Learning from Ebeneezer

It’s the Advent season, so of course Dickens’ A Christmas Carol gets trotted out. Our Bach Chorale Singers concert Saturday was interwoven with a reading of it.

I’m feeling a bit like a blog-obsessed (not money-obsessed) version of Ebeneezer Scrooge, and I don’t want to be visited by ghosts of blogs past, present and future warning me that “Obsessive blogger dies from lack of exercise, perspective” could be my obituary some day, while my tombstone reads “Always in the know, but never got wisdom.”

So I have just unsubscribed several blogs. Considering how many blogs I follow just for pleasure, “several” doesn’t sound like many, but the ones I dropped probably make up a third or more of my blog volume. The ones I dropped are primarily political, and we’re well into the 2012 Presidential cycle, sorry to say, so the volume is rising.

Since <stunning news> I don’t trust either party, </stunning news> it’s becoming frustrating to read one more darned angle on why serial adulterers with ADD/HD shouldn’t be POTUS even if they’ve repented, or that Mormons wear funny undies, or that the Texan hangs out with people who are fewer than three degrees removed from whacko Theocrats, or that the sane, antiwar, committed-to-the-constitution candidate can’t win because he’s out of the mainstream. (That last one’s the most disheartening, because if the Tea Party were what it’s cracked up to be, he would have a really good shot at it.)

If there’s some slightly new angle in any of this stylishly written political swill, though, I’m likely to pass it on to my readers, however trifling it may be in the grand scheme of things. Yup. It’s come to that. My OCD gene has been expressing itself. Time for cold turkey, or something close. Daily tidbit aggregations are ceasing.

So what will I do with the extra time? Well, as hinted, exercise will be part of it. I’ll multiply the saved time from that by not reblogging so many blog trifles (trifles are for Tweeting, at most). And “persepective” will be the other part.

How can I add perspective to my life while dropping voices from my daily fare? By adding older voices – the kinds of guys who write, or likelier “wrote,” books, for instance. I’ve cleared desk space and gotten a good light in my den, away from the TV (before which my wife tends to collapse deservedly after a hard day of schoolchildren on the one hand and aging, failing parents – my mother, her dad – on the other).

I’ve got a bunch of unread books, many of them classics, and that doesn’t even count re-reading the Bible with Orthodox commentaries nearby, or digital versions of the Church Fathers. I’ll read more poetry, too. It’s time especially for W.H. Auden’s “For the Time Being,” which has become a personal Advent tradition for me.

I’ve added to my Christmas list a C.S. Lewis book that I’ve inexplicably not read in 63 years: C.S. Lewis’ “The Discarded Image.” That’s likely to lead to still other books. But it also honors one of Lewis’ most important (and ignored, including by me) bits of advice: for every current book you read, read an old book, too, for the sake of perspective. A future book could give perspective, too, but future books are not in print any more. 😉 All the bloggers I read, in contrast to old authors, share a cosmology with me to a degree greater than we recognize – even if we appear, in today’s conventional terms, bitterest adversaries. I intend to find some pre-moderns, and not just Bible and Early Church Fathers, and try to get inside their heads.

But I’ve been bit by the blogging bug, so I’m not apt to disappear entirely. But I expect to be much more selective. I hope you’ll like it. And if you’ve been thinking of dropping me because of the low signal-to-noise ratio, stay tuned for an upgrade, the particulars of which remain to be determined precisely because I remain, for now, a tipsy teetotaler, and sensitively dependent on initial conditions.

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2 thoughts on “Learning from Ebeneezer

  1. John, I look forward to reading whatever you choose to post, in whatever format you choose. I know what you mean about political commentary. I find it hard to resist this low-hanging fruit. Two weeks ago, I wrote a rambling political/foreign policy diatribe, but have so far resisted the urge to actually post the thing. Right now, I have a anti-Newt post bubbling-up inside me, and it will probably make it to my blog. Hopefully, by so doing, my system will be temporarily purged of these toxins and I can return to the more important issues.

  2. It is good to be reminded of Lewis’ advice about reading the classics. And, reading Patristic authors provides an amazing number of insights for our modern era.

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