Moving on, not moving out.
After thirty-one months and 135 columns, I am putting Barnabas to bed. I have enjoyed being Barnabas, a pen name I adopted not to hide behind (I have often identified myself), but to separate my comments on secular ethics and public absurdities from my primary identities as a minister of the gospel and free ranging free-lance writer. Perhaps when I fully retire from the pastorate, I will wake Barnabas up, if he again has something to say.
At my age it is never quite clear whether one is moving on or moving out, but in my own mind I am moving on. I intend to continue writing for The Partial Observer under my own name, as I continued to do even after I became Barnabas – perhaps writing more fiction, which was my first experience as a published writer, and dealing with subjects that I actually know something about, as in my current series on The Search for Meaning in a Generation That Doesn’t Want to Bother with It
. Without deadlines, though.
My reasons for quitting now, as I discern them, in descending order of importance:
1) Barnabas was taking an increasing percentage of my spare time.
2) I was writing too much and reading too little, a disastrous state of affairs for a communicator. As the “Curmudgeonry” deadline approached each week, it became more something to dread than to anticipate. Could I really make bricks without straw one more time?
3) I do not think Barnabas can keep an adequate distance from the second term of President Bush. It will dominate the news. It will also be so drowned in a sea of yapping commentary and defensive whining that the media will be in overload. Barnabas would end up being a feeble echo of the big guns.
I loved this column, though, and cannot over-express my gratitude to editor Mark Johnson for giving me space to do it. I will miss it and persist in the belief that I did a pretty good job. Such a self-evaluation is tempered by the fact that writing is an egotistical business. I have been free-lancing for over forty years, in which a good job is minimally defined as an editor saying “Yes.”
I look forward to the challenge I present to the staff of organizing a retirement party for a pen name.