Friday, January 23, 2009

Navel-gazing and the Use of Blogs

The critique of some that introspective blogging can amount to "navel-gazing" is not entirely without merit. Certainly we have all encountered those melancholy brooders that couldn't enjoy moments of levity if their life depended on it. This represents an extreme use of self-discovery to focus merely on personal interests. This person might even go so far as to neglect duties to family and others in favor of going off to "find themselves." However, another extreme is observable all around us as well; that is, the decidedly non-introspective life. Many may experience, but then be guilty of never evaluating their experiences in a healthy way.

This is not new, but has always been true of people. It is human nature to enter into extremes: either to think of self too much, or examine one's self too little. To combat these extremes, church leaders have, throughout history, both maintained personal connections within a community of believers and reflected on their own development in writings and journals (i.e. Augustine's Confessions). Therefore, it has been my aim to both remain transparent within a Christian community, and to also reflect critically on my own experiences in journal form. It has been my understanding that blogs have developed a multitude of purposes. For some, they constitute messages that the bloggers intend for others to read. Still others might be passive information pages allowing friends and loved ones to keep up with your life and news.

One use is that of a public "journal" (as opposed to a private one) in which the blogger reflects on life and experiences. They may write in such a way that others could read if they desired, but it is not required. The blogger will write nonetheless. Such is the case here. I use this blog as a sort of public "journal" (as opposed to my private one) that allows others to either reflect on a subject along with me, or at least be aware of how I reflect on a matter. It is not assumed that people must read this (except of those occasions when I admonish my wife to read an entry so that she will know my feelings toward an issue).

Nor do I blog to persuade. In some instances, when I have intended this, I have re-submitted the entry in another form to the public forum (i.e. two articles for Reformation Day in the local newspaper that I wrote last fall started as blog entries here). However, I am not attempting to win arguments through this medium. Therefore, attempts to counter my "argument" in any entry is wasted energy since I was not seeking to enter a debate. Since it is not required that people read this and agree, I do not care if they disagree.

For this reason, I write entries for this blog not in an attempt to broadcast messages to people. There is a significant difference between sending a letter to someone, and allowing them to read your journal. The reader should understand the great differences of those two genres. So the "navel-gazing" will continue, for that is the nature of journals. Though remembering that this is personal introspection made public, one can still use tools like this to develop their own thinking. And any responses to these entries are welcome from those who really know me, for it is in a community of friends (defining that term narrowly) that we all grow.

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