After I posted and tweeted about the new Common English Bible, I was invited to participate in a “blog-tour” for the new translation. I don’t think this makes me particularly special; it seems anyone who wants to can participate. In any event, what participating bloggers are asked to do is to post entries during the next few months that make use of the CEB in some way or another–such as commenting on Bible verses or discussing the translation. While the guidelines are quite flexible and there’s no minimum number of posts required, I should note that the publisher provided me with a complimentary thinline copy of the CEB.
What I thought I’d do to participate is adapt a practice from a small group I was in a few years ago. We would meet on Wednesday evenings to read, reflect on, and discuss the gospel lesson for the upcoming Sunday. So my plan, during Advent, is to post on the appointed gospel lesson for the upcoming week (as determined by the Revised Common Lectionary). These will be loosely structured meditations based on my response to the text. It should be a nice way to “test drive” the CEB and a good spiritual discipline for me in its own right. My plan is to post these on Wednesdays during Advent (I realize I’ve already missed a week).
The publisher also says that I can give away one free softcover copy of the CEB every week that I write a post participating in the blog tour. I figure that it would be fairest for it to go to the first person to comment on that week’s post. So, the first person to comment who wants one will need to provide their mailing address to me in an e-mail, which I’ll forward to the publisher.
I’m sorry to see that Marvin is apparently hanging up his blogging spurs, although I understand and respect his reasons for doing so. Still, it’s a loss for those of us who’ve been edified by his writing but aren’t part of the academic or religious milieus where he plans to re-focus his energy. I have some hope though. Blogging is a bit like the mafia–no matter how hard you try to get out, it finds a way of dragging you back in.
One reason Marvin offers for quitting is that his blog had become a place for venting anger rather than for constructive writing. Although personally I rarely found his posts to have an angry tone, I agree that there’s a danger of blogging being nothing more than a forum for angry rants. Over time, I’ve become less interested in the “someone is wrong on the Internet” model of blogging and drawn toward an a more exploratory approach focused on working through texts or ideas and hopefully coming to some clearer understanding of things. In other words, less polemic and more inquiry. Which is not to say that I always succeed, but it’s definitely the direction I’ve found my energies going in.
I just realized that July 1st marked the 7th anniversary of my blogging efforts. I started out on a Blogspot site (“Verbum Ipsum”) and migrated over to WordPress and A Thinking Reed a few years later. (All the archives have been imported to this site.) I’ve been at it more or less continuously ever since 2004, with only one or two breaks of any significant length.
Sometimes I ask myself why I continue to blog, particularly as the blogosphere has become so diversified and specialized. For instance, there are lots of theology blogs by clergy, academic theologians, and others with much more impressive credentials than me. What can I possibly add to their conversation? The only persuasive rationale I can come up with is that (a) every Christian is called to think about and reflect on their faith; (b) I like having an outlet for stuff I’m thinking about, particularly what I’m reading; and (c) blogging has enabled me to connect with a handful of like-minded folks with whom to compare notes–something that’s not always easy to find in “real” life.
I’m less persuaded that blogging about other things, like politics, is worth the effort. Partly that’s because politics just isn’t as close to my heart as other things I like to write about. To the extent that I am still interested in thinking and writing about politics, it’s the higher-level questions about what makes for a just and sustainable society–not the day-to-day Democrat vs. Republican stuff–that interest me. (I follow day-to-day politics, but I don’t feel like I usually have anything particularly interesting to say about it.)
There’s also the development of social media–sites like Facebook and Twitter now absorb a lot of the energy that people might once have put into blogging. While I use both those services, I don’t think either one can really replace blogging. Facebook I see as a more informal setting for interacting with friends or family, particularly those I don’t see often. Twitter is useful as a “micro”-blogging platform and has made the link-plus-sentence-of-commentary blog post more or less obsolete. It also can generate some interesting online conversations. But neither one allows for the development of a more formal and extended argument or line of thought, something blogs are much better suited for. In fact, one of the most frustrating things about Twitter, in my view, is how it virtually forces people to resort to unsupported assertion much of the time. There are real limits to the value of that kind of conversation.
When it’s all said and done, I guess I continue to blog because I like to read and I like to write about the things I’m reading and thinking about. If I wasn’t doing it here, I’d be doing it in a notebook or journal. But the blog, because it’s public, forces me to be a bit more polished and to clarify my thought more than I would in those other mediums. And it facilitates interaction with interesting people, some of whom I would now consider friends. Not a terrible way to spend one’s free time.
I’ve updated the blogroll, mostly pruning some sites that’ve become dormant. (My rule of thumb is that a site is dormant if nothing new has been posted in 6 months or more.) As always, I’m happy to re-link if a site becomes active again.
Added later: I’ve also removed the Twitter widget from the sidebar, which seemed to me to be unnecessary clutter. I’m assuming that anyone who’s interested in my Twitter feed probably follows it elsewhere. But if anyone finds the Twitter display on the blog particularly valuable, let me know.