Being basically homebound for the next month or so, this week I began a new “lifelong learning” program. This “program” is not really new in structure, but it is an attempt to order the content of what I have been studying and the substance of what I am writing. On any given day, I began by doing readings in spirituality. Next I spend an hour or so in readings on web technology. Sometimes this consists of reading but more often it consists of reading and applying the new web technologies to all the activities in which I am involved. Concepts in HTML5, CSS3, and EPUB3, are now taken into account as I produce the content for the Petticoat Rebellion, my ongoing website, the new website for my store, The Philosophers Stone, or the historical essays covering the tricentennial. The third activity of the day is spending a half hour or 45 minutes doing SEO and marketing for the 1718 Project. By now it is approaching lunchtime so I take a pause, think about what’s for dinner tonight, fix something to eat, and try to watch a little bit of the news. After lunch, it is now time to get to the fun part of the day, actually researching and writing the books, the essays, the recipes etc., that are the content for all my publications and web-based activities. Round about three or three thirty comes the time to relax a little bit, stretch out for a while, start to prepare dinner for the evening and check the TV listings to see if anything good is coming on tonight, (usually not). Two other scheduled activities remain on the list. The first is an attempt to continue my education by following a reading program for the Great Books of the Western World. Over the years I have collected all of the so-called great books as well as a lot of other secondary volumes that belong to that line of world class European classics. I’ve always wanted to read these and now I have an opportunity to do so. The last daily activity in my new program is called reading for leisure and or watching TV.
Having set out such an ambitious program, I feel it is necessary to tell you that I am nowhere near as organized as this course of activity may seem to indicate . Each of the above items is scheduled to be about an hour, or at most, two hours of any given day. But this is only a plan, not a reality. Sometimes I spend a half hour reading, sometimes an hour. It varies from item to item, from book to book, and is often based on the content of the reading. On any given day some activities overtake others. The goal is to at least have a syllabus of sorts from which I can pick and choose. Whether or not I actually accomplish each item on the daily list is not as important as fulfilling some or most of them. It has now been one full week of following this program. I am proud to say that I have done much more reading than I normally would have. I was able to carry out a good deal of marketing for the 1718 Project. Over the week I executed some effective branding of my name as author as well as branding of the 1718 Tricentennial. This new system also effected some headway into the great books as well as some spiritual growth.
I would like to end with one very interesting and – at least to me – an exciting discovery. My spiritual reading is currently centered on the concept of Sophia, the Goddess of Wisdom; she is an integral part of the Judeo-Christian tradition as well as being part of modern neopagan ideas and spiritualities. While pursuing these studies, I came across a reason to look at the Sistine Chapel ceiling again. At this point, I have even forgotten now what I was looking for. First, I considered the central creation panel where God is reaching out to Adam and Adam reaching out to God. What fascinated me was not the image I had seen a million times of the creation of Adam, but the part of the picture immediately surrounding the image of God. Specifically the image of God’s left arm curled around a beautiful young woman who is staring back at Adam with wonder in her eyes. As many times as I had seen this famous picture, I had never noticed her before. Who was this young lady under God’s arm as he creates Adam? My first thought was that it had to be Sophia or Lady Wisdom as she is described in Proverbs 8. Lady Wisdom is there before anything else is created, she apparently is the female face of the logos – of the wisdom that later manifested itself in Jesus of Nazareth. I furiously proceeded to search through various art historians who had tried to decipher what Michelangelo had in mind when he painted this wonderful image. The standard interpretation is that it is Eve under God’s arm, waiting to be created. This made no sense in itself, more-so because next to the Adam panel is the creation of Eve panels and the two women look nothing alike at all. It possibly could be a reference to Genesis 1:27 where “man” and “woman” are created at the same time. Some art historians say it is Mary waiting to be created in her time to take part in God’s overall plan. Other art historians from the late 20th century do begin to discuss the possibility of the image being Sophia as she is imagined by Michelangelo from his knowledge of the Wisdom books in the Bible. There’re even some others say that it might be Lilith, the legendary Hebrew figure of Adam’s first wife.
So whatever cred I possess by holding my Master of Arts in Biblical Studies, and spending a long career as a professional scholar and teacher of Biblical Studies, I lay down on the side of Sophia. I unabashedly state that She has always been a favorite of mine as well as an object of some devotion my part. I perceive Her as the female embodiment in the Hebrew tradition of the concept that later manifested as the Holy Spirit. Be that as it may, whether Michelangelo painted Sophia, Eve, Mary, or Lilith, his vision of this mysterious woman has taken my breath away. Until documentation in Michelangelo’s own hand is forthcoming, to me – She will always be Sophia.