Why Blogging Is So Challenging

May 8, 2015

Blogging presents some challenges, some of which are confronting me these days. So I thought it might be helpful to sketch those out a bit as a way of setting the context for what is to come.

Blogging for many writers replaces personal journaling, particularly for those who choose to write every day. Successful blogs can be very targeted, for example, on family food experiences or grief processing. My theme, Bringing the Word to Life, simply calls me to reflect on what is happening (either in my own life or in current events) in light of Scripture. I have gone through various phases, as my long-time readers know: everything from Presbyterian judicial processes to lung cancer treatment. I have reflected before on the purpose of this particular blog. The fact that I am doing so again suggests one challenge:

There are many doldrums to endure, between gusts that catch your sail. Your writing boat is still on the water, and you can’t just quit, so you paddle or wait or reflect on the meaning of life. These are the times when I have much less confidence in the quality of my missives, though, as a person of faith, I realize God can use the most mundane observations to bless someone. You never know. This thought actually keeps me going.

There are temptations along the way. I have mentioned some of these before, but they are still true. It’s tempting to be less than authentic in what I write, if by doing so I attract more readers or inflame more passions on the topic. It is tempting to care more about how many readers I have than to be true to my calling and true to the Word. It is also tempting to resort to clichés and not dig very deeply into a topic. Time often is a factor here, but I have to admit to laziness as well. While I fear being a sloppy opinion-setter, this fear does not always lead me to the next level of research or investigation.

We are responsible for facts, both in their finding and their interpretation. The events in our world today are crying out for comment from a Christian perspective: divorced Sofia Vergara and Nick Loeb’s argument over the future of their two frozen embryos; political polarization and the presidential campaign; issues before the Supreme Court, including same-sex marriage; the increasing gap between rich and poor in the United States; whether God is and has a place in society. Just for starters. But because of the kind of person I am, I do not want to share mere opinions about these topics without being faithful to facts I may or may not know yet.

A blogger is not a journalist and therefore is allowed more opinion and reaction. But even so, a blogger should handle facts transparently if the hope is to be an opinion leader. High on my frustration list are those who form passionate opinions based on inaccurate or false information. I do not want to be one of those people.

Reflection and self-examination are perilously close to self-indulgence, so finding the right balance on the path to wisdom is sometimes confusing. Our generation is infected with narcissism, and I am not immune. Even the idea of sharing one’s life for the benefit of others can cultivate a false belief that I am God’s gift to the world and if everybody thought and acted the way I did, we’d all be better off. Just writing this makes me laugh. But narcissism lurks in the shadows.

Blogging requires audacity without disintegrating into hubris. Particularly on topics that have so far generated complacency, a bold statement provokes new thought and engagement. This is a good thing, and a proper role for bloggers. However, the temptation is to go too far, too offend unnecessarily, to say something really stupid. If the goal is to be helpful, then arrogance stands in the way. My desire is to be creative and provocative enough to get my readers thinking—and possibly acting—without surrendering to something less that my calling requires.

“ . . . [L]ead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-2).

My thoughts are percolating, and Monday is a good day to start a new series, so stay tuned!

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2 Responses to “Why Blogging Is So Challenging”

  1. Anne W-W Says:

    Mary, I appreciate your thoughtful considerations. I particularly have wondered over the years about the self-indulgent aspect you mention. What makes a person (you, me, other writers I know) decide that what they think or are reflecting upon is worth sharing broadly and rather generally? What makes someone write a book? I get writing a sermon, that’s targeted and usually to people you know. How do you decide to put thoughts out there to people you don’t necessarily know? Those are some of my meanderings.

    • revmary Says:

      Yes, Anne, my questions exactly. Technology has made it easy for people to share more broadly than ever what they think, but ultimately “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” There’s a lot of “marketplace” in the equation. Why someone writes a book varies, depending on the genre. It’s fun, it’s self-expressive, at its best it is ennobling and helpful, potentially a “pencil in God’s hand.” Generally when I write, I have a few types of people in my mind’s eye, to whom I hope to make my thoughts understandable. Whether or not they will actually find it meaningful, only time and the marketplace will tell. Sometimes, a person just HAS to write, whether or not anybody will ever read it. My mother wrote a personal journal over a 25-year period and forbid its unsealing (from archives at University of Washington) for 50 years, and then never to any of her relatives. It was simply a way for her to record her observations candidly and hoped that someday it would be a window on the world she lived in.

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