Last week, three wise bloggers posted entries about the future of ebooks. I’ve been keeping them in my RSS feed for days, waiting to put them together into a post of my own — so here they are.
First, Steve Himmer quoting Matt Cohen on publishing as choral activity.
Then Seth Godin on ‘what talent wants’.
Then Suw Charman Anderson (herself the author of the marvellous, inventive Argleton) on what an author needs.
So far as I can tell, they’re all right. And while I’m talking about ebooks, I would be remiss to neglect Halley Suitt Tucker’s new BookBox blog.
A couple of days ago, Kelvin posted the video of my sermon from Sunday at the cathedral website. It will nat have vaulted me into the Times or a top fifty list, but several people mentioned yesterday that they had been talking and thinking about it, which is about as much as I could possibly ask.
A number of people have disagreed with me on this, and I do take that very seriously — but I’m inclined to stick with what I take to be a position solidly grounded in catholic and biblical warrants. That doesn’t mean I scorn the alternatives that my interlocutors present, but that (granted that there may be more than just one plausible construction to put on theological interpretation) I’m not persuaded that the alternatives hang together as well in a theology I can live with. But that’s for talking out — at any rate, I appreciate the amount of energy people have put into thinking the topic over. That’s all to the good.
A long time ago, in radically different institutional and editorial circumstances, I wrote a Greek textbook called A Grammar for New Testament Greek. I didn’t set out to write a Greek textbook, but thought it was worth someone producing a somewhat updated version of an earlier volume. The first time through, I made modest editorial corrections to the preceding volume, out of respect for the earlier author. Then I was instructed that the author wanted nothing to do with the revised edition at all, and that I should go through and make sure that none of the earlier author’s words were perpetuated in what now had to be a textbook of my own. You have probably never tried to do something like that — especially in the discourse of language instruction, where there are (after all) only so many ways to describe the formation of the aorist middle participle — but it’s painfully complicated. The awkward textual maneuvering left footprints all over the manuscript, which had been edited in one of the most awkward possible sets of circumstances, and when the book was finally printed (without the agreed-upon third-party reader’s corrections), it was rendered less useable by the numerous typos and convolutions that it had grown through in its editing process.
At first I begged the publishers for a corrected edition continually; then I begged annually, when I saw them at professional meetings; after ten years or so, I figured they would just let it wither away and die a quiet death, and I didn’t have the persistence to argue for a revised edition, especially since several newer textbooks had come out with some of the features that had been distinctive benefits of my venture.
Fast forward another few years: Seabury-Western, at which I maintained an errata/corrigenda web page, along with chapter-by-chapter commentary and answers to exercises, has self-immolated and arisen from its ashes (in a very different form), like a phoenix whose ashes yield a blue jay; Seabury’s web ar hive has been nuked; I’ve moved on to Glasgow; and this morning I received an email from Duane Watson, as estimable scholar with impeccable (if somewhat odd) taste in textbooks. Duane asks what ever happened to those correction/answer pages that used to be on Seabury’s site?
In case anybody else is searching for them, they no longer exist as such, and although I ought to comb through them and substitute Unicode for all the defunct type-kludges that we used back in the early days of the Net, for the time being all I’m going to do is link to the relevant pages via the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. The institutional-reward system over here sniffs at at pedagogical writing, and corrections on a long-ago textbook would be regarded even less favourably (alas).
The mention of that book brings bittersweet memories. It was very good and forward-looking in some ways (verbal aspect, treating the middle voice as its own phenomenon and not as a sort adjunct to the passive, directing students to the New Testament text and lexicons as soon as possible), but the pain and humiliation from the typos, and my publisher’s unwillingness to produce a corrected edition, rankle. It’s (very!) gratifying that Prof. Watson is using the book, but it would be even greater if I’d been able to make it better from the start. And now I have another task to put on my to-do list — update the pages and port them over to a stable web location.
If nothing else will elicit a blog post from me, you can count on my blogging when I have a sermon to post. So in case you were worried that I had run off to the Canary Islands, or disappeared with a fortune in jewelry, or dropped off one of the bits of the map where you can see dragons and sirens and tritons, none of those exotic things have happened. I’ve just lost the habit of blogging.
But I did draw the preaching assignment for today, and it included one of my favourite difficult verses — ‘I am the Lord, and there is no other. / I form light and create darkness, / I make weal and create woe; / I the Lord do all these things’ — on which I immediately was determined to preach. If I had more time, I would have brought in the incarnational aspect of the problem of God’s role in woe.
Not everyone was pleased with the resulting sermon, though those dissatisfied kindly used words such as ‘thought-provoking’ and ‘interesting’. A number in the congregation did specify vigorous approval, though, which is about what I aspire to. It’s set out in full in the ‘continue Reading’ section below.
Now, though, I have to hammer out a fifty-minute lecture on Solomon, his wisdom, his love life, and his successors, then dash back to church for Evensong, then stumble home to collapse in a heap before waking up early to give the Solomon lecture.
And Nate’s wedding is coming close!
Continue reading October Preaching