Last Saturday, in a burst of I-can-smell-the-water energy, I finished my first book-length work of fiction. After a festive dinner, the family gathered in the living room for one last read-aloud, and the thing was done. Phase 1 of the sabbatical plan is complete.
Now we turn to Phase 2, which has two parts. Perhaps most urgently, I have to do some editing work for The Aquinas Institute, which has an NEH grant to bring out a translation of Book IV of Aquinas’s Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard. They’ve been waiting on me to move on the project for a very long time, and I hope nobody dies of shock when I do.
But definitely closer to my heart is the projected book on the senses of Scripture. It’s a funny project, because (a) I have no research library, and (b) I couldn’t read if I did. Since I was very young I have had tremendous difficulty reading even moderately small print, and for a year or so now I have had difficulty reading normal size print. I read by putting things on a Kindle or having them transformed into audio. But I have lost my gigantic Kindle DX, so even that modicum of scholarly activity has been trimmed.
Fortunately I have a reservoir of past research to lean on. Just recently I learned that my article on “Participation and the Meaning of Scripture,” which I wrote about a decade ago, will be published in a volume of essays from Brepols. Upside: It’s great to put that name on my CV. Downside: Nobody can afford books from Brepols, so this is pretty much a very ornate tomb in which to inter my old research. I can reuse the ideas in my book and no one will even notice.
A lecture I gave some three years ago is about to be published in the journal Nova & Vetera. No downsides there: it’s a vibrant publication that has the attention of exactly the people I would like to reach. Way back when I wrote the piece I told my wife that it was the best thing I had ever written, and that if I died now then I would have done something worthwhile with my career. Going over the proofs a few days ago, I thought the same thing. I’ll definitely be recycling those ideas.
The first step in Phase 2b is going through my old stuff and taking notes. I need to map out more clearly the connections between the somewhat imposing complex of ideas in my idea-bucket. I know in a fuzzy way what I want this book to do, but I do not yet have the master framework in view. Meanwhile, this blog will probably be livelier as I explore my way to the starting line.