Lessons Learned at St. Blogs--A Thank You

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Why am I a blogger? For one thing it keeps me writing. But for another it keeps me involved with the intellectual community of St. Blogs. I don't like every "intellectual" blog, some are too astringent, some too uncivil, but there are a good many that do me great good.

In light of praise received last night, I had to try to figure out a way to disarm what I really wanted to say in this post. Because I tend to be very straightforward in my approach to things, I will do the same with disarming. What I am about to say is the truth as I see it; I am not fishing for compliments, I am not looking for an ego boost, I am not stirring the pot to see what is stuck to the bottom. As I approach that magical 3000 number, I want to give a perspective as to why I have 3000 posts and why I hope I'm around for another five or six rounds of 3000.

When I entered St. Blogs I did so with a fair sense of my own intellectual "prowess" and my own ability to communicate clearly precisely what I wanted to say. My time here has shown how sorely both commodities are lacking. I am not nearly so smart as I would like to think. That has been a hard lesson, a constant challenge to come to terms with, but it has been a very good lesson. Moreover, I am not the thinker I thought I was. I haven't been trained in it and I have no inclination to it. I can follow a reasoned argument fairly well, although I sometimes miss the subtleties, but I am not up to Disputation, merely to opinion formation and floating an idea to see how bad or good it might be. While Disputations has taught me a great many lessons in this realm, I have learned other, formidable lessons elsewhere in St. Blogs.

For example at "Ad Limina" and "Against the Grain" I come up against deep knowledge and love of certain figures and ideas in the Church. There are people discussed about whom I know something, but often there surface insights and ideas that are so exciting and new (to me) that I want to shout them to the world. Hence, another lesson--the world already knows them--it's ME that doesn't.

I go to Two Sleepy Mommies and Summa Mamas for insights into family life, books, and a quiet chuckle or two. For out and out guffaws I head to Curt Jester, and often to Video Meliora. I love TSOs short fiction pieces and sometimes acerbic observations of goings-on here and in the real world.

But the most important lesson taught by Saint Blogs has been the importance of humility. Time and again I have thought myself slighted or mocked or insulted and I have thought about really firing off a zinger (assuming that it is still within my repertoire to do so). And then I will stop and think a couple of things:

(1) Did I read what the person wrote, or did I misread it with my own agenda? Moreover, did I read what was intended or what flat words end up sounding like when they achieve print?

(2) Why exactly are you so hurt and angry? Why did such a response provoke my anger? Why do you take yourself so seriously?

Thinking these things I discover that I do take myself far too seriously. I am not that important and the deconstruction of Steven Riddle is not a particularly likely goal for anyone who has any sort of life outside of cyberspace. Thinking these things always turns me toward Jesus to ask Him what is wrong with me. Why am I so prone to failure in this regard? Why is my pride so overblown?

So, while for many a tenure at St. Blogs is an exercise against the temptation of pride, for me it is a constant lesson in humility. I walked in thinking I was "all that," and discovered that I am just one of a great many fairly intelligent, but not necessarily top-notch thinkers. What I thought was a breadth of view and vast vistas of interests turns out, in the end, to have been a fairly parochial, fairly narrow range compared with some in St. Blogs.

Keep in mind, this is NOT looking for refutation, because refutation would undo the meaning and intent of what comes next:

Thank you all. Thank you for the lessons you teach me even when you are not trying to teach anything. Thank you for the lessons in thinking reasonably. Thank you in the lessons in being a better person. Thank you for the insights you have shared regarding your families and how you all strive to be better parents and better people. Thank you for sharing your struggles and inviting the prayers of the community. Thank you for upholding the Catholic Truth to the best of your ability. Thank you for being a very real and substantive community of thinkers who work, and write, and read, and share. Thank you for helping me to become a better Christian. My Catholic life has improved immeasurably in my time here. Part of this is because of what I post, but most of this is because of what I read, both in response to these posts, but also in each blog that I visit. I owe a tremendous debt of thanks to every person here and I pray for St. Blogs every day.

We have our detractors. Sometimes we are our own detractors, wondering why we do this, why we continue to write. Sometimes we express our own reservations about why we keep blogs. But I apply to this the universal rule--If you are asking yourself if you might be being a jerk either (1) you are not being a jerk; or (2) you are well on your way to becoming not a jerk. So too if you wonder about your motives for posting, you are undergoing the proper regular examen that is necessary for each of us as we continue to work here. Because there is great temptation to pride, but there is also lowly and humble support for the entire community.

Once again, my sincere thanks to all who stop by and read and to all who occasionally engage me in discussion. Your ideas improve my own ways of thinking about things enormously. It is not possible to be thankful enough for this.

So keep blogging, keep those entries coming. I am now at a point where I cannot get through my entire bloglist every day, and that is a wonderful place to be. The diversity of opinion, the diversity of voices, the sheer tumult and rough-and-tumble of some of the interactions are a constant source of inspiration, and, oddly enough, a kind of joy.

Thank you.

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Thank you, too, Steven!

I especially like your site, and read it every day. Your descriptions of the struggles go through make me smile, because I go through similar ones, too. I think we all do. You seem to go through your struggles with such grace, though, perhaps more so than many of us. So I always come away feeling encouraged as well as having learned something.

Thanks back at you!



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on November 9, 2004 7:56 AM.

Literary Taste: How to Form It was the previous entry in this blog.

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