Wednesday, April 02, 2008

"Why is THAT blog on your sidebar?"

Shortly after I started the United Church of Christ Blog Network, I received a request from one member to remove her blog from the list. I didn't need to ask why, as she made her reasons very clear. Her chief reason had to do with the inclusion of a certain other UCC-related blog with which she had strong disagreements. She stated that she did not want to be associated with this other blog, and thus wanted to remove her membership.

It probably isn't tremendously difficult to guess which blog she was talking about. In fact, it is listed on my sidebar as well. And I've occasionally fielded questions from visitors as to why I include it. Others, as noted back during the UCC Commercial Leak That Wasn't A Leak, seemed to want to associate my blog more closely with it; wanted to make my blog part of the Unloving Critic Conspiracy and so on. Well, the reason for my continued inclusion of this blog, as with any other blog on my list, is not necessarily that I'm in lock-step with everything that he writes.

It's because he makes me think.

Let's be honest. There are plenty of blogs that only link to other blogs with which they completely agree. I visit plenty of "liberal" Christian blogs that list blogs all with titles like "A Liberal Christian Blog," "Christian Liberals Unite," "United Christian Liberals," "Christian Liberals for Christian Liberalism," "Liberals Who Are Christian Being Liberal Christians Together," and so on. Same for "conservative" blogs. It ends up just being like that icebreaker activity where you stand in a circle and massage each others' shoulders (I had a well-known, much more crude phrase in mind to describe this, but I figured I'd let that go).

Now, while there are plenty of blogs on my sidebar with which I basically am in complete agreement, the larger issue for me has been whether a blog is able to engage me, make me think, keep me honest.

I visit UCCTruths because it causes me to think about criticisms of the national office and truly wrestle with them. I even share some of their opinions (SCANDAL~!).

Internet Monk and Verum Serum are more "conservative" theologically and/or politically, but they help me understand a different perspective.

Letters from Kamp Krusty, Scott Williams, The Dying Church, and The Parish are all quite critical of the Institutional Church Machine, and help keep me from becoming too comfortable or complacent in my role. I share some of their opinions, too. Plus Letters from Kamp Krusty is just hilarious.

I get my fill of moderate/liberal politics and theology from most other blogs listed. I read plenty about the emerging church conversation. I keep up with Michigan sports. I enjoy visits to other mainline pastoral colleagues, UCC and otherwise. I've found a few college friends. They all make me think or engage me or entertain me as well.

But sometimes the big circle massage isn't enough. My mind doesn't get stretched by only reading those blogs. And somehow, whether it was their humor or presentation, whether they hooked me by getting me to wrestle with a side of an issue that I hadn't seen before, or whether I even agree with them, that's why I include "other" blogs. And I don't even consider them "other."

That's why my bloglist is what it is. Each of these hooked me in some way.

And if you don't like some of them, you're free not to read them.