Tag Archives: blogging

The medium is the message

That was of course Marshall McLuhan bemoaning the vast wasteland of TV. The more serious point is that particular mediums (TV, books, radio, talking, letters) are not just tubes to deliver something, but they mold or form the message itself. Books are solitary, serious and heavy. TV is fast and visual. i.e. you can’t capture Moby Dick on TV.

In regard to the Christian life the medium has meaning when THE WORD is a core concept, when by the foolishness of preaching THE WORD is given. Can you find THE WORD in this new medium of blogging, and if so, how does it effect it?

Ben Myers has an interesting post and journal article on the Blog as a place for theology. He is perhaps uniquely qualified to discuss this because of his blog which was one of the first to practice Theology in this new medium.

Two quotes – “One no longer publishes and defends an authoritative statement; instead, one participates in a continuing conversation in a collective enterprise…a process that foregrounds dialogue, accountability and self-correction.”

To me that is hopeful. It means that the blog foregrounds the need for ongoing repentance. It also means learning to live in a community defined by repentance and absolution. Things that are remarkably similar to what the local congregation is supposed to be, a gathering of sinners seeking God’s Word of absolution and attempting to live it out.

Second Quote – “The fact that one’s writing is not understood as a fixed artifact means one is free to write about many things…in this respect, theological discourse begins to inch closer toward the work of pastors and clergy, who are constantly challenged to utilize their theological resources in order to address new, unanticipated problems and solutions.”

Also somewhat hopeful. We all have a theology whether we know it or not. Theology shouldn’t be strictly formal things. I’m thinking of the biblical instruction to talk about these things when you walk and when you sit, when you lie down and when you rise (Duet 6:7). Anything that encourages that and not a stultifying seriousness is a good freedom. Do we get things wrong? Yep. Is that a big problem? Not if we remember the first point – repentance.

There are several other good observations in the paper, but I’ll leave it there.

Struggling with Words

Its been a while since I put something up. The main reason is that I’ve been struggling with the format vs. the intent. The format of the web or specifically a blog really is an off the cuff give and take medium. Nobody enjoys a good ironic line or scathing bit of satire more than me, but most of the time that is against the intent of a congregation. Irony and Satire are at best 2nd uses of the law. They point out our failings, but unlike other methods, they are rooted in cynicism. We are sinners and this is the best we can ever expect; have a nice life. The intent of a congregation of Jesus is to refute that cynicism while affirming what casuses it. We are sinners, and this is the best we can expect right now. But we live in the hope of the new creation witnessed in the resurrected Jesus. A new creation that is never perfected here, but we certainly see it in changed lives and a million little things done every day at the urging of the Spirit.

The format is also one of speed, and the intent usually requires time. There have been many times I’d have like to put something up, but then said I’d think that goes under a church’s banner. Speed causes mistakes. Speed causes you to say things you regret. The blog is an experimental place first. It is like pan sifting for gold. There are a bunch of rocks that get tossed. That causes problems and stress when you stop to think that this is going under a church’s banner.

All that said, I came accross a quote the Rod Dreher threw up on his site here. I couldn’t not reference it. And start to think that maybe I’m expecting too much. That maybe my conflict is just a poor reason to avoid trying. That Luther’s snarky phrase – “sin boldly” – might not have a better use.

All your dissatisfaction with the Church seems to me to come from an incomplete understanding of sin. This will perhaps surprise you because you are very conscious of the sins of Catholics; however, what you seem actually to demand is that the Church put the kingdom of heaven on earth right here now, that the Holy Ghost be translated at once into all flesh. The Holy Spirit very rarely shows Himself on the surface of anything. You are asking that man return at once to the state God created him in, you are leaving out the terrible radical human pride that causes death. Christ was crucified on earth and the Church is crucified in time, and the Church is crucified by all of us, by her members most particularly because she is a Church of sinners. … All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful. Priests resist it as well as others. To have the Church be what you want it to be would require the continuous miraculous meddling of God in human affairs, whereas it is our dignity that we are allowed more or less to get on with those graces that come through faith and the sacraments and which work through our human nature. God has chosen to operate in this manner. We can’t understand this but we can’t reject it without rejecting life.

Human nature is so faulty that it can resists any amount of grace and most of the time it does. The Church does well to hold her own; you are asking that she show a profit. When she shows a profit you have a saint, not necessarily a canonized one. I agree with you that you shouldn’t have to go back centuries to find Catholic thought, and to be sure, you don’t. But you are not going to find the highest principles of Catholicism exemplified on the surface of life nor the highest Protestant principles either. It is easy for any child to pick out the faults in the sermon on his way home from Church every Sunday. It is impossible for him to find out the hidden love that makes a man, in spite of his intellectual limitations, his neuroticism, his own lack of strength, give ups hi life to the service of God’s people, however bumblingly he may go about it.

It is what is invisible that God sees and that the Christian must look for. Because he knows the consequences of sin, he knows how deep in you have to go to find love. … You don’t serve God by saying: the Church is ineffective, I’ll have none of it. Your pain at its lack of effectiveness is a sign of your nearness to God. We help overcome this lack of effectiveness simply by suffering on account of it.

To expect too much is to have a sentimental view of life, and this is a softness that ends in bitterness. Charity is hard and endures; I don’t want to discourage you from reading St. Thomas but don’t read him with the notion that he is going to clear anything up for you. That is done by study but more by prayer.