Monday, September 10, 2012

First cup: a new blog

A new blog.

Why add to this huge growing pile of personal opinions about stuff? The problem is this: I'm requiring that my students at WPC, Fall 2012, develop and keep a blog. I'm interested in exploring the role of performance, especially as it relates to writing. How is it possible to help students think about audience if their only audience--their own reader--is the one paid to read? Well, a blog is a possible answer to that question. If there is the possibility that what I write will be read by others, will my writing improve? We'll see.

Since I am requiring that they blog, I will join them. That's one of those "serve first" principles that my other life experience, centered in Indiana, taught me: don't require students to go where you are not willing or haven't already gone. Therefore, I intend to keep this as an active blog--at least through this semester.

I've been a "journaler" off and on since 1968; I have a box of journals and diaries and a folder on my computer to prove that. For a while, then, I'll go primarily electronic and see what happens. This is my second blog; I developed the first one when we were going to Berlin. You can check that out by going to my BerlinDiary blog. (And, yes, I stole that title from Shirer's wonderful diary about his years there during WWII.)

Here's a list of what I think this blog will be about:
• reflections on teaching and what I'm reading
• reflections of faith, living, and learning
• relationships along the way
• culture and the arts

Why "First Cup"? Most mornings you'll find me in a particular spot in our living room. In some ways, it is where I have always sat--for years, in the same chair, surrounded by the same lamps and tables. The geographical location has changed from Portland to Anderson to Portland, from NE Portland to Oakwood to Troutdale, and decades have passed. But the chair and the rest--pretty much the same. Always with a stack of books, sometimes the daily newspaper is spread around, and always with a cup of morning joe (coffee for those of you too old and think I might have a morning conversation partner). The coffee is nearly always Starbucks French Roast, strongly brewed. This is the spot where I do my journaling and it begins with a first cup of morning joe.... To put a nice spiritual spin on it, this is liminal space--and I think a fine spot to ponder....

I know I have friends who live by the ethical principle that "friends don't let friends drink Starbucks," but, well, since my first cup at Seattle Pacific when the Starbucks phenomenon was just aborning, I've been hooked. A day without Starbucks is going to be a rough one. In words that are surely not original with me, "I don't even talk to God until I've had a cup of coffee."

The exception to the rule: moving my Morning Joe somewhere else. On Tuesday, you'll find me at The Bipartisan Cafe on Stark and on Thursday at Starbucks at Gresham Station. With friends. The other strategic essential of my life. Where would I be without friends? That would be a sad story. A sad story indeed.

A couple of final parting remarks....

Recently finished RailSea by China Mieville. A lovely, disturbing read. Joel gave it to me because he thought I should read it and, being a dutiful father, I did. It is a hopeful dystopia--a glimpse into one possible future that is bleak, not without friends, and, in the end, well, hopeful. I highly recommend.

What else am I reading right now: Thomas Merton's Paradise Journey by William Shannon and Michael Gruber's The Book of Air and Shadows. And, of course, the lectionary--a regular practice along the way. 9/14, by the way, is Holy Cross Day, a day of veneration of the cross. Wonder how life for us Christians would be different if we all took that day to stare at the cross and reflect on the God who is revealed there?

Enough for now; this is the first cup. I need a refill.

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