Sunday, February 3, 2008

The 40-Day Josephus Read-a-Thon

Holy cow, it's almost time for Lent! This coming Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the day each year when we celebrate square-jawed, wisecracking wait, that's not it. This coming Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the day when we kick off the Lenten Season by remembering that we are dust.

Normally, I don't like it when people tell each other what they're giving up for Lent. Matthew 6.16-18 indicates that fasting is supposed to be done in private. Nonetheless, this year I'm going to tell you what I'm giving up because it affects you directly. I'm giving up fiction.

Now, this doesn't mean the blog is going on a hiatus of 40+ days; it merely means that the tenor will change, the news items will increase, and the reviews will stop. In their place, I will offer regular updates on what I intend to make an annual event--The Sci Fi Catholic Lenten Nonfiction Read-a-Thon. I'm inviting all readers to join in the Read-a-Thon either by reading the same text or texts I am, or to choose texts of their own. In the future, I'll try to give more advance notice so you can acquire the desired books ahead of time.

The goal of this year's Lenten Read-a-Thon is to read the Complete Works of Josephus.

The edition I will be using is the famous translation of William Whiston with new editing and additional commentary by popular historian Paul L. Maier. Maier, if you don't know, is an excellent wordsmith. His translation of Eusebius is highly readable, as is his selective translation of Josephus, Josephus: The Essential Works. He has also written a number of novels and has even been accused of creating a new genre known as the "theological thriller." His novel A Skeleton in God's Closet is the first Christian novel I ever read that didn't suck. That book is partly responsible for my being an archaeologist, though unfortunately, my life as an archaeologist looks nothing like that of the novel's protagonist: I have never once been the subject of international scandal, the object of multiple assassination plots, or a participant in covert espionage operations, nor have I had slobbery make-out scenes with women ten years my junior, though that last is okay because at my age I could get arrested for that. I have, however, drunk copious amounts of beer, though the Pope would apparently prefer it if I drank Fanta.

If you'd like to participate in our Lenten Read-a-Thon, put the comics and sf novels down, pick up a weighty nonfiction tome, and prove to the world that Sci Fi Catholics don't just read ephemeral garbage; sometimes we read boring stuff, too. If you're joining the Read-a-Thon, feel free to drop me an e-mail or leave a comment telling us all about what you're reading and your progress along the way, especially if you're joining me in reading Josephus.
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