It was an old idea. I had it when I was still teaching at Nashotah House, that’s how ancient it is. It seemed to me that if brains evolve with the rest of us, our perceptions of gods might change over time. I’d been working on this for an Ugaritic conference held in Sherbrooke, Quebec. The conference took place, but I’d been ousted from my position at Nashotah House. The conference organizer, in what was an amazingly magnanimous move, came up with funding for me to attend. I delivered the paper and Jean-Marc Michaud, of blessed memory, encouraged me to submit it to the tome with the very academic title Le Royaume d’Ougarit, de la Crète à l’Euphrate. Nouveaux axes de recherche, Actes du Congrès International de Sherbrooke 2005, Faculté de théologie, d’éthique et de philosophie, Université de Sherbrooke, 5-8 juillet 2005 (Coll. POLO–Proche-Orient et Littérature Ougaritique 2). Unemployed and unable to access libraries, I had to decline the publication.
In one of those great ironies of life, I began to be approached to take on projects after I lost my academic position. (This continues to happen; I received an invitation to contribute just last week.) I often have to turn them down because I still have no access to an academic library and academics generally have no idea just how draining a nine-to-five is, with or without the commute. In any case, a Festschrift for Simon B. Parker was announced. I knew Simon as a student at Boston University School of Theology, and he wrote many letters of recommendation for me. His sudden death shocked many of us. Herb Huffmon, of Drew Theological Seminary, asked me to contribute to the Festschrift. I still had this article that required some work, so I decided to try to finish it. I received a note that the volume is about to go to press with Pickwick. Academic publications won’t let me go.
If I had my druthers, I’d be getting along with my fiction. I’ve had over twenty short stories published, and I’ve got many more in the works. Every time I think, “Now I’m in the clear, I can focus on writing that is fun to read,” I get another academic invitation. Those invitations don’t come with job offers, so I wonder why I have such trouble saying “no.” Anyone who writes wants to be remembered. We have ideas that we hope others will find engaging. In academia you publish to keep your job. Most of your work will be forgotten unless you’re groomed as an academic superstar (yes, they exist!). I’ve never been groomed. I write because I have ideas that beg to be expressed. One of those ideas, many years old, will soon be available for consumption at Pickwick Press.