A theologian with a blog. Imagine that!
Actually, I am quite late to this game, and though I have resisted blogging as I have resisted (and continue to resist) Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, I have decided to take this step for several reasons.
The immediately precipitating reason is pedagogical integrity. I am teaching an online class next fall in which I will require my students to interact with the ideas in the course by blogging about them, and it would be wrong for me to do so without blogging myself. So, in spite of being a natural introvert who feels no internal motivation toward even the comparatively restrained exhibitionism of a blog, I have decided to take to my keyboard and become a blogger.
I also think that the discipline of writing regularly for public consumption (even if that public is somewhat restricted) is one that will be good for me. This blog will be a good opportunity to get some ideas down and perhaps develop them a bit, and might be a stepping stone to deeper and more formal reflection and writing.
But, as one who has studied the theological implications of various media (I’m sure there will be more on that in posts to follow), I have qualms. My biggest one relates to the inevitable fact that the internet pushes us to project a persona. That is one of the implications of Marshall McLuhan’s aphorism, “the medium is the message.” Being a blogger (at least as I intend to do it) is a lot like being an essayist in the era of print publication, and I am aware that essayists have long spoken about the need to establish one’s “voice.” But even an internet 1.0 endeavor such as a blog involves more than simply written words. I am pressed to consider such things as typefaces, colors, pictures, etc. I have to make my own editorial decisions (though I will likely recruit my wife, children, and friends to help assess my posts). I have to consider the phenomenon of comments and think about how and how much I will respond to these. I don’t want to be obsessive about it, but I do realize that by beginning a blog I am opening myself up to temptations to pride and duplicity in new ways. I tell my students that faithfulness in our context requires new disciplines, and blogging will require me to develop and practice some of those disciplines. To that end, one of my goals is to be transparent and honest, and as much as I am able to do so to present myself as I am. My goal is that people who know me will recognize me in my posts.
Another qualm relates to the effect of the internet on attention span. The “TL; DR” impulse works against lengthy blog posts. In part, this is a matter of style, and I hope that I will be able to sharpen my writing skills so that readers won’t lose the train of thought in longer posts. Nevertheless, I anticipate that I will probably be breaking up sustained reflections in multiple posts.
A third qualm is the bias toward trendiness that the internet promotes. While I anticipate that I will be commenting on current issues, I am not planning to join the race to get something out fast in order to capture the moment. The most urgent things are not usually the most important, and many important things often don’t become urgent until it’s too late. My blog will be more of a “slow blog.”
With these concerns in mind, my plan for this blog is to post what I hope to be interesting or helpful reflections of a mostly theological nature (thus the “ish” in “Theologish”). I believe in doing theology for the church, so much of my interest is in issues of the church’s faithfulness to historic Christian belief and practice in the present context. I will likely include posts on topics that interest me in biblical and theological studies in general as well as my musings on the state of evangelicalism in North America, assessments of trends in contemporary church life, etc. Hopefully it will spark some interesting and helpful thoughts and conversation along the way. Soli Deo Gloria!