Thursday, July 29, 2010

UPDATE: Pornography, Authenticity, and Site Changes

    

    WEBSITE CHANGES

In the ongoing site reconstruction (reconstitution?) here, I've decided to include updates as part of my regular blog posts. I've resisted doing this in the past due to the plethora of blog/sites seemingly enamored with a daily confessional style of daft and uninteresting posts. ("I went to the market today. It was so busy there. And then I bought some bananas.") I didn't want that type of website, and so I resolved that I would only post articles, long thoughtful pieces worth the time it took to read them. Now, I don't edit in the same manner as I do when I'm sending an article out, as some of you grammarians have noticed, but I still work to be as thoughtful and diligent as I can. The purpose of a site like this is an exchange of ideas, and it's designed to provoke your imagination, push you to think about things in a new way, and encourage you along the way.

    That said, I've decided to post a bit more frequently, and so what I'll be doing is essentially a split. I'll still be writing my frightfully long articles that cause you to pull your hair out and yell at me through the computer, but I'll also be including what I'll call "UPDATE Days," which will be written as short pieces. Some of these will be actual updates about what's coming along the chute on this site, and some will be ideas that I've been working through, but do not want to spend two thousand words on, and other days it may simply be an article or video I found while cruising that I thought you'd enjoy. The difference will be noted in the title, where you'll find UPDATE (I know, it's original) and if you're away for a while and want to search through the archives on this site, you'll be able to find the actual articles more easily. The UPDATES will not have Digg buttons on them, and I won't be promoting them along the various social networks (like Facebook) like I normally do. They'll be here however, for those of you with a bit of time to kill. As well, I'll be adding one movie/TV/book review per week. Just check the Review pages for updates.

    It's been a remarkable month of growth here, as this site has expanded and continues to break five year records seemingly with ease. It's been humbling to receive so many kind words from you who grace this site with your presence and valuable time. My life has settled into something of a pattern, and with God's gracious blessings I now have a lot of time to read and write, more than I've ever been able to for such an extended period of time. I can't promise that you'll always agree with me (I'm not looking for consensus here, I'm looking to stir your imagination) but I promise that I will do best to be as fair as possible, and as honest as a person can be. (Which is to say, only slightly dishonest.) I will never align with a political party, though I do have some politicians I enjoy, despite their faults. (President Obama, for example) What I won't promise is that I'll be completely 'authentic' (mainly because I don't know what that means, see the next section for more on this), although I'll never be a (willing) shill.

    Again, thank you all for your readership. If you have an idea for a new "section" for this site, please let me know and I will take it into consideration. Life is difficult sometimes, but it gets better when we continue to ask ourselves hard questions about whom we are and why we're here. Hopefully, this site can help you along the path.

    Blessings,

    Steve

***

    Pornography

    I've written on a number of controversial topics in the past, and when I decided this past Sunday which topics I would approach this week, I didn't think much about it. Honestly, what does 'controversy' even mean to a writer? If you're not willing to write about the hard things, what's the point? That said, the research for my next article, along with the collection of ideas and research, has been disturbing. I actually had to stop for a while this morning because I didn't like where it was taking me. Specifically, not only discussing pornography and its relationship to religion, but the pairing of the two and the effect on the public, the common misconceptions and myths when it comes to sex.

    I was raised in a traditionally conservative home, which meant that information about sex was essentially non-existent. As I moved into the evangelical church in my late teens, the information changed, but the message was the same, and despite the best efforts by a few, it was largely destructive. What has bothered me this week is the striking relationship between pornography and religion. I won't say more until the article is done. (By the weekend, most likely) I expect that this article will upset a number of people, and I understand, in so much that it upsets me (although perhaps for different reasons) and I'm writing it. Hopefully, you'll feel the freedom to comment, whether you agree or not.

***


 

    AUTHENTICITY

    "Authenticity is like authourity or charisma: if you have to tell people you have it, then you probably don't."

    -Andrew Potter, The Authenticity Hoax

    In my current reading of The Authenticity Hoax, which feels like a follow up to Potter's previous best seller The Rebel Sell (a tremendous read), I've been forced to work through a number of pet ideas, favourites of mine that I've held through the years, especially in regards to "authenticity" and transparency. Potter is a good thinker, but what I love most is that he challenges a number of contemporary ideas and forces you to re-digest them. Is our quest for authenticity nothing more than status seeking? Isn't that what we're really witnessing in the local/organic food movement? (For example) What I like best is Potter's drive to push us towards something better than authenticity. He pushes us to an honest appraisal of ourselves. I've seen this continually through the years, in people who refuse to look in the mirror, refuse to get counseling, and refuse to admit their human. (And therefore, a screw up) The consequences are always bad, and we end up worse then when we started the journey, because not only do we not know who we are, we don't like ourselves very much either.

    I'm sure I'll be posting a full article on this in the future, but I'm reminded again how good it is to read against the grain. We all have blind spots. Sign a book out of the library by an author you wouldn't normally read, and wade through some of it. (I'm not stating you need to read, say, Ann Coulter, however.) Although I haven't finished Hoax, I highly recommend it.

***

    (For those of you who didn't see this on my Facebook this week) I was reading some fantasy book reviews and found this on one of the websites. It was (unintentionally) hilarious, especially when I read it out loud. Thought you might get a kick out of it.

    -Steve