Monday, October 23, 2006

Methodist Blogger Profile: Art Ruch

Art Ruch of Art's Strange World

My name is Art Ruch. My surname rhymes with ‘glue’, I don’t know why. My favorite color is blue.

So I’m not much of a poet but I am a certified Lay Speaker in the Murfreesboro (TN) District of the United Methodist Church.

Currently, I'm preaching a couple of times a month to help out a local pastor in our area. Other Sundays, I teach an adult Bible study and serve as liturgist in my home church, Harris Chapel UMC in Estill Springs Tennessee. I also sing in our Sanctuary Choir because the Choir director ordered me to.

That Choir director also happens to be my best friend in the world, my beautiful wife, Stacie. We have two children, Shelby (12) and Tad (8).

I also work full time in the business world and have been trying to complete my Bachelor's degree.

Why do you blog?
When I started, it was just an extension of my journaling. I always wrote my thoughts in little spiral notebooks that tended to get lost or clutter up the house. So I started to do that on the computer instead and then, eventually, online.

Over time, it turned into something else... I guess I blog now because it's a creative outlet for me. I have many, very different, interests and my blog can be about all of them because it's my blog. I can write posts about college football (go Vols!), philosophy, music, or politics, throw in some personal stories or reflections on my experiences and share my photographs all at the same time.

What has been your best blogging experience?
Definitely the interaction with other bloggers. The comment capability and the feedback it provides are what make blogging so great. There are a handful of bloggers that I feel like I've gotten to know although I've never met them and probably never will.

What would be your main advice to a novice blogger?
Read as many blogs as you possibly can. Pick a few that you really like, read them regularly, comment on them and develop a virtual relationship with other bloggers.

If you only had time to read three blogs a day, what would they be?
I always look at my wife’s blog, SuperGirl’s Musings ( can I count the entire Methodist Blogroll as one choice? Seriously, there’s no way I could limit myself to only 3 a day. 300 a day would be more like it. I really need help!

Who are your spiritual heroes?
A bunch of radical types:) Anyone who stands up to and combats the status quo: Jesus, Socrates, Buddha, Martin Luther, John Wesley, Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr.

What are you reading at the moment?
I just finished “A History of the Blues” by Francis Davis and I'm now reading “Early Downhome Blues” by Jeff Todd Titon. I'm also immersed in several commentaries and analyses of Ecclesiastes because I'm leading a Bible study on Ecclesiastes.

What is your favorite hymn and why?
How Great Thou Art. No, just kidding. Too many to mention really. Probably ‘Lakeshore’ because the melody is so beautiful and I love the idea that the Lord will call my name.

Can you name a major moral, political, or intellectual issue on which you've changed your mind?
I grew up in an ultra-conservative, fundamentalist denomination. I've changed my mind on just about everything! Having been taught from an early age that one must adhere to a very rigid set of beliefs in order to gain salvation, I'm now almost completely at the opposite end of the spectrum from that view. I do believe that Christianity, and more specifically Methodism, is the best way, but I also believe that God extends the offer of Grace and salvation to all people regardless of their religious backgrounds and beliefs. In my current opinion, I think it is the height of arrogance to tell someone that they are eternally doomed just because, for instance, they were born in India to Hindu parents.

What philosophical thesis do you think is most important to combat?
The idea that we are the masters of our own fate. That idea goes along so well with our collective individualistic and selfish mindset in this country. Unfortunately it's total b.s. We are not the masters of our own fate nor the captains of our souls. We are dependent on each other and on God from the moment we are conceived until the day we die. If we, as a race of beings, do not realize that we need help, we will never help each other and the world will be the same sorry place it is now in a hundred or a 1000 years.

If you could effect one major change in the governing of your country, what would it be?
I would abolish the political party system entirely.

If you could effect one major policy change in the United Methodist Church, what would it be?
I would change "Homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching." For one thing, that's a ridiculous statement because it is not always true - it all depends on who is doing the teaching. And that statement was very obviously designed to try and make both 'sides' of this debate happy (which it did not do). I would change it to something like, "United Methodist Christians disagree about the compatibility of homosexuality with Christian teaching." and leave it at that. Or better yet, just quote Jesus on what He said about the issue...

What would be your most important piece of advice about life?
Be happy and do good while you live.

What, if anything, do you worry about?
I worry about EVERYTHING! Mainly I worry about what kind of world my children and future generations will have to live in.

If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything that you'd do differently?
I would do almost everything differently up to the point when I met my wife. But I would definitely have finished my four year degree in my original college career.

Where would you most like to live (other than where you do now)?
Some place sunny and warm near the ocean. The Gulf Coast, between Mobile and Pensacola, sounds good!

What do you like doing in your spare time?
Reading, playing the guitar, spending time with my family.

What is your most treasured possession?
The acoustic guitar that I made from scratch.

What talent would you most like to have?
Sight reading - The ability to pick up a piece of sheet music and just play it through on any instrument.

If you could have any three guests, past or present to dinner, who would they be?
Jesus, Buddha, and Koheleth.


Keith Taylor said...

Art is a man to be admired. Listen to and read him and you will gain much Wisdom!!!

I have never read his Blog, but it has to be so. Look the shirt he is wearing in the photograph.


Hypatia 370 said...

It sometimes feels like my questions and doubts are unique, especially in matters of faith. But I'm often disabused of this notion in these pages. Many comments in Art's profile resonated, especially this: I do believe that Christianity, and more specifically Methodism, is the best way, but I also believe that God extends the offer of Grace and salvation to all people regardless of their religious backgrounds and beliefs. ... it is the height of arrogance to tell someone that they are eternally doomed just because, for instance, they were born in India to Hindu parents.
Here here. Thank you for this interesting introduction to yet another terrific Methodist!

Art said...

John, Thanks for featuring me in this post.

Amen, Keith.

Thanks for your comment too Hypatia.

I also need to give proper credit for the photograph I submitted to John. It was taken by my wife, Stacie, and despite the subject matter, I think it turned out pretty well...

Anonymous said...

You made your own guitar from scratch??? I am impressed!
Guess what? I found you here and no, I'm not your stalker. :)