May 5, 2005

Robin Mohr: Where to draw the lines online?

A Guest Piece by Robin Mohr

Robin is a frequent commenter here and on other Quaker blogs. She emailed me these thoughts after reading the post about supporting the ministry of Martin Kelley. I feel blessed to be able to help Robin lift up her questions for further consideration and discussion.  — Liz
I'm wondering about how to consider eldering on purpose in public. Showing support in public is usually even more welcomed than in private, but how can an online community know what accountability has been asked of or shown by a Friend?

For example, I think it is one thing to ask questions on someone's blog. It is probably another to respectfully disagree as part of contributing to the depth of discussion. It is another to rant in the secular sense of the word on someone else's blog. Where do we draw the lines? I am still quite new to this whole question and I am very interested in your perspective as a blogger and a human Friendly elder on this. [UPDATE: I've now written about related questions here.] I also refer Friends to Brooklyn Quaker for historical advice on admonishing disorderly walkers [and writers?].

For another example, I didn't hesitate to send money to the Quaker Ranter. I trust that it will be used well. But I thought as I sent it that I wasn't sure (first how many gifts like that I could send to other bloggers? not many) how do we know what is done with the money? Is that just between the recipient and God? Are there fruits of the Spirit that I am looking for in return? If I don't like what they write in the next three months, can I cancel my subscription and ask for my money back? Should we expect an annual report a la the advices # 5 and 6 from the Elders at Balby? (again, see Brooklyn Quaker) or modern non-profit governance models?

In my real life, I see the financial accounts of my monthly Meeting on a regular basis. I see the work that is done in our Meeting community and the wider world by individual Friends. I can visit the homes of Friends and see the cars they drive (or don't). I can hear their voices and see their faces and feel the good raised up in them and me in meeting for worship.

How do we do this online?

Robin Mohr
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Reproduced as a feature with permission from its author.

1 comment:

david said...

All very important questions.

Quakerism exists today in large part because it made a successful transition form religious movement to religious sect. Modern liberal Quakes share a certain affection for thsoe days of movement and a certian frustration with modern sect.

The reasons for this are partly historical. Elizabth Cazden documents ome of them in a pamphlet Martin recommended I read.

Another is simply that Quakes are an aging population and the late middle-aged core look back with some nostaligia to the glory days of the Civil Rights Movement.

The other issue is growth. We grew most -- both in hard numbers and in realtion to the growth of other groups -- fastest when we were a movement full of all the messiness of the Ranters, the Diggers, and the James Naylers.

I'm sure the first 300 years of Christianity faced the same issues. You had the settled house churches and tehn you had these wild cards like Paul running into conflict with them even as he brought thousands into the fold.

All of which is simply a long way to say I don't have an answer for you. I'm mindful of someone who rose in meeting once and declared herself a "pantheist" -- she belived it would all pan out in the end.