A few years back, I was sitting in a familiar coffee house talking with a friend of mine when the conversation went from art, faith, and friends to the struggles we were facing. I don’t remember most of the conversation, it was a few years ago after all, but I remember us talking about the uneasy feeling of being caught in the middle of a dark forest. We weren’t “missing the forest for the trees,” we were all too aware of the trees crowding in and around our lives, call them “the cares of the world” if you like, and our being tempted to run through the forest to try and out run or escape them. If that makes any sense.
Here I am, a few years later, sitting in a booth at the same coffee house in the expanded section. In a receding economy, my favorite haunt has figured it out. It has not only survived the storm, it has thrived. The continual buzz of coffee drinkers and organic salad eaters is the soundtrack of success and busyness. I’m happy for them, though I do miss the library feel it used to convey to those few who first discovered “the little coffeehouse that would.”
What am I trying to do here? I’m not quite sure yet. Frustrated with the modern state of poetry, I set it aside over a year ago. Frustrated by the many factors that have contributed to a lack of opportunities for my books and screenplays, I quit writing all together. I’m not an Art-for- Art’s sake kind of guy. So, what am I trying to do here? I can’t keep up with journals. My autobiography doesn’t interest me. Yet, there seems to be a story in here somewhere.
It’s not like I haven’t tried. I wrote a pilot for a television series I titled “What It’s Like To Die” as a sort of comical autobiography of my life but it took on a life of its own despite the real life references to my experiences as a frustrated would be professional writer. I have started a legitimate autobiography, whatever that means, a few times that I want to call “I Am Daffy Duck” with little luck. I like the premise, though. Daffy is the quintessential “other guy.” You know who I mean. You always hear people say things like “I love Bugs Bunny! And also Daffy.” Or, “Taz, Marvin the Martian, the Tasmanian Devil, etc is my favorite, oh, and I like Daffy, too.” That’s what happens when you’re the nice guy. Everyone’s glad you’re around but you’re not the one they’re seeking out at the party, as it were.
Still, while I want the t- shirt, I’m not concerned with that as an overarching theme or issue. I’m stuck in this forest, and I want out. And the more I run, the deeper in I seem to find myself. Maybe that’s why I started writing my blog titled “Christianity Is A War.” I will say, it was kind of exciting, or at least a little intriguing, to start a blog with a potentially controversial title without knowing where this was going to lead.
So, I sketched out a feeble, poorly written explanation of what the blog was going to be about and began to write. I did know, that as a Christian, this would not be an anti- Christian blog. Obviously. And it would not be pro- war, either. It ended up being what I should have expected it to be, musings on what was on my heart at that particular moment, how my faith infused how I approached and reacted to it, and whatever insight I thought came from the experience. Pretty much what I tried to do with my poems, stories, and songs.
So, here I am, outside my blog trying to figure out what I’m doing here. And come to think of it, you may be wondering the same thing about yourself. What in the world are we doing here? I mean, besides looking, straining for the good life, whatever we happen to think that is at any given point in our stories. Let’s start with what we do know about life; it’s a journey, and every journey has a story. There it is, a story to tell. Now we’re back in my territory, or comfort zone, you might say.
Where to begin? I was born into a pretty typical American family and led a pretty typical Middle Class American early life. Yeah, that as a story doesn’t interest me either, even though I’m grateful for it. I could use the Daffy Duck metaphor to spice things up a little bit but then this would be little more than an autobiography at best or a low budget comedy at worst.
It does get a bit more interesting in my early twenties as I began my studies at Kansas University. Not just because attending KU was such a great experience but because it was also during this time that I made an adult decision to follow Christ, or “J” as I oftentimes refer to him in my blogs (see the appendix, “J’s Coming: Look Busy” at the back of the book for an explanation).
My decision launched the happiest decade, I mean years, of my life. The next four years were a time filled with a new found innocence and grace that allowed me to grow into a more mature man with a much sunnier outlook on life.
Those days ended eventually, of course, worn away as real life and daily decisions began to form my adult life. Thus, the happy, grace filled life was replaced with bad decisions and the ensuing consequences. Maybe there’s a movie in there somewhere but no decisive ending (as of yet). The journey, with all its bumps, bruises, and moments of comic relief continued and continues.
The blogs in this collection are presented in the order they were written. You will see early on that I was borderline obsessed with finding “abundant life” in the midst of trying to find a full time job and reconcile what had happened to me. These blogs represent the process of walking through what felt like what King David calls “the valley of the shadow of death” and emerging from a place of bitterness and despair to a place of “peace which surpasses our understanding,” which can only come from fellowship with Jesus Christ.