Blogging is a hobby, the oft derided medium of amateurs who have little in the way of expertise in far too many things, but are not short on verbosity. That would describe my blogging as well. If someone gains some insight from what I write, fine and well, but that is not why I blog.
I do so because a few people care what I have to say about things I know at least something about as well as what I say about those things I know little of outside of having an opinion. They also care for me in a way that goes beyond reading a Facebook update or what have you. In short I blog not so much to offer expertise or even practice the narcissism of being heard as I do to express myself to those few who care.
Those who care are a rare lot. I don’t mean that it is rare that people care, only that it is rare a person cares for another in a way as to listen to most of what they have to say. With this I offer two facts of life though the statements are redundant of what I’ve just wrote:
- Most people don’t care about many things about you, especially your online life. They may care about your wellbeing and happiness but not your cat, what you ate, your new car, your latest glamor shot, or your blogged opinion which they may or may not agree with. They are not “uncaring” people, it is only that you are “most people” to them to be treated with charity and kindness, but not with undivided attention most of the time.
- A few people do care about many things about you even your online life. They even give you some, if not much, undivided attention. They like the photos of Mittens and the baby. They want to know about what you ate or drive and your opinion on things they may or may not agree with. They are likely family, very close friends or in a few instances those who exist in the online world only who feel a connection to you because they saw in you someone to whom they can relate. These are the people who read your blog.
For those of you who are to me in the second camp, thank you. You give me more attention than I deserve. And because I am one of those verbose people who blog, it is not enough to labor you with the occasional post, I will now take the opportunity to tell you what I considered blogging, but spared you in the previous year….and yes I get the irony of writing about such things now, but that is what you get by being one of the few who do care.
So my first list of 2014 is what you didn’t get in 2013
- The Religion vs Secular Culture War: I have a lot of opinions about culture, but too little interest in this overblown conflict that is more about animosity than anything else. Point in case (and a trivial one at that) the Christmas tree….what on earth is so threatening about pine combs and tinsel in the public square? But if you want to read the First Amendment from a separation of church and state perspective ignoring this also means the free exercise of religion shall not be hindered….then sue to take the trees down….Christmas is not going to disappear.
- The Catholic vs Calvinist Culture Battle: In 2011 when big bad Germany and its Nordic friends were bailing out the likes of Italy and Spain, I gave attention to the so-called Lutheran vs Latin thing that was making its way through the press. Then sociologists started pointing out Bavaria was one of the more healthy economies in Germany and Austria the same way for Europe. A few still tried to maintain these were culturally Protestant examples when suddenly Iceland tanked. With that the argument went away. Things were quite for a while. Then Pope Francis came along. Though his quality of mercy was confusing to those who believed he was out to change church teaching rather than choosing to see life through a lens of grace in spite of sin, his real challenge to believers was to see the abuses of unfettered capitalism. It was then those that have been called Calvinist Catholic took aim at the Pope (most notably by Adam Shaw.) In response, the blogosphere started to take on a new culture battle of Calvinist influenced liberty drenched individualism of both Protestants and Catholics up against a community and charity oriented Catholicism and their Protestant allies who had been quietly coming over to the side of the common good for a few decades now. I thought often of reflecting on this, but if you can’t see that you are at one time an individual and yet bound by the social contract, nothing anyone says is going to sway you.
- Why October 2017 Will Be Anti-Climatic: Concerning matters of Catholic and Protestant culture I read a lot about the upcoming commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Folks in the Vatican and Lutheran World Federation spent a lot of time on how that should look. You know how many people in the world care. About five. Many more care about dialogue and common ground, but those things are not about a date on the calendar.
- Spiritual Friendship: I am not talking about the legitimacy of having a “friend of the soul,” but the friendship of attraction had with one’s “friend of the soul” involving a psychology of intimacy even if it lacks the physical. What is happening is those (very often LGBT individuals who want to remain in what they think of as a “good and moral” place) are assigning this terminology to relationships that may not be very physical, but are sensual. I’m not ready to tell anyone how they order up a relationship is right or wrong, but I do think we should be careful when using the term spiritual friendship when it is not the totality of how they feel. (Whether you agree with her take on Christianity and LGBT issues or not, the not at all amateur blogger Eve Tushnet provides plenty in the way of explanation for spiritual friendship. I’m providing this link to her Patheos page because she is one of those engaging writers who easily holds my attention.)
- More Than A Friendship: In 2008, Lori Gottlieb published Marry Him: The Case For Settling for Mr. Good Enough. The maelstrom has not settled down. Having a few friends just on one side or the other of thirty, I’ve been asked about this often. but it really is a
simplematter of what is right for you. If you want the pros and cons of the matter, two articles from The Atlantic can give you both. Go here and here. You can also find Gottlieb’s Atlantic article here.
- Neo-Folk Has Lost Its Soul, Not Really: Folk music use to have political bite. The stuff that grew out of it, not so much. Still you can’t listen to The Lumineers and Mumford and say it has no soul. Though I love the social statements of early folk, the Americana and folk of the new millennium touches more on the human condition. That is nothing but soul.
- Muddled Malick: Speaking of the human condition I wrote of Terrence Malick’s movie “To The Wonder” often enough, but did not emphasize how polarizing the movie was. I saw two lists in the last month of 2013’s best and worse movies. To The Wonder was at the top of each. I loved the film, but I can see how some found it muddled. Still Doc Hollywood writes, “muddled Malick is still better than no Malick.”
- Another Movie I Could Have Said More About: Jeff Nichols is wary of being called the next Malick, but “Mud” combined with his earlier release “Take Shelter” is starting to make a case for it. I wanted to write about Mud as a Christ figure who gave freely of himself for the love of Juniper (a figure of undeserving humanity) even to the point of death. I think this would have been a stretch, however. Sometimes you have to watch a movie on a more basic level and the takeaway from Mud is simply love is a beautiful and painful thing and one of the harder lessons we learn as we come of age.
- Other Movies, Another List: After watching October Baby and Paris Texas, I was going to create a list of enjoyable road movies, though I really only enjoyed one of those movies. The list didn’t happen, but there is still time to make one. The movie I enjoyed….that would be Paris Texas. Its a Wim Wenders film complete with a fascination for the American road that is apparent in his cinematography. As for October Baby, it has good message of forgiveness allowed to became muddled with some crammed down preachiness about abstinence. And though it was a road movie it included the message that you don’t get what you’re looking for on a trip….not really a road movie kind of message. And finally….
- The Happiest Place on Earth: America may argue for the pursuit of happiness, but Columbia University’s Earth Institute fails to list the United States as one of the happiest nations on earth while it places five Scandinavian nations in the top ten. Happiness may be a rather subjective thing that cannot be discerned in a list, but after my post on the music of First Aid Kit and Of Monsters and Men, I did consider a post on why the dour land of Kierkegaard and Bergman may be misunderstood.
I’m sure this list is incomplete, but those are the things off the top of my head I gave serious thought, then thought better of actually setting in type. Combined with a certain amount of laziness, this spared you these things in 2013 even if you had to deal with them in small ways in 2014.
Image: Credit Michael Licht, Creative Commons