TXAB: The Christ Almighty Blog

17 October 2015

Synchrobloggery.

Sometimes you just wanna know what other people think about the same topic.

Really, this is a story, not a non-sequitur: Back in 2007 my mother took a college course on Christian apologetics.

Since I’m the seminarian in the family, Mom kept picking my brain. And I’m really not the brain you wanna pick. Thanks to my Fundamentalist upbringing, I spent years studying apologetics… and trying it out on Dad, who’s atheist. Then I spent a few more years inflicting it on various other pagan skeptics. After some years working with real evangelists, who share the gospel instead of arguing it, I came to a rather heterodox view of apologetics.

Bluntly, apologetics are cessationists’ thoroughly inadequate substitute for testimonies. You don’t tell people about what God’s done in your life, ’cause as far as you believe, all his acts are theological, spiritual, invisible, and largely hypothetical. You don’t talk about what he’s shown you through your faithful obedience, ’cause you’ve not done a lot of that either. Don’t bother to develop any fruits of the Spirit. Instead, indulge one of the more self-gratifying works of the flesh: Argue. Verbally tear those pagans a new one.

You give ’em logical arguments for the existence of God. Explanations why the bible is historical and believable. Reasons the resurrection has to have happened. Ideas to believe, rather than a Person worth believing in. And most useless of all, reasons why evolution isn’t true—which tells pagans faster than any T-shirt slogan, “I don’t believe in science, and am therefore an idiot. Trust nothing else which comes out of my mouth.”

If you object to that characterization, I’ll deal with you later.

Obviously I don’t have a lot of use for apologetics. From the sound of it, neither did Mom’s professor: He was only teaching the class because somebody had to; it was a required course if you sought ordination. When Mom started sharing some of my conclusions in class, and revealed where she got ’em from, he decided maybe he and I oughta become “friends,” as they call ’em, on Facebook. His name’s John. Blame him for getting me into synchroblogging.

’Cause he, and a few other bloggers whom he knew, decided they were gonna synchronize topics on their blogs once a month. This practice, they deemed, was a “synchroblog.” I wanted in on it. Off and on, across the various blogs I’ve written, I’ve been going along with their group since.

Life as a synchroblogger.

Originally we coordinated by email. Someone would remember, “Oh yeah, we haven’t done a synchroblog in a while,” and carbon-copy everyone in the group. Another would reply, “What’re we gonna write about?”, hit reply-to-all, blast that to everyone. Ideas would fly, and inboxes would clog. I’d come home after work and discover 75 new emails in my inbox. And back in those days, my email program didn’t know how to eliminate or shrink attachments, so every email would contain every other email in the conversation. Ah, the good old days. I don’t miss ’em.

The novelty wore off in time, so John stepped away from it and did other things. Same with the other folks who founded the synchroblog. Others picked up the baton, and ran it for a few more years. They got more organized. They got a website. They asked people to submit ideas, which they promised to sort out and set up. When Facebook decided to expand beyond Ivy League alumni, they had us move over there.

This month they announced they’re stepping away from it.

I’m offering to pick the baton back up, though I doubt it’ll be as the official continuation of the synchroblog. We’ll see whether that comes to anything. Hope so. Hope you can participate.

So, what’s this month’s topic anyway?

Our synchronized topic is what you’d say if this were your very last blog post. In detail, they asked:

Would you reflect on something from the past? Would you want to talk about blogging and how it has shaped you? Would you repost something from the past? Would you want to recommend other blogs? Would you want to rant about something? Would you tell a personal story? Would you share something you have learned along the way? Would you be dreaming about the future? What is on your mind that you would want to share if you were writing your last blog post?

Okay, here goes: “Bye everyone. It’s been fun.”

Yeah, that’s about all I’d post. I’ve quit other blogs in the past, y’know. My very first blog wasn’t even on a blogging platform; it was actually on a GeoCities website. When Yahoo bought that company, then shuttered it, all my posts vanished into the ether. Thank you, Yahoo; just for that I’ll never use your toolbar, no matter how many times Firefox insists on turning it back on. You hear me? Never!

My second was on Xanga. The new owners reprogrammed their site into uselessness, so that site’s gone too. Fortunately by then I’d already ported most of my posts to Blogger. Then I rebooted the site, then I moved to Tumblr… and then I realized the only people who care about my personal rants (other than creepy stalker types) were my Facebook friends. (Both actual friends, and friends-as-Facebook-defines-’em.) So I do the personal blogging there.

My third was a bible study blog, now defunct. My fourth was More Christ, which I’m phasing out in favor of Christ Almighty! My fifth consisted of a bunch of sermons by an early-20th-century faith healer. My sixth was for a church group. My seventh… well, you see how I do. I don’t know what number the synchroblog continuation counts as. For me, starting and stopping blogs is no big deal. Might be for you, if you only ever have one blog in your whole life, loyal to it as if it’s a spouse, and you hope to pass away together, holding one another close as the icy hand of death closes tight round your neck… Well not me. They’re not spouses; they’re pets. I have a pack of ’em. I can always get more.

If I have any “blog bucket list,” so to speak, I’ll do it long before the end comes. So do I need a final post in which to say everything I haven’t got to yet? Nah.

Hope that’s you. If you have a blog, hold nothing back. Say whatever you gotta say. Say it loud: “I’m black and I’m proud.” Unless you’re not black. Then it’ll just confuse people, like when I wish people a happy Kwanzaa round Christmastime. What, a white man can’t be friendly?

In praise of synchroblogging.

I will say part of the reason I wanna keep the synchroblog going is because I see so much value in it. When people value opinions, we tend to seek out like-minded people, just so we feel we’re not totally alone in this world: “Hey, another person who thinks like me! About time.” We seek the familiar and the comfortable. We look for those qualities in our friends and churches. We wish for those qualities in our families.

But while that’s a comfortable place to be, the idea it’s a safe place to be, is total illusion. Because, as I’m fond of regularly reminding people, we’re wrong. Sometimes we need a good challenge, and we’re not gonna find it in an echo chamber.

Ideally a synchroblog is gonna consist of diverse voices: People from all walks of life, everywhere on the political and theological spectrum, talking about their views and experiences. Challenging my views and experiences. Which is fine; if my views can’t withstand a challenge, what’m I doing with them? And hopefully I challenge others in their views, right back at ’em. Assuming they’re willing to slog through my 5,000-word essays.

Sometimes I won’t agree with them at all. More often, I’ll admit, I’m disappointed. Y’see, I put a bit of thinking into my articles. Whereas certain ninnyhammers will look at the month’s topic, think, “Oh, I’ve gotta write on ‘generosity’ before Tuesday,” tug out two half-thought paragraphs, and figure that’ll do ’em. If they don’t have much of anything to say, I’d much rather they skip that month, like I do.

But then again, I have my suspicions that some folks get involved in synchroblogs, and other inter-blog activities, more to promote themselves than actually participate. Personally, I call this sort of thing “synchrobaggery.” I leave it to you to figure out what that’s a portmanteau of.

I suspect this behavior because, to be truthful, I’ve been tempted in that direction: “I really have nothing I care to say about ‘heritage.’ But I really want people to check out my awesome website. So maybe I should slap something together…” Usually I resist it, ’cause I don’t wanna be so mercenary. Usually.

Other times, I see the prompt as a challenge. “I really have nothing I care to say about that… but why’s that?” And I root through my psyche a bit, and come up with something. So that’s good too.

I’m just looking for meaningful content. I wanna learn. Otherwise what’s the point? Cross-promotion? Bleah. Plenty enough of that on Twitter.

Yeah, I admit I have a secondary motive to post something this month. I’d like to think it’s more secondary than ulterior. You be the judge.

Anyway. If this is the last I ever hear from certain synchrobloggers, I wish you all the best. Hope it’s not the last.