Final Proofs

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Final Proofs

This week, amid a flurry of barely-caught typos, fonts of the wrong shade and misplaced style cues, Jerry, I, and his priceless crew of teammates finished going over the final set of proofs that go to the printer. This is the last check prior to publication of the book that has claimed Jerry’s heart and mind since shortly after we were married. (Which is no longer just last week, though it feels like it.)

It’s not a book in any familiar genre and he had not been planning to write a book at all.   He’d been working in D.C., living in Alexandria with me as newly-wed wife, running a higher ed organization and pretty much minding his own business when he … heard God’s voice. I mean voice! And I mean words!

Experiences of this caliber are not, it turns out, as rare as the secular cover over contemporary social scenes would have us suppose. But Jerry is as level as a carpenter’s level, was not a spiritual seeker, not chased by – nor chasing – the Hound of Heaven. So, in the context of the man I married, this wasn’t anything I’d expected. When he proposed, I took (what felt to him like) interminable moments to be sure I could still grow spiritually if I had to do it solo – before I finally said ”yes.”

Nor had he been trying to please me in this regard. The question of Jerry and God was, I felt, their business, and I didn’t worry my pretty head about it.

But here was Jerry, who’s not going to enhance a story for effect, doesn’t have a hyper-excitable imagination, or an ego in need of amplifiers, telling me that God was talking to him – and I mean verbally talking.

I never have heard audible words from God, though sometimes a thought that didn’t seem like my thought has come into my mind nearly verbal in its crispness. But, with that qualification, I have a fair amount of experience in the back-and-forth with our Creator.

So I did know one thing. You have to respond. Otherwise, it’s like getting a letter and not answering it. You’re breaking off the delicate protocol of a relationship. Other things being equal — I mean, provided it doesn’t seem morally wrong or nuts — it’s a good idea to be responsive.

Now, many steep cliffs later, Jerry is very close to publication. Of a book whose title, also given in words, is God: An Autobiography, as told to a philosopher. The e-book should be out as of March 25, the hardback print version by the end of March. They can be ordered or preordered now. A trained philosopher in a Q & A with God!

In the Bible movies I enjoyed as a kid, the divine appearance was accompanied by organ music. The messenger would be back lit and speaking in tones suitable to a Major Funeral.

This whole experience has not been like that. It’s more as if the ordinary world, with its ordinary colors and sounds, is quite sufficient for God to paint with.

About Abigail

Abigail Rosenthal is Professor Emerita of Philosophy, Brooklyn College of CUNY. She is the author of A Good Look at Evil, a Pulitzer Prize nominee, soon to appear in a revised second edition. Its thesis is that good people try to live out their stories while evil people aim to mess up good people’s stories. Her next book, Confessions of a Young Philosopher, forthcoming, provides multiple illustrations from her own life. She writes a weekly column for her blog, “Dear Abbie: The Non-Advice Column” (www.dearabbie-nonadvice.com) where she explains why women's lives are highly interesting. She’s the editor of the posthumously published Consolations of Philosophy: Hobbes’s Secret; Spinoza’s Way by her father, Henry M. Rosenthal. Her next book project will be Conversations with My Father. Some of her articles can be accessed at https://brooklyn-cuny.academia.edu/AbigailMartin . She is married to Jerry L. Martin, also a philosopher. They live in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
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