The Blogger’s Vocation

I sometimes wonder why so many people (apparently) read this blog when it appears on very few blogrolls and scarcely any Catholic ones. It doesn’t provide news, although it is generous with opinion; it studiously avoids the liberal-conservative debate inside the Catholic Church as well as most politics outside; it has what one reader called an ‘austere format’ yet doesn’t pretend to any scholarship except other people’s. In short, as far as I’m concerned, why you read it is one of life’s little mysteries.

But you do read it; and that is the point. I think many people forget that blogging is, in its own small way, as much a vocation as life’s larger choices. It therefore requires similar commitments:

• to prayer, first of all (how many bloggers, even Christian bloggers, think of praying before they write and again before they publish?);
• to truth in all its ramifications (how many relationships founder because they are not essentially truthful, and isn’t there a relationship between blogger and reader that requires just as much integrity and transparency as any other kind of relationship?);
• to charity in its deepest and widest sense (love is the one thing that can never hurt our neighbour).

Blogging is a vocation filled with hope, that looks beyond itself to an end not yet attained, a transformation not yet achieved. If that seems to you verging on the grandiloquent, if not seriously deluded, I’d argue that those of us who blog have a great responsibility. We place our words in the blogosphere, but we don’t know who will read them or what effect they may have. For every person who comments, there may well be several more who don’t. We have no real means of measuring the consequences of our actions. We exist in a kind of digital limbo. I think blogging is as much an act of faith as anything else, with success being measured by the good we do, not the praise we receive or the score we achieve on Klout or Wikio. And the amazing thing is, as any blogger will tell you, those of us who do blog receive much more than we give. It is the vocational paradox in a little.



26 thoughts on “The Blogger’s Vocation”

  1. Yes – and that is why it is painful when you did not respond to my earlier comments despite my prompting. It makes me feel that I had not been heard despite the fact that I read and reflect on the points made in the blog. These were issues of very real importance in my life and they were simply ignored.

    • Deborah, please go back to the post where you first made your complaint. I gave you a public answer because you made a public complaint. If it was not sufficient for you, would it not be better to email me privately rather than go on asserting as true something which isn’t? It isn’t really fair to give others the impression that you’ve been ignored when you haven’t. In any case, you might like to ask yourself where I guarantee to respond to every reader’s comment. You’ll find I don’t because I can’t.

  2. I think you answered your own question – people read this lovely blog because it is prayerful and gently probes the questions that really matter the most to us. As a very unaccomplished blogger, thank you for reminding me that it is a vocation – I might just stick at it for a bit longer!

  3. Well said John.
    One of my reasons for reading is community. No ‘blogrolls or Catholic links’, but contributers often leave a trail to their own musings. I was delighted to discover John’s reflection on Thomas Browne’s sepulchral urnes. A great Norfolk hero and the urns (Anglo-Saxon not Roman) found just a few miles away.
    But it is Jim I have to thank this week. I have been puzzling over the ‘wedding garments’ in the recent reading Matthew 22:1-14. I am so grateful to you for your clarification.
    How? Where? else could this happen. I pray for HTM and its wider community of readers and writers.

    • Thank you, Anstice! I think one of the reasons I’m reluctant to do a blogroll is that I know I shall give offence to those I don’t put on! (And, to be perfectly honest, I don’t have much time for surfing the web or reading other people’s blogs.)

  4. P.S. Of course, I could be wrong… I find all the internet jargon very confusing sometimes.
    P.P.S. Well, actually, most of the time, if I’m honest.
    P.P.P.S. Which I ought to be (honest, I mean), given the topic of this post!

  5. “We place our words in the blogosphere, but we don’t know who will read them or what effect they may have.” You are right – it is a risk. But so is faith which, to quote ++Desmond Tutu, is “not something I would risk living without”.

  6. Catherine –
    One reason I read your blog is because you don’t rant or vent anger via sarcasm or destructive language. And even if I don’t agree with every single post, or have a different understanding of something, I appreciate that what you write makes a lot of sense and is well-written – and your posts are usually short and sweet!

    And that’s what I hope anyone reading my blog would say. It only appears on our congregational websites and a few blogrolls (and they in return appear on mine), but looking at my stats I am regularly amazed at just how many people have accessed it. Blogging is, as you say, a great responsibility, with so much potential (good and bad), and the impact of our words may never be known to us. I always feel that sense of risk, of what you rightly call an act of faith, as I write, read, edit, re-read… and yes, I always receive, immeasurably, more than I ever thought I would, when I started out 6 months ago.

  7. I was wondering how to reply to this post and the only thing I could come up with was: this place is a sea of calm in a blogosphere of storms. I know it sounds naff but there it is.

    • Thank you, Terry. I’ve just told Quietnun and she wonders whether we inhabit the same universe as I am, apparently, too full of ideas for the idea of calm. I told her it was the blog that is calm, not me.

  8. I have only just stumbled across this blog, but thoroughly enjoyed the challenge this post presents. As a fairly new blogger who aims to point everything back to the most important aspect of my life – my faith – I need to ensure that the blogging itself doesn’t become more important than the purpose, the subject or those that read it!

    I look forward to reading more of your thoughts ….. 🙂

    Thank you!


  9. Thank you for all your comments. I think those of us who blog are probably aware of the pitfalls, but it certainly helps me that I’m part of a monastic community which, in itself, imposes a certain discipline. Someone commented offline that if I commented more on other people’s blogs, I would get more links; but for me, blogging is not about getting links, it’s about sharing and I’m very grateful for what you’ve all shared here. Please don’t stop!

  10. I have just discovered your site through joining twitter a couple of days ago to promote my own site; not a specifically Christian site as it is for primary school music teachers, but as a Christian, this post has highlighted that I should be incorporating prayer into my site, even if this is invisible to my audience. Can I get your blog on my Kindle? This is the kind of insight that I would love to receive on it!
    Thank you, and God Bless you and your readers.

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