Get Behind Me Santa

As I write, a worship music rehearsal takes place in my house. In an effort to drown out the holiness I have donned my cans and put on the most evil music I have. No, not Eminem. Jewel’s teeny pop album (Be sure to check out the hilarious user review!). Satan and Jehovah do battle, right here in my hallway.

You might be wondering why I have a copy of Jewel’s techno-tweenie album. No need to fear. I don’t.

I do however have copies of her first two albums because it is amazing what a teenage crush can convince you is musical.

Did you know Jewel is the best selling poet in history? Please, let you never again utter any shite about a belief in the natural goodness of humanity.

Her first collection is called A Night Without Armour. Eavan Boland she is not.

Autographed Velvet Elvis, originally uploaded by Zoomtard.

Rob Bell is the founding pastor of a church in Grand Rapids, Michigan called Mars Hill. Its a funny story really. He opened the doors and about 3000 people showed up. That makes me feel really good as I plant a church in the suburbs of Dublin and we cheer victoriously if a stray dog wanders into the service. One morning God really blessed us and a swallow got caught in the building and he increased the numbers listening to my sermon by 45%.

Maths works differently in church statistics by the way so don’t try to work that one out.

Anyway, a key part of Rob Bell’s effectiveness is that he is a legend. His sermons are rambling, conversational genius. It is really bad for me to listen to him because he is what I want to be like at the pulpit. You know that scene in Fr. Ted where Dougal sings in the mirror pretending to be Boy George singing Karma Chameleon? (Amazingly it is not on YouTube. Get to it nerdlingers!) Well us preacher types do that too except we pretend to be bigwig church leaders.

How pathetic is that? Take a moment and savour it.

Anyway, Rob Bell was in Ireland for some reason some time that I don’t know about and so I wasn’t there. Good thing too. You never would read the end of it on here. But my replacement Wylie was there and she got Rob to sign a copy of his book (which I was inspired by here last year). It must be very weird to be a church leader who signs books for people.

The reason why Rob Bell is very very well known is for his series of videos he calls Nooma. Nooma is a Koine Greek joke. Ha! Brilliant. They are all about 10 minutes long. They cost about $300,000 to make. Us Christians buy them for about €10. We watch them and we go, “Oh that is a good point he makes there”. Then we rub our chins and discuss. Its great really. And now thanks to YouTube you get to do it too. This one up here is called Kickball. It is not as good as Music which is the best one but you still have to pay for that one…

Alistair.Adversia is a very fine, intimidatingly good in fact, website of a St. Andrews theology student. Via him via an Aussie site I read this great slice by Umberto Eco. It is pretty condemning for much of the blogosphere blog writing out there.

[There is] another view common to bad writers – namely, that one writes only for oneself. Do not trust those who say so: they are dishonest and lying narcissists.

There is only one thing that you write for yourself, and that is a shopping list. It helps to remember what you have to buy, and when you have bought everything you can destroy it, because it is no use to anyone else. Every other thing that you write, you write to say something to someone.

I have often asked myself: would I still write today if they told me that tomorrow a cosmic catastrophe would destroy the universe, so that no one could read tomorrow what I wrote today?

My first instinct is to reply no. Why write if no one will read me? My second instinct is to say yes, but only because I cherish the desperate hope that, amid the galactic catastrophe, some star might survive, and in the future someone might decipher my signs. In that case writing, even on the eve of the Apocalypse, would still make sense.

One writes only for a reader. Whoever says he writes only for himself is not necessarily lying. It is just that he is frighteningly atheistic. Even from a rigorously secular point of view.

Unhappy and desperate the writer who cannot address a future reader.

I think that is some mighty fine writing there. Worthy of being read. I began Zoomtard without any hopes that anyone would ever find anything worthy to read here and I would feel a need to remind Eco that bad, unhappy, desperate writers only become good enough to read by writing and that this alone justifies the sphere of blogs sub-editors nauseatingly constantly refer to as the blogosphere. Eco, being one of the world’s top 3 intellectuals (that is even weirder than autographing church leaders) would be smart enough to point out that his target isn’t people who write badly but people who write badly and deceive themselves by saying that it doesn’t bother them if no one reads it or how someone might read it.

One can write badly by say, letting your sentences run on and on without any punctuation or indication of tone or pace or anything at all like that which capitalises on the hidden power of language or you can be a bad writer by using words artlessly so that clashing syllables juxtaposed by brutal syntax make a noise in your head or you can be a bad writer by using really really really really bad descriptive terms a hundred million times until your eyes bleed blood red blood or you can be a bad writer by writing about boring things like modern dance. Another way of being a bad writer is to write with bad ethics. Your style can be fine, excellent even but if your intentions or considerations are mis-placed (or as Eco suggests non-existent) then you can fail to communicate anything of worth. Saying that you didn’t intend to communicate anything of worthy doesn’t then make your contribution worthy.

Let me spell this out in case my writing sucks. You can be a bad writer by being bad at writing or by being bad while writing.

I really need Santa to bring me some books on aesthetics. Of course, if Santa actually did that this would be the worst Christmas ever. What I really want is a BB Gun.

Your Correspondent, Knows everything about females, everything except the details

5 Responses to “Get Behind Me Santa”

  1. Hmmm… Both Jewel and Rob Bell have strikingly blonde locks. Rob is the son of a Reagan era federal court judge; Jewel spent time with native Americans who used to call her “Yellow Hair”. Sorry, I can’t find even a tenuous link worth noting.

    I agree that Bell is the Michael Stipe of preachers, effortlessly popular while glowing with integrity and creative grit. I read the chapter in Velvet Elvis about thousands of people turning up on his porch. I’d quite like to know the rest of the story. Either something as miraculous as Pentecost and the animals entering the ark took place, or else somebody in the advance team was secretly doing energetic marketing. Not that there is anything wrong with that. “Six pm at the Aeropagus – Come meet the Unknown God!”

    Hey, have a tremendously Happy Christmas!


  2. zoomtard says:

    Tremor-ous Christmas is in motion Williamson. Took my first Christmas Day service and no one walked out, no one got electrocuted and I managed to have an egg sing a depraved version of O Holy Night via video.

    The Michael Stipe of preachers? I like that angle.

    Now I am off to watch The Wizard of Oz. May some kind of festive warmth glow in your cold Norn Irish heart today!

  3. byron says:

    That was a fun read – thanks for the link and extended discussion of the Eco quote.

  4. jimlad says:

    When I write badly it is because I am preoccupied with trying to figure something out for my own benifit. I shouldn’t do that unless I am writing in private but I do. I have to say though that if I write something for myself it often happens that my mind is cleared much more rapidly than if I had allowed the thoughts to remain unstructured in my head. So I think there is definitely a good reason to write for oneself but it is important to make a distinction between private and public writing, and to allow this distinction to be apparent in the quality of our communication.

    Also sometimes it is good not to stick perfectly to the rules of writing as it conveys a sense of lecturing your audience, which isn’t always what you want to communicate.

    Yours Primly

  5. zoomtard says:

    I feel lectured.