Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Summer Plans; Reading and Other Things

Academically speaking, my summer has now begun in earnest. I am back in my New York home, with no homework, and I have finished grading papers for the class I co-taught this last semester.
I am enjoying catching up with my family and being back in upstate New York.
Next month I will drive to New Mexico for an internship in the Diocese of Rio Grande, which I am very excited about. I will have the chance to hone my preaching skills and my abilities as a pastor, as well as getting to spend time in the South West, a region of the country I really love.
I would ask your prayers that I can somehow find and be able to buy a new car in the next few weeks. I have been getting by without a car of my own for some years now, and it is rather daunting to try and purchase one right now. But God has graciously provided me with two job opportunities (This internship and another job in the fall) which both require cars, so I suppose he will be gracious enough to provide me with the needed vehicle.

I have undertaken a sort of spiritual discipline this Summer.
I am a bit of a theology addict, as my friends know, and while that is good given my ambitions, I tend to read theology to the exclusion of other material. I don't actually think that a good theologian can afford to read only theology. Theology is, as St. Thomas teaches, the highest science and embraces all areas of human life, obliging a theologian to take some interest in everything - which entails thinking about things which are not overtly theological from time to time.
Judging purely by my own experience, I also think it is necessary to take a break from theological or philosophical reflection on occasion, to give the ideas that one has been absorbing time to settle, and be integrated with other ideas. These brakes are times for giving ideas a 'test drive,' seeing how well they really fit with experience. Otherwise I find I am constantly rehashing ideas and remaining unsettled.
So my spiritual discipline this summer is reading fiction. Without a good diet of fiction my imagination tends to atrophy due to lack of use, and again that is not good for a theologian. The analytical way of thinking which comes naturally to me needs the complement of more narrative and metaphorical ways of thinking.
I am permitting myself to finish one book of metaphysics that I started earlier this year, and a book of essays that I am hoping to review for the Trinity academic journal.
So far, I have finished The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler, several short stories by Gene Wolf and I am a good way in to The Moviegoer, by Walker Percy. I plan to read some Kerouac and Philip K. Dick later in the summer.
Science Fiction and fantasy are my favorite things to read so there will probably be more of that to follow.
I will continue to update the blog periodically with news from my internship, theological reflections, and musings on my current reading material.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

May is Mary's Month.

For reasons not totally clear to me, May is particularly associated with the Mother of God. To celebrate a little, here is a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins (one of my favorite poets), in honor of our Lady during the month of may.

18. The May Magnificat

MAY is Mary’s month, and I
Muse at that and wonder why:
Her feasts follow reason,
Dated due to season—

Candlemas, Lady Day; 5
But the Lady Month, May,
Why fasten that upon her,
With a feasting in her honour?

Is it only its being brighter
Than the most are must delight her? 10
Is it opportunest
And flowers finds soonest?

Ask of her, the mighty mother:
Her reply puts this other
Question: What is Spring?— 15
Growth in every thing—

Flesh and fleece, fur and feather,
Grass and greenworld all together;
Star-eyed strawberry-breasted
Throstle above her nested 20

Cluster of bugle blue eggs thin
Forms and warms the life within;
And bird and blossom swell
In sod or sheath or shell.

All things rising, all things sizing 25
Mary sees, sympathising
With that world of good,
Nature’s motherhood.

Their magnifying of each its kind
With delight calls to mind 30
How she did in her stored
Magnify the Lord.

Well but there was more than this:
Spring’s universal bliss
Much, had much to say 35
To offering Mary May.

When drop-of-blood-and-foam-dapple
Bloom lights the orchard-apple
And thicket and thorp are merry
With silver-surfèd cherry 40

And azuring-over greybell makes
Wood banks and brakes wash wet like lakes
And magic cuckoocall
Caps, clears, and clinches all—

This ecstasy all through mothering earth 45
Tells Mary her mirth till Christ’s birth
To remember and exultation
In God who was her salvation.