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Miniblog #159: What’s This Blog’s Purpose?

by Carson T. Clark on December 14, 2012

Earlier this week I sought feedback on my rhetorical strategy. One theme I discerned was that, in so many words, my purpose in writing is muddled. I’m not going to request critical feedback and then get all defensive or indignant when it comes in.1 Rather, I hope to constructively clarify why it is I write this blog. Without a doubt the reason my purpose is unclear is that it’s anything but singular; that is, my purposes are many.1.That would be hypocritical, immature, and just plain stupid. This blog is how I get my mind around what I’m thinking. It has become the primary means through which I process my feelings. It’s a forum for wrestling through my beliefs as they evolve.22.And hopefully mature. As an aspiring author, it’s how I practice and improve in the craft of writing. It’s how I get feedback on the veracity of my perspective(s). It’s a creative outlet. It’s a place where I try to model a different way of being.33.Specifically, the rigorous pursuit of truth experienced within missional community and moored in authenticity, compassion, grace, humility, and love. It’s how I share humorous, artistic, or thought-provoking videos. It’s my way of expressing empathy and encouraging like-minded people who feel alone and misunderstood. It’s a tool for educating. It’s a platform for offering a prophetic voice–challenging American society and the Body of Christ. It’s a laboratory of trial and error in the art of effective communication.44.I’ve by no means offered an exhaustive list. In sum, this blog is how I share my convoluted life journey as I relentlessly pursue God, truth, beauty, goodness, self-discovery, refinement, and the like. My wife recently made me aware of the distinction between a discourse of affirmation and a discourse of inquiry.55.There’s obviously some conceptual and pedagogical overlap but, in general terms, the former declares, simplifies, and expects conformity whereas the latter offers, complicates, and facilitates searching. Returning to the original issue, quite honestly I’m not sure how these diverse intentions should impact my rhetorical strategy. What I do know is that my intention is that this blog embody, inspire, and model a faithful discourse of inquiry. That’s the best way I presently know to sum it up.

  • Morgan Guyton

    There’s no question that you pursue a faithful discourse of inquiry. Don’t let the haters get you down. I’m glad you’re writing. Your thought process has been influential to me. I feel like God has connected a field of His icons like a solar farm out in the desert so that the light can bounce back and forth between us and some kind of 21st century reformation can happen as a result. Of course, my problem is I need everything to be grandiose and dramatic because I’m a diva. But I learned at the church planter training that it’s okay to be a diva as long as you step out of the way and send people to Jesus.

  • Dan Martin

    These are all good, and often related purposes, Carson. The only real question I think remains unaddressed in his post is, how do you see reader engagement fitting into this blog. I know that you, like me, find that challenges from people who wrestle with related topics can help you to refine, nuance, or modify your perspective. But do you see comments on your blog and/or Facebook as a sometimes – desirable way to facilitate that engagement? Or is the frustration of other, less-helpful commenters of sufficient irritation that you’d be better off closing comments? That’s not a call the rest of us can make…

    • Carson T. Clark

      Dang it, Dan. I really don’t want to sound as though I’m kissing your ass, but quite honestly you embody why I continue to write despite the, eh hem, less appreciated commenters. The insights you offer and questions you pose are precisely what I’m looking for. You criticize without nitpicking, challenge without discouraging. I do wish I had more opportunity for working through such things face to face. Perhaps this will be changing in the coming year, but for now these online discourses are precisely the sort of thing that has kept me going amidst a couple of the most difficult years of my life. Anyway, whether or not others can tell I’ve gotten a lot better at not casting pearls before swine. Both here on and fb I immediately delete caustic comments and reply with a simple, “Thank you” to unhelpful comments. That has freed me up to invest more time and energy with people like you, Derek Rishmawy, and others. Also, I don’t know if you’ve noticed but quite often there’s a lot of conceptual links between my posts. The primary reason being the comments I receive often inspire further thought which evolves into posts. I leave the comments open because that has largely been my primary source of intellectual fuel.

    • Evelyn

      You know, I wasn’t trying to be unhelpful, I was trying to engage seriously and honestly with your post, which I can only do from the place I’m at, not the place you or I might wish I was at. I’m sorry you felt that way about my response (I saw the thank you remark and felt really hurt and patronized, for what it’s worth). I don’t have a blog for a number of sound reasons, but I enjoy reading your and other people’s blogs as a way to test and expand my own thinking. I try to be gracious as I explore my responses / thinking in any answers I might write. I guess I would say: if someone isn’t being openly caustic, try to assign positive intent, and accept the fact that some of us are not as far along the journey as you are. I hope you don’t mind if I still respond from time to time, even if what I write isn’t helpful to you. It might have been helpful to me 😉 Grace and peace to you.

    • Evelyn

      As I put away the dishes another thought occurs to me: clearly this blog is in the first place a way for you to process feelings / clarify beliefs / all the things you mention above. And so it must be. But could it be that this blog is actual also (perhaps secondarily) a place where you exercise the pastoral side of your ministry? In other words, some comments will push you along, and challenge you, and help you – but some comments require you to push others along etc. Am I making sense? I mean, there will be people in your congregation who don’t help you along the journey, but you will be required to graciously help them. Maybe us inferior comment leavers are that weaker part of your congregation, your online ministry.

    • Carson T. Clark

      You are making sense. Generally speaking, I hope that this has been and will intention for it to be such a place. That being said, I need to explain something. It’s a fine line I’m about to (try and) walk so I hope you’ll give me the benefit of the doubt.

      On the one hand, I’ve very little patience for those who’ve baptized their ignorance and canonized their militancy. They’re the bane of my existence. Such individuals aren’t so much interested in growing as they are fighting. These are the swine before who I don’t want to cast pearls, if you will.

      On the other hand, I’ve usually much patience for those who are moving forward. There are different seasons of life in which we’re sprinting forward or slowly plodding along, but the key to me is that we’re moving forward. As long as folks are moving forward I tend (obviously I fail sometimes!) to at least be cordial. Just as many people have had grace and patience with me, so I want to have all those things with others. I don’t merely want to not be annoyed. I want to be truly compassionate
      and humble and encouraging for people to continue to grow and mature.

      In sum, life is a journey. I want to spend time investing in those people who are interested in growing without investing time in those who are interested in fighting. Sometimes that distinction becomes nebulous, but hopefully you understand what I mean.

      Also, my wife recently agreed with me that my personality style is “delightfully curmudgeon.” I’m not a straight up curmudgeon. Those people are irritating. But I do tend in that direction. Sometimes I’m going to slip from the one into the other, though. Please feel free to kick my butt when I relapse.

    • Evelyn

      I’m in no position to butt kick. And I think it can be really hard to read the difference between the two types you describe online. You’re in a tough position, and walking the line with wisdom.

      I have had to learn that in person honesty often trumps diplomacy with me. Probably the same is true of my online interactions, despite my taking more time to think about them than my blurted out answers face to face. I need to bridle my tongue and my typing hands!

      Thank you for taking the time to respond, I really appreciate it as I continue to learn. Blessings.

    • Carson T. Clark

      You’re right, Evelyn. I offer my sincere apologies and request your forgiveness.

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