Wednesday, June 22, 2005

What Makes a Blog Christian?

A couple of times now in my short blogging career, I have come across lists of “Christian blogs” and have contemplated adding Muley’s World to the lineup. I have stopped short of doing so, however, because I have yet to fully answer the question in my mind, is this a “Christian blog?”

Sure, I am a Christian, and this is a blog. But does that automatically make it a “Christian blog?” It’s the same sort of question that a Christian who writes books might wrestle with. Do they consider themselves a “Christian writer,” a “writer of Christian books,” or “a writer who just happens to be a Christian?”

My problem with signing up for these lists is that when I look at the summary descriptions of the “Christian blogs” that are included, most of them have a definite Christian or at least spiritual slant. Many are overtly religious -- blogs that study the Bible day by day, or blogs from preachers with a weekly message and notes, or blogs from missionaries or other church workers discussing their daily challenges. Others, while not limiting themselves to church or worship-related topics, seem to deal with faith, spirituality and the Christian walk on quite a regular basis.

For example, here’s some blog site descriptions from the first few pages of a popular Christian weblog index:

“News, analysis and comment on Christian living”
“Exploring faith, God, passion [and] purpose”
“Exploring matters of faith in God”
“Reflections on my journey with God”
“Embarking on a spiritual journey toward Jesus”
“Mostly Catholic thought”
“My journey into Orthodoxy”
“Family living for Christ”
“Waiting, refined and prepared to be poured out for Jesus”
“A Christian blog”

I have two questions. First, does a guy who posts only one overtly “Christian” piece a week (my blogging group study of Celebration of Discipline) qualify as a “Christian blogger” in the company of the other folks on this index? What if they see my blog entry and visit me, and instead of getting my thoughts on Romans 3 or fasting or spiritual gifts, they see a funny photo of nuns, or a postcard of jackalopes, or goofy gift ideas for Fathers Day (all of which have been on my blog)? Does talk of Ted Nugent and grape-slathered apples and microwave pork rinds and Alien sequels have any right to be advertised on the same page as heartfelt discussions of grace and forgiveness and prayer and redemption?

I've stepped back a bit and noticed what a split personality my blog has. I can imagine the confusion of someone who, say, stumbles in on a Monday, reads fours days of posts that are 100 percent secular in content and approach, and then, out of the blue on Friday, they're hit with this long Bible study, written in a serious voice with lots of "churchy" language, followed by days of goofiness and secular content again. I can imagine them saying, "are there two guys writing this blog?"

For visitors who might be attracted in the beginning to check out a supposedly "Christian" website, am I damaging what testimony I have by, in effect, taking fellow seekers hungering after spiritual food and hitting them in the face with a cream pie?

Question two is the reverse of this. If I call myself a Christian (and I do), should I be writing about what I'm writing about at all? Should I be far less concerned with the frivolities of the material, fallen world, and instead be more concerned with topics of spiritual significance? Topics of eternal value, instead of such ephemeral subjects as pop culture and easy laughs?

And if I deal with topics concerning humor and pop culture, should I at least try to look at them through a "Christian lens" before I write? Even if the subject is not a spiritual one, should I try to "work in" something spiritual? If so, how do I use a Christian lens -- or work in something spiritual -- when discussing, say, the Three Stooges?

In short, can I truthfully call my blog “Christian” if it’s stuffed almost exclusively with things of the world?

I have lots of these questions and very few answers. That's exactly why I have refrained from putting Muley’s World on any Christian index. I don’t want to lead people astray and participate in false advertising, as well-meaning and unintentional as it might be. I want to be a good Christian, but I want to use my talents as I understand them, too, even if all that produces is a cogent analysis of Moe's use of head slappies.

If you've read down this far, I need some advice and Christian counsel. What do you think, fellow bloggers who are Christians? How do you see yourselves, and your blogs? Can you and I promote chuckling at jackalopes and comedy teams and fun-loving nuns and still be using our time and talents profitably for Him?

9 comments:

Kate said...

Muley,

I think, as Christians, our faith ought to inform everything we do. But I also think that to try to do that explicitly, to try to "put on your Christian reading glasses" before writing, is not going to benefit you. There is already a subtle flavor to your writing that comes from believing that Christ loves you, that he died for your sins and rose again,that every human life is infinately precious because of that sacrifice, and that the created world is a gift to us from the creator. Whether or not you try to put it there or try to explain it, your blog is already infused with a joy that must find it's roots in your worldview. If it isn't there implicitly, unconciously, it is because it isn't in your heart. If it is in your heart, it will find its own way into your writing.

When Dawn first posted a link to you, she didn't mention whether or not you were Christian. It was that ridiculous and funny post on Retsin that I read first. It wasn't util you posted your first explicitly Christian post that I realized that I had been just assuming that you were Christian, even though I couldn't have pointed to any one thing to explain why I thought so. I think perhaps your wonder, and humor in even the littlest things must have communicated to me a sense of the gratitude and "the joy that is within you" which St. Paul says we must always be ready to give reason for.

I suppose, if we always to be ready to give reason for the joy that is within us, that presupposes that as Christians we are beacons of joy even when we aren't 'giving reason' or explicitly proclaiming Christ.

Finally: you appeared shortly before Fr. Sibley retired from blogdom. It seems to me that we need at least one God-blogger with a refined sense of the absurd.

Sorry to go on so long, but you asked!

Kingery Family Blog said...

Jesus said...What good is it to gain the whole world only to lose your soul? One day it dawned on me that he was referring to my people pleasin ways.....and as a christian, it seems that we get scared of and try to please the "pharisees" among us...hmmm....."it's all right now, I learned my lesson well..ya know ya can't please everyone so...ya got to please yourself" (song lyrics, cant think of title or artist)

Stacy said...

If you want to win the world you have to walk in it. Not be of it, but your presence needs to be there. You know my blog; I'm goofy, I'm realistic, but ultimately I'm hoping that someone will come around on one of my evangelistic days and be touched. It's so funny you posted this today; I sat in church last night thinking of how I wanted to identify myself as a believer with a barn-burning post. Perhaps God's speaking to us.

nightfly said...

You're fine, man. Even if your blog doesn't treat a religious subject directly, it can build up the Body. There's nothing wrong with fun! I know it's not on the list Jesus gives in the parable of the sheep and the goats, but I can't imagine that you'd lose your reward for bringing a smile to someone's day.

I put up a longer, more philosophical look at your question over at the Hive. (I hope I don't get myself dooced, but this is important!) In short, I think he gives us our interests for two reasons: first, as good things in themselves, for our own enjoyment; and second, as a way to reach others who share those loves, but not the larger love of Jesus Christ.

My fellow hockey nuts may not witness Christ unless they first witness a Christian: well, there I am. As an overt thing, I make the sign of the cross before we begin each period, but it's more my character that will help convince. Besides, any good I might do would be quickly squandered if I was too busy praying to bother stopping the puck.

Do your conscience, of course: if you honestly feel God calls you to be more overt in writing here, that's the path and I wouldn't dream of stopping you. Nor should you assume that I'm perfectly confident in my own answer, because God is always calling. But I am confident in Him. I trust that His call will lead me truly. As it stands now I don't see you squandering a gift, but using it - your character is Christian, and it comes through in your writing. The topics you cover aren't an obstacle, they're the medium through which you communicate Christ.

Bob said...

Howdy Muley!

Interestingly enough, Dr. Baggas, from the CoD group had that question up when I first started almost three months ago. I tell people that I am a Christian who blogs. I try to write from my perspective as a Christian, and I think that one thing my blog misses is the humor. As long as I am not dishonoring Christ, I would classify myself as "A Christian who blogs."

Jan said...

I've had similar concerns about my blog. I signed up for the Christian Women blog ring and noticed my posts look ridiculous next to the others, who write daily about theological issues. And there I am with shoes and karaoke and all that other fluff. I spoke with my wisest friends about it and they convinced me to keep on doing what I'm doing. My blog is Christian in that it is good clean fun with the occassional theological discussion thrown in. Yours is, too. I hope you'll keep it up.

By the way, I'm with Stacy. I have many non-believing friends who read my blog. My hope is that I can reel 'em in with the fluff and then feed 'em some deeper stuff every now and again.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Jesus kept his band of disciples merry as well as serious. The humor was not recorded in the gospels but must have existed. So, on balance, you're doing great!
Frank in Billerica.

Julie said...

I am a Christian, but my blog reveals my great many flaws.

I don't align myself with any Christian blog rings or the like because I am increasingly unhappy with the division of "this is Christian" and "this isn't Christian" in that thinking like that is the problem. I think blogs just are what they are, and if the writer is Christian, it's still just a blog. The Christian worldview is the foundation it's built on, but unless it's specifically a theological blog of some type, I don't know why anyone would want to attach a label to themselves.

I'm sure there are people who read what I write, sometimes with mildly rude language and obvious evidence of my fallen nature, and think I'm far from anything Christian.

I think I'm just being real. My readers aren't all Christians. Isn't that the point?

Muley said...

Thanks to everyone who took the time to answer my question with your insights. I'm glad to be in the company of such smart, funny Christians who enjoy an occasional bit of goofiness as much as I do.