Stay Tuned For Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

Hello friends!

This last week has been a crazy one indeed. I had my first taste of virality which came quite unexpectedly, but I’ve also been in the middle of a great many projects in “real life” over the last couple of months that have kept me quite busy. This upcoming week promises to be equally full. I’ve been helping to plan and coordinate a major event for Pride in my church community (yes, some of you may be quite surprised to learn that I’m affiliated and active in a church, and a Christian one at that), and I also have some light traveling I have to do. If I’m not particularly prolific in the next week or two, don’t fret – juggling responsibilities is a full-time job.

You’ll be pleased to know, however, that I’m already developing new posts and working on my content for the long-term. I may never recapture the virality of last Monday’s post, and that’s okay (and frankly, that would be quite welcome). One of the drawbacks to going viral is that the influx of a wide audience disrupts your plan for a particular target audience. To put it bluntly, there have been a good number of people reading, commenting, and linking to this blog this last week who I have no desire to attract or retain as my target audience. I never planned on going viral – I simply wanted to build my audience over time post by post. I’ll take recent events, however, as a blessing and work to make sure that my blog growth proceeds reasonably and organically.

In the meantime, I invite you to follow me on Twitter, and PLEASE consider donating to my PayPal as your generosity and gifts may allow. I would also invite you to check out some of the blogs written by my friends, such as Kevin Toth, whose ordination to the Disciples of Christ is this coming Saturday, as well as the author behind the Whovian Theology blog, for you Doctor Who fans.

Thank you for visiting, following, and reading. I look forward to many more interactions and discussions, and wish you well as your week begins!

 

 

Why You Should Read My Blog (and Why You Shouldn’t)

You may be wondering why in the world you should start to read my blog. This is a good question, and I’d be remiss in my duties if I were to ignore this concern of yours. Before I answer that question though, I’d like to give you a little background into my blogging experience and what it means to me.

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Bookish in the streets

In the past, I’ve had three semi-successful blogs, each of them very different, and each of them serving a different purpose for me at the time. Why now though? Why is this time special or different? This time, as much as I may talk about myself, it’s not about me. It’s about dialogue and dialectic. It’s about finding and building communities of inquiry and, in this day and age, socio-political resistance. It’s about queerness, theory, religion, and culture.

This time, it’s for real. I’m no longer a tentative-in-the-world twenty-something. I’m a few years down the road after my loss of faith, and I know now better ways to write and think about these very important issues than the impressionistic, somewhat fevered and scattered approach I’ve had to move beyond. I have more solid and established conceptual frameworks to use and a sensitivity to the complexities and personal realities behind the words, and I’m committed to growing even further in that sensitivity. How else do I learn the responsibilities of being a “public intellectual” (the very term irks me but I know no better alternative) than to simply begin to grow as one?

So, in no particular order, here is a list of why you should () and why you should not (X) read my blog:

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Bearish in the sheets

You should read my blog because the topics I write about are important to you: queerness, theory, religion, and culture.

X But you should not read my blog to find someone you agree with on everything, or even most things.

You should read my blog because you find what I have to say interesting, stimulating, provocative, or thought-provoking.

X You should not read my blog if you are ideologically and immutably opposed to the basic ethical foundation of what I write.

You should read my blog because you are interested in finding and building communities of inquiry and resistance, especially in the areas of queer sexuality, queer religion, and are comfortable with outward, explicit displays of queer sexuality and expression.

X You should not read my blog if you are squeamish about or opposed to outward expressions of queer identity and sexuality, including occasional posts featuring nudity, nontraditional sexual ethics (polyamory, alternative relationship structures, hookup culture, group sex, barebacking, bug chasing, etc.), or BDSM/kink-related content.

You should read my blog because you are interested in areas of tension and ambiguity, especially between LGBTQ persons and communities of faith.

X You should not read my blog if you are anti-queer, resist anti-racist efforts, or if you are militantly anti-religious – basically, you should not read my blog if you are accustomed to writing off entire groups of people without the precursor of dialogue, or are complicit with the Reddit/4chan/8chan culture of trolling, conversation, and online interaction.

You should read my blog if you delight in humor and enjoy occasional satire, parody, and farce mixed in with the serious and heavy.

X You should not read my blog if you are either too serious to enjoy humor, or can’t take anything seriously and make everything a joke.

You should read my blog if you are interested to see a dynamic, growing, evolving entity seeking new forms of expression and communication, including new types of post formats, different types of media content, and even a potential, eventual podcast.

X You should not read my blog if you are a stickler for doing things the same way forever, or become too comfortable with present or past formats of expression without room to grow.

If you think this blog is for you, move on over and hit that “Follow this blog” button! You can also follow on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for email alerts. If this is for you, then welcome to The Bookish Bear Blog, and make yourself at home!

Some Books, a Bear, and a Lot of Bemusement

Every mind is a hodgepodge.

You can quote me on that, because I’m a mess. Thirty-one years of sorting through my own mingled yarn of faults, virtues, and jumbled cogitation has left me with the conviction that there’s not a single person alive whose mental coherence can long withstand the pressure to produce a fully cogent image of itself. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – that’s just how we humans as a lot are. What it does mean is that our obsessive desire for certainty, rationality, and mastery most often proves our own undoing. This is as true for us as individuals as it is of entire civilizations; pushed past its own feeble limits, the compulsion for order and stability often leads to chaos and downfall. The art of living deliberately – Socrates’s noble “examined life” – consists in navigating the poles of order and chaos: never avoiding, while never fully embracing, one or the other.

So, as from the hodgepodge responsible for the creation of this blog, such an effort is what I promise. This blog is born from the twin desires to make sense of and to make chaos of an astoundingly weird, complex, and confusing world, while being an astoundingly weird, complex, and confusing person.

The reason I’m such a mess – the reason no one person can ever fully present themselves in a fully cogent image – is because we live between vacillating, opposing forces pulling us in different ways at different times. We aim for authenticity, and we aim for integrity, which is to say we aim to choose the “right” impulses that express the best of who we are, and we aim to do this consistently in every circumstance. Authentic self-expression is tricky when you have multiple authentic selves. I’m at once a philosophizing, scholarly, cerebral (and sometimes insufferable) know-it-all and a red-blooded, queer, passionate gay man with a penchant for food, leather, and the bear scene. I’m bookish, and I’m a bear. I’m a bookish bear.

And unless I put these two sides of myself in conversation with one another, I’m not likely to attain either authenticity or integrity. This is a challenge, as these two personas don’t always care for one another. The bookworm likes quiet, needs space to think, craves time enough to get lost in an inner world of solitude and ideals, whereas the bear loves the company of others, the more salacious side of life, subverting norms, and taking enjoyment in the present. In the bookworm’s space, the bear often has to hide in the closet; in the bear’s space, the bookworm has to hide in that same closet. I am my own odd couple.

This blog is by and about a bookish bear. At times reflective, discursive, and autobiographical, my aim is present my thoughts, my work, and life to the outer world.

This blog is, like my mind, a hodgepodge, but one that weaves (okay, maybe tangles) culture with religion and the humanities. I have no interest in being merely abstract, abstract as I may be. I believe in thought as a means of entering into deeper relationship with the outside world in the search for wisdom, insight, and meaning. I’m a phenomenologist in training, experienced in practical theology and social-political theory. I’m also a butch queen vers who looks damn good in a harness and combat boots and knows the precise length to cut a pair of jeans to make an enticing pair of cutoffs (hint: you’ve got to reveal enough to get their attention, but keep enough covered to leave them wanting more).

Whatever rhetorical device I use to present the apparent contradictions of myself, I am at heart one person.

 

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