Sunday 15 August 2010

Article on theology and blogging

My paper on blogging is available now, "Theology 2.0: Blogging as Theological Discourse", Cultural Encounters 6:1 (2010), together with a brief response by Robb Redman. The journal has kindly made the article available for free download: you can get it here [221 KB].


JP said...

Great article, Ben. I particularly liked your comparison between web 2.0 and Marcus Aurelius! Let's hope your conclusion that blogging will make theology a friendlier discipline also proves correct - I think it will.

James K.A. Smith said...

Thanks for sharing this, Ben. Good stuff. Seems like there have been several "meta-" discussions about these matters over the last few months.

I think you're right that the theological blogosphere is becoming part of the universe of theological discourse, though still marginally. I expect that will change when the gatekeepers of the disciplines--PhD advisors--are themselves "digital natives." Right now it is still largely the younger generation who are at home in the blogosphere (though there are exceptions of more senior folks making forays, but they do so as digital immigrants). As retirements happen and younger folks make their way into senior positions, we may begin to see bloggers who are also doctoral advisors. Then we'll see what role the theological blogosphere plays.

Another "test," of sorts, would be to watch hires in the discipline; that is, do those other gatekeepers--personnel committees--value what the theological blogosphere thinks is important. One could be very concrete: there are two huge hires that will be made at Duke Divinity School in this coming year. I would guess that if you polled theological blogosphere about who they think should get those jobs, and then polled tenured faculty at the top divinity schools, you would get two wildly different list of names. Will those lists be more similar in 15 years?

Jim said...

ben you're brilliant, my favorite theoblogger, and the smartest aussie i've ever met.

Ben Myers said...

Jim, stop saying such offensive things about Australia! ;-)

Josh said...

It's kind of funny that the article suffered "major technical errors".

Ben Myers said...

Good point, Josh — and in spite of everything the paper says about flexible, provisional discourse etc, I was completely distraught when it was printed with incorrect footnotes! I guess this proves that the logic of blogging hasn't yet burrowed deeply enough into my consciousness...

Mark said...

Great paper. This is a little off its main point, but one historical thing struck me on pg 49 when you write - "the fixity and permanence of the printed word produce ideal of verbal perfectability, style and the idea of ownership."

The Augsburg Confession was Melanchthon's document. He "owned" it and would modify it. There was an ongoing clash between fixity, perfectability and ownership with that document. That distinction between public and private also factored. The Lutheran church of course took the UAC or unaltered Augsburg Confession instead of the variata of Melanchthon.

The book or the press encouraged confessionalization and eventually denominalization over the local communities. The blog as a medium would seem to inspire the creation of communities. The danger is that they are cliq-ey, but hopefully communities that practice "self-correction (p54)" otherwise know as confession and absolution. Less emphasis on abstract theological details, and more emphasis on concrete living of a confession with all its messiness. If the Augsburg had been a blog forum, the three traditions that came out of there might have figured out a way to live together.

Anonymous said...

I've only gotten around to reading this interesting paper today and it is something I'm going to return to and reflect on.

Now, I would only like to comment on the comparison of blogging with the shift to print. It's pretty clear, thanks to almost thirty years of research on the printing press and the Protestant Reformation, that people were quite slow to understand the cultural transformation.

It's also clear after reading sixteenth-century texts, that in some ways the reformers understood what they were doing in quite similar terms to bloggers. The polemical exchanges, the vast pamphlet literature all suggest that many writers viewed their texts as ephemeral as bloggers see their posts. They were also, very often, fashioning themselves, or, to use other language, trying to convince themselves of the rightness of their theological position. Often one can see someone developing a theological position in the midst of that conflict. The covenantal theology Zwingli reached for to attack the Anabaptists would eventually become central to his theology.

There was no clear line between oral and print culture in the sixteenth century, as the late R. W. Scribner showed in several works.

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