Friday, October 24, 2008


One of the most beautiful things about the Internet is that you can glimpse, examine, or immerse yourself in worlds to which you do not really belong. I'm not meaning anything dirty or illegal here; but, face it: There are groups which you may respect, may love and admire, but into which you will never really fit comfortably in a one-on-one situation. The Internet allows you to visit those groups -- hang with them, in a way -- without the discomfort of being visibly out-of-place.

OK, an opening paragraph like that screams for examples, so I want to share some of my favorite places to go where I feel like an interloper (but a respectful, admiring one):

Songville: This is a blog by songwriters for songwriters. I am not, nor -- alas -- shall I ever be, a songwriter; however, I love this site. Not only is it run by my favorite songwriter, Carolyn Arends (admittedly why I first visited the site), but it is chock-full of great creativity-inspiring advice and ideas. And, as a sort-of writer in my own right (without the musical ability), I can really appreciate any adrenaline boosting smack-to-the-head for my wayward muse.

Freedom's Journal Magazine: This beautiful on-line magazine is a conservative, Christian journal from an African-American perspective. I am obviously super-white (especially since it's been almost two months since I've visited the tanning salon); but, unlike, apparently, many middle-class suburban whites, I've always lived in racially-mixed neighborhoods. To me, growing up, The Cosby Show reflected reality --those were the families in my neighborhood. So, it was heart-breaking to learn, as I grew older, of the terrible history that Blacks experienced in the U.S and realize how much that legacy still clouds and stunts inter-racial relationships today. And, unfortunately, it began to change my comfort level. I started to get that hyper-sensitivity to anything racial when speaking with my African-American friends and neighbors; and, though I strive to fight against it, that still affects me today around my wonderful neighbors whom I love very much.

Reading Freedom's Journal reminds me that, as a Christian with conservative values, I have a lot more in common with many in the Black community than with the secular, libertine Caucasians that populate this particular corner of Eden known as the Pacific Northwest. I am still too timid to discuss politics or faith with my neighbors; but, FJM gives me hope that one day we will find a shared set of American Christian values and really come together in Jesus's name.

The Western Standard: Ah, Canadians! I love them. And, to find Canadians who are not afraid to stand up to the post-1967 weirdness of Euro-Canada is a cool thing, indeed. Now, I am not Canadian -- nor, unlike my friend, Princess Holly, do I wish I were -- but reading this on-line journal makes me feel a little Maple-leafy inside, and, more than once, "O Canada" has swelled to my lips unwittingly.

American Chesterton Society: Now, this is an iffy inclusion. G.K. Chesterton is by no means loved and admired by Catholics alone. He is a Christian for all seasons. However, he is a famous Catholic convert, and they have every right to claim him as ardently as they do. So, visiting Chesterton sites and attending Seattle Chesterton Society meetings is akin to being on the warm-up bench at the big game. C'mon coach, put me in! However, I remain a little, lonely and lowly Protestant in a sea of awesome Catholics. Again, though, we have far more in common, theologically and culturally, than we have divisions. And Gilbert Keith is way too cool to stop indulging in him simply because I attend Calvary Chapel and not Our Lady of Perpetual Indigestion.

Messianic Jewish Communications: Again, I am not a Jew, nor do I play one on T.V., but I love this resource site and have used it often. I think that Messianic Jews are brave in their conviction to live their lives as Jewish believers in Christ. Unfortunately, that too often separates them from Gentile Christians who celebrate Sabbath on Sundays and usually no traditional Jewish holidays, and from the larger Jewish community, which, lamentably, seems more ready to accept secular Jews than those who believe in Jesus. I highly recommend this site -- especially for Christians wanting to immerse themselves in the Judaic history of the Church and the Jewish nature of our Savior.

So there are a few of the sites that I love, despite my never really fitting in to their larger communities. Of course, that is the greatest thing about the world's getting smaller -- we can find common cause with people from whom we might be separated in life. We can simply cut through the diabolical and divisive forces of first impressions and surface differences, and delve into our shared reply to the question at the heart of every matter: How ought we to live?

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