Saturday, 11 December 2010

Why blog?

It won't have escaped your notice that blogging has caused one or two members of the clergy trouble just lately. So 'why blog?' I ask myself. 'Is it sensible, is it a good use of time?' There are many forms of communication and many ways of extablishing relationships and let me put it on record that I think nothing can replace the actual presence of priests and ministers of the gospel in their communities. 'The Word became flesh' - God came personally and physically among us. For this reason, the greatest proportion of my time will always be going out and about and joining people in the places where they worship and pray and have fun or meet to discuss difficult issues and make decisions. Then there is always going to be a place for 'analogue' communication - the printed word, the piece of paper in our hands. We enjoy reading the Sharow parish magazine that drops magically through our door (with no effort on our part) every month. It keeps us in touch with neighbours and village concerns. I still like the mailings that drop through the front door and that I can browse through in a leisurely way over a cuppa. Somtimes it's easier and more pleasant to read these than spend yet more time looking at a computer screen.

However, these, like, to a certain extent, traditional preaching, are forms of communication when used by most parish churches that wing their way outwards and produce.... well no-one quite knows what effect. Rather as 'the Spirit blows where it wills.' One of the interesting things about digital communication is the potential it offers for reciprocal communication. I write something; some of you comment or email in to say 'You got that wrong from my perspective' or 'But have you thought about it like this?' Of course, I'm not suggesting that the range of comment you recieve as a blogger is truly representative of all that is out there, but it is a valuable tool for keeping in touch with what people are thinking and what they are interested in. And I can see that it may sometimes be easier for people to be honest and to give criticism objectively in an electronic exchange than it is face to face.

So yes, I do think that blogging and other forms of electronic communication have an important place in the ministry of some priests, provided that they are used alongside other forms of communication and provided that they are kept in their place. I am aware that they can become addictive or overly time consuming. I am aware of the danger of becoming inappropriately personal or of over reacting to something without taking proper time for thought.

I've been blogging for a couple of weeks. It takes me about fifteen minutes to write a blog and sometimes a few minutes to get the photos sorted out or the references to other websites correct. Already, I'm beginning to sense what the readers are most interested in. So far, the most read posts are Advent Preaching and No-one Under 40? closely followed by End of Life Care, Shrinking the Carbon Footprint and Apostolic Women. Celebrations at Kirkby Overblow is creating quite a stir too!  

I am hoping that blogging will prove to be a useful way to share information and to promote discussion in an archdeaconry as geographically widespread as Richmond.  Already, commenters have made me aware of things I did not know or had not thought about and have said things like 'I thought I was the only person in my church like me, but I see that there are others out there who are interested in the same things.' Some have commented that the book recommendations are useful and others have felt connected to events they couldn't get to. (Mind you, I'm hoping it won't snow too much more this year!)

I also hope that, becasue the blog is read beyond the archdeaconry and diocese, it will keep our pressing issues and interests connected with wider thinking and insight. So far there are readers in the USA, Croatia, Austria, Slovakia, Germany, Kuwait, Malaysia, China and the Czech Republic!

Keep telling me what you think. And thank you for your patience if I take a long time to respond - I am determined not to spend more time than I can realistically give each week but I do think about the things you tell me!

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