Despite an almost overwhelming amount of interior tension and anxiety over it, I managed to deliver my talk on Theology of the Body as the Cure for Clericalism at the Theology of the Body Symposium last week in The Netherlands. (No link yet.)
Among the things that made it difficult for me was awareness that I was trying to say something new and challenging and controversial—something not everyone would see or agree with, something easily misunderstood or misconstrued, something that needed lots of careful distinction and nuance, plus textual and experiential evidence, etc. Which is practically impossible in 40 minutes. For me, anyway. Especially when most of the audience are not native English speakers and not professional academics, and I am out of practice with public speaking.
I'm thinking of that line from Chesterton: There are an infinite number of angles at which a thing call fall; only one at which it can stand. That's how I felt. A saw a million ways of going wrong. I couldn't see how to get it right. Then, thanks I'm sure to prayers of many friends, a missing piece of the puzzle fell into place for me the day before I spoke, and a cloud lifted.
Having a more or less complete argument gave me enough peace to sleep and trust it would be okay. But I needed Jules' help to cut it back by 30% the morning of.
Needless to say, I left a lot of loose ends hanging. I'm going to try to tie some of them up here in the weeks and months ahead.
There were two great outcomes for me personally:
1) There were at least a few people there who really got it, who gave me confidence afterwards that the basic idea is true and worth developing. I'm hoping to stay connected to them and in dialogue with them. What I'm proposing can't happen except by collaboration.
2) The mental logjam in me has been broken up. I've been traveling and visiting family since, so I haven't been able to write, but the thoughts are flowing beautifully, and I'm eager to get them down on "paper." So, if you're interested, and especially if you want to be part of the conversation, do stay close here.
Both Jules and I regretted that the conference schedule left no time for questions. Nothing helps sharpen and draw out a basic, partly inchoate insight like thoughtful, sincere questions and feedback. If you have those, please send them! I will do my best to respond in kind.