Happy first week of Lent! I’m writing a simple update this time. I’d like to make this a recurring format so that I can push out regular content rather than waiting until I have something polished to share.
What I’m Reading: Ever so slowly, I finished Dante’s Inferno and Purgatorio and am now working through Paradiso. Absolutely beautiful poetry which takes time to understand. It’s not the sort of thing to digest on audio unless you’re weird or a genius or both. The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein is also on my nightstand, and I’ve gotten about halfway through it, but have paused to finish Dante’s classic. (By the way, there’s a cool recent podcast about The Divine Comedy here.)
In terms of theology, I’m reading The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller. I’ve read it before, but now that I’m engaged (a new development as of this week!), it has special relevance.
A month or so ago, I finished God Is Not One by Stephen Prothero. I have a love-hate relationship with it. One of Prothero’s chief premises is that the major world religions do not all lead to the same destination, which is so refreshing to hear from a secular scholar of religion when it’s popular to assume the opposite. At the same time, I was annoyed by Prothero’s descriptions of certain religious doctrines and ideas. If I ever get the time, I must write a book review or at least a few critical notes about it. Yet I’m glad I read it and wish others would read it too. I learned much about the religions of the world (especially the Three Teachings of East Asia), and sharpened my understanding of how radically different my Christian faith is from (and in some cases, surprisingly similar to) the others out there.
What I’m writing at work: I’m working on several projects in parallel, but my favorite is writing documentation for a new product we’re launching this year for businesses. It’s been a ton of fun to write simple, elegant descriptions for features and concepts that are quite complicated. Easily the best part of my job.
What I’m writing in my spare time:
- I finished a short story, and now I just need to submit it! I know the first venue I will send it to, but I need a block of 2-3 hours of free, uninterrupted time to prepare the formatting and ensure I meet all the submission guidelines. This sort of block has proven extremely elusive.
- I’m writing an essay about the sexual counterculture of the early church, which I’m sure it will pique some curiosity. It’s mostly complete, but there’s a little more research I want to do first (and who knows, that research could cause some big revisions).
- I’ve drafted an essay about how technical writers need to take a more holistic approach to their jobs, especially with respect to document design. A few more tweaks and it will be ready—but again I have some more homework to do.
Interesting article(s) of the week:
- On Section 320 and the Dream of a More Human Internet
- When a Christian revival goes viral: “The events in Asbury are unsettling, because they are subversive in ways that are hard to articulate. In our world of 24/7 access, it is almost unheard-of for an event to not try to increase exposure through media. Not until day 12 was a livestream established, and even then only out of necessity, in an attempt to diffuse the crowds that had swamped this small town. Estimates suggest that thousands of participants flooded into Wilmore this past weekend. By Sunday, law enforcement was deflecting incoming traffic to alleviate the strain on the town’s infrastructure. These students have chosen hiddenness and simplicity, selfless hospitality, and a relentless hunger for Jesus.”
Favorite quote of the week: Alan Jacobs on the scrubbing of Roald Dahl:
Even the Victorians (and some of their successors) who thought sculptures of naked men too offensive for ladies to see merely covered the pudenda with plaster leaves — the penises themselves remained untouched, for later generations, and less delicate viewers, to see if they wish. (Some years ago I published an essay on this practice — and related matters.)
Perhaps Puffin — since there’s no way in hell they’re gonna give up the chance to make bank — can provide two versions, sort of like like New Coke and Coke Classic, clearly differentiated by label. They could advertise the one and not advertise the other; they could make their preferences clear; they could say “If you are a Good Person you will purchase our sanitized versions rather than the nastiness written by Roald Dahl himself.” And then people could buy the version they want.
Wanna place bets on which version readers would choose? But I don’t think we’ll find out. The one canonical rule of the supersensitives is: The reader is always wrong. Because any genuine reader is, by definition, not a supersensitive.