(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.