30.8.10

Blogging as formation

 Blogging as an act of worship

I wonder how many of you, like me, have sometimes regarded your blog with a degree of ambivalence.

At theological college, I remember going through a phase, asking God whether he was asking me to give up my blog. Was blogging some kind of narcissistic indulgence?

At about this time I wondered whether the faculty thought blogging was a helpful or hindering past-time. I agonised over whether I was pursuing something individual when I should be using time blogging in building relationships in the theological community of which I had become a part.

Lecturers would look at me when they said they didn't want this going live in the public domain, please, as they revealed some inner convictions about the church or General Synod.

I now realise that whilst blogging can accompany my life, life at theological college will end. I will come out the other end. They do not expect me to be 'finished' and I do not expect that either, but blogging will help me to keep engaging in the process, the journey, in formation.

Blogging creates a community that supplements and does not compete with the community you're already involved in. When that community sleep, the blogging community does not, when that community is unavailable, the blogging one is never far away.

With the final essay of my Grad Cert in Theology and Ministry, before transferring to the Masters programme, I will submit an URL as part of my work and a lecturer will be asked to click links from domain to domain, from a private blog 'Jesus and St Alk's' about my placement church from which I worked for two weeks with the marginalised and an outreach ministry called Storehouse, and my public blog Re vis.e Re form, where some of my reflections with this ministry were blogged publicly. I could never have recreated this dynamic record of my thoughts and other people's responses to them with a conventional diary. Let's just hope our academic institutions are up to speed with the way that their students do their theology these days, Andii Bowsher's blogs are perhaps indicative that they certainly are. 

It has been good to read Ben Myers' article on Blogging and theological discourse. I repeat some of his key points below for you to consider.

Blogging is, according to Ben Myers (you can read the entire article here)
                                                                 
  • not merely a new medium for exchanging information, but a new practice of self-formation—a new way of working on the self, of forming community and identity. 

  • With technologies like blogs, Facebook, and Twitter, one’s “private” thoughts are immediately manifest, immediately “publicly” available. The word is not carefully crafted into a fixed, perfected form; it is plastic, flexible, and dialogical. Here, the word is uttered not simply within the context of other authorial words, but in the lived context of an ever-changing interactive community.
If you do blog or facebook your feelings and thoughts, your impressions and moods and sometimes feel as though you should not share or that you might be criticised for doing so, consider Ben's exploration of Michel Foucault, whom I read for my English degree and how Foucault traces this practice of writing one's thoughts down through the ages:

  • In its ancient form, this practice of self-writing was not, as one might expect, concerned with philosophical questions or spiritual experiences. Primarily, you worked on yourself by attending, with meticulous care, to the ordinary details of everyday life. Your writing records your moods, your reading, your social interactions, and your conversation.
  • One writes in order to shape oneself.
  • Early in the third century, Tertullian used the term publicatio sui: Christians are to publish themselves.
  • ...one participates in a continuing conversation in a collective enterprise of learning and inquiry.

I am really glad about blogging, Ben points out that, 'A basic problem in theological education is that it often ceases after seminary.' Keeping a blog helps to continue theological dialogue.

Ben describes how blogging forms special kinds of community: 'reading is far removed from solitude, since here reading is understood primarily as the stimulus to conversation, criticism, and discussion.'

I can relate to the following, not that I would describe myself as an academic:
  • An academic once told me that he doesn’t watch television anymore; instead, he sits down with a glass of wine and reads theology blogs. The medium is the message: there is something inherently fun about blogging, even when the subject-matter is serious and demanding.
Television just seems 2D and static in comparison to the dialogical dynamics of the net. I gave up TV at about the same time I started blogging. If I do watch TV, it is only because I intend to blog about it or I have seen it to be the cause of other people's blog-posts. The new TV sitcom 'Rev' became a must-watch because the blogs were covering it.

Just keep blogging, just keep blogging!

1 comment:

DDD III said...

Rachel, please take the two hours it will require to read Doug Paggitt's new book, Church in the Inventive Age. When he wrote it, facebook would have been the fourth largest nation in the world, had it been a country. That was last year. Now it would be the third. You want to share Jesus? To rephrase a battle cry of the sixites, blog, baby, blog. DDD III

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