News of the month ahead
High summer is here, and it brings news. The headline is that I am taking the month of August off: off writing, off the Internet, off the usual schedule. I’ll be travelling some of that time, but for the rest of it I will be remembering how to be a human animal again. Everybody need to do this sometimes. Writers, I think, find it especially necessay, so that we don’t confuse the abstractions we deal in with the reality they are supposed to be pointing to.
All of this means I won’t be writing any essays here at the Abbey until September. However, I will not be leaving you bereft of ‘content’. I’m setting up a few posts which will be sent automatically in my absence, so if you are not on holiday yourself, there should still be plenty to engage with.
I also have two real-world events coming up in the UK in the coming weeks:
The first is an appearance at the Llangwm Literary Festival in Wales on Saturday 13th August, where I’ll be talking about my trilogy of novels, and especially my most recent, Alexandria, which inhabits a strange, otherworldly, transhuman future.
The second is a day-long conference at Benburb Priory in Northern Ireland on Friday 2nd September. The Meaning Crisis and the Christian Way will seek a way through the crisis of modernity from the Christian perspective. I’ll be joining Paul Vander Klay, Calvin Robinson and Inaya Folarin Iman for what should be a good day of investigation and discussion.
But the thing that excites me most about my month away is that I will soon be spending a week on Mount Athos, the world’s only monastic republic and the heart of Orthodox Christian spirituality. For a thousand years the monks on Athos have been praying for the world. Perhaps this is only reason we’re still here. I am fifty years old this autumn, and this trip is a birthday present from someone I love. When I return (assuming I do…) I’ll write about it here. In the meantime, if you’re interested, the documentary linked to above contains some beautiful insights into life on the Holy Mountain; and here is a photo essay about it.
After I return I will get back into the swing of things here. Phase two of my essay series has three installments still to go, and then we will be on to part three, in which I’ll be writing about how to live with, as well as to resist, the Machine. It will be the hardest part to write I think, but perhaps also the most nourishing. We’ll see. Until then, I wish you a glorious summer.