Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Response to Alexis' Post on Why One Blogs

Why blog?

I had hoped to use this blog as a means of thinking through various issues facing the IC/OC/ISM/EIEIO part of the Christian Church. But one of the things that has happened since I started this blog is that the jurisdiction of which I am a part has grown, and with that growth, so have demands on my time also grown, and I have found it well nigh impossible to devote the time and energy to blogging in a thoughtful way (and see below for my rules about how to go about this). Hence the many cat blogging posts.

What are the rules?

First, do no harm. I am a very opinionated person, and I am used to expressing my opinions quite freely. But one of the things that I have discovered as a bishop is that having pastoral responsibility means that I must keep many of my opinions to myself. Jesus said that he did not come to extinguish a smoldering wick or to crush a bruised reed, and I feel obligated to attempt to follow in His footsteps. So even when I disagree with some of those for whom I have a pastoral obligation, I must refrain from criticism or confrontation if it does not constitute a central matter of faith or interfere with the functioning of the church. And even in those situations where a loving confrontation is necessary, airing my views in a way on this blog that might cause offense or pain (or defensiveness) on their part would be wrong.

Second, observe appropriate privacy – my own and others. On both secular and religious blogs, I have encountered bloggers revealing the most intimate details of their relationship with their spouse, or their children, or with other family members. One can only wonder how the other family members feel about this (or will feel, in the case of children once they are adults). While some self-disclosure is appropriate, there are certain things that should not be entered into the permanent record that is the Internet. When television first became popular, some observers of popular culture observed that “the medium is the message”, and I believe this is true of the Internet as well. The Internet has given us an amazing ability to connect with one another across previously insurmountable geographical and cultural barriers, and this is a very good thing. But it has also encouraged a narcissistic exhibitionism and voyeurism that is quite unhealthy. I think blogs are great for the discussion of ideas. Some aspects of personal lives – pictures of vacations and new babies, details of the lives of ones’ cats, etc. are perfectly appropriate. But there are things that are best left unsaid – at least in a public forum such as a blog. (And, of course, there is a gray area in between.)

Unfortunately, much of what interests me most about church life is the practical lived reality of the church community. While there is much that is written about this topic that is of great interest, what insights I have gained are mostly the result of practical experience – which means that much of it is not appropriate to share on the blog.

Third, I am not one who thinks best out loud on a blog, so for me, I am not ready to post something until I have given it some reflection. (This will not apply to all bloggers, of course – it has to do with particular personality styles.)

Those are the three that come to mind.

I am going to omit the tagging, but would be interested in what others have to say.

1 comment:

Alexis TanĨibok said...

I've been "out of the e-loop" for a few weeks focussing on Das Elefant - great reflection though - I found myself shaking my head in affirmation of your points on voyeurism and privacy.