Over the past year I have seen at least three bloggers reflecting on blogging as spiritual formation. Blogging, after all, has connections to journalling, but where the journal is a private affair, the blog is public. That means the blog moves the journal past the merely personal and inward pursuit and invites others into the journey, becoming a communal process. Theological reflection is necessarily a communal process, and an intimate component of community life for apprentices of Jesus.

Back in mid September Paul Fromont at Prodigal Kiwis was asking for help on a reflective project for the Journal of Contemplative Spirituality. That request resulted in some creative dialogue, and Paul wrote an excellent and short article on blogging as spiritual formation. I’ve shared the article with a few of you, and now I want to share a bit more here.

Paul asks, with a remixed statement from Delbert Wiens in 1991,

“I wonder if blogging (though individualistic at one level) has the function of allowing us to attend (particularly if we write and reflect on a daily basis) to the lengthy rhythms of the creation of a self… and the growing sense that our practice of blogging is related to the larger natural, social and spiritual rhythms of being formed as a distinct people of God…?”

Paul notes that blogging can be a spiritual practice, a creative component of a personal (or communal) rule or rhythm. “It creatively recovers and re-mixes several traditional “practices” such as: study, journaling and self-examination, discernment (recognizing and responding to God); community; lectio divina; spiritual friendship, pilgrimage; the sharing of resources; service, encouragement, guidance and prayer. Blogging too requires intentionality and discipline.”

I have found writing a powerful tool for continuing conversion. As Augustine wrote, “I am the sort of a man who writes because he has made progress, and who makes progress by writing.” (Epistle 143:2-3.)

Paul also mentions Mike Riddell who writes about “cybermonks” in what he calls an exercise in poetic imagination (In Beyond Ground Zero). There is more, and I’ll post a note here when the article goes live.

6 Comments on blogging as spiritual formation

  1. tracy says:

    I’d say there was alot of truth in this; I find alot of encouragement, ideas, from reading others blogs; there is a sense of community going on, a church BEING if you like; the journying in community.

    to write something everyday does require discipline if that is, you are going to write something sustained – a lengthy artical for example, but i don’t think this kind of blog is for everyone to write. It could be just a few thoughts , a sketch or something. It does not make it less valid. A blog will reflect a person and so therefore, it could look different to many others.

    I certainly enjoy reading your blog. As a reader, i’m part of it too. keep it up!

  2. ken says:

    Thanks, Len. I’m only just beginning to taste the joy and challenge of online spiritual formation. What’s most inspirational is the encouragement and accountability that exists in such a community. I agree with Tracy… I certainly enjoy reading your blog… it inspires me and sharpens me… Keep it up!

  3. dbctan says:

    it’s not the first time blogging has been associated with spiritual formation but it certainly seems like a natural progression from – for want of a better word -‘old fashioned’ journaling to digital posting. I’m trying to track where all this is heading for a piece I’m writing so I’ll be visiting often.

  4. Alex Tang says:

    While I agree that blogging is a form of journalling, I am cautious that it is equivalent to or a natural modernisation of the spiritual discipline of journal writing. In the spiritual discipline of journal writing, the intention is to have a dialogue with God and oneself. There is no third party evasdropping in. Here one can be as open as humanly possible and be reception to the working of the Holy Spirit.

    Blogging on the other hand is public (unless you make your blog private and even then you cannot be sure whether your privacy is respected). Will it be possible to conduct an intimate conversation with God and oneself when one knows strangers will be reading what one has written. What is even worst is the temptation to ‘play to the audience’. That will be a harmful sort of spiritual formation.

    Shalom

    http://www.kairos2.com

  5. WP How says:

    Blogging is similar to journalling in that a “third eye” or third person view of the self is being articulated. While the writer initially forms a picture of the self, this is then further reflected upon by a community of readers. This communal reflection serves as a corrective or guide in the process of self-understanding and awareness. While the possibility of blogging being an exercise in spiritual formation exists, a lot depends on the intent of the blog, its content and the community of reflective readers. A blog could be used for marketing purposes, and directed to an audience of potential customers; or it can be used for a person reflecting on life. In this latter form, a community of believers can provide input and clarity to the formation or “seeing” of a truer self.

  6. Rosie Perera says:

    I wrote a response to this on Iambic Admonit. I also blog on technology and spirituality at the Faith and Technology blog. Forgive my neglect at waiting this long to post a link back to it, after I quoted this blog post as my initial inspiration.