Fellow blogger Wess Daniels of Gathering in Light responds to the questions raised at the end of the previous post with queries of his own.
Though Wess interpreted the original questions as defensive, in an online exchange with him I explained that I knew the hearts of each Friend who had attended the adult education program; and that I was moved by their curiosity and genuine amazement for how some Friends are able to dedicate the time to read and participate thoughtfully in the online conversation.
This guest piece is a reprint of Wess' original comment, and is posted here with his permission. The questions to which Wess refers start this post for easier reference. -Liz
Does the internet break down or undermine face-to-face interaction and genuine person-to-person contact?
If "all of us" are always blogging (or emailing or...), who's doing any listening?
What do we give up in our life in order to have time to use the internet for email, blogging, and so on?
What made us start to blog? Why do we continue blogging?
Is the quickness of the internet and the convenience of post-comment-respond a good thing?
Are traditional Quaker journals and magazines (e.g. Friends Journal) weakening in their content as a result of blogs?
I'm surprised how defensive the majority of those questions are - they all seem to come from a position of trying to protect something, a holding back, as opposed to a digging in, on the offense kind of approach.
I hope that Quakers can begin to lead the pack again in various ways of communicating, as we once did with the first Publishers of Truth, as well as other ways of engaging our world. We can't afford to be on the defensive for much longer, I am afraid that in many ways the world has already passed us by.
This isn't to say we adopt every new thing whole-heartedly and without reflection - but queries of discipline and discernment are different than self-preservation and defense. Maybe I've read the questions wrong, but I feel as though our questions reflect how we feel about our witness to the world and seems to assume God couldn't be in any of this.
Why not ask where is God working in this? What do these rising communities and online culture teach us about the Spirit of God? Or how is Gospel Order displayed within these new spheres? What does it look like, and mean, for one to be a Quaker blogger? Are there any virtues and characteristics that make our witness in this way to the world Christ-like? Or are we just like everybody else? And yes, what ways are these technologies oppressive and go against God's work in the world?
I am also curious as to how many people actually read our academic Journals? I personally read that stuff as much as possible, my world is surrounded by those things, and I certainly hope (even though I am a blogger) that a blog doesn't replace the work of the academy anytime soon!
But on the other hand, don't blogs make the message free for all, accessible to all, and again stress the importance of the "laity," to use a hierarchical term? I think lay-theology, if we dare call it that, is essential to the Quaker tradition.
Another question would be in what ways have our magazines, and academic periodicals put up false walls between us by only communicating the messages that suite the institutions which preside over those publications? Are there any convergent publications? (I do believe there are a couple) But, how much more have we discovered by hearing the voices and stories of those who are outside the walls of our various Quaker institutions by the free access to blogs which anyone, from any branch can write and read easily?
I hope we continue to forge ahead, and press into our calling to be a light to the world by engaging it in radical ways.
For me, I blog to share my own story and write theology that subverts the powers of both the world and the church in the Spirit and love of Christ.