Extension and Projection of Self

I have not posted much in the way of substance at THTW in the last year or two. A quick glance over my archives reveals that I have posted 509 times since this blog’s founding in July 2008 (gee, I missed that decennial!)–so, an average of 45–50 posts per year. Of course, many of those are notifications or sharing of interesting links, not substantial pieces. In the seventeen months since I resumed teaching at LCC International University, I have posted only 25 times.

I’m fond of the quotation from J.M. Coetzee (incidentally, whose novel, Disgrace, I have enjoyed over the winter break) to the effect of: print writing is the extension of the author in time and space, in a way that scribal transmission cannot be as the scribe becomes part of the text. (I’m now enjoying a recent book by my LCC colleague in political science, Ignas Kalpokas, particular his chapter on mediatization, affect, projection of the self through social media, and Spinoza.) One of the reasons I haven’t felt the need to blog is because I already have many venues in which to “extend myself”: teaching, speaking, preaching, and academic writing. I was 23 and in seminary when I began THTW, and did not have those outlets for creativity.

I’m grateful to have so many meaningful outlets for thought–I am truly blessed to live “the intellectual life.” Nevertheless, sometimes I wish I could go back to a stage of intellectual and professional development when there wasn’t as much pressure for everything to be formed and processed before it is presented. A 26-year-old grad student doesn’t speak for anyone, and only has a handful of internet followers, anyway. Now, in some sense I speak/write on behalf of (and accountable to) a church body, a university, and a scholarly community–I can’t just throw stuff out there partially formed, open to misunderstanding.

When I went through a painful process of forced transition out of my previous denomination (that’s a story I should write sometime–maybe), some of the “incriminating evidence” of my unfitness for ordination was blog posts I had written several years prior. In the midst of that kerfuffle, I went back and reëvaluated not only those posts (which happened to be about inerrancy), but every other substantive post I had written to that point (late 2015). I was thankful that I did not feel the need to delete anything; I stood by what I wrote as representative of my own process of growth, even if I no longer agreed completely with what I had written previously. I believe that the same is true today.

I think it would be strange and a bit disquieting to look back on one’s writings and see nothing with which one now disagrees. While we all must have core commitments and beliefs, someone who never changes his or her view on anything is probably not “thinking hard and thinking well.”

In my present institutional and denominational setting, I feel quite comfortable and free to be myself as a scholar and a teacher. It’s a great feeling not to be constantly looking over one’s shoulder, to be trusted. With such freedom and platform comes great responsibility. May we all strive to be responsible and trustworthy with the influence with which we’ve been entrusted!

About Benj

I’m a native North Jerseyan, transplanted to Pennsylvania...lived and taught in Eastern Europe for six years…Old Testament professor, ordained minister, occasional liturgist…husband to Corrie…father to Daniel and Elizabeth.
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