Perennialists and Digressers All,
Well, as experiments go, A Perennial Digression—both in the Substack newsletter and the YouTube channel—have been among my better ones. The idea had two origins. First, I needed a more productive place to put my writing than long Facebook posts; and second, after seeing a variety of scholars of religion, philosophers, and theologians whom I greatly admired doing interviews on YouTube with different interlocutors enabled by greater or lesser degrees of training in the relevant subject areas, leading to more or less fruitful discussion in proportion, I guessed to myself that I was capable of doing the same. So far, the newsletter enjoys 218 subscribers, while the YouTube channel, boasting now 13 interviews with 11 different thinkers, has 425. So, to begin with, thanks a ton: this is an enormous amount of support for any independent, academ-ish enterprise to enjoy. In what follows, I wanted to give you an idea of what I hope to do in the New Year and to ask for what help you can and are willing to give.
There will keep being new posts to the newsletter as often as I can write them, with the caveat that the payment system is going to change. The ability to subscribe on a monthly, yearly, and foundational basis will continue to exist; I will still periodically do translations with commentaries of Greek and Latin texts reserved for paid subscribers; but I will no longer make the untenable promise of doing these monthly. With new responsibilities in fatherhood and teaching, it simply isn’t possible for me to keep up with that kind of writing schedule. Paid subscriptions will be entirely on the basis of goodwill, and they will be greatly appreciated; I will favor paid subscribers in comment sections; and founding members of the newsletter retain the right to commission specific works, scholarly or creative, if they so desire (though no one has yet taken me up on this!).
There will continue to be new interviews, probably on a monthly basis during the school year, and hopefully more frequently thereafter. Aligning the various moving parts of organizing and pulling off a one-and-a-half hour interview is difficult, but my goal is to have one up on the YouTube channel at least once a month, sometimes with old friends, sometimes with new ones. I am especially desirous to continue sitting down with scholars of diverse material and backgrounds, and to be able to talk with more women scholars and scholars of color, so if this describes you or someone you know and think I should interview, please let me know!
There will be at least one and possibly more forthcoming books! My friend, Roberto De La Noval, and I have recently signed a deal with the folks at Lexington Press & Pop Culture and Theology to co-edit a volume on Anime and Theology. On the current schedule, we should have this project finished by around this time next year, meaning it would be available for release in 2023. Rob and I share a conviction that popular culture is an important resource for ordinary people in reflecting on and making sense of the world, and that anime is an increasingly popular cultural art form for Millennials and Gen Z, such that its intersections with religion and theology are worthy of reflection. Simultaneously, I am also 200+ pages into a manuscript project which I hope to submit sometime early in the new year to a publisher and about which I’ll have more to say as I near completion of a draft I feel comfortable turning in.
All of which is very exciting! But I did say that there was an appeal to be had, and here it is:
First and foremost, please subscribe to the newsletter if you have not, whether for free emails or for paid. It is obviously true that every paid subscription to this service justifies the amount of time that I spend working on the posts that go out through it just a little bit more, but I more than most understand that forking over cash for knowledge is a big sacrifice, and the exposure alone is a precious resource to me.
Second, and related: please go subscribe to the YouTube channel and watch some of the interviews if you have not. This one costs you nothing other than a few clicks, and benefits me greatly, since if I can get 1,000 subscribers, YouTube will monetize my videos—which, again, justifies the amount of time I spend doing this a little bit more. Particularly deserving of more views are the interviews I did with Tom Keeline on Cicero, Nii Addo Abrahams on antiracism, Mackenzie Amara on Jungian psychoanalysis, Mark Vernon on Owen Barfield, Anantanand Rambachan on Advaita Vedanta, and most recently with Sam Rocha on Hispanic Catholicism!
Many thanks, Merry Christmas, Joyous Kwanzaa, and a Happy (Roman, Gregorian) New Year to all!