As I mentioned yesterday, I stumbled across Ignatius’ letter to Pierre Favre, and it struck me for the lessons it contained for bloggers and blogging.
In telling why he wrote so many letters, Ignatius wrote:
It helps keep me from making mistakes. I write the principal letter once, putting down what will be edifying, and then I reread and correct it, keeping in mind that everyone is going to read it.
Always a good thing for a blogger to keep in mind: the perpetuity principle:
Then I write it out a second time, or have someone else do it, for whatever appears in writing needs closer scrutiny than what is merely spoken; the written word remains as a perpetual witness that cannot be changed or explained away as is easily done with speech.
Keep to a tight focus. Save peripheral topics for later. Or for Twitter:
Even with all this I am sure that I make mistakes and I fear I will do so in the future. Other details which would be irrelevant in the principal letter, or which might not be edifying, I leave for the separate sheets. In these sheets one may write hurriedly out of the abundance of the heart, with or without a predetermined order. But this should not be true of the principal letter, which should always show signs of care, so that it can be passed about to give edification.
So I ask myself: do my blogging messages fit the bill on this? Do I give a second try at an important piece? Should I think about leaving the fast and quick stuff for Twitter? Do I take care with my writing here as I would professionally? Is everything edifying? Or is any of it self-indulgent?
Typically of Saint Ignatius, he restates things, and I keep this paragraph in the presentation for one notable observation. He asks his brother Jesuits to model what he does. There is no military command … yet:
Everyone seems to have failed in this regard, and so a copy of this letter is being sent to all. I beg and beseech you in our Lord to write out the main or principal letter as I have here indicated and then, after looking it over, rewrite it; that is, it should be written twice, as I do with mine. In this way I am convinced that the letters will show greater order and clarity. In the future, if I notice that this is not being done for the greater union, charity, and edification of all, I shall be obliged to write you and command you under obedience to reread, correct, and rewrite every principal letter you send me. I do not want to have to answer to God for any negligence of my own in this matter, and I shall be satisfied with having done all that I could, though I should much prefer that you give me no occasion for so writing to you.
There’s no doubt as to who’s the boss. In the blogging world, we have no such oversight, obviously. There is the occasional bishop who puts the clamp on things, and quite often, the conservative/orthodox are as likely as anyone else to chafe at suggestions, directions, advice, or restrictions. For a blogger, best is to be free of pastors, spouses, and others who might deter us from our True Mission.
In all seriousness, I think any of us who communicate publicly are urged to have a searching look at what we write and speak. The call is to keep a godly focus, and be diligent in the actual work of communicating, regardless of the medium employed.