John commented on the question of 'public or private blog'. He called us to 'the greater good' that comes from providing public access to the Benedictine resources on this particular blog.
(For more detail you can read his comment below "Testing the Blog Concept for Benedictine Community.") Thanks for weighing in John!
John's thoughtful comment reminded me of the important concept of "Both And." One place that I see this in the Rule of Benedict is in reference to food. (See the Side Bar Link to RB Organized by Chapter and then select Chapter 39.)
The monastery is called to practice stewardship, and to offer hospitality.
So the rule directs them to provide two cooked dishes at each table. 'Both And.' No banquet spread is laid out, but monks and guests are offered a choice.
Perhaps that concept applies to blogs and nurturing Benedictine Community as well. It strikes me that Benedict never encouraged a 'one size fits all' approach.
I started out hoping that it might be possible to create something that a few Oblates could use for conversation in the months between our oblate retreats.
I am surprised by the number of blog visitors who aren't from my own oblate community. This possibility did not occur to me when I began testing the technology.
Yet that larger community interest does not erase the need for Oblates to communicate in a safe place. Not all communication is appropriate in public. And the basic set up of the technology is easier and faster than I expected. This opens the possibility of creating more than one blog space.
So what would be helpful to nurture both the larger Benedictine Community, and provide confidential space for deepening Oblate community?
The main advantages that I see in blogs are that we can share the same conversations, and ideas, without having to be either in the same geographic location, or on the same time schedule. This can serve all and broaden our sense of connectedness. In addition any blog can be limited to allow access by a prescribed list of participants. This can create a private space and serve to deepen community.
Here we need to be sensitive to the balance of providing confidentiality, which feeds, and is essential to deep community connections; while we maintain openness and inclusiveness, which broadens and refreshes community.
The need for different kinds of communication leads me to consider more than one type of blog. A blog (or blogs) could be designed for a specifically defined purpose, such as small group study, prayer for care and concern requests,
Lectio Divina, or conversations about a specific Benedictine value.
This might be a blog that we each "sign-up for." In this type of blog limited access allows participants to know exactly who can see their entries. We are on the list and we have a copy of the list.
A "sign-up blog" could be structured for participation over a set period of time.
Or could be developed as an ongoing reference to a given topic of interest left in play for a longer term. (Which of these do you think would be beneficial? And why?)
Now the challenge becomes focus and stewardship. Where do we begin?
My time probably allows me to maintain this blog, plus setting up one or two "sign-up blogs" in the next few months.
The Rule calls for counsel in Chapter 3.
It is written, "Do everything with counsel, and you will not repent when you have done it" (Eccles. 32:24)..
So I invite your counsel.
- What is your response to this whole thought process?
- Which options do you think are most important to you, as we begin?
- How would you most like to participate?
- What two topics / ideas seem to call to you?
- What discussions are you longing to have?
- How are you thirsting to pray in community?
- When/How do you most want to connect with other Benedictine Oblates?
- What is most essential to you?
- What do you think (or feel) about any of the suggestions above?
I am eager to hear which options and/or questions energize your hopes for participation in Benedictine Community.