(As with anything that is mostly true, committing it to language will require overstatements and provisos will be omitted for the sake of the whole. Most of all, it will require patience and the assurance I am aware of the glaring irony and even hypocrisy of the points I will try to make.)
There are two categories of blogging and social media sharing. There are the wounded and broken notes, that share (and often overshare) about death and financial ruin, sentimental memes of affection and declarations of love and life. Then there are the wrangling and bickering notes, the fighting, the politics, the news, the hair and head splitting smart arguments that often conceal bitterness, fear, and the same pain that the wounded and broken are more honest about.
Let me be clear: there is only one option here. Both categories are manifestations of the tragedy of the human condition and the darkness of our time. There is consensus in these depths of despair and prayer and pathetic time-wasting rituals of pressing our fingers against keys, and thumbs against screens, pawing for life to emerge. Contact, a reply, a touch even.
There is joy here, too. But it doesn’t dance as good as it once did, when parties were a part of living.
There is a choice, an option, a decision to be made: what will we share? Our stories, however untrue they may be? Our lives, messed up crooked spines, tethered together, for now, in this place we call the Church? Or will we share everything we know, lights glaring off the mirrors that remind us how magnificently right we really are? Our word pets, dressed in ideology furs that resemble real clothes and will never admit to being fake and plastic?
The first choice is to be the victim that we resent in the second choice. Let’s face it: no one has a monopoly on suffering, my enemy suffers just as righteously as I do. By our wounds we are justified. But we’ve reduced the world to a martial dance of organization, bringing cold logic to a warm chaos that was never meant to be starched and pressed and divided neatly into points and counterpoints.
I read mommy blogs with gusto because, most of the time, these weepy and grouchy women, whom I don’t find as funny or amusing as they do, take their clothes off and show us the body of Christ. Even their fictions and projections often tell more about life than my proportional attempts to balance the scales perfectly and save the world in the process. If only I could explain things perfectly, I say to myself.
Max Lindenman, who has just announced his departure from Patheos, was a daddy blogger on my reading because he chose this path and never strayed from it. In his absence he remains true to it. I will miss him dearly. I aspire to be a daddy blogger, too.
The rest of us junk-yard dogs are mostly chihuahuas. We are very earnest in our work and have pastoral instincts that wield a pen with some facility, but we are swimming furiously next to the ship, trying to mend its course. It’s fun, sometimes, but so is heroin. We are the new generation of culture warriors, except we don’t march or debate in public — we (don’t) change our avatars and subtweet and rant on blogs like this one and correct the news-cycle sometimes and do a lot of good in the exact same process.
I once thought that my writing here was more important than my academic plodding because of its accessibility. I’ve grown agnostic about that. None of this is to say anything other than the fact that I believe that internet writing and posting involves a choice between options that are increasingly clear to me. Jumping on swords won’t work because the blade is dull. If this is more than a cheap cure for boredom, then we will have to, at some point, choose between life or death.
I doubt that I’ll make the right choice, as I’ve already shown here, but I might as well note the difference between the two.