About a year ago, Tim Brister wrote a post called “A Triperspectival Approach to Blogging.” In it, he explains how one could utilize the insights of triperspectivalism in the way they approach their blog. 1 The goal is balancing several aspects of blogging so that they blog itself might be better. Harnessing the three perspectives, normative, situational, and existential, here’s how Brister explains it:
The Normative perspective generally deals with content, or text. A good blog must begin with quality content. They have something to contribute that has value, insight, inspiration, or further exploration. The content encourages to center our lives on truth and make it “normative” in our lives. Examples of this would include Trevin Wax and Tullian Tchividjin.
The Existential perspective generally deals with personal commentary, or subtext. This is where the blogger will get personal with a measure of disclosure and transparency. The result is a greater sense of relatability with the author as he or she brings “earthiness” to the content. The commentary is an encouragement to experience the truth in real, personal, and life-transforming ways. Examples of this would include Joe Thorn and Tim Challies.
The Situational perspective generally deals with community interaction, or context. This is where the blogger will engage the audience or blog community to “hash it out” in each person’s situation. The result is a greater sense of relevance to the content as people discover ways the content fits in their respective contexts. Examples of those who do this well include Michael Hyatt and Carlos Whitaker.
I think this is a great way to process what blogging involves. Though I’m going to riff on it just a bit, first a confession.
Over the summer, I took somewhat of a break from blogging. You might not have noticed because I still posted pretty much every week. But, if you were paying attention, I really only posted book reviews. That was by design so that I could kind of clear my head about blogging. It was also because of adjustments in my schedule toward the end of the school that left me less time to blog than I’ve had since graduating seminary. Essentially I was just kind of phoning it in to take a break and I think the quality of the content dipped because of that. If you’re a faithful reader of the blog you deserve better. 2
The good news is that my hiatus from offering anything other than book commentaries has resulted in a better vision for blogging. And predictably, that vision has triperspectival contours. Though not supplanting Brister’s analysis above, I’m going to parse my approach to blogging a little differently. 3
I’ve been thinking mostly about content (Brister’s normative perspective) and specifically the kind of content I offer. While I do have a triperspectival division of blog categories, I thought of a simpler way to look at it:
- Normative content: Anything expound doctrine, explaining Scripture, or unpacking truth. Will always be relevant whether it seems like it at the time or not and isn’t affected by the passing of time.
- Situational content: Anything commenting on a current event, trend, or happening. Book reviews technically fall here, especially when they are new releases. May be really relevant at the time of writing, but much less so with the passing of time.
- Existential content: Anything commenting on personal events, either stories from everyday life, or commentary on the self. May or may not have lasting relevance, but helps to establish personal connections with readers who change with the passing of time.
It is intentional that I mentioned relevance and the passing of time in each bullet. To be a bit extistential for a moment, it’s something I’ve been thinking about, especially as I realize that making book reviews a priority in blogging means that I’m shooting for being “on the cutting edge” of relevance (intentionally or not). I’m exchanging making a personal connection with readers and leaving writing of more lasting impact and that is something I’d like to change.
To be fair, I think a good blog post covers all three perspectives. Though it is primarily situated in one of the three, you cannot expound one without the other two. So, as I review books I may include theological or biblical explanations in my critique of the book, as well as my personal reactions to reading it, or how I stumbled upon it in the first place. It is a situational post (commenting on an object in the world) but is doing so with normative and existential sensibilities.
When I originally started blogging, it was primarily existential. That was the window into situational commentary and normative exposition. The bottom line is I’d like to do more of that because I think it will make this blog better. It’ll be better for me to clarify my thinking and it’ll be better for you because it means more interesting blog posts. Basically it’s triperspectivalism for the win.
I think in making that my aim in content creation, I’ll probably slide into more balance along the triperspectival lines Brister mentions. My content will improve, you’ll get more inside my head, and hopefully we’ll interact more and a bit more community will develop. Like I tell my students though, I can’t predict the future, 4 so I can’t speak with certainty as to how this will all unfold. But if you’ve noticed this week, we’re off to a great start, and I guess we’ll just see how the coming weeks and months unfold!
- If you’re not familiar with “triperspectvialism” then read this article: A Triperspectival Map of DKG ↩
- Though I imagine that if you’re a faithful reader of this blog, you probably still enjoyed and/or looked forward to the book reviews. ↩
- Which incidentally is one of the advantages of triperspectivalism as a tool: there is always another way to parse things out and highlight aspects that might be overlooked ↩
- This is often uttered in reference to their questions about what will be on tests that I haven’t made yet ↩