At a time when electronic communication leaves us increasingly cynical and skeptical, blogs can free us to communicate in a surprisingly personal way.
"There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion ('Man's search for God!') suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that! Worse still, supposing He had found us?" -C.S. Lewis
When you come right down to it, blogging is about two things: reaching and seeking.
People started blogging for many reasons. Communication can be an odd thing — even with the most powerful and effective technology we have in this modern world, with targeted ads, personalized pop-ups, and demographic data with frightening specificity, the people who handle public relations for a living still say that the most effective means of communication remains an old standby: word of mouth.
On the internet, it's tough to manage word of mouth. It seems like we're bombarded now with viral advertisements, odd promotions, and strange product tie-ins. No one can look you in the face over the internet — which means that it's tough to establish trust, conversations can get angry a lot quicker, and civility is often in short supply. It's tough to prove to people who don't know you that you have something worthwhile to say. It's tougher still to reach strangers on a personal level, operating just through words on a computer screen, an ongoing virtual conversation.
And yet, somehow, it happens.
Blogging began as a form of personal online journal — a site with posts updated in reverse chronological order featuring links, stories, and whatever was on the author's mind. Today, new blogs are now being launched at a rate of over 15,000 per day. There are currently more than 50 million blogs in existence. There are all kinds of blogs — including sites that act primarily as filters for news, sites that focus on social networking or day-to-day life, sites that are driven by ideological issues, and sites where people participate in a community discussion. The Boundless Blog is one of these community blogs.
I started blogging in August 2001, when I was 19 — just weeks before 9/11. After the attacks, many people flocked to the Internet to express their anger, share their thoughts, and mourn the passing of what seemed like a simpler world. Families talked about the relatives they'd lost. Professors and lawyers wrote about what they knew. Soldiers gave updates from the front in a new war. It was a new way to share your knowledge and life experiences with others — the closest thing to word of mouth.
The kind of blogging most people talk about in the media is a medium that's an outlet for political frustration, grassroots organization, or as a wider avenue to distribute news. But with the rise of community and networking sites, it's also become a way to reach out, to make very personal connections. It's clear why this is — when you express your thoughts, as best you can, and reach out across the internet to see if anyone cares what you think about music, culture, politics or relationships — sometimes, people who know what you're talking about really do care. And that's when fast friendships can develop.
When I was in college, I started trading e-mails with a frequent reader and commenter on my old blog — a young Catholic lawyer in the south — debating everything under the sun, sharing thoughts on the latest news, conversing about faith and life. In time, we shared as much or more than friends I'd known for years, even though we'd never met.
Today, he's one of my closest friends. We get together now and then. We debate theology. We play fantasy football. There are standing invitations to visit when we're each in town. And this summer, I was honored to become godfather for his beautiful little daughter — all because he stumbled across a college student's blog.
Blogging isn't just about reaching out, though. It's also about seeking out — finding the answers to questions that are simple, and ones that are more profound.
If you have a question that's tough to answer, you can almost always find it on blogs — someone, somewhere, has probably had the same question. If you have a blog, you can ask the question of your readers — and usually, someone can point you in the right direction. Ask a lawyer, ask a scientist, ask a doctor, ask a priest; they're all online, and usually someone has the answer.
But there's another kind of seeking that exists in the odd world of the blogosphere — a deeper, more lasting search carried over from everyday life.
Nowadays, people are reluctant to talk about their faith in public. Religion isn't an appropriate topic for the dinner table or a social event any more. And so people don't ask questions, they don't seek out answers. Many of them long for answers — they crave a direction for their path, a solution for the problems in their life, something to fill the hollow place in their hearts. Some of them deny that they are lost — some recognize it. But few are willing to cross the modern social boundaries of decorum and seek out, to turn to the Christian they know in their office or in their neighborhood, and ask: "Why is your life different than mine?"
As a believer on the internet or in the blogosphere, we have the same mandate the Bible gives concerning all missions. We find it in Luke 19, in the story of Zaccheus, and specifically in verse 10:
"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost."
There is a beautiful excerpt from Matthew Henry's commentary on the passage — well, maybe only I think it's beautiful — perhaps powerful is a better word (emphasis added):
The whole world of mankind, by the fall, is become a lost world: lost as a city is lost when it has revolted to the rebels, as a traveller is lost when he has missed his way in a wilderness, as a sick man is lost when his disease is incurable, or as a prisoner is lost when sentence is passed upon him.... Christ undertook the cause when it was given up for lost: undertook to bring those to themselves that were lost to God and all goodness. Observe, Christ came into this lost world to seek and save it. His design was to save, when there was not salvation in any other.... He seeks those that were not worth seeking to; he seeks those that sought him not, and asked not for him.
We are called to seek out the lost, as Christ did. We are called to seek them, even if they will not seek Christ on their own, and share the good news of salvation with them. That is our task in our daily lives as Christians — and in our lives online.
For more than eight years, Boundless has published articles that help guide thousands of single Christians through their personal and spiritual life. Now, Boundless has launched a new online outlet on these same topics — but now with a far more personal element. The Boundless blog blog represents a new avenue for communication with the single Christians who've read Boundless for years.
Boundless blog will reach out to Christian singles in an innovative way, providing daily support and guidance and insights for one of the most challenging periods of life. And it represents a new commitment to seek out those who need help on some of the toughest issues everyone faces in life — issues of relationships, career, and faith. If you have a friend who isn't seeking yet, send them to Boundless blog, and they can start finding what they're looking for.
The contributors to Boundless blog include many of the writers and editors already familiar to readers of the site. Their voices are already well-known, and this community blog will function in practical terms as an ongoing personal conversation with them. It's as if you just sat down for coffee with all of us at the table with you, discussing the issues that matter most.
Christ seeks us out in interesting ways. Sometimes He uses a friend, sometimes a stranger, sometimes a song on the radio or a book found in a yard sale. We know He uses word of mouth — after all, that's how He got started. He may even use blogs.
Copyright 2006 Ben Domenech. All rights reserved.