AN INTRODUCTION OF SORTS…
Like it or not, you are now experiencing the first official edition of this stuff – a journal/publication/rambling sort of effort.
First things first — what am I doing and why?
I’m not sure I can readily define what I’m doing, except to say that I’m going to regularly post and compile observations, thoughts, questions, etc. Much of what I include will be generated by me, some of it by you, and some by others who I’m reading or encountering in some other fashion. My hope is that you’ll find the reading thoughtful, funny, offensive, ridiculous, and generally worthwhile. Many of you have played a role in spurring this organism to life, so I hope you’ll be a part of the journey. One way to do that is to comment on what you read by using the “Dialogue and Comment” link below each post. I’d also like to let some of you contribute to the main stream of rambling here. Don’t be shy.
So, why am I doing this? I like dialogue and communication. I like to write and talk to people in my life. I like to hear and read what you have to say. This is a unique venue to expand those relationships and interactions beyond the normal course of email and phone calls. Personal contact is terrific, but I currently live many hundreds of miles from most of you. My hope is this will be another small bridge in making that distance seem a bit less obvious. I’m excited about the opportunity to share and to create a gathering place for the thoughts and interests of many – people I know and people I don’t (hopefully).
A second reason…this stuff is actually a culmination of years of my own thinking and the encouragement of others. Basically it boils down to this: I’m a writer, or at least that’s what I do. Some people will think I’m a good writer; others will think I’m a hack. I can take both, but please don’t mistake this explanation for arrogance. I don’t think I’m the best writer alive, and I don’t think everyone wants to or should read what I write. However, this particular phenomenon (aka this stuff) is, at least to some extent, a result of a number of you repeatedly encouraging me to “write regular articles or something.” Since I make a living completing writing “assignments,” aiming to write articles on a regular basis seemed a bit too task-oriented to be much fun (until I can make a real living doing that). So, this stuff is what you get instead: a wild blue yonder of random writings that may or may not offer any connection to one another, any relevance to your life, or anything slightly resembling modern human logic. How’s that for a sales pitch?
…should read this stuff? (an unprioritized list to invite sympathy, incite guilt, and inspire the loyal)
– People who want to think. If you don’t read this stuff, I’m going to assume you don’t want to think. OK, not really, but part of my goal in this particular vehicle is to converse on some issues/questions/ideas that are largely ignored or avoided by most. I’m not the deepest or most brilliant thinker in the universe, but I am motivated to use whatever feeble cogs and wheels I have to engage the world around around me. I’ll try to avoid lectures and sermons and always invite dialogue and feedback. Let’s think together, even when it hurts.
– People who don’t want to think. I actually have two arguments for you numbskulls: 1) If you don’t want to think, you should really think about changing that kind of thinking about thinking and really start thinking about things worth thinking about; 2) A reasonable portion of what you’ll find in this stuff will be shallow, mindless nonsense. You can skip over the hard parts and just read the short sentences.
– People who want to laugh. As it turns out, I don’t have time to be serious about everything. See, some of you are already laughing. No seriously…wait, bad choice of words… Really, I’ve already spent more than my life quota on being serious all the time. Recognizing that I’m no comedian and that not everyone shares my (rarely mainstream, occasionally demented) sense of humor, I hope some of what finds a home in this stuff will amuse you.
– People who don’t want to laugh. Again, two arguments: 1) If you don’t want to laugh, you’re probably a mean, unpleasant person, so you should be exposed to material you don’t want to be exposed to (as well as all kinds of other bad stuff) just as punishment; 2) You’ll probably find that I’m not that funny.
– People who love me. Just because you love me.
– People who don’t love me. Once again: 1) If you don’t love me, maybe you’ll learn to love me, either because you find that I’m altogether witty and charming or because you discover a deep sympathy for my pathetic condition; 2) You don’t love me? I thought everybody loved me. (Sarcasm…one of the forms of humor you’ll encounter from time to time if you read this stuff.)
– Christians, athiests, liberals, Republicans, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Democrats, agnostics, tyrants, conservatives, and everyone in between who defies or loathes labeling. Actually, I don’t currently know any Hindus, but if you do, send them my way.
…shouldn’t read this stuff:
– Kids. The reasons here are multiple, but let’s just start with this: I’ll bore them. My stint as a youth minister was somewhat less than spectacular, so I don’t set the entertainment of younguns at the top of my priority list. I may also talk about things that aren’t necessarily suitable for all audiences from time to time, but (don’t worry, Mom) more on that in a minute.
– People who don’t read. (I won’t expound on this because, if you can’t read, you wouldn’t be able to read my explanation anyway.)
– That’s about it. Everyone else should read this stuff.
Disclaimers and warnings
1) I’m biased and flawed. Sometimes I’ll intentionally seek to present balanced perspectives; sometimes I’ll tell you exactly what I think. Sometimes I’ll be wrong. Sometimes I’ll talk about Jesus, which more and more seems to be my only consistent bias. Some of you believe what I believe about him, some of you don’t. For those of you who aren’t Christians, this isn’t any reason for you to discard this stuff. I won’t apologize or hide my belief, but this is not religious propaganda or an attempt to write a new epistle. Those of you who are Christians should be equally warned: our sacred cows are fair game. For starters, I find satire to be an acceptable form of communication among believers, so I’m not afraid to poke fun at people and entities that I love. You’ll never see me blaspheme God or make light of the Gospel, but let’s just all remember that any of our man-made stuff beyond the true foundations is not inherently holy. And, beyond that, I’m finding myself saying things that are less and less palatable for many in the Christian subculture. Don’t be scared of that. If I’m wrong, you have nothing to fear from a fool. But maybe (sometimes anyway) I’m not wrong. In that case we might all walk away a little better off after our conversation.
2) I don’t like sections and categories. We categorize too much. Everything has to fit in a box. This is white, this is black. This is serious, this is funny. This is conservative, this is liberal. This is secular, this is sacred. Blah. Life isn’t broken down into neat little sections where funny and sad, easy and hard, secular and sacred are conveniently separated. Life is a big honkin’ mix of all of that. It’s a drama that’s part comedy, part adventure, part romance, part suspense, and part tragedy. Sometimes funny stuff happens in the midst of profound sadness, like when Will, my younger brother, looked into the casket at our grandfather and, upon seeing Papaw dressed in a nice suit sighed and said, “Welp, there goes one good set of clothes!” He was only three or four at the time, and I’m sure someone had gently explained that Papaw was going to be buried in that box. Now how do you separate the funny from the serious in that? You don’t, and that’s life. It’s not always simple and clean, so I’m not going to make any effort to pretend otherwise.
So what does that mean?
As I said before, at times I’ll make some conscious effort to go beyond the usual safe manner of dialogue we generally encounter everywhere else. I don’t make any bold claims of innovation or relevance, but I don’t aspire to churn out just another rehashing of the news, my personal life, political commentary, or sunday school lessons. There is an endless glut of much fancier websites and publications for those things. So, in seeking to journey beyond ______ (object intentionally omitted), sometimes I may write or print things that make you sad. Sometimes I may write or print things that bewilder you. Sometimes I may write or print things that make you mad. (Actually, that one is more of a certainty.) Sometimes I may write or print things that offend you. Sometimes I may write or print things that make you question my sanity, salvation, or both.
Here’s the deal: Wrath, outrage, argument, and disgust are not my goals, but they may be necessary results of the course I aim to run. I think we’re all a little too sensitive about the wrong things and a little too insensitive about the right things. If I write or print something that makes you mad or sad…something that offends or confuses you, that’s OK. We don’t have to agree on everything, and we’d probably all do well to interact about why we disagree. One of us might even discover we’re wrong, but “success” or “failure” won’t be measured by such outcomes.
I’ll even present (or allow you to present) some viewpoints and ideas that I don’t agree with (in part or in whole) because I think there’s value in encountering notions that challenge what we cling to as sacred. I’m tired of the ghettos — the corners of life where we comfortably settle in and cease to encounter anything that looks, smells, or sounds different than what we are (whatever that is). Not everyone looks, thinks, or talks like us, and we need to quit being so shocked by that. We need to quit trying to build bunkers to shield ourselves from people and possibilities that aren’t quite as neat and clean as we like. Comfort is overrated. Get uncomfortable already. How? Just read this stuff for a few months….we’ll get to that.
Sometimes I might say words or tell stories or ask questions that seem irreverent or “inappropriate.” You can be confident that I’ll never be blithely profane or needlessly coarse, so extend me a little grace and recognize the importance of discourse that stretches the limits of our happy zones.
If you need more detail about what’s going to happen here, I encourage you to just check back every once in a while. I plan to faithfully update this stuff, so you’ll eventually get a feel for what goes down. I hope we don’t get so predictable that a given week defines our little experiment, but a randomish mix of serious, whimsical, thoughtful, engaging, senseless, and humorous posts will hopefully remain something of a constant.
Again, I hope you’ll be a regular reader and, just as important, a consistent contributor. There’s no money to be made or lost in any of this, and no one is looking to feed an ego, promote a business, or pimp a political cause. Let’s grow a little and have some fun.
Rules of engagement
1. Read this stuff.
2. Contribute to this stuff.
3. Don’t steal this stuff. As I said, this isn’t for profit, but please don’t pirate anyone’s original
thoughts and turn them into an email forward or something similarly annoying or unethical.
4. Send your friends here.
5. Send your enemies here.
Looking forward to the ride…