Saturday, July 30, 2005

Ethical Blogging….

[this started as a response to a comment…]

Two challenges in one week.

The observant will notice the fabulous picture of Canary Wharf being struck by lightning has been pulled and replaced in my profile. I found the photo on Google Images. This iconic image of our area was perfect. It is the last thing I see when I close our curtains. It’s flashing interrupts my sleep. It is what greets me when I wake up. Perfect. I linked it in my profile. I didn’t realise that I would need a license to use it as a thumbnail image. I didn’t realise I breached copyright. But an email from the photographer alerted me to the error of my way. So the observant will notice the fabulous picture of Canary Wharf being struck by lightning has been pulled and replaced.

Lana gently nudged me to think ethically about a central strut underpinning the reflections that are URBANarmy. Should I feel discomfort at the use of everyday stories that are shaping my theology and missional thinking? People are part of my life. Poplar has a high quotient of fragmented and broken people with different demands. They walk daily through the doors of our church and in one form or another into my life. These people as part of our church join with Bonhoeffer; Moltmann; Barth; Bosch; Newbigin; Sweet et al. shaping my thinking, bringing context to the gospel, context to mission. URBANarmy has – on the whole - become my collection, my compilation of theological reflections. No-one else’s but mine.

Very early on in URBANarmy – I decided that it would not be fair use actual names so apart from intentional and thought through exceptions – every name used is a pseudonym. Postings on the whole are delayed. Postings are passed through my own filters to ensure that no-one is robbed of their dignity. But is that enough? Should the possibility that any of these characters stumble on URBANarmy and recognise themselves be the ultimate line?

I’m glad Lana raised the issue. Lana of course I am not offended – and I hope that these thoughts are not sounding defensive. But I don’t feel the same level of discomfort as the fabulous picture of Canary Wharf being struck by lightning because the stories that periodically emerge are not about Victor; not about Patrick; Maureen… Ray – the stories are about me. My feelings, my reflections, my reactions – about the lessons that the unlikeliest have taught Lessons that I do not want to lose. Lessons I have learned. Lessons I am learning with people I journey with daily.

I don't share Lana's unease.

Perhaps I should?

I don’t know.


Tim said...

I think that Lana raises a fair question, but I too don’t share her discomfort or feel that it is inappropriate to share the lessons that you’re learning, especially through the use of pseudonyms.

Kathryn said... are opening our eyes as God opens yours. Please carry on as you are...I'm confident that everyone would feel entirely safe with your blogging, and we do really appreciate it.

Rob said...

My comments echo the above.
I value your reflections and would certainly miss them if they were to stop.
I don't believe you should feel uncomfortable, because, as you said, and as I think it very clear - the stories are about you.

Thanks for writing.

Sister said...

Thinking deeply, clearly, and carefully about what constitutes lovingkind behaviour is very, very difficult. We are all so complex, and have such different responses to things. I don't have all the answers, and I feel your blog is respectful towards those you mention. I am learning from your blog!

It occurs to me I could share more if I wrote what I want to write, and checked the text with the people concerned before publishing. I might try that and see how it works - thanks for responding, it is so good to have dialogue on difficult issues.

Gordon said...

There is a level of accountability here which I appreciate. I certainly would never want to pass judgement on a persons situation, to break confidence or to rob anyone of their dignity. I hope anyone would feel free to challenge if they ever thought I'd over stepped the mark.

Incidently I have a draft folder of blogs that will never make the light ot blogosphere - that I get a gut reaction shouldn't be shared!

Thanks for the comments. Thanks Lana for bringing it up - it has been good to revist this issue.

Keith said...

I have the same questions, Gordon, and tend to a similar approach - hiding the identities of people as much as possible, - and even having the draft folder of posts that will never be seen. It is good to keep going back to re-examine such issues. It is a challenge we need regularly. Well done Lana for raising it!