Sunday, March 19, 2006

Blogging the Rule

I've just begun reading Joan Chittister's book Wisdom Distilled From the Daily: Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today; it "hits the spot," so to speak, where I'm at in my faith life right now.

Chittister notes that Benedictine spirituality is grounded in openness of heart and, in her words, "a willingness to be surprised by God" -- an openness that makes space for regular prayer and reading/hearing of Scripture; for learning; for hospitality.

This is great stuff. But what does it have to do with bloggery?

I've struggled for a long time with how to adequately honor the circles of Christian bloggers in which I travel. This is partly a function of hospitality -- I know I certainly enjoy it when others visit my weblog, and assume that the rest of us feel the same happiness and satisfaction when we connect with other human beings on an intellectual and/or emotional way -- and partly a function of wanting to learn from others; to explore and exchange experiences and insights; to seek to discern together the "whats" and "hows" and "whys" of living in Christian community.

My bloggy circles of friends include people I affectionately refer to as The Instigators, who got me started on this enterprise a little over a year ago, and other bloggers I met via The Instigators' blogrolls; there's the community of Lutheran bloggers; there's the RevGalBlogPals and the Reconciling bloggers. I've never had a real system for visiting others' blogs; if one graphically portrayed my usual blog-hopping, even among my good friends' blogs, it would be reminiscent of the experiments I heard about as a kid, when scientists fed spiders caffeine and then watched them spin frenetic, anarchic freeform webs. The problem with this as-the-mood-strikes method is that it tends to lose people; people with engaging, funny, thoughtful, profound, inspiring posts. To add to that oversight -- sometimes I get busy; busy with myself; that curvatus in se thing. And that is not only disrespectful to others, but it also puts me at risk for becoming too enamored of my own Deep Thoughts,unmediated by the comments and counsel of others -- to, as Chittister puts it, elevate my arrogance to the level of inspiration.

So I'm making an effort to "get out more" in the blogosphere, and make the rounds more consistently, even if it means I don't post here as frequently. Because I think we're all doing something really important here; I think we're "being the Church" in a new and profound way that brings together people of faith who would otherwise never have an opportunity to meet. That's worth quality time and attention, I think.


P.S. (an after-thought) said...

I'm trying to figure out a way to visit blogs that are helpful to me spiritually and somehow to not put the computer at the top of my priority list so often. Quite a hard juggling act.

I'm using bloglines to help me know when a blog I like has a new post. There are some glitches that may be due, not to bloglines, but to the's recent problems.

Kathryn said...

Amen to your last para in particular.
And also to p.softly's comment re not putting the computer at the top of the priority is hard, though.

Songbird said...

Yes, you have something here. I am astounded at the level of connection being made. It's something I don't get in the same way at church, perhaps because I'm the pastor, perhaps for other reasons.
I appreciate your way of putting things.

Rachel's Big Dunk said...

Partly it might be that you are the pastor... but more, I think we are just more brutally honest about stuff in our blogs than we are in real life. The only people I talk to about the stuff I blog about are my husband (bless his patient soul...) and my Spiritual Director (bless HIS patient soul! LOL) My friends sometimes get the abbreviated versions, but folks at my church hardly know anything about me yet.

So, yeah, this blog thing is an interesting way to engage with each other. And yes, I get so much out of being in this little online community.
And yes, I could spend all day online if I didn't watch it! LOL

Katherine said...

I second the Bloglines method. It's a darn good system.

And strangely, I took that Joan Chittister book with me out into the desert last week, but I ended up not even cracking it open. Now perhaps I will.

I, too, am amazed at the connectedness of the blogosphere. With a little intentionality, it really is possible to cultivate true community here.

Thanks for the great post!

HereISit said...

My friend, who has run swiftly from the RC church, still goes to a Benedictine Monastery (?) house once each month. She loves those nuns. I think I need to learn more about this.

Susan Rose, CSJP said...

Bloglines is my friend when it comes to spending time with my blog friends.

I love thinking of blogs as a way of being church.

Christine said...

great observations and great idea. here's to community.

Steph said...

Man, whaddya know? Them Benedictines is good people, ain't they?

Not that I'm biased or anything! :-)

I've especially liked Henri Nouwen's stuff on Hospitality -- thanks for the reminder to post on it sometime!