106 Christian Writers gathered at New College on Saturday to take part in The Faithful Writer conference. The conference was a joint initiative of CASE and Matthias Media and the driving force behind it was Karen Beilharz who has worked for both of us and is a keen writer. It was a very helpful day that provided practical advice and offered further reason to write. My background is in English education and my research has been focussed on literacy and how we learn and use it for varied purposes. Writing has been a long-term interest for me as a teacher, researcher and writer. One of my current research interests is the intersection of writing with other modes of communication, and the way that new forms of communication are changing what it means to be a writer.
It occurred to me during the conference that all writers need to understand how writing is different to speech, drawing, film and so on. But we also need to understand the way language use is being changed by new forms of communication, and how varied forms of meaning are related to one another. What will be the impact of new forms of communication on the ministry of the word. Is the spoken word losing its primary role as the language form that binds communities together (an interesting diversion could be the growth of internet language forms - new dialects etc?)? What is the implication of change in language and communication for how we share the gospel with others? Do we simply embrace new communication forms at the expense of old ones? Or, do we use them as complements? Are there dangers in seeing the uncontrolled internet as a major vehicle for biblical teaching? What are the possibilities?
So, over the next few posts I want to rave on about a few issues that I see as important for Christian writers. Here are a few that I'm going to write about in 500 words or less:
* How are writing and speech different? And why does it matter?
* Does context matter?
* Do we need to know our audiences? Is it okay to write faithfully for unseen and unknown audiences?
* What do other forms of communication add to the message of the Word?
* What are the risks and possibilities of BLOGS, email, network communities (e.g. Facebook)?
Over the next couple of posts I'm going to discuss a few of the above topics one by one (my first BLOG mini series!).
I'd welcome your suggestion of issues or topics to consider if this lot don't match your interests.