A Dilettante, a Purloiner, a Trekker

heschellewiskierkegaardwrightmcknightI confess. I am a dabbler, a dilettante, a shameless purloiner of ideas and poetic tidbits of wisdom from a legion of books and writers. At times I feel like a poser. I only finish about half of the books I start, but don’t move any books in my library around, because when I want to read something looking for an idea, I can become violent if my book isn’t where it is supposed to be.

The fact is, life is an unexplored jungle and I feel like a trekker cataloguing parts unknown. I don’t mean to say that I have some kind of idiotic exclusive. I just think the jungle is so vast there is room for billions of fellow trekkers.

Take this morning, for example. I read a juicy quote by Kierkegaard and came within yards of turning my Chevy Suburban into the parking lot of Borders to enjoy a Seattle’s Best Latte and perhaps steal half an hour poring over some Kierkegaardian prose. I’m fairly certain a blog post would have resulted from it.

I do try to focus. I’m not interested in politics or sports (except one sport in particular). I don’t read science much, though I have a romantic fascination with it that goes back to my days in engineering school. Celebrity gossip? I give it 30 seconds of attention every time I am in the checkout line at the store.

I try to narrow my interests and reading to Biblical studies and theology. Philosophy always threatens to worm its way in and calls me siren-like. History, especially ancient history, beckons. Literature and linguistics lure me.

How can a person focus when there is so much fun to be had?

Even now, my decision to specialize in Ezekiel studies is taking root and the reading I have already done is great. Yet at the same time I am doing a weekly podcast on Yeshua’s parables, writing a book on Revelation, and thinking of writing a study guide on Qohelet (Ecclesiastes).

Honestly, my problem in blogging is narrowing down to a subject when everything seems so interesting.

I wouldn’t want to give a false impression of myself as the ever-cheerful explorer able to ignore the oppressive heat and swarming flies of this jungle of discovery called life. Life isn’t an unending succession of enthusiastic explorations. Thankfully there are thousands of other great things, like rolling on the bed with my one and three year olds, tickling and laughing, or the first hug in the morning with my wife (usually lasts about two and half minutes).

Still, I do get bored, like everyone else. I do dread the grim mundane which necessarily faces me day in and day out.

But there is always a turn of Biblical poetry to think about. “How can I say something about this which will capture the interest of a distracted world?” So much to learn. So much to communicate.

I try to keep it simple. Bible and theology (a little philosophy, history, and literature thrown in). Okay, science wants to have a small place too.

Meanwhile, I purloin ideas and poetic lines from a thousand writers. A little Lewis here or Heschel there, a solo grande hazelnut frappuccino with N.T. Wright, breakfast with Scot McKnight, and Ezekiel’s chariot before bed.

Countless questions, limitless discoveries.

About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
This entry was posted in Bible, messianic, Messianic Jewish, Messianic Judaism. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to A Dilettante, a Purloiner, a Trekker

  1. judahgabriel says:

    I want what he’s smoking!

    ;-) j/k

    “I don’t move any books in my library around, because when I want to read something looking for an idea, I can become violent if my book isn’t where it is supposed to be.”

    Whoa, violent Derek over a book eh? I find that hard to imagine!

    Amusing post.

  2. peterygwendyta says:

    I don’t know what sport you where talking about, but I suggest you get interested in football (or as you’s in the US call it soccer). There is nothing like a football match to take your mind of things for 90 minutes.

    Well that’s my thought for the day.

    By the way I agree, good post.


  3. you sound like my husband.

  4. Judah:

    Yeah, well the sport I follow is UFC. Hence the violence.


    Futboll, uh!


    I have more confidence in Josh now that you say that.


  5. judahgabriel says:

    UFC?! Ha, would never have guessed.

  6. Mishkan David says:

    Derek, have you ever checked out the Chabad website? They always have some interesting thoughts on things. In a manifestation of serendipity, I just got a mailing this morning containing a link to the Rashi commentary on Ezekiel. Thought you might find this useful if you haven’t seen it already.


    How did the website development webinar go last night? Sorry I wasn’t able to attend.

  7. josephmcole says:

    Focus is an important thing to maintain. How do you decide which pursuits to give yourself to? How do you prioritize? I know that there are a thousand causes and projects to get involved in, do you have a certain way of making the decision to say no?

  8. Joseph:

    I don’t do too well on the focus thing. For me it is following my passion and thinking strategically about what will be of benefit.

    I chose Ezekiel, for example, due to a sense that: (a) it is neglected and (b) it has more theological importance than people realize (third temple, changes in the Torah, priestly theology, etc.).

    Prior to choosing Ezekiel as my future focus, I was enamored with Second Temple studies and historical Jesus research. Everyone is doing this. So while it will remain a hobby of mine, I felt a need to move into something less populated and to make a more unique contribution.

    Doubt this helps answer your question in general, but these were my specific thoughts.


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