RantWoman was a little skeptical. She was not sure what to expect first of all because Quakers are famous for either staying up all night at gatherings singing or going to bed by 10 pm. Second, although internetworking has taken on a much more human scale, RantWoman was half expecting some flock of geeky exceedingly earnest propeller-heads in plain dress cranking away with bicycle-powered generators for when the off-the-grid solar cells were not enough to power their computers. Perhaps RantWoman exaggerates. Those who came were surprisingly ordinary, basically indistinguishable from everyone else at that gathering.
The workshop was set at the nearly unQuakerly hour of 9:30 pm and by the time everyone arrived, there were close to 40 people there. The workshop opened, RantWoman thinks, with some silent worship and the standard introductory go-around with lots of people also announcing their blogs. (RantWoman thinks she picked up several readers there.) The cool thing though was that the workshop was set up to simulate the post and response pattern of blogging without a single electronic gizmo.
The facilitators posted printed excerpts of blogs with different Quaker themes on paper all around the room and then provided pens and paper to allow people to respond. Okay, this was not the easiest format for RantWoman. RantWoman trundled up to one of the printouts, decided she really could not read it, used the pen to post that comment, and then wandered off while others started to interact vigorously.
RantWoman has no idea what all eventually got written on these wall papers. She herself was delighted to run into a Friend she had not seen in some time and they took to chatting. This Friend said she had given up the computer, well RantWoman suspects due to job concerns only given up social networking, for Lent. However, the Friend was more than happy to read to RantWoman, something from Karen Anderson about all the ways to keep The Cross before her eyes, and something about a Friend who practices "custody of the eyes" trying not to look up every time others come into Meeting for Worship.
These readings are still lurking in RantWoman's mind; she promises a posting about bad eyesight, these themes, and her vexatious to some practice of doing Sudoku at some times when other Friends might knit, sew, or God knows what else to keep hands and mind settled. Equally important, although RantWoman is generally still very ambivalent, impatient and not necessarily gracious about needing to be read to, this experience was most definitely tolerable and even quite moving.
Here, the obvious thing for RantWoman to do would be to share the links for some of the places she learned about. RantWoman is posting some links and is kicking herself because the piece of paper with other notes has subsided into the general maelstrom on her desk. (Ouch).
RantWoman is thrilled to discover the vast Quaker blogosphere with its streams of thinking for many very different Friends, Quaker pastors, ordinary seekers, and people who have come to be Quakers via many different paths. RantWoman of course still has no time to do as much reading and thinking as she migh want. However, RantWoman is so thrilled to find this material online and therefor accessible to her and Mr. JAWS unassisted that she can hardly contain herself.
Being RantWoman, exhilaration is not of course RantWoman's only thought. Latin American Friends at the FWCC gathering have a project to get their own experiences of lived theology down into words. RantWoman would be delighted if these writing projects included access to computers to get these writings down faster and to deliver them sooner to Friends who need to hear them. RantWoman does not want this quibble to get in the way of what is already going on, but she does note it.
RantWoman also knows some extremely weighty, often greatly experienced Friends who never touch electronic keyboards. RantWoman respects this stance actually and is fully prepared to meet these Friends in person; however, RantWoman also kind of wishes these Friends words would be captured as part of the online conversation.
And for those Friends whose electronic engagement includes photos and videos, PLEASE TAG YOUR CONTENT so the screen reader has something to go on. If RantWoman were a nice person, since she posted several links to blogspot blogs, she would look up how to do it on blogspot. Stay tuned.