In one long moment In August 31st, bloggers from all over the world will post a recommendation of 5 new Blogs, Preferably, Blogs different from their own culture, point of view and attitude. On this day, blog surfers will find themselves leaping and discovering new, unknown Blogs, celebrating the discovery of new people and new bloggers.
The ability to connect with bloggers of different stripes -- whether that means people who see my faith differently than I do, or people of different faiths, or people from other places -- is one of the coolest things about the internet, so I was gung-ho about World Blog Day as soon as I heard about it. The challenge, of course, was choosing just five blogs to profile!
In the end I made three lists: 5 Jewish blogs which differ in perspective from mine, 5 religion blogs which showcase other traditions, and 5 blogs that offer insight into countries which are not my own.
My first thought when I heard about this project was that, as a Jewish religion-blogger, I should showcase the range of the Jewish blogosphere and pick five J-blogs which I admire despite our different backgrounds or different perspectives.
Renegade Rebbetzin. RenReb is married to a rabbi; she's planted squarely within the Orthodox community. We come from very different places, Jewishly, and we have different Jewish priorities and practices. But she does a great job of opening a window into her corner of Judaism, and she's funny, too.
Netivat Sofrut. Aviel is a soferet, a rare female Torah scribe, who blogs about her work. We have very different Jewish practices, and different approaches to halakha and observance, but I find a lot that's resonant in her love of the tradition and her love of the Jewish people.
DovBear. Dov too comes from the Orthodox world, but though he's liturgically to my right we seem to have some political perspectives in common. Smart, interesting, and occasionally a rabble-rouser: he's a fun read.
Hasidic Rebel. HR hasn't posted in almost two years, so this one's mostly useful as an archive rather than an active blog, but in the year he spent blogging he put up hundreds of excellent posts offering insight into his Hasidic community (and his frequent frustrations with it.)
Chayyei Sarah. Sarah took a leap I can't begin to imagine: she made aliyah, e.g. emigrated to Israel. We often approach Jewish life from different (spiritual) places. (Obviously we always approach it from different physical places!) But her blog feels homey and welcoming, and I like that.
Those five bloggers all approach Judaism differently than I do, but they're all part of my regular reading regimen. (Well, all but HR, which I read ravenously when I first found it.) I like being able to read Jewish blogs that span the denominational and liturgical spectrum.
But once I compiled that list, I decided I could reach further. Maybe I should list five religion blogs which aren't Jewish, to showcase people whose traditions are not my own. (I mean, the description of World Blog Day says "preferably blogs different from their own culture, point of view, and attitude," and even Orthodox J-blogs are still J-blogs, right?) So I picked five non-Jewish religion blogs:
Real Live Preacher. RLP is a Baptist preacher in San Antonio, Texas (my birthplace!) and I admire his theology, his preaching, his storytelling, and most of all his day-to-day lived religious life more than almost anyone else I know. I've linked to him before, but couldn't resist mentioning him again, because he's one of my favorite bloggers, period.
AnotherThink. Charlie is an evangelical Christian who takes his faith very seriously. He regards his blog as a chance to spread a little bit of "God's salt on the black ice of the internet." We disagree about a great many things, both theological and political, but I always enjoy his perspective.
A Dervish's Du'a. The blog of Maryam, Australian "science fiction fan, avid reader, & coffee drinker," which largely focuses on Islam. I live in a rural area where there is no organized Muslim community, so I'm always thankful that the 'net gives me chances like this one to listen to real Muslims talk about what matters to them. (Ooh. Can I sneak in an extra rec of Islamicate, here? The first Muslim blog I read regularly, still a great read...)
Hugo Schwyzer. Hugo is a politically-liberal feminist teacher of women's and gender studies who is also an evangelical Christian. He blogs beautifully about teaching, about his work with youth group kids, about gender and the body, and about Christianity. He genuinely wrestles with the tensions between his social liberalism and his theological evangelicalism, and graciously shares that wrestling with his readers.
Mole. Dale's blog posts are sometimes poems, sometimes sketches, often vignettes and essays that offer the proverbial slice of life. Few of his posts are overtly Buddhist in subject matter (though now and then he talks about self, ego, liberation, enlightenment) but all of them manifest his continuing lived experiences with wit, insight, and compassion.
Okay, that was fun (and hopefully begins to illustrate how diverse the religious blogosphere can be). But my aggregator is more diverse than that, and I suspect that the original intent of World Blog Day was to get bloggers linking around the physical world, not just the religious world. So the final task I set myself was to list five blogs I read regularly which are written by bloggers in other countries. Three of these blogs are written by outsiders in faraway lands; I wonder whether that makes them more accessible to me than blogs written by natives would be? Anyway, the blogs are:
Haitham Sabbah. Haitham is a Jordanian "with roots in Palestine" who blogs about politics, world events, and life in the Middle East. He's responsible for the flickr group No To Terrorism. He's a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause, and reading his blog has helped me relate to a whole world of people I've never connected with before.
Under the Fire Star. Nancy subtitles her blog "an outsider in Chennai," and her posts offer the insight of a longtime inhabitant of southern India. Through photographs and vignettes, she showcases both her clear love of India and some of India's fascinating quirks and idiosyncracies. Almost as good as going there. (I wish we'd made it to far southern India when we were there. Next time, maybe...)
Sleepless in Sudan. The author of Sleepless is an aid worker in Sudan whose posts -- often humorous; always heartbreaking -- offer a window into what it's like to be a Westerner trying to stem the endless tide of tragedy in Sudan. Really worth reading, because this is one of the major humanitarian crises of our time, and this blogger brings it to life.
The Golden Road to Samarqand. Amira is a Mormon blogger who's just moved to Kyrgyzstan. Blogging is currently light until she gets her 'net connection up and running there, but her back posts are worth reading. Her curiosity about other traditions impresses me, and she offers a fascinating window into a religious culture about which I know very little. I look forward to experiencing Kyrgyzstan through her eyes.
African Bullets and Honey. Martin subtitles his blog "Rabid rants, giggles and the rare thoughtful musing on political and literary happenings in Africa and its diaspora," which is a pretty solid description of what you'll find here. African nationhood and nationalism, politics, and literary conversation are all fair game. Good stuff.
I see all fifteen of these folks as bridge-bloggers, creating connections between their worlds and mine. To me, the best blogs aim to link people with one another, not ignoring our differences (of personality, politics, experience, faith, or culture) but celebrating them along with the common humanity that we all share. (By the way, this whole project is so consonant with the mission and vision of Global Voices that I have to give them a mention, along with their excellent Bridge Blog index. If you're looking for blogs from around the world to broaden your perspective, GV is a great place to start.)
If you made a World Blog Day post, let me know (I'd love to see which blogs y'all are recommending.) Three cheers for blogs around the world!