Quick Blog Update

Hello, 'all.  Hope everyone is having a good summer (at least, here in the Northern Hemisphere).  I'm taking a couple weeks away from the blog to recharge the batteries a bit, but I have a couple of series that I am working on that should start up soon.

The first is a couple of essays on a book by Father James Alison entitled The Joy of Being Wrong. It is an absolutely fantastic book, but it has taken me a while to get through it because it is a dense book, in the sense that it has a very high "deep thoughts per page" ratio.  It deserves to be read slowly, and slowly is how I have been doing it over the last couple of weeks.  Instead of reviewing the book (which would be difficult to do), I am going to talk about some of the insights that I have spun off from reading the book.  So, it will me more like reflections inspired by the book, and hopefully they will make sense even if you haven't read the book.

The second big series, a little farther off, is one that I am very excited about.  In late December and early January, I will be (barring significant change in the geopolitical situation) taking a trip to Israel.  I will be going by myself, the idea being that I will be taking a bit of a personal pilgrimage, primarily to see the various Holy Sites of Christianity but also to try to get a feel for the place and those that live there now.  My hope is to do a travelogue either during or immediately after the trip.

In a sense, it is also a shout-out to a favorite writer of mine, as the concept of going, and writing about it, was inspired by re-reading Paul Theroux's The Pillars of Hercules (or, really, all of his books, but I happened to be reading that one).  What I love about Theroux's books, and about Theroux's way of traveling, is that it emphasizes the idea that there is no substitute for simply being in a place if you want to understand it.  And, to truly be "in" a place, you must try as much as possible to do so nakedly, without any of the armor of tours or guides that attempt to process the experience of the place and serve it palatably.  I don't want palatable; I want the place as it actually is.  So, inspired by Theroux, it will just be me wandering around.

The other genius of Theroux, for me, is that he presents travel as ultimately a personal experience.  Anyone can pick up a Lonely Planet guidebook and figure out the objective details of a particular place.  What makes travel relevant and important is how you react to a particular place, an experience that no guidebook is ever going to capture.  Theroux's experiences are of course unique to him, and yet you can relate to them as you read.  I hope, in some much more modest way, to accomplish that with this trip and the writing that will come for it.

Anyway, that is coming at the end of the year.  Watch this space for more to come.


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