An interesting recent comment got me a thinkin’ again (and as you know – that means trouble). The part that got me thinking was that the commenter was questioning the value of our online discussions here at the Thang and in the Bloggernacle in general. He hinted that we would be much better off (and that we could better serve God) by putting down the laptop and spending more face to face time with our needy neighbors. The gist of my response was to question why spending time face to face with neighbors was so much better than spending time in engaging “keyboard to keyboard” religious discussions here on the blog. My theory is that here at the Thang I can add much more value to my distant Web neighbors than I can with the folks I happen to live next to because here we have an opt-in conversation about important topics that we all actually care about. For instance, my next door neighbor has zero interest in discussing the strengths or weaknesses of various parables describing the atonement. But I do, and so do other people in the world. The problem is that the other people who want to talk about these things live hundreds of thousands of miles away from me. By discussing those things here at the Thang, the relatively small group of us becomes virtual neighbors who can teach, uplift, enlighten, and edify each other. It also lets us stretch ourselves by raising the level of the discourse far beyond the often superficial level we encounter in conversations with those we live near or worship with locally.
But the other part of Web discussions that is severely underestimated has to do with permanency of the conversation. Which is doing more good in the world – a personal verbal conversation about the atonement that enlightens two people but is forever lost after the conversation is over, or an blog-based conversation about the atonement that enlightens all participants but also enlightens many of the hundreds of other people who read along in the first week and perhaps many thousands of others in the weeks, months, and years to come? I think it is the latter.
Nephi and Moroni lamented that their live verbal preaching was much more powerful and effective than their written record:
AND now I, Nephi, cannot write all the things which were taught among my people; neither am I mighty in writing, like unto speaking; for when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men. (2 Ne. 33: 1)
23 And I said unto him: Lord, the Gentiles will mock at these things, because of our weakness in writing; for Lord thou hast made us mighty in word by faith, but thou hast not made us mighty in writing; for thou hast made all this people that they could speak much, because of the Holy Ghost which thou hast given them; 24 And thou hast made us that we could write but little, because of the awkwardness of our hands. Behold, thou hast not made us mighty in writing like unto the brother of Jared, for thou madest him that the things which he wrote were mighty even as thou art, unto the overpowering of man to read them. (Ether 12: 23-24)
That may be true, but the unrecorded live sermons these men preached do nothing for me. Those inspired oral sermons are lost forever. It is only their written sermons that help us all today.
So having said that, I want to say: “Hello to those reading my words in the year 2045. I hope you are well. So what has changed? I posted earlier in the year that the Second Coming might happen in the 2040’s… How’s my prediction looking? Oh, hello to my grandchildren as well!”
Maybe you think it is ridiculous to think that the Thang will still be on the Web in 2045 or that anyone would be remotely interested in reading this post in 40 years. You may be right about the latter, but I think you are wrong about the former. First, the Web is not going away as long as modern civilization survives. It became the greatest library the world has ever known years ago and it will continue to grow. No doubt it won’t be long before most everything that was ever written or recorded will be available on the Web. Sure, the technology will improve, but that will mostly mean people will have faster, easier, and more ubiquitous access to the information they want. All it takes to keep a site live is to renew the domain name and keep the server fees paid. Look at Noisepie.com for instance. We launched that site 10 years ago and the band has not gigged since 2001 but the site is still up and running and still gets a steady (albeit slow) flow of search engine traffic.
So what does that mean to those of us that post on doctrinal/spiritual/gospel related topics? I think it means that every post is sort of like Sunday lesson with a potential long-term audience of many thousands of people. What should that say about our preparations? I don’t know. But I do know that if I were asked to give a talk or lesson that would be heard by thousands or tens of thousands of people I would do a lot more to prepare spiritually than I do for a post like this.
The difference between our verbal talks and our Bloggernacle posts is that our oral discussions float away into memory while our Bloggernacle posts and discussions can “speak from the dust.” Whether you like it or not, when you post or comment in the ‘Nacle you are suddenly a published author. I’m hoping that is a good thing. And I’m hoping the Bloggernacle is helping “faith increase on the earth“. I believe that so far it is.