Over at The Quaking Harlot there is a post that makes a brief reference to the blogger's concern of being told how to blog, how to be a proper Quaker, how to be "QC" (as opposed to PC).
I struggle not to take some of what is written there, and within the comments, personally. You see, I was one of the bloggers who engaged in the possibility of a blogging Faith & Practice. And my most recent post describes what I have experienced as a form of Quaker blog etiquette, especially among some early Quaker bloggers who seemed to appreciate each other's care in writing.
I don't know if the Quaking Harlot was directing a comment at me, but I do see this as an opportunity to share a bit about my choice to engage in the Q-blogosphere in the way I have been, to make explicit some of my process in order to reduce readers' guesswork about why I write some of what I do.
Here's my theory:
Quakers need something to push against.We're not always so disciplined about entrusting our committees to thresh an idea and to bring back to the meeting a thoroughly seasoned proposal. We'll pick it apart, question why X was explored but not Y, like the idea of carpet rather than linoleum but prefer blue over green.
But let the proposal season for a month and Friends start to see the care and creativity that went into it. And one more month of seasoning allows the initial resistance to melt away. As if Friends simply needed permission to say No before they could yield to say Yes or even Maybe.
So it is that some of my posts are launched as trial balloons. After all, an individual does not a committee make. And if a post gives a reader something to push against, to hone her or his own thinking, then some good has come out of it after all.
Blogging Faith & PracticeWhen the idea was broached for a blogging F&P, I was skeptical at first, I admit. But I've been skeptical about other suggestions, including the use of the term convergent and that turned out alright...
The way that the blogging F&P was "turning out," well, I found I had something to say, so I said it. Not right away, and not frequently. In that way, I feel like I was being a part of someone's clearness committee. The committee doesn't cast a vote and neither does it dismiss the Friend's idea right away. The committee listens. It works to help the Friend understand how God is leading her or him, and the committee helps the Friend test the leading itself:
And then there is the concept of living into the experiment, to see how direct experience of the thing might indicate the rightness of the leading... or not.
Does the leading persist? Is the Friend's own learning increased somehow? Does the leading bear fruit, such as patience, lovingkindness, self-control? As time goes by, does the Friend have an increased "felt-sense" that she or he is well led? Is the leading congruent with Quaker practice? with Scripture?
I would say, from my experience, that the concept of an online Faith & Practice is not right for this time, this cyber-place, this current set of bloggers.
But I'm not sure it will never be right, either.
No right way to write a Q-blogThere is no precise, singular way to be a Quaker, though there are practices and processes that are intended to help us discover how to live into the measure of Light we've been given, and how to come together as a community to engage in worship and to tend to business.
It's also clear to me that there is no precise, singular way to write or maintain a Quaker blog. But I personally don't believe that we Quaker bloggers are doing something completely unrelated to one another, that we use completely disconnected or independent practices.
In fact, I know my own practice of writing posts and submitting comments is an extension of what I understood, assumed, or interpreted that the original Q-bloggers were doing--even if I couldn't know if any blogger was engaging in careful discernment or in stream-of-consciousness writing.
So I wrote about the etiquette that seemed to go into the Quaker blogs that kept drawing me back to them, week after week; the comments that got me thinking and seemed to advance the conversation.
Was it my place to write such a post? Maybe not; maybe it was (or is) too individualistic of me to put my thoughts out there.
(BTW, I had considered not publishing that post for that very reason: there had been no online "committee" to thresh such a thing... but that gets back to the whole online F&P topic...)
But I recognize now, days later and with my own finger pointing back at me after reading the post at The Quaking Harlot, that I had also written the post to see how or if others might push against it:
Was I way off the mark?
Would what I wrote resonate with others bloggers?
Would another blogger take a kernel of what was there and turn that kernel into something of significance for the rest of us to read?
Radical communityIf we see ourselves as separate from one another, with no interconnection between us, then I agree with what Quaking Harlot writes, that the cyber-culture of Quaker blogs will more and more "resemble the current status-quo of Quakerism" (and I assume it's Liberal Quakerism to which QH refers).
But if we see ourselves as interconnected despite the cyber-distance that separates us; if we allow for the possibility that we may be opened and transformed by the Spirit of God that speaks through our blogposts, then the self-same cyber-culture of Quaker blogs can more and more resemble the radical covenant community that God yearns for and that some of us are working to restore.