The posts have all migrated to WordPress.com. So far everything is running smoothly. Unless unforseen difficulties arise, I won't be posting to this blog anymore. But I won't delete it, either. Partially because I'm paranoid about not having a Plan B if the other blog doesn't work out; partially because I'm a sentimental pack-rat that can't let anything just go; partially because I don't want spammers to take this blogspot address. So, good night and good luck.
You've been warned. Go here before it's too late. For what, you ask, since I can always click on the link much later and still go to your new blog. Um..., I say. What's that? you say. Snnnh, I say. Buuuurf, I say. Those aren't words, you say.
hundreds of posts, thousands of insightful comments: all moved over to the new blog, which has a much easier to remember URL. After Wednesday, there will be no more posts over here. All new posts will be on Uncle Screwtape's new home--over at Wordpress, the free, opensource blog site. And yes, I am a dork.
Once I forgot to change my pants for several days. There was a very good reason why I couldn't...I just can't remember what it is. But in other news: it's been...I dunno...over a year (?) since I messed with the appearance of this blog. And, well, there's stuff that I want to do with it that I can't because I don't know enough code. Plus I want to go to open source stuff and away from the Googleverse. Not that Blogger's been bad to me, but, you know. anyway: Uncle Screwtape is moving in five (5) days. That's something like Wednesday, June 14th. Flying the coop. Taking off. Changing something...like pants. more details later--for all one (1) of my loyal readers.
Myself (or someone like me) v. 7
It's been awhile since i posted one of these. [I can imagine either sighs of relief or groans and eyes rolled upwards, depending.] The Feeling. Once upon a time, I was the poetry editor of Wooster's literary magazine, The Goliard, and a poem called "Spirituality" came across my desk. It wasn't a great poem, but I thought it good enough to make at least the first cut. I guessed that it wouldn't make the second or third--when the whole 8 person poetry committee and then the senior editor had to approve the entries--but who knew. Turns out I was way off. "Spirituality" was one of the favored poems in that issue, nearly everyone giving it a thumbs up (except me and the senior editor). Eventually it appeared on page 12. The closing stanza, which I found quite weak went:
my friend hisses in my ear, spit driving like pins Are you feeling it? and the woman behind me claps my back and screams for revelationIt was an unconvinced scoff at best. But a scoff at what, exactly? Pentecostalism? The Church? Religion? The Midwest? I found out that the poet was a good friend of mine, who graduated a year behind me from Whetstone. The poem was written after her experience at a Wooster AoG church; strangely enough, at a service I may have attended. And the poem captured, however imperfectly, a picture of the religious confusion and disillusionment latent in the hearts of every one of the individuals on my poetry committee. As well as wearing the barely-competant literati hat (a beret, I'm sure), I wore the barely-competant coordinator of the Bible studies on campus for our InterVarsity chapter hat. Somehow, my head had always been able to accommodate both hats. But after that edition of The Goliard was published I felt an uneasiness when I attended Bible study leader meetings. Of course, I couldn't be responsible for all of the views expressed in all of the poems that appeared in the magazine. Yet some of my friends at IV who attended this large and influential AoG church fervently believed that, given my relationship with this poet, I should have been able to convince her to rewrite or withdraw the poem. They asked me if I had tried. No, I hadn't. Such an absurd thought had never even occurred to me. Then they asked me if I would consider resigning as Bible study coordinator since I obviously felt the need to keep my religious and my secular duties separate; that feeling could only be the result of luke-warmness in my faith. So there we were at another crossroads in my life. Was my life cordoned off into these different compartments? I didn't think so. But these IV people had identified something about me which I hadn't seen before. And here it is: I am suspicious of people who like to talk about their own profound emotional experiences. I have to pick apart this phrase, so I don't misunderstand myself. "Suspicious" = I don't fully trust, but i don't dislike or think they're wrong, exactly. "Talk about their own" = The having of emotional experiences is one thing. I've had profound emotional experiences. But I don't like to share them. More than that--I don't think I'm supposed to share them with any except my deepest, most intimate friends. "Profound emotional experiences" = There seems to be an inverse relationship between the profundity of the experience and the need to share verbally with lots of other people. In other words, if I talk about an experience with a bunch of people, perhaps it wasn't that profound. Have I really thought about it? How do I know it was profound? Was my life changed by it? And why is it that emotional experiences are the profound ones? Can we have deeply moving intellectual experiences? No, because by definition, what is moved is your emotions. And yet...here's where the suspicion comes in. Is it enough to simply be moved emotionally? It's funny that I even remember "Spirituality." I had to dig up that particular issue of The Goliard to quote from it and I had to remember what the poem was called and who wrote it and where in the magazine it fell. All of those things came very easily--signifying, I suppose, that the poem had more of an impact on me that I'd like to admit to myself. Or perhaps rather than changing me, it simply illuminated a sense I already had. I don't know what to do with other people's profound emotional experiences, especially when they have something to do with Christianity. It's not like I don't think that God works in those ways. It's rather that I suspect we are too likely to misinterpret strong feelings as God working. An email prompted this post. An email from friends who are going through a tough time right now. And they ended their email like this: "God is with us and we feel it, May He be with you, and may you feel it." I would never say anything to discourage them; to be skeptical about their feelings or the importance of them would be inappropriate, even cruel. I suppose my take on their email might be something like: "God is with us and I am certain of it. May you too be certain in the knowledge that he is with you." Strangely, I find this more emotionally comforting, precisely because my emotional awareness that God is near is often absent entirely. When I read Paul's prayer for himself and the Ephesians--"I pray that I may have the power to comprehend...to know the height and depth...."--I find something much closer to what I actually experience. I don't think Paul was some sort of anti-emotional robot, far from it. Rather, it's nice to know that stalwarts in the faith were praying for comprehension and assurance more than they were looking for a particular intensity of feeling.