In addition to my inner reflections this week, I am doing some home renovations. And before those who know me well become alarmed, I'm just talking about book shelves, floor cleaning and wall painting. I learned my lesson in Tucson 10 years ago when a small 30 minute bathroom plumbing chore became an big, all day, expensive pain in the ass involving contortion, unexpected blasts of water and at ton of cursing. (Now, under other circumstances these things might actually be pleasant but...) No, if it is truly mechanical, it is always time for me to call in the experts.
Over the weekend I got my study reorganized, cleaned and my books sorted. (DIanne had suggested that rather than build floor to ceiling book shelves I might consider getting RID of some volumes ~ quelle horreur ~ est ell folle?) Monday we played with paint chips, measurements and going to our local hardware emporium (all local businesses, mind you) and I jumped into the living room paint job last night. I just finished it about 20 minutes ago - two coats, too - and washed the floors to boot. Upon inspection my honey mused, "Once again, I ask myself why did we wait so long...?) (It has only been five years, mon cher, and it takes that long for us to settle in, yes?)
I like doing this kind of work in addition to my work as a pastor - mostly because I can see my results. Same goes for cooking and baking and playing music: with these things there is an end that can be experienced and enjoyed. Not so with ministry... at least most of the time.
I find that painting by myself these past two days has given me time to think about two questions that I want to explore for the rest of this week: 1) who do I think is my blogging audience (a blogging friend once asked me, "Who do you think you are writing for?"); and 2) what does my church have to say and/or offer to the young hip hoppers I hung with for a time on Saturday night?
I know that I started this blog as a way to reflect on music, theology and popular culture. I am convinced that this is a lively topic - in many spiritual traditions - and I have enjoyed thinking about this over the past five years. But I also know that sometimes this blog has become a vacation travelogue, a lover's argument with the church about real ministry, a spiritual journal for myself, a place to post my weekly sermons and I'm not sure what else. So here's the only thing I know for sure about my audience: it is mostly me. And I hope that isn't too self-absorbed, but I think it is true.
And here's why I think that's ok in a terribly self-absorbed and even selfish culture: when an artist is being most personal and honest, that's when we're also the most universal. A sculptor who worked on the new Roman Catholic cathedral in Los Angeles once told me that and it echoed something the poet Robert Bly once said to me during the Tucson Poetry Festival. Mostly we are basically the same. To be sure, there are gender differences along with race, class, age and cultural distinctions. And as much as a sensitive new age straight white guy from the middle class can, I try to honor and respect those differences.
But biologically and spiritually, we have much more in common with one another than we have things that separate us. So, if I am being honest about my fears and doubts - or my questions about ministry - or my experience with a song or poem it is likely to resonate with others.
So, perhaps the best answer I can give to the question, "Who are you writing for?" would be myself - and others who have found themselves burned out on religion but open to God's grace in the beauty, tragedy and humility of everyday living. This has become my spiritual journal in which I try to discern the deeper questions, challenges and blessings of my life - and hope they resonate with others. It has also become a place where I can play and experiment with visual and musical beauty; this feeds my spirit and sometimes speaks to others, too.
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