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.
This is a question I've been pondering myself. I was reminded of Isaiah 30:15KJV and wonder if they need to be separated or if there isn't occasion for harmony between them.
My journals have changed a lot in this past year, when it became evident that I could not write anything I wouldn't want everyone to see. That let me to do a lot of what you're doing--things that become poems, things that become blog posts, things that become articles, things that become columns. Also poetry reviews and book reviews and movie reviews. In writing about these things, I can write about the things I can't write about. It's also been challenging.
My blog posts a lot of times act as a type of journal entry, but it's not "pure" in the sense that I know others will read it. I don't feel the freedom to completely wrestle with God or where I am. I need more of that in my life. I need to process things instead of stuffing them down. I try, but your post has inspired me with a way to do that. I read those same journal entries in this chapter, but this post helped me see them differently. Thanks so much, Glynn. Maybe I need to run out and grab a moleskine. :)
it's good to write what we really think.
writing thoughts helps us to see them.
but, i don't think that this is always helpful
to share with others or to continue to dwell on it.
i find it more helpful to sometimes write openly as speaking to God. And that's enough to open the eyes to the nature of the thoughts.
after writing...burn the paper and move on.
the pretty moleskines are best used to record pretty thoughts.
I don't keep a journal, though I used to. I do, however, keep notebooks on my desk to jot down any ideas which come to me for blog or book writing.
I'm so enjoying reading you and others regarding the Bob Sorge book. So interesting to see the different takes on the same topic.
I love journaling. I can look back and see how God has matured me and areas I'm still struggling with. I can see how God has answered my prayers and prayers I am still waiting for.
I think journaling is a wonderful tool to help us learn more about God and our walks with Him.
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