I went to church yesterday (yes, you read that right, I went to church). As you can tell, this is not a normal weekly event for me. It is more of a – once or twice a year when I visit my grandparents – sort of thing. And it wasn’t your typical church either, it was a Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. What is that, you say? Well here is what Wikipedia has to say on the subject:
Unitarian Universalism is a religious denomination characterized by support for a “free and responsible search for truth and meaning”. Unitarian Universalists do not share a creed; rather, they are unified by their shared search for spiritual growth and by the understanding that an individual’s theology is a result of that search and not obedience to an authoritarian requirement. Unitarian Universalists draw on many different theological sources and have a wide range of beliefs and practices.
The service was held in a grade school gymnasium, their temporary home while raising funds for a place of their own. I was happily able to recognize many members of the congregation, having been there several times over the years. It is a wonderful group of genuinely caring individuals coming together to form a community that they both give to and receive from.
I have often thought how wonderful it would be to be a part of such a community. To have something larger than yourself that would tie you and other people with similar values and ideas together as one group. Regardless of your religious or spiritual beliefs, I think we can all agree that the community building aspect of organized religion is a very good thing. Not only is there the community of being a member of the church, but there is also a positive effect on the greater community in which the church, synagogue, mosque, temple, etc. is located.
On this particular Sunday they had an intern minister deliver the sermon. She was a young women, fresh from theology school, and she delivered a quite modern take on the typical sermon. “Have Mercy!” was the title, and with reference to books like The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones, she was able to eloquently tie the rather archaic theme of mercy in with pop culture. She made us laugh and ponder. And the thought that came to my mind was:
“Is the blog the new ‘church’?”
I could imagine reading her words in a blog post. They were witty and current, with depth and insight. They were educational and they obviously made me think (gave me the idea for this very post, in fact). I wanted to hear (or read) more. I wanted to know her thoughts and opinions on a variety of topics. She had me hooked, I would have definitely pressed the “follow me” button on her blog.
Blogging and social networking has become a community unto itself. There are thousands of niche groups within this massive community and these groups provide an outlet for individuals and a way to connect with a larger community of like minded people. We could say the blogs themselves serve as the “church” and the posts are similar to the “sermons”. They usually come from some personal experience and involve a life lesson of some sort. Granted, there are blogs that are simply about traveling or cooking or nothing at all, but an increasing number of blogs are on themes that are straight out of the self help aisle of Barnes and Noble. These bloggers offer personal experience, guidance, advice and maybe some expertise in exchange for their reader’s feedback and comment discussions.
I personally have joined several of these blogging communities – these churches of the blogosphere. I have gained valuable knowledge, courage, and determination. I have found a group of remarkable individuals who share my values and concerns, to whom I can ask questions and sometimes offer advice.
Have I found the “church” experience that I had been longing for or is this something new entirely?
I wonder if anyone else has pondered this question. Have you ever thought about the correlation between a blog and a church or a blog post and a sermon? What are your thoughts on the subject?
Thanks for reading!