I was sitting down to coffee last week with my new friend, Dan. Dan is a career coach, a blogger, and a fellow Master of Divinity just trying to figure out what to do with his life and help others do the same. I like Dan because he is the type of person who asks really good questions.
One of those questions has stuck with me for the past week, popping into my consciousness from time to time. What is your blog about? I think that was how he phrased it. Or anyway, that’s how I have remembered it. Isn’t it funny how our memory is more selective than we give it credit for? There is always a bit of translation happening inside the grey matter of our brains.
What is your art about? There is an inherent danger in constantly taking the temperature of a creative task. Self assessment can oftentimes turn into a block that prevents true self expression. Because what kind of a fool ever thinks his work is good enough to put before others? Any creative process requires a forgetfulness of self and a boldness that allows you to look at your own work and say it is good.
But there is a danger on the other side as well. We can get so wrapped up in what we are doing that we forget altogether why we are doing it in the first place. We miss the proverbial forest for the proverbial trees. We may be authentic but how much can we truly reveal of our selves without a clear vision in mind?
What is your work about?
You see why this is such a good question, then? It’s the type of question that allows us the freedom to step back and reconnect with why we do what we do in the first place. It’s the type of question that recalibrates our vision.
So I thought it might help if I let you in a bit and told you what my answer has been so far. My passion for writing was born out of the experiences I had being a grad student, studying theology by day and working in a restaurant by night. I was parsing Greek verbs for fun and pushing the expensive wine for pay. And I noticed the tension that started to build, between these ideas that had once changed the world through the very ordinary fishermen-turned-disciples-turned-preachers and the reality that these same ideas are in constant need of translation.
This is the calling of a theologian, not simply to argue over competing ideas about God, but to translate the thoughts of heaven into the language of earth. This is essentially what Jesus was up to in his time spent here among us. The word became flesh and made himself at home with his people. The kingdom of God was made accessible; put into the language of humanity.
Perhaps it would help if I rephrased Dan’s question like this: What do I hope you gain from reading my writing?
I hope you get the sense that theology is not for theologians but for people who are willing to live, to die, and everything in between. I hope that you are drawn in by the ideas expressed rather than turned away by the words themselves. I hope that you find courage to dive into the deep end of the mystery of the divine without fear of drowning. I hope that you struggle with your faith alongside me; that you find a true expression of humanity here, of who we are and who we could be.
And I hope we can put these thoughts together in our own words.