By their tag cloud you shall know them

Are you familiar with the blogging widget they call a “tag cloud?”  There is one at the top right of this blog.  As you can see, it’s a way that you can keep track of the tags (or categories) that people search your posts by.  These are interesting for several reasons.

The first of course is that it visually depicts how frequently the blogger re-uses tags by making frequently re-used tags larger.  Secondly, the tags are listed in alphebetical order.  Because there are no commas between them, occasionally, I notice I end up with kind-of funny or atleast striking juxtapositions.  As I write this, I notice that I have the rather strange list “heaven home humor hypocrisy” for example.  Perhaps it’s the poet in me: I enjoy random acts of alliteration.  (O.K.  It’s actually not random.  It does, after all, arrange the tags an alphabetical order.   But it is alliteration.)

At any rate, there is something deeper than just this that I think is worth noticing.  The tag cloud is a really amazing representation of what we spend our time thinking and worrying about.  Many of our tags might be things we were criticizing or complaining about.  A tags presence does not imply our support.  But what is undeniable is we have spent some of our precious time on this Earth concerned with the subject implied by the tags.

When I look at my tag cloud, I realize that Jesus’ name ought to be bigger.  It’s easy to find excuses.  Sometimes I tag a post “Jesus” and sometimes I tag at “Christ” and sometimes I tag it something else with the same idea.  But these are just that, excuses.

At some point we will stand before the creater of the universe.  And he will pluck a metaphorical tag cloud out of our lives.  Who knows, maybe it’ll even look like a tag cloud: our concerns will take on a size proportional to how much time, energy, and love we spent on them.   I wonder what it’s going to be like, to stand before God, and looking at that thing. 

What does the tag cloud of your life look like?  Is this what it should look like?



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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

One thought on “By their tag cloud you shall know them”

  1. Such a good analogy/point. Also, kind of reminds me of Medieval art, where the people in the pictures are bigger not because of physical perspective, but because of their relative importance in the picture.


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