Various Thoughts — and a Request — from an Enneagram 8

 

I failed to respond to last week’s Question That Haunts. It didn’t capture my attention. I don’t have anything interesting to say about baptismal regeneration. I’m sorry to Pastor Gary, who submitted the question. I let you down, Gary. All I’ve got is this comment from Mark Kirschieper:

The topic doesn’t much move me much, either. The English word regeneration, is used only twice, in the NT, that being Matt. 19:28, and Titus 3:5. The Greek word is “palingenesia” (feminine noun, Strong’s #3824). If the context of both passages is carefully studied, seems like they actually speak to Christ’s resurrection. At the very least, “palingenesia” is certainly a Divine accomplishment, and has nothing to do with any meritorious human act, or decision. In my humble opinion, the Roman, Eastern Orthodox, Anglo-Catholic, and perhaps Lutheran traditions, have gone very far afield, trying to incorporate the notion of baptismal regeneration, into the entire concept of original sin, and an infant’s cleansing of it, via. some water ritual. Just a personal opinion.

I had an argument with someone I care about over the weekend. It’s not the end of the world, but it sucked. I wish it hadn’t happened. I wish I would have walked away before it escalated.

I’m getting mixed messages these days. When I blog about something provocative or controversial — Marcus Borg, Rob Bell, gay marriage — traffic spikes. Publishers and Patheos like such things. But I’ve got friends who’ve asked me to tone it down. They say that the work they’re doing is suffering because of the oversplash of my blog. These are people I respect and love, and I want their work to bear much fruit.

So I have been blogging in a more straightforward fashion. And less people are reading. I could show you the graph, but the fact is that readership is down 20% from the early months of this year and the controversial posts that you all know about. That’s fine, but it does make me wonder how much I should bank my identity in blogging. For instance, relatively few people will read this post, even though it’s among my most personal.

Another friend told me that some of what I blog about is beneath me. Blog about theology, she said, not about Rob Bell’s new TV show. She’s got a point, but I also know that I am finite. I can only come up with so much to say about theology each week, and I am also writing the most challenging book of my career. That’s taking a lot of my mental energies.

So, there you have it. I’d be keen to get any advice from you, dear readers. I do love to blog, and I love that I sense some electronic kinship with you. So thanks for reading, and thanks for your feedback.

Blogging as Violence

Richard Beck

Richard Beck, thoughtful as always, decides to break his own rule and blog about blogging. Having been flogged in some quarters and praised in others for taking on liberal icon Marcus Borg last week, Richard’s post has been supremely helpful to me:

One of the things I’ve learned from writers like James Alison, a theologian deeply informed by Rene Girard, is how rivalry is intimately associated with our self-concept. Specifically, most of us create, build up and maintain our self-esteem through rivalry with others. Our sense of self-worth is created and supported by some contrast and opposition to others. I am a self in that I am over and against others. Better. Smarter. More righteous. More successful. More authentic. More humane. Less hoodwinked. More tolerant. More insightful. More kind. More something.

In short, selfhood is inherently rivalrous. Rivalry creates the self. Rivalry is the fuel of self-esteem and self-worth.

Which means that the self is inherently violent. The definition of the self is an act of aggression and violence. To be “Richard Beck” is to engage in violence against others, if not physically than affectionally. From sunrise to sunset every thought I have about myself is implicated in acts of comparison, judgement, and evaluation of others, allowing me to create a sense of self and then fill that self with feelings of significance and worthiness.

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Who’s Lightin’ It Up? The Burner Blog

A couple weeks ago, I started a Hump Day Series called “Got It Goin’ On.” What a great idea, I thought. But, like Led Zeppelin, I didn’t steal that idea. It just quietly seeped into my head from another source. And that source is The Burner Blog. You see, The Burner Blog has had a “Got It Goin’ On” feature for a long time, even giving out a pretty sweet badge for it:

When someone pointed this out to me, I had a V8 moment. So I’m giving it back to them, and renaming my series, Lightin’ It Up. Every Wednesday, I’ll point to someone, or organization, or blog that I think is kicking some ass and doing some good in the world.

This week, that honor goes to…

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What Happened on the Blog this Weekend

On Saturday, I published a guest post here. That’s not particularly uncommon. I have, of late, invited posts from guest authors. In fact, when someone emails me to express an opinion that is contrary to something I’ve written, my usual response is, “Why don’t you write a guest post on that, and I’ll publish it.”

A couple things come to mind about this stance. For one thing, I am only a person who writes books and a compensated blog because, starting in 1999, kind people shared their platforms with me. Sure, I suppose they thought I had something to say, but they also chose to give a 30-year-old youth pastor a chance to write books and speak at conferences. A decade-and-a-half later, I’m happy to do the same for other, new voices that I think you might appreciate.

Secondly, I strongly believe that writing is a meritocracy. If you have something interesting to say, and you’re relatively articulate, people will read your writing. So I feel like there’s not much to lose, and a lot to gain when I publish a post by a new voice.

What happened this weekend follows both those rules.

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