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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wednesday Festival: Transparency

Today's post comes from Rach, an Anglican ordinand in the United Kingdom, at her blog "Revising Reform" and is titled "Transparency." Click here to go to the blog post.

I hope to have an integrated life and sometimes wonder if I am naive or just optimistic or even just hopefully faithful.

I will soon be involved in public ministry.

I am married to a man in internet security who is savvy when it comes to the net and conscious about issues of privacy and security. We could not be further apart in terms of the worlds we inhabit. He has just joined facebook, anathema to him for a long time.

He wonders how I know the people I know and I have to explain to him that I inhabit multiple realms and no, I am not referring to the Pauline heavenly and earthly but to the earthly and virtual. I can speak more often to my virtual friends than my real friends some days because even though I might be immediately within my physical friends' proximity, sharing table and desk, more often than not, we are listening (to lectures, sermons etc) than speaking. In some ways I do not speak to virtual friends either, I write and so the keyboard has become almost an extension of me. I have just bought my first tablet and conversations can now be typed more easily where ever I go.

I am beginning also to consider some of the boundaries that are necessary and some that are to be thought through. Currently I am attempting to be as faithful as I can to the Continuing Indaba Encounter Social network and Blog Policy. This means that I am recording my internal conversations privately. They will get aired at some point but in a particular way. This blog has always sought to be investigative and to think out loud but I am conscious that words carry weight and responsibility. I knew that already, really.

I also accepted my first friendship request from a future parishioner today on facebook. This is not a problem. I want to demonstrate an integrity of life in all aspects of my existence and the realm of facebook is just another place where I converse. I know that I am caricatured by one other religion and belief blogger but I have become rather used to this and even though I am often scantily clad, I am hoping that people know that this is not a reflection of the way that I actually dress. I do like fashion, however, I am not denying that and have posted frequently on clergy attire, if clergy attire and the word 'fashion' can sit comfortably in the same sentence.

As I think about the photos that I have stored in my camera from New York, with which I have not gone public, I think about how far people in positions of influence are in some ways public property. On the other hand, they are people to be respected in terms of their private lives. The Ryan Giggs* case has highlighted again the blurry edges between the private and the public.

We can not escape comment. We can not escape being misquoted. Even in my writing a two hundred word description about myself for the local newspaper, with the editor returning to me the write-up before printing, I found I was saying things in quotation marks I have never said and I needed to correct simple issues of mistaken geography.

So to whom do we belong?

As ministers, we belong to the people and this will always involve the kind of vulnerability that I have been living out here in cyberspace for a number of years. Safer here probably where I can delete comments and disallow comments from certain posts if I do not want to engage in conversation, as I will be doing when I write personal responses to Indaba**.

Ultimately though, we belong to Christ and I am hoping that shaped by his example, we learn to bear witness to him in all forums virtual and real, this I will continue to do and inevitably I will make mistakes but it is in being prepared to be conformed to his likeness, that I seek the only protection I will ever need in the face of the misquotes, mistakes and my misbehaving caricature.

The blog will stay, the friendship requests will not be denied. The generosity I witnessed, the vulnerability and the openness I saw over the pond will be something I hope conditions my writing and attitude, so far, so good, I have little reason to be cynical.

*More on Ryan Giggs
**More on the Continuing Conversation Indaba Project

RevGals have discussed various ways of appearing in social media. What are your thoughts on this theological angle? If you comment, you can link to your blog by using this formula: <a href="the url of your blog post goes here">what you want the link to say goes here</a>


  1. Good post. Transparency, openness, integrity are all part of the the virtues needed to proclaim the Gospel today. And yet we still know the need of some circumspection. There are always some thoughts that do not need to be "out there" even though we would like to express our mind. Responsibility and respect are as important values as transparency, et. al. I have a responsibility to my denomination, to the communities I belong to, and Christ to make sure that what I am saying is as truthful as it can be, and as respectful as I can make it.

    There are times when I would not be respectful--but it doesn't belong in the virtual world.

    Word verification: seedi

  2. One possibility: Make a "limited access list" in your FB account, and when the post is private, mark it "friends only except limited access list." Helps keep necessary boundaries while being in contact.


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