Manly Man July Blitz Blogger Interview – GENE WHITEHEAD
“Hi, I’m Gene Whitehead and I write about the world we live in and the experience of life through the lens of scripture. Another way to say that is simple theology for a messy life. And by simple, I don’t mean easy!”
“My promise is to be truthful and honest. I’m not going to tiptoe the truth around the ideology of social acceptance, but I will be respectful.”
rem: I’d like to give a big welcome to GENE WHITEHEAD to my blog. Gene, thank you for joining me today. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
GENE: I was born in the Bay Area California, in Oakland, and spent my first 25 years or so there. After that I lived near Los Angeles for about 10 years. Most recently, home was in Eastern Europe, and we’ve been temporarily in North America for a year and will soon be moving to Sweden.
rem: Tell us three things about yourself.
GENE: I roast my own coffee, I’m a grandpa, I can speak Russian.
rem: Russian?!?!? Really!!!! Do you give lessons??? (I’m serious!) Cookout—steaks or brats?
GENE: There’s an “or” to that? I’ll take the steak… first 🙂
rem: LOL! Beer in a bottle or a can? (*please don’t be offended by this question! It’s all in good fun, if it doesn’t apply to you just skip right over and keep going.) (or give me a snarky answer…)
GENE: Bottle. Always a bottle and sometimes even in a glass!
rem: I hear ya! Don’t like the “tinny” tast of (anything) in a can! Star Wars or Star Trek? Which character do you most resemble? Why?
GENE: Star Trek, Scotty. Scott is my middle name, I have plenty of Scottish ancestors, and I take life at full speed… give it all it’s got!
rem: Love that answer!! Two points! Marvel Comics or DC?
rem: Kids or pets? Names and ages?
GENE: 2 daughters, Aryana is 23 and Kayla is 20. I had a Labrador Retriever that now lives with Aryana.
rem: What is your most treasured possession?
GENE: My family. Even though I don’t technically possess them, everything else is replaceable.
rem: Best.answer.ever. What is your greatest regret?
GENE: Not surrendering and serving God sooner in life.
rem: I’m sure that’s true for all of us! What is your favourite quotation and why?
GENE: “Sow an act, and you reap a habit. Sow a habit, and you reap a character. Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.” -Charles Reade. Just like everyone else, I’ve lived this. It fits the human condition. It’s totally applicable.
rem: Good quote! What do you most value in a friend? What quality do you most admire in a man or woman?
GENE: Honesty. And telling things just the way they are.
rem: Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
GENE: Edmund Pevensie. His spiritual journey in the Narnia stories is relatable and familiar.
rem: The foibles and failures of the human condition! If you could chose to be a character in a book, who would it be and why?
GENE: Reepicheep. He’s noble, loyal, courageous and faithful.
rem: Oh yes! I love him also! (confession: had to look up the name!) Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read?
GENE: Fantasy. I like reading CS Lewis, Ted Dekker, David Eddings, Anne McCaffrey, R.J. Larson. And non-fiction, I read a lot of Andrew Murray and A.W. Tozer.
rem: Good list of author peeps! Which is more important: plot or characters?
GENE: Character. Every time.
rem: Most of my interviewees are authors of books, but I rather imagine it’s not such a different beast. Tell us a little about your blogging journey.
GENE: I’ve really enjoyed writing since 4th grade, when I won a pretty nice award for elementary students. I had teachers that encouraged me. Eventually, life got in the way. Careers, focusing on family, laziness. When I was in Eastern Europe and had begun transitioning out of my work and projects there, I found the time to write as a means of processing what I was experiencing at the time, so I began my blog.
rem: Have you ever thought about writing a book? A compilation of blog posts perhaps?
GENE: I have thought about it. I have some ideas down for some fiction, and I’ve begun writing about anxiety and worry, not from a clinical position but from a spiritual one. Blog post compilations could give me some more ideas as well!
rem: Refer to your favorite quote, and DO IT! You say on your website that your “desire is to help people understand Scripture in a way that it can be applied to our daily lives…” Bravo for that by the way! I know our heart desires are God given and God ordained. How did you discover this passion and what prompted you to make blogging your platform?
GENE: I’ve always loved writing, putting my thoughts, experiences and even stories to paper. I had just never found a real outlet for that, but it was while experiencing that time of deep reflection during monumental transition that I realized blogging was the perfect platform for expressing and sharing the deepest truths of God’s love.
rem: There are countless blogs out there, many of them fun or silly, but yours is solid and encouraging. Thank you for that. You also make it clear that the Christian walk is not a fairy tale, but is real and gritty, and in fact, spiritual warfare. Can you expand on that?
GENE: I think for many Christians, we’ve grown tired of hearing people talk about coming to Christ and everything falling in line. Well, in my experience, when I’m most focused on my relationship with Christ is when my ducks are least in a row and things are just messy. I think we lose a lot of people in that illusion of the perfect Christian life. I want to communicate that the unseen is real, and if it was good enough for God’s prophets and Jesus’ own apostles to be brutally exterminated for their faith, then we should not communicate to followers of Christ in this fallen world a perfect Facebook-post life, where people share only their greatest moments. But how to communicate that side of reality with the fact that God does in fact take care of His people and that there is hope and good reason to embrace Christ– that is the challenge.
rem: Ohhhh, that is so true! My personal testimony is ugly, and shows up in different ways in my own writing. What’s the most interesting or fascinating thing you’ve discovered in your research?
GENE: Actually, that has more to do with blogging as a writing platform. It’s interesting to understand that writing for an online audience is very different than any other writing platform. An online reader tends to skim, and if they don’t find any interest in what they’re looking at within seconds, you’ll lose them. We have to get their attention with quality images while connecting with them in the first sentence.
rem: I’ve been blogging for just over two years now, and I couldn’t agree more! I’m still learning! What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?
GENE: I usually write in an upstairs room. I’m in a temporary living situation, preparing to return to Europe so when that happens I’ll have my own quiet space to write in. Sometimes, I write with headphones on in my writing environment. It helps.
rem: You have lived in Eastern Europe and are planning to return. How many times have you been, and how long do you stay?
GENE: We’ve been to Europe 3 times, 3 years this last time which was in Eastern Europe. In those 3 years, we assisted nationals with opening 3 coffeehouses that in turn assist them in creating income and building relationships in their community.
Our next move is to Sweden and we will be there indefinitely.
rem: What makes you struggle as a writer? How do you handle it?
GENE: Looking at results. I’m a results guy, I like analytics of every kind so my struggle is looking at my blog’s analytics and then comparing my results to others. My tendency can be to assume that a lack of shares or a lack of subscribers means I’m not making a difference. It’s a lie of course, and I handle that by reaffirming that even if no one ever read a single word I write, I would still write it. Not because what I have to say is more profound than anyone else, but because I’m just compelled to put the words down. And most times, I’m my first audience. I need the truth and the hope in the stuff I write as much as anyone.
rem: Ditto for me with my fiction! (my blog posts, too!) Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?
GENE: Creating. When the flow starts it’s just very satisfying to see the ideas come together.
rem: Gotta love when that happens! What do you enjoy most about blogging?
GENE: When one person is changed, when someone grows from something I’ve written. Not because I need that accolade, and I never even share this, but because I’m usually writing from a perspective of experience, of struggles I’ve endured and when someone sends a message that they were helped in some way it blows away any amount of analytics results or social media shares in the world.
rem: Yes and amen! What was the hardest thing about blogging? The easiest?
GENE: The hardest thing is content because I don’t want to write simply to fill a space, or put a check mark on having published that week. I want to write to share truth that will encourage, challenge or somehow provide something someone needs to grow. The easiest thing is logging out!
rem: LOL to “easiest!” What are your top 3 recommendations for a new blogger?
- Don’t give in to the temptation to compare yourself to others. Not your writing, not your results. Fight that temptation. The only place to compare yourself to another blogger is design. Some do that really well and that’s a good resource!
- Don’t overcommit. If you can write a new post every week or every 2 weeks or every day is up to you, but don’t overcommit. Try to stick to a routine so your readers know when they can expect something new. (rem: big fat amen to that!)
- Don’t do this alone. You’re going to need the advice and influence of other bloggers. I’m still looking for that, by the way, but I know it’s a must!
rem: Do you have a favorite post that you’ve written? If so, why?
GENE: “Here’s Permission to Rest from Psalm 23.” (http://genewhitehead.com/permission-to-rest-from-psalm-23/)
This was written when we were struggling with that transition of leaving Eastern Europe and deciding what was next. Every time I prayed and wrestled with the options, I felt like God was impressing on me to just be still, close the chapters I had just finished and rest before beginning the new ones.
rem: Ya, I’ve taken the long route (the very long route) to this! And now the value and benefit of resting! What is one take-away from your blog that you hope readers identify with?
GENE: Simply put, that God’s truths are reality and there is hope.
rem: So spot on! I think all of us, as followers of Christ, should be a light to this Truth. Gene, thank you so much for joining us today! It has been my pleasure to have you here!
Gene Whitehead, Chat Thursday, Author Blogger Interview, Simple Theology for a Messy Life, Reading the Bible to Strengthen Your Faith, Jesus Bubble