Ending The Decade of Quiet

I have spent a decade or more mostly keeping quiet about what people call spiritual things. And by spiritual things, they usually mean metaphysics, ontology, cosmology, epistemology, and theology – whether or not they name these. For me, my whole concept of spiritual things is rooted in that storied and ubiquitous, historical person Jesus. I believe he is who he says he is. If you understand what I mean by this, then you know it’s an extraordinary thing to say and believe about reality. Nevertheless, I do believe and trust I have good reason for it.

Out of belief comes life and all its attending stories. I have, over the last ten years deliberately chosen to keep some of these stories quieter and private. Other than a few interviews and the occasional post at arthouseamerica.com/blog, I’ve required of myself what I’ve so often hoped for from others – a little reserve, maybe even silence. And so, on the topics of God, People, and Place, interdependent topics I’m very passionate about, I had gone mostly quiet.

For a time, quiet was my protest. I think I was fatigued and embarrassed by the reality that the majority of people who write or speak in public (using language and terminology associated with Jesus and the phenomenon known as Christianity) are not the spokespeople the world would actually benefit hearing from. And I’m certainly not putting forth the idea that I am.

I can think of many people I know and love that I wish friends and neighbors could hear from though – could spend even ten minutes with. The trajectory of my life has brought me in contact with people of remarkable artistic, philosophical, and theological vision. I want everyone to know them! But few of them are mainstreamed. And most who are vocal, using explicit language in winsome, thoughtful ways are often speaking and writing only to those who are already committed to the conversation. As much as we like to view the Internet as the public square, not only is that a utopian notion, but truly naïve at this point. The Web is a web – less an information superhighway and more the streets of New York City – where you could live your whole life and miss that the best information about the most important things is found at the corner of Bank Street and Waverly Place. To maximize NYC you need a friend, a curator, a recommendation, a tip. Getting at God, People and Place in a coherent, believable way, may require the same.

It’s heartbreaking how divisive people can be when it comes to their opinions about God. There’s nothing so destructive as when the conversation is reduced to: You’re an idiot if you believe – you’re an idiot if you don’t. Like the late John Coltrane and Johnny Cash, and contemporaries Bono and Dylan, the great American songwriter Paul Simon keeps bringing his spiritual search into the public square. A few years ago, Paul got a tip to meet with one of the people I do trust to speak out loud, the late John Stott. Here’s a transparent, honest interview Paul did that recounts his meeting with Mr. Stott. In my opinion, this is how you talk about your spiritual life and quest in public without coming off as a lightweight, a bully, or a know it all. This is human, artistic process in full view where every sphere of life and curiosity finds it’s way into your art. The art informs the world but turns back to you, continuing to inform you, bring you pleasure, and inspiring your eyes to see and your ears to hear.

Because of the public behavior and language of people professing to be Christian, many authentic, clear-spoken people have quietly ceased having public conversation related to Jesus and his narrative. This is unfortunate. Understandable, but not sustainable. People and place need devoted voices expressing the third way between the noise of the religious far right and the silence of the privately embarrassed, disillusioned follower of Jesus. It’s neither generous or inclusive when voices are silenced or shamed into silence.

So, I’m going to take another shot at being a public person who holds to ideas about the existence of God, the mission, glory and shame of humanity, and the earth as a remarkable place. This blog will be where I express those ideas and tell my stories. Will you join me in fleshing out what a new, humble explicitness might look like?

Peace to you. Here we go.

80 thoughts on “Ending The Decade of Quiet”

  1. Thanks for sharing. I am excited to watch your story unfold. I believe that blogs and all forms of social media were designed by God to reach His people in this very unique time. Because how will they hear if no one speaks. (Acts 8:31) Different people hear in different ways. May The Lord direct to GodPeoplePlace those it will touch. Please follow me at AnointedWithJoy.wordpress.com.

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  2. Thanks Charlie. Well said. It has been perplexing to me as well, finding a voice that reflects the story of Jesus in the noise of life. Looking forward to the conversation.

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  3. Here’s a tangential thought, and hardly an original one, but it was the first thing that came into my head on reading your interesting post.

    Isn’t it fascinating and amazing that here in the 21st century we can communicate so easily with people almost anywhere in the inhabited world! The previous century gave us the telephone, radio and television, which were impressive enough. But with the flowering of the Internet – tools like blogging, webcasts, Skype, and especially social media, the lines of communication between the billions of souls on this planet have truly opened up and made us into the Global Village that Marshall McLuhan talked about.

    Who would have believed it in Christ’s time! In fact, even 20 years ago, when I first started to use the Internet, it would have been hard to make that mental leap forward to Facebook and Twitter, iPhones and GoPros. I scarcely dare to think what the next 20 years might bring!

    Sure – just as in the olden days, we all have different ways of communicating, and different things to say. Some people prefer intimate one-on one chats, some people sing songs or draw pictures, and some like to give big speeches or sermons to masses of people.

    But, just as it looked like we might all cocoon ourselves into oblivion, God encouraged us, all of us, to talk to each other like there was no tomorrow!

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  4. Charlie, you have been a companion to my soul through your music as well as your writings since the 90’s. I am thankful that you are blogging and grateful for your honest but sensitive approach to Jesus and spirituality. I have labored in spirit at times as I have witnessed the wiki-milieu of internet spirituality. More often than not, I have pulled back from engagement, not seeing any avenue for redemptive engagement, yet longing to speak a word of logic, truth, life, love…
    I am grateful to have a voice I trust entering into the fray. May this prove to be a Spirit anointed digital-incarnational opportunity (Similar to how Madeline L-Engle describes art in “Walking on Water”). Blessings!

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  5. This is already refreshing to me – the idea of conversation that doesn’t shun any genuine idea, question or the validity of human experience in the pursuit and refinement of belief. I’ve been silently “committed to the conversation” while having very few with whom I felt I could converse. So I view art and read and listen to musical prophets and think and journal and quietly grow into an ever deepening and authentic faith – “belief without an agenda” as Paul Simon said in reference to his conversation with John Stott. I’m excited and honored to be a small voice in this conversation. Thanks, Charlie for creating this forum.

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  6. Thanks for this. Nice to have your voice out there. I’ve been trying to do a similar thing for a while, talk about my faith honestly, talk about messiness, doubts, and how it’s not a Before and After picture like in those weight loss ads. (My blog is called Spiritual Suckitude…so you get the idea…). Looking forward to reading more of what you have to say.

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  7. Thank you for speaking this truth in ways that I only wish I could’ve expressed. The Simon interview was beautiful, thank you for referencing it.
    You expressed some concerns and issues that I have dealt with my entire adulthood as an artist and follower of Jesus, shaking some “traditional” church norms that really have nothing to do with any aspect of a relationship with Jesus but more of an agenda. I have come to find that those who are quiet about their faith are usually the ones who understand it the most and are working it out a day at a time just as I am. Thanks again for this blog!

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  8. People and place need devoted voices expressing the third way between the noise of the religious far right and the silence of the privately embarrassed, disillusioned follower of Jesus. — That about sums it up for me. After great enthusiasm, I fell silent. 3 years now. Timid about stepping into conversations of faith, knowing my own willfulness was entirely suspect. Becoming quiet seemed like the right response. Yet, for me, it has resulted in a form of isolation that is unhealthy. I still have the desire to be a part of a community, attempting together to place ourselves in recognition of one another in His presence.

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