Why I’m Shutting Down Fallen + Flawed

Andy Barrow - Mexican Wrestler

I always knew this day was coming. I just never figured this soon.

Effective today, I’m pulling out of the blogging business.

Trust me: This decision was an agonizing one. But there’s really no way around it.

Let me give you a little history.

Ever since I took that month-long sabbatical back in November, my heart’s never really been back into Fallen and Flawed.

It’s been elsewhere. Tied to a long-standing dream of mine. One I’ve had since I was six.

And it looks like I will actually get to make it happen.

It’s kind of strange the way this thing got off the ground. Almost surreal. The stuff good movies are made of.

After a bizarre, late-night blowout with my wife, I hopped in my car and flew to Dunkin’ Donuts to cool off. I ordered a coffee that could peel paint and started sipping.

That’s when  walked in.

He had his guitar strapped to his back and skull cap on. I waved him over. He waved back, sauntered to my table, slid into the seat and popped out his ear buds.

For whatever reason I started to gush like a teenage girl at a slumber party. I was telling him I was conflicted. Had this inner-turmoil thing going on. A dream all bottled up.

And suppressing it was messing with my marriage.

He nodded, sipped his coffee and finally asked what it was. When I told him he sprayed me with coffee.

The next thing I know we’re on the red-eye to Louisville where we meet  and  in a back room at a local Knights of Columbus.

Turns out Piper, Acuff and Whittaker all have the same dream as I do: becoming Mexican wrestlers.

Abraham said, ““I always wanted to be a wrestler, to see if they hit really hard, to see if they hit for real.”

“I like people to hate me, to shout at me,” Jonathan said.

And Carlos said, “I love to fight anyone, anywhere.”

I thought I was in heaven. We eventually hunkered down and mapped out our plan.

Unfortunately our families can’t come. We hope to make enough money in the first year to buy a small house.

Pray for us.

Oh yeah. You’re probably wondering about our costumes and name [all real Mexican wrestlers have "ring" names].

Abraham is going to be “The Verbal Abuser.” He’s going to wear a cape and furry mask his wife  made.

Jonathan agreed to be “Madam Cristo” and wear thigh-high boots.

For me it was a toss up between “Swamp Lover” or “Loco Lush.” I went for “Loco Lush” since “Lushy” was the name of a beagle I had growing up. [The beagle ate carnations and drank malt liquor.]

I’ll wear a collar and matching black mask and gloves studded with white stars.

Carlos Whittaker is going as himself.

This is truly beyond anything I imagined. But you know what the Bible says, “I have plans for you, to prosper you and give you hope and a future.”

A Beginner’s Guide: 10 Classic Fallen + Flawed Posts

Where you get schooled in the basics of Fallen and Flawed.

So, to help you understand what this blog is all about, I created a beginner’s guide…

Think of it as a historical primer on the purpose behind this blog.

More importantly, see it as a guide to help you plan, launch and grow your own Christian blog.

My hope is I can help at least one person do just that. Let me know what you think.

Here they are:

Why You Must Endure My Half-Baked Ideas What are the payoffs to working through your doubts about Christianity? One is you won’t base your faith on half-baked ideas. There are more.

Have You Read the Book Behind This Blog? It’s still shocking to me how much a few wrong turns could change my life. Read the story behind this blog. And the book that started it.

I Am Orin Scrivello, Sadistic Blogger When someone blasted me on a blog post with foul language, it triggered a rather sadistic thought.

5 Reasons Why I Waited a Year to Launch This Blog This might sound strange to you, but I waited over 365 days before launching this blog. Why did I wait so long? The answer may surprise you.

Are Public Rebukes Okay? My Advice Do the rules for church discipline apply to the impersonal, disembodied world of blogging? My answer might surprise you.

The 5 A.M. Secret: How to Balance Blog and Family How do I manage to balance job, family, friends and blog? Simple. I use the 5 A.M. secret.

Why Reformed Bloggers Wear Me Out We need more Christians bloggers who will converse and confront atheist bloggers. Here are 4 ways to do that.

Tim Keller’s Guide to Vibrant Blogging Hard to believe that a 58-year old pastor in NYC could teach you anything about blogging. But he can.

Why I Blog [It's the New M.A., Dummy] Did you know you can earn a Masters degree by blogging? Okay, you can’t really. But you can come real close. Find out how.

My Unorthodox Copyright Policy [or, Why It's Okay to Steal This Blog] The content on this blog is yours. It’s yours to use however you please. But there’s a catch.

Note: Bookmark this post so you can take your time working through this list. There’s a lot of content here. And you probably won’t be able to read it all in one day.

Also,  if you haven’t already. That way you can get all the latests posts.

What I Learned During My 31 Day Blogging Break

Thirty one days ago I logged out of WordPress, snapped my laptop shut and walked away from Fallen and Flawed.

I didn’t write posts, respond to comments, update Twitter, linger on Facebook or even peel through my blog reader.

I just sat out the online life for a while and just reveled in my lack of virtual responsibility.

If you’ve ever unloaded a hefty responsibility to someone else before, you know what I’m talking about.

Delegation can be sweet.

Kissing This Blog Goodbye

In fact, it was so sweet I wondered if I’d even return. There was no doubt in my mind that a chapter of my life closed…

The question was: Did I want to open that book again?

I mean, balancing the workload of a blog and wife and children and work–it takes a toll. That’s one of the reasons I developed the 5 A. M. secret.

More importantly, I kind of felt like I’d achieved what I was after: a thorough education in theology.

And while I didn’t walk away with a master’s degree, I grew more than I ever could’ve in a classroom.

So there I was, ready to kiss this blog goodbye. [Scary, I know!]

In fact, on November 7, two days into my sabbatical, I got an email from my blog hosting company telling me I was up for renewal…

Did I want to renew? A fraction of me said no.

However, from the very beginning I’d made a promise that I’d at least run this puppy for two years…

So I renewed it all the while wondering if I made the right decision. Fortunately, this feeling didn’t last.

The Heart-rending Part of This Story

This ambivalence toward the blog eventually faded into a complete indifference. So much so I forgot I even owned a blog.

Then came the emails.

A handful of readers wrote with the most precious concern that they were pestering me but with the simple comment that they miss the blog and can’t wait until I return…

That got me rooting through the last blog post comments…and getting a little teary eyed.

It’s fascinating what a few words of encouragement can do.

And so with about ten days left in my sabbatical, I began to champ at the bit. Hungry to get back onto the turf. To rub shoulders–gritty and all–with my precious readers.

And that nervous energy only grew.

An Opportunity for YOU and Me

This story hasn’t quite arrived at this morning though. There’s one more episode I need to share…

And it concerns an article I read about Josh Hanagarn’s–aka, the –stint to write .

What Josh’s post opened my eyes to was the world of “guest posting”. Both on other blogs and my own.

For whatever reason it never dawned on me to do this on a frequent basis. Only once have I given someone else the reigns on this blog.

That was a risk well rewarded.

But I’d also pretty much barricaded myself from ever writing for other blogs with the excuse that I didn’t have the time.

What clicked for me was the fact that guest posting will allow me to publish more content than I can on this blog.

Listen. I’m hardwired to write. And flush out ideas at a magnificent pace. Unfortunately, I don’t want to wear you or me out by posting every twelve hours here.

That means I’d be happy to write a post or two for you if you have a blog. In addition, feel free to send me any ideas or articles you might have for Fallen and Flawed.

All you have to do is email me.

Let’s see what we can learn from each other through this collaboration.

Wait. There’s One More Thing

Any reader who’s been with me from the beginning knows I occasionally struggle with the purpose of Fallen and Flawed.

I probably came the closest in my Gospel in 10 words or less post.

However, during my absence–as promised–I engaged in a lot of poetry writing and discussion with friends about Christianity in culture and creativity.

This led me to a little discovery: I was missing those last two C’s in my work here. I was missing culture and creativity.

What does that look like? Simply this: Expanding my borders to include posts on literature,  the arts, music and popular culture…

The importance of our cultural mandate to build cities, governments, businesses, schools and museums…

And book reviews outside of the reformed boundaries.

In other words, emphasizing our prerogative to influence the world around us through what we create with our hands and minds.

Think of it as a quick and dirty guide to Christ, culture and creativity.

Are You Ready? I’m Ready

So, it’s great to be back. I’ve got a load of ideas for posts and I look forward to talking to you again. I hope you’ll join me.

And don’t forget: I’m available to write guests posts. Email me if you’re interested.

My Blog Defined [or, Is C. S. Lewis Really a Christian Novelist?]

This is abundantly clear to me:

Left-brained intellectuals can school me in sophisticated arguments–whether scientific or philosophical–just about any day of the week.

That’s one of the reasons why I’m not that great at debate…

I wasn’t born to wrestle with nuances. On the fly. Neither do I care.

Why am I telling you this? I’m on a perennial search for this blog’s voice.

And I need your help.

A Brief History of Fallen and Flawed

At first I thought I would treat the blog as a platform to chase a theology M. A.

Simultaneously I decided to craft a confessional guide to living a vivid, meaningful Christian life. And gear content toward that goal.

Then I toyed with the idea that this blog could be a place where believers and non-believers could debate Christianity. Kind of like a university.

But none of these felt quite right. Something was amiss.

The M. A. angle is not a great way to build community or conversation. The confessional guide was grossly centered on me. And the university debate theme was awkward, because, well, I’m not a scholar.

I might be an . But I’m no meticulous brain like .

However, what’s become abundantly clear to me in the last nine months–as I’ve developed content in response to comments, discrepancies in my own thinking and discussions over apologetics with friends–is that what I’m truly after is a clear, graceful articulation of the gospel.

Everything else is peripheral.

What I Don’t Care About Too Much

I wish I could care about apologetics. Inferences. Logical arguments.

Don’t get me wrong: I’ve taken a stab at this a few times with posts like Do You Make These 6 Mistakes When Debating.

Furthermore, I wish I could be immediately practical. At times I managed to do so with posts like 18 Tricks to Memorize Scripture or .

But for the most part, I’ve been drawn to a relentless exaltation of Christ and that clear, concise articulation of the gospel. In other words, the eternally helpful.

Thus the gospel in 10 words. Thus the Messiah series.

Where I’m Struggling

Not too long ago I mentioned a sabbatical in the month of November to write some fiction.

With an overabundance of ideas I’m confident I can write a rugged and roughshod 75,000 word first draft in 30 days.

But I’m having a hard time seeing how such an adventure equals a clear, graceful articulation of the gospel.

How it threads into Kingdom building.

I’m here to serve Christ. By word. By deed. By thought. I can not think of a greater way to spend my life.

Backward for a man who at one time was hellbent on becoming a world-class novelist. And that’s the kicker.

I can’t seem to escape this passion to write a book. Or two. What do I do?

What Do You Think?

Yes,  wrote extraordinary novels. But do they promote a clear, graceful articulation of Christ? Do they have to?

I’m still on the sidelines. Mainly because I’ve NEVER read the Chronicles of Narnia. I’ve read . .

Nothing else, though.

So, what do you think: C. S. Lewis a genuine Christian novelist? How Christian does a novel from a believer need to be? What’s your take on Christian novels? Any good ones you can recommend?

I’m looking for ideas. Guidelines. Prayer. And a heart enslaved to my Savior. Let me know what you think. I’m looking forward to your thoughts. Have a great weekend.

Have You Read the Book Behind This Blog?

It’s still shocking to me how much a few wrong turns could change my life. Read the story behind this blog. And the book that started it.

It’s still shocking to me how much a few wrong turns could change my life.

I married, graduated , got a job, bought a house, fathered two children and attended the same church for nine years.

Then everything disintegrated.

To make a long story short, that disentegration drove me to the cross. And for the first time in my life I finally met my redeemer.

The Reformed Reader

Before my conversion, I was a book reader. After my conversion I was still a book reader. Of different sorts.

I leveled J. I. Packer’s  in two days. Made short work of Tozer’s . Even crawled through the first volume of Geisler’s 

All books I highly recommend.

But I’m not here to tell you about those. There’s another book I want to introduce to you.

The Book in Question

It was this book–a book I read during my 10th anniversary with my wife–that planted the seed for this blog.

The book I’m talking about is Ravi Zacherias’ 

In this compelling defense of the Christian faith, Zacharias demonstrated that how we answer the question of God’s existence will infect every inch of our everyday lives: Our relationships. Our integrity. Our morality. Even our perception of truth.

It was, indeed, the essence of the human condition. My friend, at that point the direction for this blog was born.

Pre-Blogging Angst

However, as you might remember, it took me a year to launch this blog. And for the first four months of that year–before I read Zacherias–I knew I wanted to launch a blog. . .I just didn’t know what to write about.

Imagine you’re me for a minute.

You want to write. Share your faith. You see blogging can move you down that path. But you’re not sure what you can write about that will distinquish you from 17 gazillion other blogs.

Then imagine you wrestled with this idea for months. On end.

The Cover Is Lifted

That’s why reading Can Man Live Without God? was such a fanatical boost to my brain and soul. It was truly an a-ha moment.

Immediately I knew I wanted to call this blog  The Human Condition Blog. But there was a problem:  was taken.

I then considered Young American Christian. That URL was way too long.

It wasn’t until I heard  describe the condition of man as “fallen and flawed” that I knew I had my name.

Funny thing is, that was four days before I launched this blog.

Here’s What I Need from You

So, I pretty much got the overall flavor for this blog. What I don’t have is a . In fact, for the last year I’ve been toying with this blogs tag line. Even to this day I tinker with it.

Currently I have “A curmudgeon’s guide to conquering the human condition.” It’s also been “Curmudgeon’s guide to living a vivid, meaningful life.”

What I need from you is this: tell me what you think the tag line should be. You’ve been reading the content for a month, week or day. How would you describe the content in one short sentence?

Why I’m a Little Reluctant to Do This

It’s only been two months. I may not have enough momentum or content to give you a fair shot at this.

But, you know what? I’m a firm believer in the strategies  and. That means I’m counting on you to contribute.

So, when you got a few seconds, let me know what you think: Is my tag line and content out of synch? Is there something I could do better? More of?

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Why I Blog (It’s the New M. A., Dummy)

Where you learn how to blog your happy self to a Master of Arts. Or something. 

Did you know you can earn a Masters degree by blogging?

Okay…you can’t really. But you can come really close.

Let me show you how.

The Three Types of Bloggers

There are three types of bloggers.

1. Journalists

2. Diarists

3. Educationalists

Andrew Sullivan is your journalist. He follows political and cultural events as they develop and writes about them on his blog .

Mommy bloggers like the  are diarists. They write exquisite, entertaining and personal posts about the unpredictable drama of being a mother.

Finally, there’s your educationalist. Marc McGuiness at  is an educationalist. He writes thoughtful blog posts designed to teach or inform.

Earn a Masters

Each blogger type has its place and function. I simply chose one over the other because of my goals. My goals are simple: I want to earn a Masters of Art in Theology. Without having to .

How am I going to do that? Write content that centers around theology, philosophy and literature.

Now, part of my plan for this blog as an M. A. was to treat it as a terminal task. Two reasons for this.

1. This means in two years I can stop blogging. If I want to. I have a destination in mind and I can get off the bus respectfully if I need to. Kind of like enlistment.

2. I’ve got to really focus on my content. Treating this blog like a theology M. A. means I’m pouring myself into one narrow subject for two years.

Now, in two years I doubt anyone will reward me with a M. A. I may not even pass an exit exam. Nonetheless, I’ll be a lot smarter than I was.

Besides, I’ll have a volume of writing that prepares me for my next point.

Write a Book

Get this: Blogging is nothing more than writing a book one page a day. Rand Fish at .

He says that bloggers should write like they’re preparing for a book. It’s a great way to show a potential publisher or agent that you can write. And that you actually have a built in audience.

Furthermore, a blog’s content can serve as the foundation for a future book. Just look at  and his .

Articulate. Organize. Sharpen My Thoughts.

Blogging also helps me articulate, organize and sharpen my thoughts. Those cloudy, opaque ideas become crystal clear arguments. In the meanwhile, my brain builds muscle.

This was the case when I wrote my review for The Shack.

See, after reading the book I knew that something was godawfully wrong. But I had trouble articulating it to people. It wasn’t until I sat down and grouped my thoughts together that I truly understood what was wrong with the book. And how to say that.

Now I’ve got 7 clear bullet points where I once had a dim blob.

Practice Writing

Finally, blogging just flat-out makes you a better writer. Especially if you have an agressive content schedule.

Brian Clark at  summed it up best when he said to become a better writer simply .

Naturally, my first 10,000 posts will be dung. But anyone is bound to become at least marginally better if he writes 10,000 posts.

If they’ve got talent. Watch out.

Just look at the masters: , , . Their early stuff is a joke compared to their later stuff.

Writing more means perfecting the craft. Blogging is my tool to do that.

What’s Your Excuse for Blogging?

Do you write a blog? Why? What got you into it? Do you have a goal? Do you even care?

5 Reasons Why I Waited a Year to Launch This Blog

This might sound strange to you, but  I waited over 365 days before launching this blog. Why I waited so long. 

The ability to launch and run blogs is so easy. I could have launched my blog within hours of getting the idea.

But that was part of the problem.

The ease with which to get into blogging: Low entry, means very little planning. Very little counting of the cost.

I wanted to avoid that.

Over the years I  jumped into two other serious blogging projects without much thought. My passion for these projects faded quickly. And I eventually bailed.

I didn’t want that to happen again. I wanted this to work.

Plan and Prepare with Purpose

The idea for this blog came to me shortly after November 30, 2007. That means I could have easily launched this blog in January 2008 at the latest.

Instead, I decided to launch this blog on December 1, 2008. And during that time I was waiting I decided to develop a business and marketing plan, write articles and learn as much as I could about blogging.

Share My Plan with Others

One thing I discovered is that creating a business and marketing plan for blogging doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, my plans evolved over a handful of emails to my wife. I simply explained to her what I planned on doing.

Sharing your idea with someone will help you refine your idea, too.  do this all the time.

In this case, my wife was my sounding board. She pointed out blind spots in my idea. Expanded areas I neglected. But most importantly, she pointed out my competitive advantage.

Discover My Competitive Advantage

Halfway through 2008 my blog idea cystallized. My wife and I saw how my blog could fit into the blogging community.

By discovering my competitive advantage I saw how I could exploit weaknesses and distinquish myself…something I needed to do if I were going to thrive in a competitve place.

All I did was read as many blogs as I could in widely different fields like politics, social media and Christianity.

But that wasn’t all.

Sustain the Passion for a Year

Another part of me wanted to see if I could simply  before I launched the blog.  Having two failed blog projects under my belt, I was concerned I couldn’t.

Turns out I could.

In the course of six months I wrote 33 articles and generated 44 more titles and topics. Darren Rowse says this a good signal that I .

Naturally, when December 2008 arrived, I was ready to roll.

Abstain from Distractions

However, the most important aspect of waiting so long was that I wanted to abstain from writing, audience chasing and pursuing the approval of men.

Up until November 30, 2007, my life was consumed by writing, chasing audiences and pursuing man’s approval.

This is what got me into trouble to begin with.

Great blogging is only part writing. The other part is participation. Participation like:

  • Reading blogs.
  • Commenting on blogs.
  • Replying to comments.
  • Networking with bloggers.

In essence, great bloggers build relationships with people. This includes seeking approval.

I knew first and foremost I needed to seek God’s approval for my blogging idea. And if at the end of that year, if I still had peace with God on this topic, move forward.

You know the end of the story–I believe I found God’s favor.

What Did You Do Before You Started Blogging?

Let me know what you did before you launched your blog. Did you plan for months, weeks or days? What inspired you to launch your blog? How do you keep the blog fire burning?