When cleaning and organizing my materials, I come across all sorts of papers I wrote in grad school. It's quite a discovery. I find things I hadn't thought about in some time, ideas I've forgotten about, concepts I came up with that I hadn't even remembered. I'm amazed at where I came up with some sentences--it's like a different person writing (my formal paper style is to write a draft early, then revise like hell day after day, so the sentences were constructed and revised over time. But they boggle me). It's become quite clear that the last two years of my life has been a complacent intellectual period (at least compared to the furor I experienced in two years of grad school). Not that I've been dormant--teaching is not an easy intellectual exercise, and I've given great attention to IDEAS as always--just not as intensely focused. I think that's changing.
Looking through my notes I come across papers I wrote for Dr. Buschen's history classes, and I still have the notebooks filled with extensive notes on his lectures (I took such intense notes, I think, because I suspected I would want them in the future). Dr. Buschen was an inspiration to me--in his classes on the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Reformation, he convinced me that a life lived for ideas is a worthwhile life.
I'm in the middle of Bainton's Luther biography Here I Stand, and I've found an unexpected parallel: Fowles' The French Lieutenant's Woman. Both writers occasionally step in to remind their twentieth-century readers that their minds don't work the way peoples' minds did at different periods in the past, and tries to allow us to think the way those in the 16th and 19th centuries, respectively, might.
History is rich with ideas. I'm hoping this summer to read a biography of Frederick the Wise, who seems still an enigmantic figure in the story of the Reformation.