An Introduction to The Raven's Writing Desk
After a year and a half of writing this newsletter, it might seem like an odd time to release this article. But, the truth is that, like most writing desks, The Raven's Writing Desk looks quite different now than it did way back then. My physical writing desk has been moved from Brighton to Reading, has been extended, had coffee spilt on it, and now bears more than a few nicks and scratches. My online writing desk is rather the same. Since starting I've received advice, encouragement, and criticism, all of which have helped me to improve my writing, focus on what's important and write each article with those changes in mind.
What remains, and what will always remain, is my mission to "write for the glory of God and the good of his people." In today's newsletter, I hope to explain what you can expect from TWRD in 2023, as well as why I write what I do, not in copious detail, but basic, broad brush strokes. Before I do that, though, I should say this: whether at work, on personal emails, or here at the end of each newsletter, I always sign off:
"Grace and Peace,
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These words—which I poached from the apostle Paul—encapsulate what I hope you have come to expect from my articles, and the attitude I hope will come across in articles to come. If you leave learning nothing, or with no interest in the book or subject at hand, I hope you will at the very least finish each article feeling the tug on your heart to thank God for his grace, and ask him anew for the peace only he can bring. I won't always do this perfectly, but I pray God will make up for those shortcomings.
What to Expect
“I do admonish you…that ye exercise yourselves continually by study, by reading, by meditation of the Word and by prayer, that in the time of temptation ye may be able to instruct and comfort both your own consciences and others, and to bring them from the law to grace.”
Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians
If you head to my Substack you’ll find a tab called “On Reading Well,” under which there are various articles dedicated to helping readers to make small adjustments in order to gain more from the books they read. In some ways, however, this is misleading, because I could very well put “On Reading Well” in every tab; “On Reading Klaas Schilder Well,” or “On Reading Theology Well,” because though some articles are specific and others broader, I have always intended for the Raven’s Writing Desk to form a bridge to help others access books, subjects, and theological doctrines which were/are otherwise inaccessible to them.
I’ve often put it like this:
When people start reading, they find themselves standing before a staircase. In the case of most genres there will eventually come a point where the stairs get a bit steeper, but in the case of Theology, most people find the journey too tough to tackle alone.
It’s inevitable that many will find themselves at that point, and either get too dazed by what they’re reading that they give up, or they try to make the jump alone, but simply can’t make it.
The good news though is that for lots of us, there are people around, whether in our church or through programmes at university or seminary, who can help us up, to guide us on our way. It may even be the case that a group learn collectively and all make their way up together.
In some cases though, more so than we would like to admit, there is either a lack of interest or time or the questions we have aren’t in the wheelhouse of those around us. Some of us also just love to learn, and doing so alone, with others on the internet or in books to help us and there’s nothing wrong with that. The Raven’s Writing Desk, in this case, is intended to form a step up which others can climb to get to greater works, whether they be strictly theological, classical fiction, or even to revisit works which hold more than you may have first realised, and that you need help to go over again.
In practical terms, these are the four legs upon which the desk rests:
“Reviews” of books I believe to be beneficial, but in a way which leaves you not only with a recommendation, but also advice on how to tackle it.
How to read Non-Fiction (Primarily Theology)
How to read Fiction
How to read the Bible
You can expect two articles a week—hopefully with a few guest articles here and there—which will follow a variety of different series. Right now I’m writing a series on Biblical, Systematic, and Historic Theology, another on the 1200 year gap in most protestant reading lists, a sporadic advice series on how to read well, as well as regular book reviews, and encouragements to read/revisit works of fiction.
What can you do to help?
Whether you’ve been around a while, or you’re a brand new subscriber, I want you to know that what I’m about to do is the most uncomfortable part of being a writer online in 2023.
Please like, comment, and share these articles. Not necessarily this article, you may well think this or many others don’t warrant likes, comments, or shares! With that said, if you read an article and think, “That was fab, I’d love more of that kind of content,” then please let me know. The best way for me to judge/guess which articles are likely to bless others, and which ones won’t is by hearing from you.
In short, today, I’m going to ask something ghastly. Would you share an article on social media, but not this one. It can be any article on the Raven’s Writing Desk! By doing so, you’ll be letting me know that is the kind of content you want to read.
At the end of the day, whether you do or not, I hope that this year the Raven’s Writing Desk will be a blessing to you, and that you’ll see God glorified through it, that you’ll be served by it, and that twice a week you’ll be encouraged to thank God for his grace, and to ask him anew for the peace only he can bestow.
Grace and Peace,
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I put the Bible last in this instance because, in truth, I’ve done far less of this in the last six months, and it’s something I want to get back to.
Yes. Big picture is so helpful.
More stairs please.
Great to be reminded of the things behind the scenes!