Why I Write (Introduction to My E-Book)

Last week, I released Reviews, Rants, and Reflections, an e-book collection of Blog posts from 2005.  I think of it as a “greatest hits” from the blog that year.  I put together this introduction as an apologia for the e-book:

A collection of blog posts from 2005. 

How could this be anything but an exercise in narcissism?  The self-centeredness of social media users is an accepted social trope, is it not?  The act of writing, in of itself, is an act of the ego.  To write is to presuppose that I have something worthwhile to say. 

Yet I believe and proclaim that Christ must increase, and I must decrease.  How does the writer achieve reconciliation of, on the one hand, the drive to arrange words and share those particular word arrangements, and on the other, the drive to disappear into the great Artist’s work and be hidden in Christ?  When one samples the simmering gumbo of allusions, interests, concerns, tastes, proclivities, traditions, hunches, and inspirations that make up a written work, how does one tease out what is of the providence of God and what is of the ego of man?

Yes, I am vain.  Yes, I care far too much about the opinions of others.  Some of my ideas are plain odd, while others are banal.  I long to have my work read and commented upon with approving tones.  I immodestly hope that someday, people might read my works with the same relish that Christians of my generation derived from CS Lewis and Tolkien.  And yet, I know that my prose, my thought, and my writing powers fail to ascend to those lofty heights. 

Then why write at all?

I write because God has wired me in such a way that I am deeply moved by words.  I enjoy the artistically rendered turn of phrase; I delight in an author who frolics with the lexicon; I linger with and ponder upon those paragraphs that hint there is more than my feeble mind at first perceives.

I write because we live in a golden age of letters.  Forget the wailing of the naysayers; pay no heed to the cries that we are being dumbed down by digital media.  Consider this: never has it been easier to write in so many different forms; never has it been easier to reach receptive readers.  Blogging has empowered a fleet of amateur essayists to explore subjects both esoteric and bizarre.  Twitter has invited millions to share aphorisms and articles, quips and quotes, rants and revelations; and it has pressed authors to re-learn the value of economy in language.  The print-on-demand and e-book revolutions have bypassed the gatekeepers that kept long form writers from finding their audiences.  Post literate age?  Bah!   A life of letters is a life on the mission field, mark my words.

I write because I feel a fire within. I feel the needle of my inner compass click. I feel that irresistible urge that I must write.  There is a rightness, a sense of vocation about it.  Some trusted loved ones have suggested that these inklings point to a real vocation.

And so I write.

In reviewing those blog posts from 2005, I shuddered.  I found a propensity for parenthetical statements (surpassed only by a fixation for using the dash for every mental pause – even when a comma or period would have done better).  I’ve tried to edit the worst of my literary offenses.  At the same time, I hope I’ve preserved something of the authentic voice of an early 30’s pastor seeking to make sense of the online world pre-Facebook and pre-Twitter. 

Finally, I’ve tried to select only those posts that might prove edifying.  On some rare occasions, I’ve been able to see God’s hand of grace through movies, books, and art.  Theologians talk about “Common Grace.” This is the doctrine that all truth and goodness and beauty are rooted in the character of God.  When we have eyes to see and ears to hear, we perceive hints of His goodness, kindness, and majesty in all of His works.  A significant part of my ministry has been in calling the church to attend to these hints of grace so that we might worship more deeply and witness more wisely.   In so far as these posts point to a deeper grasp of the character of Christ, I hope they’ll be an encouragement.

Soli Deo Gloria 

Russell

Purchase Reviews, Rants, and Reflections on Amazon

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