Posted by: rogermitchell | June 15, 2010

What blogging can’t do

Eating out with good friends at the Glass House in Ambleside last night [good food by the way next time you are in the Lakes] one of them raised the accessibility discussion about this blog. She made the important point that for so many people in the repositioned ecclesia, blogs like mine, Martin Scott’s and others are being  accessed in lieu of adequate local and immediate friendship and relationship where iron sharpens iron. These situations used to be provided by regular gathered expressions of the ecclesia at their best and are now lost to many in the current transition. The problem is that blogs don’t seem to lend themselves to thinking out loud like those situations, or last night’s discussion round the table did. In the intimacy of friendly discussion it is easier to say outrageous, personal or controversial things without giving them the undue weight or risk of misunderstanding that applies to going into print in the public arena. On top of this, non-verbal communication,  facial expression, body language, extraneous happenings are all pretty much lost to bloggers. This got me thinking and I would like to make several observations and see where it goes.

Firstly, I think my friend is right and that blogs are being used in this way and are a poor substitute for this in many ways [she also made the point that so is internet social networking generally, but I am not in a position to comment on that as I don’t currently engage in it myself outside of the blogging experience].

Secondly, I hope that the discussions and encounters via this blog, known and unknown, will interface with the various events here at the friary, the visits many of us make with each other and the occasional gatherings and intentional events where the repositioned ecclesia connect, including of course our interface with open and functioning expressions of the more regularly gathered configurations of the ecclesia from time to time.

Thirdly, I am aware that some visitors to this blog are part of gathered expressions of church who are hopefully using it to supplement good experiences of relational communication with others in their particular part of the body.

Fourthly I will keep trying to humanise and lighten the blog despite the divine mandate for mindset change and support that is my current motivation for communicating in this way.

I value your feedback as ever. Oh and as far as possible let’s create space on the web for one another to think provisionally, be catalysts for one another and take one another seriously enough not to take each other too seriously if you get my drift!



  1. There’s definitely something in this. For me the idea of social networking online helps me stay a bit closer to my very dispersed circles of friends. Blogs like this one I see slightly differently. But, I do have an uneasy relationship to blogging for some of the reasons outlined above. I think that’s why I don’t have one. In all of this, the relationships pre-exist online conversation. If I didn’t know you so well I probably wouldn’t be responding here or would be doing so with more self-censorship. It’s a way fif me to stay engaged with where a mate is at.

    I suppose I see less trouble with the online medium and more with the possibility that the cyberworld becomes a new esoteric/abstract space where we might escape from reality. God forbid! Didn’t we used to call that ‘church’?

  2. Should have also said – it’s also good to chat with others here who I don’t otherwise know!

  3. I like the aspect of being able to interact with others that I couldn’t possibly have got to know otherwise too. I do blog, every week, but more as a catalogue of what I am doing but sometimes I have to write a note to keep on my computer that would never be published, because things happen that it would not be right to post but still need recording. God told me to keep a record so that is what I am doing.

  4. I do blog but mainly as a sort of diary and a place to rant.I also use social media ie facebook twitter but these are mainly designed as a specific way of communicating that does not lend itself to iron sharpening iron.We can lend support (facebook campaigns) we can communicate our passions to others but it is very easy to be misunderstood.Things written in jest can be taken in anger and so on.
    I see the web as a place for communicating in certain ways but the real depth we need comes only from face to face.

  5. As someone who has been blogging for two years, I have found it a great way of ‘thinking aloud’. And though I would love to receive more comments, I am probably guilty of not responding enough to other blogs.

  6. Roger: I spent the morning scratching my head on this one rather than focusing on the archives (1580’s and how to manage rainwater) that I presumably was reading. So, ummm, blogging vs face to face communication. Humans obviously evolved for face to face sociality, our brains are very geared to that, both language and gestures (if you wish to separate them). However, we have a long history of communicating via notes, or other forms of written communication when there is a distance between parties. We obviously need both. Blogging is simply a newer form of writing letters both to people you already know and to new acquaintances. Blogging cannot take the place of face to face communication, no written communication at a distance can.

    But that is not what left me scratching my head. There is kind of an assumption that I think underlies your blog. You can correct me if I misread it. But what I read was an implication that if we are not in face to face contact with other ‘Christians’ be they involved in formal or informal expressions of ecclesia, then we fail to be sharpened and honed rightly. That leaves me baffled.

    Isn’t the whole point of God wrenching open the doors of the church, and in a sense driving some of us outward, isn’t it to make us engage less with Christians and more with those who never use the term? And in those interactions, with a whole variety of people, will I not be challenged and sharpened too? In other words, is it only in contact, face to face, with ‘Christians’, that God can work in me and change me? I hope not. I’m here in Italy. I have no idea who is and is not a Christian. I interact with all sorts of folks and all of them at one point or another challenge me, my assumptions about life, and how I behave.

    I suspect for most of us who are using these various blog forums as a place to work through our thinking, these are not a substitute for real, face to face relationships. We likely have those in our lives. And we are challenged by them in a variety of ways. I suggest your blog, and Martin Scott’s, for me anyway, are places to engage in very specific discussions using specific language. I can discuss many of the same things with other people but not with the same language or the assumption of a shared cultural background of evangelical/charismatic church experience.

    I think we are meant to be out there, engaging with all sorts of folks in the world, many of whom long for the Kingdom without our language. The blog is a place to also challange my thinking, and expose me to new things, which I will then carry right back out into my face to face conversations and relationships.

    Did I mangle that or did it make sense? I was, of course, thinking out loud.

    • Hear hear. This ‘Christian’ boundary lives on in the subtleties of our thought. It must suffer violence.

  7. The question of the ‘Christian boundary’ is a vital one which I hoped would be raised. It is such a key issue for the repositioned ecclesia that I will make this a separate blog post as soon as I get to it over the next day or two. I certainly recognise that ‘iron sharpens iron’ applies across the board and is certainly not the prerogative of conversations between fellow believers. In fact some supposed fellow believers manifestly are no such thing. The ghetto needs blowing up for sure, which is actually what the resurrection did as demonstrated in the resurrected Jesus’ ability to appear and disappear through walls. But I still reckon that there are some positive Christian boundaries! More anon

  8. I read what you wrote Roger, in the same way as Cheryl. I couldn’t have commented as well as she has but I totally agree with her and you and therefore I also say ‘hear hear’ to Stephen’s comment about taking that mindset by violence. A really good conversation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: