One writer’s take on G+ via http://inkygirl.com/inkygirl-main/2011/7/9/why-im-loving-google-perspective-of-a-writer-illustrator-mus.html. Makes me think I should do a bit more curating os sharing groups:
Warning: this is a blog post about blogging.
It’s always fascinating to watch the ebb and flow of my blogging. Quakerranter, my “main” blog has been remarkably quiet. I’m still up to my eyeballs with blogging in general: posting things to QuakerQuaker, giving helpful comments and tips, helping others set up blogs as part of my consulting business. My Tumblr blog and Facebook and Twitter feeds all continue to be relatively active. But most of these is me giving voice to others. For two decades now, I’ve zigzagged between writer and publisher; lately I’ve been focused on the latter.
When I started blogging about Quaker issues seven years ago, I was a low-level clerical employee at an Quaker organization. It was clear I was going nowhere career-wise, which gave me a certain freedom. More importantly, blogs were a nearly invisible medium, read by a self-selected group that also wanted to talk openly and honestly about issues. I started writing about issues in among liberal Friends and about missed outreach opportunities. A lot of what I said was spot on and in hindsight, the archives give me plenty of “told you so” credibility. But where’s the joy in being right about what hasn’t worked?
Things have changed over the years. One is that I’ve resigned myself to those missed opportunities. Lots of Quaker money and humanly activity is going into projects that don’t have God as a center. No amount of ranting is going to dissuade good people from putting their faith into one more staff reorganization, mission rewrite or clever program.It’s a distraction to spend much time worrying about them.
But the biggest change is that my heart is squarely with God. I’m most interested in sharing Jesus’s good news. I’m not a cheerleader for any particular human institution, no matter how noble its intentions. When I talk about the good news, it’s in the context of 350 years of Friends’ understanding of it. But I’m well aware that there’s lots of people in our meetinghouses that don’t understand it this way anymore. And also aware that the seeker wanting to pursue the Quaker way might find it more closely modeled in alternative Christian communities. There are people all over listening for God and I see many attempts at reinventing Quakerism happening among non-Friends.
I know this observation excites some people to indignation, but so be it: I’m trusting God on this one. I’m not sure why He’sgiven us a world why the communities we bring together to worship Him keep getting distracted, but that’s what we’ve got (and it’s what we’ve had for a long time). Every person of faith of every generation has to remember, re-experience and revive the message. That happens in church buildings, on street corners, in living rooms, lunch lines and nowadays on blogs and internet forums.We can’t get too hung up on all the ways the message is getting blocked. And we can’t get hung up by insisting on only one channel of sharing that message. We must share the good news and trust that God will show us how to manifest this in our world: his kingdom come and will be done on earth.
But what would this look like?
When I first started blogging there weren’t a lot of Quaker blogs and I spent a lot more time reading other religious blogs. This was back before the emergent church movement became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Zondervan and wasn’t dominated by hype artists (sorry, a lot of big names set off my slime-o-meter these days). There are still great bloggers out there talking about faith and readers wanting to engage in this discussion. I’ve been intrigued by the historical example of Thomas Clarkson, the Anglican who wrote about Friends from a non-Quaker perspective using non-Quaker language. And sometimes I geek out and explain some Quaker point on a Quaker blog and get thanked by the author, who often is an experienced Friend who had never been presented with a classic Quaker explanation on the point in question. My tracking log shows seekers continue to be fascinated and drawn to us for our traditional testimonies, especially plainness.
I’ve put together topic lists and plans before but it’s a bit of work, maybe too much to put on top of what I do with QuakerQuaker (plus work, plus family). There’s also questions about where to blog and whether to simplify my blogging life a bit by combining some of my blogs but that’s more logistics rather than vision.
Interesting stuff I’m reading that’s making me think about this:
There’s been some head-scratching going on about QuakerQuaker over the last few weeks. In the service of transparency I’ve posted my contributor guidelines on the “About QuakerQuaker page“. Here they are:
Post should be explicitly Quaker: Any thoughtful posts from any branch of Friends that wrestles in some way with what it means to be a Quaker is fair game. While we all have our own issues that connect deeply with our understanding of our faith, the Blogwatch only seems to work if it keeps focused on Quakerism, on how we our faith and lives interact. Back when this was just a links list on my personal site I would get complaints when I added something that seemed related to my understanding of Quakerism but that wasn’t specifically written from a Quaker standpoint (when we want to make this kind of link we should do so on our personal blogs where we can put it in better context).
Post should be timely: I’ve billed QuakerQuaker as “a guide to the Quaker conversation” and links should go to recently-written articles with strong voices. We’re not trying to create a comprehensive list of Quaker websites, so no linking to organizational homepages. While most links should go to blog posts, it’s fine to include good articles from Quaker publications. A link to something like a press release or new book announcement should only be made if it’s extraordinary. Remember that QuakerQuaker posts will only appear on the main site for a few days (if the initial setup goes well I can start work on some ideas to giave a more timeless element to the site).
Post should be Interesting: Don’t bookmark everything you find. If the post feels predictable or snoozy, just ignore it (even if the writer or topic is important). The Quaker bloggers all have their audiences and we don’t need to highlight every post of every blogger. Only make the link if the post speaks out to you in some way (it’s quite possible that one of the other contributors will pick up, finding something you didn’t and highlighting it in their description). That said, the posts you link to don’t have to be masterpieces; they can have grammatical and logical mistakes. What’s important is that there’s some idea in there that’s interesting. It might be a good discipline for each of us not to add our the posts from our own personal blogs but to let one of the other contributors do it for us.
That’s it. While there are some vague assumptions in all this about the role of tradition and community, discipline and individualism, there’s nothing about theology or who gets linked. This is a publication, with something of an editorial voice in that I’ve chosen who gets to add links and asked them to be subjective, but its very mellow and I’ve been happy to see contributors range far afield. Google tells us that this is one of 18.7 million “Quaker” websites and $10/month will get you your own so let’s not do too much navel-gazing about what’s linked or not linked. If you don’t find it interesting, there are plenty of non-subjective Quaker blogs lists out there. I do listen to feedback and am always twiddling with the site so feel free to send email to me at martinkelley.com/contact.