Centrifugal force, entropy, call it what you will, but life has a way of drifting. All those good habits and intentions slowly, subtly, but inexorably begin to crumble, like the masonry on my porch. Three times a year I usually find enough energy and mental space to step back, take stock of the widening gap between what I set out for myself and where I am, and then recalibrate: the Jewish High Holidays; the secular New Year; and the end of the academic year. This year, for a variety of reasons, I was unable to do this effectively in January and now at the end of May I find myself with a bigger gap, and a bit more work to do, than usual.
If you are reading this, you would know that one of the things that has fallen through the cracks much of this year has been updating this blog. I doubt that you’ve lost any sleep over this, but I have felt the absence. In part, this is because my posts here (at least the ones that are not self-promoting) are generated by original but not fully developed ideas that excite me, which in turn are generated by having some mental space to think them and at least some time to get them down in minimally presentable form. Both have been in short supply this year but that is not really an excuse. I enjoy writing for this blog and one of the reasons that I have not done as much as I would like is simply sloppiness and I let my daily routines dissolve in the wake of crises and deadlines.
I’ve been taking stock recently with the help of Mason Currey’s fun book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work. Umberto Eco’s reflection about not being “master of my own time – there is always somebody else deciding what I should do” (p. 119) during term-time resonates. In the summer, though, academics have the incredible opportunity to be master of their own time and set to at least some degree a workable routine that enables creative thought. I’ve long been attracted to Ernest Hemingway’s routine (without the suicidal depression): rise early; write until empty until around noon; answer correspondence; and use the rest of the day to engage in some physical activity and recharge (although I might not pick the same ways of doing so as Hemingway). I aim, as I move more toward fashioning my summer routine, to build in weekly or bi-weekly times for updating this blog.
Finally, a housekeeping item. A few reviews of How the Bible Became Holy have appeared that I do not think I’ve mentioned here. In no particular order, they are (and apologies if I did not get them all and that some might be behind pay walls):
P. Davies in Theology 118:3 (May/June, 2015): 219-20 (I cannot figure out how to link to this, but the doi is 10.1177/0040571X14566762j)