Monday, May 17, 2010

The Blog, Thinking Back, and Thinking Ahead

Last week at Pluscarden Abbey an external consultant to our systematic theology department challenged us to be well-versed in the ancient texts that make up our tradition and to read, read, read. He also acknowledged that we are in a bit of a theological hotbed and he exhorted us to both not take that for granted and to make sure that we don't get too caught up in it. In regard to the latter warning, he advised that we be sure to (a) be aware of what is going on outside of our own school walls and to (b) find our own distinct voice and opinion and not be mere ventriloquists. They were good words.

I had already been thinking about going back through my own writing, now that I'm through my first read of my dissertation's primary resources, to see how my thinking had brought me to this point, had perhaps coloured my reading, and had perhaps changed at all along the way. As part of that endeavour I've browsed through the archives of this blog and discovered (to my partial reinvigoration!) that my current dissertation is even more of a culmination of prior thinking and yearning than I had realized.

Amongst all the things I've written about here in the 300+ posts of the past 4+ years, there are a few themes that keep popping up again and again. Of those, the recurring themes of community, forgiveness, and communion likely top the list. As I've looked them over I've been reminded of who it is that is meeting Barth on these issues (me, but also my influences), and what it is that has brought me to this point (passion for church and community, as it relates to real life issues). I also feel like I have a clearer sense of my own appraisal of Barth's work and his ongoing effect on me.

In the process of this exercise, I've kept track of some of my favourite posts (on all variety of themes) and have compiled a "best of this side" page for posterity's sake (also now linked on the sidebar). And as I, once again, reconsider the value of blogging going forward, I am spurred on a bit by my recent walk down memory lane. Who knows how long I'll keep on with it, or whether there will be hiatuses or not, but I must say I didn't realize having a blog would help me down the road in this way. I've actually made a document of the relevant posts (including reader comments) to refer to and mine for ideas. Some of you, undoubtedly, will end up having helped me in ways you may not ever know! Thanks again for reading along and interacting.

I'll be writing a first draft of one of my dissertation chapters between now and World Cup kickoff on June 11 (a self-imposed deadline) and so can't guarantee the blog will see much new writing. I'll either ignore it, or need it as an outlet. We'll see. In the meantime, if you are really that bored you can peruse the "best of " archives and maybe there something will catch your eye.


Dale said...

Hi Jon-- i spent the last half hour or so reading old posts on your "best of," and I have to say it made me miss you a lot. I could use a good walk from Archibald to Spruce St across the old airstrip once in a while these days.

Having done ministry now for (almost) a year, I'm realizing more and more how big a gift your honesty, critical mind, disdain for false peace and zeal for its opposite was to me in our time at school and is to the church. Thanks for "thinking out loud" the way you do here at "this side", and inviting us to listen in.

jonkramer said...

Yeah, you're a great blogger.
And I have no idea how you manage to hammer out such consistently great posts - content and frequency-wise - with all that you've got going on in your life. But I'm glad you do!
Also, Sunday "went well" - thanks for the help.

Jon Coutts said...

You guys are too good to me.

Glad it "was good" Jon! would love to hear more someday. Send me a transcript?

Dale, I'd like to have me one of those airstrip walks myself again. Can't believe you've been at it a year already! Awesome. Yeah, I gotta give you a call one of these days for sure.