Visit our new site at

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ask the Matriarch - To Blog or Not to Blog (Anonymously)

Our question for this week concerns this enterprise that so many of us have come to love: blogging!
I know this topic has been kicked around before on different blogs, but I'd like some more input. I have blogged anonymously and enjoy the freedom which comes with that medium. However as I continue seeking a call and looking at new ways to do/be church, I would like to be able to blog from that position also...where the members and friends can see me perhaps in a bit different mode. It would be a place to possibly post sermons, to dream, to wrestle with faith issues from a different perspective. Herein lies the tension...has anyone blogged in "both worlds" simultaneously, with one being anonymous and the other one not.

One of our matriarchs consulted a blogging friend, who offers this advice:
I like blogs. I'm not a priest but I have two separate blogs, one for my
daily life full of random thoughts and reports of what I ate for breakfast
and one for more structured essays.

My top two pieces of advice.

1. Remember than anything you post is being shared with the public at
large-- even if you only have three people who read your blog if something
blows up on it you can suddenly have thousands of readers from around the
world-- not all of whom are nice-- some just come to point and mock.

2. Having an a anonymous blog is no guarantee that some astute person won't
put two and two together and figure link your personal and professional
lives and publish that information (see rule 1).

Jan who blogs at Church for Starving Artists adds:
My church blog has always been non-anonymous/attached to my name. Frankly I am a snarky enough person that I don't trust myself to write comments without a filter or a means of making me control my semi-mean commentary. Example: I can imagine coming home from a Presbytery meeting so frustrated that I'd make unnecessarily catty comments about somebody's hair or something.
Even with my name attached, I've written posts that might disqualify me from a specific call, but my thought is that it's important to be the real me and if something I wrote keeps me from serving a certain congregation then I probably wouldn't be a good fit for them anyway. It's really important to be the person we really are - and for churches to convey who they really are too.
We all know both pastors and churches that pretended to be someone they aren't to receive a call/call a new pastor. Not pretty in the long run.

My Ask the Matriarch co-chair Ann writes:
Blogging under my own name reminds me to be mindful that anyone may be reading and that what I write will float around cyberspace for a long time. I put my sermon notes up - my thinking process towards a sermon and will often add what actually came out in the pulpit. Parishioners can see how it becomes a sermon or not!! I occasionally do controversial subjects - but mainly about how I came to that position or how it is playing out in the church and society. Those blogs I will let sit over night before posting. I have not blogged anonymously - don't really think that is possible as some techno savvy person can always track down who is behind most any blog. It is a fantasy in my opinion to think no one will find out. My rule is don't put anything in a blog that I don't want the whole world to know. That being said I think blogging is a great way to reach out to people who are seeking -- both those in the church you serve and beyond. I am always surprised (usually pleasantly) when someone comments on mine or the essays I write for other venues.

Great question...great insights! What wisdom or insight from your own experiences would you add?

May you live in God's amazing grace+


  1. I'm struggling with this, too. I blog somewhere between anonymous and not, which I know is really not. I startd it anonymously at first because I just didn't know how I'd use it. I wanted to have the freedom to vent if I needed to or reveal things I didn't necessarily want revealed elsewhere. In the end I've so RARELY used it that way that I think I can probably edit a post or two, or delete one here or there, and just go public. If I go public I definitely have to reconsider what I say about family (husband) not really on the blog, but more on RevGal sites, like Preacher Party, etc, when I'm frustrated. I don't know. I need to do a little more thinking on this.

    An interesting post from Bruce Reyes-Chow (moderator of the PCUSA) about blogging publically

  2. I went through a period where I was so paranoid of being "discovered" that I went through all sorts of cloak-and-dagger attempts to remain completely anonymous. But frankly, after awhile that gets wearying, and it also throttles the muse. So, even though I don't use my real name, and even though I still refer to my home base as "Outer Podunk," I no longer try very hard to conceal my identity; if my pastor or bishop or some fellow parishoner stumbles upon my blog, I'll let the chips fall. It's who I am and what I think and what I feel; deal with it.

    On the other hand, I'm speaking as a layperson not in the paid employ of my church body, so I think I have more freedom than some of the rest of you to express myself online.

  3. I know that I have vented on my blog, and then had someone come up and start a conversation (or finish it, if you will) based on that blog. AWKward....

    However, I am not a person who does well with playing poker. So in my case, being authentically ME is important. I appreciate the wisdom in this post. Thanks!!!


  4. I have just started a blog, and I am really trying to figure out how to handle it, not just for me, but for the people I may write about. As a new pastor, I may unintentionally cross a line by sharing information and not protecting someone's privacy. That is why I have started with an anonymous blog. But I am not good at secrets, never have been, so I can't imagine my "anonymous" blog won't be read by parishioners or others I know. And truth be told, sometimes I may want those I know to read it. So, in the end, I think the funny names and other techniques of anonymity are more to protect other people than myself. I hope I never have an issue of sharing something I shouldn't have. That is part of why I haven't blogged before!

  5. I've chosen to be as anonymous as possible. I realize that someone could figure out who I am, but they'd definitely have to work at it - so I never use real names, I don't post a lot of very specific stories, but I do feel free to be pretty honest about my own emotions and frustrations.

    If I were doing a public blog, it would be a completely different experience. I have thought about that; mostly as a sermon preparation forum of sorts. I'd chose to do a totally separate blog in that case.

  6. I am not anonymous at all, and have chosen the path of vulnerabiltiy... tough but worth it. I agree with SingingOwl, if we "sell" ourselves as anything other than we are the results will not be pretty.

    That said there is always the place for discernment when posting!

  7. I don't know who that comment was from, but it wasn't me.

    Just sayin'.

  8. I'm staying anonymous, at least until I get through the candidacy process. That said, i still don't post much that I'm worried about getting out. I am what i am, but I can't see inviting unnecessary scrutiny at this point.

  9. Apt and timely question thanks. I'm thinking about this at the moment as well. I like what Ann said "My rule is don't put anything in a blog that I don't want the whole world to know." It articulates the position I'm coming to. I use my first name sometimes and a pseudonym sometimes. I am reluctant about detailed location info - not keen for that to be available to ;just anyone'

  10. My deepest apologies to Singing Owl - I attached the wrong blogging name to that response to the question.

    The author of the advice I mistakenly attributed to Singing Owl should be attributed to Jan who blogs at Church for Starving Artists.

    Again, please accept my apology. I am still finding my way through all this.

  11. With this good post and interesting exchange in mind, I was chilled to read this article via my Inside Higher Ed daily digest.

    Admittedly, the prof in question posted things on his blog that were (IMHO) stupid and asinine. But that's my definition, and how might someone else define what I write?

    Just saying.

  12. No problem. I liked the comment. :-) I just wanted the right Rev Gal to get the credit.

  13. I've asked this same question. I'v blogged as RDM for almost three years, and over that time I've become slightly more circumspect about what I'll say. But I still want this blog separate from my real identity, particularly my work identity. I need a place to vent, to let it out and my blog works fairly well for that, and I've found a supportive community.

    I did start another blog under my real name, but I haven't kept up with it too well. It was more complicated than I thought--I wanted to share it with some of the people I've encountered in the blogosphere and sometimes I wanted to talk about some of the same issues and the overlap felt tricky to me. And it's time consuming to maintain two blogs. But I may go back and work on the real-name one at some point. We'll see.


You don't want to comment here; instead, come visit our new blog, We'll see you there!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.