You Disagree with Me, Therefore I Must Hate You?

Whoever originally coined the phrase “war of words” was on to something. Public discourse is an oxymoron. It may be words said in public, but it’s not by any means a discussion. Whether it be online, on TV, or outdoor demonstrations, we have lost the societal capacity for discussion. Fueled and facilitated in part by the hot medium of television, words said in public are intended not to further discussion and understanding, but to defeat the enemy. A defeat not often won by reason but by volume.

In today’s rhetorical climate, one does not have interlocutors, conversationalists, or dialogists. One has opponents and enemies. One can no longer simply disagree, one must be disagreeable. Signs of civility toward the “other side” is a sure sign of treason. You disagree with me, therefore I must hate you.

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The Artist’s Life

Are you a born writer? Were you put on earth to be a painter, a scientist, an apostle of peace? In the end the question can only be answered by action.

Do it or don’t do it.

It may help to think of it this way. If you were meant to cure cancer or write a symphony or crack cold fusion and you don’t do it, you not only hurt yourself, even destroy yourself. You hurt your children. You hurt me. You hurt the planet.

You shame the angels who watch over you and you spite the Almighty, who created you and only you with your unique gifts, for the sole purpose of nudging the human race one millimeter farther along its path back to God.

Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contributions. Give us what you’ve got.

–Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

Impious Piety

Counting out the dill and mint and cumin, while cordoning off one’s wealth so one didn’t have to take care of one’s parents. Straining gnats to swallow camels. Taking widow’s houses. Nasty business. And the Lord hated it, this impious piety. Lacking mercy it looked great on the outside but smelt like a charnel house on the inside.

But there are other ways to be piously impious. No Christian is totally immune from such. Perhaps those Christians whose faith makes use of ritual and liturgy and traditional practices are the most susceptible to pious impiety. Not of the sort for which Jesus castigated the religious leaders of his day, but rather for what might be a more insidious sort: one which promulgates irresponsible escapism and magical thinking.

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The Future of This Blog

I have ruminated over the purpose and existence of this blog for at least the last four years. I have often thought I’d just nuke it, but just as I’d been about to make such a resolution firm someone would communicate on one or another aspect of the blog’s usefulness to them. I’ve taken such communications as providential (even suspecting that such interpretations of circumstance perhaps have an element of vanity about them). Frankly, though, it’s been those expressions of utility alone which have kept this blog alive.

This announcement however is not about the demise of this blog. In recent days, following months of encouragement from a dear friend, I have decided to try an experiment of sorts with regard to writing, and this blog plays a factor in that. I will begin to try to post here more regularly, though probably only once a week, or four or five times per month. I imagine the content will be pretty much the same as it has been through the 29 or so posts thus far this year, and I will likely continue my present trend away from the more academic or intellectual (which was the character of my posts, especially for 2005, as a search of the archives will attest).

Aside from brief reflection-type posts, however, I doubt I will share much if any of the other fruits of my writing practices. And my intent will only hold water if this blog contributes to my writing practices rather than takes away from them.

I will also be cleaning up the archives, which means I will be either deleting or privatizing older posts. If you are here looking for a post you no longer see, send me an email (see the About page) and I’ll let you know if it still exists and whether or not I can send you an electronic copy (should you desire one). Then again, I’m sure you can find an archived page somewhere in the bowels of the internet as regrettably nothing, it seems, ever truly disappears from the web.

I’ll give this little experiment with this blog about six months to see if things are going the way I anticipated (or in a different but acceptable way). If all goes well, come the end of February, I’ll give this thing another extension. One day, though, this blog will die. As all mortal things must.

Mary, the Mother of Jesus: Some Starting Points

Yesterday was, for Orthodox on the new calendar, the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos, one of the twelve major feasts of the Church. The feast commemorates the “falling asleep” (death) of the Mother of Jesus and her bodily translation into heaven as the first among humans, after her Son, to experience the Resurrection.

Many Protestants, particularly evangelicals, don’t understand why Roman Catholics and Orthodox make such a big deal out of her. Unfortunately, some Protestant polemics grossly distort the traditional doctrines and biblical witness about Mary to serve their particular ends. But rather than assume the back and forth of debate, I thought I would simply offer some basic beginning points of understanding and trace out some clear implications and let the partisans on the various sides of the divides lob their munitions at one another.

Let’s start first with the fact that she’s the mother of Jesus.

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