Blogging critique part 1: Genuine influence?

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I've become more and more skeptical about the usefulness of blogging and the blogosphere, especially from a Christian perspective. This will be the first in a series of posts that will criticise blogging :-) . I don't think that's a complete contradiction, as even good things usually need some criticism to keep them good, and inside criticism is much more likely to be effective and accurate than from those who have little idea of what this world is really about. As well as contributing to general discussion on this topic, I'm hoping to persuade myself to either quit the blogosphere, or moderate and improve my usage of it.

I'd like to start with questioning how well blogs are a real influence for good. I'm thinking mainly of the Christian sub-culture within the blogosphere. I've found that in my Christian life, I'm most effectively influenced by the following:

  • Preaching: authoritative preaching from the Bible. And more than that, I find preaching where I am present in person so much more challenging and engaging than a sermon from a tape.

  • People who are living out the truths they profess.

I feel that the medium of blogging fails to provide in both these areas. Real preaching is very difficult to do right, if at all, on a blog. The problem is the audience--you have no idea how long you'll have their attention for, and so can't afford to tackle your subject in the way you might do in a sermon. DV, I'll be addressing the nature of blog posts more fully in a later post-- suffice for now to say that blogs are rarely full of meaty sermon-like posts.

Secondly, while bloggers may well be living out holy, God-pleasing lives, I have no way of knowing. If I could witness opinions being lived out, and like what I see, I might be forced to have a look a at a new idea more closely. But, despite being faced with thousands of different Christian viewpoints and theologies on the web, I haven't found myself attracted to any of the ones I didn't already appreciate. I strongly doubt that I am going to make a spiritually life-changing discovery through reading other people's blogs, nor that I will cause something similar for anyone else.

I admit that this last point could change if I got to know some other bloggers more thoroughly. But again, that requires quite a lot of effort, and can only really be done through non-public media, such as personal e-mails, which then kind of reduces blogging itself to a means of meeting people.

Blogging probably doesn't take away any time I would have spent listening to sermons or Bible studies - for one thing, I tend not to use my computer at all on the Lord's day. But it might be detracting from time spent with other Christians who I know in the flesh, and I am much more able to fellowship with, learn from and help in a meaningful way, and if so, has a lot to answer for.

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