Thesis of Reforming Imagination and Thoughts on Cultural Engagement
I don’t know at what point I realized I could actually say something. There are a lot of lies and falseness out there about my people. I’m sorry if saying “my people” makes you roll your eyes. When I say it, I am referring to orthodox Christians of any stripe. Home schooled? Probably. I am a home school alumni myself. Reformed? Maybe. I know a lot of Christians who would not take that tag on for themselves.
And I know a lot of Christians who avoid tags like the plague.
They have a point.
Tags, they argue, are a little dehumanizing. Dehumanizing like “creating content” de-emphasizes what is actually said. Using tags makes people ideas like focusing on the “culture war” actually makes the whole presence of people on the other side irrelevant–smash!
I am just going to be frank: I am not a huge fan of polemics. There are a lot of people in my life who I respect that use them. I’m not placing any judgment on their decision to do that, but as for me and my words: I avoid polemics naturally. They make me uncomfortable. “Good,” they say, “they’re supposed to!” Ah well.
This blog was born about four years ago for very different reasons than the ones right now. Four years ago, I made this blog, because I was required to for a class. I was supposed to share my growing thoughts on theology in a public setting. You’ll find no vestigial organs of that past form here, but what you will still find is growth.
With this, I want to be careful. I’m a junior at New Saint Andrews College and I could easily pretend I know more than I do. It is easy to do that sort of thing using words, especially on blogs. I just want to avoid it.
What I want to do with this blog is offer the only thing I can: my experience. You could ask me, “Why is your experience valuable?” And I would probably say, “If you don’t think it is, then you won’t find this place interesting.”
One year ago, ten months ago, two months before this moment of writing–I would not have thought that my experience was worth very much. It was worth what I did with it, I thought. But I have been growing more aware of how much my experience, however little, is a weapon. Testimonies are weapons. And what else can I offer, if we really are in a war of cultures? How else am I supposed to show that the culture the Church naturally produces is better than simply living in it?
I’d like to think that it is more a cloaked dagger if anything. I want to share my experience, because for those who fear what I believe, it is a needed weapon in the fight. But I also want to share my experience, because for those who are not afraid, but do not agree, we can meet each other. There is no way we can meet each other, if we do not first show ourselves. So, let me show myself, show how I am living, show what I am thinking.
Because increasingly, I have had to come to terms with who I am standing with. And they make me uncomfortable. Jesus makes me uncomfortable. Douglas Wilson makes me uncomfortable. My friends make me uncomfortable. St. Benedict makes me uncomfortable. The way my father prays at weddings–or the way the pastor shares the Gospel unsolicited at weddings–makes me uncomfortable. I can’t help it. It’s a natural reaction. The fact, though, that I feel called to stand with these people: what can any of us do about it? Would someone get mad at me? (yes)
But, who do I agree with completely? What matters to me? Just a few days ago, I was sitting with a good friend of mine and I decided to highlight a difference I knew we had. I brought up eschatology. And we could not understand each other. It made me laugh inside and smile. It is so easy to misunderstand even the people we love. So how much more in writing, when we constantly make use of tools that allow us to warp our views of each other so extremely, we find ourselves blind and gnawing off a friend’s arm and defending ourselves as we do it.
But, maybe this is all too conversational for you. I’m sorry, but I’d like it to stay that way. It might help my google ranking or whatever if I called this post “5 Reasons Why I am Writing.” Ah well.
The whole point of this blog is to affirm that writing is about communication between people. I want to be understood, not because I am ideas, but because I am human. And I want to interact with beliefs I myself do not hold as if I was interacting with a person. Aren’t I? Isn’t there always someone on the other side?
But maybe the polemic party would say I am limp-wristed in this approach, that I am too flaccid with my beliefs. I’ll take the criticism, if it means I can keep dialogues alive in the way I find most appropriate for myself.
We are always dealing with people and it is much more difficult to deal with people than dealing with the ideas they hold. It is always people. Without people, beliefs perish. So, when I think of unbelief or skepticism and all the ideas behind them, I try to think of what I would say to Richard Dawkins. It is much harder to talk to people, which are beliefs incarnate.
I was saying to my oldest brother the other day, who does not hold the same fundamental beliefs as me, that it is easy for me to respond to the ideas I thinks he holds when I am by myself either thinking or writing. But, when he was sitting there across from me on the couch, it would be hard for me to respond if we were to start talking about religion or philosophy. Part of that is my fault, of course. I am not very eloquent in person.
The main goal of the blog–to use writing to communicate to other people–is quite broad. But, I think I can distill two points underneath it.
One, I want to speak to people I either agree or disagree with as if they were sitting next to me.
Two, I want to show what it actually looks like to be satisfied and faithful from within the subcultures I find myself. Christian. Evangelical. Reformed. Home schooled. Classical. Academic. As I said in the beginning: there are so many lies. My very existence is evidence against the lies. What we have are two competing portraits. There is the portrait painted by people who hate everything I stand for. And there is the portrait I have so far not painted. And then there is the burgeoning question, Are portraits ever fair? But, I will paint, not from a striving or a grasping for “content” or “culture,” but rather from a rather easy, small place. I will paint using my experience and the things that I find close to me. And at this point, the metaphor breaks down.
So, let me share a tagline, just between you and me (you=internet), that I would like tattooed on my head:
Self-Aware. Christ-centered. Self-Forgetful.
And lest this all sound as serious as it so far has been, I would share a fart joke, but I’m not so good at those. If you want a joke, you’ll probably have a hard time finding it with me, because only my dad and I understand what makes me laugh. As a friend of mine told me, I have a “selfish sarcasm,” by which he means: I actually use sarcasm how it is supposed to be used: I don’t flinch.
Here is a few lines of Kesha’s Song of Solomon.