Sunday, March 4, 2007

Why Blog?

Greetings to all. This is the inaugural entry in my new blog entitled "St. James' Kids." I will explain why I chose this name at a later date. My name is Fr. James Early, and I live a double life. I do not mean "double life" in the dark sense of the word. What I mean is that I have two vocations. I am, first and foremost, a priest in the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America. But since I am the assistant priest of a parish that is not yet large enough to support two full-time pastors, I am also required to work a full-time secular job. I serve as an educational data analyst for a school district in one of the larger suburbs of Houston, Texas. So, I wear two metaphorical hats, one secular and one sacred. I feel that this may give me a unique perspective on things. Although I know that I am by no means the only person to be involved in bi-vocational Christian ministry, perhaps I am one of the few such people who has chosen to write a blog.

That leads one to the question, "why blog?" I recently read an article in the Houston Chronicle about blogs and bloggers. The writer of the article said something that I found amazing; he (or she, I can't remember) said that something like 60% of blogs are nothing more than online diaries; in other words, they merely describe what the person did that day, what they watched on TV, what they had for dinner, and so on. Please forgive me for saying this, but the first thing that came into my mind was that the only thing more pitiful than the fact that people write about such mundane things is that other people actually read them. And then I thought, "Why would anyone do this? And why would others take time to read them?"

After further reflection, the answer became obvious. The popularity of online diaries is a direct result of the fact that people in this day and age are so isolated from each other. People do not spend time with their neighbors, their coworkers, or their families like their parents and grandparents did, and because of this, they do not know them. As a result, the average person is crying out for someone to talk to and (though not as much) for someone to listen to. More than ever, people have an unfulfilled need to be heard, to express themselves. And the Internet, via blogs, provides them with the perfect medium through which to make this a reality.

I myself was originally skeptical about blogs. My sinful and cynical nature originally led me to the conclusion that people who write blogs have too much time on their hands; that they need to find other, more productive things to do. And yet, here I am, starting my own. Why? I have plenty of social contact, and so that is not a need that I am trying to fill. At least, I don't think so; but as the prophet Jeremiah said, "The heart is above all things deceitful. Who can understand it." So, the question remains, "why am I doing this?"

The only answer that I can come up with right now is that I feel an inward compulsion to do so. Perhaps it is the Holy Spirit speaking to me and urging me to do it. I would not be so presumptuous as to say that I know unequivocally that this is the case. The best I can say now is that I feel that this is what I need to be doing. I know that I have been inspired at least to some degree by people like Fr. Joseph Huneycutt and Frederica Mathewes-Green, whom I feel are two of the most talented Orthodox writers currently alive. Both of them have excellent blogs of their own. I know that I am not even 1/2 of the writer that either of them is. I guess what I am trying to say is that I am not commencing this blog because I feel that I am God's gift to the Orthodox world, especially not as a writer.

At the same time, I feel that God has given me some gifts that enable me to contribute something. My hope and prayer for this blog is that God will use it to encourage, inspire, and challenge people to grow in their knowledge of the Scriptures, the Orthodox faith, and, ultimately, that they will grow in their faith and hopefully advance on the path of salvation. My plan for now is that this blog will primarily consist of the application of Scripture to life in the 21st century world. Occasionally, I may comment on current affairs, culture, and perhaps even politics (God help me!) But again, my primary desire is that this will be a devotional blog. Thank you for indulging me in this introductory post, and may our God bless you all.

Soli deo gloria.

The unworthy priest,



Megan said...

You inspire me, Father James! I couldn't ask for a more awesome (future) Godfather. I think this will be a nice thing for you to do. I am sure it will help me discover my own perspective by reading your perspective on things. Online journaling is a good thing. Sure it has its impersonal qualities to it, but this can be the next best thing to getting into the mind of people that you admire/are close with. Don't worry about your writing skills - you don't have to have an eloquent way with words to say a few good things. See you soon!

Fr. James Early said...

Thank you, Megan--you are too kind. My prayer is that this blog will be a blessing to all who read it, and that it will help them in some way to grow closer to God. To Him be the glory!

Rdr. Michael said...

Bless, Father:

This is a crazy question, but one I've always wondered about regarding priests who have secular jobs to support their families. What do you wear to your secular job? Clerical collar & black, or normal business attire? This is not a judgmental question in anyway, just out of curiosity...but then again, Fr. Paul Tarazi said at the Lenten retreat a few weeks ago that "the curious will not enter the kingdom"

Fr. James Early said...

Reader Michael, welcome to the blog! It was (as always)a pleasure chanting with you the other day. When I am working at my secular job, I wear normal business attire. No black shirt or collar.

That was an interesting quote from Fr. Tarazi. Take care!