I started this blog mostly out of wanting to get a handle on, and engage with other thoughtful people out there about, my sense of purpose (not to say vocation — but we’ll put that off, again, for another time) as a creative person — a sometime student of art & design, occasionally a working designer/illustrator, a (still, at that time) would-be architect. The blog’s name reflects that.

A creative person, for sure, but then also of course a conservative American Evangelical Christian: a conservative Christian sometime-creative. I understood that there was conflict bound up in that compound, ‘conservative Christian’ + ‘creative.’ I was drawn to online conversation among people who seemed to confront that from a cultural point of view more or less like mine. I recognized conflict inherent there, I should say, and yet didn’t really understand it anywhere near as well as I thought I did. After a while, I did at least appreciate that I wasn’t in the club of folks who could address it articulately (or knowledgeably, at any rate). This didn’t shut me down; I’ve kept chasing those conversations as I can. It did dampen my fervor in some ways, I think. Realizing I never was in the club led gradually to not wanting to be in, so much, anymore — a function of personality type, I suppose. Somewhere along the line, well into my thirties, I began to look askance at that conservative-Christian-creative identity I’d long assumed was mine as much as anybody’s.

That’s played a part — that withdrawal of ambition to identity — in the change of view of both Christianity (not so Evangelical anymore, in brief) and creative endeavor I’ve undergone. So I don’t regret it. It’s been good for my thinking to give up identifying so strongly with the advance or defense of a kind of thinking, a kind of cultural stance, that I’d never wholly grasped anyway. With lessened ambition, perhaps, comes lessened anxiety, and with lessened anxiety, some gain in intellectual agility — or something like that.

And then again, I remain a conservative Christian sometime-creative. The conflict embedded in joining those things, moreover, remains fruitful for me, vital as ever. It’s still right at the heart of ‘my thinking.’ I feel as far from being in the articulates club as a decade or so ago. (Just can’t keep up with the reading, for one thing.) If I’m not tethered to that question of cultural identity, though, I’m still rooted to the problem somehow. It bears mentioning here.

2 Replies to “Root”

  1. You’ve got me mulling.

    In our decade-plus of back-and-forth, I may have already regaled you of this episode, but nevertheless: in the early ’90s when I was still a newcomer to Toronto, I was invited to check out a monthly gathering of Christian Arty types which went by some flashy initial-cluster … CAA, CAF … I no longer recall. I was encouraged to phone the organizer and express my interest, as well as my interests (or “passions” more like). I did, and he assigned me to a small group within the larger group. When I attended, I was surprised to see just how large the larger group was. I’m not a group guy at the best of times, so my back was already up when I shuffled off to join the preliminary small group session. None of us had any clue how to initiate group conversation about our “passions,” the unfortunate effect of which led several participants to opine that any discussion of their work would be pointless without a little education of their chosen medium and the modalities at play. My response was a HUGE, and much too loud, “Well, fuck that!” Things did not improve after that, and although the facilitator graciously sought me out in the following weeks and encouraged me to attend the next gathering, I declined.

    A quarter-century later I still feel a bit messed-up over that one evening.

    (Long pause.)

    In fact, a very long pause. Y’know, I think I’ll just have to write my own blogpost in response.

  2. No, pretty certain I haven’t heard anything of that. And yes, please expand in a post sometime, if you’re of a mind to.

    Something else I’d very much like to hear you expand on, (not entirely) by the way: You mentioned to me early this year that you’d had occasion, once, to tell Imago director John Franklin that you regretted failing one class in Bible college, his. I’ve meant ever since to come back and prod you for more, both as to the college experience and the later encounter.

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