Common Chapters – Unique Perspective.
I’ve never learned the fine art of ‘shutting up.’ A keeper of strong opinions, I’ve been known to share them. Broadly. Loudly. Repeatedly. By design, the blogosphere is filled with perspectives with sweeping political, social, religious and economic range. Whatever we believe or disdain, we can find it on what I affectionately call the ‘webbernets.’ The “fifteen minutes of fame” that Andy Warhol forecast have come at last. Egad.
Blogging does seem the penultimate form of ‘let your voice be heard.’ Mine, insofar as anyone will hear it, tends to ponder the life changes common to us all. I keep discovering how significant words are. As a teacher of literature and writing (I used to say “I’m an English teacher” – causing people to shudder and recount their personal horror stories of how much they hated English when they were in school or how absolutely terrible they are at English… I’ll probably write about that, obviously J ) I read a lot of words. To my great delight, I read some of the best of what the world’s writers have ever penned. My dearest wish in the world of words would be to gain a voice so distinctive that at some point along the way, my words would be recognized and labeled “Fieldsian.” Of COURSE that’s pure vanity, and I’m working on overcoming it. As this blog clearly points out, I have lost that battle, at least for now. I can positively spin my affliction in this way however: this ‘Fieldsian flair’ that I long for stems from a deeply rooted love for words, and an acknowledgement that they matter. In 2011, I wrote (and revised repeatedly) my master’s thesis in late Renaissance drama. An early version of one chapter, devoted to Shakespeare’s Hamlet, included these words:
“In the beginning was the Word” (NIV Bible John 1:1). The Word, Christ Jesus, identified as the “Alpha and Omega” (Revelation 1:8) and “author and perfecter of [Christian] faith” (Hebrews 12:2) speaks truth. He invites us to be no longer “conformed to the patterns of this world” and makes possible our transformation through the renewing of our minds, so that we might understand His good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:2) for our lives. It is no mere happenstance that the Word, Christ, is revealed to us through the written words of Scripture. Words matter. Words minister the power of life and death. Words unravel mysteries, promise fidelity, enrage hearts, provoke revenge, obscure or validate actions, sever relationships, destroy trust, prompt doubt, preserve story. “Words, words, words” (Shakespeare Hamlet 2.2.193). Words, shadows of the Word, transform us. Words, powerful and enduring: without them, Renaissance drama would not exist.
Well of course, Renaissance drama wouldn’t exist without words. DUH. The important nugget in the passage from my thesis is nestled in this: ‘words preserve story.’ “Common Chapters” is a blog that examines life changes. It tells a bit of a story. Mine. Yours. Ours. And of course, because it IS a blog, it is comprised of words. Hopefully, the good ones. (I always tell my students to leave the tired, overused and dull words at home when they’re writing.) Words, for good or ill, do change us. And THAT, my reading friends, is what I hope to accomplish, one ‘common chapter’ at a time, with my words. I’ll write them in the hope that someone will be reading. May my words provoke, entertain, soothe, and stir – bringing with them life changes.