Randy Greenwald

Concerning Life as It Is Supposed to Be

Category: Blog

The Preacher Is Out In

For a man who wants to maintain a blog, who believes that this is part of his calling, and who actually enjoys (mostly) doing so, five months between posts seems to belie it all. Nevertheless, as has often been pleaded to my patient and faithful readers, life has intercepted these desires.

Lack of presence does not reflect lack of concern. The things I write about matter to me. This blog’s tag line (a reference to Cornelius Plantiga, Jr.’s book, Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be) comes from a deep place in my heart. The things I see and often experience are far from what I want to see. Many feel a deep dis-ease that cries out for some orientation toward hope. I want to point, as far as I am able, in the direction where I sense such hope lies. I want to be a part of shaping a vision for the way things are to be.

My goal in these posts is to share my heart with clarity and with brevity. I value your time as well as your attention and so most posts will hover around 500 words. If I can honor Strunk and White’s challenging rule #17 (“Omit needless words.”) all the better. And if I can do this with a sense of joy and fun along the way, then that is a small step, at least, toward the way things are supposed to be.

All has not been inactivity these few months. I have continued to generate ideas, some of which will be developed and published (and some of which will be unceremoniously buried). I have in process two longer and larger projects of serialized content that I’m looking forward to releasing when I think they are ready. I hope you stay around to read, to react, and to pass what is valuable on to others. All of this is a great encouragement to me.

Stranger in These Parts

“You’re not from around here, are you?”

Though I host this blog, all would be justified in addressing me in this way these days. Yes, I am ‘from’ here, but as any can see, I’ve been mostly an absent presence. Life is my excuse. But there are deeper reasons. Writing, as much as I want to do it, is hard. And like many things that are good but hard, I often shrink from it.

Steven Pressfield in The War of Art personifies this tendency as ‘The Resistance’ and challenges writers and other creators to fight against it. The most often suggested weapon against The Resistance is to set designated writing times. I set them, and then ignore them. The Resistance wins.

We all have a God given impulse to create. I sometimes express this impulse by working with words and sometimes by working with wood. When I work with wood the created thing exists in my mind before I touch the first piece of wood. As I build it, it grows and changes but the end result is generally close to what I saw in my head. My best writing occurs in the same way. The idea forms in my head before a word is typed. The writing is hard – words I think are a more difficult medium for me than wood. But eventually, what I have at the end is what first existed in my head.

But that does not come easily for me because I do not write enough, and I do not write enough because I blow through my designated writing times.

There are much better thinkers, much better observers of human nature, and much better processors of cultural events than I. But only I have my point of view and my particular voice. And to the degree that my point of view and voice resonate with others (though only a few, a happy few, my band of brothers) I’ll keep pounding away at the resistance.

I don’t like being a stranger in these parts.

Slightly Alive

Contrary to what you might have imagined, this blog is not dead. At least not all dead. If it were all dead there would be nothing left to do but to go through its clothes and look for loose change. As it is, it is only mostly dead, which we all know means slightly alive. And we hope, soon, that it will be again fully alive.

Life for its author has taken on a busy-ness that cannot be averted, delayed, suppressed, or avoided. This has left little room for ruminating much less for writing. So, don’t change the channel or unplug your set. We will in due time return this blog to its regularly scheduled programming.

Thanks for your patience.

The Best of 2016

The Eagles and The Beatles and Chicago and Frankie Valli can get by with “Greatest Hits” albums because they in fact had sufficient “hits” from which to choose. Other bands can only release “Best of” albums, choosing favorites regardless of whether any were hits or not.

One of my favorites.

This post is a “Best of” listing. I’m at best a local band with a small, but quality, following.

That said, how can I choose even the best among the 70 posts of 2016? There are a couple of paths open to me.

If I were to base my choice upon those posts most viewed, the following three emerge.

  • A Lot of Jesus” – in which I muse on the importance of maintaining the regular practice of worship even on Christmas, especially in a year that has been hard.
  • A Bonhoeffer Bio Worth Reading” – a review of Charles Marsh’s Strange Glory and some reflections on what the church today can learn from Bonheoffer’s struggles in Nazi Germany.
  • The Post-Election Church” – written before the results of the 2016 presidential election and published the day after, considering the fact that the church’s essential calling and vision is unaffected regardless of who would win.

However, that method is somewhat skewed. I’ve found that if I refer to a post on FaceBook, those who at least click into the post rises astronomically. If in addition it’s the least bit controversial, it rockets to the top.

If, on the other hand, I were to choose the ones that I was most proud of, the ones I felt were the most important, I’d draw your attention to those below. This is kind of like picking one’s favorite child. But these are ones whose ideas continue to float around in my mind. I think they are important.

  • Possession or Profession?” – I really am not taking on R. C. Sproul here, but rather a stream of thought in which his words have been placed. HOW we hold onto the assurance of salvation is such an important consideration and often mishandled.
  • How to Experience Awe and Intimacy with God” – I really don’t want a career as an iconoclast, but after the post that referenced Dr. Sproul, I reviewed Tim Keller’s book on prayer. As much as I’ve benefited from Keller over the years, this book was a disappointment.
  • God Is Faithful” – The final post in my series on David’ Crum’s book Knocking on Heaven’s Door includes some personal correspondence with the author that I’ve been thinking about ever since. The entire series on that book was important to me.
  • A Lot of Jesus” – I would add this to my list because of how much of my heart’s desire is in it. Maybe that is why it’s received so many views.

If you missed any of these along the way, I invite you to check them out.

I may never have sufficient attention to put together a “Greatest Hits” album. Nevertheless, I’m proud of my “Best of.”

Blogging Unfashionably, 2016

If I were to get serious about launching that career as a hip hop artist, my decision to do so would no doubt coincide with the time that hip hop would begin to slide into the sunset as a passé genre. I’m perennially late to the party.

So, this year, as I decided to focus more on my blog and be serious about it, I’m being told that blogging is fading from its novel perch. Of course, it’s clear that fashion has never quite been my thing. I wear Birkenstocks and I’m never quite sure whether I’m to wear them with socks or without and whether the socks should be white or black. So I’m probably the last to be concerned whether blogging is fashionable.

And yet, I do care about being read, and so I am grateful, deeply so, to those who have read this blog over the past year and encouraged me in significant ways along the way. I’m especially grateful to you who have taken the time to join the conversation in the comments section, and those who have insured the viability of the blog through your financial contributions.

At this time last year, I determined to re-boot what was then called “Somber and Dull.” In 2015 I had only posted 15 times, and not at all since May. Some of those posts were important ones, expressing things I needed to say, things I wanted others to hear. But the inconsistency was frustrating for readers and for me.
By contrast, in 2016, since the re-launch, I have published 70 posts, slightly less than my goal of two/week, but clearly a clip greater than the previous year. Given my life situation, that’s not bad.

Those of you who have followed this for a while are aware that the site transitioned recently into the narcissistically and pragmatically named randygreenwald.com. Since then, the site has experienced more visitors than ever before. I’m grateful in this for you readers who have pushed this site to others.

Although life sometimes causes the rate of posting to slow or threatens to shut it down altogether, I’ll continue plugging away. Upcoming in 2017, if able and God is willing, you can expect, among other things:

  • some insight into why and what other people read.
  • a reflection on the nature of ‘blessing’ and why the Aaronic benediction from the book of Numbers should be so precious to Christians.
  • a walk-through of a book or two, including Cornelius Plantinga’s book Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be (appropriate for a site with a tag line like this one).
  • a review of the movie Silence along with other movies and books as they strike my fancy (I’m open to suggestions).

I’m sure along the way there will be rants and raves and reviews all aimed at considering the way life is supposed to be.

Thanks for tagging along. Hang around and I’ll keep writing and probably not find the time for that hip hop career after all.

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