BlogEthics: Again

   I was right and you were wrong.

   This is the presentation piece of some editors, Op-Ed writers and bloggers. Blogging is a relatively new delivery system. It can't make the brains of the bloggers better, their spirits lighter or their morals more pronounced.

   Blogging is neither good nor evil but writing makes it so.

   In the denominational wars of the late 20th century, I constantly got mail or phone calls from all around Texas, as well as the interminable rantings of a fellow from Missouri, now discredited, who had discovered homosexuality in America (gasp) and discerned some baptist preachers had not totally stressed out at the news. Messages aside, these were the delivery systems of the late 20th century, along with the highly efficient baptist grapevine. A word whispered in the hall was shouted across the continent if placed in the right, shell-like ear.

   Along came blogging, face booking, websites, et al. The baptist grapevine grew new branches. Communication could not be tightly controlled. The emperor's nudity (new clothes) could not be covered as easily as before. Inquiring minds asked questions and could not be smiled out of the room on the www as easily as in the old days.

   In the same way that every print journalist since Watergate has wanted to be Woodward or Bernstein, every video journalist since Rodney King has wanted the pictorial scoop. In our day, some bloggers want to uncover that one factoid or truism destined to make a king, or topple one.

   For those of us who want to write (even in depth), ruminate with colleagues and reminisce with old friends, the blogscape opens a world of possibilities. Unfortunately, there is a possibility the irresponsible will join us or the ungracious may assign dark motives or the unappreciative may dismiss us. This is the chance we take when we log-in to put our thoughts out to the world.

   I am asked from time to time if a full-time pastor should spend any time blogging at all. I am asked this sometimes as I sit in a book lined office filled with tomes, ancient and recent, graced by the names of some very famous full-time pastors. I think of other pastors who spend a good deal of time golfing, biking, fishing or hunting. Since most people do not know what a pastor does (he only works that one day a week, anyway and then we are mad if he works too long) it is easy to see why some might question his use of a new delivery system for a  message. The paranoia of expectations is, after all, that which drives pastors to recite their entire weekly schedule to anyone who asks the casual question, "What ya' been doin'?"

   A blogger of the Christian variety really does, however, need to stop and ask, "Can I stand before God with what I am about to post?" Before he/she hits the save button, the question of his/her soul should be answered; probably more than once.

   Bloggers are often criticized, I have noticed, by persons fearful of the reach of technology. A lesson or two has the critic ready to launch his/her own blog, as soon as the (understandable) fear is removed. Then the fear of the blank template can begin. You have to fill it up each time. That is a daunting task.

   In the Western culture, where we count everything, a blogger may succumb to the "counter." There is a place we can go on our blogsites (or typepad or blogspot, et al) where we can see the number of "hits" to our site and trace them back to their point of origin. Yes, there are numberless ways to counterfeit numbers (add ten per cent for hall walkers and late comers) but the point is we may watch our hits go down and decide we have to go negative to get them back up where they belong.

   A blogger might go a month or so without looking at his hit counter to see if his life is any less interesting. If he enjoys blogging less when he does not count his hits, he may need to stay away for a time of spiritual purification.

   Ethically, can it ever be wrong to ask oneself, "Why am I doing this?" I have said repeatedly I write aintsobad for myself and hope it can help others. My thinking is deeper if I do it in print (or on screen) and benefits well from the "instant editing" of my peers. However, if no one ever read aintsobad, it would still be helpful to me for I write in the full understanding someone might read what I say. Accuracy in quotation, humility in assigning motives to others and generosity of spirit should be the result. When I miss in any of those things, it should show me something, either in the first reading or in some later review.

   Perhaps I could do as well keeping a journal (and I do, volumes of them). Journal writing is different from blogging, though aintsobad is very close to a blog journal, without some of the intimate details of my mundane daily existence. Frankly, a lot of my life bores me. I don't see why I should bother aintsobad with it.

   In writing blogger objectives, a would be blogger might be more inclined to make a covenant with himself/herself intent to protect the sensibilities of others. I am still embarrassed at the thought of a very angry blog I wrote a couple of years ago (removed hours later) when some unhappy news reached me from an impeccable source. I was right in facts. I was wrong in proportion. Violence, ratcheted upward, leads to more violence. There is no way to return to previous lines of demarcation without hitherto unrealiazed doses of forgiveness.

   So, bloggers, your art is old even though your artifice is new. In fact, spell check on your computer will probably still suggest alternatives to the word "blog," as the word is not yet recognized (when I was growing up, the word "astronaut" had to be added to the dictionary). Please know why you blog. Don't imitate the shrillest voice you hear in hopes of recognition. Look to the care of your soul. Tell the truth, as well as you know it.

   Obviously, this is a blog intended mostly for other bloggers and mostly for Christian bloggers. Those are the persons most likely to make their way here consistently. I have spent a bit of time thinking of bloggers lately and of blogethics. Take what I write for what it costs you to read it; a moment in time you cannot retrieve.





3 thoughts on “BlogEthics: Again”

  1. Should a full-time pastor blog?
    I walked through the “Christian” bookstore the other day and nearly threw up. Considering the drivel we are reading it is no wonder our churches are in such sad shape. Enough of the pastors who promote a gnostic self-help and the pastors who promote a program so that my church can be just like theirs. Where are the great pastors who think deeply with an eye to the implications of their thought both personally and ecclesiologically?
    The authors who most influence me are pastors or have a pastoral background. Newbiggin, Barth, R.T. France, N.T. Wright, John Stott, just to name a few. The church pays the price when her leaders do not have the depth to write anything that matters, whether that be electronically or on paper. Should a full-time pastor blog? Absolutely, well, at least those with something worth contributing.

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