Well, after enduring numerous “hijacking” of posts the guys at the outhouse finally relented and decided to give me the “floor”. As with most endeavors in life, it’s always easier to edit than create and critique than formulate. I imagine the guys knew this truth and thought it was time I got my “comeuppance”. So, here I am on display or better yet taking my turn in the dunking booth. When I was asked to post an article, it immediately dawned on me that I had nothing really new to say. Carl Trueman’s insight that blogging was in large regard an exercise in narcissism immediately resounded in my mind and burned in my bosom, the latter effect an immediate validation of the truth of the statement. If anyone has engaged for any length of time in either blogging or responding to posts you quickly realize that much of what is going on are people, including myself, in love with the sound of their own voice. Much of it seems very akin to primping in front of a mirror (admit it, how many of you, not me of course, have engaged polemically in a combox and merely scanned over the other lesser responses until your eyes fix on the particular brilliance of your own rhetorical paring where you proceed to roll it over and over in your mind like an old love letter, long forgotten, from a first love.) For others it seems to be the shortcut to becoming that romantic tv, novel, movie ideal of the renaissance man or super hero; ” In real life I am ‘fill in the blank’ but on the internet, on my blog, I’m a professional historian, theologian, literary critic, so on and so forth. Need we really bring up the profiles and hopes and wishes one finds on dating sites?!
Such use and engagement reminds me of Calvin’s rebuke/insight that much harm is done in the world by those who decide to act and engage beyond the bounds of their calling. Even now as I write this post, I’m at “work”.
So, what are we observing within this new medium? For the world of religion and blogs, it seems we are in the world of what amounts to “electronic tracts.” We are now essentially privy to millions of electronic diaries, musings and observations and If you’ve enabled a combox on your blog, people can either congratulate you on your brilliance and add some of their own, or pummel you for being dimwitted and ignorant, with a smattering of other observations that fall between these two poles, before they head off to shop or pay their bills, or ogle porn. As someone (ahem) has said elsewhere, “it’s a place to devour and be devoured.” If used and understood for what it is, “musings”, maybe even teasers, propaganda and advertising as in the case of a professional scholar or writer who is announcing and/or giving a foretaste of a “proper” work, I see no harm. But, what do we make of something like federal vision which owes it’s “being” as much if not more to the “blog” than to any pastor’s conference or book? Darryl Hart has observed and I’m paraphrasing; “that the federal vision story is as much about the internet and blogs (or being hashed out on the blogs) as it is about a movement of loosely associated religious formulations.” For “federal vision”, to a large degree, the medium has been the message. It’s a medium which fairly well suits a group which is seeking to be more “organic”, if you will, in both it’s organization, proliferation, and training of it’s leaders. It seems, in other words, to share more in common with, and may be more a manifestation of, a dumbed-down American evangelicalism that’s a mile wide and an inch deep and prides itself on it’s populist appeal and bumper-sticker theology rather than a learned, legitimate corrective to a protestant confessionalism that has supposedly lost it’s way. As Scott Clark has observed of Douglas Wilson, “he’s on a journey” and it’s a journey that for him and others seems better served by it’s existence in the wild wild west that is the internet, where we are all either devouring or being devoured.