I had a professor in university who talked about Shakespeare studies as a "Great Conversation." She was very gung-ho for Shakespeare (and, I must admit, she had me declaring mid-semester to devote my life to Shakespeare studies; as you can tell, it didn't last). Her principle of a Great Conversation has always stayed with me, and no more so than in the context of theological discussions.
I like to talk theology. From the time I was converted in 1985, I had questions. For a while, when the kids were little, the questions were lingering in the background in the midst of the domestic concerns of our family, but always, they simmered. After I read a few books, The Holiness of God, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, and No Place for Truth, the questioned stopped simmering, and boiled over. They made me restless. When I discovered blogging in 2004, I was like the proverbial pig in the mud: finally, other women with similar questions and desires to discuss. It was the Great Conversation of my dreams.
Blogging has changed, of course. Twelve years in internet time is like the passing of an entire era. It doesn't have that friendly feel. Unless you're someone of repute or promoting your new book, it feels like there is no place for the voices of the ordinary. Some of us have become quieter as our lives have changed. Some of us have all but stopped blogging. I miss those friendly voices, those contributors to that Great Conversation.
Most days, I may get 35 visits to my blog, and some of them are just spam. The traffic wasn't always so paltry. By comparison to other women, it's nothing; sort of laughable that I even keep on writing. I'm not a blogger of influence. I used to think I was "failing" somehow if I didn't get a lot of visits. I don't think too much about it anymore. Theology matters to me, and writing about it helps me process things. A little stint with anxiety two years ago helped me see what really matters (as cliché as that sounds). Since I began seminary, I suppose you could say that Great Conversation is happening more in another location, this time face to face. And that's been exciting.
I think there is still room for that Great Conversation in blogging; that conversation about our Triune God, about our faith, and our place in the world. It's not a conversation that is going anywhere, and why should the professionals have all the fun? I wonder if some of us have been caught up in the idea of building a platform, establishing a voice. Sometimes, I think the effort of establishing a platform can mute our natural voice, so that we're taking on a voice that is too conscious of its audience. It feels awkward, so we just stop talking. There have been days when I definitely feel intimidated because I'm not "someone." And yet, in my own life, I realize it's the "not someones" who have had one of the biggest impacts on me. When I sit down and think about it, there really is no famous Christian who has had the kind of impact on my life that people in real life have. This past semester, I have been greatly impacted by my theology professor, unknown in the blog world, but who over his 30+ years of teaching has had an impact on many people.
I don't know why those of us who miss the relational aspects of blogging don't just do what we want to do. I miss those days when it was okay to post a recipe or a quiz. We're busy, and our lives change, and that's understandable. For me, I'll keep writing, I guess. Maybe only a handful of people will see it. Maybe I'm kind of indulgently amusing: that middle aged woman with no "platform." I'll keep plugging away. Writing is something I simply can't see myself stopping any time soon. That Great Conversation is worth writing about.