Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Confession and Concession

      I did not want to start a blog. I didn't want to start a blog in the same way that I didn't want a cell phone and I am giving in to blogging for much the same reason that I gave in and got that first cell phone. It's not that I am wary of technology; I love tinkering with computers and electronics and anything else I can take apart. It's not even that I don't like accessorizing (in a manly sort of way of course); anyone who has seen my camera bag with its lenses and filters, my homemade meat smoker, my pair of guitars hanging on the wall, or even my very full clothes closet and shoe rack will know that I like my toys. The best way to explain my ill feelings towards blogging is to say that I don't like fads. In fact, I would probably go so far as to say that I hate them to a fault. I will often do the very opposite of what is currently "in" for the very reason that "in" is "in." However in some rare cases, I will eventually discover that the object of some fad is actually a useful thing and will begrudgingly concede the fight. Such was the case with the cell phone and such is the case with this blog. I will probably use this blog with much the same attitude as my cell phone; with a very slight disdain and not a little negligence.
      Now I want to make it clear that I have no problem with blogs or bloggers. In fact, part of the reason for this acquiescence is the number of my friends and my family who have good blogs, from my fiancee to numerous aunts and uncles to my grandmother. It is mostly that I don't want to do anything that might make me look unoriginal: It's a pride thing, really. At some point in school I realized that as a redhead, fitting in was too hard. So, being the somewhat apathetic and more than slightly lazy young man, I decided to be different. I wore goofy t-shirts and suit coats over them to high school; I spent a large portion of my time in college barefoot, wearing a fedora or golf cap; in grad school I decided to start wearing dress shirts and vests most days; twice I grew my hair for two years and donated it to "Locks of Love;" I did not want to start a blog.
      C'est la vie (that's "this is life" in French or your cue to say "la vee," your choice). I am starting a blog for three reasons. First, it has been far too long since I had a good outlet for creative writing. My parents are both writers and many forms of communication run in my family (writing, preaching, teaching, etc). I grew up in a house full of books and pencils and imagination and I have long enjoyed reading and writing. However, as God would have it (and perhaps partly as a result of my principles of nonconformity), I am not a writer by profession, but rather a scientist, and a government scientist at that. This is not a profession that is conducive to creative writing. In fact, it is pretty blatantly hostile to it. It is a profession in which A is done, resulting in B, as prescribed by C and D, respectively. No intricate syntax. No ambiguity. No artistic license. Even though I know this is how science works, I have to cringe every time I have to repeat my pronouns again and again in the same sentence structure with so many passive verbs. In fact I am often tempted to dangle a participle or preposition just out of spite (and to see if anyone would actually notice). This blog will be that creative outlet that I need to keep me from such temptations to poor writing.
      Second, this blog will serve as a welcome distraction from the regular internet procrastination to which I am prone. I have realized that I spend a lot of time in front of this computer screen, much of it just down time for me to rest and relax. It is a good and healthy thing to have some down time to relax and rest, but I don't really need to be ogling over classic cars on eBay or watching yet one more Arsenal-Liverpool highlight reel on YouTube. It is better to be tinkering with something at least potentially useful.
      Lastly and most importantly, growing up in a house full of writers, I learned to process my thoughts in words on paper or a computer screen. Typing these words out helps me clarify my thoughts and ideas and prayers. In reality, there is one great thought, idea, and prayer that I am forever trying to work out: The meaning of the full deity and humanity of Christ as it should play itself out in my life. Now mind you I don't mean that I am trying to figure out the details of how Jesus could be both God and human: I don't really think there is any understanding that. I mean rather that I am trying to figure out how that mystery can be applied to my life. The more I think about that mysterious fact, the more I am convinced that really applying it to my life is the single hardest yet most powerful thing I can do in life.
      Now this isn't something that I have dreamed up on my own. It comes from many sources in Christian literature, family, history, and personal experience. Most notably is the fact that the church spent the first several centuries struggling with, arguing about, and excommunicating heretics over the issue of what it meant for Jesus to be both fully God and fully human. They didn't seem to spend much time debating anything else and yet they transformed their culture in an unprecedented way. The last of the pagan emperors of Rome wrote these two things about the early church:
      "These impious Galileans not only feed their own poor, but ours also; welcoming them into their agape, they attract them, as children are attracted, with cakes."
      "Whilst the pagan priests neglect the poor, the hated Galileans devote themselves to works of charity, and by a display of false compassion have established and given effect to their pernicious errors. See their love feasts, and their tables spread for the indigent. Such practice is common among them, and causes a contempt for our gods." (reference)
      It's true that you won't really find the early church discussing how to care for the poor, how to set higher moral standards, or how to transform the pagan world around them, but they certainly did these things with remarkable success. I would argue that they did this by really grappling with the humanity and deity of Christ and what that meant for their lives and that is the greatest purpose of this blog.
      The word "alethinologia" means, "to speak truth" in Greek (from aletheia, truth and logos, word) and that is what I intend to do here. I chose this word partly because all the other names/words I thought of were already taken, but also partly because a linguist friend of mine once gave a talk about truth. In it he said that in Greek, truth could be an active verb, yet we do not have that option in English. The closest we have is to "be true" or to "act truly." This blog is an attempt to be truth in an active way. Perhaps it is a lofty goal, but it certainly isn't "in."