Last week a dear friend of mine left a comment on a Very Popular Blog. I don't normally read the combox there because I generally disagree with the people commenting (and I prefer low blood pressure over high blood pressure), but of course I had to head over when my friend emailed saying she'd participated in the discussion. The original post itself was an interview with a Catholic nun, and it was excellent, but most of the people in the combox didn't think so.
Enter my friend. Who did think so.
Naturally she got some negative comments in return for the wisdom she shared (which was in line with what the interviewee had said), which eventually led me to weigh in myself.
Then we joked about how maybe we'd just leave our comments and run, because we don't like being in the fray, which begs the question: why did we comment in the first place?
And of course all of this has gotten me thinking: when is it beneficial or even appropriate to engage in the combox wars? Not sure if you know this, but there is a land far, far away, filled with blogs that generate a lot of discussion--and not all of it is unicorns and glitter. People disagree with each other and argue and debate. These aren't your typical mom-blogs where women post pictures of purses they've sewn or of their kid eating made-from-scratch birthday cake. They're usually faith-related and often thought-provoking, and fans and critics alike hang around, each for their own reasons.
While I mostly read blogs written by real-life friends or by people who inspire or speak truth to me in some way, I also read a few blogs that reflect a perspective completely opposite of mine. Why? I think it's because it helps me see the other side and better understand the culture at large. Part of me is simply curious. They most always make me think. And sometimes they help me to better understand and explore my own position.
But rarely, if ever, do I actually leave a comment.
However, my husband and I have both occasionally participated in discussions on the aforementioned Very Popular Blog, and we have a theologian friend who regularly engages there, and now one of my real life friends has joined in as well. It's not a regular thing for us, just every so often.
The truth is that I used to write off those discussions as a Big Fat Waste of Time, but my opinion is slowly shifting on that. IF it is a blogpost that is generating discussion and people are talking back and forth about an issue, I believe that all sides have the right to be heard. In the case of this recent post, hundreds of people were sharing some pretty negative opinions about the interviewee (whose views run counter to most of that blog's readership), and about her traditional beliefs. And it's possible that some of these people don't realize that there are many of us out there who actually, truly, whole-heartedly believe in the tenets of historical Christianity and, more specifically, the views the Catholic Church holds regarding womanhood. It's also possible that some people have never even heard of these ideas before.
So while I never, ever, ever leave a comment expecting to change anyone's mind, if I can humbly articulate how I believe God's design is liberating and dignifying to women (and, shoot, defend a dear nun in the process!), well, at least I've gone on record as yet another crazy who still believes that stuff.
If I can share how living out my faith has impacted my life, perhaps someone else who lives that way will be encouraged and know they're not alone.
And if I can express an idea that someone hasn't thought much about before, well, now they have something else to think about.
All of this to say that I'm coming to see, more or less, that there is a place for thoughtful engagement in areas where you are in the minority. God's story is worth telling, and sometimes an opportunity arises where we can share a piece of that story with people who oppose us. Not for the sake of argument or debate (though there is a time for that too, in my opinion), but for the sake of fruitful dialogue and being able to give a reason for the beautiful hope that we have. It's not always easy in our current culture, but anytime we engage for the sake of Jesus, it's well worth it.
And maybe tomorrow I'll post about purses and birthday cake.