Sorry folks, but I haven’t been able to blog because my computer is in for repair. I’m writing (well “swiping) this on my phone app, which is a pretty rough experience. I usually avoid the app except for doing typo repairs.
Ideally I should’ve had a Quran post queued up to cover this week, but my attention has been diverted. Some other topics have been tickling my mind and I’ve tried typing them out with poor results. I realized that doing posts on the Quran is a little easier than writing about other topics. There are several reasons for this. It’s a little less personal than some of the topics I’ve tried, requiring less of my history to be out on display. I have some skills and materials that equip me with a little more authority than I have for other topics. Then there’s the fact that the Quran and its world is mostly new to me, meaning that my opinions are newly forming and a little isolated from my other opinions and perspectives. This makes it much simpler to write about.
Let me explain that last one.
There’s a common fallacy amongst people that our own opinions are sequentially developed, neatly arranged and indexed, with tidy cross-references and “therefore” logic. I realized this fallacy in college when stepping into the Catholic community. My Catholic friends and I would debate each other, using all the apologetic tools of our upbringing and community. The fallacy was that if we could debunk some link in the sequence of each other’s opinions, the opposition’s whole viewpoint would come crashing down and could then be rebuilt in our own image. So we’d take turns targeting individual ideas and sniping trivia we thought was foundational to bigger ideas. But all that was done on the fallacy that our mindsets were logical and sequential, like tidy spider webs with easy-to-identify struts and structure.
Rather instead, they are like tent-worm tents.
So for example a topic I’d like to process through blogging is “Why I Remain Christian.” It would be a series, exploring such things as my ranges of religious experience, how my religion shapes me, and my wrestling with orthodoxy. But there’s nothing sequential about my Christian beliefs. They have been shaped by my lifetime of experiences and relationships, with strands of my mental cobweb being formed, cut, reattached, and left dangling in as scattered a pattern as the strands themselves span. The times when I’ve approached this topic I’ve felt each statement needed to be preceded by a post that would explain some other idea that the post I’m currently writing intersects with.
Intersects, that’s a good word. Really hard to input through a swipe keyboard though.
A lot of my ideas intersect in a way that is hard to graph in an essay or series of essays. Forget “this then that.” Instead they’re more like Wikipedia, with each topic riddled with weblinks that explain foundational elements needed to define your topic, except that those weblinks are also riddled with weblinks another level deeper. And while Wikipedia’s citations are recorded in proper format on the bottom of the page, my mental citations are less precise and fade away as time goes on. Citations fade, opinions remain.
So since the Quran is new to me, it is less connected to my other ideas, staying a little more independent of that cobweb. And since I’m researching its language and history right now, my bank of resources is more available to justify my opinions. All this makes it easier to write about even if the subject itself is fraught with difficulties. It comes at less personal risk to myself except in how it might affect my friendships with Muslims. This does make me anxious and afraid of loss, but not as much as alienating a family member of mine should I express an opinion they dislike or refer to some experience they were a part of.
When I started this blog I chose to keep it removed from my personal life and used pseudonym so I’d be free from this consideration. I did not foresee how much time I’d spend writing the blog and how that would motivate me to include my social circles in my activity. Most of you are friends or family now, for which I’m grateful. But, as someone who prefers to keep my deeper opinions submerged in order to keep social possibilities open, it is harder to write personally.
I think I’m going to try anyways.
Well hey! Maybe writing on the phone isn’t too bad sometimes. It doesn’t allow me to do big structural edits as easily, which actually helps me turn out a post faster. Not great for essay-style posts, but suitable for the opinion streams I’d originally intended when titling by blog “TwoPenny Posts.”
And before I go, since I talked about mental cobwebs and such, I thought I’d share a (censored) comic by the Oatmeal, which also shares the insight into how our opinions are not objective and orderly, and which I enjoyed. Enjoy it too, if you can.