Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Sincerest Form of Flattery

Sometimes, the universe throws you coincidences that are too good to go by that name--synchronicity sounds so much nicer, doesn't it?

In any case, just at the time when I was corresponding with a group of Pagan and Heathen bloggers I admire about this wonderful tool that the "Quaker Blogosphere" had for itself in the brainchild of Martin Kelley, QuakerQuaker: A Guide to the Quaker Conversation, Quaker blogger Chris M. was suggesting it was high time for a QuakerQuaker blog carnival.

Pagan readers may have a sense of the importance that QuakerQuaker holds for Quaker bloggers, if I compare Martin Kelley to Fritz Jung or Wren Walker at The Witches' Voice, though the two pages are very, very different. Where Witchvox has become an enormous community forum and news page, with thousands upon thousands of regular visitors, the scope of QuakerQuaker is far smaller--and more focused. QuakerQuaker is not an attempt to bring its readers the whole of the Quaker world... just the parts that will really get us thinking and talking to one another. And as much as I admire Fritz and Wren, I have developed an equally great admiration for Martin Kelley (and the rest of the regular contributors at QuakerQuaker).

Chris asks fans of QuakerQuaker, "How did you find QQ, or Quaker blogs generally? What was a post you found through QQ or Quaker blogs that really moved you, spoke to your condition? Or, what was one of the most engaging conversations you've found?"

I don't remember how I found QuakerQuaker. I think that possibly it found me--that my first hint such a thing existed may have come about after one of our early posts was picked up and featured as a link. Other Quaker bloggers began to stop by and leave their comments on our blog, and of course I followed the links back to their own blogs... and then the links to other blogs that they linked to... and so on. Very quickly I was hooked--to use a negative-sounding term for what has been an overwhelmingly positive experience for me. I learned how to use web tools like Bloglines so that I could subscribe to many of my favorite Quaker blogs, and then how to create a blogroll so that I could direct my readers on to blogs I thought they would like, too. I learned how to edit the html of my own blog so that I could reformat my sidebar in ways inspired by the blogs I found.

All that is superficial, though. Some of the comments left by visitors in this Quaker conversation have meant the world to me. I feel welcomed and supported by bloggers like Lorcan Otway, of Plain in the City, lovingly eldered by Liz Opp at The Good Raised Up, and by Marshall Massey of Earth Witness--and by Martin Kelley, the Quaker Ranter himself, of course. I've been exposed to ideas from seasoned Quakers from portions of the Quaker movement that I might never have been exposed to otherwise, and I've really come to relish what happens when Quakers with different backgrounds share wisdom. And none of these beloved voices were known to me one year ago.

In the midst of this conversation, I've begun to read and to write differently. Well, OK, I still use way too many dashes and parenthetical phrases. But I write from a different center now. Having been exposed to Cubbie's extraordinary sincerity and openness in his spiritual journey, or Liz Opp's carefully discerned and spirit-filled writing, to the seasoned patience and hospitality shown by blogger Will T. at Growing Together in the Light on recent conflicts between Friends in FUM, I now have a higher standard for myself. I at least attempt to write in my blog and in my comments on others' blogs with the same open-heartedness I see in so many Quaker blogs. In a very real sense, blogging and reading blogs has become a major part of my weekly preparation for worship.

As I hinted earlier, the influence doesn't stop with my own blogging and learning. Just as I feel myself consciously trying to write from a spiritual center in my blog, I've begun actively seeking Pagan blogs with a similar quality, and, if Erik of Executive Pagan was being frank as well as kind, perhaps inspiring more spirit-led blogging in that community, too.

Whether or not that is the case, it is definately the case that the Pagan blogging community, starting with bloggers Yvonne Aburrow and Jason Pitzl-Waters, has taken up the idea of a home for the Pagan conversation something like QuakerQuaker.

It's a long way from full-grown, but the seed has been planted. QuakerQuaker has been so important, not just in the world of the Quaker blogosphere, but of the religious blogosphere in general, that imitation is at least being tried. We've got a long way to go... but, for those who are interested, QuakerQuaker has a new little sister, just about a week old now, in The Pagan Portal.

Here's to many more long and fruitful conversations all around. Thank you, Martin.


Liz Opp said...

Hey, Cat, this is a lovely post. Thanks so much for letting Martin--and many other Quaker bloggers and readers--know how the ripples have reached your shore.

No doubt the pebbles you have tossed into the Pagan blogosphere have created your own set of ripples, which are now touching the shores of many others.

I appreciate your faithfulness and your humility, and I hope to make it back here more frequently again when my life quiets down... in several months!

Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

Joe G. said...

I agree with Liz - this is a kind and thoughtful post. Although I'm out of the Quaker blogging loop these days, I still visit QuakerQuaker (hence, finding this post). Best wishes.

Chas S. Clifton said...

That would be Fritz Jung at Witches' Voice, not Fritz Muntean. But I am sure that either one of them would accept a compliment.

Cat Chapin-Bishop said...

Yow! Way to make a stupid error, Cat! Thanks for catching it, Chas... I've corrected it on the post (but let the comment stand, because, you're right... though Fritz Muntean is nowhere near as well known among Pagans, the quality of his scholarship and commentary are such that he, too, deserves some recognition.

sighI hate to feel dumb, but you'd never know it from the kinds of mistakes I make in the morning...

cubbie said...

this last sunday, chris m came up to me and asked if i'd read the quaker carnival posts much, because... you had mentioned me! *laughs* so i had to go look right away. i'm so glad you get stuff out of what i write. it's why i write. sometimes i get caught up in self-consciousness, so it's good to hear that people get things out of what i write. (and i get a lot out of what you write, also.)

Lorcan said...

Dear Cat:
Thanks for the shout out! Same back at ya! I must say, I am a little saddened at some of the Quaker bloggers (they know who they are) who block other Quakers from posting to their blogs, and refuse clearness on this, it seems to me to be a rejection of not only Quakerism, but the most important parts of the surmon on the mount... ah well...
In frith and friendship

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