It has been some time, several years in fact, since this blog was reluctantly shuttered. (Some of you may remember a series of odd ramblings posted at A musing Muse.) The tyranny of the urgent enslaved me to the necessary tasks of teaching and of family—and to the unnecessary tasks that I took on willingly. Much to my disappointment, these inadvertently crowded out my enthusiasm for writing.
Writing is a curious art. It assumes you have something interesting to say and an audience who longs to listen. Composing blog articles give the perception—maybe even the illusion—that both are in demand. Yet without the peer review process of publishing nor the physical presence of readers, one may write into the void with nothing to return. Done poorly, it devolves into a sophisticated diary. Done well, it may reach more than the avid shoppers at Barnes & Noble.
It is important, then, that if you at all show any interest in what occurs in these pages, I give you an overview of the kinds of ideas you can expect to encounter. This is not a manifesto by any means, for a manifesto implies an end goal—usually a political one. And this blog does not have an end goal, though I would say, like all created things, it does have a telos. What this is, then, is a short list of the topics I think worthy of capturing our imaginations, and perhaps worthy of your attention.
Culture. I believe in the value of a culture of manners. Morals and mores anchor our ethical lives in the true and the good. Custom and convention direct our habits toward the beautiful. Ritual and liturgy provide us a script for work and worship. Russell Kirk famously said there is no culture without a cult. It has been the western project, for the last two generations at least, to blast the religious center of life and rebuild it with rubble and detritus. The consequence has been radical individualism, secularism, and civic division, not to mention moral decay. I hope we may persuasively undermine this destructive project and restore not only the positive contributions of the west to the world but to also gently remind our neighbors of the eternal things.
Literature. I believe in the value of great books. If traditionalists are to be persuasive, then we must construct our arguments creatively through thoughtful storytelling. We must appeal to reason and rediscover beauty—and not what merely passes as beautiful. Here I will display artistic creations from time to time, to share with readers something good (I hope) that touches on truth and causes us to turn, ever so briefly, toward those eternal things.
Criticism. I believe in the dialogue sparked by great art. Written, visual, and performing arts are not to be experienced in a vacuum; they demand a response, and that response can only occur in a community. Like-minded but diverse minds joining together to discuss art is, to my thinking, one of the truest forms of community that exist—and, perhaps outside of the local church, one of the most transformative that we can experience this side of paradise. A blog is not community; it is disembodied and rhetorical rather than dialogical. But it can be a place to foster an incarnated discussion if two or more minds find its words sufficiently provocative or persuasive. To the extent that criticism can spark discussion, I hope to do so here.
There was an Italian immigrant who came to America at the turn of the century to open a bakery and to find a new world. He was a breadman by trade, and in addition to his standard fare, he carried with him a family secret for making the sweetest, richest, and fluffiest. He had been moderately successful in the mother country, baking his special breads at select times and for select people, fiercely guarding his family secret lest others learn it and rob him of his success. He dreamed of opening his own shop in Little Italy, so he gathered all of his savings, worked three jobs, and realized his dream in only two years. But as before, he had refused to make his special breads in his American shop, not knowing what competitors might do with it if they learned of his secret. So despite his talent and hard work, and even with the loyalty of his small cadre of customers, his shop closed within six months. Fearful of failure, he was even more fearful of success. Worried that the neighborhood might take from him, he never gave them the best of himself. And deprived of community, his business and his soul withered and were forgotten.
Of all the platforms out there, of all the print and digital offerings, of all the ways in which you could spend your time–if you’ve read this brief note all the way to the end today, and if you’re still here for more in the weeks and months to come, I give you my earnest thanks. I hope we may continually learn from each other.
3 thoughts on “Welcome to the Relaunch”
I look forward to the relaunch. It is not often that I have the opportunity to consider thoughts and issues outside of the normal scope of work, church, and school duties. But, I need some of that energy and spark.
Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoy.