Monday, June 7, 2010

Faith in Blogging

Casual Bloggers Conference

Moderator: This afternoon's session is a panel on Faith in Blogging. (We're not talking any specific faith here.) Let's get acquainted with our panelists. Marty, tell us who you are, and how and why you incorporate faith into your blog.

Marty: I call my blog TravelinOma. It's about a grandmother (Oma) on a trek through life. Because I believe happiness is a way of travel and not a destination, I search for joy in the journey, adventure and fun in the twists along the path, and then write about what I find. I don't write about my faith (Mormonism) per se (although I have) but I often note how faith in God has made a difference in my life.

Moderator: Are you comfortable writing about your own religion? Are there things you avoid talking about?

Marty: When I first started blogging I had no idea who would read my blog. I wanted to be taken seriously, and I was afraid that if I announced up front that I was a Mormon living in Salt Lake City I would immediately be stereotyped. I am not a cliche, and I didn't want to be perceived as one. Eventually I realized I would be a stereotype unless I defined myself.

That's something I love about blogs. A blogger who writes regularly can't keep up a false image very long. The genuine person shines through, and labels and pigeonholes disappear.

I don't debate theology. Arguing religion is never productive. I don't want to thrust my religion down anyone's throat. But because my faith has influenced my choices, and therefore my experiences, it's apparent in every post. I've had emails and comments asking about Mormon beliefs and I answer them all. I know there's a difference between curiosity and interest, and I'm happy to go either way when I respond to people.

Moderator: Can blogging about faith make a difference in the world? What would you advise someone who wants to blog about faith?

Marty: I don't think my blog makes much difference to the world, but it's making a difference in my little world. There's a lot of harshness and ugliness on the internet. Writing something funny, helpful or encouraging and then sending it out to the blogosphere seems noble to me. It makes me feel noble. So for that piece of time in front of my computer I'm (sometimes) the kind of person I want to be.

My advice to bloggers would be to avoid sounding self-righteous, judgmental, overbearing or too pious. It's not our right to judge others, and it's impossible to change someone else. But we can be the change we want to see in the world—brighten up our own corner of the internet. Remember, a little leavening lifts the whole loaf.

Moderator: What gives a person authority to blog about faith?

Marty: "Middle age is the time of life when the most fun you have is talking about the most fun you used to have." I just write my own experiences. For what I'm writing I'm the expert. There is no other authority. I would never presume to speak for my church, and while I hope I'm a good representative, I'm just a regular person. But as far as my own personal religious experiences go, I am the authority. And those are the things I write about.

(This is an idea of what I hope I said.
I was so nervous that I have no idea what I really said.)

(By the way, the other panelists talked, too.)

The Casual Blogger Conference was a huge success. It was sold out (about 400 attendees) and the classes and workshops were varied and well done. I moderated a panel on Blogging Zen (organizing your on-line life) and attended a class called Finding Your Voice and another on Niche Blogging. A lawyer spoke on legal issues facing bloggers, and there were classes on design, photoshop, story-telling, photography and more . . . highlights to come!


crissy said...

Really wish I could have gone... :\

kenju said...

Marty, where was it held?

I am certain that you did very well in your presentation!!

Michelle said...

ah, I would have loved to have been there! You certainly make a difference in my little world.

mama jo said...

sounds like you did great..

ForeverRhonda said...

Sounds like you did a fabulous job! I am sorry that I had to miss it!

Susan Adcox said...

I avoid some faith bloggers. I was raised in a religious home, but we were very reticent about discussing our faith. I guess it's a remnant of that childhood training that I don't enjoy being around people who make a lot of overt references to their faith. I've never had a problem with TravelinOma!

Tiffany said...

You're an inspiration to me, in every way! Nicely done, wish I could have been there in person.

Heather of the EO said...

It was an honor to sit there with you :)

Diane L said...

Sounds perfect.