Thursday, June 12, 2008

Introduction to the Vault

As Jim Nantz of CBS Sports would say, "Hello, friends."

Hopefully, that last word--"friends"--will mean something, even on the Internet, where the immediacy of communication is tempered by the lack of face-to-face contact and all the gesticulative intimacy that one misses as a result.

I've lived almost a third of a century, and I'm at a point in life where I've gained a certain amount of knowledge about the human condition and the planet. I can and will be shocked--even though I tell myself I won't be (sound familiar to you?)--but I am experiencing a certain amount of (hyper-)saturation. I don't think one piece of new information will fundamentally overturn my whole attitude or worldview, for better or worse. A certain settledness has begun to enter into my understanding of the world. This doesn't mean I'm closed to new insights--anything but; it means that I've begun to truly appreciate how much of a messy, muddy mystery life is, beginning with my own self. As Richard Rohr--a gifted Franciscan priest-author and one of my foremost spiritual guides--would say, "Humble people know that they don't know."

Without saying much more, my simple and sincere hope for this blog--which will not be a running compilation of fresh new insights so much as it will be an ever-expanding storehouse of my collected writings over time--is that it will lead you to places of greater wisdom, understanding, and edification. I particularly wish that anything you might gain from my writings will lead to you gift the world in some way. I see three specific openings or avenues through which this blog can help you on your life journey:

1) It can enable you to debate the great subjects of our time (and of the American white male realm): politics, religion/spirituality, and college football. Being able to debate and discuss current affairs, the realm of the eternal, and anything in the sports world with civility, learnedness and depth is no small matter. The book idea I'm tinkering with at the moment is, in fact, How Better Football Analysis Can Save America. You can e-mail me or use this blog's comments section to gain a better idea of what I'm aiming for.

2) These archives can pry loose a desire to be a better teacher or explainer to others--be they colleagues or young people. We have such a need for elders in our American society today. Elders are not old people (that's the "elderly"), but wise people. We need people with wisdom who can infuse both the workplace and the home--one's contemporaries and one's children--with a better way of doing things. This pursuit goes beyond the act of debating subjects expertly; it involves education and encouragement in the attempt to mold a better future for our world.

3) This archive-based blog can simply make you, the reader, want to be more of an activist, a force for positive social change, in some manner. Perhaps you won't necessarily want to talk more or teach more as you read this blog, but will simply want to serve more. Perhaps you might see ways to be an active force for positive change in your church. But maybe, the college football section of my archives will lead you to agitate for responsible reform in the sports world (there's plenty of advocacy work to be done in that realm). It could be that this blog will lead you to be more vocal in demanding better journalism and more accountability in the media at large. And quite possibly, the current events/politics postings on this blog will kindle in you a desire to help the helpless, homeless, voiceless and powerless in a world of great disparities.

All in all, dear readers, I hope that this blog is not just something you read for your enjoyment, though that's certainly never a problem for me or any writer. I hope that the reading of this blog and what will become a steadily-expanding vault of material (mostly in college football, but surely accompanied by politics and religion as we go along) will lead you to want to edify the worlds around you, large or small, in some profound and discernible way. The last thing I want is for my writing to be consumed but not acted upon in some meaningful fashion. Writers do live to have their work published and distributed, but as a Catholic Christian person in a world beset by brokenness and injustice, the true value of my writing is its ability to create in readers the forces and awakenings that transform attitudes and improve individuals, one by one. May your journey with me on this blog be a journey that leads you teach, learn and serve more fully in this life, a life spent in a world that is both astonishingly beautiful and paralyzingly painful.

In conclusion, I make this special plea: While writers like to get paid--and regular 24/7 bloggers ask for donations from readers to keep their sites going, while also justifying the enormous expenditures of time and effort that faithful blogging entails--I wish to propose something different.

If you like my work, first of all, pass it on to those in your circles. Spread the word. But secondly, instead of giving me a donation, just do something good for someone else, and let me know about it. You'll notice two charity-related links on this blog (along with the links to Catholicism, college football, and current events), but let's be clear in saying that our society should not think that monetary contributions are the alpha and omega of giving. In fact, "checkbook charity" is the very kind of mindset which leads people to avoid the harder but more gratifying and meaningful work of meeting needy people--whether in need of education, consolation, or food--face-to-face.

The only thing I ask is that whatever you might be led to do, tell me about it. You can e-mail me, or you can use the comments section on this blog.

Thanks for your soulful presence, which will edify me on my journey. In turn, I hope that you'll be enriched by this tour of writings, the fruits of both my journalistic and private endeavors over the past seven years of my life.

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