For a good chunk of time, I wasn’t writing here or commenting on others’ blogs because there was literally no room in my schedule for the kind of reading, thinking and processing that it would have required. Within the past few months, my schedule has actually opened up substantially, but I still haven’t been writing. I’ve alluded a bit to some of the reasons that might be the case – mainly the feeling that I was struggling with some of the particular negativity that pervades the blogosphere – but I’ve also had in the back of my head the sense that there’s something else to be said. Be warned, this post consists mainly of thoughts about my own thinking that I seem to need to put out there for my own sake, and not much in the way of content I think may be relevant to others.
As some of you are likely aware, I went back to school last September for a second Master’s degree after a four-year hiatus from academia. This experience has been, in nearly every way, the polar opposite of my first time through graduate school. For tons of reasons both personal and institutional, that attempt was soul-destroying, whereas right now I can’t imagine a time in my life when I’ve felt more spiritual and intellectual enrichment. The academics are just one aspect of that, but the timeline conveniently correlates to when I started school again, so in reflecting on where I’ve been, some thoughts about this MA program keep coming to mind. First of all, as I’m sure I’ve said at some point before, I’ve been feeling really fortunate to have found this little enclave of progressive thought in the oh-so-corporatized academy (and I’m hoping against hope that I can continue to find those spaces when I start my PhD in September, despite the fact that I’m going to be studying at a reputedly much more conservative school in a much, much more conservative, business-driven city). I didn’t really expect to feel much of a political shift in my thinking from these studies, but somehow, I keep finding more and more boxes that are further and further to the left of the ones I’d already opened.
So what do those rather boring details have to do with this silly little blog of mine? Blogging, in obvious ways and among other things, is about voice and expression and identity. When I started this blog and moved away from the old livejournal I’d been periodically using, it was during a time when I was experiencing a major crisis in my personal life that had completely shaken the way I saw the world and myself in it. I wanted to find some new space to talk in new ways and think in different contexts, and overall, this has been a great place for me to do that. Before I went back to school, this blog was probably the primary place I could do that. I’m just now starting to realize that I’ve been shifting a lot in the past several months, in ways that have been far less dramatic than those I’m used to, and that one of the reasons I’ve been struggling to figure out how to write here, even when I do have time, has been an underlying sense of uncertainty that comes with that shifting.
The two-word version of myself that I’ve carved out in this space would be, I guess, the Christian feminist. This past year, I’ve felt my Christianity seriously challenged, in ways I didn’t expect. Obviously, I’m well aware of both the historical legacy and the ongoing present of misogyny, colonialism and violence within the Christian faith and the Christian church, and I certainly didn’t learn anything new in classes to mitigate that knowledge, but I also didn’t learn anything that made it worse than it already was. Some of the challenge has been largely internal, as I find myself drawn more and more towards non-Christian spiritual teachers and traditions and occasionally feeling pretty uncomfortable even identifying as a Christian. It was hard to figure out what the hell I would have to say in this space without feeling like I would just be coming in here out of left field with ideas that weren’t really making a lot of coherent sense even in my head.
In the end, I think, this program has actually deepened my faith, but it took me some time to get there, and in the meantime, writing as a ‘progressive’ Christian or a feminist Christian or from any kind of faith-based perspective felt like it could only scratch the surface of what I’ve been thinking and feeling. When I sat down to write this post, I didn’t really intend for it to turn into this kind of self-centred confessional on my personal spiritual identity and how it relates to this rarely-updated blog, and I did have some broader thoughts I was wanting to draw in, but, well, this is what came out. While blogging about blogging is, I realize, a legitimately mock-worthy phenomenon, the main point that seems to want to emerge from this particular post is that I find there’s an extra layer of challenge in recognizing and admitting to changes and shifts in positioning that comes out in blog-writing and that I’ve kind of been avoiding. Categorization and labels becomes somewhat more literal here. I’ve seen other people struggle with this before, when they get to the point of shedding the ‘feminist’ word or starting up a new blog because something has so fundamentally altered their perspectives and beliefs. I’ve been hesitant to use the word ‘struggle’, though, because it feels far too dramatic when I’m not really fighting anything or feeling any kind of frustration, but my night-shift addled brain can’t seem to come up with anything better.
I feel like this is something of a declaration to myself that I’m going to be writing differently again, but I actually have no idea what it is. Apologies for the navel-gazing, but it’s something of a barrier I’m needing to get past, I think, if I’m going to get anywhere with the thinking I’ve been doing.