August 2016


 I’ve never interviewed a guest so willing to say “I don’t know” or “I’m working through that” as Morgan. If you’ve ever wondered what the interior life of an blogger in the public eye looks like, Morgan gives a vulnerable, honest, open window into the spiritual blessings and challenges of his vocation. I hope he inspires you to greater authentic vulnerability in your own life, just as he did for me.

[buzzsprout episode=’407525′ player=’true’]

Join us for our conversation with Morgan Guyton, Patheos blogger and author of “How Jesus Saves the World from Us” where we explore the interior life of an religious blogger operating in the public sphere. Hear Morgan share about the challenges and blessings of being a vulnerable prophet, the importance of dialogue across differences, and how conversation in the digital age shapes or misshapes our identity.

One of the absolute best articles I’ve ever read on building a platform by Carol Howard Merrit.

I know people who have fantastic ideas, great platforms, and even book deals in hand, but they don’t ever get the work done. I’ve heard of writers who go out in the woods and magically give birth to a tome after two weeks without human contact. I am not one of those writers.

I’m a mom who cooks food, does dishes, walks a dog, and cleans a house. I travel enough for speaking and teaching, so I’m not keen on leaving my family for any more than I have to. My daughter goes to school in the morning and my husband serves a ministry in the evenings, so I only have an hour or two of time alone. So I work in the morning or in the midst of chaos. I often have to stop mid-sentence to find my child a clean t-shirt, or to reply to our dog’s plaintive whine. But I work at least eight hours, six days a week. Before writing was my full-time job, I wrote from 4:30 to 7:30 am. Then I edited when I got the dishes done and the house clean. I usually got in five hours a day.

Everyone loves the idea of writing a best-selling novel (or insert your favorite idealized endeavor here.) However, in order to be a successful artist, you really have to love the hustle.

In my experience, what’s the hustle?

  1. Spending an hour writing a blog post that gets twenty views.
  2. Spending more time coordinating schedules with your podcast guests than you do interviewing them.
  3. Endless nitpicky audio editing through that podcast where the sound files just don’t stay synced up.
  4. Shameless self-promotion when you’re still not sure whether you know what you’re doing.
  5. Demi-desperate, almost-begging for people to please, for God’s sake, make a comment on my post, write a review for my podcast, *anything* to let me know that my efforts are not simply disappearing into the ether.

If your project aligns with your passion, then the hustle is tolerable, even fun. (Anyone who’s ever done nanowrimo, the ultimate in hustle-practice, knows exactly what I’m talking about.) If it’s not, then no matter how well-planned or noble your goal, it feels like a slog through creative hell.

For most of my life I have been a church geek.

I devoured books on theology, worship, liturgy, biblical hermeneutics, ecclesiology, the mechanics of church growth, coaching, et. al, et. al, and et. al with passionate abandon. It was my unfortunate habit, as my long-suffering wife would tell you, to read a book and then get so excited about a passage that I’d run downstairs, interrupt her in the middle of whatever she was doing, and read it to her.

When the Vine ended nearly two years ago, I figured that, once the dust had settled, I could blend my prodigious book-appetite and my hard-won wisdom into something that the experts called a “platform”, which, if I got it high enough, would allow me to shout my opinions loud enough that other people would hear. (After all, I happen to have many opinions, even very strong, well-informed ones on most of the hot, re-shareable topics that dominate church culture nowadays: denominational politics, the spirituality of the nones, the mechanics of connecting with your community, et al., et. al., and et. al.)

With my lovely little podcast starting to grow a little bit, and the 101 mechanics of social-media platform building now learned, I was pretty sure that I was just a consistent writing routine away from my new media career as the “Spiritual Frontiers Guy” beginning in earnest.

I’m giving yet another go at regular blogging, thanks to the encouragement of my old writing group back in Massachusetts.

As I sat down to write, you might therefore imagine my surprise to discover that my passions have been entirely rearranged.

I’ve brainstormed. I’ve made lists of hot takes (okay, not hot, but at least pleasantly warm takes) on sharable issues, combed my archives for pieces that I could dust off, left behind a trail of draft posts abandoned two paragraphs in, had countless pep-talks while walking telling myself, “You can do this!” or “You want to do this! (Right? Right?)”

And despite all that, I can’t seem to manage more than a few idle sparks on the issues that have set me on fire for the last half of my life.

It’s rather like waking up in your house, only to discover, when attempting to plop into one’s favorite armchair, that someone replaced all the furniture overnight, and you’re pretty sure that the old stuff isn’t coming back.

And, in it’s place, I find new things that fascinate me:

The island where I live: the singing of the trees when I walk the dog in the morning, and the cast of utterly memorable characters that inhabit this place.

My boy, and the revelations of fatherhood.

The love of God and the quest, in the words of one Desert Father, to “become all flame.”

Re-discovering my own little long-forgotten wells of joy.

The thoughtfulness of the people who are still out on those spiritual frontiers that I have left.

The ways that the goodness of my friends, especially my non-Christian ones, have taught me about the goodness of God.

The thousand small ways that people find to create beauty and show kindness to one another; and the ways that life springs up in the most unlikely places (even churches.)

It feels as if God is forcibly ejecting me from my church bubble, saying, “Look! Can you see that there’s *so much more* to life?”

I’m not a church geek anymore.

What am I now? Who knows. Maybe I’ll write my way there.

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