Saturday, April 23, 2005

Subversive Secret Identity or Nom de Blog

The reason for anonymous blogging is freedom for me--freedom to speak my mind, no fear of people googling my real name and finding out all my inmost rants before a job interview, no fear of having my funding taken away if I take a different stance on an issue than the standard denominational line. But is that really true? Would I lose my job? Or have I lost my guts?

Before I got sucked into the vortex of the blogosphere, Real Live Preacher was my first real introduction to blogging when he got some press here at Christianity Today. He was anonymous, but not when I encountered him---he was Gordon Atkinson, author of Real Live Preacher. He posts about what it was like to come out of hiding here. After reading about him I googled "blogging", found my way to blogger, created my site and posted my first thoughts. I just realized that my first post and that posted interview both share the date of October 26, 2004. I guess that is Micah Girl's birthday.

Bobbie from Emerging Sideways, "a woman in a man's church" trying to find her voice, was my second big inspiration on what it means to be a successful anonymous blogger. When I found her site and noticed that she had a voice in the blogosphere, I really got excited. She could say what she wanted and not take the heat personally! And people acknowledged her thoughts and who she was--she had her virtual identity which was more authentic than her church face.

And yet I wonder if I am courageous to speak my mind or cowardly to have a nom de blog instead of my own lovely name plastered on my URL. Partly I fancy myself as a subversive worker in the kingdom of God, a woman in a man's denomination, who is profoundly influencing college students, yes, but also young men who are on the seminary track who serve under me for a time. One of these men actually went from telling me, "I have a problem working for a woman" to "I wasn't crazy about working for a woman at first, and I often disagreed with you, but you were always proved right." Then these young men go off and become the establishment, the ordained, the keepers of the conservative institutional church. And, I hope, they remember reporting to (dare I say submitting to the authority of) a woman. Hmmm...

In addition, there are the younger women, both students and ministry colleagues, who see me as a woman who has a call to ministry, but also a call to marriage, motherhood and domesticity. In my ministry circles the women in ministry are either single or have "wife" attached to their title--pastor's wife, church planting wife. Some of these women are the more gifted ministry partners in their marriages as well, which makes the title of somebody's wife a ridiculous diminutive. I am proud to be my husband's wife, and enjoy being called Mrs., but am so grateful that my identity is not wife of my husband's occupation.

Now as I develop regular readers and even blogosphere friends (many of whom know my name and can google me--feel free if ya know my name) I wonder how much all this secrecy matters. In my real world there are a handful of friends and family that know about this blog, although I think only my darling husband reads it regularly.

All this silly blogging angst over should I just say my name is ________________, and I grew up in _____________, and I currently work for ____________________ denomination as a _____________________. All this cloak & dagger seems a little silly, doesn't it?

I am taking the next big step of posting my picture below. I like the outfit because it's both practical and slimming...

Yours,
Micah Girl

9 Comments:

Blogger bobbie said...

yay!

preach it sister!

the best thing that i've found is that i will know if someone is reading my blog, because i'm just vague enough to not really be able to be pinned down.

so if someone wants to 'come after me' they'll have to confirm it first.

by using my real name anyone (disgruntled parent, senior pastor, et al) could be reading regularly and building up a file of 'why we should fire her husband' or 'don't let her teach that class she's a heretic...' so until i have enough gravitas to own my opinions publically (or we move to a more open church structure, or start our own) i think this is a good alternative for me.

blog on micah girl!

9:27 PM  
Blogger MicahGirl said...

Thanks for the encouragment, Bobbie. One of the fun things about blogging friends is the emotional support you get from generous spirits that you've never actually met.

Blessings!

9:54 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

I've thought a lot about the whole anonymous approach, too, though I haven't done it. But it keeps me from posting some of what I would . . .

BTW, I found you through some other bloggers before I realized you were a part of spunky's homeschool convention. I was a "speaker" too!

1:42 AM  
Blogger spiritual ingenue said...

YOU ARE A ROCK STAR BLOGGING DIVA AND I AM YOUR GROUPIE.

LOL! Seriously, I sooo feel you on the whole anonymous blog thing. I think those of us who are struggling need a safe place to connect with other strugglers, and I know at my church I can't do that. That's why I turned to blogging.

My hubby has a site where he regularly shares his thoughts on our church and the church in general, and isn't afraid to put it out there. He gives it to people in real life so there's no hiding.

He even gave his site to people who go to our church (ACK! What was he thinking?), so many of them read what he has to say about the way things are running. I could never do that, but strangely it's opened the door for him and he now has a voice within our leadership.

I'm regularly shocked when he posts a passionate argument against their programs, and they continue to be drawn to him and his ideas. We haven't been run out of our pew yet, so he hasn't lost their respect or attention- which is exactly why I don't share my site with ANYONE in real life.

I'm soo thankful for an anonymous platform on which I can wrestle with the God things.

So rock on sista and spill it! I'll cheer for you and sit in front of my monitor waving my cell phone light as I read. :)

Blessings,
Jan

9:00 AM  
Blogger MicahGirl said...

Paula,

It's funny how the blogosphere circles intersect. I zipped over to your webpage and it's really good. I'll be back!

Blessings

3:32 PM  
Blogger MicahGirl said...

Jan,

Your "rock star blogging diva" comment made my day! I wish:-) Like Mark Twain, I can take a good compliment and live on it for two months!

Micah Girl

3:34 PM  
Blogger Liz J said...

spiritual ingenue said.. "I think those of us who are struggling need a safe place to connect with other strugglers, and I know at my church I can't do that. That's why I turned to blogging."
That is really unfortunate. The church's purpose is to connect with each other. Do you keep up a mask at church? That said, I know that the "church" is not confined to buildings and congregations, but it is all God's children all over the world and I, too, am so glad to have blogging as an outlet, and blogger pals, both personally and somewhat anonymously. Do what works for you.

2:59 AM  
Anonymous Wayne M said...

This is really interesting. I have been thinking about this very topic in my life. You see, I am not blogging incognito and I blog with some pretty hot topics.
At the current time I am also looking for a job, I am a highly trained software engineer and I am just not getting much activity in my search. My blogging software allows me to see where people are coming from and what they searched for to find my blog. So when people search for my name in google or yahoo they see clearly what I am writing. Is that keeping me from getting a new job?
I don't know for sure, but it does make me think.
Thanks for the post.

12:18 PM  
Anonymous cheryl said...

"Micah Girl",
I had actually typed out a whole longish comment here the other night and just as i was finishing up, the laptop completely lost power. So I'll try again today.
I had been thinking along the same lines recently about "anonymous" blogs.
Mine started out that way, but inadvertently I got linked by a real life acquaintance- first & last name. I was horrified at the time, but I figured in the end-so what? I'm not a leader. In fact I'm quite anonymous at the church we've been attending.
I can totally see why leaders might want a nameless blog. Women tend to think this way about identity on the internet anyway. the less info. the better. Guys don't seem to worry much about it though. You can say more this way. On the other hand, taking someone like Bobbie (because I've been reading her blog for some time), I get concerned about the state of the church she's involved in. If I were in a position to hire/fire, I would hire her because of her blog. This is the sort of leader I would want.
As for myself, I finally put my own photo in the author spot where it should be. That was a big step for me. I guess I'm getting a little tired of being anonymous. But it's a different process for everyone.
Peace & Blessings,
Bewley's Girl

9:07 PM  

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