I realized as I was catching up on Bloglines reading the other day that there are a few blogs that I really have a special place in my heart for, that I’ve been following for a little over two years now. The reason I have such fond feelings for these sites in particular is not just because they have nice content, but because they were my introduction to Christianity and Catholicism.
When I first became interested in exploring Christianity, I hardly knew any Christians, and the ones I did know weren’t actively practicing their faith at that time. When I started to be drawn to the Catholic Church, I was even more lost. We had a few Catholic friends but none of them lived close by, and I didn’t know any of them well enough to open up about the details of my potential conversion, which at the time I considered to be a very private matter.
So, in typical me fashion, I turned to the internet. I had no idea how one would go about finding blogs by practicing Catholics, so I just Googled stuff like “Catholic mom blog”, “Catholic blog”, “Christian mom blogs”, etc. It took me a while to find what I was looking for, but I finally found a few blogs written by Catholic and other Christian women. I added them to my bookmarks, sat back, and read. I almost never commented. I just quietly watched their lives unfold, like an anthropologist studying a new culture. Almost everything they did was so foreign to me — they casually mentioned praying about this or that, wrote about the goings on at their churches, discussed how they turned to God in tough times and disappointment, etc. I had never known anyone who did things like this (at least not that they shared with me), so I was fascinated.
I didn’t really realize it at the time, but as I would read these blogs, in the back of my mind I always though, “This is what it means to be a Christian” or, “This is what Catholic mothers are like.” I didn’t exactly intend to hold these authors up as the very definition of their religion, but since I didn’t know any other people from their religion they were all I had to go by.
And, though I doubt they would have ever guessed it at the time, they played a part in my conversion. Not because they wrote high apologetics or explained the details of their faith, but because they helped me feel a big more comfortable with what it means to be religious and what kind of people I could expect to meet if I got involved in a church, and because they all had a sense of peace that I yearned for in my own life.
I was thinking about all this the other day when I came across a blog I’d never heard of by a Christian. The post I found was a rant about a public figure, calling the person a stupid moron in addition to a few other insults. I actually found the post amusing and agreed with the author’s points. But then I had a thought that I was glad I didn’t come across this blog back when I was trying to learn more about Christianity. Though the author had plenty of good points and was kind of funny, the angry and vitriolic tone of many of the posts certainly wasn’t a good example of the whole “love your enemies” thing. The blog definitely did not exactly radiate the peace of Christ. 🙂
I was reminded again of something I’ve written about before: you never know who’s reading. Though the posts I mentioned above don’t really bother me now since I know plenty of Christians and have already formed my opinion about Christian culture (and am certainly guilty of writing posts like that myself), if I had read this person’s site a couple years ago, when I was totally unfamiliar with Christianity, I might have thought, “Man, these Christians sure are angry and hateful towards those who disagree with them.”
Since then I’ve been wondering: is there any sort of Christian duty when it comes to blogging?
It’s obviously not good to be fake or to represent yourself as some perfect, uber-holy person if you’re really not. Yet the fact is that, if you’re open about your religious beliefs on your blog, there are going to be people out there who don’t know many other people from your religion and therefore think of you as its de facto representative. Are we obliged to put our best foot forward when writing in the public forum of the internet? Or should we just relax and hope that people will evaluate Christianity on the truth of its claims and not the posts of its bloggers?
This has been a good thing for me to think about. I was scanning my archives for something recently and wanted to bang my head against my keyboard that there might be some person out there who would read some of the uncharitable, unkind drivel I’ve written and think “this is what Christians are like”. It occurred to me that if I were to walk around wearing a t-shirt with my blogger bio printed on it, I would probably be conscious of the fact that I was representing my newfound religion to others, whether I liked it or not. Yet I hardly think about it when I go to write a blog post. Anyway, thinking about this (and reading my own archives) has given me a lot to add to my “spiritual growth” to-do list. 🙂
And in case anyone’s wondering, the blogs I referred to at the beginning of the post who made up the “Christian stuff” section of my old bookmark folder are: Happy Catholic, Barefoot Meandering, Catholic Soccer Mom, St. Francis Academy (formerly Barefoot and Pregnant), Knit Together In Love (formerly Another Catholic Mom), SFO Mom, DarwinCatholic and Adoro te Devote. I’ve since gone on to discover tons of other wonderful blogs written by Catholic and other Christian women and men, but I have a special place in my heart for these, that I stumbled across through random Google searches way back when I was a seeker who wanted to find God but didn’t know where to start. A big thanks to all of these bloggers from a former atheist lurker.
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