Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Saturday, May 18, 2013
- Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace :: This will be the second summer for which I've planned to read Infinite Jest. Last summer, it never got past the planning stage. For fans of Wallace, if you haven't seen the recent short film composed to DFW's graduation speech "This is Water," you should check it out.
- Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card :: This title has been on the periphery of my "someday" list for decades. Chris wanted to read it in advance of the movie that's coming out, and that sounded like a good idea.
- Best American Essays: 2012 :: I'd be reading this anthology anyway, but I'm also using it in connection with some of my summer teaching.
- The Ragamuffin Gospel, by Brennan Manning :: This is another book that's been on the to-read list for ages. Seems like a good time to read it, since the Rich Mullins bio-pic, titled Ragamuffin, is on the horizon.
- Grace (Eventually), by Anne Lamott
- The Wisdom of Stability, by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove ::
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, by J. K. Rowling :: This is the book I'm currently reading, in an attempt to stay ahead of my son, who, at the moment, is conveniently engaged in Eldest, by Christopher Paolini.
- Writing Fiction: Creative and Critical Approaches, by Amanda Boulter, and Writing Poetry: Creative and Critical Approaches, by Chad Davidson and Gregory Fraser :: For the fall of 2013, I'm switching up the texts in my creative writing class. Need to get a firmer grasp on these two books before the class starts.
- Tinkers, by Paul Harding :: This summer, my Introduction to Literature course will be reading this novel.
- The Land: Place as Gift, Promise, and Challenge in Biblical Faith, by Walter Brueggemann :: This book is related to some writing I would like to do over the summer.
- A Sense of Place: A Christian Theology of the Land, by Geoffrey R. Lilburne :: Also related to the writing project mentioned above.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
“I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.”
Thursday, January 31, 2013
Monday, May 16, 2011
In this case, I encountered the following interview clips at the Out of Ur blog and felt compelled to post them here.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Recently, one of Soltan's posts ("What's a University?") begins by considering the damage done when universities are viewed--and administered--as businesses. The same post concludes with Soltan's commentary on an opinion piece written by an undergraduate economics major. In this piece, the student articulates the conventional "What will all this stuff do for me?" question. (CF: Arthur Holmes.)
Soltan's post is worth reading, as is an article by Mark Slouka, titled "Dehumanized: When Math and Science Rule the School," which was published in the September 2009 issue of Harper's and referenced by one of the commentators on Soltan's post.
Links to both pieces are included below:
Soltan, Margaret. "What's a University."
Slouka, Mark. "Dehumanized: When Math and Science Rule the School."
If you visit University Diaries, be sure to click on the tag "Scathing Online Schoolmarm."
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
The BBC is structured around one chapter in Benson's book each week. Check out Tim's blog if you'd like to follow--or participate in--the larger discussion. What follows are some of my thoughts on Benson's chapter 1, titled "Longing."
The Big Picture:
I found myself really enjoying this first chapter, and I can tell that I'm soon going to have to come to a decision about whether I'm going to restrict myself to reading and digesting a chapter a week or go ahead and reading the whole book and then working back through it. (I'm leaning toward the latter, at this point.)
Benson begins the chapter by quoting a passage from the Rule of St. Benedict, including this key sentence: "Is there anyone who yearns for life and desires to see good days?" It's hard to imagine someone not answering that question with a hearty "yes." But a few pages later, where Benson articulates a number of questions connected with the focus of his retreats, he mentions the question of our practices and experiences being "dry and lifeless" (6). This past Sunday, I was talking with my wife about the fact that I just kind of felt "dry" at the moment--pulled in enough directions that I'm not really sure what I'm working towards. Oh, there's plenty to do, but I'm not sure I currently have anything but the most conventional and trite answers to Buechner's formulation of "a self to be, ... other selves to love, and ... work to do" (qtd. in Benson 4).
This season of dryness--and Benson's mention of it--prompted some thinking about longing, the title of this first chapter. And it causes me to reconsider that key sentence from St. Benedict: "Is there anyone who yearns for life and desires to see good days?" The answer, for me, is "yes," but I'm not sure my "yes" rises to a longing. Now, part of my situation is rooted, I think, in the fact that I'm just not one terribly inclined to longing. A tendency toward contentedness is in my nature--most days. I think. But perhaps I'm just reconciling my apathy, or some degree of acedia. At one point, I noted in the margins of the book that my "longing" seems more like a "welcome obligation." I could cite some other passages that generated similar responses for me, but I'll simply note that this first chapter has me attempting to map the distance between dryness and longing.
Apart from reflecting upon my own spiritual condition, I also found myself thinking about the whole emphasis on spiritual formation from a more institutional standpoint. In the excerpt from St. Benedict quoted at the beginning of Benson's chapter, St. Benedict notes that "We intend to establish a school for the Lord's service" (1). Since I teach at a school with a similar mission, the chapter has prompted a consideration of how the Benedictine rule might inform what I do as a teacher. Consider the following passage:
"We are asked by the communities of which we are a
part--our families, our neighborhoods, our churches, and all the rest--to do
more, not less. In the places where we work, we are asked to be more
productive, more efficient, to work longer and harder. We are seldom
encouraged to rest and we are seldom asked to slow down." (4)
Are there ways in which I, as a teacher, might--or ought to--ask my students to rest, to slow down? How might one ask students to embrace such rest in ways that are wise rather than foolish? How does one ask students to slow down while maintaining professional and pedagogical integrity?
Basically, after chapter one, I find I'm asking myself lots of meaningful questions, and I'm eager to dive into the reflection that will surely be generated as Benson addresses the four "pieces" of life: prayer, rest, community, and work (6).
I have to acknowledge my annoyance over Benson's failure to provide any sort of bibliography for the works from which he is quoting. As a book person, I just find this practice terribly annoying and frustrating.
Annie Dillard rocks. The passage that has stuck with me the most after reading chapter one comes (I think) from Dillard's The Writing Life:
"How we spend our day is, of course, how we spend our
lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are
doing. A schedule defends us from chaos and whim. It is a net for
As one who struggles with schedules (less with construction, more with observance), this quotation just sort of resonates. Conviction and inspiration.
Robert Benson: "I am also in search of enough good days to make a life, maybe even a good life."
Potential T-Shirt: "Feed Your Inner Monk!"
"Over time, I realized that I was not called to live
in the monastery, but I learned that I could live the monastic life interiorly"
I had to smile at a bit of verbal playfulness on Benson's part when he referenced Thomas More:
"Thomas More, a writer who lived in the monastic
world, said, 'In the midst of our lives we can live the spirit of this
rule.' More and more, I am coming to see that is true." (13)