S P O K E was built with all of us in mind, for one of the many things we share is a common search for meaning in life, even if that plays itself out in ten million different ways. The story of every human culture is the story of human beings banding together to try to create something that will outlast death and decay while providing in the meantime a primary sense of contentment and meaning.
Who S P O K E Is, and Who It Will Be
As of right now, S P O K E is essentially me: Christopher “Mac” MacDonald. As planned however, and given the subject and its surrounding material, the project has already outgrown me many times over. This simply means that I’m going to need help in the future, and it will need to be a group effort. I knew that going into this, which is why the web address ends in dot-org and not dot-com.
But there are other reasons as well. An honest, grace-filled, and non-manipulative exploration of human meaning must be free and unhindered by outside economic influences. I have made sure that I have complete control over the site so I can ensure that S P O K E never be used for commercial purposes, to sell products, or manipulated for immediate political gain. It will be used for nothing less than the free exploration of ultimate questions of human meaning.
We are already growing too fast. With not so much as a press release, or any announcements about the site at all, we already have over 3,500 subscribers who have made thousands of comments about a variety of articles that we have published. Many of the commentators told me that they have passed along the URL to friends, added them to block rolls, send out Twitter messages, and done posts on Facebook about the site. All of that is very encouraging, but what really let me know that we are on the map was when spam started hitting the site in big waves two weeks ago. Uh-oh.
It’s with things like this – WordPress programming, add-ons, filters, and testing for a variety of formats – that I am going to need a great deal of volunteer help.
So, who exactly is the man behind the curtain? At present, I am a sixty-three-year-old soon to be graduate of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. I have a master’s degree in divinity, having already earned a master’s degree in Christian leadership and also a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
All of that could be quite misleading, however, for the real thing that truly qualifies me to oversee this project is simply forty-five years of in-depth study of the question of human meaning, not from one particular angle but from a multiplicity of worldviews and epistemologies. It began for me at the age of twenty when someone gave me a copy Ernest Becker’s Pulitzer prize-winning book The Denial of Death, and I was just foolish enough and young enough to think that I could master it at that young age. While it took me years to fully understand the majority of the implications of this staggering book, reading it set me on a path of studying the meaning of life from every conceivable angle and via almost every academic discipline (having learned early that the lines between these are very arbitrary). These studies have enabled me both to facilitate our live “Human Meaning Exploration Groups,” and also to oversee the production of our online journal.
It doesn’t hurt that over the years I have also worked (professionally and otherwise) in a range of activities devoted to the pursuit of meaning. In the late 70s and early 80s I headed a non-profit educational corporation that did critical work on cultism in America. I spent some time being an associate pastor and college minister. I’ve been the managing editor of a variety of newspapers and arts and entertainment magazines, and have been a major internet creative content director for some large companies. I’ve also spent seven years living with the homeless and running homeless tent cities, and have found that tremendously meaningful.
I have now finally returned to seminary to work out a new calling involving both service within the church and also more broadly service to all people who seek meaning in their lives, regardless religious issues. In other words, when I do an exploration group it is not necessary that those involved share or agree with my Biblical underpinnings. In fact, quite often they will not; but this does not seem to hinder the exploration or the conversations. You will also note that while the articles that exist at S P O K E are certainly not antithetical to faith, they are none of them anything less than open-handed.
My journalistic background makes me reluctant to censor in any way. You will notice however that the articles that we publish have a strong tendency to be artistic, upbeat, highly accessible, and written for a wide audience. There’s not a lot of room for any purely personal agenda unless that agenda is simply to make a contribution to other human beings in a positive and constructive way.
At this point I haven’t quite figured out all of the best ways to make use of communication back and forth between myself and readers. As foolish as it may be, I’m going to give you my specific email address for the site: firstname.lastname@example.org. I only ask that you use it for real questions that move beyond the scope of what you might otherwise simply comment on.
Oh, and you can call me Mac.