There have been a few recent posts about the state of the Quaker blogosphere. New blogger Richard M wrote about "Anger on the Quaker blogs":http://quakerphilosopher.blogspot.com/2006/08/anger-on-quaker-blogosphere.html and LizOpp replied back with " Popcorn in the Q-blogosphere?":http://thegoodraisedup.blogspot.com/2006/08/popcorn-in-q-blogosphere.html.
The way I see it, there's not really much need for anger on the internet. There's sure to be something horribly offensive to your spiritual sensibilities right around the next link if only you click. Not only do we have dozens of different definitions of "Quaker," there's absolutely no limits over who gets to call themselves a Quaker. If we want to feel embattled or self-righteous we all have blogs we can visit, but is this really the way toward our individual or corporate spiritual growth? Is this the way to build a new movement of Friends?
The web is a land of blurriness. It's like the open vocal ministry of an unprogrammed meeting taken up a notch or three. We have the new visitors right off the street, seekers who heard about Friends on Wikipedia or Beliefnet and went instantly off to start a blog. There's those meeting regulars with their particular issues, dare we say hang-ups, over particular topics who get bent out of shape if others minister on them. Out in the corners are the cranky meeting back-benchers, trouble-makers who don't mind passing on third-hand gossip or spreading half-truths if it will make them the center of someone's attention. With this kind of mix it's no surprise there's conflict.
There will be disagreements. Many times we can share our understandings and grow but sometimes the gap is too large to bridge and we have to shrug our shoulders and agree to disagree. The boundaries of Quakerism have spread out so far that no one is ever going to agree that everyone calling themselves a Friend really has claim for the name. In past centuries this has led to nasty fights that have destroyed our communities. Nowadays we have the "Back" button. One of the disciplines we need to learn is how to use it.
We don't have to read every post and we certainly don't need to closely follow every Quaker blog out there. We are what we eat and our Quaker blogosphere is what we let it be. If the Quaker blogs seem too angry then maybe it's time to trim your blogroll.
Trimming away annoying and time-wasting sites doesn't mean we keep to like-minded bloggers. I don't focus on blogs with a particular theology or ones that come out of a particular Quaker tradition. What unites my favorite blogs is the care and discernment that goes into them. These bloggers are open to those who use unfamiliar language, listening to where the words come from, and they're curious and open to learning and tender with their comments. This is what true ministry looks like, no?
_ps: If you want to confuse people, write a post with an evocative name and then take out the reference. "Wheat" comes from the "parable of the wheat and weeds":http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2013:24-30;&version=31; which LizOpp introduced in the "comments of her post":http://thegoodraisedup.blogspot.com/2006/08/popcorn-in-q-blogosphere.html and which I elaborated on in an earlier draft of this post._