Do You Believe in Sin?

The question came out of the blue from a member of  my church — more of an accusation than a real question. It might have more accurately been phrased, “Don’t you believe in sin?” The question came in response to a frustrated statement I had just made about a local industry who was constantly having Open Houses to hire people to work for them, and then loudly complaining that they couldn’t fill all the positions because the applicants couldn’t pass the drug test. “Perhaps,” I suggested testily, “if they wanted to make a contribution to our county, they could hire some people who really need a job and then help them to get clean!”

“Do you believe in sin?,” he demanded. Startled, I didn’t respond instantaneously. “Aha!,” he exclaimed, triumphant: “Your pause tells me you don’t!” At that point, the rector jumped in to respond, and then he changed the subject.

Had I been quicker on my feet, I might have offered the retort sarcastic: “I didn’t notice there was a commandment that prohibited smoking pot.” Alas, I am new to theological rapier and dagger, and so I fumbled the opportunity. But ever since then, I have been reflecting on that question.

Do I believe in sin?

I believe pretty strongly in mercy, which implies sin, I guess. After all, you can’t have one without the other. Furthermore, I believe in grace, which is undeserved mercy, which isn’t surprising, I guess, given my Lutheran upbringing. And I could easily construct a respectable theological stance around mercy and grace. So yeah, I believe in sin. But more in the Greek sense of hamartia.

In bad high school lit classes, hamartia gets translated in a Christian sense as a “fatal flaw” in a character’s moral fabric — a sin, a reflection of original sin — Oedipus’s “fatal flaw” is hubris, i.e., excessive pride. But that’s not what hamartia really means, at least not when discussed in relation to Greek tragedy. What hamartia literally means is “to miss the mark” or “to err” — in other words, it is a decision made by a character that leads to his or her downfall. It’s a mistake, a bad move, perhaps even an evil one. Oedipus’ error was running away from his adopted parents after the Oracle at Delphi predicted he would kill his father and marry his mother. Bad move based in ignorance. Oops.

Anyway, the point is that it is something that a character does, not what a character is. And that is a crucial distinction, at least to me. It’s particularly important whenever I go to teach at the prison. I do not teach “criminals” — people with some characterological flaw that makes them “bad people” who deserve condemnation and abuse; people whose very essence is bad. Rather, I teach men who have made an error in judgment, have committed a crime that hurt someone or violated a law. I teach men who have committed a bad act, but whose humanity has not been erased because of that act. I don’t believe that human beings should be defined by the worst thing they’ve ever done.

To me, this seems totally consistent with my Christian beliefs. After all, Moses killed a guy and then ran away (Exodus 2:11-15), which didn’t stop him from being chosen by God to lead his Chosen People. In fact, God seems to have a soft spot for people who are kind of shady. Paul writes four of his letters from prison (Ephesians, Phillipians, Collossians, and Philemon), and eventually he is executed by the Romans. John the Baptist — executed. Joseph, Samson, Jeremiah — all imprisoned. Heck, Jesus destroyed private property (the money changers) and then was executed by the state as a terrorist for violating Roman law. Peter cut off a guy’s ear. And who was the first person to enter heaven after Jesus? A thief (actually, another political revolutionary, which is the real meaning of what is translated as “thief” in the English Bible).

Sure, you can argue that most of these were people who were thrown in jail because they were following their religious beliefs, beliefs that theoretically we “good people” share, and so we look the other way. But to the ones who put them in prison they were just criminals, plain and simple, and they got what they deserved.

And maybe that’s why God is always speaking of springing prisoners from their bondage. “He has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound…” (Isaiah 61:1); “For he looked down from the height of his sanctuary; from heaven the Lord viewed the earth to hear the groans of the prisoners, to loose those who were appointed to death…” (Psalm 102:19-20); “Who executes justice for the oppressed, Who gives food to the hungry. The Lord gives freedom to the prisoners.” (Psalm 146:7) I could go on and on (Matthew 25:36 is particularly important to me personally: “I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you visited Me.”), but you get the picture.

And so to the one who challenged me about sinning, I offer, several months late, the retort theological: I put my faith in an executed God who offered mercy to those who have erred, whether deserved or not.

And no, I do not believe that pot smokers are sinners.

 

 

“Look at Me”

I can’t believe it has been almost 3 months since my last post. It has been busy — classes on campus began again, and I began teaching a new course at the prison as well as leading a book study group — but obviously I haven’t yet worked my writing into my routine. So now it is Fall Break, and I have some thoughts to share.


My prison students have been amazing. Sometime in July, while I was teaching my course on “The Human Shadow in Film and Literature,” one by one students began to start opening up about their lives, their thoughts, their pain, and their regrets. It isn’t easy for them to do so — prison is not a place to have feelings, much less reveal them. They remove their hyper-masculine masks at their peril. And yet, not only have they done so, but they seem to want to do so.

I spend a lot of time trying to consider what I might do that would create a safe enough place for this to happen. This summer, I was taking part in a Bible study class that was reading the Book of Acts, and in Acts 3 I came across these passages:

Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.

Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk.

And it occurred to me that these words held the key: in order for healing to occur, it is first necessary to be seen. It is necessary for the healer to look at the person he hopes to help, and see them, and it is necessary for the person to be healed to do the same. They have to lock eyes, and they have to both see each other. “Look at us!,” Peter insists. Look with your heart, look with your soul. Experience what it is to be truly seen. Not seen as a label: inmate, teacher, sinner, beggar, apostle; but seen as a human being, a human being who possesses the spark of divinity in their soul. Once that happens, it is possible for healing to begin.

Man, this is hard to do. We all have our guards up — masks, personas (the Greek word for mask), barriers that don’t let other people see who we really are. We prefer to wear our titles, our statuses, our constructed identities and peer through them at the world, safe in our walled enclaves. Ain’t nobody gonna catch us with our guard down!

But as long as we hide, we are unable to truly connect with anyone. We may have the best intentions — we may desperately want to help, to make the world a better place — but unless we can meet those we wish to help as equals, and as people who are equally vulnerable and equally in need, then the likelihood of actual healing taking place is made much more difficult.

Many of us are generous with out checkbooks, and provide money that will help people who are struggling in some way. And make no mistake, such money is often extremely valuable. But I would argue that the positive effects of our contributions will be magnified exponentially if we actually reach out and see the specific people we are helping, and more importantly, let them see us. Hear their thoughts, their pain, their joys, and their struggles — and share the same with them. “Look at us!”

I can’t help anyone if all I see is “A Murderer.” Did this man commit murder? Yes. Was that right? No. But does this label define him? Has his basic humanity been erased and replaced by this label? Is he no longer a child of God? Is he beyond the reach of mercy, of grace?

And he can’t trust me if all he sees is my “Professor Do-Gooder” mask. I have to listen with vulnerability, to share my own experiences, pain, and frustration. I have to risk being changed by them, so that they will risk being changed by me. It is a conversation.

I am starting to believe that learning this lesson ever more deeply will be the task of my elder years. And I pray that God will continue to open my heart and open my mind and grant me courage to love and to be.

 

Father Forgive Them

In the story of the crucifixion, Luke writes: “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) I had always been taught that, in this line, Jesus was asking for forgiveness of those who were killing the Son of God. If they knew better, they wouldn’t do it.

Maybe so. But lately, I’ve been wondering about this interpretation.

It seems to me that Jesus might have been speaking much more broadly about the experience of being a human being. Perhaps he was giving a summative report of the human condition, a final explanation offered to his Father about why there is so much hatred, killing, and abuse in a world that is created with so much beauty, love, and caring.

And the answer seems to be that we just don’t know what we’re doing. Ever. We are always blinded by parochial passions, by individual concerns, by fears, by the stories we tell and have been told. Our minds are so clouded with the cacophony of daily living that we can’t see the simplest things clearly.

Tonight, I watched the film Hotel Rwanda, a 2004 Academy Award nominee starring Don Cheadle. As I watched this drama about the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, and watched an entire country swept up in complete madness borne of resentments and hatred brought into being by Belgian colonialism, Jesus’s words kept echoing in my mind.

When I kept hearing the Tutsi people referred to as “cockroaches” — over and over again — I found myself thinking about the way President Trump uses similar words to characterize immigrants as “infesting” our nation. I found myself wondering about otherwise good, kind people who seem to lose their mind over certain issues — maybe it’s abortion or gay marriage, maybe its immigration or gun control, racism or sexual harassment, or any number of other “issues” that we get swept up in to the point of losing our minds. We follow the same pattern, decade after decade, as if we simply are unable to recognize an obvious pattern of dehumanization.

Forgive us, for we haven’t the faintest idea what we are doing. It’s utter chaos down here. What a bleak conclusion Jesus reaches.

Why is it so hard to remember one simple instruction: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” It’s so direct. There’s no interpretation required. It’s not like one of those parables that we spend our time trying to figure out. “Love one another.” Period. End of sentence. No wiggle room.

This ought to be the message spoken from the pulpit every Sunday over and over until people get it through their thick skulls: Love. One. Another.

A Concern

As I mentioned in my first post, I am using this format as a place where I can wrestle with issues concerning my journey toward ordination. Here is one that really has me worried. In the Ordination Ceremony for a Deacon, in the Examination, I am asked “Will you be guided by the pastoral direction and leadership of your bishop?” To which I am supposed to respond, of course, “I will.”

But what does this mean? When I look up “guidance,” I find two definitions:. One is “advice or information aimed at resolving a problem or difficulty, especially as given by someone in authority.” I am perfectly agreeable to that one. I am willing to listen to advice from anyone with knowledge and wisdom.

But the other meaning is more troubling: “the directing of the motion or position of something, especially a missile.” I will not have my ministry guided — aimed, pointed — like a missile. As a deacon focused on prison ministry, I fully anticipate speaking truths to the Church that many will find objectionable. My Bishop is a former law enforcement officer who, presumably, has fairly strong beliefs concerning the criminal justice system — beliefs that I may or may not share. While I am perfectly happy to listen to his beliefs on these issues, I do not believe I will necessarily adopt each and every one. Am I then in violation of my vows?

I look for comfort to this to Acts 4, where the apostles Peter and John are dragged before the Sanhedrin, the “rulers, elders, and scribes, as well as Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the family of the high priest.” These were people to whom, as Jews, the Peter and John should have listened to when they offered guidance. But when they were instructed to not preach in Jesus’s name anymore, they refused. “But Peter and John answered and said to them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.'” (Act 4:19-20)

Does this provide a way for me to answer “I will” to the Examination question?

Healing Outcasts

Since this blog is about my journey toward the diaconate, let’s focus on today’s Bible readings, specifically the Gospel reading, Mark 5:24-34:

A large crowd followed and pressed around him. 25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”31 “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ” 32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

It is important to understand that this isn’t just an “ordinary” healing. The likelihood is that the symptoms being described is menorrhagia, which is the medical term for menstrual periods that are abnormally heavy or have prolonged bleeding. This is significant, even beyond the medical problem, because according to Biblical law a menstruating woman was considered unclean. Leviticus 15 says, ”

“When a woman has a discharge, and the discharge in her body is blood, she shall be in her menstrual impurity for seven days, and whoever touches her shall be unclean until the evening. And everything on which she lies during her menstrual impurity shall be unclean. Everything also on which she sits shall be unclean. And whoever touches her bed shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening. And whoever touches anything on which she sits shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening. Whether it is the bed or anything on which she sits, when he touches it he shall be unclean until the evening.”

In 2018, of course, this seems more than a little ridiculous. But two thousand years ago, this condition essentially rendered this woman an outcast. She wouldn’t have been allowed to attend synogogue, have sex with her husband (“If a man lies with a woman during her menstrual period and uncovers her nakedness, he has made naked her fountain, and she has uncovered the fountain of her blood. Both of them shall be cut off from among their people.” — Lev 20:18), or live any sort of normal life within her society.

And yet Jesus heals her.

To me, this is important historical context, because it is yet one more example of Jesus caring for those who have been discarded by society.

In his terrific book Stranger God: Meeting Jesus in Disguise, psychologist Richard Beck. (who also teaches a Bible study class at a prison) discusses a similar story from Mark 1 in which Jesus heals a leper. Beck writes:

 

 

 

Miroslav Volf [in Exclusion and Embrace] says that hospitality begins with the ‘will to embrace.’ And just as in Mark 1, the will to embrace is all about the order. The will to embrace, according to Volf, is the affirmation of a person’s worth, dignity, and humanity prior to any other judgments we make of the person. Jesus’s touch is the perfect illustration of the will to embrace. Jesus doesn’t first see a leper, he sees a human being. Everyone else had the order backward. The crowd saw the leprosy first and then the man. Whereas Jesus’s touch welcomed the man with an affirming yes, the crowd meets the leper with a blocking no.”

For me, this applies directly to my work in the prison. If you go into the prison with the thought that you are going to teach “criminals,” you will likely struggle in your class because the men will be able to sense that you are seeing the label and unable or unwilling to see them. Nobody responds to that. They can sense when they are being objectified. Instead, it is necessary to jettison all the labels and any information you might have about a particular student and instead simply see the man, the imago dei that is is front of you.

Everybody, including the incarcerated — perhaps especially the incarcerated — desperately want to be fully seen. And while prison rules often do not allow a literal embrace, it is much more important to communicate the “will to embrace” the person without judgment blocking your vision.

I have no doubt that, when I teach at the prison, the students get more from being seen than they do from whatever content I teach. The content is the means by which visibility happens. Gradually, I come into focus for the students, and the students come into focus for me.

And that is when true healing can begin.

On Ambiguity

I chose the header image for this blog for a combination of very practical reasons (it was about the right size) and very impractical ones. I want to talk briefly about the impractical ones.

I must confess that one of the things that attracted me was that, the more I looked at it, the more I wasn’t certain how to interpret it. Is it an image of someone who is behind bars or in front of them? Are we looking from inside of the cell, or outside it?  Is the man pictured an inmate or someone from the outside? Is he praying? To make it more personal, is it a picture of me or one of my inmates?

I don’t know. Perhaps that is why I called this site “With Inmates”: it is about being in prison along with the inmates, and also being outside of the prison along with the inmates. Inside bodily, outside spiritually.

The title of the blog is also ambiguous. Is it “With Inmates,” or is it “Within Mates”? Bodily, I am with them in space and time, and my mind is with them even when I am not there. But “Within Mates” is also true: my hope is that I will develop “mates” — friends, in the Australian lingo — who are willing to accompany me as we go inside ourselves, our culture, our hopes, our fears, and our God.

What do you see in the image or the name?

The Shadow of Our Culture (The Big Short)

I’m currently teaching a non-credit course that focuses on Jung’s concept of the Human Shadow as it appears in film and literature. We’ve read Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and will wind up the course with Ursula Le Guin’s The Wizard of Earthsea. In between, we have watched Ang Lee’s film The Hulk (father-son relationship, trauma and repressed anger) and Oliver Stone’s Wall Street (mentor as shadow, selling one’s soul). Last night, we watched Adam McKay’s Oscar-winning 2016 film The Big Short, an absolutely brilliant film that details the events leading up to the financial crash of 2008. It wanted to examine the film as an example of a societal shadow.

There are fifteen men in my class ranging in age from early 20s to in their 50s. They seemed gripped by the film, and when the credits rolled, they were very quiet for a while. Then one guy, who has studied the stock market for a decade while in prison, had read the book by Michael Lewis upon which the film was based, and who has developed a personal philosophy that merges the unlikely pair of Ayn Rand and Jesus, spoke first. The film was different from the book, he pointed out patiently, in that the film didn’t mention the government policy changes promoted by Bill Clinton that had opened the door to the abuses described in the film and even encouraged them to take place. He thought that made the bankers look more unethical than they were. I agreed that the government had opened the door, but that bankers were not compelled to walk through it.  I quoted one of the bankers in the film who said, “The is Wall Street — if you want to give us money, we’ll take it.” Is that an ethical philosophy?, I asked.

Another guy, on the opposite end of the ideological spectrum from the first, revealed that his mother had lost her house in the crash and that he was angry about the level of greed and dishonesty displayed by the banks.

Then a third, an ex-Marine, angrily said that self-interest and greed might not be nice, but it was “the way it is,” and that your job is to take care of yourself and your family. If he had a landscaping business, he went on, and there was somebody else who also had a landscaping business, both of them would try to screw each other until one was out of business. There will always be winners and losers — everybody can’t be a winner — and that’s just life. A few others agreed, and the conversation went in this vein for quite some time.

*****

 Catherine Rohr (now Catherine Hoke) is the founder of Defy Ventures, an organization that teaches entrepreneurial skills to inmates. An article in Inc. Magazine says, “Rohr has an interesting theory about criminals. She says that many of the qualities that made these men good at being bad guys (until they got caught, of course) are the same qualities that make effective entrepreneurs. Some of the men in this class had up to 40 employees under management. Though their merchandise was illegal narcotics and not, say, office supplies, these men developed certain business skills—the ability to motivate a team, identify new markets, manage risk, and inspire loyalty and hard work. Rohr’s goal is to help these students apply their abilities to legal endeavors.”

She’s right — I have noted the parallels myself. Indeed, how much difference is there between, say, a salesperson for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals and a cocaine dealer on a street corner? A liquor store owner and a pot salesman (indeed, in many states, they are on the same footing)?

Given employers’ reluctance to hire the formerly incarcerated, I have often thought that the best route for my students to take upon release is not to try to convince someone to give them a job, but rather to try to make a job for themselves. After having taught the basics of entrepreneurial skills to young artists, I toyed with whether I should consider developing a course for inmates to help them think differently about their future.

But last night’s discussion makes me queasy. If the orientation of many criminals is, as Rohr says, at root entrepreneurial, it could just as easily be said that the orientation of many entrepreneurs is, at root, criminal. As The Big Short makes very clear. One of the most despicable characters in the film, in a conversation with Steve Carell about the appalling ins and outs of the business he runs, looks at Carell pityingly and says, “You think I’m a parasite, don’t you? But apparently society values me very much.” He then offers to compare his bank balance with Carell’s.

And that is the shadow of American society.

*****

The things that was missing in last night’s discussion was any talk of one’s responsibility to the community. In the film, only Brad Pitt’s disaffected former trader character, Ben Rickert, reminds anyone of the impact this high-stakes game will have on normal people. If the economy collapses, he says, unemployment will skyrocket. “Did you know,” he demands, “that for every 1% rise in the unemployment rate, 40,000 people die?” He also predicts that millions will lose their homes. Both predictions came true.

For quite a long time, I have been uncomfortable with our hyper-capitalist, hyper-competitive, highly amoral global economy. I read F. S. Michaels excellent book Monoculture: How One Story is Changing Everything with a mounting sense of horror that the one story is that “it’s the economoy, stupid” — everything is the economy.  Everything.

It wasn’t until I started reading theology that I found a strong moral foundation from which to speak. Jesus did not compete, nor did he care about the stacking up of riches. Indeed, he attacked those like Herod, who enriched themselves through collaboration with the occupying power of Rome. Moreover, his focus was on the poor, the sick, the persecuted, and the outcast — the people ignored by the Masters of the Universe portrayed in The Big Short.

I take as the foundation for my ministry and my beliefs Jesus words quoted in Matthew 25:35-40: “35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

And I take as my economic model Acts 4:32-35: “32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.”

There are some who would say in a shocked tone, “That sounds like socialism!” To me, what it sounds like is a family. When I was a child, my father didn’t compete with the kids in order to distribute food at the dinner table. He didn’t say to my 2-year-old sister, “Well, Susan, you didn’t do much of value today — you mainly spread your toys everywhere and pooped in your diaper. So no food for you tonight — get a job!” No, there were “no needy persons” among the members of my family — things were “distributed to anyone who had need.” If we were hungry, we were given something to eat (even if, sometimes, it was kidney bean in Miracle Whip — yuck!), and if we were thirsty, we were given something to drink.

The further our society moves away from being structured on the model of the family, the more exploitative it becomes. Kirkpatrick Sale discussed this in his book Human Scale, as did E. F. Schumacher in Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered (what a concept!). I  have come to the conclusion that part of my ministry in the prison is to do the opposite of what Catherine Rohr does and instead de-emphasize the inmates’ “entrepreneurial skills” and their competitive nature, and instead instill a sense of cooperation and care. To restore the image of Christ in their hearts so that they see the faces and the needs of those around them — in their cell blocks while they remain in prison, and in their neighborhoods when they are released.

Where to Begin?

I’ve started several blogs over the last ten years, and getting started is always the hard part. The problem is beginning. Do I treat it like a book with an Preface and Introduction? Do I provide a full backstory, so that readers know the context of my posts?

With my first blog, Theatre Ideas, this was less of a problem: there was already a lively and active “theatrosphere,” and I simply started by engaging the issue du jour. In other words, I just came out swinging. Soon, I was writing several times a day, and readership began to grow. By now, Theatre Ideas has had over 380,000 hits and still is visited by almost 300 people a month even though the last post was 5-1/2 years ago.

But this blog is different. It’s just about my journey as a teacher and, eventually, an Episcopal deacon within the prison system. There is no “prisonosphere,” and in fact much of the discussion exists primarily on Twitter. Long-form writing seems to have become Olde School, and blogs that aren’t “monetized” (horrible word) are definitely passe.

Nevertheless, like Elizabeth Warren, I persist.

Why? Why not just get a nice moleskin journal and a fancy pen and write for myself? Do I really think that there is a teeming hoard of people who want to hear about a 60-year-old theatre historian at the end of his career starting out (or rather, continuing) his journey to serve the prison population in Western North Carolina as a teacher and a religious figure? Do I think that many people think about, or care about, the bloody intersection of the criminal justice system and God?

No, I don’t think there is much of an audience for this, nor do I think that somewhere down the road it will be even as popular as Theatre Ideas. I suspect a few friends and family members may check in now and then in order to see what I’m up to.

The reason that I am turning to a blog rather than a private journal is that I really like the flexibility of a blog. I like being able to easily link to other websites and writers and I like being able to integrate video and images into my writing. That’s pretty much the reason: I like the WordPress platform.

So more than my other blogs (I had one for my “organization” CRADLE: the Center for Rural Arts Development and Leadership Education, and another called Creative Insubordination — both no longer in existence) , or my writings for the online arts and politics journal The Clyde Fitch

Trust me: don’t watch this movie…

Report, this will be more personal. Personal in the sense of following my own experiences, thoughts, and ideas, yes, although truth be told all of my blogs have been that; but also personal in the sense of being close to my heart — perhaps less a crusade than an exploration. Although who knows? — maybe it will just be personal like Jaws: The Revenge

Anyway, if you’re reading this, welcome. Your comments are appreciated but not expected. Let’s begin.