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Errantry: Novak's Journal
...Words to cast/My feelings into sculpted thoughts/To make some wisdom last
Personal/Theological Notebook: Memories of Running; Scripture Immersion 
20th-Oct-2013 02:19 am
Writing in Jackson Hole
Do you ever have those memories that you suddenly realize aren't real, but were just dreams? Dreams that had somehow snuck into your regular memories and mixed with them? A little while ago, I was walking out of my apartment to go over to the clubhouse, to work out in the gym, which I have been doing late on mornings I don't have to be in at work early. I thought to myself as I was walking, "Maybe I should just go running." I know that I'm not supposed to run; in fact, that I really can't anymore, given how banged up my knee is. But I also knew that that fact hadn't stopped me before, and that I had been running for a while, nevertheless.

As I walked along the driveway through the apartment complex, enjoying the cool Florida night breeze on my skin, I thought, "When did I take up running again?!" I rooted around in my memory for a little bit and recalled all these memories of going out in recent months for light workouts – light and guarded running, compared to what I used to do. I knew that I ought not to be doing it, but I had done it anyway because I loved it so much. But something felt wrong about that. I thought a little more, and realized that none of this ever happened, and that I was drawing on vague memories of a vast sequence of dreams of going out running.

My intention to pick up the journal again is clearly not going well: it's a hard habit to renew. I wonder if I could adequately describe this time, though. Professionally, I'm teaching all scripture courses and that re-immersion seems a bit subtle for a journal account, in its own way. I suppose that it's something like physical therapy after an injury, where your day-by-day workout is building toward a notable result, but the changes and experiences each day don't seem to distinguish themselves from one another so significantly. I've taught scripture as part of my courses for years, but I haven't taught a course solely devoted to the topic since I taught high school. I suspected that extended time to immerse myself in scripture was going to be a treat for me, as I tend to function more as a contemporary theologian. And indeed it has, although, as per the physical therapy analogy, I find it difficult to explain exactly how it's affecting me. There's something of a "back-to-basics" pleasure to it, re-engaging foundational material for the theological discipline. There's also something of the pleasure of re-discovery to it, too, as I come back to this immersion with more years of thinking and of experience. Employing and teaching the critical methodologies hits me a little differently. Reading Hebrew Scriptures at this depth feels especially fresh, and I've been pulling out and revisiting material from my undergraduate Ancient Near East studies with Marvin Powell along with the new readings.

There are, of course, recreational highlights, too. I went out last night with Professors Clausen and Orlando to catch a showing of Gravity, which was indeed very much augmented by 3-D filming. Visually stunning and with a really impressive soundtrack. Other than an initial "That doesn't make a lick of sense" moment of my inner Physicist protesting at the nature of the disaster that initiates the drama, it all kept us on the edge of our seats. The three of us caught a late dinner at the Stonewood Grill & Tavern where we decompressed after the film, talking through that. Cheryl (a geneticist) lead the group protest about the initial physics that I mentioned, but approved of the ride of the film. We ended up talking a lot about music, compared our various high school nerdinesses, and talked at some length about Frank's dissertation (he's a political scientist, and is expert in Congress and the study of organizations). I had hoped for an apropos fly-over of ISS to conclude the night, but that came later in the evening, with too much haze and too little sunlight for the station to catch. If only life were more consistently artful.
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