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all in the (blogging) family?

In John's weekly profile of Methodist bloggers for Locusts and Honey, one of the questions he always asks is: Can you name a major moral, political, or intellectual issue on which you've changed your mind?I responded saying that most of my views on issues have changed at least somewhat over time, been nuanced differently, matured in ways. I think all of us probably change and grow, sometimes for better, sometimes in less positive ways.

I began thinking: what makes us change? What influences us to take a step in a new direction? For example, I used to think vegetarians were silly. Then I became one. And now I'm a vegan. My prostletizing-vegan brother was one big influence in that decision, and other things led to this decision as well - many factors, to make a gradual shift in my thinking.

Then I think about the conversations that go on in blogs in the comments section. I love blogging, and I love reading the blogs of others of all different viewpoints. Some of my favorite blogs are those with views who are most different than my own - I'm drawn by intelligent and/or hilariously witting writing. And readers of my own blog often comment that they don't agree with much I say, but still enjoy my blog. In my mind, this is one of the most valuable parts of blogging - bringing together of people who otherwise aren't usually together.

Where I turn less appreciate of blog conversations is when it seems like we're all saying the same things all the time. Talking, posting, commenting at each other instead of with each other. I hold myself part of this group, of course. Recently I've been joining in (a little) and following (a lot) a post Shane made at Wesleyblog, since, as a board member, my ears always perk up for GBCS-related posts. My comments and the comments of others are interesting, but the same, it seems, as the comments and posts we make about other related things. If Jim Winkler says something, some will have one (predictable) reaction and others will have a different (predictable) one. If George Bush says something, I'll have one (predictable) reaction and others will have a different (predictable) one.

This is when I get frustrated. Do we have anything new to say? Can even blogs be a channel of growth and change instead of a channel for having the same conversations over and over again?

What makes you change your views on things? How have others opened your eyes to a different way of thinking? Maybe blogs don't need to be agents of change, but it'd be cool if they could be...


Shane Raynor said…
You make some good points about how we get in a rut sometimes and don't say anything new. That's why I'm trying to devote less posts to cases where church leaders say foolish things because it's happening more and more often! I'd never write about anything else. I post the same things repeatedly, and people make the same comments repeatedly, because Jim Winkler (and Bob Edgar) say the same kinds of things repeatedly. And almost exclusively, these remarks are aligned politically with the Democratic party. The only reason I highlight them is so people will know what's going on and hopefully do something to hold church leaders accountable. But you're right about overkill. Personally, I'd much rather post about more positive stuff. Maybe Jim Winkler could find some things to rail against that more of us could agree on?
John said…
That's why I'm trying to devote less posts to cases where church leaders say foolish things because it's happening more and more often! I'd never write about anything else. I post the same things repeatedly, and people make the same comments repeatedly, because Jim Winkler (and Bob Edgar) say the same kinds of things repeatedly.

Finding outrageous statements makes for easy LGF-style posting. It's a handy shortcut on busy days, and tends to encourage lengthy comment threads.
gmw said…
Hi Beth,

Conversation is a tricky thing, especially for a people of camps as we are today in America. I'm troubled since the Church is mimicing the political culture in this. We are loyal to folks in our "camp" in the way we speak about them no matter what positions they take and are equally rough on those in opposing camps even when we might agree, lest we support a position of theirs and align ourselves with the opposition. Perhaps we don't tow the line completely, but I don't often see us move too far beyond token disagreements with our "sides."

Lack of genuine listening happens when, as you say, we post/comment "at" instead of "with"--I appreciate the distinction you draw. What we practice in community, we tend to practice with God. A habit of poor listening with one another deafens us to the Word and Spirit of God. This is dangerous indeed.

Another related temptation for us pastors (and other folks) I have noticed is speaking to others as expert instead of journeying with others as companions. While each of us may have insights and experiences that are beneficial to one another, the instructional tone shifts the relationship from colleagial to hierarchical. This is unfortunate. Much grace is needed for us to bear with one another as we learn in fits and starts to listen well--and for that listening to manifest itself in our speaking with one another.

Perhaps genuine listening and patient grace can shift our participation in blog posts/comments from dualing monologues to real conversations.
Chesapeake Blue said…
I'd have to say that I change my mind very slowly, over a long period of time. I don't mean in the stubborn sense of refusing change, but in the sense of a long process of mulling, considering, and discussing. There are a number of political issues as to which this has happened over time, and I can point to certain discussions or things that I read as part of that process, but the change may not have occurred for years afterward. I suppose I should send the responsible parties a thank you card.

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