Hello there, friend. It’s that special time of year… time for ‘bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils,’ under trees about to woo us with all their fire and fade. The mornings will be tinged with that spicy leaf smell. People will be putting perfectly good squash in their coffees, where no pumpkin has any business being. It’s a heady time, the turning of seasons.
My last intentional post was July of last year, so this is going to be the writerly equivalent of “sorry, just saw your text!” I’m sorry. I saw it. I tried 🤷🏻♀️.
I put my pen down last August and have not picked it up in this space since, save a few reflections for the church blog or moments of divine inspiration. Some of it was the sheer exhaustion of the past two years, some of it was sorting through how to write about anything while the world appeared to burn.
In his sermon, Learning in Wartime, written a month after England declared war on Germany in 1939, C.S. Lewis defends the pursuit of “normal” activities such as completing one’s education or engaging in hobbies during wartime1. He writes “What is the use of beginning a task which we have so little chance of finishing? Or, even if we ourselves should happen not to be interrupted by death or military service, why should we – indeed how can we – continue to take an interest in these placid occupations when the lives of our friends and the liberties of Europe are in the balance? Is it not like fiddling while Rome burns?”
At times this past year, when I have tried to write, it felt something like fiddling while Rome burns. Why bother writing when people are suffering? Why bother doing anything of beauty for that matter? I won’t ruin the ending for you, but Lewis has a worthy answer here. To put it another way2, “What’s the point of being happy now if [we’re] only going to be sad later? The answer is, of course, because [we] are going to be sad later.”
The truth is that beauty has never waited for permission. We are going to encounter much grief in life, so when we do encounter “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy3” – we do well to cling to it as much as possible. Not because what grieves us isn’t important, but because it is. In the words of Lewis’ friend, Walter Hooper; “Having done the best we can to perform whatever God demands, should we not at least enjoy the good He sends us?4”
All that to say, I feel ready again. I thought over the last month about why I began this blog in the first place; it was to write for the sake of writing, for the benefit of even one reader who would be encouraged with “oh thank goodness, it isn’t just me” in our shared human condition. I recently commented how posting my words on social media can feel a little like sitting at a table set for 300,000 people, with everyone shouting at the top of their lungs. I don’t want to shout. I don’t want to compete. I just want to set a good table and serve you a meal with love.
In light of that, I’ve been thinking about my tagline of “Doctrine, Pews, & Doctor Who” and how I could have a little fun organizing my thoughts. Though best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray, I’m hoping to:
– Cover a slice of doctrine once per presently-unspecified interval (it will be at least monthly). I’m passionate about doctrine and its expression through church history because we stand to lose or gain so much based on whether we heed it or neglect it. When we neglect it, we open ourselves up to all sorts of unnecessary suffering by not learning from those who have gone before. In my previous semester (at Cairn University, which offers an incredible learning experience, should you be looking to earn or finish your degree), I learned about the OG church hoppers, the Donatists, and there’s a lot to unpack there. Same for their pals, the Pelagians, the ancestors of every angst ridden perfectionist today. Augustine answered both of those heresies, but if we don’t know about it, then we suffer for no reason, so I’d like to help in this space.
– Another time per unspecified interval, it’ll be my commentary from the “pews” – just thoughts on working out our common salvation. Look for whatever I’m learning in my quiet time and things that I’m working on for the someday-book; healing from ‘church hurt’ while keeping a soft heart, things along those lines.
– And for my niche interweb friends, one post per unspecified time interval taking you through my favorite TV series, one episode at a time; Doctor Who. I’m gonna let you down right now and reserve the right to skip the ones that I don’t like or think are too spooky. I covered my eyes watching Harry Potter, so you can assume my spooky-meter is calibrated a touch low.
So that’s the Darjeeling, friends. I’ll end each monthly “update” with some variation of the following, and I hope you add your favorites in the comments if you like!
What I’m reading this month:
– The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis – I will never be able to pick a favorite Lewis, and as usual, this book is just so good. A variety of his favorite and best known essays and sermons from over the years, including The Weight of Glory, Learning in War-Time, The Inner Ring, and On Forgiveness.
– The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein – Even though I know the movies by heart, I haven’t read all the way through these books in decades. It’s a perfect fall read, and you can follow along with @teawithtolkien on the ‘gram.
– Transitions by William Bridges – this is an excellent book that I wish I had begun two years ago so I didn’t feel so lost and alone during a really hard season. The thesis is that change and transition are two separate things; change is what happens to you, transition is what was already happening inside you. Good mile markers and company for the road.
What I’m watching:
Crash Landing on You (Netflix). I know we’re two years behind everyone else who already watched this gem, but my husband and I started rewatching it almost immediately after finishing the series because we missed the characters as soon as it ended 😆. The story arc and character development are so dang good, and the camaraderie between the Ri Jeong-hyeok’s company is just the best, especially Major Pyo. This was my first k-drama and now I’m hooked.
What I’m loving to eat:
This is the perfect end-of-summer to fall transition recipe. It’s got grilled eggplant and walnut pesto, so there’s not much to dislike, unless you hate walnuts or eggplant, in which case you should definitely make something else.
Looking forward to writing again, and hope you stick around!
Until next time,
2 thisisabighat. “Doctor Who – Christmas Special 2011 ‘What’s the Point of Them Being Happy Now?”.” YouTube, 17 June 2013.
3 Phil 4:8
4 Hooper, Walter. Introduction, “The Weight of Glory.” Harper Collins 2001