those interested in the project of becoming, especially how our given time and place influences who we are and want to become
On My Mind, Eyes & Ears
- Newsletter Name Change
- Wanted to give you a heads-up that there’s a small “re-brand” for this newsletter coming up with the next issue on March 21. When I first launched under “Creative\Proofing,” I had a whole constellation of ideas I’d planned to work with and develop. As often happens, those ideas have morphed and been absorbed into new ones. For the sake of longevity, re-branding under my own name makes more sense.
- Nothing should change on your end, but you can always set your browsers to meganjrobinson.substack.com as of March 21.
- A Guide for Cultivating CEDAR in Your Life: Make Sense of What You Know + Do So That You Can Take Meaningful Action, Megan J. Robinson
- Bashful plug for a thing I’ve put into the world that I just realized has a very long subtitle. Cultivating CEDAR is a free, self-paced worksheet designed to help you gain clarity on where you experience frustration, confusion, and procrastination in your daily routines, identify where you can make effective changes in those routines or tools, and take your next meaningful action to do your most effective work in the world. I hope you’ll check it out and maybe find it helpful.
- 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep, Jonathan Crary
- As one of my friends would say: uff-da. This is another slim but dense book that isn’t exactly…um…happy. Crary focuses on the ways in which late modernity as designed by humans has developed into a way of life that is not actually built for humans. Specifically, he looks at how late capitalism essentially tries to colonize and optimize every aspect of human life for consumption, commodification, and control. He observes that the persistent human need for sleep, perceived in late capitalism as “weakness,” has yet to be fully commodified (despite our best efforts). The more I learn about the ramifications of consumer capitalism run amok, the more I wonder how we stop the train. While reading the other night, I texted a friend with “Capitalism is financial Darwinism. Fight me.” She wrote back, “I can’t.”
- The Church after Innovation: Questioning Our Obsession with Work, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship, Andrew Root
- I’ve just started this one. So far it’s providing much food for thought as to the impact of contemporary entrepreneurial mindsets (that idolize innovation) on the dynamics of ministry and faith formation within contemporary churches. It’s not all negative, but Root points out that there exist rather different moral visions between entrepreneurialism and faith formation, which are worth considering before integrating either wholesale.
- The Uncontrollability of the World, Hartmut Rosa
- Going back through this slim but dense book, reflecting on Rosa’s ideas and thinking about the relationships with the world that he describes. I’m a lot more aware of the constant impulse to make sure that every application of my time and energy are somehow productive and doing something that gets me better resources “in the future.” I recently had the thought that I’m always in a hurry to get to the future, because somehow my present is inferior to it. Which is a weird way to live, when you think about it.
- “The Asbury Revival: A View from the Inside with Elijah Drake,” Preston Sprinkle
- Since I’m still curious about and connected to American evangelical Christianity, I’m never sure how some news that blows up in this sphere hits (or even blips) on larger radars. That said, I’ve followed the remarkable events at Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky with great interest, and look forward to learning their impact over the coming years. I loved listening to this perspective from Elijah Drake about his experience of participating. This moment in the interview got me:
“The church…it’s so broken, but through those cracks, like God’s light is going to shine through sometimes. And there’s going to be a lot of times where people don’t notice you, and don’t see you, but there’s going to be moments when he does, when people do see you, and God does see you, and that beauty is the church, and that’s what I want to love.” (39:34-39:51)
- Patrick Miller shared a tweet thread with some observations on the Asbury revival that brought out some fascinating insights about the ways in which this event resists “the water” of our time.
- I realized that we’ve gotten to eavesdrop on a mass experience of resonance that couldn’t be predicted or planned for, and its outcomes cannot be controlled. As Rosa points out, “Resonance is inherently uncontrollable. Whenever it occurs, we are transformed; but it is impossible for us to predict how exactly we will be change and what the end result of this transformation will be.” The events at Asbury remind us that the “basic mode of vibrant human existence consists not in exerting control over things but in resonating with them, making them respond to us—thus experiencing self-efficacy—and responding to them in turn.” It will be interesting to see how we all respond over time.
- I am a fan of the whimsical, creepy, and macabre, but it’s rare to find a work with which I identify so strongly, as in, this is a self-portrait. luciecolson_art
A post shared by Lucie - artiste dessinatrice - (@luciecolson_art)
Thinking About Water
One of my favorite questions to ask of the world is “What’s the water? What are we swimming in?”
It comes from the famous commencement speech given by David Foster Wallace. He opens with a parable of two fish greeted by a third, who calls out, “Hey, fellas, how’s the water?” The two fish swim on, and eventually one says to the other, “What the hell is water?” As Wallace says later, the point of this parable
is merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about.
It’s the realities of our current socio-cultural context—what exists and how it came to be—that are hardest to see, to get enough distance from to make sense of them. It feels like we keep trying to make connections of new knowledge with past experience and we’re about a foot short in bringing the two ends together. So I write because sometimes we feel things that we can’t yet put into words, and it helps when someone else tries.
This newsletter is, I hope, a space to make those connections and the water visible.
And because we’re exploring the process and experience of formation, I’m also trying to figure out how to answer questions like:
- How and why am I the person I am today?
- What choices did I make in getting here, and how were those choices made?
- Did I have some agency or freedom in my choices, or did I just make the choices that my social, historical, economic, and political environments made available to me?
And, depending on what I discern from answering those questions, what choices do I want to make next?
May we help each other find good answers to these questions.
Let’s be hopeful, creative, and wise—together.
1 Rosa, p. 37
2 ibid., p. 31