St. Diadochos of Photiki on Blogging

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Well, more or less.  In the Philokalia, St. Diadochos reflects thus on the danger of talking too much:

When the door of the steam baths is continually left open, the heat inside rapidly escapes through it; likewise the soul, in its desire to say many things, dissipates itsremembrance of God through the door of speech, even though everything it says may be good.  Thereafter the intellect, though lacking appropriate ideas, pours out a welter of confused thoughts to anyone it meets, as it no longer has the Holy Spirit to keep its understanding free from fantasy.  Ideas of value always shun verbosity, being foreign to confusion and fantasy. (“On Spiritual Knowledge,” in the Philokalia Volume 1, 276)

If indeed “ideas of value shun verbosity,” then is it possible to gain much through blogging?  I think the 5th century Bishop has a point.  Granted, it can be taken too far – scholarship of every kind is built on a kind of “verbosity.”  We wouldn’t have PHDs without forests of trees being destroyed to put ink on pages.

I suppose these matters are on my mind because I’m preaching tomorrow on humility, based on the Christ hymn in Philippians 2.  It strikes me that blogging doesn’t seem like a very humble activity – a way for those unsuccessful in traditional media to put their thoughts out there for the world to see.  Most social media is built on this desire.  Is there such a thing as “humble blogging”?  Is it possible, in the verbosity that is the blogosphere, to find ideas of value?

My own thought, at least today:  I’m not sure that anything I’ve written is worth the time, either in my writing of it or your reading of it, when compared to the Scriptures or to the writings of the Church Fathers or the greats like Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, and Barth.  For that matter, I don’t know if I’ve read any blogs good enough to justify spending the time there versus any of the above.  What say you?

(And don’t be too verbose.)

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3 thoughts on “St. Diadochos of Photiki on Blogging”

  1. I imagine reading blogs is like panning for gold. There is a lot of water and dirt, but then from time to time you come across a nugget.

    Does blogging gratify our vanity? Sure it does. Look at me! But there is also in the practice a simple joy in writing, as well as a desire to share your words with others.

    Perhaps a good way to curb the vain aspects of blogging is to take a sabbath from your blog (or even from the Internet) regularly.

  2. I find another danger in blogging, especially blogging what we think are words of advise or teaching blogs. This is the difficulty in finding reliable and helpful information from reliable sources. It is also almost impossible for people to discern the good from the bad, when it comes to spiritual guidance, in the context of one’s own personal situation.

    Also, American’s are very self-reliant and tend to gravitate toward “self help” in most situations. This is especially true for Protestant converts (especially evangelicals). Based on personal experience as an evangelical, growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, I was taught that if I pray, God will send the Holy Spirit and give me the ability to interpret scriptures, outside the context of Tradition and Church teaching. This leads to quite a lot of confusion, spiritual stunting and self-pride.

    Furthermore, I find that many bloggers, who think they are experts, feel they have the power to interpret scripture and the Holy Fathers. This really bothers me. This can also become damaging as well, to the reader and the writer. If a blogger wants to spill their guts and write down what they think and are learning, maybe they should keep it to themselves, if they are not an expert on the subject.

    It is also my understanding that in the Orthodox faith, failure to cultivate relationships and to seek help and guidance from a trustworthy and good, spiritual father or mother, can be spiritually damaging and very counter-productive. We need each other for healthy spiritual growth. I often wonder if blogs, and reading blogs, interfere with this type of social interaction, for some people.

    Many of us have an insatiable curiosity and many of us have an insatiable need to be heard and respected. These passions need to be tamed, especially before writing informative blogs with command and authority. Perhaps blogging and excessive reading of blogs, can become another tool for causing more harm then good. Well-intended Orthodox Christians can easily let blogging rise to this level.

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