Been reading about the taking down of a blog which was written by a policeman whose identity was uncovered. I have been considering whether anonymity is something which Christian bloggers should think about from a theological point of view. Many of us have policies about not accepting anonymous posts.

David Clough (Grove booklet 'Unweaving the Web') has his reservations about anonymity for we communicate with each other with no sense of fixed identity. So how far is this freeing in that we see past the exterior and into the inner workings of someone's mind. We are unaware perhaps of their gender, age, skin colour, nationality etc. How far is this actually negating or marginalising our physicality and our identity when these things are sacred too and particularly our identity and name from a Christian perspective: Isaiah 43:1

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by name, you are mine.

In fact the Christian community is all about identity. We name at baptism – we give a Christian name in front of many witnesses as well as before a Holy God. As David Clough describes 'after this naming, the congregation are asked to take responsibility for supporting the new church member in their Christian life. Thus it is the bestowing of this identity that calls for responsibility on the part of the individual, and on the part of those who are called to recognize this new identity.' p. 21

For Israel, being chosen and known by God is to be responsible before God in covenant relationship – perhaps there is a threat to the covenant nature of relationship between human beings in cyberspace. Perhaps therefore it is up to Christians in particular to be as shaped by God in the virtual world as they are in the real world. God is a God of cyberspace too and for Christians his laws pervade this unchaterable space too. Ruth Gledhill, the Times Religion correspondent with her own blog called 'Articles of Faith' has come up with the 10 commandments for bloggers so that there might be the promotion of a shared integrity for those embarking on the discussion of their faiths on internet web-blogs. Divulging your identity in full truthfulness is an essential. There needs to be transparency for the promotion of relationship.

However, in the case of the policeman, it is understandable why he wanted to remain anonymous and in some ways there has been an infringement of his rights to express himself, for which we will all be worse off.

Krish Kandiah, executive director of Churches in Mission has said that:

“In the ever-changing information age, what we need is wisdom for life, and God communicates wisdom to our culture through the Bible on every issue from social justice to social networking.”

However, discerning what that wisdom is might not always be so straightforward.

I might get to discuss some of these things at my selection conference. I am talking about internet faith and the Anglican blogosphere. I've just got to fit it all into five minutes which will be a challenge for someone so: (?) emm

articulate, big-mouthed, chattering, chatty, effusive, eloquent, fluent, full of hot air, gabby, garrulous, glib, long-winded, loose-lipped, loquacious, loudmouthed, mouthy, multiloquent, prolix, rattling, slick, smooth, talky, verbal, verbose, vocal, voluble, windy, wordy


Anonymous said...

there are reasons other than nefarious ones , or ones which deny identity, which may make bloggers and internet posters decide to be semi anonymous though - the internet is a different kettle of ball games in many ways. I posted about this on the Churchmouse blog and a friend of mine discussed it on hers this week too - what it boiled down to for me and for her is that we talk about our families, our children, our life, not just our thoughts. We remain semi anonymous ( though it would not be hard for anyone who wished to do so to "unmask" us) in many ways for the sake of our family's privacy. I know that as I head into public ministry, my ID & whereabouts become much harder to hide, and so anonymity becomes less purposeful online - but still, those who know me know my family too by and large & that's fine, for casual readers, and droppers in, they don't need to know about whom exactly I talk .

Rachel said...

You do make a valid point.

My husband works in internet security. It is his job to ensure that databases, identities, profiles etc can not be hacked and abused. I am sometimes surprised that he is so comfortable with my blogging.

I remember the first time I discovered I was linked to by my entire name; surname too and I wondered how my surname had leaked out but then I remembered Facebook, Friends Reunited and a Christian Graphics co. I uploaded my artwork to by full name, so realised it wouldn't take a genius to work it out.

There is a real vulnerability to blogging. However, I am very open about a lot of things, perhaps because I have not suffered yet from making myself so vulnerable, there are few guards in place. However, I know there can be pain and I do expect it. Probably because my identity is so obvious here, I do hold back on discussing the events and people in my life. My blog is very much a blog about my thoughts.

There are gains and losses then from both strategies.

Thanks Fibrefairy


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