An Introduction of Sorts

The blank page is an intimidating thing. I’ve met many over my years, and each one begs to be purified with the magic of words.

My name is Stephen Van Doren. I was born, raised, and currently reside in Denver, Colorado. I’m in my thirties. I play games, flex my brain around scientific discovery, follow news stories, adore good food and cooking, read books, and have a general interest in nearly anything if you can explain its wider significance; it is cheering to think that one’s opinions are only of the highest quality, referring only to the most important of stories. My parents raised me in the Anglican Catholic faith, though by my teenaged years I gleefully shed the weight of religion and forged my own path forward. I am a programmer, much to my chagrin, and it is basically all I am professionally capable of doing these days. I am engaged to a wonderful man with whom I have shared many years, tears, and fears, and with whom I hope to share a great many more. I’m a steel-eyed liberal, and I actively fight against the demonification of the word ‘liberal,’ as well as the general belief that liberals are weak on security and defense, and that our elevation to national stature pressages an oncoming spate of apologies to cross the world.

I make no apologies for my opinions–and many of them are considered quite extreme today, just as many were in the 60s when some radicals had the insane idea that Black people should probably have the same rights as White people, and maybe we should all just back off a minute and smile at strangers for a few days.

I find Aristotle was right: It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. It is in that spirit that I start this little publication, that I might have an outlet into which I can pour all my various thoughts, talk them through with myself–perhaps even get some dissenting opinions from those whose eyes find themselves digesting my words. As a lifelong holder of minority beliefs, it’s all too easy for me to wallow in the fear that I am alone in my thoughts. Perhaps this can act as the beginning of a conversation with you, gentle reader.

I make no promises of timely publication schedules–I recommend subscribing to an RSS feed to handle that. I’ll do my best to provide what words I can, when I can, and I will attempt to do so as frequently as possible. I’ve been a “netizen” (are we still using that word?) of the Internet since the late 90s, this isn’t my first horse race. I’ve had blogs, I’ve written for monthly publications, I’ve composed prose and poetry, I’ve helped strangers on forums, and I’ve engaged in those heated flame wars that burn so brightly for so brief a moment–tiny digital novae.

Mostly, though, I’ve been a casual observer, an anonymous voice easily lost in the tumult of the 21st Century and its interminable echo chamber. The great tragedies of my adult life I’ve shared with faceless strangers, that a burden shared is a burden lessened. When the towers came down that September morning, I shared my pain with strangers. When the nation elected its first Black President, I shared my joy with strangers. For each new video of a beheading in the Middle East, each new state issuing marriage equality, each child gunned down by over-zealous police or neighborhood watchmen–I share these events with friends, family, and, yes, strangers, and the pains are lessened and the joys are multiplied because they are shared.

As we become ever-more polarized in our political, social, and economic strata, it has become more important for there to be more voices in the fray, not fewer. And I choose to add mine to the chorus, throwing my hat in as best I can, to provide my perspective on topics that interest me and, in so doing, perhaps introduce you to a point you might not have known was there, or a topic you didn’t know you had interest in.

Perhaps you’ll note that I haven’t got anywhere here where you’re encouraged to comment and discuss topics with other visitors. This is purposeful. I believe the anonymity of the Internet is both its strongest weapon and its weakest link, a way for the disenfranchised to speak out against their tormentors, and a way for bullies to flex their pathetic muscles in the mirror as they break down strangers. That won’t happen here. You’re welcome to send me a letter at any point–I assure you I will read it. I take this method from the great Andrew Sullivan, whose recent retirement from blogging is definitely part of the reason why I’m dipping my toe back in. I know I can’t replicate his genius (I don’t have the time or interest in being a curator like that), but I am interested in forming connections with anyone willing to spend a moment to say hello.

So enjoy yourself, thank you for reading, and I look forward to getting to know you better.