For Pete

Pete Fishing,

The Dirty Shame is a little saloon up near the Canadian border. I learned about it via the writer Rick Bass. Most nights, the Shame hosts games of chance; games that don't involve any particular skill or savvy, but essentially let the dice roll. It is in that spirit that I write here. I roll the dice.

Your responses/questions have used words like "universalism" and "emergent/emerging" and even someone named "Doug Pagitt." For me to try and give clarity to those would be attempting to bring some skill or savvy to this; that's not what the Shame is. Furthermore, my nose tells me you're looking for an answer rather than clarity and those are two entirely different things. Your scant profile indicates you're a student, so I'd say be a student; wrestle with these things and come to an answer for yourself. Your ability to craftily use words like that and put webcasts in the heart of blog comments, something I still can't do, indicates you're above the bar in resourcefulness.

And while your gentleness stands in contrast to old mr. spurgeon, I wouldn't be too hard on him. We all have places in our lives that cause us to speak or act in those tones. In fact, when it comes to being self-righteous and arrogant, I'm afraid I've got him beat by a mile; that "chief of sinners" stuff you may have read of.

You asked about a book recommendation to help you in your quest to "fit in." I'd suggest The Work of Wolves by Kent Meyers. It speaks of a kind of universalism, that of becoming a man and stepping away from the views of others and standing in your own boots. It beautifully shows how resistant we are to emerging into something or someone new, but how necessary that is for life. It's not leaving your roots, but it's branching out in new ways to catch the sun. It doesn't have anyone named Doug Pagitt in it, but it does follow the life of Carson Fielding, a horse-whisperer of sorts, and the ways in which his preternatural gift is only fully realized in the presence of others. He realizes that it's not all about him, but in a way it is all about him. Risk. Gamble. Paradox. Image. Metaphor. The kind of book that sits on the shelf of the Dirty Shame.

I'm truly thankful you've found some of this enjoyable. I guess miracles still happen.


  1. I'm afraid my reply may not be perceived as gentle and therefore be experienced as more of a retort. Forgive me. I don't intend to offend. While I too recognize those places and those tones of my own, I do not believe I'm speaking from those places and in those ways.

    This is the type of response that has been frustrating me so. Whether it's clarity or answers, neither are ever achieved. As a matter of fact, ambiguity, if not a goal, seems to be the measure of true seeking. And because I seek both clarity and answers the assumption is that I fear "emerging into something or someone new" (Not that that is what you are saying. I'm just using your words).

    I agreed with Mer, Rich, Sam, Holly and Mo in their reaction to Spurgeon's anonymity. But something hit me while listening to Pagitt, and honestly, again while reading your response. While Mr. Spurgeon is hiding behind a name, Mr. Pagitt, and you, while revealing your names, seem to be hiding in ambiguity. We know what Spurgeon believes, we just don't know his real name. We know your name but don't know what you really believe. It's very possible that Lindsay doesn't know you as well as she thinks she does.

    But that is really the joy of blogging isn't it? Anonymity to whatever degree you desire. We're all hiding in some form or fashion aren't we? Naked and ashamed.

    Still fishing,


  2. Well, hell I will weigh in . . .good grief! Pete, you sound confused. I am confused. We all are confused just duking it out til the end of our days. You also sound like a bunch of dudes I knew growing up who wanted to be all nicey nice and inside were full of rage, that is a part of my own story. If you don't like what ole John is putting down here just say it and stop playing cat and mouse. I am almost certain he can handle it. Anonymity, at the Dirty Shame, what more do you want from John? So just put it down clear and easy for us to read or don't put anything down. Your attempt at under-the-table poker is not allowed at the Dirty Shame, that will get you killed, well maybe just bloodied in battle. Dude, just be real.

  3. Hmmm...I don't think John is hiding anything. In fact, he may be "gut-level" honest in a way not seen in many parts. John's been bloggin' for a while. Perhaps you need to settle in for a while at that chair in the corner, sip your drink of choice and just watch a while. Clarity will come in the fullness of time and when it does, shouts of 'Hallelujah.' You just might wake the piano player. Welcome to the Dirty Shame.

  4. I thought I was being real. How can honesty be lauded and elicit flogging at the same time. It seems as though those who have bellied up to the bar at the Dirty shame say they desire an open, honest conversation, when in reality they really don't. I didn't realize there are parameters that define what can be searched for and what can't.

    Bowing out.

  5. Oh, Pete, don't let these old cobs scare you off. Their birk is worse than their bate. Evidently, there were some things you read that you enjoyed. Any hints as to what those were? That might be a good place to start in trying to find the clarity and answers you seek. Anything possibly bring a tear to your eye? Following tears is lovely way to find out things about ourselves.

    I'm not real sure when the train came off the tracks here, but we started out with a "hello" and quickly got to naked and ashamed, with a blanket statement re: blogging, and some pretty personal statements about me. That's fine, but it leaves everybody feeling "screwed" instead of "loved."

    You're absolutely right when you say that Lindsay doesn't know me as well as she thinks she does. And you're right again when you say we're all hiding to some degree. But you're misled when you say that we know what spurgeon believes. Maybe you do, but I don't.

    If you want to stop back in from time to time, feel free. There's no lock on the door. It'll probably always be the same group of folks - gypsies, tramps and thieves. And me.

  6. Mark,

    Are you confusing Pete with Spurgeon? To me Pete sounds like a he's on the Bill Hall trail, while Spurgeon sounds like he's on the perch of the N. Rim throwing rocks.

  7. Pete, I hope that folk haven't scared you away. I especially like this blog for several reasons. John is a friend and tis not about always insisting on black or white answers. Yep, grey works as well.

  8. "What we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. Nowadays the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought not to assert - himself. The part he doubts is exactly the part he ought not to doubt - the Divine Reason. . .The new skeptic [one who I dare say frequents the Dirty Shame] is so humble that he doubts if he can even learn. . .There is a real humility typical of our time; but it so happens that it's practically a more poisonous humility than the wildest prostrations of the ascetic. . .The old humility made a man doubtful about his efforts, which might make him work harder. But the new humility makes a man doubtful about his aims, which makes him stop working altogether. . .We are on the road to producing a race of man too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table."

    G.K. Chesterton,
    (Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Co., 1957),
    pp. 31-32.

    Gone fishin'


  9. Hey Pete...
    Good to see you back.

  10. "It is a glorious thing to know the pool is alive with these glancing, diving, finning fish...On such mornings, too, one may even catch nothing at all...It takes many, many days to learn of what may and may not be in the river."
    - Henry Bugbee

    The Inward Morning, like Orthodoxy, takes much work and belief to get through, but like Orthodoxy, it is a worthy aim.