April 30, 2007
I knew I would love IVP editorial director Andy Le Peau like my own dear old dad when I learned that, while I was frittering away my life in the first grade, he was writing an ongoing column for His magazine about "bubbles"--not in the strict, literal sense of the word but as a sort of linguistic exercise. Andy would take a word that ended in able or ible and conflate it with the word bubble. Then he would define the new term. So, for example, the word contemptible would become contemptibubble, and take on the definition "a bubble filled not with air but with hate." The whole concept was, in a word, incredibubble.
As this blog has taken shape, we could very easily revive the bubble game Andy pioneered in days of yore. The question "What is blogable?" has occupied more real estate in our editorial brains lately than is probabubbly appropriate. "Should this blog include jokes?" we've asked. "Should we share with our readers the funny mixed metaphors we run across?" "Should we bare our souls in front of all of our publishing audience?" "Should we edit one another?" "Should we publicly critique one another's posts?" "What, fundamentally, is the point of going Behind the Books?
This internal dilemma plays out to a soundtrack of a ticking clock. We need to continually feed this blogging enterprise with new posts, to keep it interesting both for us and for both of our readers. Editors may never get editor's block--ask our opinion on anything and we'll be quick to give it--but we're as vulnerable to writer's block as anybody. So the pressure is on to individually keep coming up with new ideas that all of us agree are, in a word, blogabubble.
Phillip Johnson, author of several IVP books including Reason in the Balance, once commented on the ongoing rivalry between evolution and intelligent design as legitimate subjects for public education. His advice: "Why not teach the controversy?" He recognized that the value of observing two ideas interacting with one another (like stubble and bubble) is similar to the value of knowing intimately one idea or the other. Evolution as a theory of origins has its intellectual merits; so does intelligent design. Each also has its vulnerabilities. And the exposure of one to another itself yields valuable insights into our understanding of the world and our other intellectual pursuits.
To borrow the concept, it strikes me that the internal dilemma of how to define and grow an editorial blog is exactly the type of question that characterizes any editorial enterprise and, coincidentally enough, the type of question that often characterizes a good, thoughtful blog posting. It makes a certain amount of poetic sense, then, that a bunch of editors would invest as much time and energy as we have into figuring out precisely what they should say, and how they should say it. Any other process would be, in a word, inconceivabubble.