After more than eight weeks since taking delivery of my new Ford Escape Hybrid, the license plates finally arrived in today's mail. For as long as I can remember, I've made a minor sport out of treating the three letters that usually appear on most states' license plates as initials and then arbitrarily determining what they stand for. Years ago, living in Oregon, I had a Honda that bore the plate CSA619, and, based purely on my southern roots through my mother's ancestors, those were the initials for the Confederate States of America. More recently, the last of the four Chrysler minivans I have driven displayed tags that sported the letters BLM--what else?--Bureau of Land Management, right?
So, today, my new license plates show up. About time, I said to myself. Now, here I am, with a bit of a reputation for being mixed up in the thick of polemical diatribes over ecclesiastical conflicts, and known generally as a conservative who would be uncomfortable with anything smacking of syncretism--the active or passive assimilation of aspects from foreign religious traditions into the practice of Christianity. It isn't that I don't think there might be, serendipitously, a stray insight from, say, Buddhism or Hinduism that might enliven one's appreciation and experience of Christian faith. But, by default, I'm skeptical, and would usually resist any sort of wholesale systematic cross-pollination between religions.
And what, then, is ID badge by which my personal vehicle now announces itself to the world?
5ZEN556. Yes, folks, that's ZEN. "Zen & the Comedic Irony of License Plate Numbers."
And now the Milestone:
I have a confession. For the last, oh, seven years or so, I have disciplined myself to avoid reading any fiction. I have not read a single novel during that time. Why? Because I've been trying to write one! It's been damn frustrating, I'll tell you, because the pace of my life is such that I have precious little time to focus on writing. And then, when I took up blogging, that made things worse!
Well, tonight I broke ground on the final of the eighteen chapters in my story. With any luck, I can see myself finishing this magnum opus before triple-digit temperatures encamp in the San Joaquin Valley. At that point, I will make an attempt to find a publisher, with visions of an impressive advance and a promotional tour. It will be an earnest attempt, but it will not be an endless attempt. I will "take the hint" sooner than later. When I began this effort, of course, the blogsphere didn't exist, and I expected the one hard copy of my novel to languish on a shelf in my basement until being discovered and celebrated posthumously. But now, for everyone's literary edification, I commit here to putting it up, all at once, on its own blog site.
What's it about? Well, I was always told in school to write about what I know. So it's about an Episcopal priest named Miles, about to turn 50 (as I was when I began), who lives in the fictional Chicago suburb of Grove Lake and is rector of a parish called St Alban's. Stay tuned!