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For Lent I'm Starting a Substack
Let me be delivered to your Spam Folder!
I’ve been thinking about Substack for a long while—a year if not more. All during our sabbatical I thought it would be interesting to try out the platform. I had so many complaints about the ads on Patheos (especially that one of the overly-large cartoon lady who got fat and thin and fat and thin) and I was also exhausted in general. I didn’t know if I wanted to write at all, much less what about. As we crept back to work, I found blogging at Stand Firm comfortable and relieving. I felt like I was starting to get my blogging mojo, if that’s what it’s called, back. I, therefore, made the bold announcement that I wasn’t going to start a substack after all because there was really no point. But, like all horns of the dilemma, the minute I said that I knew I still really wanted to. It took saying out loud that I wasn’t going to for me to know that I was going to.
For those of you who have read me over the years, you know that I have two things going for me—I’m prolific, and…ok so maybe just one thing. I could have written fifteen books by now, and yet I’m still blogging. I’m hoping that Substack will afford me a different way to engage with readers, a way around the flattening ennui of social media and sound bites. I mean! Don’t you remember the heady days of Blogger? When you could work your way through a person’s long blog list, clicking all the links and leaving comments everywhere. Will this sort of platform be a step backward in the right direction? I hope so.
Why Lent? Well, I bet some of you are going to want to get off social media for Lent…and how will you read me? Where will you go to find my pithy and clever remarks about the weather? You’re not going to stop checking your email…are you? I bet you’re still going to check your email sometimes.
Eventually, I hope to paywall a few posts—probably one a week of the three I plan to post. And maybe a weekly video of me bitterly complaining about something. What I’m saying is, even though I wanted to be a “writer” when I grew up, I understand that what I’ve done is become a “content provider” and I’m basically fine with it. I like “producing content” (writing) and some of you like “consuming content” (reading). It’s like we’re MFEO (made for each other).
To kickstart this effort, here is the same kind of thing you’ve come to know and love in all the places I’ve written (Undercurrent of Hostility, Preventing Grace, Patheos, and Stand Firm)…..
This video is absolutely awful.
Watch it if you want, but the Tweet tells you what it is. I turned it off halfway through. It’s of those two guys holding a baby girl, talking about how they “ordered” her from a catalog. While they discuss her physical features, the one that’s holding her sort of paws her like some kind of awful barbarian fondling an aqueduct without even wondering what it’s for. I couldn’t bear it so I don’t know everything they say. I wish we hadn’t come to this point as a “culture.” I wish two men couldn’t order themselves a baby and that a woman would so need the money that she’d give birth to such a golden, fluffy, bright person and then give her away into the hands of wicked men.
Tomorrow is the first day of Lent, and you might be wondering what to think about and how to orient yourself before God. You might feel unease and anxiety about how things are and if there is anything you can do about it. The first thing you should admit is that—no—there’s nothing you can do about it. What are you going to do? Protest? Write a letter to someone in the government? Post more on social media? No, you are but dust, and to dust you shall return, just like those to men and that baby. You are as helpless as any infant in this world.
No, the one thing you do have is prayer. For Lent, you can devote yourself to an ongoing conversation with the God of the universe who holds everything in his hand. You can put yourself before him day after day after day and ask him to help you and ask him to help other people.
He will listen to you. He promises to. To anyone who cries out to him for help, he promises to listen. He promises to listen and to act. In fact, he already has acted. He himself came as an infant and grew up and then was betrayed into the hands of wicked men who put him to death. And yet, what they meant for evil, he turned around for good, to rescue perishing sinners out of the grasp of hell. He has power. He can cast down the mighty from their thrones. He can lift up the lowly. He can put words in the mouths of the fearful. He can heal and forgive.
For Lent, walk in the way of the cross to the door of that horrible grave and stand there, knowing that Jesus will walk out and make everything wrong and bad come untrue.