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:: Buzz Off :: Changing my Blog to Curb my “Buzz” Appetite

For the reasons given below,  T h e o • p h i l o g u e  has and will continue experience a serious cutback in posts.   

In seminary one develops many convictions and often enters a whole new world of theological discourse for the first time.  Just as seminary students quickly develop opinions on all the theological controversies in the church, they also tend to need an outlet for these opinions (Read: Pray for seminary wives).  They may be eager for genuine discourse, but all too often they are more eager to argue their newly developed opinions.  

On the one hand, they develop a sharp awareness of how misunderstandings and false teaching in the church are harming the body of Christ.  On the other hand, it is not always the case that seminary students exercise great restraint with the expressions of their understanding or charity to those Christians that may be guilty of common misunderstandings.  Often the blogosphere becomes the perfect outlet for seminary students to parrot the arguments of their seminary professors or textbook authors.  Perhaps for this reason, the blogosphere is a great blessing to their close friends who are not in seminary (Read: Pray for friends of seminary students).  There is a great danger, however, that lurks amidst the blogoswamp waters.  Before I tell you exactly what danger I’m talking about, let me mention two relatively recent posts that got my attention.    

A while back, Owen Strachan posted about changes he was making to his blog.  Whereas he used to be a very frequent poster, he doesn’t post as much anymore.  He didn’t quit the blog thing entirely, but his cutback in writing material was very significant.  Owen is one of the most prolific men I know.  His productivity level is unbelievable.  As if Ph.D. study was not demanding enough all by itself, Owen directs affairs at the Carl F. H. Henry Center on the side, regularly blogs, and manages to satisfy the responsiblities of both a husband and father all at the same time.  (I find it hard to keep up with local church ministry and reading assignments for my masters degree–and I’m single with no kids!)  This is why it made an impression on me when I finally caught my first glimpse of Owen’s humanity.  On the brink of the 09 New Year he posted the following words:  

After some thinking, praying and conversation, I’ve decided to step back from blogging a bit. … I started blogging to get writing experience.  … It was a very helpful exercise, and I’m glad I did it.  Now, though, with lots of commitments and responsibilities, I need to step back.  I need to focus more on permanent things.  Blogs can be immensely helpful, valuable, and edifying, but so can other things, and certain other things may last longer.  Blogging is a great intellectual and spiritual discipline, but as other venues of edification open up, one may have to focus less on blogging and more on family, church, classes, projects, and other things.

Owen’s post hit me hard for this reason: Whereas I used to post on COACH only every now and then and tended to post things of a more substantive nature, since the inception of  T h e o • p h i l o g u e  I had attempted a different style of blogging.  At first it was fun because I was able to keep up with so many “things.”  I would surf the internet for hours and often find material for ten posts in just one day.  I would get sucked into the blogosphere like it was a time vacuum, or better yet, like it was a place where time did not exist.  I so easily lost track of time as I surfed around, with one glance at my clock I would turn red and get sick to my stomach, ashamed of my obsession and afraid of getting further behind in my other, more important responsibilities.  

Because wordpress has this brilliant feature where you can know how many hits each of your posts get on a given day, overtime I have come to realize that the blogosphere craves “buzz,” especially controversy “buzz.”  It was a temptation for me to begin only posting the most controversial things I ran across because I knew they would get a lot of hits.  Without realizing it, however, I had myself developed a larger appetite for such “buzz.”  Thus, it became very natural for me to find the “buzz” and post about it.  Or even create it.  On one of my posts, in spite of my adding fuel to a specific controversy, the two people about whom the controversy concerned were actually reconciled in the comment thread on my very post (something I never imagined would happen).  Nevertheless … the point is this: I spent too much time in the blogosphere and developed too big of an appetite for things that were, in the end, relatively unedifying.  

Don’t get me wrong, not everything I posted or read was unedifying, and even the relative value of all the “buzz” is largely dependent on the motives of one’s heart, but when my hits would go sky high whenever I posted on taboo issues, it did two things: 1) revealed to me my own sin nature, and 2) revealed to me something about the blogosphere that helped me better understand TMZ and other gossip filled tabloid type publications.  People, whether Christian or not, love the taboo.  And for this reason, it sells.

Although Owen’s reasons for posting less were not based on a confession such as the one I am making here, it nevertheless emboldened me to, for my own reasons, cut back significantly on my time spent in the blogosphere.

Even more recently and relevant to my own experience was my once fellow classmate Tony Kummer’s recent shift in focus and discontinuation of “The Baptist Buzz.”   He writes:

I’ve had some internal conflict the last few weeks about my blogging. This is nothing new, and I expect most Christians have struggled with the right use of this technology. Seeking a global audience has always strained my own pursuit of humility, and I’ve often questioned the best use of time.

Tonight, I’m under specific conviction from the Apostle Paul. I’ll just clip the verses that have caught my attention and leave you to draw your own conclusions.

2 Timothy 2:4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.

2 Timothy 2:16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness,

2 Timothy 2:23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.

So, my conscious is captive to the Word of God. Until I can work out this issue I’ll try a little different format here on the site. I’m going to discontinue the Baptist Buzz feature and replace it with an new aggregator box called “SBC Watchlist.” That will be a collection of the most influential SBC blogs and news feeds (to my knowledge). This will also mean I won’t be scanning the feeds daily and will mean a reformat on the newsletter.

Pray for me to discern God’s direction in this and I do apologize to all the regular readers of Baptist Buzz.

As  T h e o • p h i l o g u e  was beginning to climb in hits more than it had ever been before, my heart began to imagine what my stats would look like if I kept it up.  Ironically, at about the same time, my conscience began to own up to the reality of what the blogosphere was doing to my own heart.  Not only is it very time consuming to keep up with all the “Buzz,” but it’s a spiritual danger to begin blogging just for the sake of more and more hits.  

For this and other nuanced convictions, I have decided to seriously cut back on my posting.  Furthermore, my posting will go back to the way it used to be for a few years on COACH.  More substance, less buzz.  This will mean a plunging decrease in my hits, but I will gain more peace of mind and heart.  Although the venue of the blogosphere doesn’t tend to have as big an appetite for what I think of as my more substantive posts, quality of writing matters more to me than quantity of readership.

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