March 14, 2005

A father's question: Why read each other's blogs?

While visiting my family in Baltimore, D.C., and New Jersey this past week, my father took an interest in my new experience as a Quaker blogger. He asked, "Why would you want to read other people's blogs? They won't have anything new to say; they're not experts on Quakerism, so why take the time to read them?"

I responded by telling him—

(1) it's unclear what the place of the internet and blogs are among contemporary Friends, and so we are engaged in a large sort of experiment;
(2) I like reading what other Quaker bloggers have to say, because what I read often stimulates my thinking and searching; and
(3) sometimes I have something to add to the discussion that may in turn stimulate someone else's thinking.

Among our individual posts as Quaker bloggers, there is much wonderful ministry and eldership going on, such as QuaCarol's post that is lifted up by Martin Kelley at his blog, Quaker Ranter.

There is a sort of communal seeking and sharing that is going on. While we are engaged in it, I cannot help but wonder from time to time if we are not also testing how our faithfulness to the Spirit might be enhanced; if we are better servants, better Friends of the Truth, as a result.



Joe G. said...

Hmm, what an interesting question on the part of your dad.

People, both users and non-users, sometimes assume that everything on the Internet is factually based ala the "Information Superhighway". Part of the fun of the Internet is discovering the "non-factual" aspects of it. The discernment is learning how to recognize "fact from fiction" and all the stuff in between.

Blogging is also a sort of "conversation", isn't it? Your responses are very close to my own way of thinking.

By the way, thanks for all of your posts to my blog. Let your dad that you've helpful to me in the past few days! :)

Larry Clayton said...

I think you're right on the mark here, Liz. First reaction re your father. Is he like so many of the older generation who just think the computer is a waste of time? I personally think it may be God's best hope for us, the global village. It makes possible an end run around the principalities and Walter Wink's Powers That Be.

Re Quakers: Nobody knows enough Quakers. What local meeting could provide the rich nourishment we get from our blogging Quaker friends? For many people the ordinary environment is an arid or barren spiritual one. Here we find the healing waters.

Blog and quake-- a wonderful combination. I have long known that we could travel over the entire U.S. and meet Quakers everywhere who would immediately become friends as well as Friends. With our internet you don't even have to travel.

Liz Opp said...

Beppe, thanks for stopping by again. I'll be sure to pass on your comment to my dad... or maybe I'll encourage him to read it for himself! smile

Larry, your final sentence catches my eye: With our internet you don't even have to travel.

I think as Friends we actually do have to continue to travel. I experience the Living Presence of the Divine very differently when I am face-to-face with another, as compared to when I am emailing or blogging, or when I am worshipping on my own. I believe that our humanity and our divinity is best answered in our personal encounters, not our electronic ones... And I can't even imagine engaging in corporate discernment around a difficult concern without being face-to-face.

But don't think for a moment, Larry, that I thought you were saying that the internet can substitute for our personal face-to-face interactions. I understand you are aware that a different sort of connection is made through the internet and these blogs, for example.

At the same time, I'm fairly certain that I would have different reactions to each Quaker blogger were I to meet you all in person. I am human, after all, and I am also a self-proclaimed judge of books by their covers. But the idea of establishing dialogue, friendship, and even a sort of support network when we are miles apart is kinda neat.

In fact, there are two Friends I email regularly, sharing parts of my spiritual journey over the miles, which seems to help me connect with them more readily when we see each other. Maybe because we don't have so much catching up to do...

I think my father raised his question because so much of his own technological world revolves around his career, not his social contacts. I am a more social and spiritual creature than my father, and I think he doesn't understand how personal and spiritual connections can be nurtured through the internet--though he readily accepts that this has been my very experience.


Meredith said...

Hello Liz,
Nice to meet you. I probably would never had this opportunity to meet you if not for this format. I live in Oregon, and am 'clerk' of a small Quaker worship group of 12 or so. I have read your blog with great interest, and look forward to this opportunity to share ideas and insights, and nurture one another spiritually. Spiritual Friendship is one of the great benefits of this medium - writing our reflections or queries and responses allows us an opportunity for deep reflection and also an expanded opportunity for deep listening. I think the very reason you stated above about judging people when you are physically with them is an element that is missing here - I have noticed much less judgement based on superficial qualities.

Anyway, thank you for your thoughtful entries here. I look forward to continued Friendship.

Blessings to you,

Liz Opp said...

Hi, Meredith--

I'd love to read more about your worship group and your experience in it... especially why it is the 12 of you each choose to be a part of the worship group. Plus I love having more women's voices within the Quaker blogosphere.

Like our respective worship groups, this blog remains an experiment. so we'll see where we'll end up.

Thanks for stopping by.