Friday, January 25, 2013

St. Paul: The First Blogger

His connection speed was limited to that of a ship in a gale and his posts had to be copied by hand to be forwarded, but, technological limitations aside, St. Paul above all others should be remembered as pattern and patron of bloggers.

An opinionated graduate student at Jerusalem, he never lost his love of a good war of words. His credentials as an apostle came from outside the beltway of the recognized hierarchy, but the size and reach of his following bolstered his claim as an authority to be heard. He tackled all the hot button issues of the day and sent shout-outs to friends like Priscilla and Aquila. He supported himself at another job, but he regularly flogged the donation button for the poor at Jerusalem.

In his letters, we find highly polished essays, flames, riffs, travelogues, and poetry, though he seems to have fewer recipes and restaurant reviews than are expected of contemporary Catholic bloggers. He blended the abstract with the personal. He knew that his verve as the medium gave legs to the message. A post from Paul changed debates across the Mediterranean.

He argued with Peter and fell out with Barnabas, but everyone read him. He inspired followers and copycats. Presbyters from Spain to Arabia no doubt occasionally dreamed of the glory of being Paul, forgetting the hours of dictation, the overflowing in-box, endless coach and steerage travel to sleep on someone’s couch, and finding the time to make tents to pay the bills.

A divine mandate and ongoing inspiration certainly helped in his chosen path, but the temperament seems to have been formed in his mother’s womb, as were the dedication and zeal that kept him cranking out work for a career that lasted longer than there’s been a Web.

Doctor of the Gentiles, on your feast day, we salute you.
Pray for we poor hacks.