Monday, April 07, 2008

Hard Commodity in the Blogosphere


I am still making my way slowly through Krista Tippett's Speaking of Faith. It's as good as any story, the way it moves forward through the framework of Tippett's life while discussing science and faith, life and death, doubt and devotion.

Last night, I related to this passage quite keenly...

I have always been invested in ideas, in words, in the presentation of words. The people on Wooster II took me out of my head. They taught me the gravity of nonverbal presence— of eye contact and touch. I learned to accept silence, not to fill it with talk, to respect the immensity of what eyes and hands alone could express. The writings of Margaret Spufford came back to me on that dementia ward— the notion that in the end, the reality of God is most powerfully expressed not in ideas and proclamations but in presence. I sometimes felt that presence palpably in silence and the inchoate, searching bond of raw togetherness between us. p.118

As I considered Tippett's words, they resonated. And they pained me, regarding my blog relationships. What, really, can I do to be present in this way, this raw togetherness way, over a bunch of wires and through signals? Not much. I can only wait for the chance to be together, in some cases again, in other cases for the very first time.

Not that I find no community here. I've said before that I think I do. But presence is a hard, perhaps impossible commodity to truly find in the blogosphere.

Together Photo, by Sara. Used with permission.


At the High Calling this week, Don't Give Your Gifts a Haircut


A post on a lighter note, from Long Island Express Girl

Thoughts on silent words, from Janet Collins' OnWords

Jane Emmert at Inspiration and Art

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Presence is a challenge even in person I find. "Adam where are you?" is as relevant a question today as it ever was. Even the fig leaves of keypad and screen don't seem to allow us to be completely present with one another.

But also, from a single woman’s perspective, as far as dating goes, the non-verbal relating with a man (the eye contact and discreet mutual awareness), that happens in the earliest, inkling stage of the relationship, is just about the most tantalizing part of the whole thing. Without words, the two of you are intensely present to each other when the other is even remotely near. That there’s an “inchoate, searching bond of raw togetherness" in that initial silent attraction, sounds right.

(BTW, great sculpture and photo of.)

12:04 AM  
Blogger The Oho Report said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said... I read this I began thinking about the relationships that I have formed through blogging....I didn't even consider this post to be about possible romantic relationships formed through the internet. Did I miss something?

I do believe it is possible to have 'presence' through the internet...this is based on over two years of blogging experience and meeting fellow bloggers in person.

7:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "blogosphere" is about communities. Connecting with others, sharing ideas, and supporting each other. But people on the internet are fickle and easily distracted. We're all looking for those who will stick together, like in real life friends.

But then again, even in real life, not all relationships are guaranteed to stick around.

8:23 AM  
Blogger Llama Momma said...

You raise such good questions here.

I question that blogging is a form of community for just this reason. I see community as an in-the-flesh experience of presence. And yet I cannot deny the bond I feel with many who blog. When I first read of Charity's cancer, I wept all day. And my instinct was to jump in the car and bring her a casserole. (I didn't, but I wanted to.)

And sitting with her last week, having coffee, it felt like a reunion with an old friend, not a first meeting.

So there is something here in the blogosphere that I can't deny. True friendship. A sort-of community.

But can we be present with one another over a computer screen? My blog is such a narrow slice of my life. I choose what to share and what to hold back. Can we be present in these bits-and-pieces knowing of one another?

8:26 AM  
Blogger bluemountainmama said...

great passage.... and so true. as a less 'wordy' person, generally speaking, it resonated.

i have been amazed at how intense a bond i have felt towards some i've met through blogging... but then again, sometimes i question whther it's real, because it still seems a litttle absurd to me.... to feel that over wires and networks, never having met in the flesh.

but i think this blogging community is somewhat different from others as it goes into some of the hard and initmate places that others don't. i feel blessed to have somehow fallen into it....

9:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am so sorry...i have not read your post yet...i just can not get past the photo with out telling you right away how wonderfully cute it is!

time to take cj to school

11:00 AM  
Blogger Marcus Goodyear said...

First, I wrote a really long comment here yesterday. It was beautiful. Poetic. Would've won Nobel prizes. Really. In multiple categories.

Blogger ate it.

This morning, Mark D. Roberts led our devotional at work. (It's tough to work here, let me tell you.) He talked about Paul's epistles. According to Dr. Roberts, Paul was perhaps the first person in recorded history to use epistles and letters to build community.

Think about that. He wrote letters to the churches in order to minister to them by his presence through the letters.

And, L.L., I think you do something similar with the laser-focused comments you leave around the net. And your focus and integrity here at Seedlings, over at Love Notes, now on GabCast, and in Stone Crossings.

2:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But can we be present with one another over a computer screen? My blog is such a narrow slice of my life. I choose what to share and what to hold back. Can we be present in these bits-and-pieces knowing of one another?"

Llama Momma, I think we all agree that we have found some kind of communal bond online, but it's that bits-and-pieces thing that prevents presence from developing. For there to be "raw togetherness" I think the true you has to be there, even if not physically, even if only in a one line comment. And letting the real you show is unnatural to us.

(Danielle I was only noting other kinds of non-verbal connecting that happens).

4:19 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

A. An... I loved that question of presence framed through the Adam where are you scene. It reminds me that we can be somewhere without actually being "present". So that this question of presence becomes more complicated. I also loved your single woman perspective and your great honesty about what it feels like at first; it's interesting to consider how presence changes over time... the new versus the familiar.

Oho... that's fascinating. And yet so many people are drawn to the medium for the purpose of finding a mate. What do you think keeps them coming back?

Danielle... yes, presence in some way. I was wondering if it can be the same as what Tippett describes; indeed, I feel this great frustration about not being able to be silent yet perceived. Though some of us over at Charity's had tried to begin working on a system where we would at least say "Tap, tap." or "Wave," to mean, "I'm hear at your blogosphere window even if I'm not talking."

Rudy... i love that. It's true that there are no guarantees in either "place". I admit I like having people come here and stay here; it's not for everyone, to be sure, but I like hearing familiar voices.

Llama... I thought of you when I wrote this. (And I thought of how envious I was when I heard you had coffee with Charity!) Speaking of presence, will I be blessed with yours at Calvin? I decided to sign up for the Pastor's Circle rather than the bloggers. So we'll need to find a way...

Blue... your comment was very special to me. I'm glad you fell into this place too and that you've found it inviting enough to stay. I know if I ever make it down your way, I'll want to see you face to face. So this has an aspect of presence to it. But, still, it leaves me with a little ache sometimes.

Nancy... great shot isn't it? I love sculpture!

Mark... oh dear. Now you've got me wishing I'd seen it. (For this reason, to assure my place in Nobel history, I often copy my comment using the keyboard copy function before I hit the button.) And you've warmed my heart with that thought about Paul developing community with letters. Of course, he was always saying things like, "I hope to return to you..."

A. An... [again] :) ... good point about bringing the real us to the table. It's a bit of a process maybe. I think there's more of the real me here now than there used to be. Indeed, some days I wonder if I'm going to start to scare ya'll away!

5:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am back and have read your post now...and it so happens that i have posted some thoughts on " me" on my post just a little bit ago.

the use of the word in so many places in my life latele had me looking at it.

i also thought...and might post this thought later...that

the picture is not so much in the focus
as it is in where i aim my camera.

5:42 PM  
Blogger Every Square Inch said...


I think you're thinking about the right things, asking the right questions. Is it possible to experience community in the blogosphere.

Yes and no. Yes, you can experience some sort of connectedness, warmth and exchange of ideas...but no, it's no substitute for real presence, the empathetic smile, the hug of a friend. Especially hugs...they're impossible to replicate over cyberspace. That's why church community life is not just optional, it's essential

10:12 PM  
Blogger 23 degrees said...

"The reality of God is most powerfully expressed not in ideas and proclamations but in presence."

Presence. I see a lot of power and presence in words. They have the ability to create, to tear down, to live on. What a mystery.

I am part of the blogosphere to find presence. Here, like other places, I find two or three gathered in His name. When someone reads my words or looks at a sketch I have made and makes a comment, I can kinda tell who is filling space and who is taking time to think, taking time to really listen and speak into my life. It moves me. I feel His presence.

I am leaving a job in two weeks. When the email circulated throughout the company that I was leaving, many well-wishes came in that I read, and still re-read. These folks I feel are with me in a way, they are for me as I ponder their words. They remembered me and cared enough to send a word my way. It means a lot. I enjoy the hugs more, but am still hug-able by words alone.

LM asks if we can we be present in bits and pieces of knowing each other. I think so, at least in my case. It was beautiful to hear of her reunion with Charity after getting to know her by blogging. Mark also makes a great point about Paul, and though none of us have seen Jesus, we know presence by his words. What a reunion we have coming!

12:52 AM  
Blogger Llama Momma said...

LL -- I'd love to get together at Calvin, even for a quick cup of coffee. I'll email you...

7:53 AM  
Blogger preacherman said...

I want you to know that I love your post and blog. I have added it to my favorites. I will be reading it daily as well as your other blogs. My 7 year old son is really into art and I am planning and excited about showing him your blog.
You have a talent that God Almighty has given you. I am glad you are using it. Continue to do His will and I pray his riches blessing on your life.
In Him,
Kinney Mabry

2:09 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

We have no physical presence with God. No eyes to make contact with. No body language to read. Yet, I know I've felt His presence.

God is Spirit. What we sense as "presence" is a spiritual presence.

Words do that. We create a spiritual presence with the words we write. That's why we can create "community" in a blog. People's spirits do get transmitted through the words that they use.

I value that. I value your use of words and feel that I know a lot about you by what I read here.

Peace, Kim

7:10 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

I need to read that book myself, because I like much what Krista Tippett does, in "Speaking of Faith".

I guess I better understand why alot of guys seem to blog primarily for the exchange of ideas. For me that's only half the fun, but in reality, cyberspace is not the same as being there. But it is a nice precursor to it, I think.

And I'll add to that, that is amazing how we do work through things here, in a way, that seems hard to do oftentimes, in our real, person to person, face to face world, and everday life.

9:21 PM  
Blogger Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

LL - thanks for your musing.

I think about it in terms of my daughter; I love her first because she is part of me. That love both preceeds and allows the loving her for who she is - and even who she isn't.

As to presence - though the Holy Spirit has not form, He has presence. I think that blogging, especially among believers, can bring this sense of presence because He is there.

10:20 AM  

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