I am not certain about this: I thought I might see the Anglican Covenant through to its introduction or demise, and it is like a loose end.
The website and blog are not doing me any harm at present, but when I was in teacher training I was advised to give up my website (no blog then) or restrict access as pupils would use it to find out too much about me, my marriage, where I lived and biographical details. It would be turned against me. A teacher should be a neutral suit. I had built up my website from 1998 and I decided that no I would not do these things, but I did examine all the content and indeed all the written material and artwork became 'safe'. The fact that blogs become dangerous or negative isn't a reason to remove them, but attachment without sufficient reason isn't an argument to keep them either.
Blogs do come to an end, or limp on. I noticed that Alan Crawley's blog suddenly ended last year, to be given a little extension for his 'Okay' tiny radio station presentation. It might be a wise decision, from a point of view of employment. In June 2010 his blog was going to continue if less frequently - and then seemed to hit a wall.
The problem is how a blog, which consists largely of opinion on narrowcast news, clashes with contractual or other employment. Imagine if I am a school teacher and I blog about school affairs and go on negatively about educational practices. The bureaucracies that employ will become rather negative towards me: negative that I am opinionated (and cannot be moulded or be seen to have been moulded) and also there would be a question about identification of localities and people involved.
The only useful blog in these circumstances is one that is bland, goes with the bureaucratic grain, and explains policies. Otherwise, tell no one anything. Stop.
I am staggered that an ex-ordinand, whose blog made a difference to him in not being ordained, is now blogging on school life. No one is owed these nuggets of insight. When retired, he might write a book; Gervaise Finn did retire before passing on funny inspection incidents.
Mad Priest, Jonathan Hagger, has reached a full stop he says, in the ongoing painful story of his rejection by the Church of England, much of it because he has used an ex lorry driver's plain language with opinions in opposition to key stances held by the Church of England. He could do with a break: I'd say by getting out of the C of E and stopping the blogging. But if he really wants to be a minister then his blog might become his independent shop window. Again no one is owed his provision of entertainment from the narrowcast religion world. A blog for his ministry would look quite different. Mark Paris and the Benedictus Fellowship is doing much to build a ministry in Swindon simply via Facebook. He is doing a very good job given where the Liberal Catholic Apostolic Church has come from in its extremely short history when its unable to settle main founders went off to form the Ecclesia Apostolica Divinorum Mysteriorum.
Aspects of Lesley Fellows's blog look like a car crash in slow motion: I actually look at it the first of them all on a kind of wide-eyed fascination "What is she going to say now?" basis. Lesley is a high flyer while still on the ground, and the blog must be a negative given her opposition to some key policies and the distinctive angle of her theology that goes against the grain of her Church bureaucracy. It matters that the liberal voice has contracted in the Church of England over the last thirty years, and obviously it is very indicative that the Anglican Communion Covenant is being presented on a There Is No Alternative basis.
Just to make the point. Being on the dole is no fun. Because then you really do have to obey the rules.
The fact that a Church bureaucracy is corrupt and corrupting is frustrating, however much you may also love it, but that corruption means there must be a price worth paying. You carry your cross.
If you criticise the Unitarians: well that's like kicking a lump of jelly. No one really gets hurt and it is quite capable of damaging itself. It does do publicity, and ends up compromising, but mainly tells the truth and is just an example of human failing under very difficult conditions. The Methodists and United Reformed ought to come to the Unitarians to find out how to manage decline via streamlining structural change to avoid bureaucratic collapse. Congregations don't mind blogger opinions but, again, if they are in danger of suggesting a church is 'wild' because a minister is 'wild', it will not help the minister. In general, Unitarian ministers tend not to be kicking against a bureaucracy and their blogs (with a more congregational focus) won't have obvious conflict built in. The danger is a blog could invade pastoral space; so some are little other than sermon outlets and publicity extensions by ideological and spiritual content (and against labelling!). Another aspect is Unitarian churches can't get the candidates; this situation is the opposite of that in the Church of England: having too many candidates works against blog life if you are a candidate.
But the Church of England is also in an awkward phase of late life, where the bureaucracy is responding to decline by centralising. There is an ongoing theological shift to the right where the 'Open Evangelicals' now think they have the centre, although actually they will be the cutting point between two wings, and some form of peculiar residual Catholicism (that is neither liberal nor traditionalist) is adding to the top-down mentality of self-protection. This works against both liberals even if loyal and fundy entryists.
So this is the 20 point order of safety in religious blogging for 'mainstream' bloggers - any blogger from point 6 on will cover one blue and one red:
- Don't blog
- Blog on pleasantries, occasionally
- Blog on pleasantries, more frequently
- Blog on policy descriptions with at least implied approval and at least occasional full approval (any more would be suspect)
- Blog in favour of the Church and its stance and policies, occasionally
- Blog in favour of the Church and its stance and policies, more frequently
- Introduce an ecumenical stance fully from within the denomination and reach out to convert
- Blog by asking questions but keep mild opinions to a minimum, and not every day
- Oppose some Church policies on non-essential issues, occasionally
- Have a seen as positive ecumenical stance, reaching out to present Christian truths
- Have a marginal theology but describe it from time to time only in complex language and always make it look central and orthodox
- Oppose a number of Church policies on non-essential issues, more frequently, and show openness to change to agreement
- Give a marginal theology but explain why and how it ought to be within the Church community being as orthodox as possible
- Oppose a number of Church policies on non-essential and essential issues once in a blue moon
- Be ecumenical regarding the 'mainstream' and reach out with dialogue to engage agnostics
- Oppose a number of Church policies on non-essential and essential issues, with some frequency
- Give a marginal theology but explain why it ought to be within the Church community
- Oppose many Church policies on non-essential and essential issues, with frequency, from a standpoint of a marginal theology
- Be ecumenical without boundaries of orthodoxy, and seek to include agnostics and atheists
- Keep a daily blog opposing many key and other Church policies from a standpoint of marginal theology
It is possible to be something of a Puritan nutter and oppose key policies, but having degrees of marginality more often than not concerns a liberal stance.