In the South African media space there is a lack of informative, smart and thoughtful writing, especially in and from a Christian context, writes Ryan Peter, editor of the newly launched Christian Blogger.
Meanwhile, he says, there are plenty of bloggers who do fill this space and actively engage the culture. But most readers don’t have the time, inclination or tools to find and read their blogs.
On July 4, this year, The Christian Blogger launched to fill this space and provide a platform where readers can find bloggers and bloggers can find readers. The idea is both simple and rather new, says Peter. The Christian Blogger is not just a website but also a publication which is delivered directly to Kindle bi-weekly and can be downloaded for other e-reader devices as well. The Kindle service requires readers to subscribe for free at http://www.thechristianblogger.com/register/.
Peter says that the publication is about supporting bloggers and their independence.
“Unlike many other platforms (mostly set up by traditional media) or news aggregator websites, we want to make every effort to get readers to visit the bloggers who contribute to The Christian Blogger,” he says. “I believe in the blog platform and think independence is a good thing. So, instead of asking for writers to submit exclusive pieces (and not get paid for it) we’re asking for bloggers to submit content they’ve already published.”
At its posts, The Christian Blogger points readers to the original blog and has switched its comments system off so that readers would comment at the original blogger’s website.
“There are a lot of websites providing news, but not many providing thoughtful opinion,” Peter says. “But thoughtful opinion needs to be read in a thoughtful way. That’s why we’re releasing bi-weekly and have created a Kindle / e-reader version. When Amazon’s Jeff Bezos bought out The Washington Post he hinted that he wanted to recreate the ‘daily ritual’ of ‘reading The Post as a bundle, not merely a series of individual stories.’ Furthermore he said that ‘People will buy a package, they will not pay for a story.’ We’re not charging for The Christian Blogger, but we’re creating a platform where you can choose the kind of environment that you want to read in – the fast-paced web or the ritual of reading your favourite newspaper or magazine.”
As to the kind of content The Christian Blogger is publishing, Peter speaks a lot about what he perceives to be a general shallowness in the theological and writing sphere of South Africa.
“Karl Barth once told Time Magazine that he advised young theologians to ‘take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible.’ Regardless of whatever you may think of Barth’s theology in general, I think he’s right on this count. Christians must have the ability to filter the news through the Bible and writers, theologians, and Christian teachers in particular must be on the forefront of doing that. If they can do that well, just by making use of their gift, they help to bring Christians to maturity and, at the same time, can use the news apologetically to help the world see the Light of Christ amongst its muck, mire, pain and sin,” he says at a post about the First Edition of The Christian Blogger at http://www.thechristianblogger.com/welcome-to-our-first-edition/
Peter hopes that The Christian Blogger will also encourage more South African Christians to get blogging.
“We need more thoughtful Christian writers in South Africa. As things stand now, we don’t have nearly enough,” he says.