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Friday
May312019

It's not the writing; it's the drama

Yesterday, I checked in to the blog to find a link I had saved in draft. I was met with a WHOOPS! Something was amiss. My blog was not accessible. Squarespace had some glitches, but here we are, back again.

I thought it was kind of funny that while I was peeved that I couldn't access my blog, I was not all that concerned. It may have been fun to start all over. And I would have had my little blog vanished.

After thinking a lot about blogging (and reading a lot of stuff that has nothing to do with blogging) I decided that what bothers me about blogging isn't the medium. What begins to disturb me is the conduct of people on social media. It's the drama. 

Christian men and women behave badly. We are arrogant, boorish, and worst of all, we often act as if we are entitled to an audience. Twitter has made us believe that we deserve a hearing. But we don't. Twitter has also  exacerbated an unhealthy fascination with people we don't know personally. It has fooled us into thinking we have a relationship with someone when we don't really know that person. It isn't healthy for us.

When children are small, and they are in a conversation, vying for the attention of an adult, often what they will do if they aren't being heard is start to talk louder. And louder. That is what happens on Twitter. Someone doesn't get an audience, so she will speak louder. Or say more extreme things. Or more controversial things. Or compose longer threads. That is the kind of thing I just don't have time for. But I can't change people, and I need to get over that and worry more about how I conduct myself online.

I love to write. It is who I am, even if I'm not published or famous. On the 22nd of May, i was cleaning out a drawer, and I came across two handwritten pages on stationery which came from the Best Western Rainbow Inn in Grand Rapids, Minnestoa. It was dated (quite co-incidentally) May 23rd, 1996. It was the day after I had left my family behind to move here to Ontario. It was a sad, poignant couple of pages. I had sat in my hotel room that night, needing to process what was going on, and lacking a journal in my suitcase, I wrote those two pages. Yes; writing is part of me.

Drama, on the other hand, is not. Vying to attention from others on social media cannot be. It isn't good for me. Frankly, it isn't good for anyone. That is not what Christ expects from me. Yes, he asks me to stand for truth and speak it when it's difficult. But he doesn't ask me to offend others, to treat others with condescension and often hatred; yes, hatred. I see a lot of tha on Twitter.

This month, I read four books and one third of Bavinck's second volume of Dogmatics. I knitted. I watched hockey. I exercised. I shopped. I read a very pared down Twitter feed. It was wonderful. I'm getting better at ignoring. 

Ignoring is a valuable skill, and one I hope to foster more.

This blog comes to you mostly unedited, and not because I want to be more "authentic," but because my coffee maker just beeped, and I have a date with some books.

Tuesday
May282019

Do we know what "meaning" means?

Earlier this month, I read Ed Hirsch's seminal work Validity in Interpretation. It was one of those books I had to read in small portions because the principles were ones I had to stop and think through. A lot of what he talked about had to do with how we understanding meaning. How do we determine what something means? Do words have an intrinsic meaning? This approach, of course, assumes some authorial control. Meaning originates in the author. That is not a universal sentiment, as we know. Much has been made of the principle that meaning is what the reader makes of it. I'm not on board with that idea.

When it comes to Bible study material, we often see a focus on what a word means. It's an interesting diversion in a study to talk about what the original meaning of the word is, and how that may (probably does NOT) affect our understanding. D.A. Carson has written a whole book about fallacies we engage in as we study Scripture. It's a short read, and worthwhile. I've read books by Christian authors who would have benefitted greatly from having read the book before writing.

I like what Grant Osborne has to say in his book The Hermeneutical Spiral about meaning:

. . . terms have meaning only as part of the larger structure. Naturally, "love of God" does have meaning as a technical phrase; however, a better label is "potential meaning" . . . I can only know what it does mean when I see it as part of a larger context like Romans 8:39.

The problem with too much focus on word studies is that it does rip the word out of its larger context. If it's one thing I've learned over the past year it is that the layers of context within a Scripture passage are really crucial. The biblical authors didn't just write dictation style, with someone whispering in their ears with the content. They planned things; just like writers today do. Rather than spending a lot of time in individual word meanings, looking at the grammar of passages is more fruitful, even if it is harder work.

Too much focus on word studies is definitely an error I made far too often as a younger teacher. I was copying what I heard from other teachers and from the pulpit. I'm thankful for God's mercy. I didn't really know better. And that just reminds me again of the need to study in order to be an effective teacher. I've been teaching for 23 years, and at this point in my life, I feel more inadequate than ever to the task. Praise God for the presence of the Holy Spirit and for the reality that he will cover our shortcomings.

Monday
May272019

What is it about walking?

What is it about walking that provides mental clarity? Why do people, when they storm out of an argument, take to wallking to clear their heads? 

At a very troubled time in my teenage years, I walked a lot. We were living in Calgary, and I had a part-time job at a local mall, which was about a thirty minute walk from home. I often had my dad drive me and pick me up, but I walked there a lot. If there was anywhere in the city I wanted to go, I walked and took public transit. At that time, there was a lot of conflict in our home, and in order to be away from it, I walked. 

I walk every day; sometimes twice. I have two Beagles. My younger one, who is three, is energetic (read: out of control) and lives for those moments when his nose can hit the ground and all else fades away. There is some sort of connection between a Beagle's nose and his auditory nerves, because when his olfactory senses are at work, he's as deaf as a post. When we're walking and both of them stop to sniff a blade of grass, it's like being jerked to a halt with great force. And sometimes, it's a lot of work to get them going. Even dogs have this connection with walking. What goes on in their doggy minds when they're walking?

When I am in school, I find walking helps me make sense of things I'm working on. Last semester, as I waded my way through my pentateuch paper, I found I would always return to the task with renewed focus after a good walk. One afternoon, when I was taking Greek Exegesis, and I was trying to come up with some clarity for an exegetical paper, as I walked, I had a moment of illumination that left me rushing to get home to write it down.

Walking soothes a wounded heart. There are times when the burdens I carry are too much, and the act of walking makes me feel like I'm doing something about them. Walking seems to allow the mind work well. I wonder if there is a physiological connection between our feet and our emotional state. For some people, I guess running provides that, but I don't enjoy running as an exercise.

Next year, when my husband and I go to Ireland and Scotland, we want to do some hiking. I have been doing a lot of looking at maps and travel sites, and I would love to walk part of The West Highland Way. There is one tour which is seven days but I'm not sure I want to spend that much time in one location. I definitely want to get into the highlands, but I also want to have time for other places.

I can't wait to do some walking. It will be the best thing following what promises to be a good school year.

Saturday
May252019

Rebuke by shunning

I saw an article online last night that I really appreciated. I thought about sharing, but I thought better of it. Based on the people I interact with on Twitter, the article reallly didn't fit in. The writer was not complementarian. And yes, I was afraid to share it. And the reason I was afraid is because some folks like to shun you online if you share information that comes from another "tribe." As an aside, I don't like how that word has been co-opted. Used as a way to describe little pockets of like-minded Christians, it really doesn't express fully the meaning for which is it intended.

Christian women, especially, are good at rebuke by shunning. Or rebuke by silence. Perhaps it is because we learned that well as little girls in school. It's happened to me since I began seminary. It has happened to me again because I refused to do a happy dance because Rachel Held Evans died. It has happened because I dared to suggest that there was nothing wrong with a woman wanting to be modest in her dress; or if a woman felt uncomfortable being in a cab alone with a man who isn't her husband.

Be careful about seeing both sides of an argument. You may be rebuked; by both sides.

In the end, I decided to follow my husband's advice and just leave it alone. He's a big advocate for ignoring online life. I'm not afraid to read articles by egalitarians and complementarians alike. I'm a big girl. But sometimes, that little girl just doesn't want to be shunned.

Friday
May242019

Time, time tickin'

I had promised myself that I would probably start reading more blogs and writing more when June 1st arrived. It is just around the corner.

Here are some things I've done lately:

  • painted my living room
  • actually went shopping to look for area rugs
  • read a few books about the Celts
  • bought a jump rope
  • lost a couple of pounds

The one thing I have not done is felt a pressing need to read blogs. And that is a problem. Because I like blogging. Part of blogging is being among other bloggers. But I can't find any that I'm dying to read other than the few I have been reading for a long time.

Maybe I'm just an old crank.

Maybe I'm too critical.

I am feeling hesitant about particular Christian blogs that, while popular, just irritate me. I'm tired of blogs which beat dead horses or are "one hit wonders," ie, don't write about anything but one single issue.

I'm at a loss.

Any suggestions for good blogs to read?

But I did three cycles of 40 seconds of jump rope today and three sets of 40 seconds planks. I read Matthew 1:17-25 in the Greek NT. I made sourdough dinner rolls. The day wasn't a total waste.