I’m renaming this meme ’cause I’m concerned it’s too easy to be distracted by the very sexy phenomenon of blogging.
First to recap:
Dan Hughes got the ball rolling with his post that opened with:
the next generation of theologians will start as bloggers.
Steve Taylor expressed some skepticism.
Maggi Dawn made some important comments.
I underlined some of their concerns and suggested an additional nuance that I feared was being missed.
Dan followed up.
and Steve followed up.
Further, in response to my earlier post , in comments, maggi wrote:
some good points, stephen. But my worry with the inflated claims for blogging remains. I don’t dispute that blogging is a useful form for theological discussion – theology can take place in any format at all. But the suggestion that blogging and other internet forms can or should (or have already) replaced conventional forms doesn’t democratise anything – on the contrary, it narrows the field. The best theological blogs are ones that offer some reflection on what is being read and written and discussed elsewhere, the blog thus being one thread in a much bigger fabric. If we use the blog as a useful addition to other forms, it will be fruitful indeed. But if we neglect other forms in favour of the blog, we risk going down a very shallow stream indeed.
maggi, i like very much your comment about blogging being “one thread in a much bigger fabric”.
i recently read ed cray’s wonderful general of the army about george c marshall, US army chief of staff during WWII. after WWI the technology of airplanes advanced and by WWII there were those who felt that practically all US resources should be expended on building as many as possible. marshall, however, knew that while the airplane would change military tactics significantly, it would not be the one thing that would defeat the nazis.
similarly, with the blog specifically and our new and developing online world more generally, we most avoid the triumphalism of thinking “this will change everything” while at the same time taking full advantage of how this – to modify slightly your metaphor – new kind of fabric adds more strength and flexibility to the cloth. We must also be chary of collapsing new modalities of discussion down to the current level of depth achieved in blogging. We mustn’t let the current cultural phenomenon of blogging dim our vision of what the online world offers. I respectfully suggest it’s a hint of what can occur. The church has not yet optimized its full capacity.
What theologians have generally done well through generations has been to systematize knowledge (to the degree the Divine is subject to such) and to parse out theological formulations. What both the theological and eccesial community have not done nearly as well (from my admittedly Western seat) has been to formulate an effective praxis of theological disagreement. It is in this very area that I am most hopeful that our new online forums can help us: To enable the church’s theologians to be exposed to a wide diversity of confessing thought without the abstraction that can occur through de-relationalized interaction. The online world provides both a wideness of information and the opportunity for such discussions to occur in the context of spiritual friendship. Humility can result; genuine listening may follow, and wisdom could prevail as a hosts of minds consider each topic from various angles.
This is what could happen; it’s a mistake to think that blogging is the full flower of what’s possible.
May God help us to disagree more Christianly – in all contexts – and so come closer to Christ’s mind.