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Entries in Blogging (32)


Things you probably shouldn't blog about

I've probably already blogged about them.

I've determined in my head to blog less about personal things, but I could not help but laugh when I read an old post this morning, and was reminded of this. Other woman bloggers will appreciate this. Sometimes, when we read blogs or visit social media sites, we're tempted to believe other women have perfect lives, perfect homes, never lose their tempers, never do anything foolish. Well (not that I think for one minute anyone has concluded those things about me) here is something that the perfect blogging homemaker would probably leave from her repetoire.

I was expecting child #3. In fact, I was big enough that when I  contemplated getting down on my hands and knees to wash my kitchen floor that afternoon, I wished I had a mop. I used Pine-Sol. I don't know why, because it really stinks, but that's what I used. After measuring the amount into my bucket and filling it with water, I put the measure cup aside, and set to work. I was busy for the remainder of the afternoon.

We were having small group at our house that night, and prior to that, our pastor and his wife were coming over for dinner. I made a chicken dish, and I also made a broccoli and cauliflower side dish with a creamy sauce. 

We sat down to eat amid lots of chatter. Our pastor and his wife had no children of their own, so they liked talking to ours. As I was eating my vegetables, I was surprised at the flavour. This wasn't how I remembered it from having made it on previous occasions. In fact, it was downright awful. I couldn't figure out what it was, but it tasted terrible. I looked around the table and saw others eating. The kids weren't really eating, but that wasn't surprising; they never ate well when we had guests. I especially looked at my husband to see if he had noticed something. Nothing was said, and we finished the meal, cleaned up and waited for the rest of the people to arrive.

As my pastor was talking later that night, it hit me. Pine-Sol. Yes, that was what the funny taste was.  I felt my stomach lurch. Clearly, I had not rinsed the measuring cup out in my haste. I had used Pine-Sol laced milk and fed it to my pastor and his wife. And on top of that, I had fed my unborn child that concoction. As visions of the death of my pastor and birth defects in my child rushed into my head, I discreetly slipped from the room and went to read the label. There didn't seem to be any warnings about it being toxic. I drank a few glasses of water, and wondered if I should say anything.

After I gathered my wits around me, I calmed down, realizing that the amounts were small enough to simply ruin the taste of my food. It wasn't, after all arsenic. My pastor and his wife lived, and my son was born healthy and with a great Apgar score. Ironically, the pastor turned out to have some really interesting ideas about the inerrancy of Scripture, being slain in the spirit, and the extent of the atonement. He was fired about a year later. I'm pretty sure it wasn't the Pine-Sol's fault, though.

This is the kind of story that would relegate me to the category of "mommy blogger." I don't know if that's a disparagement today or not.

I'm happy to say that since that night, I have never used Pine-Sol again.


Cringing, laughter, and nostalgia

I don't know why, but this past weekend, I got it in my head to review the archives of my blog. These are the posts that came from my original blog, which I began in 2005, on Blogger.

There were some interesting observations.

First, I talked too much back then. I talk too much now. You know the old saying, "the more things change, the more they stay the same."

Second, I cared deeply about biblical doctrine even back then. That encourages me somewhat.

Third, homeschooling was joyful and hard, and I loved it. I still have good memories of those years.

Fourth, I have always had too thin of a skin. I remember writing a post, wondering whether or not Wal-Mart sold thick skins, but I've yet to come across it. Again, the more things change...

Fifth, there is a very big difference in the tone of my writing in 2005 compared to now. I was too bold, too sure of myself, too flippant.  My bad; my very bad. The teen years were exceptionally humbling. And I still have a long way to go.

Sixth, I think there are many things I should have waited to write about until I was older. I think the perspective of time would have made a big difference. While I still lack wisdom, I have a bit more than I did then. Sometimes, social media and blogging makes us think we need to say something right now!  There are lots of things I'm sure in five years I will wish I had waited to talk about.

And last: I know my blog had a bigger readership back then, yet I wrote longer posts. That says a lot for how things have changed in social media. 

All in all it was (and will continue to be; I'm not done purging yet) a good exercise, keeping what I think needs to be kept, and tossing what really shouldn't have been written in the first place. There are a few posts where I comment about how foolish I am.

Again, the more things change ....


Are blogs soap boxes?

I was recently challenged by the idea that blogs are nothing more than soap boxes for people who want to promote themselves. I was also challenged to consider how blogging is a forum for immodesty. The individual who shared this with me admitted to not being a reader of blogs for those very reasons. In the description I was given, the phrase ad nauseum was used.  You have to know that when that phrase is used, it isn't really positive.

Those are challenges worth considering. If we are to be men and women accountable to God, we will take seriously challenges to what we do. I asked some fellow bloggers and readers of blogs to share with me their thoughts, and I was happy with the amount of feedback I got. I want to share some of those thoughts. I realize I run the risk of being "self-promoting" with this, but as you'll see, one can hardly communicate a word without the risk of appearing that way.

Blogging can be a self-promoting act. It's a communcative act and communicative acts begin with, yes, the person communicating. We take it for granted that when someone speaks, they are intending for you to realize that they are offering their thoughts. I don't communicate your thoughts; I communicate mine. Any form of communication can be considered self-promoting. Someone wisely pointed out to me that even within a bible study setting, a comment can be self-promoting. Any medium of communication can be self-promoting, whether it is a blog post, news article, book, or comment at an online site. The medium is not the issue; a medium of communication is only as good as its user, and since sinful people are using the medium of speech, both written and oral, the risk for abuse is there.

Blogging is about writing. Whether one writes about cooking, training dogs, or the love of beautiful paper and pens, blogging is about writing. Stephen King said that writing is "refined thinking." We write what we think. Writers write to be read. Anyone who says they don't write for others probably doesn't have a blog. If we write for ourselves alone, we wouldn't ask someone to read it, and we would keep our words in a notebook or in a file on our computer desk top. Putting words out there for someone to read does carry with it the risk of appearing self-promoting. Just imagine if every writer kept his words to himself for fear of being self-promoting. Would we have any good things to read? I'm not comparing blogs to fine literature, but the principle is the same. Taken to an extreme, we are all, daily, self-promoting. 

When we read someone's blog and don't like it, we need to ask ourselves why. Sometimes, I have read a blog and chafed at it only to realize weeks later that I was being convicted. If we don't like it, we're free to navigate away. Someone shared with me that she doesn't go to every neighbour and explain to them how wrong they are. If we don't like a blog, we don't have to tell the person that.  How about ignoring them? If they aren't attacking us personally, can't we just walk (or click) away?  My husband tells me often that there is freedom in ignoring.

We cannot impose our convictions on someone else. If someone doesn't like blogs, then he doesn't have to read them.  But I should not be obligated to join him in his disdain. When we attack a medium of communication, we are, ultimately, attacking its user.  The words don't appear on the screen devoid of a writer behind them.

One of the bloggers who shared her insights reminded me that as blogging people, our purpose should be clear. The easiest way to become self-promoting is to lose focus and forget what our purpose is. I would be willing to say that the bloggers I enjoy have the glory of God as their purpose. We endeavour to write in a way that directs the reader back to God. We will be more or less sucessful depending on the day. We are, after all, sinners in need of daily transformation, and that includes how we use our words.

I enjoy blogs. I enjoy them for reasons that may be different than yours. Yes, there are blogs that are self-promoting.  And don't even get me started on the use and abuse of Twitter. But as with anything, if I have a conviction that they're bad, it's my issue, not yours. Currently, I find them useful and edifying. And for the ones that are self-promoting, I simply don't partake of them. And if you find my blog immodest and self-promoting, you don't have to read, and I won't be offended.


Reminders from a day of controversy

Yesterday, the blog circles I travel in spent considerable time evaluating Kevin DeYoung's post about complementarianism. What seemed to be the talk of the town, so to speak, was completely unknown to my husband when he came home.  When I shared some of the details, he looked at me with only mild interest. What seemed to consume my day was rather a "meh" moment for my husband.  He doesn't get all that excited over these debates.

I linked the post on Facebook, and there was some discussion. I checked back with the post and social media later, and discovered that after seeing Iron Man 3 had basically pushed that from my consciousness, there was still some discussion. As I thought about this before dropping off to sleep, I had some valuable reminders about controversial posts and spending time thinking about them.

First, when our views are challenged, we get defensive. Defensiveness doesn't always make for coherent comments. We can get a little "tribal" for lack of a better word, and even in the some of the comments I read yesterday, there was a "we versus them" aroma floating about; a reminder to me to think before commenting should I decide to, and to avoid taking a defensive stand.

Second, these controversies take time from our day and distract us. Honestly, I felt very bad by the end of the day when I realized my undue fascination with this situation had been at the root of why my bathrooms didn't get cleaned. Yes, theology is important, but so are the dustbunnies lurking in the corners of my house. If we're going to get embroiled in these things, we have to weigh the cost of spending too much time with them. There is nothing wrong with reading and thinking, but we still should ask ourselves just how much is too much? I point my finger at myself: yesterday was a bust due to me putting too much attention toward this situation.

Third, there is wisdom in the saying that today's newspaper will cover the bottom of tomorrow's birdcages. Yes, the story was riveting, and yes, I was interested, but today dawned, and no doubt there will be more things to distract me.  There is, again, merit in evaluating prayerfully just to what I give my attention.

And last, the need to comment at all. There are people who have good points to say, and I appreciated them, but there were also people who had less than edifying comments, and those who simply wanted to be heard. Don't we all like to be heard?  I confess, I do, but I want to get over that. I want to be a better listener. I want to be less embroiled with these things. I found myself really frustrated with myself by the end of the afternoon, thinking that I allowed a debate consume my thinking when I am in the midst of getting a Sunday school lesson ready, and getting ready for a speaking engagement later this month.

It was a shame on me kind of day.

Social media, including blogging, tempts us to draw attention to ourselves, sometimes even in the name of exalting Christ. May my motives not be the attention-getting variety. May I think more and speak less.  May I be above all a listener before a speaker.  


The first rule of research

As early as the 5th or 6th grade, I learned from my teachers that when writing a report of some kind, we ought not to use only one source for our compositions. In high school, it was emphasized in even more definite terms. One course I took in university, about writing essays, had a list of specific types of resources I had to use, primary, secondary, critical, academic journal, etc., if I wanted to earn a passing grade. It was simple to me:  the more research one did, the better. It was also important to use reliable resources, not just fill our reports with someone's opinion.

And then along comes the internet. Aside from Wikipedia, there are also blogs, where we can say anything we want. I can tell you I'm an astrophysicist if I like, and maybe someone will believe me. Increasingly with news media online, which is saturated with more image than text, we look to the news sources for our information, and by default, our understanding.  Who wants to read a book, right?  It's all there online.  

After reading Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death, I came away realizing my own tendency to confuse information with understanding. For example, all of the information I have about what happened in Boston or West, Texas, has come from the news. There is also a story here in Canada about a young girl who was gang raped at a party. I have learned about that from the news. This is where we learn of these things.

Unfortunately, there are serious issues that require more research than just the internet. For example, the nation of Israel, and all of the surrounding issues is a complex thing. Yes, I can rely on the news, but that is not understanding. There is a missionary couple my church supports who have lived there for twenty years. If I want understanding, I'll ask them.  They live there, they have first hand experience. Furthermore, the wife has gone to school there and studied Israeli history and politics. They have understanding.  Quite intersestingly, they report that a good deal of what happens there isn't reported by North American journalists.

I could sit here and scour the internet for articles and blogs about various topics, but I'm old school enough to think that opening up a few books and reading in-depth on the topic is part of the research activity. Recently I read, cringing, words written about my country, penned by an American, which revealed startling ignorance about this country.  The source for the information?  From behind the computer screen, on the internet. The individual knows little about this country. I would never presume to make sweeping generalizations about America, its politics, or culture, because I simply don't know. And a few hours on the internet wouldn't help me with that. 

This kind of thinking trickles down to spiritual arenas. Here on my blog, I could (but I wouldn't) label someone a false teacher based on something he said. I may take no time to find out anything about him, what he preaches, or what his doctrinal position is. I just blast him because I don't like what he's said.  Somewhere out there, I'd probably be able to find a few people who agree with me, and presto, bingo! we have a little tribe.

I don't think so. I don't think that's a good use of my time. I also think it's a serious allegation to publicly call someone a false teacher. If he's in my local church, I'll follow the proper avenues to deal with my concerns. Some, but not all of the name hurling and mud-slinging that goes on online has, as its root, a poor conception of what the difference is between understanding and information is. We think the more information we have, the more understanding we have.  That may be true, but it depends on what kind of information we're partaking of.  Most people don't want to take the time to know anything deeply.  Most of us can't even get past 500 words on the screen.  I'm quite certain that at this point in this post, most people have clicked away.

Understanding takes work.  It takes research, and it takes time. Personally, I know I want to be much more careful in the future about seeking understanding, not just information.