Saturday, March 14, 2009

Spring Break in New England

Yeah, I know. My title sounds like a collaboration between Barry Manilow and the Beach Boys. Anyway, the title for my life on Thursday was "Amarillo to Hartford on Southwest: One Man, Three Planes, Four Flights, 2100 Miles." And here I am back in Connecticut.

Friday was such a great time with my children. Chloe's on Spring Break from UConn this week. So I picked her up that morning (yes, she was devastated about the previous night's basketball game). We went down to New Haven for lunch at Claire's Corner Copia, hanging out in bookstores, etc. Chloe wound up buying a new pair of shoes. She really liked them and besides, "They were originally $100!" (Sigh. Cha-ching).

I, on the other hand, wound up buying two new books: Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages. (Yeah, that's where I got the phrase above). The book is Ammon Shea's story about reading all twenty volumes of the Oxford English Dictionary in one year. That's the equivalent of about one novel's worth of reading every day, for a year, through the world's greatest, most-technical English dictionary. He has a chapter for each letter of the alphabet, talking about some of his favorite words. For someone who sits around reading dictionaries (he's been doing it since age ten), Shea is one entertaining writer.

I also got Michael Coogan's volume on the Old Testament in Oxford's "Very Short Introduction" Series. So far, I've found this series to be a bit of a failure, mainly because the authors have a hard time hitting a balance between "informed, solid coverage" and "very short." It's the nature of the beast as far as I'm concerned. We'll see how Coogan does with the Old Testament.

Later in the day, we picked up Benjamin and Abigail. The four of us got to spend some time just hanging out together. Then it was looking around in the Barnes & Noble, followed by dinner at the Cheesecake Factory in West Hartford.

More about books: On the plane rides up here, I read most of Jon Meacham's book American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of Nation. I suspect every religious professional in the U.S. should read this book--at least the first 80 pages or so--especially if one doesn't know much about the history of the First Amendment. Meacham's book goes a long way in proving that the framers of the Constitution were neither Tom-Paine type anti-religionists nor conservative Protestants bent on making the United States a Christian nation. The book is well-written and full of tasty quotes from people like Jefferson, Adams, and Madison.
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So I'm done with the Rice Haggard series from a couple weeks back. But that experience made me realize that there are several topics I'd like to do a series of posts on. Here are a few that are running around in my head:

As Good As It Gets: The Message of Ecclesiastes

Our Turn to Preach: Structures and Message in Matthew

The Basics of Buddhism

Chapters in a Life of Paul

So, You Want to Learn Hebrew

Church Elders and Their Children
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I'm sitting here writing this post at Michele's parents' place, my Connecticut home. I've said it before, but they're such fine people, such great hosts. I'm thankful for them and for this place.

And now, we're off to Abigail's soccer game for this afternoon.

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