Further Up and Further In

My dear reader,

Were it not for the prompting of the automatically generated template I received when launching this blog, I may have skipped over an introduction altogether.  After all, I’m usually pretty direct in general; why not just cut to the chase? Apparently though, WordPress is concerned (how kind of them) for the well being of my blog and its readers, and it would seem a proper introduction is a necessary ingredient in that recipe. So perhaps a brief explanation isn’t a bad idea after all.

First, let me set the stage by going back a few steps further, beyond even my own personal experience or reasons for writing. I’ve always been fascinated with the way that we, as human creatures, have an insatiable desire to express ourselves.  It seems to be one of the primary driving forces by which our world as we know it has evolved.  It is without a doubt the fuel for the engine of innovation and human endeavor.  This desire has naturally taken shape in the form of countless approaches to expression, that each seem to mirror different aspects of our human nature.  Art, music, poetry, athletics and oration (to name just a few) undoubtedly stand in the front ranks, each with their own outward response to particular inherent human characteristics and desires.  To watch this ongoing process unfold is truly a beautiful sight to behold.

Ironically though, this proliferation of expression has led to a flood.  In our ever greater attempts at it, we have inundated ourselves with the products of our expression at an astounding rate.  This is a worthwhile dilemma, of course, but a hurdle that must be navigated nonetheless.  The difficulty then is how an individual can be heard in such a saturated environment. This hurdle, while present for most (if not all) of human history, has especially become a reality in the current age brought on by greater access to printed materials, and arguably more influentially, the internet.  The recent advent of a medium that facilitates the spread of all sorts of information so quickly, efficiently and to such an overwhelming degree has led to an exponential increase in the sheer amount of content available.  While we are all familiar with the incredible benefits of the internet’s accessibility and its information sharing power, from the perspective of an individual attempting to contribute to the massive current of thought swirling around the web it can be quite the daunting prospect.  Pressing “post” for a blog installment is akin to standing on the shore of the Atlantic ocean and pouring a glass of water into it.

It is against this backdrop that the question “Why even try?” is clearly painted in with bold colors.  Why share anything? Why even attempt to wade into the fray and throw your ideas and thoughts in the mix?  After all, everyone and their mother is contributing to the endless stream of articles, blogs, essays, podcasts and research papers.  To make matters worse, most of them have PhD’s to boot.  And even if you were counted among the ranks of the elite thinkers, who’s to say that any readers will stumble across your contributions in the vast landscape of the internet? Obviously one must square this daunting reality with the compelling inner drive, on the other hand, to contribute in some way to the conversation.

With this in mind, I now turn my attention back to explaining my own motivation for writing here. A shift in my perspective is necessary to push back against this narrative of futility and to conversely affirm the noble endeavor of expression.  This shift is simply a reorientation from a roaming gaze, which focuses on the sheer size of the informational landscape, to a view that trains my focus instead on the accessibility of what is within close proximity.  Essentially, a prioritization of local contexts and recipients is a vital foundation for any influential thought; whether or not those ideas filter farther outward at a later date is a less important consideration.  If it entailed a sacrifice of content for a more widely palatable message, I would much prefer to interact directly with a close ring of readers and maintain the integrity of that content, than have a larger readership.  Better yet if those that do come across my thoughts on this blog are people who I might brush shoulders with in my own community.  What might result from this is a tangible spillover, from my perspectives as they are represented here, to the spheres of the local churches, schools and public square. In other words, this commitment to a localized focus can then lead to a natural transfer; those that do find value in what I have to offer here can choose to plug it into their own personal contexts. It is also important to note that with this focus I do not intend to exclude input from a wide array of outside sources, or an avoidance of larger topics of conversation.  It simply prioritizes the reader that is readily accessible, and doesn’t worry about ranging too far and wide to reach an audience currently out of my scope of influence.

What is vital at a deeper level then, in order to make my input persuasive and coherent, is a fundamental purpose.  The absence of a goal or even a general direction dilutes the potency of any endeavor, especially one of this nature.  It is necessary to possess an animating worldview from which to draw clarity of thought and commentary.  From this foundational structure resources can be brought to bear in order to tackle a wide variety of questions and issues. Personally, this necessary and unifying thought pattern can be derived from the common thread of my distinctly Christian perspective. From that focal point I intend to spring off and interact with an expansive spectrum of topics; whatever happens to pique my interest at the time will inevitably spill out onto these posts. That being said, politics and religion (while taboo topics for most social interactions) very well may be at the top of my list of things to comment on. They’re just so fun to talk about!  Hopefully I generate much productive disagreement and engaging conversation through touching on some controversial issues. I welcome comments and challenges to my arguments or perspectives as well, for I would be the first to admit I have much to learn in many areas.

I will finish on this note.  In his final installment of the Chronicles of Narnia series, C.S. Lewis wrote The Last Battle. As its name suggests, it recounts the struggle by the last king of Narnia to maintain his rule over his country.  In his fight to do so, him and his faithful band of a few followers are swept up into the final battle for Narnia, and ultimately the last one ever fought in that world.  Abruptly, and completely unexpectedly, in the midst of the fighting they are transported through a stable door into what they soon discover to be a new and perfect version of the old world of Narnia they just came from.  They witness the end of this old world they were so recently immersed in, and then turn their attention to an exhilarated exploration of the paradise they have been brought into.  I cannot unpack the deep complexities that Lewis so wonderfully articulates in these culminating chapters, but I do want to highlight an important phrase he heavily leans in these final few pages.  “Come further up, come further in!” is the rallying cry that is echoed by many in their group, as they begin their journey.  They soon realize this world is full of higher and richer levels of reality, and realms to be uncovered and reveled in.  Naturally this spurs them ever upward and inward.  This declaration serves as a sort of anthem which the characters reiterate at an increasing intensity, as they begin their process of exploring the new world they now live in.  Most importantly, this phrase is employed as the expression of a deep sentiment of wonder; it encapsulates an insatiable desire for ever greater adventure and discovery.  While this idea (fleshed out in the context of a paradise) naturally does not transfer exactly to our own world with its permeating brokenness and chaos, there is still much we can currently derive from it and apply to our own lives.  For embedded in this phrase is the invigorating urge that inspires us to strive ever upwards, to push past the boundaries and press ever inwards to more vibrant layers found in everyday life and thought.  This phrase describes so succinctly the pervading desires that can compel us to think well, live well and love well in an ever increasing and excellent manner.

I hope you will join me as I strive to go “further up, and further in.”

-Sean O’Hare

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