[Friday evening, 31 May] This was a kind of ‘in-between-week’. I managed to finish a few major projects. At various times in the past six months I have been working on the English edition of the doctoral dissertation of a pastor of the United Protestant Church of the Netherlands, who also does some teaching in the theological faculty in Groningen and who has future academic aspirations. About two years ago he earned his Ph.D. degree cum laude with this dissertation. A professor at the Protestant University in Amsterdam had suggested my name to him as someone who might be able and willing to assist him with the English version of his book. Now, a few hundred hours later, the job is done and I can conclude that today I know considerably more about the differences in theological insight between Bonhoeffer and Barth. And I should add that, for the time being, I feel I know quite enough about this topic.
I was also keen to finish something else: the preparations for a sermon and four presentations that I am supposed to deliver (in German) during a congress this summer at Friedensau University—the German Adventist University near Magdeburg. The sermon is supposed to deal with the relationship between faith and everyday life, while the four presentations will focus on the attitude of the Adventist Church towards ecumenism. I am rather more at home in this area than with regard to the influences of the transcendental philosophy of Kant on Karl Barth, and Bonhoeffer’s accusation that Barth first promoted a negativism of revelation and later a positivism of revelation! I discovered that few people know what these terms actually mean. (Nonetheless, I find it a pleasant challenge to transpose complicated texts into another language!)
This week, however, was a kind of ‘in-between-week’. A long list of things needed my attention, before my wife and I can turn the front of the car next Monday morning towards Sweden. One of these things was a visit to the eye specialist. The office that renews Dutch driving licenses has devised a very complicated process for people of 70-plus who need to renew their license. First you have to buy a 2-page form at the town hall (27,50 euro). You must take that to your doctor, who is to provide some medical information (40 euro). Next, if you have ever been diagnosed with diabetes, an eye specialist must check your eyes (66 euro) to be sure that you can see the difference between a red and a green light. At last, the documents are now in the mail and before too long I hope to receive a notice that I can get my new license at the town hall (about 30 euro). Small wonder that the average citizen does not have enough money to give the national economy the kind of boost that our prime minister is calling for.
Then I needed to have my brakes checked and had to have a hair cut (of what is left) and had to visit the lady who looks after my feet (which my health insurance pays, as they feel that people with diabetes must care well for their feet)—and then there was a whole load of other errands. Thursday afternoon, however, was a very pleasant time, as the Dutch Adventist Church had organized a ‘high tea’ for the retired pastors and their partners. On Saturday morning I am scheduled to preach in Almelo. After this I intend to drive to Brussels, where I will have a role during a special church meeting on Sunday morning. Then this ‘in-between-week’ comes to an end.
In the meantime I am gathering my energy and courage to assist my son during the next four weeks or so in fixing up his house in Sweden. It makes for a change! I am not a great lover of carpentry and painting, etc., but I am looking forward to spend a few weeks with my son and to do something substantial together with him. And, who knows, there may still be some hours left to sit under a tree, doing some reading and writing.
We plan to take three days for the trip, as we usually do.. The first day is driving to Kiel, followed by a night on the ferry to Gothenburg. De second day will, hopefully, take us to Stockholm, leaving about 600 kilometers for the third and final day. I don’t mind doing that trip even though by now I know almost every petrol station and restaurant along the route. But it is a small sacrifice if that means being a few weeks with our grand children!