I have a journal. Actually, I have a whole collection of journals. I started keeping one when a friend gave me a Moleskine journal some years ago. I didn’t start using it right away; I waited for a good year. One day I opened it and started writing. Nothing really prompted me to do that.
The Moleskine became another Moleskine, became a spiral notebook or two, became another Moleskine, and then I regularized the process by using a Levenger journal with a tan leather cover. When I ordered a refill, I learned that Levenger owns Moleskine.
The journal goes just about everywhere I do. Most of the poetry I write begins in the journal. So do quite a few blog posts. I use it for sermon notes. I keep schedules in it. Things I need to write down so I don’t forget them usually land in the journal.
The last few journal entries I’ve done include “Thoughts on St. Martin’s,” which became part book review, part musing; a review of Rowan Williams’ A Silent Action; two poems yet to be published; the poem “The White Room” posted yesterday; what eventually became my post Monday on A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman (“Where Does Poetry Come From?”); some sermon notes; and a few notes on Robin Robertson’s The Wrecking Light, which were used for my post at Tweetspeak Poetry.
Those entries are fairly typical. What I don’t write in it is anything that might prove a problem if someone picked it up and read it. Not many people would get upset to be reading rough drafts of book reviews, notes on Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, and a lot of poetry.
In The Fire of Delayed Answers, Bob Sorge describes using a journal in a very different way. He even includes a few journal entries. Reading them is painful, because he describes the spiritual pain he’s experiencing, the wrestling with God and the wrestling with faith.
What the entries reveal is the struggle between “two camps,” as he calls them – the camp of quietness and the camp of confidence. And then he describes those two camps – the camp of quietness, the one that emphasizes “the necessity of surrender to the sovereignty of God,” and the confidence camp, the one that emphasizes “the availability of God’s promises and power to those who will believe.”
And there it is – the great divide in the church, and especially what we call the evangelical church. Sorge calls them the “two general schools of thought in the body of Christ today.”
I’ve attended churches that were in the quietness camp, and churches in the confidence camp. The one I attend now, and have attended for almost a decade, leans pretty hard to the quietness camp (who ever heard of noisy Presbyterians, anyway?). The church we attended before, for some 14 years, leaned pretty hard toward the confidence camp.
As I look back over the entries in my journal, I believe I was too quick to dismiss what I’m writing about. There’s more here than I realized, more pain and more wrestling. It’s subtle; it’s not obvious like the entries Sorge shares in the book.
But it’s there, mostly in the poems. It’s clearly there.
Led by Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter, we’ve been reading The Fire of Delayed Answers. To see more posts on this chapter, “Dance of the Two Camps,” please visit Jason at Connecting to Impact. Next week we’ll finish discussing this chapter.
Photograph by Junior Libby via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.