On Knowing Thyself

In ruminating on the reasons why I’m universally terrible at blogging, I’ve had the opportunity to engage in some critical self reflection. What began as a very surface issue–the lack of posting on a blog which nobody reads in the first place–has allowed me to examine myself in a constructively critical fashion.

At the top of my informal-though-extensive list of “Reasons Why I’m No Good at Blogging” (which I hope to soon retitle as “Reasons Why I Was Formerly No Good at Blogging”) is an issue with blending various parts of my identity into one, cohesive package.

Sounds new-agey and weak, right? Well, let me explain.

In he past, I’ve started writing a piece of theological reflection and hesitated publishing it for want of not appearing to be one of THOSE writers, the kind who can’t write about anything relevant. I worried about allowing my blog to become a site solely devoted to theological reflection (Whoops! Guilty!), a genre which does not appeal to some (many? most?) of my friends.

Likewise, I started one day to post a short story I had written (set in my little fictional city of Parsley, Minnesota) and hesitated. “You’re trying to be a theologian” I chided myself. “Nobody wants to read your dorky little short stories.” Priests and theologians don’t write short stories, they write homilies and treatises!

As a recent graduate with a BA in the humanities (English, Theology, and Gender Studies, at that!), there is an immense amount of pressure to be–or at least present as–a professional. If I want to make a name for myself as an academic, I can’t be posting stories about the time Mr. Johnston, the band director at St. Ansgar’s Academy, scolded Ellie Sjurjeth for making fun of her classmate. On the other hand, if I want people to take me seriously as an author, I shouldn’t be posting recipes. A quote from a medieval saint on the divinity of Christ might alienate somebody, so I’d best forgo that.

In sticking to a neutral subject matter–or even just one interesting subject matter–I have missed an opportunity to truly share myself with the world. While I could have showed the world–or at least the few of you who might actually traffic this blog–a mostly conscientious person who is actively pursuing the priesthood and/or monastic life in the Episcopal Church; a person who writes about a quirky small town in Minnesota; who finds immense hope in the writings of medieval monastic women; who enjoys a fine homily now and again; who drinks port while knitting; who cries in grocery stores when he remembers his students in New Haven; whose closest confidants are nuns; who uses baking as therapy; who listens to Gospel, show tunes, reggae, and rap–all in the same hour; who drinks too much coffee; who sometimes preaches halfway decent homilies; who carries residual evangelical, Lutheran, and Catholic guilt; who sometimes reads (and writes) Harry Potter fanfiction; who is a feminist.

This is the sort of person who is absolutely needed in the world. I say that not out of some narcissistic idealism, but out of a deep commitment to reality. I am who I am (“know thyself,” “to thine own self be true,” “I yam what I yam,” &c.) and I have an obligation to share my perspective–which is uniquely mine and belongs to nobody else–with the world. In the same way, you all–uniquely you–have a similar obligation to share yourself with the world!

And so, with all of this in mind, I would like to commitment myself to posting more on this blog, to sharing myself–nuns, wine, and small towns–with you all (whomever you may be), in the hopes that you will also begin to share yourselves in whatever medium makes most sense.

So, here’s to a new beginning!

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