- Sometimes just a reference to where something comes from.
- Other times, it is almost as if the author pauses for a moment of extra conversation with the reader.
- Sometimes you can find great stuff hidden there.
- Other times, they are more technical than helpful, and perhaps only of interest to the author.
- They can also be a place where, if attentive, you can catch a glimpse of the author as you see what else is of interest to them.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Why This, Why Now?
This blog arises out of conversation with my colleagues. Perhaps, it would be more accurate to say, as a way to reduce conversation with my colleagues. Maybe, on a more thoughtful level, as a reflection of the nature of what conversation in our culture has often become.
In response to some thoughts I was sharing, that the rest of them clearly did not think was contributing to an efficient use of our time, someone suggested that maybe what I needed to do was start a blog. It became clear that this was not merely a rhetorical statement, when one of them carried through on their offer to set it up for me, e-mailing the links and access information just a few days later, having thoughtfully selected the title “ken’s diatribe” as the name of the blog. I got the hint.
Don’t misunderstand. I love the people I work with, and truly feel blessed to be a part of a great staff, so this is not a restless statement of discontent in that regard. In fact, I think they tolerate working with me quite well. But as I have reflected further, which could (and some might argue should) become another of those passing moments from which nothing really comes, I found myself wondering if, maybe, I should pause just a moment before dismissing it out of hand and hurrying on.
And so the blog. I have changed the title from “diatribe” to something I hope is more fitting, “footnotes.” I think footnotes better captures both what I think this blog might turn out to be, and perhaps in some ways, a bit about who I am.
For most people, footnotes are simply those odd collections of smaller print on the bottom of the page that wind up making books longer, and which are generally ignored. If something peaks your interest, and you really want to pursue something further, you can look there, but chances are good that most don’t. Pursuing footnotes often interrupts the flow of the text, causing people to pause a moment, and so does not encourage an efficient use of time.
What are Footnotes?
So what this blog offers are simply footnotes, my footnotes, on the larger story I am a part of.
As with most footnotes, they are probably of more interest to the writer than to the reader . . . in fact, who would ever pick up a book that was only footnotes to read anyway? . . . so it may only be of interest to the writer.
Also, because footnotes have no particular story of their own, but simply comment on the larger story they are a part of, these will follow where that larger unfolding story goes, through days or weeks that may produce much comment, and others that may produce little or none.
Further, these footnotes are an attempt to recapture a bit of the lost practice of conversation – those rare moments when people find themselves talking together without one eye on their watch, or overly concerned about whether or not they are staying on topic, but simply trying to be present to whatever is happening at the moment, and perhaps what God might be surfacing. That’s not to say that all topics are explicitly religious topics, but rather to speak to the realization that all of the stories we live happen in the context of an ever larger Story that is too significant to be ignored.
And finally, I come to this realizing that in many ways my life is exactly this, a footnote to a larger story. What I think, who I am, who I relate to, those whose lives are constantly impacting mine, whatever it is that constitutes who I am apart from any other productive usefulness I may or may not have to some other agenda, is simply that -- a footnote. It may appear in some documents, and be completely absent from others. In a practical sense, for many, the larger story can be read quite well without reference to it. And even for those who might be inclined to pursue this particular footnote, sometimes it may amount to little more than a reference, a break in the flow of the larger story line, perhaps even a detraction from a more “efficient” life.
However, maybe it is possible that, perhaps, there is something there that may open a doorway into pursuing something a bit further, or catching a glimpse of something more? Maybe it will be an opportunity to experience just for a moment (because the internet can really offer little else) not just additional data processing, but a taste of “virtual” conversation again?
And one more thing, (never believe it when someone says, “finally,” because even that may have a footnote), why should I be doing this? I don’t know. The nice thing about footnotes, is that they are optional. Who knows what value they have? But, if they are not there, they can’t be pursued. So, in the end, maybe it is better to put them there and have them ignored (perhaps for good reasons) than to fail to put them there at all . . . in which case no one could pursue them even if they wished to. In the end, I opted for the later. We’ll see what happens.