Originally posted at Gathering Voices: Faith Conversations from TheThoughtfulChristian.com
Shortly after I began blogging four years ago, I often found myself explaining what a blog actually was. Many people, I found out, had heard of blogs but never actually read one. These days, when someone finds out I’m a blogger, people are more apologetic than inquisitive. “Oh, I should really do that, I know,” they’ll say, “I just don’t have the time.” What a difference four years makes.
I don’t actually think everyone should blog any more than I think everyone should have a dog or have a taste for cheese curds. Yes, bad blogging can be narcissistic and reactionary. Yes, blogging takes time that could be spent otherwise. But as a pastor and pilgrim, I find blogging both feeds my soul and sharpens my skills for service.
In Bird by Bird, a fantastic reflective book on writing and life, Anne Lamott pens a chapter entitled “Looking Around.” I first read the book for a seminary preaching class, our professor emphasizing the qualities of good writing for strong sermons. Years later, upon becoming a regular writer beyond sermons, I still think of this chapter fairly often as it aptly describes an important element in my blogging and other writing: looking around. Lamott writes:
Writing is about learning to pay attention and to communicate what is going on….The writer is a person who is standing apart, like the cheese in “The Farmer in the Dell” standing there alone but deciding to take a few notes. You’re outside, but you can see things up close through your binoculars. Your job is to present clearly your viewpoint, your line of vision. Your job is to see people as they really are, and to do this, you have to know who you are in the most compassionate possible sense. Then you can recognize others. (97-98)
Most good writing — including blogging — calls the writer to assess her place in the world and consider others. It requires slowing down; thinking. Good writing comes to those who wait.
Lamott’s image of the cheese standing alone rings true for me, because blogging and writing does take a certain apartness. For me at least, I find that I must stand alone to look carefully at how we stand together. That said, blogging is about making connections, connections between ideas and connections between people. Countless times, a comment on my blog will call me to reassess a perviously-held thought, or take me to another more considered position. Links and ideas posted on other blogs inform my writing, my preaching, and my daily life. Friendships with other bloggers — some of whom I’m met in person, many of whom I haven’t — enrich my life and deepen my community.
In brief: I blog so that I might live more faithfully. You don’t have to if you don’t want to. But I do hope, in whatever way works best for you, you can find practices that help you look around, that enable you to see the world with complexity, so that you might recognize others and the God who is working in all our lives, even now.
Additional Resources from www.TheThoughtfulChristian.com
- Travelling Mercies, by Anne Lamott
- Grace (Eventually), by Anne Lamott
- “Writing as Prayer: Journaling, Blogging, and Other Tools for Reflection,” by Lisa Nichols Hickman (Youth Study)
- “Journaling as a Spiritual Discipline,” by Delia Halverson (Adult Study)