Readers of this blog, I expect, come and go. Some of you have been with me for years. Others dip in and never come back. Some check in from time to time, like visiting an old friend. Some of you are new and are trying to decide what you think of this space and its author.
So, for those of you who are new to this space, perhaps it would be helpful if I explained a bit what you are witnessing.
I expect, if you are a conservative or traditional Christian (whatever those labels might mean), you'll find much of what I write about on this blog to be perplexing or disturbing. Consequently, in your alarm, you may follow this blog to monitor me, to set me straight, or to voice objections to protect others who might be reading. I understand those motivations and, in a way, find them admirable. You are, I guess, our Catcher in the Rye, trying to save us all from running off the cliff.
"Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around - nobody big, I mean - except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff - I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye..."On my bike ride to work today I was trying to think about how this blog might sound to more conservative Christians and how it might appear to the rest of us. This was the analogy I came up with.
If your faith and doctrine are like a beautiful house, with the clean lines of certainty and the firm foundation of God's Truth, then letting me into your house would be, I'd expect, quite unsettling. Because I'd always be looking at a wall and saying "Is this a load bearing wall? Let me knock it down to see!" Day in and day out, this is exactly what this blog would feel like. Me trying to knock down every wall in the house. In short, from this vantage point--inside a beautiful house--all my work appears to be inherently destructive, breaking down and tearing up this beautiful building. So of course you'd want me to stop that. You'd want to protect the house.
But that's not really the best way to understand this blog. See, I had a nice house once. But a hurricane hit it. From a faith perspective I'm in a post-Katrina situation. All I have left is a bunch of rubble.
So what I do here, week in and week out, is to try to piece this rubble back together. In any given post you'll see me holding up two broken pieces of faith and wondering "Do these go together?" Or, because much of what I find in the rubble is broken and beyond repair, you'll also find me in any given post bulldozing stuff out of the way to clear room for the faith I'm constructing.
In short, when you read this blog you are watching a person pick through the rubble of his faith, a person trying to find anything useful that has been left behind.
So if you come here already living in a nice house what I'm doing here is, given your fireside view, going to feel destructive to you. But if you realize I'm actually standing on a heap of rubble hopefully you'll see that what I'm doing is constructive. I'm building, I'm not tearing down.
And this building is very much a work in progress. I don't know where it all is heading. I just keep at the work, looking for ways to build a shelter of faith from the rubble I'm standing on. And this very personal agenda governs the way I search theology. I'm not a theologian. And much of what passes for theology today leaves me cold. So when I read theology I'm actually looking for a lifeline, some new way of thinking about this rubble that allows me to fit the pieces together. That's why I like a thinker like Rene Girard. He's allowed me to pick up some of the pieces from the Old and New Testaments and fit them together in a way that makes sense to me. Is Girard right? I don't know. He's just a tool for me, some glue I found to hold some of the rubble together. In short, my theological reading is very idiosyncratic and has a very desperate feel to it. I'm standing on this rubble and I'm looking for some good ideas about how to put it back together again. Particularly given that some of the pieces of my prior faith have been damaged beyond repair. I have a lot less to work with.
I expect that regular readers know exactly what I'm talking about. And this is why you come here. Like me you are looking for tools, good ideas to piece faith back together again. And, in light of this, most of you approach me pragmatically. If what I'm saying is helpful, you listen. If what I say is unhelpful, you move on. Just like I do when I read theology. In short, most of you aren't coming here to save me, you have no interest in being my Catcher in the Rye. Rather, like me, you are in a desperate search to find shelter after your own post-Katrina faith experience.
And to the Catchers out there, I do remember the days I had a house. Fondly. But now all I've got is rubble. So week in and week out you'll find me here trying to fit two broken pieces together or sharing some new tool--some bit of theological glue--that I've just found. And if it's useful, come on back. If not, that's okay, there are a lot of other interesting sites on the Internet. And life is short. You don't want to waste your life arguing with a nut like me in the comments section. Take a walk. Hug your kids. Read a good book.
In conclusion, in all of this I'm trying to describe something that Soren Kierkegaard said, unsurprisingly, much better than I many, many years ago. There is no better description as to what this blog is about:
And this is the simple truth - that to live is to feel oneself lost. He who accepts it has already begun to find himself, to be on firm ground. Instinctively, as do the shipwrecked, he will look around for something to which to cling, and that tragic, ruthless glance, absolutely sincere, because it is a question of his salvation, will cause him to bring order into the chaos of his life. These are the only genuine ideas; the ideas of the shipwrecked.To both Shipwrecked and Catchers: Grace and peace.