Trying an Experiment in Virtual Community

Trying an Experiment in Virtual Community February 1, 2017

I began blogging on Patheos sometime in September of 2015. I had been successful at that time in drawing an audience on Facebook to whom I was writing lengthy theological posts. I particularly emphasized the sacrificial hermeneutic of Christianity and the alternative of a nonviolent peacemaking hermeneutic congruent with Jesus’ (or the Gospel writers appropriation of the Jesus story if you wish) hermeneutic. Kevin Miller, Director of the film Hellbound? was kind enough to not only interview me for the film but also to recommend me to Patheos. I have a couple of friends who blog here!

I stopped blogging after three months. I found that what I do on Facebook did not transfer over to Patheos. First, there was no way to block trolls and trolls send the conversation into useless directions and waste all our time. I can block them on Facebook but not here. I find that very frustrating as a writer/teacher. Second, the glitzy social justice comment on the hot political issue of the day that shows how inclusive and justice minded we are was not my style. I can easily affirm what so many others on the Progressive Christian Channel say so I had no need to add my voice to an already existing chorus. I like to teach people how to think theologically and that was not going happen on Patheos. But this did.

For about 18 months I have had a Personal Mentoring Group on Facebook of around 600 persons who have in many ways become a virtual community to the point of assisting one another in financial straits. They are a beautiful community and they discuss all manner of things in that Group. What I know is that there is a lot of wisdom in that Group and that many have things to say but they are not famous, they don’t have a huge following, some of them are moms and pops, some grandmothers, some grandfathers, some laborers, some authors, some men, some women, all different, all unique, and all whose voices I have come to appreciate and I know you will too. They are united in a single common vision that is: the Gospel of God in Jesus Christ is a peaceful message, a healing balm, a truthful navigation point, a loving paradigm shift.

So I have invited them to blog here. I invite you to listen in as we grow with one another and discuss here as well as on Facebook. Finally let me also say that Preaching Peace of which I am Executive Director has some innovative and hope-bearing projects coming to fruition this year and we will tell you about them here as well. For now, what would you say to a Conference featuring Richard Rohr, Brian McLaren, Diana Butler-Bass, Richard Beck, Stanley Hauerwas, Nadia Bolz-Weber, Douglas Campbell and Danielle Shroyer as Keynote speakers and over 15 breakout session facilitators and great musical acts?  Nov 2-4, 2017 Santa Fe, NM  Check it out!

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