I’ve written a number of blogs this past year (2015, RIP) that never made it to these pages. A curious fact. Here are some reflections on “not blogging” in 2015, and what to expect from this blog (CCK) in 2016.
- The Challenge of Screen Time. One reason I’ve not blogged as much in 2015 is related to the ‘challenge’ of screen time. You’ve heard about the problem or have seen it yourself: people in public and private spaces with their noses in their screens of some PED–portable electronic device–linked of course to the WWW–world wide web. Less time for me on the screen, and less time for you (who read this blog) seems to resemble the noble virtue of some sabbatarians who “will neither work on the Lord’s Day nor encourage others to do so either (even if they don’t agree).” Since blogging requires both PED and WWW, I’ve found it to detract from my general desire to be directly connected with other humans and with the pleasant sound and feel of pen on paper.
- The Labyrinths of Deceit. The prophet Jeremiah observed, under divine inspiration, “The heart of man is deeply wicked, who can know it?” and this coheres with Solomon’s wisdom “the heart of a man is like deep waters…” In consequence, it is hard to know one’s motives when one publishes. Every writer (and I do aspire to write) has to examine his motives in this connection. Vanity? Vain glory? My self-doubt, hybridized with perfectionism and a certain amount of amateur ignorance keeps me from publishing things I’m not convinced are worth reading. So I’ll write them and save them to my hard drive. Published for me for me alone.
- Time, Wine, and Perspective. Many wines get better with age. Many, not all. Likewise, points of view on the news. Some years ago I read a WSJ op ed piece in which the “news” as a profit motivated business was confronted. So while Matthew Henry (the old Puritan pastor) encourages reading the news to see how best to pray for God’s work in the world, its a game of being “in the world” but emotionally and mentally “not of it.” When I read that WSJ article, I wished I could read one–just one–book, published in January, of all the events of that year. This, rather than being hooked, all Pavlov-style, to the “drug of the daily news.” In this light, blogging (push button publishing) along with much of social media, the “new connectivity” fuels a kind of worldliness in me that I don’t like.
- Unless the Lord Builds the House. Telos is the Greek word for “purpose” and knowing why one writes is important. Lacking a sense of “true purpose” is the criticism of the “builders” in the 127th Psalm, just quoted: “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who labor, labor in vain.” As an example, I’ve read Dickens’ summary of the meaning of Christmas to his children; in fact, I read it first hand, in the original letter manuscript, at the Free Library of Philadelphia a month or so ago. Amazing to see it, fountain pen and all, words scribbled out, but still able to be read, etc. Point being: Dickens clearly had a purpose. So I ask: why do people write? Self-preservation? Money? One’s heritage? Fame? One’s children? Sanity (a subset of self-preservation)? You get the idea. So I’ve hesitated to push stuff into this space that I’m not sure about. Which also gets back to the “labyrinth” point above.
- The Care of Souls. Olden times saw pastors as “physicians of the soul” and I agree, and aspire, to this noble calling. I don’t want to be on record as pursuing writing at the cost of the care of the souls God has entrusted to me and the elders of the church I pastor. Writing can certainly be, and ought to be, a way to care for souls. I’ve used this blog for that purpose from time to time–always, actually, if you think about it–but still. The time needed for me to write well has at this point in my life as a husband, father, and pastor, has seemed too precious. That and my own lack of writerly discipline–all good writers are disciplined writers.
My original proposal was to reflect on why I didn’t post much in the fall and winter of 2015, and what to expect this year from these pages.
And while it is true I haven’t blogged here much this past year, I am happy about some of the stuff I’ve written–ironically, people appreciated my essay on healthcare (a current event-oriented piece)–interpret that as you will.
But more stayed in the kitchen than got served at the table. Plus, some stuff never got out of the store (I find myself at times thinking in essay, book-title, or table-of-contents format; scary to be me, I know). Then, referring to point five, there are the sermons from last year, some forty-four or so, most with a written version of more than 3,500 words.
With that in mind, I’m planning twelve essays this year for CCK, a combination of the following:
- 3 essays on a current event
- 3 essays related to my preaching
- 3 poems
- 3 reviews of other writers, other publications
Do pray for me, if you’re so inclined, that God will bless these plans; for “the heart of man plans his way but the LORD directs His steps.”