Friday, April 18, 2008

Is it OK to just read an Internet message board? -- Yes

How can an oblate use Internet message boards, mailing lists, and discussion forums? Do you have to post to participate? No!

Any form of involvement that fits your circumstances is OK and fulfills the purpose of virtually all Internet message boards you’ll find. When you read a book, you do not feel guilty if you do not jot off a note to the author.

I used the words "form of involvement" because when I use the words "level of involvement" it is too easy for me to slip into the rust, bronze, silver, gold, platinum, and plutonium rankings of almost everything in the world and that can cause me to think that the higher the level of involvement, the better the involvement. The benefits of Internet message boards and mailing lists don't work that way.

A huge majority of people seldom if every post, but the information they receive and think and pray about can be "priceless" to them. I have such a membership on several lists which I have treasured for years. In fact, in a couple, I think I was allowed in because I promised only to “lurk” (reading a message board without posting). And that is just what I wanted to do.

If you read message boards only when you are able or want to, and post a message only on Christmas and Easter, I doubt anyone will kick you out.

Not only are there individual life circumstances and workings of the Holy Spirit that shape a monastic interest in one person that is different from your Internet neighbor's, fortunately all those different interests can find a home in the long history of monasticism and in monastic web site across the Internet.

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