Having a blog does not make one a blogger.
I was reminded of this some months ago when Rachel Held Evans, after admitting her “diligent investigation” into a particular controversy she was writing about was not very diligent, claimed that she was not a blogger but a writer. I appreciated her admission.
A blogger writes but is more than a writer.
A blogger is not journalist.
A blogger is not a reporter.
A blogger has a much, much, higher calling.
Ten years ago (August 31, 2005) I wrote a post called The Spirituality of Blogging, based on my talk at Greenbelt Festival in UK called How Shall We Then Blog?. Today I want to revisit the theme of sacred blogging or blogging as a sacred, spiritual, ethical art, and located ten roles of a blogger that are in the back of my mind and act as a kind of litmus test for the the blogs I post.
THE HIGH CALLING OF A BLOGGER
A blogger looks deeply finds the sublime, the ineffable, the hidden beauty or truth beyond the obvious. Blogging is a spiritual task and it involves deep reflection on the topic and the purging of trivia. Blogging offline, where you can sharpen your thoughts, is a good practice and avoids saying things that are worthless or damaging.
A journalist stays at a safe distance from the story to maintain an element (or illusion) of objectivity. The blogger is a participant in the story and tells it from their perspective as an active part in the truth discovery process. “What we have heard, what our eyes have seen, what our hands have touched . . . we proclaim to you (
The blogger is a voice for the voiceless, a raiser of awareness, a spotlight into injustice, an activist for peace and the truth of stories. Our blogging makes a difference in the world.
Blog conversation gravitates towards the gutters of extremity, pushing voices to one side or another, attracting responses from the margins of either side of a viewpoint. This is to be expected when our platform is composed of binary digits of 0’s and 1’s. The blogger has a viewpoint which is released into the blogosphere but also finds herself finding middle ground between the polarities, helping moderate commenters to understand each other respectfully.
Our canvas is pixels and space. On that canvas we push those pixels into images, words, videos, audio and create a unique moment of art. We create something out nothing, add order to random scattered thoughts and memes, aggregate ideas into opportunities for readers to think differently. We are pixel artists on a new platform in which no Michangelo has yet appeared. How exciting!
I was called this recently by Phyllis Tickle and although I took some offence at being called acerbic (and offence at having to look up the definition of the word) I have come to take it as a compliment (as Phyllis intended it) and to see it as one of the high callings of blogging – we are not salespeople pushing a product, we are not blind fans raving about our heroes or subjects, we are not uncritical thinkers, we are not passive keyboard bitches to be utilized for promoting the books of authors for which a more positive review might get more readers and possibly higher associate earnings. We are chroniclers of histories that will be read for decades and, placed side by side with other chronicles, will add a multi-coloured perspective to history that has never existed in books.
I almost said “fund raiser” which would be a crass description of our occasion role is garnering assistance to worthy projects, but that is also, sometimes, part of our role as we steal attention from the leading voices of the industrial complex and shift eyeballs to situations more pressing and more urgent than what is simply trendy. We bring ears to calls of distress. We tell money where it is needed most. We remind important people of the truly important people under their management.
In seeking the truth we find ourselves telling the truth. Not for gain, not for ego-stroking. But because truth is what corresponds to reality and we blog what is real. Of course our blog posts are never completely true but often depend on the commenters to help shift our truths forward and upward and outward, which we invite rather than delete. To blog is to find oneself on a common journey towards what is truer, a journey shared by bloggers who agree with us, with bloggers who disagree with us, and with our precious commenters who keep us honest.
To build a blog following is to create a community around a subject or moment or movement. A community that was not there before. We bloggers are at the same time focalizers and vocalizers of our topic as well as supporters and groupies in other communities that form around the same topic. We create a safe space to share the stuff of life. We build relationships that endure beyond consensus of our topics. We are pulled into the struggles of our readers and share their pain as well as their successes.
We are persistent in our pilgrimage for a fuller story, we scan the blogosphere for alternative stories, and while we may offer a few small pieces of truth, we are honest enough with ourselves to admit our own biases, incompetences, blind spots, and therefore we see our blog posts as stepping stones towards a truer truth. Persistent, perennial research informs our contributions and matures our viewpoints.
Lets keep the standard high, shall we?