I haven't been posting as much lately for a few reasons. I preached at the early morning chapel communion service at my church, Fourth Ave UMC, Louisville, this past Sunday. Preparing for the sermon took up some of my writing time. Also, I'm preaching again this coming weekend, filling in for one of my best friends at the Saturday evening contemporary service at Christ Church United Methodist, also in Louisville. He's taking the week off because his wife, who has cancer, went into to hospital for a bone marrow transplant.
Also I've had a bit of anxiety about law school and my vocation of late. I don't wish to dump the details on anyone at this time, but I've been struggling a little bit with my sense of personal identity since I left professional ministry, and there are days when the prospect of going to law school just doesn't fill the empty hole in my soul. Consequently, I haven't been sleeping this past week. That's how I cope with anxiety; I just stare at the ceiling waiting for morning. That doesn't help me get clarity in my writing, which means that even though I still try to take two hours a day to write something, the something that I write isn't always worth posting.
Also, I'm working on two books, neither of which is likely to see the light of day. The first is as of yet untitled, and is a collection of stories about my raising my son. Not quite a memoir, like David Eddie's fantastic Housebroken: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad, but certainly inspired by that sort of writing. The second is tentatively titled Drawing Water Out of Rocks, and is a collection of cleaned up versions of my sermons, along with some newer ones that haven't been preached yet. It takes a great deal of my time, because I rarely preach from a manuscript. Usually I put together an outline, with notes like Tell the story of... scattered throughout to let me know where I'm going. The end result is usually a pretty engaging, somewhat scripted but mostly improvised - like old jazz, where the changes are marked, but the details are left to the musician's imagination - series of observations surrounding a text. So I've been taking my old outlines and trying to recapture what I might have said from the pulpit, rewriting each sermon.
Anyway, I have a few ideas in the works for this blog, so right now I'm taking a little bit of time to tease you with them:
1. I've been reading Elsa Tamez's The Scandalous Message of James: Faith Without Works is Dead. Tamez is Professor of Biblical Studies at the Universidad Biblica Latinoamericana (Latin American Biblical University) in San Jose, Costa Rica. She offers an excellent reading of James from a Latin American perspective, focusing on James' solidarity with the poor and his call for social change. I don't want to give too much away, so I'll just say that, in light of Tamez's work on James, I'll be offering a couple of treatments of some of my favorite passages from that wonderful epistle.
2. A few years ago I picked up Robert N. Wennberg's God, Human's and Animals: An Invitation to Enlarge Our Moral Universe. Wennberg is a professor of philosophy at Westmont College, in Santa Barbara, California. I swore that I would read it as soon as I had some time off from school, and since this is the first semester in a very long time in which I have been in no way, shape or form affiliated with any school whatsoever, I've run out of excuses for ducking Wennberg's work.
Chapter five of his book, titled Animals and the World of Moral Theory looks at how several different important moral theories deal with the moral standing (or, generally, lack thereof) of non-human animals. He devotes a little bit of time to utilitarian ethics and how it treats the moral standing of animals, and while I think that by and large his treatment was fair, I have a pretty major bone to pick with him on his criticism of utilitarianism. So I'm working up a paper on a utilitarian response to Wennberg's "A Problem for Utilitarianism." The only problem with my paper so far is that every time I try to clean up utilitarian ethics to deal with Wennberg's criticism, it stops sounding very much like what most people mean by utilitarianism.
Anyway, look for those two projects in the coming days. At some point I'll have to finish my sermon for Saturday, so I might only get one of those two done before the end of the week. Having basically just two hours a day (that's how long Adam naps)to do my writing, it gets hard to finish the big projects.
Finally, I want to leave you with a continuation of my last Adam story, The Next Pistol Pete?
The first night that we had the basketball goal up, Adam slept fitfully. We woke up almost every hour, wanting to go play more basketball. He got up for the day at 4 am, which did not work for me. So Sami and I hatched a silly plan. The next night we told him that his basketball goal was very sleepy, and had to go to bed. We told him to tell it goodnight, which he did. Then, he walked up to it, hugged it, and gave it a kiss. He tried his best not to cry as I took it to go "sleep" in the basement.
Since then, telling the basketball goal goodnight has become a part of his evening routine. He won't go to bed unless he's seen his beloved goal put to bed first. He insists on hugging it and giving it a goodnight kiss. But at least he sleeps through the night again.
If only I could.
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