Celestial Lands The Religious Crossroads of Politics, Power, and Theology

On Why I Write

Every year around the New Year I take a retrospective look at my writings of the past year… not just here at Celestial Lands, but my sermons, newsletter articles, and assorted other writings. I write a lot… it is part of my spiritual practice to do reflection upon life, the universe, and everything through the written word. If I were to gather together decades of writing, I’m sure I would have a whole shelf of books by now… a small portion of which someone might actually like to read. Yet, my primary purpose in writing is not so that others will read what I write… but because I need to write to continue my own development as a minister, as a religious liberal, and as a human being.

For years I wrote privately. I still have my journals and essays written only for me. I have my teenaged-tortured-soul attempts at poetry. I have the essays I wrote in middle and high school. I have the few fiction stories I have written and never shared, and I have the outlines of a few novels that I cherish and may never flesh out. I had become comfortable with writing for myself… journaling ideas in an intellectual shorthand that no one else could understand, not having a sense of what had come before.

That was when Barbara Pescan challenged me to find some way to be more public about my writing, and therefore be more accountable in my writing. Thus, Celestial Lands was born.

Actually, the Celestial Lands website existed prior to the invention of the Blog section (or the Wayside Pulpit, as it has occasionally been called). For two years prior I owned the domain, and it hosted a private journaling website that only I could see. It meant that I could write in my journal from any computer, so long as there was internet access. The Journal is still a part of Celestial Lands, though now it is mostly a worship resource that I use and share with the worship associates of congregations I serve. Some parts of it are public, but large sections are private, accessible only by me and a few others. And, the old journals are there.

One of the greatest gifts in learning how to frame my spiritual practice of writing for a public audience has been how it has helped me to develop as a preacher. It not only has given me a more relaxed pulpit style, but it has allowed me to access much of my thought on many different issues in developing sermons… thought that might otherwise have been a momentary set of thoughts while driving in my car were I not always looking for topics to write an article about.

I believe I can trace much of my theological and cosmological development in the past five years to having a spiritual practice of writing. I find that an idea in my head has a different valence, a different perspective for me when I see the idea in characters on a screen. Or when I come back and read it again some weeks, months, or years later. I also find that, beginning with a nugget of an idea, requiring myself to write a few pages about it develops it far beyond what I would have done without that requirement. It forces me to see and make connections, and sometimes to step away from the idea altogether as impractical.

I write because I have discovered I have to write. I write for the same reason I put my butt on a Zen cushion and sit in silence… because being the person I want to be requires it of me. Every once in awhile I think of the time that I spend tippty-tapping on a keyboard, and wonder if that time could be better spent working on a project, or visiting with congregants, or out running to increase my Physical Fitness Test scores…

And then I remember why I write.

Yours in faith,

Rev. David

2 Thoughts on “On Why I Write

  1. Hi David,

    Your thoughts on writing have inspired me to get back to the practice. I shy away from it but know that it is my work to do. Thanks for the nudge.


  2. Reverend David- I’m so glad I noticed on Facebook that you’d posted here and I’m even more glad that Finn is doing math work so I can read. Just last night, I was debating why I’m still working on my work-in-progress that I started for National Novel Writing Month in November. I wonder if there’s such a thing as “needing to edit” that goes with “needing to write” because I’d rather be writing something fresh at the moment, but I have pages and pages of text to edit.


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