I’ve been thinking of writing this for some time… I recently read a couple things that made me decide to do it now. I guess you could consider this a “State of the Blog Address” of sorts.
I can’t recall how I stumbled across this post at Scott Sommer’s Taiwan Weblog.
I do visit his blog from time to time so it isn’t unusual that I saw it… just that I don’t remember reading it back in April 2007 when it was posted. Scott’s post was actually a post related to this post by Michael at The View from Taiwan.
If you aren’t a blogger in Taiwan… the posts probably won’t interest you very much… but I do find them interesting and they are, in part, a reason for this post. Their opinions gave me things to think about. As I thought… and evaluated the purpose of SQJTaipei and its place in my life… I decided to put some of my thinking in a post.
Michael’s post is a good one. So is his follow up post where he emphasized the importance of knowing why you have a blog. He posted slides from a presentation he gave on English blogs in Taiwan. He says there are 3 kinds of English blogs about Taiwan:
- long-term expats who know about Taiwan and blog on it
- short-term expats who don’t know a thing about Taiwan and blog on their own lives
One of the more interesting dynamics of blogging in Taiwan that Michael raised is the world of missionary bloggers. While I have had encounters with this world, I always viewed them as an anomaly in the world of foreigners in Taiwan. When Michael and I use the term ‘missionary’, really what we mean are missionaries from modern Protestant churches. This would include the Latter Day Saints more commonly known as ‘Mormons’, missionaries from Studio Classroom, and the increasing number of Jehovah’s Witnesses I hear about.
For the most part, such missionaries live on the very edge of both mainstream foreign life in Taiwan and also of mainstream Taiwanese life. While some learn to speak Mandarin very well, they do not integrate at all. None of the ones I have spoken with have any significant understanding of Taiwan politics, history, or culture, even if they have married local people and moved back to Taiwan following their mission. But in fact, almost all of them live here only a very short time and then return to the life they had before they came here. As such, their blogs reflect the superficial aspects of Taiwan they encounter in their daily lives. I suspect that no one outside of their missionary community would be interested in them. Even though some would not appear to be diary-type blogs, the discussions would be of topics completely divorced from the lives of those outside their community.
I’m not exactly sure why missionaries get their own category… but I do have a guess… an educated one at that… the long term missionaries who know about Taiwan just don’t blog about it. Many of them do, however, write about Taiwan in publications like, TMF Magazine (formerly Taiwan Mission Quarterly). Seeing missionaries separated out like that makes me want to make sure and be in touch with those missionaries who aren’t blogging to see if they know how easy it is to get started.
Although Michael has a nice and tidy label for my little corner of the Taiwan blogosphere… I’m not sure I see it so clearly. Scott also seems to mention some things about missionaries that are outside of my own experience.
As a family of foreigners, I know we can’t fully integrate here… but we are far from “the very edge” of mainstream Taiwanese life and outside of a few missionaries and one Kiwi friend, I don’t even really know any other foreigners here. I know that Scott wrote “For the most part”, but I’m not really refuting him (or Michael) in this post… I’m just using their opinions to help me think about my own reasons for blogging. I don’t work closely with any other missionaries right now, but some that I have worked with are quite integrated here… others not so much.
Politics, Culture, History
I do have a “significant understanding of Taiwan politics, history, [and] culture” but don’t often blog on these aspects of Taiwan for 2 reasons:
- my OCD/perfectionist tendencies would cause me to spend ridiculous amounts of time creating those kinds of posts on a regular basis (one example: I have a draft about learning Chinese that is killing me softly by its never ending options)
- the information is usually already out there somewhere… probably on The View from Taiwan!
I do think that I should probably make a page on the blog where I list some of the available resources that I find most relevant related to learning about Taiwan’s culture, history, and politics.
One other fact that some may find interesting (or not) is related to my missionary visa. In order to be in Taiwan with a missionary visa, we must be invited by an existing organization in Taiwan. Mine is called Formosa Christian Mission (which gives you some idea as to how long it has been here if you are historically observant). Each year, we have to renew our ARC (visa – sort of) and take a new copy of the “Letter of Invitation”. My most recent one includes this line:
Their purpose for coming to live in Taiwan was and still is, to tell the Good News of Jesus Christ through preaching, literature, teaching, and the establishment of churches. Scott & Angie have not, and will not, involve themselves in the internal affairs of the government of the Republic of China or in local politics.
So… this determines (to an extent) what I will write about on my blog. Now… I’m not sure that the government would really care about what I would write on my blog. I’m just grateful to the Taiwanese government to allow me to come to their beautiful nation and don’t see much need to be involved in or publicly comment on political issues in Taiwan. I don’t feel particularly limited by this and I probably just told you all you need to know about my political stance regarding Taiwan if you read carefully. 🙂
Purpose of SQJTaipei
Back in February 2005, we started this blog with the following ideas:
THE PURPOSE OF THIS BLOG IS TO SHARE INFO ABOUT:
- CHURCH PLANTING IN TAIWAN
- LIFE IN TAIWAN FROM AN EXPAT’S PERSPECTIVE
- OUR FAMILY
Why we have it…
- Newletters capture certain aspects of a ministry. We will continue with our newsletters, but we think this weblog will give us a better outlet for sharing the day to day events in our ministry and in our family.
- Mr. SQJ enjoys writing… but often finds the monthly newsletter difficult to prepare because there is always far more information to share than we can really put in a newsletter! So… this will give him a chance to share more often and not have to worry about space.
I think we’ve been faithful to those ideas…
I don’t think I ever posted this, but my intended audience for this blog was:
- My family, friends, and supporters around the world (the blog is an important supplement to our newsletters and prayer request emails)
- Anyone coming to Taiwan and interested in the experiences of those who have gone before them (just as I keep learning about Taiwan from those here longer than I)
- Anyone interested in church planting… particularly in urban settings… particularly in Asia… and particularly in Taiwan (this has led to great ministry contacts and partners)
I’d add 2 more categories to that list now.
- Anyone interested in the cool (IMO) combination of science, technology, and missions (like my new online friend Jeff at Missionary Geek)
- Other Taiwan bloggers… to make friends (even if only online) and learn from one another
Future of SQJTaipei
So… except for the period from April 2005 – December 2005… this blog has fulfilled its purpose and answered the “Why blog?” question in my own mind. I think we’ll keep it going. I’m really glad you visit the blog and I hope you enjoy it now and in the future. I enjoy all of your comments.