Friday, March 06, 2009

Flogging for Blogging

(NOTE: I changed the title of this post once I found the definition of "flogging" that didn't involve bodily pain. It's British vernacular, meaning "selling", but I wasn't sure until I found it in an online dictionary. Don't you love unusual meanings of ordinary words? I do.)

On the ministers' chat lately there has been a thread of commentary about blogging and whether or not it is worthwhile as a medium for communicating our faith, our congregational events, our lives, that sort of thing. It was spurred by the question of a colleague who asked whether any of us blogged and whether we found it helpful or meaningful in our professional and personal lives.

It was interesting to me to read the responses of non-blogging colleagues; they were mostly negative. Some had had experience with blogging and had not kept it up, for a variety of reasons. Others who had not blogged were, nevertheless, negative. Maybe not insultingly so, but brushing off the medium of blogging as either irrelevant or too opinionated to be helpful.

Those of us who maintain blogs and have done so for awhile were very positive about our experiences as bloggers. Among those in favor were James Ford of Monkey Mind and Christine Robinson of iMinister, both blogs I read regularly and whose comradeship I appreciate. Their blogs are quite different from mine, both in frequency and in content. I like to think we each fill a niche.

When Kari of Chalice Spark and I decided we'd offer a workshop at our recent district Annual Meeting, we were surprised and pleased by the large turnout we had for what we thought might be a relatively minor contribution to the panoply of workshops. But we had over thirty people attend, some of whom had already started the process of blogging, either for personal use or congregational events, but several of whom had no experience at all with the mechanics of the internet.

I know that many folks are intimidated by the technology of recent years which has made blogs so popular, along with social networks like Facebook (yes, I'm now addicted to Facebook!) and MySpace, Twitters, and the like. And it's true that there is so much out there that it can be overwhelming. It can be hard, as well, to separate the good from the bad media.

But what I think I like about blogging is that it gives me an outlet for thoughts that I might not feel like putting in a sermon or other congregational space. It's a source of friends and others' wisdom. It's a way to keep in touch with people I rarely see. It's a way to provoke and participate in a deeper conversation.

I learn a lot from those who comment, even the snarky ones. I have control over what is published in the comments, which helps to focus the conversation. I have the opportunity to encourage topical comments, even when they're not particularly pleasant. I feel as though I am fostering UU openness and diversity in a small way.

It will be interesting to see how today's media and networking technologies morph over the coming years.


Ms. Theologian said...

It seems to me that (generally speaking) non-bloggers can be amazingly disparaging to the medium of blogging. I think they just don't get it. It's a powerful and timely way to communicate to a potentially enormous number of people. Why would anyone disparage that?

ms. kitty said...

That was my thought too, Ms. T. Thanks.

Mile High Pixie said...

But what I think I like about blogging is that it gives me an outlet for thoughts .... It's a source of friends and others' wisdom. It's a way to keep in touch with people I rarely see. It's a way to provoke and participate in a deeper conversation."

Well put. What I like about blogging is that even though I develop a relationship of sorts with my readers, there is still enough distance that I think my commenters/readers are generally a little more neutral and indeed honest in their responses. I also appreciate the rather simple way in which I can explain the nuances of my obfuscated profession to others. And last but not least, I enjoy the opportunity to exorcise my comedy demons. Always a good idea when you're as mouthy as I am.

Kari said...

Interesting! I am a little surprised that blogging isn't naturally attractive to folk who are ordained clergy. I would have thought that if you share your heart and spirit from the pulpit that it would transfer right on over here to blogger! Hmm!

ms. kitty said...

Pixie, that's a good observation. Thanks.

Kari, I think it's a matter of priorities and some can't imagine sitting down at a computer and writing much more than the weekly sermon! I know some have asked me how I manage to find the time. It isn't time that is the problem---it's thinking of something cogent to say! And I don't always succeed, but it's out there anyhow! Also, I'm working parttime, not fulltime, though James and Christine are fulltime clergy and they post a lot.

Joel Monka said...

I also love having friends around the world, even though I will never meet many of them in real life. I've learned so much from my fellow bloggers, as well.

But I must admit I'd probably be blogging even if it were one-way communication... I have to write a few hundred words a day just to keep from bursting.

Lizard Eater said...

I'm going to have to write a lot :) about this, but need to gather all my thoughts.

In the meantime, I just wanted to mention ... I ADORE unusual or "old" meanings of ordinary words.

Like "lousy" ... as in, the Houston Hilton was lousy with UU Women last weekend.

Love it!

Lizard Eater said...

Too long ... wrote on my blog.

ms. kitty said...

Joel, I love what you said! Bursting! Yes, exactly, at least some days. Some days I'm searching, not bursting!

LE, I'm headed over to your place right now!

See, of all of you, I've only met Joel and that was only briefly. But you are my friends, whether I see you anywhere but online or not. And I care about your lives, as I feel you care about mine. How can I lose? I can't.

ogre said...

I've discovered that -- on average -- I blog MORE when I'm under pressure and time pressure.

I presume that means I'll be blogging more once I'm out of seminary and in full-time ministry.

I've also begun to see blogging as a sort of spiritual practice.

uuMomma said...

Ms. Kit: I'd have never met you without this medium. I so treasure that first meeting we had at GA adn I treasure your comments on my blog--like a dear and trusted aunt.

ms. kitty said...

Ogre, I agree---somehow the things I want to write about are connected with the times of high pressure in my life. Blogging becomes an outlet, a way to share the load.

Momma, I feel the same. I treasure our connection.

Earthbound Spirit said...

Ms. K - I started a comment, it's just too long so I'll try to carve out time to post on my own blog today. Blogging reminds me, in some ways, of how small our UU world is. You & I met once, and discovered we have mutual acquaintances (non-blogging). Amazing.