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Entries in Blogging (30)

Friday
Mar112016

Blogging fear and loathing

It was one of those weeks. I was busy, things didn't go as planned, and the tendonitis in my ankle bothered me on and off. These are small, 1st World things. As I made my way to the x-ray and ultrasound clinic, wishing I had a doctor who wasn't 30 minutes away, I reprimanded myself internally, remembering that I have an aunt and uncle who are over 65 and whose doctor is 80 years old and 45 minutes away. I have nothing to complain about. Go away, complaining self; you're being ridiculous.

On the car ride there and back, I had an idea for a blog post. I took an hour later in the afternoon to get it out for fear of losing those words, something that happens more as I get older. Ladies, estrogen is your friend. It plays a role in the little grey cells; don't wish it away.

Anyway, after using more time than I probably should have, I looked at my post and said out loud, "This is garbage."

I didn't have time to fix it. I have homework. Lots of homework. I can't complain about that, either, because I asked for this, and once I get down to the work, I love it. I forget about bad blog posts. I forget that I only have about four regular readers. I never thought I'd feel that way about blogging. Being able to say I post regularly, whether it is daily or weekly, is not a sign of virtue.

Seminary has eaten into blogging time. It has inspired thoughts for blog posts, but they inevitably require more words than most people want to read. And they don't involve the popular issues, things like how we can make our Christian days more productive, reactions to the current US political situation, or the latest round of shocking things Christian leaders say. I'm wondering if seminary is going to ruin blogging for me. And if it does, will it really matter? It's almost as if I need to wear a different hat, so to speak, if I'm going to succeed at school. I need to take of the blogging hat more often and put on the seminary hat.

At the end of April, I will be finished hermeneutics, and I've learned so much already, both about biblical interpretation and writing. I am sure I will learn more as I tackle the essays.  In May, I begin another course. In September, I will be taking two, one of them Biblical Hebrew. I don't foresee blog posts about taking Hebrew being remotely interesting to anyone but me. I will be thankful, though. I've been waiting for this, and God is allowing me to do it. And blogs come and go, so if this one gets neglected, life will go on.

And now, I have a date with Daniel's Seventy weeks.

Friday
Oct162015

Blogging lessons in middle age

I think I'm probably more than middle aged. The average lifespan of women in Canada is not 100 years old as far as I know. Late middle age is a better designation, I guess.

I love how God continues to teach me lessons as I get older. Perhaps it's because I'm in seminary right now (and I am definitely not the oldest in my class at the moment), but I feel like I'm learning a lot about many things. Maybe the estrogen deficiency induced brain fog that seems to have taken over has lifted somewhat. At any rate, I'm learning.

I have been blogging for eleven years. Lately, I don't blog much, and that's largely because I'm busy with other things and because I have finally (and I am sure there are many who are relieved!) reached the point where I realize that I don't need to express every thought that comes into my head. I did that in the past because I felt obligated to blog every day. However, there is no crown in heaven for blogging every day. Actually, on occasion when I tried to blog every day, there were one of two end results, and maybe two of two results: first, I took time away from something I needed to be doing, probably paying attention to my kids or my husband or my home, and second, I blogged about something that didn't need to be blogged about.

In the past ten months, I've blogged less than ever before, and it hasn't been such a bad thing. I've spent more time reading and thinking. I've actually written quite a bit. There is a lot of value in writing for oneself rather than an audience. But most of all, I've realized over these past ten months that I just don't need to add to the noise. Who cares what I think about the latest controversy? When Christian scandal breaks out, hundreds, if not thousands, of responses pop up, and usually there is usually only a handful which are helpful or even necessary. Too often in the past, I jumped on the bandwagon. And what did I gain from it?

We can't change the foolish decisions we made in the past, but I trust in the fact that the majority of what I wrote is largely forgotten by those who read it; unless of course, it was really bad, and in that case, I don't want to know about it. I tend to react quickly (which can be good in some situations) and that has not always served me well. I'm learning how to be more thoughtful, and that means speaking less. This past week I had to answer the question "What do we learn about God's sovereignty and human responsibility from the Major Prophets." In 200 words. It took me all of the five days I had to complete it to finish. I really had to stop and think and I definitely had to choose what was most important to say.

I am sure most people have learned this lesson much earlier in life. I tend to tak a lot longer in learning such things. But I am thankful that the lessons come eventually.

Friday
Oct092015

How blogging can adversely affect a seminary student

Seminary is teaching me a lot; and not just the course work. It's giving me insight into how I've changed as a student.

In my undergraduate days, there was no social media. There was email, but there was not this continual glut of information screaming for our attention. We could close the newspaper, turn off the television, and have silence. In recent years, though, as I have engaged in blogging and social media, I, like many, have noticed a deficit in my attention span.

This was really brought to my attention this past week as my class discussed wisdom literature. As I read through the class's answers to the reflection question -- which are supposed to be around 200 words -- I found myself getting impatient with those answers which clearly went beyond 200 words. I forced myself to concentrate, because part of this class is interacting thoughtfully with others.

And that brings me to something else I noticed. Just how thoughtful am I? I was in a hurry to get my answer completed, not think deeply. I am more used to blogging, which features a lot of fast responses. Do most people spend a week or more contemplating every blog post? Some do, but judging from the way post after post popped up in the wake of the drama surrounding Douglas Wilson, most often, people post quickly. I have been guilty of that myself more often than I would like to admit.

Critical thinking takes time and effort. It takes silence, too; and not just audible silence, but the kind of silence we get from unplugging for a couple of hours; or days, if necessary.

There is a need for thinking fast on one's feet. I can do that, but I want to be more thoughtful about things. I am glad that there is something which is forcing me to do this.

Saturday
Sep052015

I do not want to be a groupie

When I was a teenager, I went with my friend to see Rick Springfield at a local venue. Of course, the place was crawling with his groupies. I was a bit of a Springfield groupie for a while, but it was not long lived. He was kind of a one-hit wonder, and I didn't see what the fuss was about.

I have written here about something that shaped my attitude toward celebrities, Christian and non-Christian alike. For Christians, the questionable lifestyles of Hollywood actors may make it easier to avoid becoming a groupie. With well-known Christians, however, the temptation may be greater because we have shared values, and technology makes it so easy to hang on their every word.

I do not want to be a groupie. I have seen what happens in Christian circles when women are groupies: we become unreasonable. Women who could be considered Beth Moore groupies love her so much that they do not tolerate any critique, and if you offer some, you're mean and uncharitable. With all of these talented people who are so easily accessible, how can I avoid being a groupie? Here are some ways I try to approach the matter.

I try to read widely.  There are a lot of good writers out there, and being limited in my reading is a road to being narrow in my thinking.

I read older and dead authors. Some of the books which are popular today will be forgotten in ten years. I want to read what is enduring.

I respect and pray for my pastor. With all of the pastors out there, it can be tempting to give more heed to those men than to the one God has put in our midst. I need to remember that my pastor is my pastor because God put him there. I  need to pray for him as much (if not more) as I do the famous pastor.

I try to read more books than blogs. Blogs are great, and I love them, but I also need to read something that has a well-developed, thorough, and well-studied message. Blogs also tend to ride on the wave of what everyone is talking about. Sometimes, what everyone is talking about is not worth nearly as much attention as it is getting.

I remind myself of the old addage, "we all put our pants on one leg at a time." These popular individuals are human. Some of them leave the lid off the toothpaste, snap at people in a heated moment, and leave their dirty laundry on the floor. We only see one side of them. Recent days have certainly shown us that no one is immune to error, and no one is above critique. Focus on the work of the person, not his personality.

Finally, I try to build relationships with people in my local church. Christian circles on the internet are not the church, and we live in the real world. What is the point of reading and taking advice from Christian writers if we aren't going to live it out in the flesh?

I am grateful for good writers, but I am wary of celebrity. In the long run, it isn't helpful to exalt Christian leaders or put them on a pedestal. Usually, the only way off a pedestal is down.

Wednesday
Aug052015

When trials come, what helps the most?

My social media reading has changed over the last six months. While I still follow pretty much the same people as I did a year ago, my attention focuses less and less on the articles out there that deal with issues about the role of women in the church. Don't get me wrong; I think it's an important topic, but it's become one of those "musts" which determine whether a blogger is worth reading or not. And let's face it: writers write to be read, and that includes bloggers. If we didn't want to be read, we wouldn't do it.

I am losing interest in the continual material on the subject of women in the church. I don't begrudge anyone wanting to write about it, but honestly, for women who complain that women don't have enough of a voice, why are they writing about women? Why do some criticize "mommy bloggers" for their focus on womanly arts when they are still writing about women's issues themelves? Yes, the issues may be more complex, but women are still writing about things of concern for women. Where are the women writing about theology proper? Some of the writers I enjoy the most write very eloquently about women, but I seldom see them write about theology proper. All is not lost, though; one of the women bloggers whom I've known the longest does indeed write about such things as do the women I write with at Out of the Ordinary. For them, I am thankful.

In the last seven months, I have been going through a very difficult trial. There have been days when reading social media is the worst thing I could possibly do, and there are days when I have been completely disinterested in blogging at all. Some days, the only reading I have been able to manage is the Psalms. Just prior to the onset of this trial, I purchased the first volume in the long-awaited series on the writing of William Perkins. It has sat untouched for six months now. I do plan to pick it up again soon, becauase things are improving.

What has helped me the most over the past months is not reminders of my womanhood in the church. Articles about how I as a Christian woman can "engage" the culture have not been helpful. Reminders that yes, I need to be an influence in the church have not helped. Being told what I'm supposed to do as a woman have not helped. Having friends who want to discuss how we as women can have more influence and break the shackles of male domination have not helped.

What has helped is continual reminder of who God is. And that is where the Psalms have helped. Over the past seven months, I have read through the entire book of Psalms every month. There are Psalms I have read over and over again (Ps. 4, 5, 6, 18, 34, 46, 91, 145). These have reminded me who God is, and by extension, who I am. What has helped are friends who continue to remind me that God is good, that he is sovereign, that he loves me. The articles and books I have read have reminded me of the same thing.

I have been teaching the bible in some capacity for over 15 years. I have a lot of knowledge stocked up in my head, but I still have so much to learn about who God is and who I am before him. As I stand before God on my own, through the blood of Christ, I continue to learn more about my sin, my pride, and my faith. I have been a Christian for 30 years, and in the past seven months, I have never learned more about these things.

Perhaps those who feast on the issues of the day have already learned what I clearly have not. Perhaps I am living in a state of spiritual arrested development. I still feel like I have a long way to go. Not that anyone was waiting for me to comment on such things, but until I have learned enough about God, you won't see me addressing popular topics. That, of course, means obscurity in blogging, and I'm okay with that. That's another thing I've learned during this trial: what's important and what is not. I have seminary to look forward to next month, and that goal is more important to me now than the goal of keeping this blog going. While the ambitious side of me would love to have people read what I write, I guess I'll be content with writing for my professors.

Some days are still not easy, but I've arrived at the point where I can say, "It was good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes" (Psalm 119:71).