Katherine McElaney | Jan 2 2008 - 9:42am | 0 comments
Hmmmm...like Tom Beaudoin I, too, have never "blogged." Unlike Tom, perhaps, and anyone reading this blog, I don’t typically read blogs. I’ve perused ("skimmed" is more precise) only a handful and generally I’ve only done that when a blog entry is embedded in an on-line article. To be honest, until Tim Reidy’s kind invitation to contribute, I didn’t know where to look for a blog, much less what the word meant. Somewhat concerned, I sent an urgent email to some of my most savvy contacts asking for their wisdom. One of them was my husband and one of them was my boss. My husband replied "some blogs are lame, some are erudite." My boss told me to keep it short. Feeling slightly more anxious, I did what I often do: I moved "blogging" to the middle of my back burner. So here I am on the last day of the year trying to free up all my burners- at least until tomorrow. I am of two minds. The first springs from my work. I am a college chaplain at a small, selective, Jesuit liberal arts college in the east. One of the priorities my staff and I enunciated for our work over the next few years is the campus-wide inculcation of the need for experiences of sabbath on a regular basis. By this, we do not mean simply increased participation in weekly worship services- although that would be a fine start. We mean, rather, a wholehearted acceptance of the need for the cessation of work. We mean real buy-in from faculty, staff, administration, and finally students for the idea that not only will we be more productive, healthy, and happy if we disengage from the demands of an ineluctable and ever-escalating surfeit of information in order to pause–to re-create ourselves, but that we will also be richer, more creative, generous, more capable of engaging with important, complicated questions. To this way of thinking, "blogging" seems incongruous. In my extremely limited experience, many blogs seem predicated on rapid turn-around. They are endlessly up-to-date. Often, they impress by showcasing the blogger’s cultural, literary, and/or political breadth of knowledge and acumen. Like pulling up to a curb with the engine running, they are a marvelous place to toss out the books, films, travels, art, journals, and restaurants are occupying one’s mind without turning off the motor for a longer chat. On the other hand, "For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them" (Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics). My students do much of their living online. They "IM" ceaselessly. They shop, enter contracts, start and end relationships, organize, plan, exhort, encourage, think, innovate, study, pray, and grieve online. Their worlds are the context in which I do my work. The pace and the feel of those worlds are dizzying- sometimes disorienting-- but whatever can keep me grounded in them is a good thing. For that I am most grateful to In All Things and I look forward to growing more comfortable in the year ahead with a quick exchange while the engine is idling. New Year’s Eve by Verlyn Klinkenborg on the New York Times Opinion page is a fitting reflection for us bloggers to consider: "I always wonder what it would be like to belong to a species -- just for a while -- that isn’t so busy indexing its life, that lives wholly within the single long strand of its being. I will never have even an idea of what that’s like." Happy New Year!