In Uncategorized on January 16, 2006 at 1:06 pm


yesterday i waited many a long minute to hear npr’s on the media discuss the james frey situation. the report was, by and large, a boring recapitulation of an overdone story. however, one of the media gurus they talked with made an interesting point. he noted that over the past several years, especially since the success of girl interrupted, memoirs have become a popular form for young writers who are trying to leave a mark and, in many cases (including frey’s), cannot find anyone who will publish their novels. he mentioned that these memoirs often focus on the writer’s neuroses and, more often than occasionally, include details which have been questioned by numerable sources. especially notable in the latter case is burrough’s running with scissors, which has had its veracity questioned by a number of independent sources.

okay, that’s a long introduction to a simple thought. the fact that writers are obsessed with chronicling their neuroses and, as readers, we are incessantly intrigued with such stories, may not bode well for our culture. it seems to me that by constantly musing and reflecting upon the self and its vices in the most minute detail we just might lose sight of the deeper virtues such as justice, mercy, friendship, family, love and sacrifice that make life worth living. vice, as one of my S.H.I.T. professors used to say, is always easier to chronicle and more exciting to read about than virtue. yet, it is thinking deeply about and seeking to incarnate the latter that will lead us to become whole and healthy human beings and communities.

you might think i am a hard-arse for thinking this and, alas, such thoughts will probably never secure me a seat on oprah’s couch. but before you write me off completely, quickly turn these questions over in your mind:

what if martin luther king, a man who we rightly honor today, had written obsessively about his lust instead of his longing for justice?

for that matter, what if martin luther had written volumes about his struggles with depression instead of his 95 thesis or his epochal commentary on romans?

regardless of our religious preference, can’t we agree that civilization would have suffered if moses had chosen to write about his insecurities rather than providing much of the source material for the pentateuch?

please note, that these thoughts are offered humbly and without an accusatory heart. i am well aware of my own hypocrisy, insofar as i tend to offer more self-effacing humor and neurotic musings in this space than i do anything of real value.

may the peace of christ be with you today as we celebrate the life and legacy of one of God’s greatest voices.


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