Okay, I’m always a little wary about these sorts of things, but I have gone and entered the SA Blog Awards. Deacon Stephen Hayes of Khanya made me aware of this and suggested that it would be a good way to make more people aware of the existence of Orthodox Christianity, something that far-too-many South Africans are unaware of. I think that Khanya probably stands a better chance than this blog, which has really been rather neglected of late, so if you want to vote it might be better to go there and to vote for it. In any case, I’m putting the badge in my sidebar in case anyone wants to vote for this blog.
Another, perhaps more compelling, motivation for entering was that I had thought that all the blogs which were entered in the “Religion and Spirituality” section would be listed on the SA Blog Awards website, and this would have been a good resource to see who is blogging in this area. However, this doesn’t seem to be the case, which is rather a pity. Of course, I would find it rather embarrassing to be associated with an award in a category for “spirituality” (“religion” I can more or less live with, Father Schmemann notwithstanding), but what can one do?
The truth is that there doesn’t seem to be very much going on in the area of Christian or theological blogging in South Africa – I have the impression that there was more happening a few years ago, but, well, perhaps that is just how blogging has gone. I’m aware of two places online that list such blogs, but neither are that up to date or reliable. Amatomu is notoriously unreliable. The blog it lists first purports to be Christian, but, the less said about it the better, except that if that is genuinely the most popular religious blog in South African then we are in a worse state than I realised. The second is a Muslim blog that doesn’t seem to be particularly South African. The third looks like a decent enough Muslim blog, although it’s been a bit inactive recently. The fourth is a Christian blog that has been inactive for a few years. The fifth is Khanya. After that one gets some decent Christian blogs that are (relatively) active. The other resource that lists blogs that claim to be Christian is Mark Penrith’s My Blogroll. This is also outdated and while Mark, being a Calvinist, is perfectly entitled to his categories, these don’t make any sense to someone who is not a particular type of Protestant.
The other curious thing is that I have not seen any Roman Catholic blogs in either of these lists. I have found a couple myself, but this just reinforces the perception here that Christianity is a basically Protestant thing. (Of course, it’s a bit ironic that there are two Orthodox blogs in the top ten blogs at Amatomu – this one hovers somewhere around there – but that’s a bit of an anomaly!)
Anyway, as a start to compiling a list of Christian blogs that are both reasonably irenic and reasonably serious (or at least written by people who seem to know what they are talking about) I have come across the following blogs. I should note that my time is limited and so this is by no means exhaustive and I would value helpful pointers. I hope that I don’t offend in any of the categorizations I give and I fear that I will end up using words like liberal and conservative which I really hate doing as I find them seriously inadequate, but, well, one has to use words… This roughly follows the Amatomu order, which would not necessarily be my order of preference.
- Khanya, Steve Hayes, Orthodox, includes wider ethical, social and political reflections.
- Urban Ministry Live and Unplugged, Thomas Scarborough, Congregationalist (fairly Evangelical I think), lots of short posts about his pastoral experiences.
- Because He Lives, Mark Penrith, Baptist, Calvinist but Irenic and generally thoughtful.
- An Uncommon Path, Dion Forster, Methodist, left of centre – or has this become the new mainstream? Into “spirituality” which puts me off, but serious and irenic.
- My Contemplations, Cobus van Wyngaard, Dutch Reformed, engaging South African reality. Also blots in Afrikaans at Anderkant. One of the more valuable SA bloggers and I should read him more, especially in Afrikaans.
- Ryan Peter, Protestant, somewhere on the Evangelical to post-Evangelical spectrum (I think), has written some worthwhile things but I find his blog difficult to navigate so don’t often go there.
- Daylight, Stephen Murray, another irenic Calvinist, serious if infrequent.
- Carpenter’s Shoes, Jenny Hillebrand, fairly evangelically-inclined Methodist (I think), has fostered some serious theological reflection although now mainly focused on pastoral experience. One of my favourites.
Of those blogs that don’t fall into the Amatomu top 25 (or aren’t there at all), I would also include:
- A Piece of my Mind, Reggie Nel, Dutch Reformed, infrequent but worthwhile. (Also in Afrikaans at Kopstukke).
- Blissphil, Philippa Cole, Methodist seminarian, left of centre and into “spirituality,” nice tone but too into “inclusivity” for my tastes.
- Quod Semper, Peter James-Smith, Roman Catholic, not terribly theological, but intelligent and irenic reflection.
- Mark Cogitates, Mark Nel, Roman Catholic, right of centre but generally irenic. Cat lover, which is always a good thing!
- African Distributist, Jonathan Waldburger, Roman Catholic, focus on Distributism. Inactive but says he intends resuming blogging, which would be a very good thing.
This is a very rough list. I may have missed something obvious and further suggestions would be welcome. And I do rather wonder why there are not more Catholics blogging, or are there?