First off, THANK YOU to all of you who are following my blog during this experiment. It gives me a particular sense of joy to know that such wonderful people will be reading what I write. And the accountability is working – I didn’t want to get to tomorrow morning and have any of you ask me when my first RWR blog post was going to show up.
For those of you who haven’t been connected to me on Facebook: I finally reached that moment where the utility of the platform for sharing and discussing ideas was far outweighed by its soul-crushing, hope-devouring effects. One of my friends shared an article about the Trump campaign’s use of big data that made me feel like I needed to delete all my posts and take a shower. I want to still engage with people about how we live together in this world; I need to still engage with people if I’m going to survive this period we’ve entered into. But I was swimming in a miasma of toxicity, and I was putting back into that environment what I was absorbing from it. I want to bring joy and hope as well as righteous anger to my social media life. And while I’m so glad that the Lord was able to use the things I posted on Facebook to speak to people, I need to find a different way to go about this.
So I’m here, having committed to reinvigorating my blog by devoting my reading and writing energy to this place where I’m always wishing I spent more time writing and reflecting. My goal is to post once a week, reflecting on something I’m reading that encourages and teaches me as a work to build a liberated world. I love reading, and I love writing: welcome to Reading & Writing for the Resistance.
This first post doesn’t feel like much resistance, though. I keep trying to write about what I feel living in the world right now, and I can’t get my mind around it. I’m overwhelmed. And yet it seems indulgent to talk about my little bit of stress and disorientation after a weekend when so many people’s lives were upended. And I was so out of touch with the news that I didn’t even realize what had happened until the next day. I don’t know how to handle the news – and I know that not being able to handle it is a luxury some people can’t afford. So I’m trying not to just stick my head in the sand, I’m trying to focus on what feels like my piece of the work right now without losing sight of the bigger picture and the need to stand in solidarity with others. I feel completely inadequate to the times ahead.
I mentioned to some friends that I was re-reading 1984 as the year started off. While that might seem like pouring salt into the wound, dystopian fiction is helping me make sense of the world right now. Whatever I learned about what “America” is supposed to be feels like a far greater fiction; I’m hungry for writing that speaks to a deeper truth about how we got to this moment in our history. I don’t think that we’re doomed, that we’ll be trapped in this moment forever (although if I didn’t know and trust the Lord, 1984 would be hella depressing!). But George Orwell is helping me give a name to the doublethink that is not only a hallmark of Trumpism, but also core to the very notion of American exceptionalism. Aldous Huxley is helping me resist the conditioning of consumerism and the pursuit of empty pleasure. And Octavia Butler and Margaret Atwood are reminding me that hope can and will rise again – that sometimes the lowest moments are what unlock the future.
I think most of what I read during this experiment will be nonfiction: articles and books that analyze where we’ve come from, where we are, and how we move forward. But I expect I will continue returning to these fiction touchstones. They ground me. They refresh me. They give me a way to cope. But mostly, they help me to understand the world around me, when it has become something unfathomable.