Well, as you can imagine, school starts Very Soon at the University of Mary — classes next week Tuesday, but we’ve got faculty meetings tomorrow and Friday, plus some orientation things this weekend, so I’ve been busy beyond belief. Hence, haven’t been able to blog much. I think that’ll change once school gets rolling, however, once the syllabus (that’s the plural, as far as I’m concerned) gets handed out, once lectures get going, and so on and so forth. Just a lot of work launching the semester.
Some things I’m excited about:
Online teaching. I’m very excited about teaching the Catholic Imagination, which will deal with art, literature, architecture and liturgy from a Catholic perspective under the conditions of technopoly. I’ll also be doing a couple sections of theology and a course in medical ethics. One of the best things about lib arts teaching for me — whether at Wheaton or here at Mary — is teaching beyond my narrow specialty of New Testament (love it as I do). And teaching in various areas enriches the other areas, as well as my research and writing.
Gardening. We picked our first tomatoes recently. (Well, Miriam picked the first ones, although really green — God love her, she can’t help her little self, and I’m just not quick enough to stop her. I catch her about about 5 meters, but she’s quicker off the line.) We’ve been getting cucumbers and jalapenos for a while now, and of course got a bunch of lettuce and spinach earlier on, and we’re trying for a second round. In any event, it’s crunch time once the rest of the peppers and tomatoes start coming in in earnest, so I’m collecting recipes for salsa, picante, pickling, canning, etc.
Fishing. Not nearly enough of it. I went out to the river to go wader fishing the other night. Beautiful evening, but one small bite and that was it. Got one a few evenings prior. It’s the heat of summer, and to get walleyes one generally needs to be between 15 feet and 90 feet of water, whereas shore fishing the Missouri means fishing 5-10 feet of water, maybe 15. But fall months are coming, and I’ll be in the river in my waders and on it in a boat until the waters freeze over. (Last January — which was relatively warm for these parts — I actually went wader fishing. Yes, it was cold. And no, no fish.) And then when they do — ice fishing.
The school year. I know, I know: really? Yes, because I love teaching, and I love the rhythms of university life. Especially having been here a year now, I kind of know the ropes, official and unofficial. I’m able to hit a bit of a stride.
The school year and the Christian Leadership Center. We’ve got a lot of great events planned in conjunction with the Diocese celebrating the Year of Faith and the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, in addition to our more regular programming and events, including our popular Convocations on Christian Unity. We’re bringing in Ross Douthat in a few weeks to speak on his book Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics. Beyond that, I’m taking a group of clergy and lay leaders to Germany next summer for a Counter/Reformation tour.
Writing. I’ll continue my online gig with First Things’ “On the Square,” and also start blogging there as well at “First Thoughts.” It’s a different sort of writing than the academic stuff I’ve done. I like having the ability to write broadly in an informed matter about issues of religion and culture. It’s also a bit unnerving when something you write picks up a lot of negative responses (like my recent piece on gay marriage) but also when something gets a lot of positive attention (like my piece on St. Hildegard of Bingen). Anonymity no more.
A new office. My academic office got moved into the theology department in the library. It’s great being with everyone else and something that’s new, neat, and clean (if in the technical basement). But I’ve moved offices too much lately. Between Wheaton and Mary, it’s four offices in eighteen months. And so I finally admitted to my wife that I have too many books. It has taken hours to sort and shelve them, and not even properly at that. Yes, you heard that right. I finally admitted it. I have too many books. And so I’ve been sorting: donating some, giving others to friends, selling others. But it’s exciting. Books shape us — at least us nerds — and going through them brings back memories of that shaping. For me, it’s like greeting long-lost friends. There’s also a lot of books I haven’t cracked yet, but I will. So much to learn!
That’s it for now. Look for my new FT piece here in the morning, and I’ll be blogging more regularly soon.