There is Balm in Gilead
March 22, 2006

I'd just like to clear the record on one thing: I ain't dead yet. Got folks leaving blogituaries (I must credit Michele Catalano for coining that phrase, however I just redefined it) in the comments section. I need to clarify that every year I do a state of the blog address wherein I take my gubernatorial authority and speak forth where this blog is headed. It's not a goodbye. It's a pep talk.

Today I received a reader email that apparently sums up the heart of my "State of the Blog Address" better than I could. The reader's identity has been concealed for his privacy. He writes:

Ambra:

A couple of the comments on your "State of the Blog..." post touched on points that hit me hard a full day after reading it myself. The first was the realization, like Dave, that I enjoyed your blog because it validated my worldview. But, as MJ said, what made me come back (or rather, add you to my Newsgater feeds) was you, or the 'you' that you project through your writing. So, please don't sell that part of yourself short.

However, your laments got me thinking, too. Why is reinforcing my worldview so important? What spiritual goal does it help me achieve? Is it solely an ego stroke for that part of me that wants to be right? The answers were pretty obvious, and as a result, I've removed all commentators from my feeds who mostly regurgitate the news along with their right leaning spin. Not because they don't represent, necessarily, how I think. Rather, because I realize that I need to discover what/how I think on my own.

So, your introspection inspired me and re-connected me with some nagging questions in my own life that can no longer go unanswered. For this I thank you. I do hope you continue to blog, and that a connection can be formed via your gifted analysis and writing. Choose only those topics that truly inspire you. I'm sure that I, for one, will certainly enjoy contemplating your ideas, probably more so than looking for validation of my own.

God bless,

A Reader

Now this particular reader was extremely nice in that he paid me a few compliments in his email so that could be why it resonated with me. But beyond the compliments (or even minus them), I appreciated that he understood just exactly why I was so frustrated with this medium.

I want to clarify that I wasn't inferring that personality isn't an important aspect of media. It is. What I was inferring is that all media has some sort of worldview it is pushing either subliminally or blatantly. That remains the most important thing because ideas have eternal value; personalities doesn't. If everything is merely personality-driven, then why the heck are we alive? If that's the case, I quit nykola.com today because this is a complete waste of my time and yours.

People who disagree with everything Rush Limbaugh has to say aren't generally going to tune in daily to his show. His ideas and philosophy are a big part of his draw. And yet although I agree with many of his points, somehow even I can't stomach 5 minutes of him.

I am definitely of the belief that personality is what flavors the world. Personalities help feed us ideas and messages we might not otherwise accept--for better or worse. What I'm ultimately against is people denying creativity and adopting other personalities for the sake of the perceived benefits. I mean, why does so much talk radio sound exactly the same? Surely everyone doesn't talk just like that.

Maybe I'm an anomaly, but I think it's dangerous to build monuments around personalities. What happens when that person is gone? Does their mission still go on, or does it die with the personality?

Posted by Ambra at March 22, 2006 7:59 PM in Mail Bag
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"...it's dangerous to build monuments around personalities. What happens when that person is gone? Does their mission still go on, or does it die with the personality?"
Amen, sister. I am a member of a local Christian church which just 'lost' its founding pastor from the pastoral ranks. The people who had the hardest time with him leaving his leadership position were stuck on worshiping him instead of God. And what we've found through talks with the new pastor is that our biggest problems as a congregation stem from this (obvious, but not to the people directly involved.) We need to pull away from the personality and move on with the mission, just as you said.

So glad that you are back to blogging! Usually I understand your titles as they relate to what it is you write about and some of them are a great play on words. I don't get this one. I know whom the balm Gilead is but what does that have to do with this post?

Does this mean you have reconsidered your regret about associating tangentially with the Republicans? If the following is true - "...That remains the most important thing because ideas have eternal value; personalities doesn't.", Of what concern is the nature of the pulpit and/or the audience?

Are you now asserting that the message (Truth) must be supreme? Principles over personalities?

This is the clear inference I draw. Is this what you meant to imply? (Hint: be careful with the usage of imply/infer)

Sorry I misunderstood the personality angle. I like to read blogs that I agree with politically and philosophically, but I don't blog about that stuff because it seems that *everyone* is doing it--why add to the huge pile? I blog about what I'm interested in, which is why it's still one of those "tiny" ones out there, because it's a relatively narrow focus.

Every so often, people need to take truth out of its box and remember what it looks like. Nothing wrong with that. If we are not still learning why we take the positions that we do, they're probably not very good positions.

There are only so many times you can hear the same arguments about say, why abortion is just dandy. After awhile, it all repeats. As a student of history, the 1850s & 60s blur with today's arguments.

At the church where our Cub Scout den meets, I picked up a little card announcing a local church's Easter "musical drama" -- The Cost: The Eternal Price of Freedom.

Can one ever truly bore of opening that box?

I wonder if you realize how much you exemplify the spirit of the age, Ambra. Like so many people these days you are looking for authenticity both from yourself and in others.

I'd encourage you, though, not to confuse conformity with inauthenticity. A facade built as a reaction against the norm is still a facade and is no more authentic than one built to blend in.

Conversely, it is possible to be completely authentic, and yet still be "exactly like everyone else."

Just something to consider.

Aw man, you missed your chance!
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Why I'm Not a Republican Parts I, II, III, IV
Reflections on the Ill-Read Society
The ROI of a Kid
The Double-Minded Haters
Hindsight
Hip-Hop in Education: Do You Wanna Revolution?
Oh parent Where Art Thou?
Requisite Monthly Rant: the State of the Nation
College Curriculum Gone Wild
Walmart Chronicles
An Open Letter to American Idol
Gonorrhea and the City