State of the blog address

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.

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