Someone at Band of Bloggers compared blogging to pamphleteering. Perhaps the masses today can be influenced by the written word on blogs like Europe was taught by pamphlets in the 16th Century?
In my last post I considered some limitations and pitfalls associated with blogging. I’m posting this separately because the topic of blogging as pamphleteering intrigues me. Can blogging be this kind of a cultural force? I have my doubts. There are many significant differences between Europe in the 16th Century and North America in the 21st Century.
- The masses are distracted. Reformation and counter-reformation debates were big news because there was far less competition for the attention of the populace. How many reading / viewing / playing options do we have in our information age?
- The masses are atomized. There are about five million sub-cultures in Western culture today on ethnic, economic, geographical, religious, age and countless other grounds. The light and ethereal nature of the ‘net only compounds this atomization. Gospel blogging is mostly preaching to the choir, I’m afraid.
- The masses are divided. Until relatively recent times, churches were established on the parish principle. In the early days of the Reformation, there was one church in a community. Pamphlets charging The Church with error were big news in a unitary society. Today, there is a tremendous smorgasbord of spiritual “options.” What D.A. Carson calls philosophical pluralism has really flattened out all of this diversity, marginalizing and individualizing truth claims to the point that the individual blog-reader will yawn at what he considers useless controversy.
I hate to be a spoil-sport, but I really don’t hold out a lot of hope for blogging as an agent of cultural change. I do not think that the comparison with pamphleteering in the past holds much water. I would love to be proven wrong, but that’s my two cents worth.
In my next post, I would like to write on some of the positive aspects of blogging and the opportunities available to good bloggers. However, let me leave this grumpy post on a positive note. I do think that within the Christian community, Gospel centered blogging can have a positive influence and serve as an encouragement to like-minded believers.
Stay tuned …