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A Drizzly Day's Musings

A Drizzly Day's Musings

Feb 02, 2024

Hello friends, on a dreary and drizzly February morning here in central Texas. In our household, only Angus is undeterred in his enthusiasm and undiminished in his energy.

The writing game is often a waiting game. Someone is always waiting for someone else to complete a task. Right now I happen to be the one waiting:

  • Waiting for The Shield of Achilles to come out

  • Waiting for Paradise Lost: A Biography to go into production

  • Waiting to hear from an editor about the current iteration of an essay (Were my revisions adequate? Are we ready to move towards publication?)

  • Waiting to hear from ... certain involved parties about a book proposal

  • Waiting to hear from my collaborators on a project

I'm not very good at waiting. Martin Luther once said of the melancholy personality — what we would now call a depressive personality, though I prefer the word "melancholy" for reasons I may write about one day — that the mind is like a pair of millstones: if they don't have grain to grind they grind themselves. I am not prone to depression, but I do feel that way a bit when I'm playing the waiting game. Working through all the possibilities, good and bad.

What helps me in such moments is the remembrance of this passage from The Screwtape Letters:

Your patient will, of course, have picked up the notion that he must submit with patience to the Enemy’s will. What the Enemy means by this is primarily that he should accept with patience the tribulation which has actually been dealt out to him—the present anxiety and suspense. It is about this that he is to say “Thy will be done”, and for the daily task of bearing this that the daily bread will be provided. It is your business to see that the patient never thinks of the present fear as his appointed cross, but only of the things he is afraid of. Let him regard them as his crosses: let him forget that, since they are incompatible, they cannot all happen to him, and let him try to practise fortitude and patience to them all in advance. For real resignation, at the same moment, to a dozen different and hypothetical fates, is almost impossible, and the Enemy does not greatly assist those who are trying to attain it: resignation to present and actual suffering, even where that suffering consists of fear, is far easier and is usually helped by this direct action.

I don't have to deal with every one of the possibilities I am contemplating; I only have to deal with the waiting itself — which, while perhaps not fun, is certainly simpler and more straightforward.

So what I'm doing in the meantime is starting a new blogging project! People often ask me about my teaching, or say "I wish I could take that class," and the like — so I thought it might be good this semester to blog my way through what I'm teaching. Not everything, perhaps, but much of it. There are just two entries so far — one on Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday and a second on Augustine's Enchiridion -- but there will be many more in the coming months. The books I'm teaching won't be the only topics I blog on, but they'll be the main course. I hope you all enjoy reading the posts! And if you like this kind of thing, please let me know by word (in the comments below) or action (contributing a dragon or two).

The best of Februaries to all of you,

Alan

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