For years my multiyear calendar has had a listing for April 19, 2009: “Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, Minneapolis.” “You must really be in demand!” someone or other who peruses the schedule says. Hardly. Mt. Olive, a favorite parish of family members in the Twin Cities, invited me to its 90th anniversary in 1999, and I responded that I only do centennials—something historians have a hard time resisting. Mt. Olive said: “Then put us down for 2009.” I did, mentally noting, as always, what Dietrich Bonhoeffer taught us to think, sub conditione Iacobus: James 4:13-15. You can look it up.
For some years I’ve been a marginal member of some commissions with a hand in planning the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial, also coming in 2009. When I’ve noted how long-range that planning was, people in the conference-staging business scored me for my naiveté. You have to plan years ahead, to book hotels, convention centers, speakers, media, etc., they advise.