Why blog? Why take the time to do more than publish narcissistic, trite posts about “my day at the zoo” (or “in the zoo” for some) characteristic of many “personal” blogs out there, but to take the time and make the effort to research and analyze and write and try to make sense of the world and culture in which we live? For me, the answer is multivariate.
The short answer is: to maintain a level of consciousness of the political and cultural world in which I live and move and have my being, along with honing my writing skills for effective communication. Writing provides an opportunity to organize one’s thoughts and requires a level of understanding of the subject matter that simple verbal blather does not. And as Neil Postman has observed (emphases added):
From Erasmus in the sixteenth century to Elizabeth Eisenstein in the twentieth, almost every scholar who has grappled with the questions of what reading does to one’s habits of mind has concluded that the process encourages rationality; that the sequential, propositional character of the word fosters what Walter Ong calls the ‘analytic management of knowledge.’ To engage the written word means to follow a line of thought, which requires considerable powers of classifying, inference-making and reasoning. It means to uncover lies, confusions, and overgeneralizations, to detect abuses of logic and common sense. It also means to weigh ideas, to compare and contrast assertions, to connect one generalization to another.
Expanding this short answer further, let me show you from Scripture some of the reasons I blog using a brief exposition of the following verse:
The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of wisdom.
The essence of Hebrew poetry is parallelism of ideas rather than rhyming of words. The book of Proverbs, part of the Hebrew wisdom literature, is one that makes extensive use of this form, with a large number of the proverbs appearing in a two phrase format in which the parallelism is fairly obvious. The parallelism can be a direct comparison, i.e., the same idea expressed differently or expanded, or a contrast of two opposites. (This is not an exhaustive description of Hebrew poetry. Most study Bibles will explain this in greater depth, and I would encourage you to avail yourself of such.)
The first phrase in this proverb, “The lips of the righteous feed many,” is very rich. For one, it states as a matter of fact that a righteous person will interact with others. Isolationism is not a valid lifestyle for a Christian. The cloister/convent model of piety is not a Scriptural one. The righteous will communicate, that’s what "the lips" do. Although verbal communication would be the primary application here, I think written communication would be included as well, especially since this concept has been passed on by the written word. Thus I would link it to one reason to blog.
The word translated here “to feed” is that used to describe pasturing and caring for livestock, i.e., “to pasture, tend, graze, feed.” The picture is a tender one, indicating both protection and nurture. Thus, the nature of what the lips of the righteous communicate is delimited to, in New Testament terms, that which edifies, or builds up. This calls to mind such verses as:
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.
2 Timothy 2:16
See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Thus, I would/should blog things that are profitable for my readers, with a focus on their needs on an intellectual level.
In addition, this latter verse combined with this proverb (10:21) bring to mind a group of men described for us in 1 Chronicles:
And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do….
1 Chronicles 12:32a
This is a particularly relevant observation for me because it shows that these men are commended by God for thinking (not feeling!) about their culture and events going on around them, political and otherwise, and that cogitation moved them to the formulation of policy, of “what Israel ought to do,” that is, to practical application of what they thought about. Now, they didn’t get that way by talking about nothing but the weather and how well the Beersheba Bears were doing against the Gaza Gazelles. Is it then a “sin” to talk about things that don’t obviously fit into edification? Are discussions of sports and other “nontheological” pursuits of life disqualified here? I think the answer is, it depends. I’m not trying to be cute or relativistic here. It is a matter of priorities. If all you can talk about is football, then yes, something is wrong. (And yes, I do believe humor has a place here, as evidenced by my obvious warped sense of humor to be found in some of my posts.) Another proverb two chapters over gives us some insight here:
Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense.
Proverbs 12:11, ESV
The word translated “follows” means “to hunt, pursue, follow after.” “Worthless pursuits” are literally those things which are “empty and worthless.” If such things are the primary focus of your life, if you spend most of your energy pursuing that which has no eternal value, then something is wrong, and we will say more on this when we consider the second phrase of our Proverb.
Lastly, who are those thus fed? The many. Not one, and not all, but the many. Your sphere of influence, which should include more than one, will not be the entire world. It does not guarantee that all who hear will agree with you. Nevertheless, there seems to be an exhortation here to willingly share as appropriate for the venue whatever truth God gives you regardless of the outcome. And need I say, blogging provides one means of reaching “the many.” (Not that I have “many” who read my blog…!)
Returning to Proverbs 10:21, the second phrase, “…but fools die for lack of wisdom,” is just as instructive. Hebrew actually has five different words that are translated fool and a careful examination of the usage reveals that they are five separate categories of fools. This particular kind of fool is what might be called the Angry Fool (‘eviyl). This category despises wisdom and instruction (Prov 1:7; 12:15; 14:1; 15:5; 24:7) in an angry, wrathful way that leads to being quarrelsome and contentious (Prov 12:16; 14:17; 27:3). These attitudes are particularly evident in their overabundant words (Prov 10:8, 10 [look up “prating” if you’re using the KJV]; 10:14; 12:23; 17:28).
The word translated “wisdom” here and “sense” in 12:11, and sometimes as “understanding,” is literally “heart,” the word used for the complete inner man. The critical nature and central role of this facility is proclaimed in Proverbs 4:23, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” So Angry Fools die for lack of heart. They don’t guard, protect, or nurture their heart with the right things, but follow worthless and vain things…to their ultimate destruction. Given Jesus’ exhortations about seeking first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33), it is essential that I be engaged in the spiritual disciplines (e.g., Bible study, prayer, fellowship, sitting under sound Bible preaching and teaching, memorizing and meditating on God’s Word) defined in the Bible for my spiritual growth and not neglect them for blogging. (This is also a reason theology is one of the disciplines that frequently interfaces with the current events discussed on this blog.) On the surface this might appear to be a reason not to get involved with the blogosphere, but balance of priorities is everything. Thus, blogging is only a hobby here at the Interface and not a burning passion consuming vast quantities of time. There have been numerous periods of varying lengths when family or work have required a brief hiatus from blogging, and reading blogs, to deal with the issues at hand. So be it.
Returning to our key verse, here is where the parallelism of Hebrew poetry comes in. The righteous are contrasted to these particular fools. The righteous have life, and spread life around them. The angry fools have worthless sand that leads to death. Unfortunately, all too often they successfully spread their worthless sand around as well. Thus, blogging frequently serves to:
Answer a fool according to his folly, Lest he be wise in his own eyes.
The conclusion of the matter for me: blogging is a hobby that encourages the assimilation of knowledge and maintenance of an awareness of current events to achieve an “understanding of the times” that allows me to feed myself and “the many” who happen across my pontifications and find them edifying.
Come, let us reason together….