Sunday, September 7, 2014

Blogging History, motivation and meaning

Although this is a top 50 , even a top 20 Biblioblog, I do not have a lot of activity. I have had in the past 8 years about 210,000 page views on just over 2500 posts. You might think I need my head examined.

What is your motivation, Bob?

You know, I mean, well, shucks, um, yeah/no, it's hard to say.

After all, you might say, you're not a liberal theologian, you're not a scholar, you're not even a card-carrying evangelical. You don't believe a whole lot of nonsense that North Americans argue over incessantly. No posts on males and females, very few on same-sex relations at least in the last 10 years, nothing on evolution or un intelligent design, I mean on ..., but a few on stupid design decisions.

Do you even think about these things?

Yes I do. It's true I am not trained in theology, but there is almost no post that does not point to a theological issue: like responsibility, prayer, maturity, care for the other, and so on. And there is no post where I have not dug the words out of deep recesses, treasure old and new.

I am prejudiced too. (I have two sons who are not Caucasian, so I don't mean racially prejudiced.) I am prejudiced towards, ... what shall I say? - not equal, because things are not equal, but rather in favour of forms of judgment and justice that enable growth in others, whatever form that judgment must take.

What I see in the sexual and gender related discussions in the blogosphere is anger and fear. What I see in the young earth creationists is fear and ignorance. If I meet one, I can sometimes find words to undermine the fear and soothe the anger and stimulate the question-mechanism that any individual has. But I admit this is difficult, especially with (some) old and encrusted rationalizations that one finds in the older folks who grew up in differing times.

Of course I am talking about those who are open to some aspect of listening. There are many who have too much vested interest in their own self-image and for whom some questions would collapse the structure of their lives. At times one gives up for a while, and perhaps the opportunity arises again. I do have my own struggles too - a lot of lesions, crunched fenders, and the odd loose nut or bolt in my conditioning. But this old model car is still putting along.

You are, I think, a person of faith. How do you manage with your relations?

My relations? All my relations: cousins, siblings, children, parishioners, university, medical folks, fellow patients, and all the suppliers of goods and services I am dependent on - there's a long list.

In many ways we live in an age of unbelief, but I could divide even the believers, the 'parishioners' into a hundred types, scholars, administrators, lovers, singers, clergy active and retired, teachers, authors, and so on. Each face presents a different question.

They asked me this question at the university in the company of scholars. But they, the questioners, had some very strange ideas about what they thought I believed, as if repeated words are some sort of magic. If I find a psalm that uses 9 words and I find that the next psalm uses the same 9 words in reverse sequence, I am not in the presence of magic, I am in the presence of the mind that wrote the second psalm based on a study of the first or vice versa. And I am in the presence of someone who loved that primary poem.

Love. The entire Torah is summed up in that one word. That relates to family and responsibility, to hope, even if only temporal, to shared history, and unshared history (family always has a few surprises), to inheritance, or to more distant now independent sibling and cousin relations. The shared history always gives rise to a willingness to talk, write, and express some aspect of what is up. So we have written our online newsletters that speak volumes of untold story. One of my old school friends found me through these old writings - it was cool to make contact again after 50 years.

All the Christmas files have had to be moved - should now be accessible here.

Perhaps then that's my motivation - a reaching out to unknown folks, now some of them known around the world. It's good. That seems a sufficient reason.

Do you then, believe in God? Or is it humanity that holds your hope?

One thing I have noticed in my recent book reviews. The reality of the writer behind the book shows through much like the questions on the face of each parishioner. But they, books or people, are really hard to read, these individual realities. Not many of them talk to me. Perhaps I put them off. Some few I think I encourage, and some few encourage me. In the hospital, I met a man who was encouraged by my study and my questions. Both of us were in some state of anxiety so the psalms were a good conversation piece. Perhaps I can ask no more of humanity.

I fear more than I hope for humanity. There is an aching void in the violence and ignorance and it's a void that can be filled with horror. There is a randomness that I fear also. Yet sometimes there is joy in the random encounters. Perhaps that too is a rationale for blogging, for writing 2500+ essays and snippets.

But yes, with respect to God let me close with Purcell's Funeral Music for Queen Anne. Don't miss the horns at the end. Only Purcell can turn an augmented major third into such unbearable lightness.

And here's an embedded shorter piece from the same funeral.
Thou knowest, Lord, the secrets of our hearts;
shut not thy merciful ears unto our pray'rs;
but spare us, Lord most holy, O God most mighty.
O holy and most merciful Saviour, thou most worthy Judge eternal,
suffer us not, at our last hour, for any pains of death, to fall from thee. Amen.