Christmas 2011 and Reading Projects

Esther and I had an awesome Christmas vacation in Nashville. I got lots of great time with Esther, friends who were also in Nashville, Esther’s family, and my parents. It was also great to be at my parents’ church and see it thriving and be encouraged with them. Lots of walks and exercising, lots of reading, lots of just hanging around the living room talking, and lots of slowing down and journaling and thinking about life – a great vacation, in my book.

I worked on a review of John Piper’s Bloodlines for Themelios, which was fun, and spent a little bit of time studying for the GRE (which I took two days after getting back as the final phase of my Fuller application). I also finished off my Bible reading for 2011 (except for Ezekiel, which I’m going to read in my devotions starting now). I also dabbled in some old books which were in my room which I had read as a kid – a children’s history of Britain book, as well as an English literature text book I had used in college. I haven’t read hardly any poetry in years and I forgot how much I love “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot. This line from Tennyson’s Ulysses is perhaps my favorite in all of poetry: “I am part of all that I have met, yet all experience is an arch wherethrough gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades.” I take it out of context as a statement about how all earthly experience serves only to create longing for heaven.

Finally, as a refresher in the broad sweep of historical theology as preparation for Fuller (if I get in), I read Jonathan Hill’s The History of Christian Thought. It was fun to read, and helpfully succinct (it covers the entire sweep of Christian thought in a little over 300 pages). For this reason he has to squeeze some theologians completely or almost completely out: Boethius, John of Damascus, Zwingli, the Puritans (Jonathan Edwards is not even mentioned, as he basically skips from the Reformation to Wesley to the modern period). I didn’t find his interpretations always reliable – he seemed strangely sympathetic to Origen, Schleiermacher, Newman, and Moltmann, and too fiercely critical of Tertullian and modern evangelicals. I think he misinterprets Bonhoeffer badly, attaching all of his significance to his final letters and none to his previous published works, and also slightly skews Anselm and Kierkegaard. But I’m sure that betrays my own perspective also. My overall take: worth a quick read to get a view of the entire forest, but needs heavy supplementing to fill in the cracks and straighten some of the crooked trees.

No my main focus for this spring will be Augustine. I’m starting with Peter Brown’s biography. That should be fun. Other than that, I hope to rest more this spring, go a bit easy on the reading, maybe write more. Hopefully some reviews, and then I think I’ll finally get around to my article on Christ’s intercession. I am hoping to read it at the April Far West regional ETS meeting – we’ll see if its accepted.

2 Comments

  1. Thanks for the update, Gav! I love that line from Ulysses too. And I enjoy Prufrock . . . but Eliot is work to understand! It wasn’t until I worked through “The Waste Land” with a commentary that it finally clicked.
    Do you have any ideas for a dissertation topic?

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  2. Hey Eric! I am still thinking about Anselm’s Proslogion for a dissertation topic – we’ll see if that changes during the course work stage. Here’s the more detailed explanation: https://gavinortlund.wordpress.com/2010/04/21/an-infinite-multiplication-of-happiness/

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