Jean Dublog

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Church of Blog

Thinking about religious blogging really takes some focus to prevent going down side roads that can easily get one lost in sprawling issues. I'm also taking a pledge to avoid using certain phrases I've probably relied on too often, i.e., "preaching to the choir," because I don't want to "punnish" anyone reading about this particular blogging environment.

The question of audience and blogging assumptions, discussed in our last class, is very much in play here, especially in John Rush's fervent Anvil & Fire blog. The blogosphere, of course, does not belong solely to those who are skilled in edgy and tight blogspeak, but most of us seem to agree that adherence to this blogging aesthetic is more likely than not to increase the blogger's sphere of influence by making the blog more eye and ear-catching. Anvil & Fire has plenty of passion, of a kind, but this Tennessean of faith seems more fond of sermons than conversations.

There are some appeals to readers for reactions. And, some posts raise questions that seem intended to provoke discission, such as what an "unenlightened, black powder muzzle-loading, hick-on-the-mountain" is to make of a Buddhist Peace Pergoda as a neighbor. But most of these posts are sermon-like explorations of religious issues that are liberally sprinkled with Bible passages.

Rush seems sometimes uncertain of whether blogging really syncs up with his mission. In his October 18 post, Rush wonders openly whether blogging really helps or whether he's just "preaching to the choir." Is blogging noble? While blogging is a perfectly legitimate forum for addressing the spiritual needs of small communities as well as large, I think the evidence shows that this style and manner of blogging is unlikely to spread Rush's message beyond this particular small sphere. If you look at the comments, they are relatively few and they tend, for the most part, to be from the same individuals.

In expanding on an earlier post about religious fundamentalism, Rush's October 6 post speaks directly to the issues of assumptions and audience expectations. That he is addressing those who practice the same manner of faith is evident in his explanation that a discussion of fundamentalism "assumes an audience really understands the issues. It does not assume the understanding of the population at large."

In contrast, Bad Christian Blog uses a more irony-laden voice sometimes spouting naughty words, frequently expressed in a more conversational style. The result is often many, many more comments. Brandon sometimes takes a playful approach to his posting, even the title "Bad Christian" is meant to turn a rebuke into a badge of honor by demonstrating how being liberal more naturally fulfills the Christian life. He even has an amusing defense of the use of "swear words," which he deems appropriate as long as they are honest and the best words available to express a strong emotion.

But, just as much as his particular take on Christian life, I think Brandon's got so many interesting conversations going on in his blog because he understands the nature of the beast and he does desire to speak to a wide audience of people who also ponder how to be a religious person not in the mold of the Christian right. There's a substantial linking network here, and the comments seem to come from a wide-ranging group. Brandon does sometimes get quite serious in his arguments and goes on a bit, but he is able to engage other bloggers. Anvil does not seem to have the same goals in mind, and his smaller world seems to reflect his own assumptions about what is noble and worthwhile, however small the choir.

6 Comments:

  • Siris is the only religious blog I can stand to read.

    By Blogger coturnix, at 6:18 PM  

  • I tried, Sirisly, but the air was a little too heavy in there to breath.

    By Blogger John, at 4:52 PM  

  • Good post John. Fair criticism.

    I have responded at Anvil and Fire.

    All the best,

    JRush

    By Blogger John Rush, at 8:08 AM  

  • Ah...your criticism of john rushes' blog is both unwarranted and extremely arrogant.

    A blog belongs to the blogger.

    Whether or not you choose to read it is a decision that belongs to you.

    I, for one, enjoy john rushes' blog and read it every day, even when it does not contain a new post.

    john rush is so kind that he accepts your criticism with grace.

    That is his decision.

    Good for him.

    By Blogger Joe, at 4:06 PM  

  • Blogs are public for a reason. If John Rush didn't want any criticism, he would sit back and write his thoughts in a journal or perhaps say them in a more conventional manner. Part of the purpose of a blog is to invite debate and dialogue, even if it is negative. John Rush's real morality showed up when he decided to accept the criticism and respond to it. That's what makes a person grow.

    By Blogger Brett, at 5:05 PM  

  • I'm not knocking JR. Just making some observations based on my experience reviewing other blogs. He's absolutely free to write as the spirit moves him. But we all need to think about who we are trying to reach when we scribble down our thoughts, and what works best for them. It earns me a living (not blogging, that's for sure).

    By Blogger John, at 5:12 PM  

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