It can be humbling to write a bi-weekly newspaper column: Few things more effectively highlight one’s capacity for change – or inconsistency, denial, and flip-flopping. I’m not convinced that this is a bad thing; isn’t the point of individual human existence to grow and change? Isn’t it natural that the ideas expressed in a column should evolve along with the human writing that column?
For some reason, though, we expect writers – particularly writers of regular columns – to emerge with a fully formed set of ideas that remain consistent for the life of their column. Writing, it seems, sets one’s opinions in cement, and to deviate from a previously written opinion is to reveal a weak character.
If that seems extreme, imagine Ann Coulter suddenly begging our forgiveness and espousing the ideology of the liberal left, or Nicholas Kristof announcing that he’s been wrong and human trafficking is really just a natural extension of free market capitalism. One scenario might be wonderful, one might be awful, but each would call into question the journalistic integrity of the writer.
It has been nearly three years since I began writing “Faith in Vermont.” In terms of genre, “Faith in Vermont” is best described as a “lifestyle” rather than a “political” or “opinion” column. But lifestyles, politics, and opinions are all subject to change, and such change has happened in our household:
Last month, we joined the Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op.