Disconnected from the pain of the world

Spike Posted by Colin Corbridge on Mon, 02 Jun 2008 | Bookmark: digg this Post this to del.icio.us Post this to Facebook

I was reading an interview with Rob Bell in Relevant magazine that made me think…

He’s pretty dismissive of blogging and says, “You have to be so totally disconnected from the pain of the world to think that blogging is somehow a redemptive use of your time.”

It raises a whole host of really interesting and important questions: is he right?; why do we have blogs on the CMS Ireland site?; does blogging waste time that could helpfully be used doing other, more constructive, more redemptive things?; how much of what we do in life…in any field…is about redemption, restoration and transformation?

Hmmm…

I’m not going to try and justify the blogosphere or launch into an extended diatribe that passionately defends this (or any other) blog…that really would seem to be a waste of time. I just want to share a few of my thoughts as I’ve chewed the whole thing over.

1. Blogging can be unhealthy. It doesn’t take a genius to work that out. Like most things it can become addictive and self-serving. If it becomes a dominant and habitual force in our lives then Rob Bell is probably right – it can disconnect us “from the pain of world” and I’m pretty sure that’s not what we’re called to.

2. Blogging can be healthy. Sharing thoughts and ideas as they are worked through, pointing people in the direction of discussion and debate that might be helpful, inviting conversation and interaction – rather than perpetuating didactic, one way teaching – all seem to be good things to me.

As I look at it, blogging, at its best, is not about ‘disconnecting’ us from the world but about ‘connecting’ us in new ways.

When ‘missionaries’ of a different era set off for distant lands the best they could hope for was that they would be able to send a few letters home…at some point. The distances were vast, the timescales lengthy and the stories exotic. Amongst other things, one of the effects of this kind of communication was that, for most people, ‘mission’ became the story of what happened elsewhere.

Blogging isn’t the remedy for that but it can be part of a movement towards integrating missional thinking into the pattern of our everyday lives – becoming what we choose to read when we surf, what we look through on our RSS feeds, what we sift as we work through our inboxes.

From a CMS Ireland perspective, blogs have helped us get a better insight into the lives of our Mission Partners and Global Partners – to understand the issues they face and to respond in a more effective and informed way.

Far from distancing us from the real issues of mission they can actually help us get a better grasp of them.

So, in the past few weeks Rory has posted some good stuff on the whole issue of partnership, Ken and Judith have been reflecting on hospitality and Jason Mehl has penned a powerful story of transformation. These are stories about the places our partners live, the people they know and the challenges of inculturating the Gospel – they are stories that have redemption at their core. These are stories of mission that are deeply rooted in personal experience and because of that they are ones that I can identify with.

‘Disconnection from the pain of the world’ or insights to our global connections…I guess it has the potential to go either way…

The real question is ‘what am I going to do with those stories?’ – do they remain a series of interesting blog posts or do they challenge and inspire me to something new and different?