Thursday, March 13, 2014

The transitional book shelf

So here I am, post-thesis, with three part-time jobs and something more permanent "out there." Winter's grip is loosening here in Chicago land, but not so much that I can be out on my bicycle. There are always musical goals to pursue, to be sure. And - of course - books to be read!

The advance news on John Eliot Gardiner's biography of J. S. Bach surfaced as I was writing my thesis this summer. I have to say, I was relieved to hear it would be released too late for me to have to account for it in my work! No doubt it would be excellent and helpful, but I did not relish what it might do to my progress. It hit the shelves at about the same time I submitted the thesis.

My Karen gave me a copy for Christmas - a prized gift! But I could not bring myself to begin it until my thesis had run its full course. As soon as it went to the technical reader (official copy editing; jots-and-tittle stuff) I cracked Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven. And, oh what a rich, engaging work this is! I am going to enjoy savoring this, a few pages at a time, every day for weeks. Last night Gardiner addressed the Pietists for the first time. I was relieved to see that what he wrote concurs with the portrayal in my thesis . . . though, of course, more elegantly and succinctly stated.

On less scholarly fronts, I have been working through The New Oxford Book of English Verse, with the goal of reading cover to cover through this year. I am writing occasionally about that in my other blog. And, to provide a break from my course prep work, weekends I have been re-reading the C. S. Lewis Narnia series. I'm eager to get to The Last Battle this weekend, after which I will begin his Space Trilogy. Those books will take longer than a weekend each, especially once the roads open up for bicycling! Then, it will be on to The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. This is my year for recapturing wonder.

My professional project this week has been focused on the nature of Christian Higher Education, specifically paying attention to the role of campus worship ("chapel"). Yes, I have a particular reason for this right now, but more generally I have ideas that I want to work out. So, I've read Duane Litfin's Conceiving the Christian College, Arthur Holmes' The Idea of a Christian College, and David Dockery, Renewing Minds. (Litfin is the previous president of Wheaton College, where I am completing my theology degree; Dockery is the newly appointed president of Trinity International University, where I am teaching music history this year.) Also very helpful is the essay by Philip Ryken, "The Liberal Arts in the New Jerusalem," in Liberal Arts for the Christian Life. I have pretty strong opinions about worship [oh, really?!?] and want to think clearly about what the options and opportunities are for worship in the academy. I'm eager to get my hands on James K. A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation.

All this, with lectures and rehearsal prep to boot. What a life!

No comments: