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I may be cutting down my words. But I may not. I may be cutting down the time I spend near a computer, but I may not.

It’s been quite an armful of years now since with Matt Lingard and others we considered whether twitter (and its friends, many now fallen by the wayside) had won out over blogs and whether one should/might as well abandon one’s blog.

For the last year or so, I’ve been contemplating whether some of this has reversed, and whether blogging is back in. Sometimes, it’s entertaining to try and say what you might want to in 140 xrs, tweaking to maintain sense *and* grammar. Sometimes you know you really want to say more than four tweets which hopefully remain vaguely connected in people’s timelines. But you can’t actually be bothered to head over to a blog and collect those same thoughts into proper sentences. (sometimes you think that twitlongr really had legs)

My tabs have been creeping up again. So one of my lenten disciplines is to blog the things I’ve got marked ‘to blog’. And one to limit my tweeting (thank goodness I think will say some, but when I’ve planned to opt out before or have gone awol a while, people don’t like it – for which I thankyou, you’re too kind) – specifically limit, partly because it would be too easy just give it up. I don’t miss my facebook activity – not that I have ever been particularly addicted to facebook, so walking away altogether is I suspect less of a discipline than not switching it off, but just only retweeting.

Now, here’s the curiosities. If you only allow yourself to post links/retweet (cos it is often faster to get the news via timelines than wait for BBC news to load) then you can’t engage in conversation. If you say I’ll only engage in conversation that someone else started, ie, reply, then suddenly the balance of the conversation partners changes, and if you only ever reply and don’t say anything to reply to in the first place to begin a conversation, then people who regularly make an effort are likely to dry up and no longer bother. Which may be fine if you treat it as gradual withdrawal…

I’ve been really impressed recently by the quality of customer services – various, but particularly including couriers and lately the uk branch of ebay cs. Once upon ago there was uncertainty about companies getting into websites which were replicating dullnesses, so the advent of social media was a whole extra ballgame. I remember articles pointing out that some people were ‘with’ social media, but basically using twitter as an rss feed (which reminds me, twitter when it *had* an rss feed was a much nicer beast) pushing out stuff was a bad idea. It was, but people didn’t really know what else to do at the time. Now they’ve cracked it. Whatever else you do with your ‘corporate’ feed, you have plenty of customer service people permanently online, and with a high response rate. And it’s brilliant. You have no real idea if emails get directly sent on a rule to recycle, and if you phone you can guarantee it’s going to cost you money and time with the phone stuck to you till it’s your turn. But the companies who keep their customer services on the dot have utterly cracked it. And you tell people what a good job they’ve been doing – no auto generate email request to follow a link to fill in a feedback form. There it is, right away. You doing their marketing for them.

But if the place was just them, it wouldn’t work. There have to be the kind of conversations that go on around them. So the curious thing about conversations is how many of them should be not public – in the ‘other people don’t need to read this’ rather than ‘other people don’t need to read this’ way. Except that conversations grow and ripple out sometimes from almost nothing/something that didn’t need to be said, and that can create really creative ideas.

But what about blonde rubbish? Well, sweet though it is for people who know you to know you’re ok and still being you when you maintain the flow of blonde rubbish, or, conversely, know when you’re not being you and therefore can check up on you, to want you not to give up, this free source of entertainment for people is presumably the place to curb words. The problem with that is that the blonde rubbish also serves to build relationships with the people who don’t know you very well and perhaps mistakenly think you often know what you’re talking about – it is I’m sure more healthy to realise they are actually choosing to converse with someone who truly doesn’t always switch the light on in a morning.

You may not have noticed – seriously, I’d be worried if you did – that I’ve made a conscious* choice over the last couple of weeks to be removing old posts which are not retweets, links for my and others’ use, conversational tweets that were replied to, replies or things that were favourited and I adjuge for reason of showing agreement rather than keeping for reference. *well, I say conscious – partly prompted by the fact that twitter had an aberrational afternoon on me and posted duplicates, or so it looked like to me, but when I tried to delete the duplicate, I deleted others instead. But it got me deleting.

I’m doing this to remind me how much rubbish I post, and to be conscious of that. I don’t intend to post rubbish (although I can’t rule it out) for a while, say, you know, six weeks or so, but as much as not posting stuff without links I am also curious to see what effect it has on to what extent I reply. I’m already aware that because for a good couple of weeks I’ve not had chance to skim the timeline, I just glance a little, and hope madly that I’ve been copied in to something I missed in the original, or a reply caught into the bit of timeline that I managed. I do know I’ve missed loads of stuff. That was kind of stage one withdrawal, and deleting stuff stage two.

Some of me would love to go back to blogging more often, because I often see thoughts going past I want to capture, but that means being in one place, which I’m not, for any length of time, being at my computer, which is too cold to be for any length of time. But that will be my discipline for a while. I’ll still be here, but my words will be here too. Mostly. Or not mostly, since I noticed that I do go for long periods without really posting rubbish, more than I thought, certainly more recently. But then I suspect, though I most certainly haven’t stopped to analyse, they have been replaced by responses either directly or in conversations with multiple recipients, fluid enough for others to drop in/out, which most other social media don’t facilitate so well.

Anyway, if you notice me missing, I’m probably not, I’m just trying to think in longer sentences, and apply the discipline to refining words from thoughts already in head rather than collecting any more. But I’m not ignoring you :-)

[obviously, this was a habit that is unlikely to stick - I have written this in advance of Lent by over a week, it's sitting quietly scheduled for release when you notice I've gone quiet...if I've gone quiet. I bet I haven't, so you'll all be most confused...]

[[and you facebookers, no, I've not done a replace in that direction. you're still pretty much wasting your time using it to message me, I never go to check]]

[[[almost as soon as I prepared this post, I realised how dull my feed is without the randomness, I bored even myself. So you might as well ignore all the above, I think the experiment is over before it began... :-) ]]]

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(poem is in Cambridge. I’m not. Knew I should have scheduled it)

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Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

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We are often slow to follow the example of Christ.
Lord, have mercy.

We often fail to be known as Christ’s disciples.
Christ, have mercy.

We often fail to walk the way of the cross.
Lord, have mercy.

from the Bishops’ Consultation Eucharist
Taize window: To Jerusalem

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“it is preposterously false to think that we clergy can ‘fix’ the poor: it is more truly they who ‘fix’ us, by reminding us of our endless need for grace and our emptyhandedness without it.”

Praying for England, p.19

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“the significant contribution of older people to the socialisation of the next-but-one generation is to enable them to glimpse the richness and relevance of dialectal logic. In contrast, the parenting generation is likely to be fixated with enhancing their child’s capacity for formal logic.”

– why we need to stay in touch with our grandparents, or borrow some –

Ann Morisey, Journeying Out, p.76

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We have a pile of bishops here – is the collective noun a college when they’re not all there? – some of whom were great company in the bar last night. They are here talking about mission and ministry. Good to know that they’re getting together to discuss this. Very good of a few of them to kindly buy us drinks and let us tell them about the church we hope to work in, while we still have idealist optimistic dreams and visions that they probably don’t hear from all their priests in the reality of it. But you have to dream dreams, and those around me doing mission essays in the library, we all have dreams about making change happen and seeing the church grow again. Dreams are a good place to start. Hoping the bishops are also being refreshed and renewed here and re-enabled to dream dreams too, and re-imagine the Easter people church we all aspire to be.

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“We are forced to think through, yet again, what the relationship between Christ and culture ought to be”

Christ and Culture Revisited
. D A Carson

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Those who are unhappy have no need for anything in this world but people capable of giving them their attention. The capacity to give one’s attention to a sufferer is a very rare and difficult thing; it is almost a miracle; it is a miracle. Nearly all those who think they have this capacity do not possess it. Warmth of heart, impulsiveness, pity are not enough.

Simone Weil

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