My tenth blog post feels like a real accomplishment.
Not only does it mark the completion of my course, it also represents a significant step in finding my voice as a theologian.
Going into this course, I had two main goals.
I wanted to understand how social media could be used effectively in ministry. What are the unique ways in which ministry can happen online?
I think that we often, for good reason, focus on violent and abusive behaviours that are so rampant online. It’s easy to link the Internet with it’s potential to do damage.
But I have learned that the Internet has also provided many with a community that has been incredibly supportive, positive, and even life changing.
In An anthropological introduction to YouTube, Michael Wesch shares the story of a man who would act out a variety of entertaining characters on YouTube. These videos were an outlet for him when he was grieving the death of his infant son. He spoke of the videos as “a form of therapy, a coping mechanism.” Reflecting on how much YouTube meant to him, he told his audience: “This website, this community, helped bring me life again. And there’s something really special in that.”
It was important for me to learn that sacred spaces can and do exist on the Internet.
If we’re interested in creating or being a part of them, Elizabeth Drescher and Keith Anderson offer some advice in their book Click2Save: “We do that through a ministry presence which incorporates noticing, accepting, and reaching our in kindness and compassion to the others in our midst.”
I also wanted to get better at engaging issues that were important to me from a theological point of view. How might feminism and theology collide in ways that are interesting to an online audience?
It often took many hours and several drafts to get my blog posts down to a readable length (i.e. shorter than this one). It’s fairly easy for me to rant on an issue. It’s much more difficult to make a single concise point.
My blog post on Martin Luther took nearly 10 hours, though it looks like it should have taken 20 minutes. Why? Because I wrote out every single thing that was on my mind until I got to the heart of the matter. Then I deleted 80% of it.
Do people know that it was spurred by my reaction to sexually violent and hateful comments left on YouTube videos? It doesn’t matter… because in the end, that wasn’t the bite sized piece of information that I wished to share.
I’ve learned that blogging isn’t just about getting your well thought-out opinions and superior ideas out there. It’s about sharing something that might make someone feel something, or do something. And it’s about reading what other people have to say and seeing how it moves you.
Digital ministry isn’t simply doing the same things in a new way. It’s a whole new way of relating. And it’s a privilege to be a part of it.
Drescher, Elizabeth and Keith Anderson, Click to Save: The Digital Ministry Bible, New York: Morehouse Publishing, 2012.