End of the semester break

Since beginning my online journal on American religion and aggressive cycling, I have posted 159 columns. With an approximate average of 750 words per post, they multiply out to some 120,000 words on these two topics. According to one analysis of writers’ habits, this body of written material has required at least 40 full days of serious work. With my current pattern of devoting two full days a week to serious writing, the online journal has taken about 20% of my scholarly time during the year and three quarters that it has been on the web.

It’s time for an end of the semester break, which during my 40 years in higher education (as student and professor) I learned to cherish. For the rest of the year, Keith Watkins Historian will be quiet. When the column is resumed, there may be some subtle revisions in the way the journal works. We’ll all have to wait and see.

Topics in some stage of development include:

Reflections based on Evangelical vs. Liberal: The Clash of Christian Cultures in the Pacific Northwest by James K. Wellman, Jr.

Rudolf, Santa Claus, and the Christmas angels: telling stories in church, myth, legend, fable, and issues of truth and responsibility.

Designing a new bike for an old man.

Theological drama in Paul’s epistle to the Romans

Bicycling through outposts of Mormon country

A sojourner’s guide to the Mormon faith and western history (with thanks to historian Jan Shipps)

Mishkan T-fillah: A Reform Siddur and how this progressive Jewish tradition can inform liturgical practice in progressive Protestant churches

A bicycle guide to old roads in southwest Portland

To my readers, thank you for reading—and sometimes commenting on—the essays and columns I have posted. I appreciate your friendship (especially if we have never met in person) and your interest in my random thoughts on many things.

May this season be a time of rest and renewal.

9 Responses to End of the semester break

  1. bobcornwallB says:

    Thanks Keith for your work and for your friendship, both of which I value deeply!

    May this season be a blessing for you and Billie!


  2. Bob Boyte says:

    In a recent issue you mentioned training for a Highway 66 ride.
    When will we read about that?

    Bob Boyte

    • Bob,The Route 66, Western Half, is scheduled for April 16-May 2, Santa Monica to Amarillo. It is one of PAC Tour’s longer events, which means that I will be riding with a seasoned and congenial company. Lon Haldeman, the tour leader, is determined that we travel on the oldest surviving parts of the original roadway that can still be accessed by bicycle, which means that we will sometimes be on reasonably modern roads and sometimes on beaten up old strips of gravel and who knows. We will eat in old cafes and diners and stay in hostelries that date back to olden times. I hope to write a travel essay based on the trip and expect to post columns that deal with some kind of religious theme that is pertinent and with bicycle-specific aspects of the journey. Because Mormons colonized portions of the desert Southwest, with a few sites of importance along our route, I am thinking about using the Mormon-Western Culture and Civilization theme for my American Religion blogs. I have just started reading one of Jan Shipps’s books on the Mormons. She is a Methodist who has taught history and religious studies at Indiana University Purdue University in Indianapolis for many years. She is highly regarded by Mormons and non-Mormon historians. We’ll have to wait and see what develops. Thanks for your words of encouragement. Keith

  3. arloduba says:


    A Christ centered, incarnational Christmas to you and Billie. I thoroughly enjoy your blog, and can understand that it takes hours and hours. You are excused to give yourself a gift, but we will look forwrd to your picking up the task again.


  4. eirenetheou says:

    You look so good, sitting there by the window in a comfortable chair, basking in what passes for sunshine in Portland. You had no examinations to give, and none to evaluate. You have prospects for good exercise and good work. Such leisure we may all wish to have.

    i am one who is grateful for the time and intellectual energy you have expended as you invite us to think with you in this space. i am grateful for the work you have done and for the work you will continue to do. Thank you for allowing us to share in your continuing education.

    May the Peace of God
    dwell always with you.


  5. Dave says:

    Great reading…I look forward to the new year and your thoughts!

  6. Marvin Eckfeldt says:

    Have a good sabbath rest, Keith. I look forward to your return in a while. You are always a good read. Thanks so much.

  7. Jeff says:

    I like that last photo – you’re modeling good practice for us!

    • Jeff, thanks for your comment. Somehow I have not been aware of your blog and will make a point of spending some time with it. Best wishes for the new year and your varied patterns of work.

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