It is important to me to be able to speak on this blog (and everywhere, really) with both authenticity and Christ-like, other-focused intentionality…I write this prolegomena to blogging both to free myself to be myself, and paradoxically to save me from myself, and the ultimate blogger sin, namely Pride…whether I write what I perceive to be “hard words,” or, on the other hand, words that would be hard to disagree with, in either case it will be cross-shaped, and aimed at the benefit of the other.
I’ve been wanting to begin and root my blogging existence in a really intentional methodology. It just struck me that Cruciformity is the method. For years I’ve been considering blogging book reviews, random theological thoughts and critique, mostly because I feel like some of the most interesting things I think about come in the form of fleeting moments of clarity (and sometimes absurdity) while walking home, or standing in line at the grocery store, etc. However, I was too conflicted and concerned that the blog would either be a demonstration of unrestrained pride, or, on the other hand, an inauthentic and overly restrained, edited, and redacted bore-fest. Either a boisterous blob of blogger ranting, or a compromised capitulation to pressures to “behave” and fly under the theological radar so as not to offend anyone. My goal now is to blog under the principle of compositional and critical/editorial Cruciformity. This means that whether I write what I perceive to be “hard words,” or, on the other hand, words that would be hard to disagree with, in either case it will be cross-shaped, and aimed at the benefit of the other.
Let me explain. I was reading through Michael Gorman’s excellent new article in the Journal of Moral Theology and the thought occurred to me that his view of Cruciformity is the perfect model or paradigm for my own intentions in composition and self-editing protocol for this blog. Cruciformity, Gorman explains is:
“participating in and embodying the cross.” (p.67), and
“the rejection of selfish exploitation of status in favor of giving action,” (p. 69), and
“the rights-renouncing, others-regarding, cruciform humility and love that are needed of existence in the Christian community,” (p.69), and
“the events that are repeated are constituted by the narrative of Christ’s self-giving faith and love that were quintessentially expressed in his (incarnation and) death on the cross. Cruciformity is, therefore, a narrative spirituality, a spirituality that tells a story, the story of Christ crucified” (p. 66) and,
“conformity to Jesus the crucified Messiah” (p.66).
It is important to me to be able to speak on this blog (and everywhere, really) with both authenticity and Christ-like, other-focused intentionality. It seem to me that the one without the other will yield results that do not glorify God because they would not embody or express the self-giving love of Christ, who is the very person of, and whose actions reveal the very nature of, God.
Authenticity and honesty without Cruciformity yields prideful rants, selfish indulgence, and divisive content. And, to seek to be Cruciform, that is, self-giving and other-centered, without being authentic is, as far as I’m concerned, an impossibility. If it were possible, however, to be both inauthentic and Cruciform, the result would inevitably be a content-less cruciformity, a love which, in fact, isn’t really love, but rather, pride, cowardice, and complacency in a dollar store quality disguise. I want to be able to speak frankly and freely but to have that speech be rooted in love (even if it is sometimes “tough” love) and for the benefit of the other.
Therefore, in order to comb my posts, critiques, comments through the filter of Cruciformity, I resolve and promise, to whoever is reading this (if, indeed, anyone is!), to “edit” and bounce drafts against the principle of Cruciform Composition and Self-Critique. Posts will have to meet the following criteria:
(1) Is there an ulterior, impure, and divisive motive in this post? Is the post merely passive-aggressive?
(2) If this post contains difficult teaching, critique, commentary, is it unnecessarily harsh? Could it bear more fruit or shed more light if edited to conform more to the principle of the Cross?
(3) Is this a post that purposely confuses? Does the post deal flippantly with doctrinal issues perhaps better left to other avenues? Am I just deconstructing, or am I offering a way forward too?
(4) Am I speaking authentically, truly, and in a way appropriate to the topic? Either being too heavy or too reserved?
(5) Am I posting this to receive the praise of people? Or alternatively, am I not posting this because I’m afraid of persecution from people, denominations, future employers etc? In other words, is my intent in posting this governed by pride or cowardice?
(6) Is this post for the good of the Church, over and above my own interests, and does this post point to Jesus Christ, and to him Crucified and Resurrected?
I will most definitely fail in this task, but I think it is a discipline worth pursuing in all of life, as a sort of hermeneutic to our narrative worlds, and for me particularly, as an effort at intentional conformity in word and deed to the way of Christ and the cross-shaped, Cruciform life. I write this prolegomena to blogging both to free myself to be myself, and paradoxically to save me from myself, and the ultimate blogger sin, namely Pride. Short of having all of my blogs peer-reviewed, which would somewhat defeat the purpose of having a blog by negating the freedom and ease to develop ideas through blogging, the Principle of Compositional and Critical/Editorial Cruciformity shall serve as my dialectical editor and guide. Each post will go through this process of self-reflection and prayer. I will inevitably fail at some point. However, the hope is that in this failure, bearing in mind my intentions stated here, the reader will nevertheless, through encountering the error and failure of a person (me), be drawn to the narrative and power of the Victory over all error and all failure for all persons in the Cross and the Resurrection of Jesus. It is to the Cross I take my every failure in advance, assured that this symbol of death, failure, frailty, and defeat which is foolishness and weakness to the world, might in fact paradoxically become manifest as the way to abundant and eternal life, peace and lovingkindess, glory, and unquenchable and unceasing joy through the Victory of the King on our behalf, for our sake, on our account, and credited to our account as Righteousness through the Resurrected Glorious Victor over sin, death, and evil, the righteous one par excellence, Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory in the Church and in entire the world throughout all ages. Amen.
Phil. 2:1-1 (ESV)
1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Quotations from: Michael J. Gorman, “Paul and the Cruciform Way of God in Christ.” Journal of Moral Theology, Vol. 2, No. 1 (2013): 64-83.
Photo by Tara Frederick, edited to look weird by John.