Some Changes Here at Theoblogy

As you can see above, I had an epic weekend of hunting in and around Huron, South Dakota with my new friend, Jorge. I also preached at Grace Episcopal Church in Huron and met many of that church’s wonderful people. And if Albert looks tired in that photo, it’s cuz he is. We arrived home at noon today, and he’s not moving.

There are few things in the world that I like more than hunting. It has become a real focus of what I want in life: time in the outdoors, with my dog and friends, and soon with my kids (once they’re old enough).

Recently, Courtney asked me if there’s anything else in my life that is like hunting — that is, something that’s all-consuming of my mental capacities, something that totally absorbs me and allows me to leave everything else behind. I thought about it and said, No, nothing else has that effect on me.

As I’ve struggled to understand myself better — and the controversies on this blog have played a role in pushing me to do that — I’ve been focusing on what I can learn about being an Enneagram 8. On the drive to and from Huron, I listened to Suzanne Stabile’s lectures, “The Aggressive Stance.” It’s only a part of the puzzle that is me, but it’s been very helpful to embrace the doing center of an Enneagram 8. I’ve talked to Suzanne about this on the phone as well, and she’s encouraged me to start thinking through how my writing sounds to those in the thinking and feeling centers, and to those in the withdrawing and reflective stances.

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Get Some Jay Bakker in your Face

Jay’s got a new blog. Here, at Patheos. And I love the guy. And he’s thoughtful and graceful. So you should follow his blog.

***End of message***

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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