What I Mean When I Say…

If you’ve seen the About Me page on this blog, then you’ve seen that I claim a few titles. Maybe claiming titles like that is a little pretentious, but seeing as I haven’t joined the Night’s Watch, and in light of our waning interest in titles, I stand by continuing to call myself outlandish things.

But if I’m going to continue calling myself things like Writestafarian Shaman, then I suppose it makes sense to explain what I mean when I say something like Writestafarian Shaman. So that is the purpose of this page. Below you will find a few words on what I mean when I say…

Writestafarian Shaman

I am the first member of the Salon of Writestafarian Brothers and Sisters. Writing is a thing to which I have decided to give my life, and a thing about which I care a great deal. I also believe that the written word not only delights as a source of entertainment, but works as a vehicle for social and cultural change. It grieves me how much bad writing is out there, and how often writing is abused for selfish purposes, leading astray less discerning readers. When writing is dishonest, mean-spirited, or haphazardly crafted, it disgraces the medium. It is my goal to be a part of artistic communities in which writers seek to use their writing in a way that is beautiful, loving, kind, wise, and courageous. In that way, I want more writing to read like reggae music sounds, and for the spirit of that writing to be reminiscent of the spirit of Rastafarianism. Peace, love, unity, hope, all those good things. So there you have it: Rastafarianism  + Writing = Writestafarianism.

Zen Basketball Monk

This is the one title that was actually given to me. I guess I earned it, considering my love of basketball and my laid back demeanor (I can only wish that I was as chill as I act around other people). I remain a decent pick up basketball player, largely because I just kinda get the game. And I like to think that extends to my understanding of professional basketball too. I also have this affinity for things Chinese, so I suppose that works itself in here, too.

Progressive Dadaist

Dadaism was a movement of artistic anarchy from the early 20th Century. Thought-provoking as Dadaism is, what with its deconstruction of meaning and traditional norms, I prefer my art with clarity and purpose. That being said, we should embrace degrees of anarchy and chaos in our art, and should promote the avant-garde and the whacky individuals among us. Not everything should have a nice, neat, tidy meaning. Life isn’t like that, and sometimes we overreach when we foist conventional narratives on the world around us. Not everything fits inside those boxes. Be weird, if you’re so moved.

Macho Feminist

I’m a feminist. You should be, too. Why aren’t you? Wait, what, why isn’t everyone a feminist? A question I ask myself that is, but that’s for another time. One of the misunderstandings of feminism is that there needs to be a monolithic notion of femininity. To say there is one feminist ideology is foolishness. By calling myself a Macho Feminist, what I mean is that I believe there are differences between men and women, and there are perhaps things to which men and women are particularly suited, but I wouldn’t insist on confining men or women to the societal norms that those predispositions might suggest. In other words, I don’t think gender roles should ever be considered gender rules. That being said, I embrace masculinity, but not in the way you might think – strength should be tempered with sensitivity, and leadership should be interwoven with service. Are there ways that might be “best” for men and women to behave? Possibly, yeah. But to think that we’ve found that way as a society…well, I think anyone being honest knows we haven’t. Sexism is alive and well, and so we should continue to re-evaluate our understanding of gender.

Establishment Saboteur

I actually called myself this before the 2016 election made “establishment” a political buzzword. And what I meant then, and what I mean now, is that we should continue to challenge established thought, as well as the people and institutions that protect those thoughts and practices. “This is the way we’ve always done it” is a dangerous set of words. I firmly believe that conservatism and traditional practices do hold great value, and protect us from losing what good the past held, but the people who benefited from the old ways are always going to try to convince you everything’s fine the way it is. Well I intend to challenge that.

Cultural Provocateur

I want to impact culture, art, and society, even if in just my own small way. In particular, I want to change Christian art. Because much of Christian art sacrifices artistic integrity for the sake of being overtly Christian. The result is that a lot of Christian art is bad. In the same way that many rappers are changing what it means to be a “Christian rapper,” I want to challenge what it means to be a Christian artist, and make Christian culture more beautiful and more robust.

Jesus Freak

I’m not ashamed to say that I love Jesus. I’m a Christian. And being a Christian should affect everything I do in life. Jesus sustains me and satisfies my soul – but know that I’m not going to pretend to be better than you. Being a Christian isn’t about being right so much as it is knowing we’re wrong. I want living for Christ and glorifying God to be the purpose of my life, and so being a Christian will change the way I think and the way I write. I’m often upset by the way other people act while calling themselves Christians, and I want to engage in questions of how Christians should act, starting with myself. The greatest commandment, Jesus said, is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. He quickly followed this commandment with another one, which is to love your neighbor as yourself. That’s what we should be about.

Oh, also…

I end each blog post with two things besides my name. The first is:

Forth now, and fear no darkness. This is from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Return of the King. They are King Theoden’s words to his captains as he leads them towards the great battle of their time (a variation appears in the film as well). I say this because that’s a cool thing for a king to say before a battle, and because the night is dark and full of terrors, and I don’t want you to fear it. Hopefully what I write is encouraging to you, and helps you to go forth unafraid.

And the second is:

Soli Deo Gloria. One of the five Latin solas, meaning “To the glory of God alone.” As much as anything, this is a reminder to myself. I want to live my life to the glory of God. I have to resist becoming self-absorbed and seeking my own glory. So I remind myself that I must do what I do for one who is greater.

– Peter