quiet silent around here for quite some time, for which I’m sorry. On the other hand, I don’t really regret it, if you see the difference. Because the honest truth is that it’s been quiet because I’ve been ridiculously busy (even for me!).
Here’s the run-down of the summer’s events:
Graduation, followed by a highly compressed three-week summer course — in the middle of which I spent 5 days in Michigan at the Kalamazoo Congress. That’s where we last left things hereabout.
So I got through the class, only to turn around and drive to North Carolina for three weeks at the National Humanities Center. Through a tremendous stroke of fortune I was one of the lucky professors chosen to attend the Jessie Ball duPont Summer Seminar, which was on the subject of the Christian Apocrypha and was led by Bart Ehrman. It was an excellent experience. Here’s what I had to say about it in a recent letter to the duPont Fund:
I had the great pleasure this summer to serve as one of the two professors chosen to represent The Citadel at the Jessie Ball DuPont Seminars at the National Humanities Center in North Carolina. The seminar I attended was “There’s More To It: What Early Apocrypha Can Tell Us about Christianity,” and it was led by Bart D. Ehrman, James A. Gray Distinguished Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
To say that the experience was transformative would be to say too little. I can already see ways in which my attendance at the seminar will have direct benefits to my career both inside and outside of the classroom. I had not studied some of these materials since my days as an undergraduate at Baylor, and the chance to reconnect with them was thrilling and inspiring. From a professional standpoint, I am already engaged in the research and composition of an article that is a direct result of what I was able to learn during the seminar. Indeed, I am already seeing ways in which this research might bridge itself into a more substantial book-length work. And within the classroom, I now have greater hope for establishing a new course here at The Citadel on Christian Apocrypha and/or the surprisingly complex history of the development of Christian theology. Students have requested that I teach these kinds of courses in the past, but I had not felt comfortable doing so until now.
I would also be remiss if I did not point out that my extraordinary experience will have lasting positive effects on my pedagogy in the form of Dr. Ehrman’s excellent example as an instructor. The best teachers do more than teach material, they also teach other people new ways to approach the world. My notes from the seminar left me with a great deal of information, to be sure, but I was also fortunate to discover new ways of presenting that information to future students.
My weeks at the National Humanities Center, in short, made me a better teacher. I can only hope that I can now serve my institution, my students, and my colleagues in a way that will be fitting of the opportunity I was so fortunate to be given.
And I meant every word of it. It was a remarkable three weeks.
It was also, though, a very busy three weeks. Not only did I have the reading and thinking (yes, that takes time, too!) associated with the seminar itself, but I also took the opportunity of being in the Research Triangle (we stayed at the Carolina Inn, right across the street from the UNC-Chapel Hill campus) to do a lot of research. So when I wasn’t hitting the books of the Apocrypha, I was hitting the books for the next academic book.
Speaking of which, that next academic book will be another “casebook,” a sequel of sorts to the recent Battle of Brunanburh volume I headed up. The subject this time is the Welsh hero, Owain Glyndwr, and for that reason I have a co-editor, the Welsh scholar John K. Bollard. I managed to make a lot of headway on my research, while also negotiating with potential publishers for it.
Oh, and I also composed and turned in a book proposal for a different book. That’s still in review as of this moment, though the word on the street is good so far.
I returned from North Carolina and then left, only a few panicked days of packing later, for a four-week journey West.
All the gory details probably aren’t needed here — and with three days of driving on both ends of the trip I assure you it did get gory — but I’ll observe that it continued the theme of being-way-too-busy. We spent nights in Memphis, TN, Bethany, OK, Albuquerque, NM, Ouray, CO, Steamboat Springs, CO, Golden, CO, Columbia, MO, and Knoxville, TN.
We saw a lot of family and friends, and I even got to do some Jeeping. Here’s my rig parked at a lake in Silver Basin … about 11,650 feet above sea level in the San Juan Mountains:
Oh, and I also put down 50,000 words of a new novel. So that’s cool, too. 🙂
We’ve only recently arrived home, and of course that means that my schedule is now filling up with all the things I didn’t get done over the past two months.
Surely things will slow down, right?