Am I still a theoblogger?

I’m taking a hard look these days at the theoblogging world. It’s growing in leaps and bounds. In my experience, theobloggers are made up largely of grad students and some profs doing thesis work. They use their blogs as ways to stimulate thought and finish and publish papers. In 2003 I started a personal blog and became attracted to the theoblogging realm because I was firmly entrenched in reading Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer and I wanted to see what others had to say about their own reading. I’ve learned in large part that the internet is a lousy place to get meaningful reading done, and secondly that blogging relationships could hardly be called, well, relationships. That last statement really sounds messy, I’m not blaming anyone else, I know that I’m lousy at emailing or letter writing as forms of communication, and maybe I haven’t made the most of things.

I have hung on to the theoblogging realm because there are a few folks that I really enjoy reading. My list of blogs has not grown with changing times. On a few occasions I’ve gotten quite impatient and irate at the passive-voiced, detached, and largely impractical way of doing theology that I’m reading. In the case of Bonhoeffer and Barth, what draws me to these theologians is their pastoral and preaching interests. The way I’m seeing them used of late has nothing to do with pastoring, preaching, or humans for that matter! I don’t think I’d be wrong in saying that reading these theologians with nary an interest in their work as a vocation or their lives(!) is a disservice to all of us. Using a theologian to further our own little agendas seems to be the way theology is just done, especially here in the United States. That being the case, who the hell would want to be a theologian? In fifty years (with any success) you’d get to look forward to people dropping your name here or there in order to sound intelligent and further their own work. Rather than serving the Church, or loving God and neighbor with our work, theologians have the dubious honor of continuing a legacy of academic science, because, well, it’s a job. They put a lot of work into that Phd. Now they get to work to keep their tenure by publishing, because, “it’s publish or perish!”

Yes, I’ve learned a fair bit about theoblogging over the last five years, but my education has not made me want to grab the first person I meet on the street and tell them about it. Far from it. I almost want to shield people from 90% of what I see. I’m almost embarrassed to tell people that theology is what I read on the internet. Please people! Let’s endeavor to use theology for the Church and for human beings rather than reference systems. On his journey toward pastoring a church, after writing Sanctorum Communio and Act and Being, Bonhoeffer remarked that unless he could make what he had to say interesting for children, like describing a luscious apple held before them, he didn’t feel he was really being of service. There are those who will despise such sentiments. For my part, I’ve come to despise theological language that is not itself an embodiment of Bonhoeffer’s “Being for Others.” Far from obeying Christ in laying our lives down, theology in such circumstances is a way of deflecting others who “just wouldn’t understand” in order to pursue our own valuable head space.

I’m not sure I’m still a theoblogger. I don’t know what will change, but because I’m not a grad student, or a prof., or trying to get published theologically, because I just read theology, I feel less and less a part of it all.

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3 Comments

Filed under Personal

3 responses to “Am I still a theoblogger?

  1. thomas

    Sounds familiar! I’ve been reading your blog from time to time and did quite enjoy it. I think it has become even harder to find a half-way decent theology blog, ands it’s even worse here in the German blogosphere. Being a theologian myself, I share some of your feelings about the subject – science is feeding on itself, that’s not only the case with theology. Sometimes you deal with it, sometimes it seems to be unbearable. But I don’t think our only way of building the kingdom of God is in the immediate practical ways.
    Writing an ambitious blog about your reading and thoughts on Barth and Bonhoeffer is quite a bit of work and – as far as I am concerned – not in the least a waste of time. On the contrary: there certainly is a lack of scientific blogs on theology and religion. So thanks and keep up the good work! You are blogging “for others” already!

    P.S.: Not feeling part of the so-called “community” (of theoblogs in your case) isn’t always the worst thing. Barth and Bonhoeffer certainly felt far away from their scientific communities for some part of their lives. I tend to think they gained their unique perspective on things by that circumstance.

  2. Thanks Thomas for your kind words and encouragement. Good words.

  3. Chris,

    A fellow theoblogger (and yes, you are one, and a good one) although I agree with your post here. I consider my self one , too (thus the name of my blog) but I see and feel much the same about what you’ve said here. You’ve commented on mine before, and we’re “friends” on Facebook, and you’re in my RSS list, and Iread your post in Google Reader, which I’ve recently started using, especially its “Shared Items” widget that I added to my sidebar, with this post of yours added to it. Keep up the good work.

    Dale

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