Some months ago I photographed the page of a book I was reading because something about the language and the ideas captivated me. I found it again last week on my iPad and, as I reread it, I began to wonder if this is an example of what fresh wildness might look like in academic writing.
To be sure, what follows is only the concluding paragraphs of a chapter which reflects on a liturgical paradigm for authentic personhood – and the rest of the chapter does veer a little more towards the incomprehensible and rather formal wordiness which can typify academia! But it is still text in an academic book which made me hold my breath for a moment, text which flows from deep and rigorous reflection on matters more usually of concern to academics than practitioners, yet which also reverberates with a sense of the holy.
And that, I think, is something of the fresh wildness to which I might one day aspire in my academic writing. Maybe what follows gives me a place to start, an example to learn from, as I seek to name that fresh wildness in my own thinking and to write it on to an academic page…
From Ray S. Anderson in On Being Human:
To say that there is such a thing as theological anthropology is not to say that there are no horrors or nightmares in being a person. Like Abraham, who walks out on the old gods and is exposed to the merciless onslaughts of demons and false gods, we too in a sense are summoned to that wilderness.
But it is too late. The bush is already burning and is not consumed. We have breathed and been breathed upon. Someone has touched us. We are on holy ground. There is no backtracking, trying to find once again the entrance through which to escape. It is too late to run. Non-personhood is not an option. That holiness of God that created us as persons will kill us if we try to run. There is no safety in running. Take off your shoes, the ground on which you are standing is holy ground. Intimacy is a way of survival. Openness to the Word of God is life and joy and peace. And above all, we have been baptized – or are about to be.