“You just keep thinkin' Butch. That's what you're good at.”
It looks like Cowtown Pattie has awarded/tagged me with The Thinking Blogger Award — no small honor, considering not just the source, but her four other choices as well.
With the prize comes a heavy obligation: naming five bloggers who make me think. Rather than pick the five friskiest from my litter of cobbers I could, of course, just encourage you to check out any of the links on my sidebar. But I do think there is some merit in exploring the people who don't just provoke me with ideas and concepts, but actually get me steeping, so here goes (with apologies for ground that's already been covered):
First props go to the Multiple Blowhards at 2Blowards.com, and particularly to Michael, the considerate, irreverent and endearingly lascivious ringmaster of the whole enterprise. I admire and try to emulate his “Why not? / And yet...” rhetorical approach, because it's the surest way to get me entertaining ideas I would normally ignore, or dismiss out of hand. We're all (I hope) conflicted individuals, with more than one personality at our core. Consider politics: if I had to sum myself up, I'd say I'm a knee-jerk liberal with a conservative's fretful conscience. Due consideration of both impulses should, I would think, have tremendous potential. So why insist on Ockham-like clarity when a little tender exploration of complexities might yield the more rewarding insight?
The example of 2blowhards is what got me blogging: that, and my e-mail exchanges with Scott — a friend who is a thoughtful, giddy, deft and genuine steeper of ideas. Many times I've wondered if we shouldn't just publically post our back-and-forths. It's probably just as well we don't: A) it might degenerate into an all-out nerdicon (our last exchange covered the relative merits of Dr. Who over the current Galactica) and B) sooner or later his entourage of admirers would descend and leave my self-esteem in tatters. Here is one rather weighty exchange that did, finally, go public. When I initially saw it, I wondered if both of us hadn't somehow missed the point. Gradually, I couldn't help but wonder if the world mightn't be better off if more people made the effort to miss the point like we did! So here's a prize for you, Scott, with my thanks for making me think.
If you read that last link (or much of what I post here) you have discovered I'm a religious sod. In the words of Darth Vader, it is my destiny. There was no escaping it: my father is a Mennonite pastor, my mother is the daughter of a Mennonite pastor. I went and married a pastor's daughter, too, because I didn't want a lifetime of explaining every strange little tic in my character (the fact that she was the most desirable woman I'd ever met helped, too). With the exception of a few friends (again, on the sidebar) I tend to avoid religious blogs as if they were the not-so-proverbial plague. Most religious blogs are recognizable for the tone they immediately strike: “Here is further confirmation (as if I needed it) that what I believe is in fact the Truth.” Of course, one needn't be religious to voice that sentiment, but it seems to help. The only thought this approach inspires in me is, “Where's the exit?”
The people who nurtured me experienced and did great and wonderful things through their faith, so theirs is not a punchbowl I aim to piss in — if you want my statement of faith, buy and read my book. But if there is one defining problem I have with my heritage, it is that the theory always — always — came before the art. People, you can't make art like that!! You just can't. Trust me, you'll wind up with church buildings that look shabbier than the local arena.
In my childhood there existed one shining beacon of aesthetic hope, and that was a bunch of earnestly dotty hippies called JPUSA: Jesus People USA. (If you think I'm being cruel, I'm not: “fools for Christ” and all that.) These folks believe the Church is called to be counter-cultural, and is hardwired into the Holy Spirit, and should be producing sounds and visions that testify to this arrangement. You are free to debate the intent and quality of their output, but there is no denying it is prodigious and boisterous. And I happen to think some of it is great, 'cos that's just what you get when you open up the floor the way they do.
More to the point, the theory follows the art: here's JPUSA's Mike Hertenstein explaining why The Zombie Crawl is the Liturgical Dance of Cornerstone Festival. Rather kewl in a Burning Man Reclaimed sorta way. Now, it could be someone entered the Cornerstone planning room and said, “How best to illustrate 'To live is Christ, to die is gain?' I know: Zombie Crawl!” More likely it was, (rubbing hands and chortling) “Where do we introduce the Zombie Crawl?” I love it! So for this, and other surprises, I make a monthly habit of checking out what Hertenstein pulls into his Imaginarium because it gets me giggling ... and it gets me thinkin'. (h/t to JT for the introduction).
As with Scott, my e-mail exchanges with Mary Scriver have provoked a great deal of thought — but that would hardly come as news to anyone who reads her blogs, Prairie Mary and Merry Scribbler. I'm particularly fond of whatever she posts on the latter, so that's the one I'll “award” the prize to.
And finally, I must return to another ringmaster, albeit one who flits in and out of the shadows: DarkoV at Verging On Pertinence. Lots of thoughtful material on his blog, but what really gets me steeping are his frequent comments and musical recomendations. Take a Sunday morning to tune in here, and you might just catch him at his calling: DJ of extraordinary pertinence.
Alright: I'm washing my hands of all this gray matter. Let's see what the rest of you have.