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June 28, 2007



I'm glad you posted about this, because I've been struggling with this question myself. In fact, I fought off the whole blogging phenom for a solid year because I was worried about some of the same things you just articulated.

I think community at some point or another does neccessitate a physical presence. Know anybody who is "virtually" married? Any babies that are "virtually" nursed by their mothers? I'm over stating things a bit, but these kinds of familial relationships are the very building blocks of our communities. We can replace them with a computer -- even if someone else is on the other end of a connected one.

That said, there are obviously impersonal forms of communication that pre-date the internet, and impersonal forms of communication have their place. Books, articles, letters all serve their purposes. Webpages, blogs, youtube, and www.linkashby.com have a place too. Even things like facebook and myspace are good networking tools.

The problem arises when we start asking our blogs, webpages, and video posts to do more than they really can. Networking and a variety of methods of communication can aid in the creation of community, but they aren't community.

So, I proudly click on www.linkashby.com in order to hear more of your profound thoughts. I really enjoy reading your posts and thinking about that rich, deep voice of yours. If given the option, though, I think I'd rather hear ya pontificate over a cup of McDonald's coffee than read what you've written on some old website (and that, by the way, would be IN SPITE of the McDonald's coffee).

P.S. I love the fact that your grandfather grew tobacco but didn't smoke it because he was a Baptist. Hilarious! Perhaps that is a genetic explanation for your penchant for a paradox.

I agree. It's one of the reasons we at RTS Virtual require students to have a local mentor who helps them figure out how to integrate what they are learning in their seminary courses with actual relationships and ministry.

The difficulty of trying to build purely "virtual" relationships is that there is no cost to them. They can be formed and dismissed almost instantly. Consequently, it's easy to make an uncharitable judgment and to not put forth the effort to truly understand a person. Also, there's no reason to bear with each other when our sinfulness gets in the way and we trample on each other's toes.

I really haven't much interest in forming new relationships online (I'm sure Linc will find that hilarious since he knows how I met my wife), but it is nice to be able to keep track of where friends from small group are, years later, when you're all dispersed to the four corners of the earth.

Christianity provides us with a tension - we recognize the importance of bodily existence and local community, but we also recognize that we are part of a community that spans not only terrestrial distances, but includes the saints who have gone on before us.

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