Thursday, February 10, 2011

Where Christian blogging inevitably gets into trouble

Have nothing to do with stupid and senseless controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, patient, correcting opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth, and that they may escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. II Timothy 2:23-26

This passage from the Daily Office reminds me that blogging uses controversies (even stupid, senseless ones) to attract looks. Staying mired in quarrels makes it easier to find material and readers.

A blog is not all that effective for conveying kindness or patient, gentle correction - indeed, it is not well suited to building the kind or relationship that allows for such depth of conversation.

A blog can be a forum for apt teaching, and sometimes a well turned phrase or fresh presentation of an idea will help a reader escape the devil's snares.


Just Me said...

I think I've begun to see some transformation in this area over the past few months. Although certainly not all, I find that many Christian bloggers are either a) taking a break from blogging or b) redirecting the content of their blogs to more uplifting than controversial. It's a good change.

I have also found (as far as my blog goes) that the posts with the highest # of hits are the ones that offer hope proving that above all; it's hope that people thirst for the most.

The Underground Pewster said...

One person's gentle persuasion is another's senseless quarrel.

Not that Paul was one to back down from a good "argument"...

caheidelberger said...

Well, you don't have to stay mired in old quarrels. Be creative: think up fresh new quarrels! ;-)

Matt Perkins said...

Fr. Fountain,
This is a struggle for me as I admit I get some enjoyment out of posting controversial stuff, although I usually don't feel completely right about it. Thanks for the admonition here and the reminder of what obedience to God in blogging should look like.

Dale Matson said...

The most hits our blog gets are on political articles. As the primary author, watching the graphs that chart page views go up is a heady wine. I wrote an entire book from blog postings that were for comfort and exhortation. Having said that however, I believe that what some of the posters here have to say is frankly more articulate and honest than people such as the ABC (I guess that's a political statement). There is too much group think at the top and I appreciate blogs and comments from you folks. Even criticism when done with originality or humor is an art form. Look at Mark Twain. Why shouldn't we help shape the WWAC with what we say? Fr. Dale Matson

TLF+ said...

Thanks for the good comments so far. I don't see this passage as a condemnation of blogging by any stretch. It just lays out the reality and, I think, some real limits of what we can hope to achieve.

It's like what Paul wrote about married life - it makes demands that will always create tensions with one's spiritual life. He doesn't say, "And here's what to do about that" - it is a given.

Same, I think, with blogging. We will sometimes use wit or a jeremiad to a good purpose. Other times, our words will cross that invisible line and just be vain and offensive. That's just what is.

For the Christian this is not different than any other aspect of life. And it is why we all rely on Christ's mercy at the end of the day and, if we are attentive to it, will become more merciful toward others.