10 January 2009


Well, On a Wing and a Prayer recently celebrated it's 100th post. I had a "massive" celebration planned, I had a special post all written, and had researched all these ridiculous facts about the past year or so, things that have happened on the site, visitors, comments, and so on...It was meant to be a lighthearted look back at the past 100 entries, and a hopeful look into the future, and the next however many entries there will be.

But the magical number 100 passed my by, and so I was going to delay it for two, and poke further fun at the random and completely unusual things that sometimes happen like that. So it was turned into 100 (plus 2) celebration, with even more of the ridiculous facts and corny trivia about OWP. I don't think I'm going to anymore. But this is post number 103, for those of you counting.

Earlier this week I came upon a conversation happening over at Steve Carter's blog, and it caught me short. Steve used to be in charge of the student ministry at Mars Hill, but he is in the middle of moving to another faith community in California. On his blog, he has been doing a series on "stolen teachings", exploring copyright issues concerning religious teachings. The post I stumbled upon was a guest post by Matt Laidlaw, another youth pastor at Mars Hill.

Matt talked about how he thinks this whole discussion is missing the point a bit. It is not our teaching in the first place, so who are we to complain and bicker and argue about who said what first? When we do that, we are treating these teachings not as the life-giving thing that they in fact are, but rather as mere commodities, to be traded, bought, and sold. Obviously there needs to be mechanisms in place to protect against outright theft of ideas, but when considering intellectual property, we must, must, must remember that all this has been given to us by God, and is therefore not ours to begin with.

One of Matt's points concerned the blogging community, and deserves to be quoted at length:

"Some of us like to hear the sound of our own voice. Some people like to see the look of our own typed words. Deep down we all want to think and feel as if our insight and ideas are worth hearing. For some of us in our darkest moments, this is why we’re energized by teaching. For others of us, this is why we blog. As innocent and helpful as blogging might seem on the surface, isn’t it also a dangerous venture?

In Blog World, our experiences define reality. Research, resources, and the consultation of others hold little to no value in the eyes of the average Internet surfer or blog reader. Wisdom and truth are in the eyes of the blogger and the reader, and external verification holds no weight. Meaning: we really have no idea what truth lies behind the written words, what the real story is, or if the thoughts presented could legitimately hold any water.

The nature of blogging allows us to be irresponsible with our ideas and the ideas of others. We can say anything we want, any time we want, about anything or anybody we want. There is no authority—not really—holding us accountable if our ideas are ill-conceived, misinformed, or unoriginal. Blogs run the risk of being nothing more than pooled ignorance, stolen ideas, and vain attempts to prove our talents important and our lives valuable.

Blogging allows everyone to become a “writer”. Not only does this self-proclaimed title carry with it a false sense of worth from a false giver of value; it fuels a destructive and universal self-centeredness. Now that I am a “writer”, and my “work” is out there for the world to see, I have to keep “writing”. Now that I’ve created a false audience for my life to be lived in front of, people “need” to know what I’m doing, how I’m feeling, and what I’m thinking all the time. This behavior, whether I find it in myself or in others, must be called what it is: immature, disgusting, and sinful."

Ouch. Serious, bone-jarring, gut-wrenching ouch.

If I am being honest with myself, I can see me in that quote, as clearly as if I'm looking at a mirror.

So many times I have convinced myself that I am super-insightful, that I am finding a new way to enlighten the world, that the world needs to read my blog. And sitting alone at a laptop is perfect for convincing yourself that you have an army of voracious readers, hungry for every single tidbit you toss through cyberspace in their general direction.

I try not to be careless in my writing, I try to research everything before I post, I try to express the truth as I see it in an honest and forthright way.

But behind all that, deeper and darker and way past that in the depths of my very being, I blog because I am still chasing cool.

So I wonder: is this blog about me? Or is it about something bigger? Is it about my words? Or is it about the Word that has been around since Creation? Do I have the right motivation? Or am I merely a clanging gong?

And if it is about the Word, then why should I care about the number of posts? Why should I care about the number of visitors, or the number of comments, or the farthest-away-from-me-on-the-globe visitor I've had?

So I'm going to delete my "party" post.

Instead, I will offer this prayer:

That God's Word may shine through my broken, sometimes rambling, mostly sincere, always human attempts at expressing His Truth.



Ted M. Gossard said...

I like your prayer and fully concur with that.

Yes, motives are important, and it's also important for us to be what we are in Jesus, regardless of how that falls out and is received, or not received. I kind of see it like that.

I do like to both learn from others, like Scot McKnight, and from others, and I like to share what I've learned or am learning. And I like something of the fellowship this can provide, at least a kind of blogging fellowship.

But I see "truth" in Jesus and bringing it out as largely a matter of doing so as it is fitting and needed. I'm less in "real" every day life to share this and that about what I'm studying or even learning in my life in God with others, unless it has a good reason, as in edifying the other. And I'm seeking to remaining open to always being edified myself.

But your post and references to others is quite thought provoking indeed.

Mason said...

Challenging post Wingnut,
I think it is important for all of us in the blogosphere to do a reality check of our motives. If done correctly I think it can be a way of sharing and communicating with people we would not otherwise be in contact with who share some of our concerns and passions, as such we can strengthen, challenge, and grow one another.
However, you are right that it is far to easy to make it not about community and honoring Christ, but about personal attention and pride. I heartily second your prayer that God might use my flawed efforts here to his glory, and not my own.