I honor the sabbath on Thursdays. For several years now I have made it a habit to write about how I spent my day and to post it here. This helps me keep the sabbath and holds me accountable for using the day well.
This week our family used the day for a much needed visit to my father-in-law Tony in New Jersey. August had the day off school on account of Rosh Hashanah, and Noelle brought her work with her. It’s a two hour car ride, so we popped in Mozart’s Magic Flute to pass the time. Later this year we are going to visit Vienna, the city of Mozart and Beethoven, Husserl and Klimt, Freud and Godel. The music was great way to immerse ourselves in classical Vienna in preparation for our trip.
I also used this visit to divest myself of almost nine feet of vinyl records, dropping off a dozen boxes of great music at the Princeton Record Exchange. Though I could remember buying most of these, letting them go was not as hard as many imagine. Giving stuff away is habit forming and absolutely freeing. With a few dollars I got for one of the albums I walked over to Labyrinth Books in Princeton to buy Freud and the Non-European by the late Edward Said. This lecture was banned by the Freud Institute in Vienna and subsequently delivered in London. It brilliantly illumines the place of the non-european other in Freud’s writings, as well as reading and appropriating Freud from non-european perspectives in an ultimately liberating understanding of human identity.
We also used the day to apply for a renewal of August’s passport. He got his original passport in 2006 when he was just four months old in order the travel to Cuba.
One last adventure of the day brought us to the Princeton Cemetery. Though both Noelle and I attended Princeton Theological Seminary, neither of us had ever visited the cemetery. We stopped to see three graves: that of the great American theologian Jonathan Edwards (with August above); President Grover Cleveland (with August below); and mathematician and physicist Kurt Godel. August is a collector of presidential history, and he knows Edwards well because I read (far too many) passages to him from George Marsden’s biography last spring. Kurt Godel is, of course, greatly admired by Noelle and was originally from Vienna. (While there we also saw the resting place of John Witherspoon, President of Princeton and signer of the Declaration of Independence, and Aaron Burr, Jefferson’s first Vice-President who famously dueled Alexander Hamilton.)
After pizza and playtime, when everyone went to bed, I stayed up to a) work on my sermon, b) skim a book titled When the Great Abyss Opened: Classic and Contemprary Readings of Noah’s Flood by J. David Pleins, c) watch the not-quite-as-horrible-as-I-expected movie Noah, and d) read Said’s entirely satisfying and inspiring lecture on Freud. The conclusion of the evening was that I would shelve the Noah story for this week and preach on the other scriptures, saving the Noah sermon for a rainy day.