This blog begins as a space for conversation around things I believe in. As the end of 2010 drew near, I decided that I had spent too many months thinking that I ought to discipline myself to hone my thoughts and share them with others. But I had trouble deciding what I wanted the blog to be about. I have always had too many interests, and now I found myself facing the problem of which I was willing to commit a year to, working out something new and interesting to say about it each week.
As with much of the resistance we encounter in life, I eventually (and more slowly than I would have liked!) came to understand the energy I felt against narrowing my focus as an opportunity. I realized that not only could I dedicate a blog to diverse ideas that would let me talk about everything from my love of science fiction to high-fallutin’ academics, but that some stubborn piece of me refused to reduce my vision to just one of my topics because I believe that they are, at some deep-running level, intertwined.
And so I arrived at an image from which I take my title: Root Weaving. The four topics I’ve settled on (Myth, Politics, Development, and Spirituality) each run deep through how we live out our lives. While this work in its progress may well range beyond those topics, I’m starting with the “thesis” that these four things are connected to one another and form very core parts of every day of life. So the topic is what it means to be a human being, and also what it is to be a human being today, in America (or anywhere readers might wind up being), and how to talk about what’s most important about who we are.
Why write about this? Why expect that anyone cares about this? what’s so important about knowing how we’re living?
I expect the answer to write itself over the coming year, through the posts. I expect some simple pleasures out of this, such as conversation with friends from different parts of my life — old school buddies, work colleagues, church members. But I also think that it is healing to explore powerful ways of telling our stories, and I think that in today’s United States, the conversations about who we are, how we relate to each other, why we do the things we do, and what is-and-isn’t up for compromise have become public. There’s the Tea Party. There’s the post-9/11 nationalism. There’s the “crisis of the spiritual-but-not-religious” in churches. There’s evangelicalism. There’s liberation theory. There’s neuroscience work proving Freud was right when he said that the brain would eventually explain behavior.
I have a hunch that these things weave together, and that they weave together precisely in the irreducible individual being of each person, with these threads not just running through but coming from all of us and forming the basis of our lives together: big and small; public and private. These things, to me, seem worth talking about.
Looking forward to our conversations this year,
Ben Varnum, 12/29/2010