Most careers aren’t vocations, so we need space outside them to grow and love. It’s possible to make a short-term decision to put life and relationships on hold, in order to make a high-intensity commitment to a cause (this is the model for the oft-touted national service draft), but it’s unhealthy to let these crisis-mode jobs give shape to your life.
The meaning of a story should go on expanding for the reader the more he thinks about it, but meaning cannot be captured in an interpretation. If teachers are in the habit of approaching a story as if it were a research problem for which any answer is believable so long as it is not obvious, then I think students will never learn to enjoy fiction. Too much interpretation is certainly worse than too little, and where feeling for a story is absent, theory will not supply it.
How marvelous to have lived a life that made so many people honestly and usefully happy.
But if too much money can be damaging, dribs and drabs are not going to get the best out of a writer either. Our persistent romantic desire that the author, or at least his or her work, be somehow detached from the practicalities of money, together with the piety that insists that novels and poems be analyzed quite separately from the lives of their creators has meant that there have been very few studies of the relationship between a writer’s work and income.
A church is a community constituted by certain foundational beliefs, but among those beliefs a key one is that the word of the Lord must be obeyed. That is, there are practices that are intrinsic to Christian belief properly understood, and among those are the obligations to feed the hungry, heal the sick, tend to the widows and orphans in their distress, train up children in the way they should go, and be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Thus religion, in the Biblical sense, involves not just holding certain beliefs but acting on them, and the institutions the church creates to help us carry out those commandments are just as “religious” as worshipping congregations. From that it follows that “freedom of religion,” if it is to mean anything, must be extended just as fully to those institutions as to parish churches. Otherwise the church is crippled in its obedience. Which is bad for the church, but also, and more important, bad for the world — unless you happen to think that the State, and the State only, is the proper vehicle for charity and social service.
The NY Times has a piece about the challenge of making new friends in your 30s and 40s.
..it must be the case that some aspects of civilization have endured because they have real value — not in some abstract, notional, theoretical way, value for publications and promotions and tenure, but solid, meaningful value to the very human beings, the ordinary people whose forgotten lives make up 99% of the past that we study when, often naively, we study the past, unaware sometimes that we are studying just the tiny fraction of experience that has not been lost.
During work time, work; during play time, play. It’s far too easy for academics — and most other knowledge workers as well — to allow work and play to blur together, so that, yeah, you’re writing that conference paper, but you’re also stopping every five minutes to check your email, tweet, IM with other friends who are similarly procrastinating, follow a rabbit-trail of links on the internet. It’s the habit of succumbing to these temptations that leads to evenings at the office when you ought to be having a glass of wine with your spouse or reading to your children.