Sunday, March 2, 2014

Talking about stuff about which I know nothing: conservative Christian blogsphere edition

I got into reading blogs back in 2004.  I was deep in dissertation misery and teaching a course about the history of youth, gender, and sexuality.  I turned to the conservative Christian blogosphere to try to better understand sexual conservative/traditionalists, or whatever inaccurate name I might call them.  I also found something very soothing in the kinder/kuche/Kirche rhythms (maybe that's an offensive description?  I mean it in a "remaking of tradition" way, but certainly not in a "they are similar to Nazis" way-since it has a longer history that just the Nazi period, I think I'm okay) of those women's lives.  Very soothing compared with crying over dissertation formatting and months of 48 hour interviews in snowy climes wearing heels and skirt suit, two people showing up to your job talk, knowing no one around the dinner table was going to vote for you type of travails.

I learned a lot.  In the 2004, 2008, and 2012 elections, I felt that blogs gave me a good hunch about which way the electorate was leaning.  In 2004, most conservative Christians I read were strongly pro-voting for GWB, although they may have had significant disagreements.  In 2008 and 2014, support for the respective republican candidates was muted or non-existent.  More people were choosing not to vote or to vote for a third-party candidate rather than corrupt themselves with the Party choice.

In 2004, the orthodox Protestant blogosphere was thriving.  Women were connecting and learning from each other, and sharing their experiments on their blogs.  Within a few years, many women drew back on the personal details they were willing to share, or were driven off the internets by trolls.  Others came to the conclusion they were harming their spiritual and family lives by spending so much time blogging.  And a few were very successful at monetizing it and went more mainstream-for example Crystal's transformation from her Biblical Womanhood blog to her Money Saving Mom blog.  Other bloggers found themselves torn up in nasty accusations and counter-accusations of legalism and worldliness.  It will be interesting to see if the recent scandals at Vision Forum and ATI further depress the orthodox Protestant blogosphere, or allow it a rebirth.

As the Protestants have been foundering, the conservative or traditional Catholics have been on the upswing.  The blog Catholic All Year is a good example of this genre, with key posts here and here.  And these are some additional traditionalist Catholic family and faith blogs:
A Blog For My Mom
A Woman's Place Depends on Her Vocation
Elizabeth Esther
Passionate Perseverance

Each of these blogs is different, but many of them have similar themes: most of the authors weren't raised in traditionalist families.  They explore issues such as living the liturgical calendar with children, religious formation and children, head covering during mass, and the challenges that come with being part of a larger Catholic culture that is not particularly traditionalist, so being an outsider insider.  The transition from Pope Benedict to Pope Francis seems particularly emblematic of these challenges.  As much as the Catholic Church is an institution steeped in tradition, Protestantism seems to allow more space for the creation of a new traditionalism.  Certainly Protestant denominations and congregations can be authoritarian in their interpretation of scripture, but there is so much space for the individual's unmediated access to God through scripture, and that provides a cultural space to be counter-cultural.  The Catholic Church has a more centralized path to authority (and I don't mean that in a dumb Da Vinci Code way).  I wonder what it feels like to feel that your true Church isn't represented in 95% of the Catholic churches in the US?  Or to want to reclaim traditions in which the Church hierarchy seems to have little interest.  It seems like it would be an uneasy space to occupy.

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