Monday, October 11, 2010

On Writing

I wasn't much of a writer in high school and didn't get a lot of encouragement either. Fortunately I fell into the hands of a great prof at university who believed students needed to learn how to write if they were going to learn how to think. Tom Graham taught us how to read and how to write and in the process to think. I will always be grateful to him for his fourth year methods seminar, one of the hardest courses I ever took and one of the most helpful.

Now Ben Myers has written this wonderful post on the writing life and I recommend you check it out.

I still struggle with this aspect of writing:

4. Writing and discipline. The self has a tendency to leak and dribble. Left to itself, it loses all definition, becomes a shapeless puddle. Writing, like ritual, is a cast into which the self is poured. Writing is care of the self. ‘He who would not be frustrate of his hope to write well hereafter in laudable things, ought himself to be a true poem’ (Milton). A book is a few seconds of inspiration plus a few years – or a lifetime – of discipline. You cannot have a campfire without the first spark, but the spark is useless without the slow labour of gathering wood, building the fire, and maintaining it when it begins to die.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Reading Lists

In the latest issue of Christian Century there are lists of theology books the contributors think are essential reading if you want to know what has happened in theology for the past 25 years. The lists are interesting - you can read them here. Although the preamble is that these are essential for understanding what has been happening in theology I think they are more revealing of what has been happening intellectually for these contributors. But that's okay. I liked reading the list and have added a number of the books to my list of what I want to read. I also spent some time thinking what five books have influenced the way I think about things in a significant way so here is my list:

Daniel Boyarin, A Radical Jew: Paul and the Politics of Identity
Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace
Sarah Coakley, Powers and Submissions
James Alison, Faith Beyond Resentment
Stanley Hauerwas and Will Willimon, Resident Aliens

and what would your list be?