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Is blogging a religion?

March 9th, 2005 · 3 Comments

SYLLABICATION: re·li·gion
PRONUNCIATION: r-ljn

NOUN: 1a. Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.
b. A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship.
2. The life or condition of a person in a religious order.
3. A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.
4. A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.

During the time for questions and discussion at the end of my Northern Voice talk, someone shared a detailed observation, describing blogging as a religion. The clock was ticking, we were ending my session and I didn’t know how to succinctly and quickly respond to this complicated statement. Since then, I have heard and seen others repeating this comparison of blogging and religion.

I agree that blogging could be seen as a religion: it depends on the definition of religion. If religion is defined as adherence to a set of rituals, then perhaps my daily routine of publishing posts and reading feeds would fit. If religion is defined as an identifying lifestyle practice, such as the fact that I now carry my camera with me everywhere, then blogging might be considered a religion. If religion brings people together and creates community, certainly meetups and conferences could be classified as religious experiences in that sense. We bloggers may share common values including the often-cited ones of transparency, authenticity and truth. And, as the conference attendee pointed out to me, we are perhaps indoctrinating our children into blogging by starting them at an early age.

However here are some key questions that demonstrate how blogging fails to fulfill my definition – and the dictionary’s definition – of religion:

Does blogging provide a purpose for my life or explain my existence on Earth?
No.

Does blogging involve a belief in supernatural beings or require reverence for any gods?
No.

Does blogging explain what happens when I die or where I was before birth?
No.

Does blogging interpret humanity, community and current events into a holistic picture?
No.

Does blogging fulfill spiritual needs for my family and me?
No.

Blogging is a container. It’s a tool. it can be a way to share and express religion. But blogging is not a purpose in itself. Bloggers might be zealous. Bloggers might be devoted. However I hope we all find more purpose to life than the act of publishing posts.

As Derek Miller observed, there are a number of activities that could be described as religion, with the same qualifications as blogging. Some families raise their children playing tennis. Some families raise their children immersed in art or business. And some families are devoted to NASCAR. There are plenty of these types of indoctrinations.

I don’t like the word religion. I feel it has come to mean a pile of routines and rituals, a list of laws lacking love, hypocrites who hurt others. I don’t describe myself as religious.

Here is a better question:

Is blogging spiritual?

If a blog is a container, then a blog can be spiritual. A blog can be filled with whatever we want to put inside it. I believe the best posts are those that connect us to each other on the deep levels of who we are as humans, what we feel, how we hurt, whom we love. In a face to face conversation we might talk about traffic, cars or coffee. We may or may not dive into the depths. We often hide our souls.

But a blog gives us a voice for these secret sides of our selves, the tender places, the fears and faults, the dreams and desires, the likes and loves. We can show our scars and wash our wounds. We can describe our doubts. We can be desperate. We can be excited. We ask. We give. We rejoice. We sing. We dance. We listen.

We share life. We share death. We share love.

We can become more of who we were meant to be, both as individuals and community. Blogging can remind us who we are and what it’s all about.

A blog is a bowl and we can pour pieces of our souls into it, as an offering to others, for whomever will hear.

Spiritual blogging doesn’t require rituals or routines: indoctrination makes it dull. But blogging of the soul does ask for devotion, zeal and courage.

Tags: faith · northernvoice

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Mark A. Hershberger // Mar 12, 2005 at 4:31 pm

    Sorry, Julie, but just as calling blogging a “religion” conjures up all sorts of negative connotations for you, using the word “spiritual” all by itself means virtually nothing to me.

    Mentally substituting “spiritual activity” for “spiritual” makes it somehow more palitable. Dunno why, except that this way “activity” is the focus instead of “spiritual”.

  • 2 xan // Mar 23, 2005 at 2:13 am

    Well even Buddhism isn’t considered a religion, so blogging is far from it.

    I don’t believe it has anything to do with spirituality and worship.

    I mean is flower arranging?

    That’s a hobby too :)

  • 3 Sean Duggan // Apr 20, 2005 at 5:55 am

    ^_^ Maybe use the same phraseology used to disavow Buddhism, Zen philosophy, and atheism as religions? You know, “It’s a way of life, not a religion.” Personally, I see atheism as a religion albeit often a very individualistic one, but that’s a matter for another day.

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