On Beppeblog, Joe talks about starting a clearness committee [link long gone]to assist him with his struggles with Friends. But he also touches on something I’ve certainly also experienced: the important role this electronic fellowship has been playing:
Just the other day I realized that I felt more comfortable being a Friend since not attending Meeting on an ongoing basis. My ongoing “e-relationships” via the blogosphere has helped me stay “connected”. Observe how pleased I responded to Liz’s recent post (the one that I quoted in the post before this one). It’s as if I’m starving for good fellowship of some kind or another.
There’s even more talk about internet-mediated discernment/fellowship in the “comments to his followup.
Given all this, I’m not sure if I’ve ever highlighted a “vision for an expanded Quaker Ranter site” that I put together for a “youth leadership” grant in Third Month:
I’ve been blessed to meet many of my [age] peers with a clear call to inspired ministry. Most of these Friends have since left the Society, frustrated both by monthly meetings and Quaker bodies that didn’t know what to do with a bold ministry and by a lack of mentoring eldership that could help season these young ministers and deepen their understanding of gospel order. I would like to put together an independent online publication… This would explicitly reach out across the different braches of Friends and even to various seeker movements like the so-called “Emergent Church Movement.”
As I’ve written I was selected for one of their fellowships (yea!!) but for an amount that was pointedly too low to actually fund much (huh??). There’s something in the air however. “Quaker Dharma” is asking similar questions and Russ Nelson’s “PlanetQuaker” is a sometimes-awkward automated answer (do its readers really want to see the ultrasounds?). I’m not sure any of these combo sites could actually work better than their constituent parts. I find myself uninterested in most group blogs, aggregators, and formal websites. The invididual voice is so important.
And don’t we already have a group project going with all the cross-reading and cross-linking we’re doing. Is that what Joe was talking about? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found some new interesting blogger and went to post a welcome in their comments only to have found that Joe or LizOpp had beaten me to it. (Some of us are to the point of reading each other’s minds. I think I could probably write a great Beppe or LizOpp post and vice-versa.) Is this impulse to formalize these relationships just a throwback to old ideas of publishing?
Maybe the web’s form of hyperlinking is actually superior to Old Media publishing. I love how I can put forward a strong vision of Quakerism without offending anyone – any put-off readers can hit the “back” button. And if a blog I read posts something I don’t agree with, I can simply choose not to comment. If life’s just too busy then I just miss a few weeks of posts. With my “Subjective Guide to Quaker Blogs” and my “On the Web” posts I highlight the bloggers I find particularly interesting, even when I’m not in perfect theological unity. I like that I can have discussions back and forth with Friends who I don’t exactly agree with.
I have nothing to announce, no clear plan forward and no money to do anything anyway. But I thought it’d be interesting to hear what others have been thinking along these lines.