On Beginnings and Changes

John 1

I have been thinking about beginnings quite a bit of late. Earlier this summer it occurred to me that the first post on The Voice of Stefan (which, as readers will recall, is the erstwhile name of Bouncing into Graceland) was published on 13 July 2007, now just over a decade ago. This blog was an attempt to communicate and interact with others, both professionals and amateurs, who I had found were blogging prolifically about the Bible and theology—a possibility which, given my relative geographical and academic isolation at the time, was enormously compelling to me. By my birthday on 29 August following I was actively engaged in the sorts of stimulating conversations that were characteristic of the “golden age” of Biblioblogdom, then in full swing. The much lamented Google Reader, an invaluable tool since obtusely terminated by its witless curators, made it possible to keep track of multiple conversations across dozens of independent blogs the world over, and enabled the creation of academic partnerships and warm personal friendships that, in many cases (and certainly in mine), continue even to this day. If I may be permitted an overwrought nostalgic musing, thinking back on those heady days brings to mind Wordsworth’s oft-quoted lines: “Bliss it was in that dawn to be alive, / But to be young was very heaven!”

At the other end of the decade mark, much has changed. Biblioblogdom, as it once was, has ceased to exist. Which isn’t to say that no one is blogging about the Bible and theology—far from it! (Witness the monthly Biblical Studies Carnival, ongoing since 2006, and hosted this month by our old friend Jason Gardner.) But the community, with its vigorous exchanges across all levels so often chronicled in “round-ups,” seems to have disintegrated in favor of a more autonomous approach. While this is doubtless a cause for regret, there is also a certain freedom in it: it is frankly impossible to keep up with 200 or more posts a day, let alone to participate meaningfully in that many conversations, and less still to produce contributions that will keep the entire community engaged. The conventional wisdom these days is that, in the age of Twitter, no one reads blogs any more. I’m not sure that’s quite true, but perhaps this perception signals that the conditions are right to venture out once again, even if only occasionally.

On a more personal note, my life is also fundamentally different than it was in 2007. I am now 39 years old, and have lived in Michigan for 9 out of the past 10 years. More significantly, I have become a husband and a father (of one, with another on the way!). Moreover, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I have managed to acquire a graduate degree in theology along the way; after that, I was ordained a deacon and then a presbyter in the Orthodox Church. All of these changes have necessarily reshaped, or perhaps refocused, my interests: I still spend a great deal of my time thinking about the Bible, its translation and interpretation, and its patristic and liturgical reception, but I also think a lot more about liturgy as such, pastoral theology, and homiletics these days. I hope that means that whatever I post here will be broadened, but not impoverished.

This blog has never been strictly academic, and it has never been an “Orthodox blog” (for, as I have noted in the past, I have never seen a blog being baptized, chrismated, or communed). It certainly will never be an “ecclesiastical blog.” What it ever was, and I hope it will remain, is a means for conversation with others about matters of lively mutual interest. Come, then, and let us sit awhile from time to time.

In closing, kindly allow me to note two things, one pertaining to things that change and the other to things that are ever the same.

As the more observant among you, my gentle snowflakes, will have noticed, yesterday’s fervorino (a word, incidentally, that a total of 17 people knew or used before the accession of the Pope of Rome Mr Francis to his See) for the Beginning of the Indiction was posted according to the New (i.e., “Revised Julian”) Calendar. Our friend Macrina Walker stated, in shock, that surely my blog had been “hacked by some Papist-loving, climate-change believing, Phanarotist new calendarist.” But no, alas: after having spent nearly the entirety of my adult life on the Old (i.e., “Ecclesiastical Julian”) Calendar, my family and I officially went to the New Calendar on 15 November 2013. That means that, as of 2 September 2017, we have been on the New Calendar for 1,388 days. For more on this, see the Twitter hashtag #thenewcalendarislikeabaddreamthatneverends. Here I will only echo the sentiments of my dear friend, the admirably learned deacon Fr Aaron Taylor, who in response to a most interesting article telling the story of the epicenter of the Gregorian calendar reform, exclaimed in a fit of ardent zeal: “Tear it down! Down with the pope and his atheist astronomers!”

With that said, and in spite of the notice of such disconcerting changes, I would like to make something abundantly clear to one and all: it remains the solemn Chief Burden of this blog to spread the knowledge of the infallibility of the great Moisés Silva throughout the land.

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