Muffling the Cymbals

Theology Thursday

I have been wanting (or maybe I mean “wanting”–with quotation marks around it) to write about God’s relationship (or not) to evil and suffering in the world for at least six months. I thought I was going to start today–that’s what I was setting up last week. But I still can’t get my thoughts and my words together and so I just don’t think it’s the right time.

Especially not after yesterday. Yesterday I called literary agents pimps.

Now, you might think I genuinely meant to call them that, and that now I’m backpedaling because I actually hope to work with a literary agent at some point, who wants to help me get my book(s?) published at some point, and that I belatedly realised it might not have behooven (Beethoven? I dunno) me to bandy such incendiary words about.

And . . . you would be right.

But also this:

I’m doing all this reading for my Spiritual Formation class about (or written by) people whose relationships with Jesus were so much closer than mine, that their understanding and their living make mine look like I’ve never even heard of Him before. It’s not really making me feel guilty–it’s just making me question my assumptions, and want to get close to Jesus like that.

I was sitting here reading one of those books last night and thinking about yesterday’s post and about how often it happens that when I’m thinking of something to say, I’m quite proud of myself (“Raw!” “Edgy!” “Tells it like it is!”–yeah, I know–I’m prone to exaggerate), and then after it’s out there for everybody to hear I realise it was just a lot of self-absorbed noise, or, as some other guy with the same name as my husband once said, “a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” I call this condition “clanging cymbalitis”–this talking or acting without love. I get it kind of a lot, unfortunately.

Or this whole shebang. (New York, New York. Sunny Greer, drummer for Duke Ellington. By Gordon Parks, 1943. LC-USW3-023938-C)

Or this whole shebang. Nothing against Sunny Greer.
(New York, New York. Sunny Greer, drummer for Duke Ellington. By Gordon Parks, 1943. LC-USW3-023938-C)

I had just finished thinking this (or so I imagined), when I turned the page and was confronted with this:

He who holds his tongue in check controls both mind and body (Jas. 3:2 ff). Thus it must be a decisive rule of every Christian fellowship that each individual is prohibited from saying much that occurs to him. —Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together


I’m not going to debate the truth or falsehood of my pimp comment. That’s less the problem than the fact that it was said out of self-satisfaction/pride and not out of love. I wasn’t doing what Jesus did and taking account of individual people. I was getting kind of a rush out of writing Something Sort Of Almost Controversial On The Internet, and not thinking about literary agents as people. This is the kind of thing I do all too often (in real life, too, and not always on the internet) and frankly, I think our entire society does this kind of thing all the time. It’s easy and maybe it’s even understandable and sometimes it might be right, but it isn’t right.

I mean, okay. Jesus used harsh words, too. “Brood of vipers” comes to mind, which maybe doesn’t have quite the punch now that it had then, but I suspect was pretty insulting back in the day. The thing is, I don’t think Jesus was name calling to make Himself look better. He was trying by any means necessary to get a bunch of religious people to recognise how far from His Father they had stomped. Also? If Jesus was the only perfect human being, which I believe He was, then He’s really the only one who has the right to judge anybody. I, much as I might like to think I do, certainly don’t.

Do I think the publishing world needs a revamp? Yes. Do I think sometimes messed up stuff needs to get called out? Yes. I’m just not sure I’m the person that needs to do that, and if I am, I probably need to get my own head sorted out a little better first.

All of this basically confirmed my idea of the temporary Blog Pause. I’m trying so hard to produce content that sometimes I’m saying things that don’t need to be said or in ways that I don’t need to say them. (I also posted a sermon in somebody’s comments yesterday. You know who you are. Sorry about that.) I think I need to stop and breathe. And listen. And pray. And find out what God wants me to be writing about. I suspect they’ll still be Jenn Stories. I just hope they’ll be a little better ones.

Unless things go entirely not-to-plan (which, I guess, is always a possibility) I’ll be back. My own idea is that I’ll go silent for two weeks, at which point I’ll decide whether or not I need to go silent for longer, or if I can just post stuff I’ve already written (reblog from the old blog, or post papers from years gone by or something) for a couple of months. I don’t imagine there’ll be any truly new content here until sometime mid-summer, but you never know. All that to say, Watch This Space, I guess.

Oh, and literary agents? I totally get if you don’t want to represent my book, but I’m sorry for being rude, and I hope you’ll forgive me anyway.


21 thoughts on “Muffling the Cymbals

  1. Maybe I am misreading this but if you are waiting for validation from the blog to write that is a mistake. if you are looking for followers that will then be potential buyers, especially if you write about religion that is easy! Go get them they are out there heh. I write how on my blogging tips and no bigger group on WP then the religious group. 🙂

    • Ah no. I’m not waiting for validation to blog (and frankly, got enough of that on the post yesterday, interestingly enough). I just need some head space to figure out what I really want to say and how I want to say it and where I want to go from here.

      Thanks for the feedback, though . . . and for helping drive some of my traffic! 🙂

  2. Good luck with your blogging break. I hope it is temporary, as I truly enjoy every “Jenn Story” you post. I think, sometimes, life (and the fact that we might not be living or acting the way we should or the way we want) sometimes hits us in the face. It’s happened to me more times than I like to admit. I tend to have problems with being judgmental and letting myself edge over from anger into bitterness. I’m a work in progress … always! 😀 I admire how you’ve realized that taking a step back and some time for thought is the right thing for you at this time. Sometimes, that can be a hard thing to do.

    I’ve recently started trying to do posts for at least four out of the five “business” days of the week. I’ve found that posting on the weekends often isn’t possible for me. I quickly discovered it is a strain, so I empathize with what you said in here about trying so hard to produce content that you’re saying things you might not need (or want) to say.

    Sorry for the long comment! Sending you lots of support via the inter-webs!

  3. My two-week blogging read pause is almost over, but I found me some time to catch up on yours, only to read you’re getting into a break. I really hope this is not the pondering time that might lead up to a break-up, as you know I’m a fan of your stories and sermons alike. Take all the time you need and when you’re back, I’ll be too. When rereading this, I still think it sounds like a break-up, by the way.

  4. Jenn,

    I just found you and you are leaving? What?
    A woman who speaks her mind, truthfully and honestly will occasionally step on her own tongue. A woman who recognizes such things and apologizes is a rare and beautiful thing.
    As for pits of vipers and literary pimps, they, like lawyers, are used to a bit of writer snarkiness. I am sure you are forgiven. And hey if they are good pimps who can get your stuff sold on every street corner I say let them pimp you out. I sure would go for that for my writing. Promotion, promotions, promotion. Or is it location, location, location?
    And if you want to take a break take one. But don’t feel you have to or that you can’t change it up a bit. I sure have recently on mine and have gotten a new group of people looking at my stuff.
    By the way I found you through another blogger: Don of all Trades. Talk about snarkiness?
    I am going to follow you. I hope you give me something to read.


  5. Come to think of it, Jenn, these p- people are also humans, probably feeding many stomachs apart from their own. Oh, they may want to own that Ferrari too! And the way to that dream is through shades of gray.

    May God forgive us all!

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