Saturday, June 6, 2009
Episcobloggers: Ministry or menace?
Last night I spent the evening with a group of about 17 or so bloggers whose blogs center on the Episcopal Church or ministry in general. It was good fun, good conversation, good food and most of all an incarnation of friendships and colleagues that have developed in the Epsicoblogosphere over the past few years.
The conversations did not really include much of what is going on in the church. It was more of a filling out of the partial knowledge we have of one another on line. I walked into the restaurant not knowing anyone there and yet before I could even introduce myself—someone said “You’re Muthah+” I didn’t have to tell them my name. They recognized me and welcomed me into their band of brothers and sisters, some of whom have met before.
On HOB/D, the Bishops/Delegate list serve were several complaints from those from N. Michigan complaining that it was the internet that ‘did in’ their bishop-elect who did not get the required approbations from the dioceses and bishops of the church. Yes, there was much discussion on blogs and list-serves about how the bishop had been chosen and about his qualifications for bishop in the Church. And as one commentator suggested, this is what happens in a world in which information is instantaneously available.
Whether the bishop-elect is right for his diocese or not is not the point of this post. Nor is the way that he was elected. What is important is that blogging, facebook, twittering, youtube, etc. are here whether we like it or not. It is the way that human beings connect in our world today. It is an easy way to communicate. It is an important way to discuss issues that face us. It is an awesome tool of evangelism.
But with that awesome tool comes a need for responsibility among those of us who blog. The most important piece of responsibility is the demand for accuracy and truth in what we say. Otherwise, what we say can be rolled into what is nothing more than the back fence. What I learned in meeting my fellow bloggers is how they too understand the ethics and responsibility in ministry online
Most bloggers are well aware that what they say is their own opinion. They are the ones who take on various ecclesial, theological, scriptural, historical issues of our church and discuss them. Some of us older clergy find in blogging memories of those discussions over suds at the closest bar to the seminary. But today the conversations are “out there”, available to anyone who wishes to sign in. They are not confined to the clergy. No longer are discussions regional. They are global. They include lay and clergy alike. In many ways this is more like the era when the reformers took their issues to the printed page in the 16th century.
What I found in meeting those online friends was how clearly we care about the church and how much we appreciate the community of the church online. The community of online church does gravitate to the real presence. It is clear that just online conversation is not enough. We long to know the incarnational Christ that resides in each one of us.
There are those, and I am guessing it is those in the church who are older, who find the openness of internet disturbing. They are those who wish to either maintain the Church as it was, or they want to control the conversations about the church. I was part of the Roman Catholic Church back in the bad ole' days when controling the message of the Church was paramount in their concept of their vocation. Truth was only what they said it was even when the evidence proved otherwise.
Today's Church is calling for transparency and openness. They are calling the leaders of the church to be trustworthy and welcoming. Whether we gather incarnationally or whether we gather technologically, the fact is that we gather and share what it means to be Christ's own together. The Gospel is proclaimed and shared. We are about ministry in Christ's name. Get on board.