October 27, 2004

Come, see a Real Live Preacher...interviewed at Christianity Today

Christianity Today posted an interview with Gordon Atkinson, "The Blogosphere's Favorite Real Live Preacher," yesterday to coincide with the release of his book, RealLivePreacher.com. The interview has a "homey" feel to it, which is surprising given that it was conducted by IM, but not so surprising if you've ever read RLP's blog. That "homey" feel permeates Real Live Preacher; perhaps that's why it became such a success in terms both commercial and spiritual.

Blogging for Atkinson started as a place to let the "real person," the one on the inside that we rarely reveal to the people in what we ironically call the "real world," come out and play. What fascinated me about the interview is how the "real person" didn't stay holed up in the blogosphere for long; he began to influence Gordon in non-virtual ways, changing the way he experiences at church life in particular, but presumably other of life's experiences as well. The "real person" started taking over. From the interview, it sounds like Gordon is happy with that.

I can imagine that I would be, too.

Not that the "real person" inside me is anything great--trust me, he's got more than his share of "issues"--but it sure would be nice to hang up the mask, drop my defenses, and just relax. Perhaps moving to a new town and a new life and ministry will give me an opportunity to do that.

CT also posted a (regrettably short) review of Atkinson's book. The review, by Cindy Crosby, made the following statement that grabbed me by the collar and still hasn't let go: "It's not difficult to see why Atkinson's postings created a virtual community.".

Has she got this right? Can a person's writing actually "create community," virtual or otherwise? Is that what the blogosphere is about?

That idea, along with the transformation that blogging induced in Atkinson, are forcing me to rethink my own blogging from the foundation up. To put it in the terms of the question of the day, "What in the blogosphere am I here for?"


At 3:22 PM, Blogger DesertPastor said...

A passionate, poignant, and profane preacher (all terms taken from Crosby's review) -- maybe that's a little too much journo-jargon for me, I don't know.

Does (or can) what we blog create community? If relationships are initiated and communication is exchanged and enjoyed -- is that "community?" Or are such things merely the "seeds of community?" Seeds are great. But where should we plant them?

Just thinking out loud.

At 6:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Real Live Preacher

First, thank you for the kind words. Regarding community. I don't think you can plan for community. You can provide good tinder, fuel, and a hot spark, then hope for fire. Who knows why it happens? In my case, I made no plans at all and only reacted to what was happening.

Blog community is not the highest and best kind of community, but it is more than being strangers to each other. I've experienced a remarkable level of intimacy and friendship via email.

It's like the word love. We don't have to point to the highest ideal of love, then condemn people for saying, "I love cheesburgers." We can recognize that the word is flexible and contextual.

Given the fact that so many people will not darken the doors of church or speak with a minister, perhaps a blog community is the best we can have in some circumstances. That doesn't mean that community can't be deeper and more intimate, but it does mean that we can allow that something wonderful can happen with online relationships.


rlp (gordon)


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