I was downstairs putting the finishing touches on dinner (meat loaf, winter squash, vege pasta with artichoke pesto, and home made refried beans). John was upstairs finishing reading something on the computer. He called out to me, "Hey, have you been over to Video Meliora today?"
me: "not yet - why?"
him: "You're mentioned in the same sentence as Amy Welborn. And it comes from an article in First Things."
Since I was downstairs, I grabbed the print edition of First Things out of todays mail pile and proceeded to read God on the Internet by Jonathan V. Last. It's an interesting article, and I was somewhat bemused to have been the first blog actually mentioned by name. Blogging midwives are somewhat of an anomaly anyhow (last time I googled it I only found 4 of us) and a Catholic midwife blog is probably hen's teeth.
Mr. Last has some sharp observations, but I think that on some level he sells Catholic bloggers a little short. Here is his closing sentence and summation:
But even at its best, the Internet is a weakening of reality, and with its consumer satisfactions, politicizing impulses, and substitutions for the body, it constantly lures us up into thinner and thinner air. Isn’t religion supposed to enrich the world around us instead? Shut off your computer. Take a deep breath. Go to church.
From what I have seen, the majority of us in St. Blog's have not abandoned our incarnational reality and our physical religion for the thin air of the blogosphere. I read about fellow bloggers who go to daily Mass, who participate in various ministries, whose works show forth their faith. Many of us regularly participate in Eucharistic Adoration, groups such as Cursillo, Knights of Columbus, Faith on Tap, music ranging from Gregorian Chant to LifeTeen masses, and all sorts of other physical manifestations of our Catholicism. I have found the Catholic (and other Christian, for that matter) blogosphere to be an incredible support and challenge to live out my faith and to "work out my salvation in fear and trembling".
The cross-fertilization of ideas is unprecedented. I have learned enormously about Carmelite spirituality from Steven Riddle. (before this, I really didn't understand why Therese was a doctor of the church!) I have learned about the Catholic economic theory of distributism from Caelum et Terra. I have learned about ordering my life as a mother to God's plan from several other Catholic mom-bloggers (too many to list).
And so, I will respectfully disagree with the conclusion reached by Professor Reynolds (quoted in the above mentioned article).
As Professor Reynolds explains: “Kneeling, on a kneeler made of oak, in front of a priest with trembling hands handing you the very Body and Blood of Christ which you taste and touch and smell is different than mouse-clicking your way through reality. . . . Is [the Internet] real fellowship? No, I don’t think so. I view it more as co-laboring.”
Yes, there is a difference between virtual reality and physical reality - we as Catholics take delight in the physical realities with which God had gifted us. But virtual fellowship has a reality that is also of great value. The few occasions that I have been able to physically meet fellow bloggers has born this out for me.