My goal when I started blogging was to write two posts per week. I think it is safe to say that I have not met that goal lately. We have been a bit short staffed at work, and I have been putting in long hours both in the office and at home just to keep up. I have also had to resign myself to the fact that, when keeping up is your goal, perfection cannot be. So the past month has been the month where I have been learning to be content with what is possible.
I am painfully aware of the fact that I have not met my goal with turning my dissertation into my book. I have to remind myself that this is not because of laziness. Rather, the opposite! It owes to the fact that, as my psychiatrist put it, I “tend to greatly overestimate my own capacities.” I have a hard time saying “No” to good opportunities.
From time to time I post small snippets from my book (proposal to be completed by May 31), which is adapted from my doctoral dissertation. Here is a bit from Chapter 1.
This call to embody God’s righteousness implies not perfection but the struggle toward a goal, and it speaks to the particular universal quality of symphonia to be discussed later. The church has gravitas. Like a large celestial body, its faithfulness to Jesus’ teaching about the kingdom has a way of bending the fabric of reality toward that which is the source of its own life and the reason of its own existence. The kingdom makes the church what it is. Without it, we would not exist. Insofar as we live into the reality of this kingdom, the church brings the world with it.
During my day job, I help run a program that brings academically talented students to Vanderbilt to take intense courses with university scholars (professors and PhD students), and summer is our busiest time of year. But I did manage to finish the first draft of my book proposal on June 1. I spent much of August and September working on an essay I agreed to write on Sergei Bulgakov and John Milbank. Having sent in the final edits last week, I was able to sit down with my proposal once again.
I have finished the “proposal” part of my book proposal and am currently revising/writing my sample chapters. The following brief passage comes from Chapter 1.
Historically speaking, the Orthodox Church likes empire. It just feels like home to us! Of course this is true to a certain extent of all Christians. But it takes a uniquely triumphalist form in the world of Orthodoxy.
Roman Catholicism has been forever shaped by its hard scrabble childhood. Its early years were spent wandering through the rubble of the once “Eternal City.” The church in Rome learned to be self-reliant. Nobody but the pope would protect the Christians of the city from the Huns, Vandals, and Lombards. The pope offered some protection from the violent political seas of western europe – the constant battering of barbaric would-be caesars against each other. The see of Peter became a rock to cling to in more than one sense. He was both a relatively stable symbol of eternal power as well as a memory of lost glory (and perhaps a hope for its return).
The childhood of the Orthodox Church was more privileged. Rome had not died, just moved to Greece. Caesar still reigned in Constantinople. Its glory was diminished, but never lost. As western Christians saw in Peter a sign of transcendent security, eastern Christians saw transcendence-made-immanent in the person of the emperor. Even as the empire began to collapse all around them, even as lands were lost to the Slavs, Arabs, and Turks, many looked to the emperor, half-praying/half trying to convince themselves that, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people.”