Tag Archives: blogging

To Everything a Season

One of the mystifying (and doubtless alluring) things about Southern California is that the climate here is one of perpetual summer. Seasons in the truest sense don’t exist. Winter is a slightly cooler, rainier version of Summer, which is approximately nine months long and always around 79 degrees and sunny. In Southern California, the endless summer fits with the “endless youth” ambience of the culture: aging happens differently here, slower perhaps. Youth and immaturity reign. Death is raged against in the Dylan Thomas sense, against the dying of the light.

And yet I miss seasons. Seasons are the truest thing of all. I miss them most in the autumn and spring, those transitional periods so symbolic of life’s persistent patterns of endings and new beginnings, goodbyes and hellos, decay and rebirth. The natural seasons of life remind us of the solemnity of change and yet also the refreshment of it. The constancy of seasons is at once reassuring, unsettling, heartbreaking and mysterious. It stirs within us all sorts of emotions, not least of which is Sehnsucht, that weighty existential desire which C.S. Lewis described as as the “inconsolable longing” in the human heart for “we know not what.”

I’m in a season of change right now myself, for a number of reasons. I’m finished writing my new book (1 year and 65,000 words later!); I’m enjoying the last few months of my 20s and what is likely my last season of life as a single man; I’m experiencing new friendships and walking with some old friends as they experience their own seasons of change.

And I’m also going to be changing my blogging habits a bit.

For nearly five years, The Search has been my blogging home, a space that has become very dear to me. Before I joined Facebook, Twitter, or any of the other things, I started this blog. It’s where I’ve cut my teeth as a writer and thought through many of the topics I’ve since turned in to articles and books. I’ve made connections and friends with amazing people who have been faithful readers. It’s been a space where I–an introvert–have worked out my own thinking and found outlet for so many explorations.

I named it “The Search” as an homage to one of my favorite novels, The Moviegoer (movies have been a central exploration of the blog), in which the restless protagonist, Binx Bolling (who turns 30 in the book, incidentally), wanders around saying things like this:

“What is the nature of the search? you ask. Really it is very simple, at least for a fellow like me; so simple that it is easily overlooked. The search is what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life. This morning, for example, I felt as if I had come to myself on a strange island. And what does such a cast away do? Why he pokes around the neighborhood and he doesn’t miss a trick. To become aware of the search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in despair.”

Binx’s thoughts have resonated with me for years, and I’ve channeled much of my own “search” into the content of this blog. That will not change. I am not abandoning this blog just yet.

I am, however, going to be scaling back my writing a bit, for a few reasons:

  • I’m increasingly aware of the overwhelming glut of opining that is the Internet and (more specifically) the blogosphere. Personally I have come to value restraint, patient consideration, and “mulling over internally” more in recent years, rather than the “quick to the draw” thought vomiting that characterizes most of the blogosphere (and which I have been guilty of too).
  • I’m busier than ever. I have a new book to launch, I’m still working full-time at Biola University (writing, editing, teaching), I have a new season of life to launch… I’ll need all the extra time and energy I can get.
  • I’ll be writing elsewhere. I’ve started contributing to Mere Orthodoxy in recent months, and will continue to contribute there. Matt Anderson has created a great space there for thoughtful, lively discussion about issues in culture and Christianity. I’m thrilled to be joining him and others in the pursuit of an elevated discourse among young evangelicals.
  • I want to read more than I write. Now that I’m done writing my new book, I’m intensely hungry to read the mountain of books that bave been piling up. I also want to find time to read some of the other things being written online on any given day. It’s overwhelming to me how much I wish I could read but can’t (for lack of time).

So, what does “scaling back” actually look like for The Search? I don’t quite know. It could still mean that I post something new every week. Or every two weeks. Or once a month. And maybe it’ll just be for a season. I’m not going to be rigid about it. We’ll see how it goes.

Whatever happens, I’m so thankful for this platform to share my thoughts and even more thankful for those of you nice enough to read them. We’re all on this “search” together, after all, trying to bring some sense and clarity to an overwhelming world. Seeking truth, beauty and goodness together with you will be something I’ll always want to do.

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Our Addiction to Public Communication

I wrote a new technology piece in Relevant magazine’s September/October issue, entitled “Short Attention Span Faith.” You can read the whole thing by clicking here, but here’s a short little excerpt:

Unsurprisingly, this frenzied, obsessive-compulsive proclivity toward being digital busybodies has deleterious effects on Christian disciplines like Bible study and prayer. How do we justify sitting down and praying for an hour when there are Hulu videos to browse, “What Ninja Turtle are you?” quizzes to take, and online “community” to cultivate? If we’re not wired, plugged-in, and communicating with the world at all times, it seems like such a waste of time…

…This is one of the biggest problems that must be reckoned with in the Twitter age: our ever diminishing inclination and/or ability to slow down and think thoroughly, deeply, and profoundly about anything. We speed through an article or web page in 60 seconds and pronounce it “read.” We see a blurb about our friend from high school’s weekend at the lake and pronounce the friendship “maintained.” But in this flurry of bite-sized narrative and dollar menu mediation, are we able to truly be self-aware? Can we consider things and know God and ourselves?

At the end of the day, it’s just hard for us to have interior thought lives anymore. It’s hard to keep anything to ourselves and be reflective just for ourselves. With Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and the quick-and-easy communication efficiency of cell phones, we’ve gotten used to the notion that anything worth saying can and should be shared with the digital community in real time. Any idea or thought worth having should be public. Everything is cooperative, collective, and wiki-oriented. When we sit alone and contemplate something that isn’t meant to be shared with the whole wide world, we almost don’t know what to do with ourselves.

I know this temptation all to well, as a writer/blogger who sometimes doesn’t value the “keep it to yourself” type of thinking. It’s so easy to say anything and everything to any and every one these days. It’s hard to keep thoughts, ideas, and rants to oneself when a huge audience is just a “publish” click away (I realize the irony that I’m blogging about this). Our culture has conditioned us to glory in attention and publicity and recognition; It’s only natural that we are increasingly finding it difficult to not live public lives. More and more, the defacto barometer of a well-lived life is not necessarily the quality or depth of our contribution to society but the breadth of it—the extent to which it is widely disseminated and known. It’s like the more Facebook friends or Twitter followers one has, the more actualized they are as a person.

What we communicate via these media platforms is not nearly as important as the fact that we have an audience, somewhere out there, listening or glimpsing into our lives. It affirms our existence, pats us on the existential back and sends us on our way, no better or worse off but for the few meaningless minutes or hours that we’ll never get back.