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Blogging may be dead, but . . . 

I have been blogging for twelve years. No, I haven't blogged every day, and I am not well-known. But I've been here. If one of the young women of my acquaintance asked me advice on how to begin, I'd be willing to share some counsel. These bits of advice reveal that I'm largely out of sync with things, but this is where I have arrivied twelve years later.

Get Educated

Learn how to construct a sentence. Learn some basic grammar rules. Learn the difference between its and it's. Learn that the possessive form of "I" is "my" not "I's". Proof read and correct mistakes. If you have the attitude "it's just a blog," then why blog at all? Good writing mechanics is the easy part.

Further to that, research what you write about. This may mean reading beyond the internet. It may mean that your post doesn't come to fruition for a week. Or two. If you're really serious, consider listening to podcasts or lectures from seminaries which are available for free. Get a user-friendly systematic theology. Start with something simple like Packer's Concise Theology. Just learn. Keep learning. Use blogging as a reason to learn. Learning has a way of making us humble. When we see how little we know, we feel it. Humility is a valuable tool in good writing.

Sleep On It

One thing about online communication is it tends to be like journalists all rushing after the scoop. When something controversial comes up, there is a rush to see who can respond first and with the most insightful commentary. That is too bad, because sometimes, insight only comes from sustained thinking. At the very least, think about it for more than an hour. Especially if you're really charged up about something, slow down. Passionate writing isn't bad, but if we're too charged up, it might sound obnoxious.

Beware of Controversy

Controversial topics get visits to a blog. There is a feeling of community when everyone bands together to commiserate or complain. That should be the minority of blog content. If all we ever write about is that which is complaint-worthy, how are we demonstrating the hope that is in the gospel or the beauty of the Word of God? I've read a lot of blogs over the years, and some I've given up on. The ones I continue to read don't provide a steady diet of controversy. Part of being a good writer is knowing how to write about anything. Consistent controversy really narrows what we write about, and can ultimately make us boring.

Be in the Word

Being in God's word regularly, and in deep ways, transforms our thinking. It is the Holy Spirit speaking to us. Without that regular diet of God speaking to us, it will influence our thinking, and in turn, our writing. There is only so much time in a given day, and if we spend more time online reading blogs and less time in the Word, we may very well have a great understanding of how to write a blog post that attracts readers, but we may be spiritually poorer for it.

Take Care of Your Kids

There are a lot of parents (especially women) with children who blog. Blogging takes time and attention. Don't rob your kids of time with them so you can get a post up. I did that more than I should have. Am I the only one who ever did that? I doubt it. There were times I know that my kids were speaking to me while I was at my computer writing and I didn't even really hear what they were saying. I'm sad about those times. I have adult children; trust me, they remember the times we seemed to be ignoring them.

Confrontation is not a spiritual fruit

I have come across a lot of confrontational bloggers over the years. I guess some of them are called "watchbloggers." Some are more overt than others. Some disguise their "watchblogginess" with better writing. But I still find them wearisome if that's all they ever do. I avoid those kinds of blogs now. There is nothing wrong with speaking truth or identifying error, but if that is all a blogger produces, eventually I stop reading altogether. There is a very fine line between holding strong views and just beng a harpie. Learn to write incisively about your topic, not go at people with all guns blazing.

Get someone to edit your writing

The blog world is filled with men and women who write without any real accountability. And they may have a lot of readers. Just how responsible are we for what we say on our blogs? It's a worthwhile question. Get someone to read your writing before you post; someone who can be honest with you. I wish I'd done more of that. And be humble if that person cautions you about something.

Write with grace

In your learning (see above), understand what grace is. And use it in large measure. I am not always gracious, but I know grace-filled writing when I see it, and I'd rather read that than anything else.


Praise to the Lord, the Almighty

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
The king of creation!
O my soull, praise Him,
For He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to his temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.

Praise to the Lord,
Who o'er all things so wondrously reigneth;
Shelters thee under His wings,
Yea so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how thy desires e're have been
Granted in what he ordaineth?

Praise to the Lord,
Who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do
If with His love He befriend thee.

Praise to the Lord,
O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath 
Come now with praises before Him
Let the Amen sound from his people again;
Gladly forever adore Him.


Thankful Thursday

Do you ever have days when you don't feel thankful? Or, you forget that you have much to be thankful for? I am having one of those days today. So, inspired by Persis, who shared her thankful thoughts this morning, I am going to be thankful, to remind me that God is faithful even on hard days.

I am thankful for the man my father is. No father is perfect, but I am thankful for mine. He was a hard worker and he sacrificed a lot for us. He was not a harsh father or harsh husband, and I am thankful for that.

I am thankful for my husband. He, too, is patient. He treats me well, and he supports my educational pursuits even if he doesn't find them as scintillating as I do.

I am thankful for fall truly arriving. There is something wrong with having a humidex reading in October.

I am thankful for my classes this semester. I'm thankful for my Greek prof, especially, because he gives regular quizzes and helpful exercises, and that is needed when you're learning a biblical language.

I am thankful for raspberry jam, soup in the freezer, and Yorkshire Gold tea.


Keep some of ourselves to ourselves

There is a reason why books like Finding God in My Loneliness get written. I got a deal on that book for Kindle over the summer. I haven't read it, but I've read other things by Lydia Brownack before, and I really like her. It is, of course, one of the ironies of contemporary life that in a context where we are flooded with information and the ability to interact with people at the click of a mouse that loneliness has not been eradicated.

Augustine was right when he said we are restless until we find our rest in God. Much loneliness comes from trying to fill an empty space with something that is fleeting. And yet there are Christians who have found their rest in God who still struggle with loneliness. I often wonder how online activity contributes to loneliness among Christians.

It's popular to be transparent online. Sometimes, it really helps someone out. To find someone who understands our struggle is always encouraging. However, for the one who writes those things, there is a risk. What happens when we share our hearts and no one reacts? Does that mean no one cares? When you put little pieces of yourself out there and no one is receptive to them, it can make you feel a little discouraged. There are times when if we want to combat feeling lonely, we need to just keep ourselves to ourselves. Being too open can make us later feel exposed, and that may make us feel lonely. There is nothing wrong with guarding our hearts. Transparency is not a bad thing, but a wise person will know not to be too transparent. It takes discernment and good writing skills to word things in a way that gets to the heart of the matter without leaving ourselves open to feeling vulnerable. I haven't figured out how to do that yet. 

I need to write things to process, so I have been doing more of that offline. Blog and social media circles have become funny things, reminding me more of the high school cliques I loathed than places where one can feel encouraged to participate. I have grown more cautious as I have got older. More than ever, with our culture being so connected, I think we need to foster those face to face connections where we are confident someone cares about our thoughts and struggles. 

And of course, there's always simply taking those things to the Lord.


It's all about the endings

He spoke the word.

Who is doing the speaking? If you're an English speaker, you know that it is "he" who is doing the speaking. That's the subject of the sentence. Generally, in English, the subject precedes the action of the verb. Now, if you're Yoda, you could say, "The word, he spoke," but you're taking a chance if you copy Yoda because someone could conclude that we're actually saying something like "The word which he spoke." Word order is really important in English. English is not an inflected language.

Koine Greek is an inflected language. That means word order doesn't matter. Αυτος ειπεν λογον, "he spoke the word" can also be written ειπεν λογον α­­υτος or we could move the words around again. What tells me what is the subject of the sentence is the ending of the word, in the case of "he," the pronoun αυτος, with its -ος ending indicates that the word is in the nominative case, and hence, the subject of the sentence. The word λογον with its -ον ending tells me that it is in the accusative case and that means in this sentence, it is the direct object, or the receiver of the action.

These endings are crucial for understanding what all the grammatical components of the sentence are. And what is more interesting is that when it comes to prepositions, the meaning can change, depending on what the ending of the noun is. Adjectives also have different endings, and the way one tells which adjective goes with which noun is the ending of the word. These endings are something students must learn. Once we learn what the endings are, it's just a matter of recognizing them in context. When we do translations in my Greek class, it's like putting puzzle pieces together. I've never been good at number puzzles, but so far, I'm good at this kind of puzzle. It does take time, though, and one has to be careful and pay attendion, because even the absence or prescence of an accent can make a difference in meaning.

This is probably mind-numbingly boring to most people, but it is fascinating to me to see how words work. And it is a great reminder to me that paying attending to little details as we learn to read Scripture is really important. Maybe you don't have any aspirations to learn Koine Greek, but if you're a Christian and you want to grow, you'll want to open your Bible up. It requires time and attending to read in English, too. Just why did the author use that particular word? What modifies what? Where is the main verb? Why did the writer draw that conclusion?

We are fast learning to become skimmers rather than readers. If you consume a diet of mostly online content, unless you're reading academic journals and abstracts, you can get by on skimming. But is skimming really the best approach to Bible reading? The art of reading slow needs to be preserved. Slower reading means more reflection, and that's a good thing.