Monday, September 08, 2008

Why I'm A Blogger

Friend and PC(UCA) Moderator Bruce Reyes-Chow asked several folks to blog on why blog (See his entry Three Ways to Stay Connected). So thinking about it here's why I blog and what I get out of it and how I enjoy it.

1. I originally started blogging, following some discussions in a learning group with Bruce, to for two principal reasons: First) to try to foster relationships and empower new forms of discussion in and for the Christian Faith Community that I serve as pastor, and Two) to share my cynically dark sense of humor on current events. I started doing posts on "Blogging Towards Sunday" seeking to involve church community folks in a conversation around the scripture passages I'd preach on the following Sunday. My friend Marshallite did some things like this with the youth group communities she pastored. I quickly discovered that very few, if any, members of my church actually ever read my blog. I did quickly find that many neighborhood folks who call our church their "church" even if they don't ever come enjoyed my comments and snarkily expressed views of what is happening and and around Oakland and the neighborhoods of the city that I consider my parish context.

2. My most viewed entries have either presented funny home-made videos of my kids performing HSM songs, or focused around school issues, in particular the season I wrote about trying to get my daughter into a not-failing public school and the middle-class angst/guilt I felt for only being able to provide a public school in the area of our $400,000+ mortgaged-house and not in the areas of the $1,000,000+ mortgages in Oakland. I think it struck a nerve. My other highly visited and commented areas also include articles written about the emerging/gentrifying aspects of the parts of Oakland in which I move, work and live - it's my amateur way of doing investigative journalism that encourages local heroes and shopping. (I only wish I was as on the ball as the blogger at A Better Oakland). I also have had a lot of visits and conversation when I've done a Read The Bible Every Day Challenge (each year during Lent). It seems to have involved new and old-hat readers of the Bible in a quick way to experiment with this spiritual practice. The other largely viewed spirituality-related postings came from a series and class I taught at our church entitled R U A Heretic? It seems like the shorter and sweeter the faith-related postings are, the more likely folks will read and interact with them.

3. I love to blog because in a sense it's my journal, one of the primary ways in which I make meaning of my life of faith by following Jesus in an urban context, raising children in public school, working as a pastor and trying to make a difference in the universe by my presence all while trying to laugh at myself. I do edit things a bit. Not everything needs to be out there. And I find that I have many deep conversations, both in monologues, and in dialogues (Corn Dog is my biggest online discussion partner), that help me work out what I think, what I'm feeling and what I'm sensing as going on around me. I've learned much more about what it means to be present as pastor, or as "El jefe of our hood", through dialogue online with people who call the church I serve spiritual home, the church or their membership, or just that church on the corner. It's Buechner who wrote (my paraphrase), where the deepest desires of our hearts and the deepest needs of the world meet is where God calls us to be actively present. In the end, the blogging I started ended up being more about me, and inviting others to participate in my working out of that mystery of the will of God online, than it was about my original intention to involve others in discussions about faith. Yet maybe they're actually the same. I just had viewed and planned it in a backwards upside down way.

Here's some other Presbyterian Folks answering this Why Blog Question (Carol, Jan and Bruce)

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