Ken Lowery of UM Reporter Blog
I am new in everything—new to the Reporter (I’m the copy editor and put the Resources pages together), and new to the United Methodist Church… at least as an official member. I have to pretend this gives me a unique angle, because if it doesn’t, what in the world do I have to blog about?
Why do you blog?
Like most bloggers, I'm exhibitionist in my thinking; the thought process somehow isn't 'real' unless others have seen it and have a chance to react. There's also that vital need to be part of 'the Conversation,' whether that conversation be about movies, comic books, or Methodism.
What has been your best blogging experience?
No singular great moment, just a series of small nice ones over the years. I’ve made some lasting friends and gotten some vindication. It turns out that there are other people who do care about this stuff as much as I do, even moreso. This is very comforting.
What would be your main advice to a novice blogger?
It's true: There's nothing new under the sun. Everything anyone says has been said a thousand times before. You aren't going to shake the pillars of Heaven with your Bold New Ideas . . . But what you DO bring to the table, what no one else in the history of the world has or will have, is your voice. Have something to say, and say it in the way that only you can.
If you could read only three blogs a day?
progressiveruin.com - Mike is a comic book shop manager and a very, very funny man. He makes me laugh every single day, and has done so for years.
blogs.suntimes.com/scanners - The best conversations about movies on the internet, bar none. Scanners invigorates my love for movies and does a pretty good job of indicating how little I truly know about anything. This, too, can be invigorating.
UMR blog – They pay me!
Who are your spiritual heroes?
Oh, dear. Off the top of my head (and perhaps because it’s topical), Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X. Both my parents were teenagers in Birmingham throughout the bulk of the 60’s, and their stories about that time and place never fail to floor me. I think if I can be half as brave as these men when it really matters, I will have made something of myself.
What are you reading at the moment?
Testament, by Douglas Rushkoff, Liam Sharp, et al. It’s a comic about the cyclical nature of Biblical stories and about how those stories are lived out every day. Rushkoff juxtaposes retellings of the original Biblical stories with his own versions set in a technology-dominated near-future. The concept is better than the execution, but I’m still fascinated.
What is your favorite hymn and why?
“Silent Night.” I don’t care if it counts! Christmas music has always been my favorite Christian music.
Can you name a major moral, political, or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind?
The death penalty. In my heady youth (mid-adolescence) I was for it. As I got nearer 20 I was for it, but only in very special circumstances. Now, I cannot conceive of how I ever thought capital punishment was a good idea.
What philosophical thesis do you think is most important to combat?
Objectivism. Its nominally “good” points often don’t survive contact with reality; what remains is just a high-minded justification for selfishness and lack of empathy. The world has enough of that already; we don’t need to give the selfish a big vocabulary and self-righteousness on top of everything else.
If you could effect one major change in the governing of your country, what would it be?
Campaign finance reform, in a major way. It’s apparently an unhip thing to be upset about, but I don’t understand how massive campaign contributions from large entities aren’t seen as advertising, not to mention a terrible conflict of interest in one of the most important arenas in the world. The candidates might as well NASCAR jackets.
If you could effect one major policy change in the United Methodist Church, what would it be?
I don’t feel learned enough in the church to say something intelligent here, but… if we’re going to be calling our policies “open doors,” we should behave as such.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life?
1 Corinthians 12. For myself, and for others. It’s a good reminder.
The passage first struck me, of all places, in the TV show Deadwood. The Reverend H.W. Smith (based on a real-life person, and a Methodist at that) reads the King James version of that passage at the funeral of Wild Bill Hicock, specifically verses 16 through 27.
In the show it’s meant to signal a transition from the “Wild West” of lone, legendary figures into a more complex tapestry from which 20th century American society will emerge. To me, it was one of the final pieces of the puzzle that gave me greater awareness of the people around me. Best 30-second sermon I’ve ever heard, let me tell you.
What, if anything, do you worry about?
Relevance. Having anything new or insightful (or even just entertaining) to add to the conversation, be that in blogging, work, or with friends. I want to be worth the space I take up.
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything that you'd do differently?
Oof. Obviously yes, and obviously no. I like where I am, so I wouldn’t want to change anything and risk not being where I’m at as the person I am. At the same time . . . know what I mean?
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do now)?
Chicago, or possibly Boston. I love cities, and I’ve found I love East Coast-style cities the most. I could walk around that town and get lost forever. Now, mind you, I haven’t been to either during a hard winter . . .
What do you like doing in your spare time?
I wish I was James Bond when it came to questions like this, but: Read blogs, read books, watch movies in a variety of venues, play video games with friends, try out new restaurants, write. Ladies, line up to the left.
What is your most treasured possession?
Most used: My computer. Most treasured: My cat Bean. She’s not technically my “possession,” of course… she would argue it’s more like the other way around.
What talent would you most like to have?
I wish I could draw, paint, sculpt, just do something in the visual arts. Visiting museums is a wonderful experience, but I also burn with envy. I’m just not a visual thinker.
If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner, who would they be?
Yearbook answer, since I recently listened to a lecture on this very topic: Jesus and Buddha, moderated by Socrates.
Real answer: Bill Hicks, early-80’s John Carpenter, and Kurt Loder. I’ve never claimed to be a sophisticated person, but tell me that wouldn’t be a great dinner party.