2/21/2007

A Tithe of Days

A besetting problem of mine is that I am just interested in a whole lot of things and I have very little time to spend on any of them (Lent always seems to bring this tension in my life to the fore. See this post from last year on the same topic). Despite the fact that they are all worthwhile, I've found a need to accept the fact that I can't do everything, and ruthlessly simplify. For example, I've long since stopped pretending to be a philosopher. But lately just about everything else has been pushed aside for one of my loves.

I spend most of my time now thinking, reading, and occasionally writing about the intersection of computer science and biology (it's much bigger than you think) and the relationship of science to Christianity. I have an application in to the PhD program at UCI, and am finding myself more and more focused on academia and preparing myself for doctoral work than on anything else. It will honestly be very disappointing if I'm not accepted, and I am probably orienting myself in that direction more than is entirely wise for someone not yet formally admitted to a program.

Nevertheless, I think everything that I am doing is eminently worthwhile. It has, however, meant the atrophy of one of my other loves: theology. Looking back at the archives on this blog gives me a sense of loss. My thoughts do not frequently turn in those circles anymore.

Which brings me to Lent: because I spend a fair amount of time studying, and very little time studying the Bible specifically, last year I devoted the 40 days of Lent just to Mark's gospel. I read it several times, consulted commentaries, and took copious notes. It was such a positive experience that I decided to make it a regular Lenten discipline to immerse myself in a book of the Bible. This year it is the Psalms.

It seems especially appropriate this year, as I find myself so far from theology. In fact I have another theology-related commitment this Lent (and beyond): I am serving on a discernment committee at Blessed Sacrament charged with charting a course for Blessed Sacrament's response to the increasing liberalism within the Episcopal Church. But more on that in another post.

So this Lent I'm setting aside science and coming back to theology. A few days ago I realized that Lent is 40 days long, which is just over 10% of a year. This is probably a coincidence, but I still find the analogy to tithe compelling because that is how I see my lenten focus: as a sacrifice of time specifically to God, not because what I do with the rest of it is not worthwhile but because it is necessary to give some things directly to God anyhow.