You may remember my comments a few weeks ago about this thing that bloggers do (you know, blogging). In that post, I observed that, for myself at least, blogs were largely devoid of gender labels.
I ought to resolve an issue that I raised there - that my poor observation of gender possessives meant that I hadn't cottoned on to the fact that The Church Mouse is indeed of the male persuasion. There, that's sorted out.
I have been thinking about this a little more, more especially while we glided near-silently through the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Not only is the gender of the writer concerned of little importance but so to is their 'churchmanship' (don't start, 'churchpersonship' takes too long to type, and I have increasing fat fingers).
It is my custom to use my own blog roll (eyes left) as my coffee table of the blog world. I start at the top, tend always to look at posts with thumbnail-pictures first, then the ones with catchy titles, then the blogs of mates, and so on. I read good posts and bad, as I too write good posts and bad. Yes, there is far too much Rowan bashing and Church of England bashing for my liking, but on the whole, the whole arena is more or less devoid of labels like 'evangelical', 'charismatic', 'Anglo-catholic', 'conservative', and so many others. I regard this as an extra-ordinary thing, and one that is wholly good.
The church of the real world (lest we lull ourselves as bloggers into thinking that posting posts is that thing) is often fractured along the 'churchmanship' lines (speaking for the Church of England). Don't get me wrong, breadth of ecclesial expression is among our strengths, and I am delighted that we are so diverse, but very often we form into clubs, to the exclusion of other Christians - no, really. In blogging, there are cliques and mutual appreciation societies, but no excluding ecclesial clubs. The expressions of worship that each blogger brings is suffused into their writings, not writ-large on the homepage (mostly). It would also seem that, taking social media as a whole, that the same can be said.
As ever, I wrestle with the nature of blogging. Is it right, is it wrong, why and for whose sake - but of its presence as a leveller I am utterly convinced. Equally, it is a forum where bishops and curates share an equality, where clergy and lay can express together, where catholic and charismatic will listen to one another and respond positively. This can only be good. If a blogger is interested in God (presence or lack, mine or their own) I am interested in them. That interest is not mitigated by what brand of incense they use or whether they wave arms in choruses. Here it doesn't matter. On the whole, bloggers are stable (and not ecclesial chameleons), so it is one part of the conversation that is assumed and not focussed upon.