January 18, 2006

Would Someone Please Tell Me What a "Blog" Is?

1502 page24 capOU HEAR IT EVERYWHERE: ON TV, radio, your favorite news Web sites. The term blog seems to be all around us, flying from the lips of savvy media mavens, grizzled reporters, politicians, and high school cheerleaders alike. It has something to do with computers and the Internet, of that one can be sure. Yet as I type these words into my word processor, it keeps underlining blog with that annoying red squiggly line as a misspelling. It seems that even my PC doesn?t know what blog means. You may be asking yourself, ?When did I get so disconnected? Is it really this hard to be cool these days??

So What Is It?
The term blog comes from ?Web log.? Simply put, a blog is an online diary. I can hear some of you sighing, ?You mean that?s it? A diary? That?s what all the fuss is about?? Well, yes. A blog is a fairly common concept; that is, until you apply today?s technology to it. Then you have the ability for anyone to post messages the entire world can read. That may sound like a cliché, but the truth is that millions of blogs are being read by billions of people every moment of every day.

?So,? you may ask, ?how did diaries become so chic?? Well, back in the late nineties computer-savvy people started making personal Web sites and posting messages about their lives and interests. This idea caught on, and services were developed to allow nongeeks to do the same.

Today you can find blogs that deal with any topic you can think of. And if it doesn?t exist, you can create one. Travel blogs are popular. Special interests blogs discussing anything from knitting to jazz to sports abound on the Internet. News blogs, in which an independent reporter investigates an issue or a crime, or opines on politics, have become very popular and are entering mainstream media, prompting yet another new term, blogosphere.

1502 page24But the qualities that make good blogs so interesting are the same attributes that make certain people interesting: passion and honesty. As you read certain blogs on the Internet, it?s difficult to understand how someone could be so passionate about game consoles, or Star Wars, or dogs in costumes, or sometimes seemingly nothing at all.

But what is fascinating is the ability to look into the mind of a stranger somewhere on another continent (or sometimes down the hall) and have them unabashedly tell you what they believe in. It is this universal humanity that connects us all. Blogs give people not only the power to read, hear, and even see others talking about their most sacred thoughts and moments, but also the chance to respond.

In reading the New Testament recently, I realized that the apostle Paul would have been a blogger, as opposed to Peter, who would most certainly have been a Podcaster (I?m sorry, we can?t get into that now). Paul?s writings reveal an honesty that is striking. He was a great leader and was willing to do two things that seem mutually exclusive in any kind of leader today: he was passionate enough to lovingly admonish others, and honest enough to readily admit his own shortcomings.

Paul never pulled any punches; he didn?t try to shield anybody?s feelings. He called sin by its name, and made no apologies. At the same time, there was no doubt why he did what he did. He loved people. He burned to bring as many into the kingdom as possible, and would go to any lengths to do so.

What would you think if you ran into a blog like this from your pastor?

What the World Needs
Don?t you wish we could have honesty like this today? Instead, people are afraid to admit they are human, sinners like everyone else. We live with this charade, this game we play, trying to look worthy of who knows what. And so there is no passion, for how can anyone be passionate about something that isn?t real for them? Without passion and honesty there can?t be unselfish love and truth. So what does that leave us? Nothing but meaningless trinkets that shine long enough to distract us from what we set out to be, from whom we set out to serve.

Don?t you wish we were all bloggers?

Please listen to me! I am writing this to you because I love you, because I want the best for you. I know this is hard to hear, but I cannot say that I care for you and let bad things happen to you. You must know that you are being lied to. And not little white lies told unknowingly, but evil lies meant to destroy you.

I know they are charming, much more so than I, but my lack of charm does not diminish my experience and my honesty. I have done my best to be supportive of you, working hard not to be a burden upon you.

They tell you they are smart; they tell you they are wise; they promise you riches and luxuries and pleasures, convincing you that this is the right thing to do. And somehow you believe them! I don?t understand how you could listen to such rubbish! They are not only wrong; they are idiots! I thought you were smarter than this! But they flash money and cars and mansions your way, and you fall for it! After all we?ve been through together, all I?ve done to teach you truth, that simple truth that is unselfish love. But you turn away from your own salvation to listen to things that don?t matter, things of no significance that only lead to your downfall.

Well, if you are willing to listen to those idiots, then please allow me to compare the stupidities they say to my own list of worthless things. They say they come from good families; so do I. They say they want to care for you; well, so do I. They are willing to do anything for you? Well, let me remind you of what I?ve already done to earn your trust. I?ve been attacked, beat up, thrown in jail to protect you. I have been in car accidents and plane crashes on my way to you. I have faced gangs in the city and wolves in the country to get to you. I have survived storms on the ocean and the lies of evil people. I have gone cold and hungry in the midst of my long work for you. I have lost sleep and been thirsty for your sake. All this on top of what I do daily for you, and my worried mind for your well-being.

But in the end, none of that matters! What matters is that unselfish love I have taught you! So why do you listen to their bragging about what they have? It all means nothing! In fact, if I should brag, I would brag about my frailty and my weaknesses, for that love I have shown you is what has made me overcome all in order to serve you (2 Corinthians 11, paraphrased).

Cesar Gonzalez is the young adult initiatives coordinator for the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.