Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Some more (relatively brief) thoughts on what some call watchblogging

I wrote a very long post last year about what some folks call watchblogging.  In light of Phoenix Preacher noting that bloggers have 1st amendment rights comparable to those of journalists I've been wanting to write for some time now about the importance of seeing blogging on controversial people and institutions in light of the 9th District ruling (which could get overturned by the Supremes at some point) ... .

I wrote last year that this blog is not attempting to persuade but to inform and educate.  It is also not in any formal or "mission" sense about just one thing.  I have at times gotten some questions about what my heart is.  In Christianese questions about "heart motive" can often seem to be a question about whether the reason for doing something is really a godly reason in the opinion of the enquirer.

Longtime readers may have noticed Wenatchee The Hatchet has this habit (bad or good depending on your disposition) of refusing to make simple what doesn't seem to be simple.  This is how I've managed to get flamed far more often by critics of Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill in a variety of online settings than I ever have been by people in Mars Hill, whether members or leadership.  While Mars Hill members and even some leaders over the last three to four years were sending jobs along and financial support Wenatchee The Hatchet was getting flamed at The Wartburg Watch as someone attempting to appease the powers that be at a church I haven't attended in years. 

A recent post (on the history of the history of The Paradox) and a helpful comment in response to it (Jsuffering) has helped me realize it might be good to clear the ground a bit about what I do and don't think a watchblog (if that's how people will inevitably pigeonhole Wenatchee The hatchet at this point) ought to be pursued.

The first and foremost thing is that you have to blog as a journalistic activity.  You have to be willing to slog through a lot of mundane details that really, truly, don't mean a whole lot.  A lot of what can pass for watchblogging on a controversial figure like Mark Driscoll can be smelling a fart in an elevator and trying to scramble as fast as possible to assign blame to the one who is assumed to have dealt it.  This leads to "he who smelt it thine own self dealt it" (can't resist the Space Ghost: Coast to Coast reference there).  The circle of suspicion continues.

What hit me this last week or so is that it's very easy for readers to read a post thinking there's a specific goal in mind and a good chunk of the time there may not be.  When you come to Wenatchee The Hatchet you're going to be dealing with the rambling writings of a process-oriented writer.  When goal-oriented readers are going through the work of a process-oriented writer and don't find he or she has reached the conclusion they wanted they sometimes complain.

Let's put it this way for effect, Wenatchee The Hatchet doesn't differ from Mars Hill Church or Mark Driscoll by not being some kind of evangelical Protestant.  In terms of professed Christian doctrines I never stopped being what just about any of the elders would have considered a very good fit for Mars Hill as an evangelical church.  Where we eventually came to differ was, well, probably ethos, to borrow a term jsuffering shared.  The ethos of Wenatchee The Hatchet as a blog is considerably different both by temperament and design from the ethos of other blogs that have attempted to take up watchblogging of Mars Hill at various times.  If the goal of other watchblogs has been to, well, you may have seen that stuff already, the goal of Wenatchee The Hatchet is to encourage research and clarification of what has happened.

It might be a hyperbole to say that other blogs that attempt to be watchblogs on the subject of Mars Hill are goal-oriented in aim and procedure while Wenatchee The Hatchet is more process-focused.  I am hooked on the creative process itself.  I have more musical and writing projects on the table than I think could realistically be achieved but there's a reason and a method for that.  If I never can finish all the things I've sketched out as things to do then there's never a point where the creative process itself has to stop because I don't have enough ideas.  A side effect of this always overflowing the list of potential projects is that the ones I actually get done are the ones I can assure myself were worth finishing.  In a rare endorsement of John Lennon on the creative process there's a point where when something gets too tough you drop it until you can come back to it and it feels easy again. 

But the handful of anonymous commenters who may come to Wenatchee The Hatchet wanting a blog post to get to the point or to reach a foregone conclusion are bound to be disappointed.  Frankly, most of the time they deserve to be disappointed. This isn't a path to a bold, declarative propositional statement.  Who, what, where, when and why are pursued as a process.  This is a blog that, when it deals with the orbit of topics related to the history of Mars Hill, is much less interested in reaching a set of conclusions or judgments than encouraging people to realize that there is a vast sea of narrative and events to enquire into. 

I was encouraged one night to hear someone ask a friend of mine what on earth Wenatchee The Hatchet was.  To the person who asked if it was a watchblog the friend replied that it was more like a blog devoted to church history and then with a laugh remarked that this meant a very recent very regionally specific slice of church history.  Yes, that's closer to what I'd like the blog to be thought of than as some "watchblog". 

Seen as a journalistic blogging experiment the "goal" of this blog is to share various parts of the story of the community known as Mars Hill in a way that, perhaps, can encourage more and more people to share their stories and to share those stories on record in public ways.  If people choose not to, that's their call. 

A word about comments.  Comments have hardly ever happened in the history of the blog.  For a time this seemed unfortunate but on the whole comments are neither especially needed or desired.  IF you do comment, anonymous comments are permitted but weigh what you're about to say as though you might one day have to go on record with your real name.  If there's anything the history of Mars Hill Church has shown over the last three to five years it's that no matter how thoroughly people try to scrub away history from the internet, the internet has this weird, implacable capacity to have it sitting around somewhere.  You'll want to try avoiding making comments you can't live with for the rest of your life.  We all say stuff we regret, though. 

Tonight's content, if I was going to post at all, was supposed to be comparing the recordings Anthony Glise and Claudio Giuliani did of Diabelli's guitar sonatas (subject for some lengthy overview here).  Sigh ... well ... maybe another day for that.  This blog seems overdue for one of those deliberate phases of killing readership traffic on the subject of Mars Hill in exchange for a new chamber music week series of posts. 

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