Three and a half years ago or so I followed a link in a comment on Crunchy Con to find myself at a (now defunct) blog called “American Orthodox”. It was run by somebody who identified himself only as “RightWingProf,” and for some reason I checked the “About Me” page. I discovered that the author had just recently been a Bloomingtonian and was Orthodox, but claimed that there was no Orthodox church here beyond a ROCOR mission that had dried up and blown away some years ago. I was instantly curious who this person could possibly be and if any of the founding members of All Saints would know whom he was. A little checking on whois turned up what seemed to be his name, Clay Bond, as well as the response from a long time All Saints parishioner, “How can he claim to not know about All Saints when All Saints knows about him?” The woman telling me this then shrugged and said, “Oh well, that’s just Clay.” Anyway, I left a note on his blog, we corresponded a bit privately, he made it clear that he blogged under a ‘nym for a reason (hinting that he was still trying to get a job at Penn State and that it would be difficult if he were to be publicly identified with his views), and as soon as I brought up Russell Kirk as one of my influences he stopped writing me back.

“American Orthodox” ceased to be before too long, and there was just Right Wing Nation for awhile. Then, less than a year ago, he started another Orthodox blog, and he again started out by saying there was no Orthodox church in Bloomington while he lived here beyond the ROCOR mission. I reminded him in a comment of what my friend had said, and I got a very suspicious, almost angry e-mail from Clay saying, essentially, how do you know who I am when I have never identified myself publicly? He clearly had forgotten that we had corresponded before, and he seemed chagrined when I refreshed his memory. He also said that a friend of his from Bloomington told him that yes, he attended All Saints at least at some point, but Clay nonetheless insisted he had no memory of the place whatsoever.

I only met Clay in person once; he visited Bloomington this last September and came to the Liturgy for the Exaltation of the Cross. I had never seen him before, but I knew who he had to be. I went over to him to chat afterwards, and the first thing he said to me was, “Congratulations — you managed to sing nothing I knew.”

Soon thereafter, he had a back injury, the treatment for which revealed cancer. Things progressed very quickly, but he continued to blog throughout his illness. He ceased to be as secretive about who he was, and there were other elements of his life that cropped up in these postings, suggesting that there was quite a bit of complexity to his situation in general.

Clay passed away yesterday (Thursday) early in the morning. His obituary was in this morning’s paper:

Clay Marc Bond, 53
MARCH 29, 1956 — JAN. 7, 2010

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Clay Marc Bond, 53, of State College, Pa., died Thursday, January 7, 2010, at Valley View Nursing Home in Altoona, Pa.

Born March 29, 1956, in Louisville, Ky., he was a son of the late James Elmer Bond and Nancy Jane Clay Bond.

Mr. Bond earned a B.A. in Anthropology and an M.A. in Applied Linguistics from Indiana University in Bloomington. He taught for many years at Indiana University and taught part time at the Smeal College of Business at Penn State.

He was a member of Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in State College, and a member of the choir there.

He is survived by his life partner, Christopher H. Walker of State College, Pa.; son, Nathan Bond of Crescent Springs, Ky.; two brothers, Jan Eric Bond and his wife, Phyllis, and their sons Eric and Max of Bloomington, and Rex Evan Bond and his wife, Pam, and their children Erin and Alex of Paoli, Ind.; nieces, Suzanna Bond of Elizabeth, Ind., and Danielle Bond, currently serving in the U.S. Air Force at Lackland AFB, Texas; and sisters-in-law Julie Bond of Elizabeth, Ind., and Marcy Bennett of West Baden, Ind.

Along with his parents, he was preceded in death by his brother, Roger Daren Bond.

Without commenting in detail, maybe all I can say that will be accurate enough is that the Clay Bond who was the Right Wing Professor, the Clay Bond who wrote the blog Central Pennsylvania Orthodox, and the Clay Bond represented by the obituary (to say nothing of the Clay Bond discussed on the Facebook group page for his memorial) seem to me to be several different people — or, at the very least. different facets, perhaps on the same diamond, but on different sides and of different shapes and sizes. For those who actually knew him well, that is no doubt about as ignorant a statement as I can possibly make, and I acknowledge that and apologize for it.

We never really know the complexity of the shoes in which somebody else walks, do we? It’s probably best that way, but it’s good to remember, and to always extend as much love as we can with that in mind. The thought is making me a bit melancholy, and I can’t say I know for certain why.

Memory eternal, Clay. You have been, and will continue to be, in my prayers. I’m sorry I didn’t sing anything you knew — maybe I’ll get another shot at some point — but I’m glad I got to meet you before you passed, and most of all, I’m glad you aren’t in pain anymore.

1 Response to “RWP, RIP”

  1. 1 Richard Sexton 10 January 2010 at 3:39 pm

    I’ve missed Clay’s words for years. I rememeber eniac.

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