Andrew Sullivan and I crossed swords several times, most notably when he became enraged after I argued that the story of Adam and Eve was taken literally for millennia by many theologians and believers—and still is today. In a statement that still makes me laugh, he argued this:
There’s no evidence that the Garden of Eden was always regarded as figurative? Really? Has Coyne read the fucking thing? I defy anyone with a brain (or who hasn’t had his brain turned off by fundamentalism) to think it’s meant literally. It’s obviously meant metaphorically. It screams parable.
Yes, I had read the fucking thing, and much other theology as well. My original response to Sullivan’s nonsense was here, and I have a longer disquisition about metaphor and scripture in The Albatross.
But I still had a grudging respect for the man. He was a gay member of the Catholic Church, and was bold enough to stand up to it, as well as to be open about his homosexuality and his HIV-positive status. On the other hand, he was a member of the Catholic Church, and stayed a member. Still, I admired his willingness to call the excesses of his church, as well as his arguments for gay-marriage laws and the legalization of marijuana. He criticized political correctness and the excesses of the so-called social justice warriors, even though he was pretty much on the left. I didn’t read him that often, but I know that Greg Mayer, who posts here, was a fan—even though Greg disagreed with some of Sullivan’s views. Finally, it was dead obvious that Sullivan worked very hard, not just to make money, but because he loved what he did. I admire that kind of dedication.
Now, however, Sullivan’s hanging it up. In a post yesterday at his site The Dish, he announced his retirement from blogging, and gave his reasons:
Why? Two reasons. The first is one I hope anyone can understand: although it has been the most rewarding experience in my writing career, I’ve now been blogging daily for fifteen years straight (well kinda straight). That’s long enough to do any single job. In some ways, it’s as simple as that. There comes a time when you have to move on to new things, shake your world up, or recognize before you crash that burn-out does happen.
The second is that I am saturated in digital life and I want to return to the actual world again. I’m a human being before I am a writer; and a writer before I am a blogger, and although it’s been a joy and a privilege to have helped pioneer a genuinely new form of writing, I yearn for other, older forms. I want to read again, slowly, carefully. I want to absorb a difficult book and walk around in my own thoughts with it for a while. I want to have an idea and let it slowly take shape, rather than be instantly blogged. I want to write long essays that can answer more deeply and subtly the many questions that the Dish years have presented to me. I want to write a book.
I want to spend some real time with my parents, while I still have them, with my husband, who is too often a ‘blog-widow’, my sister and brother, my niece and nephews, and rekindle the friendships that I have simply had to let wither because I’m always tied to the blog. And I want to stay healthy. I’ve had increasing health challenges these past few years. They’re not HIV-related; my doctor tells me they’re simply a result of fifteen years of daily, hourly, always-on-deadline stress. These past few weeks were particularly rough – and finally forced me to get real.
The rest of his piece is, well, pretty touching, especially when he talks about the community of readers he had, something that hits home for me. He promises to reappear in print in some other venue, and I’m sure that’s true. He has writing in his blood, and you don’t just give that up. And I completely understand his desire to respond to things thoughtfully rather than having to bang out pieces on a daily basis.
So, Andrew, I wish you Godspeed—and that’s a metaphor.
h/t: Ginger K.