Welcome to Hardly the Last Word, my web log. (I like to spell it out rather than use the abbreviation; it reminds me that I’m logging my thoughts and that the site isn’t worth much more than a log to be burned.) This project has evolved to some extent since 2004, and its mission has also changed from being a somewhat undisciplined log of my thoughts to being a less undisciplined site of reflection on teaching and other important matters. The name, beyond the obvious skeptical referent, comes from my senior sermon at Emmanuel School of Religion, entitled “The Last Word.” I preached on the book of Job as a whole, noting that even after God shows up, the text of the book that we call Bible still leaves in Eliphaz and Bildad and Zophar and even Elihu and that one should not therefore despair if one runs into Zophars in our life or even if one day one realizes that one is Elihu. (I realized the same some time around 2000, and I’ve been striving to repent ever since.)
History of the Site
In the fall of 2004, I was underemployed (substitute teaching, hardly a gold mine), and Mary was pregnant with Micah. That combination of facts did little to settle my mind. So, in addition to pounding the job search web sites, I began to write. A browse of those early posts will reveal a somewhat amusing preoccupation with my nocturnal mind and a sense that I wasn’t sure what a blog was for.
Then, on March 7, 2005, Micah came along. In the months that followed that event, my blog was Micah’s official web site, and although the pics did not migrate well into wordpress, a look at those days will reveal that Micah had taken over Hardly the Last Word.
In the fall of 2007, the blog became more focused, largely because of my departure from online, threaded message boards. Sites like theooze.com are good in their own ways; they allow people to explore ideas that people in their geographically immediate setting are not discussing, and they allow people to put their ideas under the scrutiny of skeptical readers. I benefited in both ways during my three-year run there. But the other side of message boards, the side that makes certain kinds of thought difficult, has to do with their fast-paced, give-and-take feel. As folks at the Ooze told me time and again, people do not read long message board posts. So I found myself segmenting my arguments. And folks on message boards tend to get into bad intellectual habits like deliberate misrepresentation of differing ideas. So I found myself spending far more time than I preferred re-articulating ideas that my opponents understood (I’m not so dumb to think they’re that dumb) but misrepresented anyway. I don’t blame them for it; I think that the talk-radio flavor of a message board lends itself to that.
Now, heading into August 2008, I’ve been maintaining a presence here and at Conservative Reformed Mafia for nearly a year, and frankly, I don’t miss the Ooze very much. I go back there when I’m putting off writing sometimes to read what folks are talking about, and I’m always flattered when people say that things were better when I was around, but at this point in my digital life I’m putting new material on this blog several times a week, and people seem to be reading it, so as long as the Internet as a whole does not tire of me, I’ll keep doing here what I tried to do there.
I’ve also passed my Ph.D comprehensive exams and prospectus review, and I imagine that posts about the rigors of dissertation-writing will soon begin to share space with posts about college teaching. After years of wondering whether I had what it took to become a Ph.D, now I’m one last assignment away from it, and I’m feeling great. Now it’s on to the job hunt, dissertating, publishing some projects that have been sitting and collecting dust, enjoying Micah’s fourth year on earth and my eighth as Mary’s husband, and being the best online persona I can be.
So I invite you to become a regular reader if you’re not yet, and I promise that what you read on these pages will be the careful and honest thoughts of a Christian who is also a father and husband, who will not much longer (if God smiles on me) be a grad student, who will be a teacher of college students and church congregations as long as God sees fit.
Read to your heart’s content, and please talk back. That’s what blogs are for. What I write here I believe, but it’s hardly the last word.
Oh, and for the lawyers out there, the arguments and ideas that this site reflects and inspires do not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Georgia, its English department, or of any other institution against which you might want to file suit. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for; I can move along now.