My Marcuse Break

I find myself blessing Herbert Marcuse. After five weeks of Hegel, Marx, Heidegger, and Lukacs, we’re finally reading a book whose Germanic style doesn’t require minutes per page and whose words mean, for the most part, what they mean in other books. I’m flying through this stuff.

Beowulf is never going to cruise along, but the translation is getting less tedious by the week as I internalize more vocabulary. Besides that, reading about flesh-eating man-monsters makes just about any translation worth the time.

I’ve decided that when I find some time cleared out, I’m going to write a Saul book. Samson has his famous Miltonic tragedy, and Jesus has Milton and Kazantzakis, and Moses has movies, and David has sculptures. What of Saul? (No, not the one who later goes by Paul.) Certainly he’s as much a tragic thug as Samson, and certainly his stories would translate to the big screen as well as Moses’s. This might not happen in any real way before I finish grad school, and it might never see the fluorescent light of a bookstore, but I’m still going to write a Saul book. I don’t know whether it’ll be a play or a novel or a poem (I’ve never written a play or a novel, and all my poetry has been brief and lyric), and it might not be any good, but one of these days, I’m going to write me a Saul book.

(BTW, if any of my readers know of any Saul book that’s already been done, let me know in the comments section.)

Classes went well this week. As with last spring’s classes, this group hit its stride with the David narratives. 1 and 2 Samuel are the perfect places, IMO, to bring agnostics and Jews and Christians together for good conversations. The stories resist theological reduction, so the Christians have to stay on their toes, yet YHWH comes in not as a boring philosophical concept but as a fiery and unpredictable and genuinely good character, so the agnostics don’t have much impetus to back away. This week we spent one lesson on the rise of David’s fame in Israel, one on the witch of Endor scene, and one on David’s coronation and royal career. Monday we’ll take on David and Bathsheba, the second-most-familiar David story and also the one whose conclusion, which features what either comes across as David’s unflappable piety or inexcusable callousness. Then we’ll get to Absalom, where the real fun happens.

I love teaching David.

Grading paper 2 has come along smoothly. For the most part the papers have been good, competent college papers, and I’m looking forward to teaching fine-tuning rather than basic organizational skills.

The cantata approaches, and semester papers loom, and Micah turns two in less than two weeks. Hwaet!

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