I have often found that the most fruitful times of thought in my life have simultaneously been those seasons when I have been writing regularly.
The regular practice of writing, and writing for an audience in particular, causes one’s thoughts to coalesce into perhaps surprising shapes. We can remain confident in our ideas so long as they remain in the ambiguous realm of unspoken thought. But if they are forced to emerge into the sparkling clarity of language, they sometimes appear much more emaciated and strange than we had previously thought.
Of course, they may also appear with a new brilliance and a shocking force that we had missed before. These are equally possible and thus constitute the risk of writing for others. We risk changing something, be it in ourselves or others. We risk being shown as a fraud. We also risk setting someone off on an entirely different journey in life. Perhaps I cannot construct an airtight argument as to why, but I am nonetheless persuaded that this risk is worth it.
While I do blog at Theological Telemetry (https://theologicaltelemetry.com), and I intend to continue posting content there, I have also decided that I need a dedicated space for myself. This last semester of college has been a time of realizing that I don’t have my life nearly as figured out as I thought that I had.
In the fall, I made the decision not to apply to graduate school or seminary, which means that I have spent this spring semester trying to find that next step. I have looked at moving to Japan to teach English or perhaps as a missionary. I have looked at moving to Seattle, a place I have always loved. I have looked at moving back home to my beloved Sacramento. It’s still not clear where I’ll be three months from now.
I would be lying if I said that didn’t leave me unsettled and full of questions. But, the beauty of being full of questions is that one simultaneously becomes full of possibilities. A question is pregnant with a new way of being, and so the many questions that have bubbled up within me have brought me a steady and increasing clarity about who I am and what this next season of my life must be about.
I recently realized that for most of the semester I had been feeling a sense of dread about my upcoming time away from academia. My lack of success in the job hunt and my general assessment of the options available to me had left me with a sinking feeling that I would be unhappy and largely wasting my time for the next few years. This struck me as odd. If I have consciously chosen to forego graduate work, why have I done so? I ought to clarify why I made this decision so that I can embrace that decision. I chose this path. But, the odd thing about life is that we can choose something without actually choosing it. We hold back in our hearts and begrudgingly go along with it. Then, surprise surprise, we find ourselves miserable. I do this all the time. My lack of resoluteness causes me to ‘make the right choice’ and to ‘eat my vegetables,’ but to never fully accept that I am the one who made the choice to do so.
So, I dedicated myself to discerning why I have chosen to not attend graduate school right after undergraduate, and I have arrived at 5 reasons:
(1) To grow in grace by the power of the Holy Spirit
(2) To invest in relationships with others, relationships which lead to healing and growth
(3) To experience simple joys which clarify the meaning of life
(4) To shed the in-grown, faddish, and unhelpful habits that I have acquired in academia
(5) To be equipped to return to academia as an individual who possesses vision and vigor, a circumspect and wise dedication to what God loves and how to live to His glory in this world.
When I realized that these were my goals, I became overjoyed because I realized these were concrete things which can be done. They are the sort of thing that one can plan on, inculcate, and take steps towards. I take this blog to constitute one such concrete step.
I have titled this blog “Kenkyuu,” which in Japanese simply means ‘a study.’ This site then, I intend, will be a place where I can share ‘studies’ of various sorts, be they devotional, theological, philosophical, cultural, or personal. I decided to characterize these studies broadly as studies in ‘being small,’ because this has emerged for me as a central theme in my life and my work.
I have a forthcoming article in The Davenant Institutes’s journal Ad Fontes, titled “Postmodernity and the Structures of Creaturely Life: A Hermeneutic Proposal,” in which I offer a more focused and academic consideration of this element in my work.
Stating it here though, I would say that the ever mysterious relationship between the creature and its Creator constantly functions as the core of my reflection on life. I find myself bound, limited, needy, inadequate, messy, and constantly searching. I hear the voice of my Creator who calls me good, who calls me son, and who draws near to me to dwell with me in my messiness. How do I then live?
I am a creature. This means that I am insufficient to myself. Not only do I need to know the one who gives me life, but I also only have that life through sharing with others! I do not pre-exist my relationships, but rather my own selfhood is brought about by being in relation. Stating this another way, I cannot name myself. I must be named. This is the experience of being me. This is the experience of being human.
How do I live this experience which is at once both limited and open towards a more which I am erupting up towards? That is the subject of these studies.
As I take time intentionally away from crafting academic papers, from consuming secondary literature, from norms of discourse, and from the faddish concerns of the academy, I still want to remain engaged with thinking hard questions. Though I am taking time away from academia, I can’t take time away from who I am. I am someone who must read, question, grapple, and dialogue. So, much of the work on here will be brief essays and treatises which engage a particular idea or thinker I am interacting with in my own reading. It may also be a realization or a reflection which was born from an experience or a feeling. It may be a personal update about my life. I’m going to leave that open for now.
But, I want this space to be where I do not allow myself to stagnate. I want it to call me to account. “How are you spending your time?” “Have you forgotten where you are going?” “Who are you becoming?” To stop asking these questions is to die.