Quite a few of us at college, seem now to be writing essays with facebook open in a window behind as we work, I often do this. I also sometimes take a break from an essay by looking at the thoughts of my 'friends' in the sidebar on my blog.
I wonder if I rationalise all of this with the thinking that I am still on topic. I break from OT prophets to read something from Mark Goodacre on the New Testament or to see what Jon Swales is working on over at Trinity. I might look at Brian McLaren's latest revelation on facebook or catch up with Peter's reflections as a Down Under Anglican.
At the same time, though, I am aware that I am also looking for connection and conversation, it can get lonely writing essays and in a sense this is what we are all looking for, always...connection.
So in some ways I do lament and imagine a golden age, when instead of logging on and linking in, tweeting and updating status, Mrs Wotsaname just popped in through my open front door to see if I wanted a chat and a cuppa before we clean our front door steps together. Well, perhaps not the cleaning doorsteps thing, but you know what I mean...
In a world that is so connected, how connected are we really feeling, I wonder.
It's also occurred to me that us incessant scribblers and bloggers and essayists (for if college didn't set the titles, I'm pretty sure I would be writing them anyway) might be motivated by something altogether very different (ht Steve Hayes):
Henri Nouwen, with Thomas Merton, were the first 20th century Catholic writers on Christian Spirituality to be widely read among non-Catholics. (And each of them was criticized for 'never having an unpublished thought.' 'Like Merton', says this biographer, [Nouwen] seemed to feel that, unless he was writing things, he wasn't fully experiencing them.
I resonated with this from the review of Nouwen's biography, which Steve Hayes has commented upon. With the rest of the portrait presented in the review of the book about his life, here, we find the story of a very troubled man. Some of this I think we sense in his 'Return of the Prodigal Son', which I am half way through, and I must admit less captured by than I imagined I would be due to my preconceptions about the book, knowing nothing about Nouwen the man at the point I was given it. Now I know a little more, it might colour the second half of the book for me as I listen out for Nouwen's angst.
If anything, it all points to the fact the the Lord can pour his Spirit through creatures that wrestle so much with a sense of human longing, that no matter how perfect we are in Christ, the marr of the fall is acute and acutely felt particularly by some of us who orientate our lives around the gospel.
In the light of what I have also been reading about clergy bullying by parishioners (I'm not so sure about the idea of Bishops bullying clergy but perhaps that's because in Mike Hill and Alistair Redfern, I have only known such exemplary and godly examples) and from what I am learning in my module about 'the pastoral cycle' and that clergy can become very isolated people, it does seem surprising that we are expected not to have problems like the rest of folk, in actual fact, is it not that we are very conscious of how messed up we are because of the gulf that exists between what we represent and what we actually are?
It does worry me, that there might be two results of a dog collar:
1. That I am thought to be immune to problems or should somehow be sorted because if I am representing Jesus then I had better scrub up pretty well.
2. That I am perceived to be so out of touch with 'the real world' because of squewed ideas about holiness and separation.
I say this, because, you know, I think this is what I used to suspect about people in dog collars a few years ago.
I think I want to see ministry liberated from being a top-down hierarchical, active to passive set-up, so that at the end of the day, we are only declaring by taking upon ourselves the identity of the Church a willingness to come alongside people so that we all journey together, so that as with Jesus, whose humanity is sorely missing from some of our expressions of the faith, we do not forget that we are all, like Henri Nouwen, struggling human beings, struggling together and, by God's grace, to His side.