Introvert

Six times per year I get an e-mail that make my little ole heart go pitter-pat, pitter pat: the latest issue of Mars Hill Audio Journal is available for downloading.Ken Myers, formerly of NPR, is the brains behind Mars Hill Audio, whose performance matches well with its described mission.

MARS HILL AUDIO is committed to assisting Christians who desire to move from thoughtless consumption of contemporary culture to a vantage point of thoughtful engagement.

We believe that fulfilling the commands to love God and neighbor requires that we pay careful attention to the neighborhood: that is, every sphere of human life where God is either glorified or despised, where neighbors are either edified or undermined. Therefore, living as disciples of Christ pertains not just to prayer, evangelism, and Bible study, but also our enjoyment of literature and music, our use of tools and machines, our eating and drinking, our views on government and economics, and so on.

We endeavor to encourage sensibilities and habits of thoughtful cultural engagement through creative audio resources, produced at our studio in rural central Virginia. Our primary resource is a bimonthly series of audio programs called the MARS HILL AUDIO Journal. Each program is ninety minutes long, consisting of ten- to fifteen-minute interviews with a variety of guests on a broad array of topics. The MARS HILL AUDIO Journal is currently available in MP3 format for $30 per year, on cassette tape for $42 per year, and on CD for $48 per year.

That’s $30 – $48 per year very well spent.

The current issue, Volume 103 (link appears likely to expire in 6 weeks or so), has an interview with Adam S. McHugh on how American culture distrusts introverts and on why their place in the Church — especially evangelicalism — needs to be valued. McHugh blogs at Introverted Church.

As I listened, I realized that I’m an introvert. I like people just fine. I’m not shy. I even love walking the crowded sidewalks of big cities.

But those things wear me out after a while. I need “down time” to function well, when I’m not “on” for anyone other than myself and my spouse.

Fortunately, Orthodoxy is more than hospitable to introverts. Many of our Saints were hermits for at least part of their lives, and many of them took Bishoprics only with the greatest reluctance, after a sort of draft movement formed.

If some Orthodox person were to feel a misfit, it likely would be the extrovert. As McHugh seeks to find a place for introverts among the Evangelical Babbits, Orthodoxy may need to do the same for extroverts.

Looking back over 40 years, I’d say my spiritual trajectory has been from more extroverted Christian traditions (Wheaton College style evangelicalism) to less extroverted (Christian Reformed Calvinism) to downright introverted or at least very introvert-friendly (Orthodoxy). This was entirely unconscious, recognized only now in hindsight (though I noticed what I would have called the “balance” and “sobriety” of Orthodoxy quickly enough).

I’m well aware of how few of our decisions in life are 100% rational; advertisers don’t keep creating manipulative images for naught. I have earlier recognized that my embrace of Orthodoxy may have been motivated in part by factors that were neither rational nor anti-rational. For instance:

  • I liked being in a Church whose critics say it’s “stagnant.” To me, that translates into “you don’t do fads, focus groups and invent novel doctrines like all the other kids.” Yeah. You got a problem with that?
  • The hymns of the Church were real hymns, addressed to someone other than me, myself and I.
  • It just plain felt good to make the sign of the cross unselfconsciously. I have no idea where that urge, which I had for years, came from. In contrast, the fluttering eyelids and uplifted hands of demonstratively emotional Protestant groups seemed phony.

But enough. I don’t mean to “make a virtue of necessity.” I can’t help myself and so should not congratulate myself too heartily.

And I must remember that the mankind that our gracious God loves is, according to McHugh, roughly 50% extrovert.

* * *

Additional resources:
Introverts in Evangelical America – Adam S. McHugh for the Washington Post’s  “On Faith”
Introvert?  No apology required
Introverts in the Church
Adam McHugh’s Patheos profile

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