Blogging as a spiritual discipline

by Richard on October 12, 2009

In “The God You Already Know’, there is a brief section on blogging. John Davies describes the way in which his blog has become part of his prayer life.

I may not end up posting on the blog my deepest, most poignant or personal thoughts, for reasons of confidentiality … or decency… I may instead end up posting a link to an interesting article I’ve read.

But the process is the important thing … adding an entry is a way of celebrating that new things have happened that day. New insights, new encounters have demonstrated the richness in even the most ordinary of times and places. Posting something different each day is a challenge in recognizing these things, of sharing the the joys that are there to be discovered in my mundane, everyday life. …

So, is blogging a way of praying? I recoil a little from such a naked suggestion. But if praying is a way of engaging in a spiritual quest, involving listening and creatively attempting to express what is heard and understood, then blogging can be that. It is, for me, some days.

That certainly echoes my own experience as a blogger. Though my first reaction was to throw up my hands at the absurdity of thinking of blogging as prayer, on reflection the notion is not as barmy as it first appeared. Perhaps the best advice I was ever given when I began my training as a Methodist preacher was that a discipline of daily writing could only bring benefit. It was advice that I was unable to take until I discovered blogging at the end of 2001. Like John Davies I would hesitate to call my blogging prayer, and yet I have discovered that my blog is at its best when I am ’spiritually engaged’, when that quest seems most vital and important. I can look back over my blog and read it as an indicator of my spiritual life. And as I look through my archives, I realize that an inability to blog coincides more often with an aridity of spirit than it does with simple business. However, I would also say that when the life of the spirit has been ‘hard and dry’, I have found that the discipline of blogging has been a source of encouragement to continue in the journey. This has come in part from the discipline itself, but to an even greater extent from the diverse community of readers and contributors that has grown around the blog.

A distinction has sometimes been drawn between the “real” world and the “virtual” world of cyberspace. I have come to believe that this distinction is a false one. Ben Myers has noted that though the relationships formed on the internet are different from the relationships of everyday life — they come with a different set of conventions and expectations — they are every bit as real as ‘the real thing’. Of course, the internet makes it possible (and easy) to pretend, to adopt a role. However, it is often observed that conversation and debate on the internet are less restrained than they might be face-to-face. A commenter on a blogpost or forum is not bound by quite the same standards of politeness that apply in the everday world. But in each case, the way that a person behaves is governed by the conventions of the space within which they operate. Which is the more real? Couldn’t it be true that the more real manifestation of the self is the uninhibited one so often found on the internet?

If this is true, then blogging (and other internet community spaces) provide an entirely new way, thus far largely overlooked, for spiritual reflection and growth. Davies placed the spiritual benefit of blogging on the activity of the individual blogger, though this could just as easily be achieved through more conventional journalling or diary keeping. What makes the blogosphere new and, to me, exciting is that it turns what would otherwise be a solitary activity into a communal one.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1

dave perry 10.12.09 at 1:33 pm

Thank you so much for this Richard. As I read your post I felt a great ‘yes’ of recognition. The process of Blogging is as much a conversation with God as formal prayer for me. I am really grateful for what you have shared. Bless you.

2

ee 10.12.09 at 2:22 pm

Good post.

My own blogging ground to a halt for spiritual reasons. I found that the main thing I wanted from my blog was affirmation from others - an acknowledgement that they thought I was smart or witty or something. I found that there can be a real vanity which goes with blogging - writing for a small coterie of like-minded people always ready to affirm your thoughts.

Nonetheless, there have certainly been times when I’ve blogged something - usually something which risked people thinking I was a bit foolish - which definitely served to deepen my relationship with God.

3

Jason Goroncy 10.12.09 at 7:20 pm

Thanks for this reflection Richard. It certainly gels in some places with my experience. A wee question though: why do you suggest that ‘a commenter on a blogpost or forum is not bound by quite the same standards of politeness that apply in the everday world’? Are you making an observation here of what appears to be so, or proffering that this is, in fact, how it ought to be?

4

Richard 10.12.09 at 10:12 pm

Hi Jason. I’m not suggesting that this is how it ought to be. Just an observation of how things are. I wish people were more careful of their manners on the internet, but my hopes aren’t high.

5

Jason Goroncy 10.22.09 at 8:05 pm

Thanks for your response Richard.

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