Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Summer of 10

My thirty fourth summer. They are a blur. This one included. Furthermore: Blog stagnant. Solution: Recap and Look Ahead.

Sincerely celebrated the birthdays of my eldest son and my awesomest and only wife. World Cup fever. Found a God-send of a new house and sunk into the reality of another year in Aberdeen.

Read Fathers and Sons: The Search for a New Masculinity by Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen. Not quite the compelling mix of theology and sociology that was for me the life-changing Gender and Grace, but a poignant read nontheless. Heavier on the sociological analysis, backing everything with statistics. Probably more of an eyebrow raiser for those not already convinced of the search for a new masculinity. It tended to not argue for a "new" one so much as make a case for its need. Nonetheless, I am more thoroughly convinced that we are not well-served today by the principles that have been made of our stereotypes and their thrusting back onto the Bible as if grounded universally in creation. I put the book down convicted about my own denomination's ever-stalling discussion on gender roles and troubled by the persistence of baptized gender stereotypes around me. I was also convicted about my need for God to instill the gifts of gentleness and patience into my own masculinity, first and foremost as a father, but also even as a debater on just these issues.

Also read Athanasius' On the Incarnation with some friends and bought and played to death The National's "High Violet". As you hopefully know: Reading centuries old theology is incredibly relevant, and good music restores the soul.

World Cup dramas unfolded, gripped and dissipated. Went to the Isle of Skye with my family and said "this is gorgeous" about four thousand times. (See photos at end of post). Moved into a new home and a new office. Both far more aesthetically pleasing and life-enhancing than the last. Very thankful.

Read Hannah's Child: A Theologian's Memoir by Stanley Hauerwas and pondered the life of a man as frank and bold as he was thoughtful and influential. Very interesting to read about his youth as a bricklayer, his marriage to someone with mental illness, his back-stories of academia, his incessant swearing, and his insistence that he was a professional theologian long before he was really sure he was a Christian. Still thinking about this book. It both resonated and surprised. What is cool about it is that it is really a book about the friends who made him the person he is.

Also currently reading Augustine's Confessions with some friends. Amazing. I've started this thing like a half-dozen times and never got passed the idea that it was a wallowing in guilt. Not so. This autobiographical masterpiece is 1600 years old, and yet remains timely and penetrating.

August and September:
About six months ago when I asked my supervisor's advice on the article and conference ideas I was pitching, he warned me that if I spread myself too thin I might end up with a mediocre dissertation rather than an excellent one. By not heeding his caution I have proven him wise by getting too much on my plate. By September I endeavor to have written and either had published or presented the following:

I do hope that by grace the prophecy of mediocrity will nonetheless be averted.

Also, my folks will be here for most of August, which is great, and during that time we will accompany them to London for probably our only visit as a family to that city, in what promises to be a whirlwind 48 hours. So that's what's up. Thanks for stopping by. Here's some highlights from Skye and the Scottish West Coast:

Glenfinnan viaduct with my incredible wife.
Yeah, its in Harry Potter somewhere, but it was cool before that.

The frightening hike to the Quirang on the northern tip of Skye.
Frightening with young children in tow anyway. But worth it. Breathtaking.

Eilean Donan Castle.
10 minutes up the Loch from the pastor's manse where we were so gratefully able to stay. A memorable family holiday to say the least.


Anonymous said...

Correction - it's your thirty fifth summer.

Just want you to know that we do not expect you to stay away from your office and the work you have to do while we are there in August. We will enjoy any time you can get away and do day trips with us or whatever but we do not need to do something away from the house everyday. Just longing to see you all and play with the kids and go for walks in the neighbourhood.


Tony Tanti said...

I don't know how you get so much time to read, I guess I watch too much tv. It takes me months to read a book these days and I have half my days off.

It's great to hear about your efforts to continue to learn at and away from the school setting, it's inspiring frankly.

Jon Coutts said...

thirty-fifth? I'm not even going to try to contest the math on that. I usually count the womb-time but neglected to do so, is that what you are doing?

thanks for the comments fam, really.

To be clear, those articles are due in September, not all by September, and two of them are nearly done. But if I have to work while you are here Mom it will be in the morning before you are all up and at em. I hope.

Anonymous said...

I'm not great at math but I know you had your first summer before your first birthday so I think that means you're having your thirty fifth summer before your thirty fifth birthday.

Jon Coutts said...

this stuff confuses me. where is my abacus?!