Wednesday, November 04, 2009

A Personal State of the Union

I was hoping to write this soon after Rosh HaShanah. Oh well.

When I was young I had a framed painting in my room of a boy pulling a wagon. The caption read,
Please be patient with me. God isn't finished with me yet.
My mother once had a tee shirt that said,

God put me on earth to do certain things, and I'm currently so far behind that I will never die.
Both seem to be true for me lately. As I was doing some self-inspection and life introspection before and during the Days of Awe it occurred to me that I've never blogged concisely about all my projects.

So here we go.

(Note that I don't count parenting or teaching or being a good husband among my "projects" even though these take up most of my waking hours. So I won't write about them in this essay even though they dominate my life.)

Scriptural Concept Studies

On the website are a bunch of essays about the scriptural understanding of some concepts.

I'm supposed to be writing more of them. They can be a great aid to viewing the world as Yeshua did. I have not seen anything else like them on the web.

Since the middle of 2007 this has been the only public "ministry work" God has specifically told me to do. But it is not helpful to my family, so I have not devoted much time to it this year.

The task is to take my old sermons from the years P'nei Adonai was a congregation and extract word-studies and concept material from what I learned those years through study and prayer. The concept essays have a certain format, so I would also need to do some research to fill out any missing parts of the format (for example, a concept I studied in Biblical Hebrew but not in Biblical Greek).

I also need to edit the existing essays to add scholarly footnotes and citations.

This project is in one sense the most important, because I know God wants me to do it so that what he taught us at P'nei Adonai does not get forgotten. But I have not been told a time limit, so I focus for now on things that help my family.

Role-Playing Game

This year I've spent a lot of time designing a role-playing game specifically for adventures played with only two people (narrator and hero/heroine).

I think this is a unique niche. I don't know of any other such RPGs. A few others work acceptably with only two people, but not great. My wife and I can't be the only nerds who have wanted such a thing!

Along with the game mechanics I've developed a fantasy setting whose design also promotes adventures with a single hero or heroine. Lately God has been helping me with this, which is exciting.

This project is almost done: the game mechanics are complete and the setting is nearly finished. There's no reason to try to publish this in paper form.

I will continue to add maps and adventures as I make them for my family's use, but that's a much smaller bit of work.

Two Math Books

Most high school or community college math classes are low on real-life applications.

So I've written a workbook about real-life problem solving math applications. The book is appropriate for Math 25 at LCC, and could some day be published for general use. I am waiting for more "testing" at LCC before I pursue publishing it.

I've also just started a workbook to teach fun math: using some famous patterns, puzzles and pictures that have delighted mathematicians through history to teach about how mathematical thinking can be fun even for people who don't like arithmetic or algebra.

Unlike the concept essays and RPG I have no evidence that God wants me to be doing this, so it's very much a back burner project. But maybe, God willing, I'll some day have published a beloved pair of math textbooks, the ones we all wished we had in high school: Real-Life Math and Fun Mathematical Thinking.

Two Fantasy Novels

How many children's fantasy novels can you name that besides having a fun adventure also teach important spiritual truths (if the reader is old enough to notice)?

Not many, right? It's a another niche that needs more filling. Even the Narnia books often only have virtue/vice lessons and Aslan making deus ex machina appearances.

A few years ago God helped me write two children's fantasy novels, Windsong and its sequel The Sandy Isles. Both describe, better than any other children's adventure stories I know, how knowing God only adds adventure and suspense to life. The first novel is about what it means to be a good person; the second about being a good couple. The novels also prompt us to question our assumptions about what a messiah might be like (or avatar if the reader had that type of religious background).

Years ago I actively tried to send these to publishers. I found out that only a few secular publishing houses have any interest in children's fantasy, and all of those require working with an agent. I could pursue a religious publishing house, but that might needlessly limit the audience.

I keep praying about whether I should restart trying to publish. So far God has not told me to do so.

When I was leading P'nei Adonai I expected that some day, after the congregation ended, I would be helped to write a matching third novel about what it means to be a good community. But apparently that isn't part of God's plan.

Other Games

In years gone by I designed many board games. A few are online again. Some day, when I have time, I'll share more of them.

This is just a fun thing. It's not anything God has asked me to do or helped me with.

Other Writing

Similarly, over the years I've written many poems and short stories. Some day a bunch of them will be on my website. But this is also low priority.

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