The Hope of Humble Explicitness

Welcome to the new look. I hope you like it. Many thanks to Casey Fulgenzi at for the design and coding. Also notice that is the URL now – please bookmark, pass on to interested friends and add to your blogrolls.

If you find a broken link, or experience problems with flow from page to page, let me know and I’ll pass it on to Casey.

It’s only been a couple of weeks since beginning the blog and already I’ve learned much. Another good reward is meeting new people and reconnecting with old friends. Here’s a brief summary of my thoughts on re-entering the public square as a person and writer who prays to know the love of God, people, and place seriously:

  1. Writing in public, where anyone can read over your shoulders, is hard work! It takes time (and for me, prayer) to choose words with care – to give thought and empathy to a variety of potential readers. I want to get better at it.
  2. It’s a huge challenge to critique, compare and contrast, in public and not marginalize or dis-member anyone. Negating/dismissing a person, institution, worldview etc. in order to put our own thoughts/agenda on offer comes too easy to the human family. Unfortunately, it’s difficult for us to see this when we’re in the middle of doing it – especially when it feels like such a winning tool for argument.
  3. Wrestling with how to create loving and issue-explicit public speech/text in the post-internet/information age is a challenge worth facing. Knowing and being known, hearing and being heard is neighbor love in action. And for our time in history, it’s bringing the already expansive neighborhood near – literally taking all people in all places seriously.
  4. Writing in public (including reader blog comments) involves a varied and mixed bag of the related “ologies” such as theology, philosophy, sociology, psychology, epistemology, ontology, as well as politics, gender and sexuality, and of course communication and conflict resolution, manners and civility, hermeneutics, postmodernism and literary deconstructionism (should I keep going??). Even in a passionate blog entry or comment, it helps to be aware of the place of all of this in setting the stage for a winsome public conversation, and writing with magnanimity so that anyone, anywhere might read and engage. Turning back to #1 – this is hard work, but worth it.
  5. To live on the planet in our time is to live in a neighborhood composed of the most exaggerated hyphenate pluralism and syncretism the world has ever known. Because of this, to get particular about our love and language may mean re-imagining what it means to speak and write with integrity – old words and phrases may need to be replaced and thought through afresh. While in the midst of learning new ways, there is potential for confusion and anger. For example, taking great care with language for one person becomes evasion of confession for another. Refusing to clearly nail down what team you’re playing for can really anger some people! Contrary to how we sometimes bear witness, living with each other gracefully is not a competitive, contact sport.
  1. Sometimes words are simply worn out for over use and collect associations that shut down communication. And even more complicated is that the words are no longer solely buttressed by etymology (though personally I wish we’d all revisit this), they are now, often times more about perceived (though etymologically inaccurate) meaning, and emotion. Such as how people feel about the words they hear and read, not what the words actually mean etymologically.

Finally, I very much want all of life and language to be an explicit, holistic witness to God, people, and place, seamless and interconnected, void of bifurcation. If you do as well, please keep reading and joining in. I’ve been using the phrase humble explicitness to get at this hope. And, as I’ve already written above, I’ve also found it helpful to think in terms of writing in such a way that the whole world could read over my shoulder. I’m always looking for new inspiration though and would be eager to hear anything you have to add. Many thanks to family and good friends here in Nashville and beyond that have engaged me on these topics. Shared desire for good is a holy membership. All are welcome.

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