At the end of 2008 I wrote that it had been - for both good and ill - one of the biggest years of my life. Given that I don't have exceptional (just normal) energy, I'm surprised that I somehow managed to survive that year. During 2008, Jenny and I also sold our house in Melbourne, though we rented it back from the new owners through until almost the end of 2009.
2009 itself was a pretty big year. It involved a lot of travel, especially in the second half. We bought a house in Newcastle - near Sydney, and 600 miles away from Melbourne - and we moved here at the end of the year. There was a fair bit of teaching involved during 2009, and quite a lot of speaking gigs. The year was, alas, somewhat marred by ill health. The highlight of the year was undoubtedly the publication of 50 Voices of Disbelief in October.
2010 was relatively quiet at my end, which is not to say I wasn't busy. Moving to a new house, interstate, created its problems and stresses, but we've never regretted it, and I had a much healthier year (in fact my health over the last two years has generally been excellent). While there were highlights such as the Global Atheist Convention, for which I popped down to Melbourne for a week, I spent most of the year researching and writing the first draft of Freedom of Religion and the Secular State.
What about the year that has just gone by? 2011 involved three overseas trips, though all were relatively short. I think it may have been my most busy year yet, and it went incredibly fast.
Whether all the work that I've been doing over the past tweleve months will see the light of day remains to be seen. In particular, somewhere amongst it all I rewrote my PhD thesis to make it more suitable for publication in book form for a reasonably broad audience. But I still need to find a publisher.
I also reworked Freedom of Religion and the Secular State, in light of comments on the first version that came back from the publisher, and I've since taken the book through to publication, with all that that involves. Meanwhile, Udo and I have been working on yet another book, 50 Great Myths About Atheism, and I've been working with Linda MacDonald Glenn on a special issue of The Journal of Evolution and Technology that is gradually taking form and has turned into the equivalent of another co-edited book. The JET special issue has occupied me almost around the clock for the past two months. And with Freedom of Religion and the Secular State about to appear, I've been doing a lot of associated work in an effort to promote the book. Other stuff, too...
Anyway, the upshot is that I end 2011 in good health, happy at how a lot of things have turned out, but (to be honest) feeling mentally and physically exhausted ... and with no sign of any respite in early 2012. Still, I have to say that it's been a good year for me - the highlight, perhaps, was the Intelligence Squared debate in Sydney back in September, when Jane Caro, Tamas Pataki, and I showed our stuff on national television, and in front of a live audience of 1200 people, in opposition to a group of well-known theologians.
So one more day of 2011, with my share of bubbly to drink before the year is out. Then into 2012, which will be another biggie.
I've enjoyed reading your blogs in recent months Russell, and look forward to reading your book on "Freedom of Religion and the Secular State" early in the New Year. For a number of reasons my own reading and indeed study has been focused on the intersection between ethics and religion (in that order I think is most appropriate for me). So it may well be our interests will overlap in several ways and I'll be able to contribute some ideas from the perspective of a Jewish humanist. Anyhow, till then, wishing you and yours a very happy and healthy new year. Best wishes for your many writing projects and other endeavours in 2012.
I'm looking forward to reading your PHD!
Thanks, but alas you'll have to wait and see whether it's ever published.
Some bits appear in earlier form as articles in academic journals, or in at least one case that comes to mind as a book chapter, but the current version on my computer is a lot better than any of the published material - or so I like to think.
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