I was going to use Facebook to report on the past few days but realized the "update" box doesn't have near enough space. So here are some highlights followed by a link for more. Today I spent over an hour helping a former student with his application to run for office in India (that's a first for me). Yesterday included a visit to the Utah County Jail and finishing a summary of my life for the past 30 years (the spiritual and emotional side anyway) that will be published as part of a book on faith. The preceding few days included jumping off a platform from about the height of the top of a telephone pole; surviving a 7-mile hike; teaching a Sunday School lesson to teenagers on priesthood and gender; watching the film "Hitchcock" (as well as some episodes of The West Wing, Dick Van Dyke, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents); plus continuing my reading of "Team of Rivals" and doing some of the grading that has to get done by the time final grades are due on Friday . . .In reality, any one of these items could be the subject of an essay. Team of Rivals is a wonderfully illuminating and thought-provoking book. The film Hitchcock was interesting (was he really that messed up? I'm glad he and his wife somehow managed to make a go of it). The West Wing is a remarkably stimulating and engaging series. The lesson on priesthood and gender went remarkably well, though I felt a bit nervous teaching it in the presence of my wife, who--quite rightly--has strong feelings on the subject. I was happy to hear the students--young people about 16-18 years old--speak openly about their questions and feelings.
The seven-mile hike to the top of Big Baldy almost did me in, but I hope it's preparing me for the High Adventure experience I'm planning to take part in with young men of the area at the end of July and beginning of August. Jumping off a platform from about the height of the top of a telephone pole: well, that was quite an experience. This was part of a "ropes course" the young men and young women in our ward did for their activity last Thursday evening. I was in a harness, so it was safe. But the body and mind naturally rebel against jumping from that height, and so I had to push through a wall of panic (maybe "terror" is a better word) to make the jump. Quite a tale could be told of how various adults and youth dealt with that jump and other "ropes course" experiences.
But moving on . . .
Monday morning I had a plumber do some major work in our home. Monday evening we had a bit of a family crisis (in that same home), but it's turned out pretty well. Tuesday I finished writing an addendum to an essay titled "The Miracle of Faith, the Miracle of Love: Some Personal Reflections," published in the book A Thoughtful Faith in 1986. The book is soon to be reissued. So my addendum, among other things, reflects on my life over the past 30 years. (A draft of the addendum may be found here: http://faceofother.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-miracle-of-faith-miracle-of-love.html.)
Last evening, I visited the Utah County Jail and had a nice chat (ending with a prayer) with a young man I've known since his childhood. I have great hopes for him (joined with concerns).
Besides reading Team of Rivals, I've been reading The Life of William Shakespeare: A Critical Biography by Lois Potter (one of the best of many recent Shakespeare biographies)--and, just about daily, I've been reading the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. I've read the Book of Mormon over 20 times but keep learning and experiencing new things. I've read the Doctrine and Covenants fewer times, but still quite a few.
And just to fill in a few more details:
- On Friday, I consulted with a project aiming to present Hamlet along with a Christian interpretation for international broadcast. And in the evening (before we watched Hitchcock), mi esposa Margaret and I went to an avant-garde local eating establishment (Station 22) and then tried to get her dying cell phone upgraded (I ended up ordering one online).
- On Saturday (besides the 7-mile hike--which took about 7 hours) I spent about an hour in the Provo LDS Temple and then did some shopping at Costco.
- On Sunday, I spent 7 1/2 hours in local church meetings and interviews (that included the Sunday School lesson plus lots more) and then watched a 2-hour Worldwide Leadership Training broadcast that, among other things, told me some of the things I should be doing or making sure get done.
- On Sunday evening, my wife and I spent some relaxing time with extended family, eating and conversing.
- I spent about a half hour swimming on Friday, Monday, and Wednesday (today)--something I'm doing to try to keep in shape and, well, just keep alive. Actually, I've been sick (chest and nasal congestion, achiness, etc.) most of the past week, but have still managed to keep an active schedule.
And of course, since I also live to some degree vicariously through my family, I should mention that my oldest son placed 5th in a Salt Lake Arts Festival poetry slam over the weekend. My wife is, as always, doing amazing things, which I've helped with by working on some flyers she's putting together and printing off PDF contract or disbursement request forms for her to send to Oxford University Press and IFP (Independent Filmmaker Project).
In addition, I've kept in touch with family and friends in various ways and spent much, much, much time doing church-related business via e-mail and phone (and in person). And just to make it clear that I don't do everything I'm asked, I've neglected or turned down various requests over the past few days.
But I am also aware that I'm overdue getting back to several people on a book proposal I need to send in (for something to be titled Shakespeare's Dramas of Atonement), for a book on Levinas and early modern literature, and for a panel on Shakespeare and Levinas for a conference next year in Paris. And I need to quickly do an online letter of recommendation . . . and of course, get a pile of exams, papers, and other assignments graded in time for final grade submission on Friday at noon.
This is not necessarily a typical week. But it's not especially atypical. Except maybe for getting involved in a political campaign in Tamil Nadu.