Wednesday, June 29, 2011


My life is filled with words. When I was training to be a minister, a close friend and mentor told me that ministry is done almost entirely through words: preaching, writing, reading, studying, and talking with people—these are the main things a pastor/priest does. Now, as an aspiring academic, I find the situation really isn't too different. Teaching, research, and writing all have to do with putting thoughts into verbal form.

What's more, as a teacher and scholar (and to a lesser degree, when I was in ministry), I'm utterly responsible for my words. Being in the humanities, people will frequently challenge my use of a particular word or phrase, and entire scholarly arguments can be built upon what a single word means. So, not without reason have I become a little anxious about what I write and say. 

The result is that I am extremely self-conscious about any sort of verbal communication I allow to get out from my mind to anyone else. It causes me no small anxiety to publish an essay, or read a paper at a conference, or give a lecture. 

It might surprise you, then, that I have a blog at all. If I get worked up about other people hearing my thoughts, then why, dear reader, would I want to let you read them?

Here's the honest answer: I have chosen to blog because you don't know me. Even if you actually know me—and I'm doubting that's the case to begin with—I'm writing under an alias. My name isn't Evan Scott. But I write as "Evan Scott" so that I can have that burden of responsibility for my writing alleviated. After all, if you don't like what I say, or if you think I'm a crappy writer, or if you believe I don't think all that clearly, then guess what? You can write me off like I do so many people who post on comment boards or offer their inane tweets, because you don't have any connection to me (outside of the blog, at least). 

To have anyone disregard this blog because they don't like it isn't a big deal to me. I put my thoughts into words here primarily for me. While that might sound selfish—and it is, to a degree—I also know that, unlike a private journal, this blog forces me to think and write about issues in a much more attentive way. Knowing that someone, somewhere might actually give any entry a read makes me somewhat accountable for what I actually write. It means I can't just rant about what makes me angry, nor can I simply rail on some issue without having thought it through, like I would in a journal.

Words matter a lot. It's how people's minds, ultimately, are changed, because words allow people to make thoughts more focused and comprehensible to others. Words have enabled humanity to comprehend the world in a way unimaginable even to our closest ape relatives. My hope, then, is that this blog will help me to communicate my own ideas more clearly and effectively, and that I can do so apart from a fear that my words might not be heard.

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