>own, with no suggestion that he had stepped out of line.
>Carl and others, please don't hesitate to tease occasionally and
>appropriately, at least not on my account. I enjoy the friendly
>banter as a pleasant aspect of our little community, though I'm aware
>of some who feel otherwise.

Dear Randy:

One last comment on this matter before we put it behind us. If it's
possible, I was more embarrassed about this business than you (I even found
myself thinking through the Adamic finger-pointing at Eve and asking
myself, Why on earth did Jonathan Robie start this silly thing about
Carolina Greeks? But of course, it was I who tried to make something funny
out of it). You rightly surmised from the version of my response that I
originally sent only to you--and then imagined that I was more or less
obliged to forward it to the list, that I started a response directly to
you and switched gears as I wrote, adding a new first paragraph to adapt it
to a message to the list, because I feared that any others on the list from
any of the three states might possibly have taken my banter personally and
seriously, and I certainly wanted to undercut any such suppositions. I'm
not sure it was taken seriously by anyone else, and in retrospect I wish I
had NOT forwarded that note to the list.

And now let me say just a bit about the substance of your earlier note to
me. I have never--absolutely never--sensed any touch of anything that could
be called "conceit" in you. I think I understand the concern you were
expressing because I too have been indoctrinated (not the best word, but I
think intelligible) in the necessity for humility and scrupulous avoidance
of language indicative of pride in one's "achievement" of competence or
"wisdom." I know that the line between a legitimate confidence that one
knows whereof one speaks and an unjustified and illegitimate arrogance and
self-display is all too easy to cross; I know that I cross that line too
often myself and I am ashamed of myself for having done so; it is indeed a
sin and I confess it. Am I going to avoid it carefully and without slipping
regularly hereafter? I shall try to, but I have no special virtue, and I am
likely enough to cross that line again.

I say that in order to get to this point: I have never once sensed in any
of your messages either to me or to the list any overstepping of that line
whatsoever. I have been conscious of your rich gifts, your competence, your
sensitivity, and of a quality which I think is utterly indispensable in an
intellectually astute person: an ironic sense of self, that most precious
sense of humor that recognizes the gap between our
aspirations/ideals/self-images and our performance. I think that this
ironic sense of self is a gracious gift of a forgiving God who helps us in
our endeavor to be better servants and more faithful representatives of

I didn't want to let the matter rest until I had at least attempted to
respond to your original question; I was all too quick to think about my
own embarrassment and to attempt to make amends for making remarks, the
intent of which can be too easily misread, particularly by sensitive
persons who have the least reason in the world to think them aimed at

Enough said? I hope and pray so, for I value our exchanges and I do hope to
meeting you in person sometime--whether on the mountain or in the valley.

Best regards, Carl