Thank God it's September!  Because I really, really hate August.   I don't know why, but somehow August always makes me crazy.  Perhaps it's the promise, perpetually unfulfilled, of vacation, of having all of the time that you need to get everything done that you put off during the school year.  Perhaps it's simply the lack of external structure, leaving you free to become obsessed (read, binge).  Perhaps it's just the heat.  What I do know is that this year at least, it left me paralyzed. 

Not--let me hasten to add--that I have been doing nothing but sitting on the couch these past four and a half weeks.  Just look at the list of books I've been reading (although, to be fair, at least half of those were July's; okay, and I sat on the couch to read them, but still, it's a lot of books!).  Not to mention my Writing Time: see, at the bottom, how I finished my translation!  (Well, the revised draft.  It still needs polishing.)  And I finished three book reviews (okay, the first two in July, the third in August).  And my son and I spent a whole week decluttering and rearranging the books in my office on campus; it took me yet another week to finish sorting the files, in the midst of which I had to go out of town for a seminar. 

But.  My brain seized up.  I had nothing to say.  Or, rather, I had way, way too much to say, but couldn't find a way to say it.  Or, perhaps more accurately, I've been too afraid.  Look at the list of books I've been reading: there's some sharp stuff in there--and I don't just mean the politics.  Or the criticisms of academia.  Have you been curious about all those readings from Scripture that I've been posting?  Well, read them through again, and then tell me whether this is the Christianity that you have been taught.  Jesus the Melchizedek High Priest?  The Son of Man presenting himself before the Ancient of Days and receiving dominion over all of the earth?  Six-winged living creatures surrounding the throne of God, singing, "Holy, holy, holy"?  Christianity the heir not to King Josiah's seventh-century BC "discovery" of Deuteronomy but to the earlier temple traditions that he "reformed" (a.k.a. "defiled")?  Angels and incarnation, the self-emptying of the Son of God and his anointing as the Great Angel, Yahweh?  The Eucharist as the rite of Atonement (not, as we usually talk about it, a Christianized Passover)?  I don't even know where to begin explaining what I've learned reading Margaret Barker.

And, please, don't get me started on the politics.  Or do--but you need to be willing to listen, because what I've learned reading Thomas Sowell has turned my entire world upside down.  In many ways, it is simpler; things make much, much more sense, historically as well as psychologically, socially as well as economically.  But they no more look like what my peers (at least to judge from my friends' postings on Facebook) tend to believe than Barker's vision of Christianity looks like what anybody since the more recent "reformation" has believed about why the early Christians believed what they did.  Talk about a road to Damascus!  Mind you, after his conversion (more accurately, his encounter with the Lord), even Paul went off to study for several years (significantly, in Arabia [Gal. 1:17]--where, Barker argues, there were still refugees from King Josiah's reforms) before beginning to preach.  So maybe silence is part of the process.  (As Prof. Boice would say, "Wait!")  It is still anxious-making.  What if I'm just procrastinating?  Giving myself extra work so as to avoid doing the work that I really should?  But my office did need decluttering, badly.  And I have been such a political innocent, no wonder I voted the way I did the last time we were asked to make this decision.  If only there were someone I could talk to about all of this who wouldn't be frightened (or angered or offended) at what I've learned.

Okay, so this post is a start.  Now I've told you what I've been reading, perhaps I will have the courage to tell you a bit more.  What do you think?  Have any of you ever had your entire world view turned upside down?  How did you cope with the change?  Was it really a change as opposed to a clarification of things that you had suspected were true all along but were too afraid to say?  What if you were Paul?

Ah, it's time to get ready for church.  How apropos.


  1. I'm interested in hearing her proofs, or better, perhaps, her arguments, after you've read and digested them. Currently I'm reading Christian beginnings : from Nazareth to Nicaea, AD 30-325 / Vermès, Géza (2012). A comparison of the two should be interesting. (I think her strengths will be in a period where Vermès is obviously weaker as a scholar, at least in my opinion.)

    As for Sowell, I think he generalizes too much from his own experience, leading to bias. His views are almost anecdotal, in that regard. He seems to have vacillated between extremes in his career. As for Mitt, is he a capitalist, or just a believer in a different kind of welfare state? See http://mises.org/daily/3306 (Ayn Rand repudiated Reagan.)

    On economic issues, so far I'm most impressed by the words of the man richer, even, than Warren Buffet. I found his talk about "the real economy" on p.2 worth reading. http://www.businessinsider.com/carlos-slim-heres-how-to-fix-the-american-eocnomy-2011-9?page=1


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