Thursday, March 06, 2008

What Archbishop Rowan thinks about blogging...

With all the news in the Anglican Communion, Church of England priest and writer Maggie Dawn interviews Archbishop of York and the Archbishop of of Canterbury and they talk about ... wait for it ... blogging! Check out her first installment HERE.

I am waiting with baited breath to see if she asked the Archbishops the question that I posted on her blog HERE. It sounds like her time was shorted a great deal so I am not expecting that she got to it, but it would be cool if she did.


Blogging the Archbishops

Bloggin_the_archbishops_1 The Archbishops of Canterbury and York spent three days in Cambridge the week before last, to take a leading role in the first of six events called “A World to Believe In: The Cambridge Consultations”.

It was some months since I’d seen the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu. Once upon a time he was my local priest, and I got to know him well working with him on a number of church projects and missions of one kind and another over the last couple of decades. He’s always had a great habit of lobbing a musical challenge my way – “Here,” he used to say, “I want to talk tonight about God’s justice. Can you write me a new song?” I usually did – he’s the kind of person that gets results from people, not necessarily through pressure, but by inspiring people to do what they do well.

I arrived at the agreed time to fire your blog-questions at the Archbishops, but some of the organisation of the day had come slightly unstuck and the interview time was about to be squeezed out. The Archbishops overheard my protests, though, and they and their teams created a small space for me. So I sat with them over lunch, laptop at the ready, with an Archbishop on either side of me. I began by asking them how much they knew about the blog-world, and what kind of effect – positive or negative – they thought blogging, facebook and similar media are having on Church life and spiritual concerns.

“They are clearly part of the whole knowledge economy”, said Archbishop Rowan. “They have encouraged people not to take in passively what’s produced – it has opened up a more interactive environment for the sharing of knowledge – a democratisation of knowledge. And clearly that is bound to affect the Church at every level.”

Is the democratisation of knowledge always a good thing, though, I asked him? Does it flatten a desirable level of expertise?

“It can certainly flatten expertise,” he replied. “But perhaps the more worrying issue is that in can in some ways encourage unreflective expression – it’s possible simply to think it, and say it, without any thought. When that happens in personal conversation, there is a humanising effect. But on the screen, it’s less human.”

Then the Archbishop of York chipped in: “On the other hand, people have found real friendships through blogs, who would never have otherwise met each other – it’s a worldwide connection, people really do “meet” you on your blog. When I cut up my collar the response online was enormous – that’s when I realised just how many boundaries can be crossed with blogs.”

He thought for a minute, and then added, “But you know, when people write without thinking, it can get very difficult; it can be offensive and troublesome. The best of what’s there on the blogs is from those who take a little time to reflect before they publish. But there is no choice about whether we engage with this new media. It’s the world we are in – the Church has to engage with it!”

I'll post more tomorrow about the Archbishops' visit and my conversations with them.

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