Sunday, January 06, 2008

Scary Step

Back when I began this blog, I thought it would be – and intended it to be – a quiet little place for me to post a few thoughts, some of which I might want to share with a few friends. It seemed like an easy way to share thoughts with a few, carefully selected friends. Well … if you're reading this, you know it didn't exactly work out that way. Within the first couple of weeks, I got involved in the discussions about GC06 and was quickly involved in the wider blogosphere. This little blog got some attention that pleased me, and some that I found dismaying (to say the least).

I quickly realized that I could not blog confidentially or anonymously about my parish or my diocese. Members of my parish were reading, and I soon learned that even my bishop was popping in from time to time. But I continued to post on some other blogs anonymously or with a pseudonym. I thought it protected me in some way.

Not long after I started blogging, some of those folks we call the "worthy opponents" did a little digging. (It's not so difficult to do with the tools the Internet provides us.) They quickly, gleefully revealed my full name, where I work, my parish home, and so on. At first, I was dismayed by that "outing." As time has passed over these 17 months or so, I've come to realize it was a good bit of discipline. I had to take ownership of my words. For me, it just is not good to live in any kind of closet. If I try to be secretive, then it gives power to people who might want to hurt me. I refuse to give them that power.

When Jim Naughton launched the Episcopal Café and required people to post comments using their real names, he said he was pursuing an "ethic of transparency." That began a long, slow thought process and finally a "self-outing" for me. Eventually, I edited my profile to reveal exactly where I live and provide some other details. In the past month, I edited my profile so that it shows my full name – both here and on the other blogs I visit and on which I comment. Now, wherever I visit or comment, my identity is fairly transparent.

Today, I'm taking one more step toward transparency. I've envied those people who have their photos on their sites. I like the fact that when I visit the sites of my blogging friends (like Mark Harrris and Elizabeth Kaeton), their photos are visible. It helps me remember the real person behind the blog.

I had another epiphany during the House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans. "Worthy opponents" Baby Blue and the StandFirm gang video-blogged from that meeting. Once I had faces and real, live, three-dimensional people to attach to their blogs, it wasn't so easy for me to dismiss or (God help me!) attack them in ways I had done before. I'll still tackle their views and statements when need be. But no longer can they just be "abstractions" to me. They have faces now.

But I did not have a decent photo that I was willing to share. (I'm not attractive by any means, but my photos generally make me look even more awful than I am in real life.) Thanks to a good photographer (and Roberta, who scanned the photo for me), I now have one that doesn't entirely embarrass me. A thumbnail version now appears on my blog.

So here it is. It pretty much looks like me.

This is the face behind the voice on this blog. It ain't much, but it's the only one I have.


Blogger Beryl Simkins said...

I have to say I love your honesty, From the time I started leaving comments on blogs, I swore I would use my full real name because if I have a comment to make I am going to own it. I do know this could be dangerous because there are those out there who misunderstand, but that has always been a fact of life.

Recently, with all the distress in the Diocese of San Jaoquin, I have really felt it important to give honest responses to the misstatements that occur, and to give honest reports about what it feels like, as a loyal Episcopalian, to be in this destructive quagmire. I still regard it as needless schism that has created so much distrust, discord, and heartache for Episcoplians in this diocese. (and there I include those who have sided with the bishop.

I have to say you have gone a step farther. I have no picture out there with my comments, but I appreciate yours. And I appreciate the comments you have made on various blogs.

1/06/2008 8:10 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Beryl, I have been delighted to read your messages at Father Jake's. I can imagine the courage it takes to post now from the Diocese of San Joaquin.

But please try to understand the context of my remarks. I started blogging back in mid-2006 ... when very few of us were posting in our own names. I think a great many of us have moved toward openness and transparency since those "old days."

1/06/2008 9:08 PM  
Blogger Roberta Grey said...

Lisa: I am so proud and grateful to be considered one of your friends. I so look forward to your comments and appreciate the way that your spin on things has opened my mind and my heart.

Please continue to pray for the rebuilding of the Diocese of San Juoaquin. I have a personal stake in the work with my relationship with both Nedi and Bob and know that thier dedication and sacrifice will bring about "good fruit".

You are an inspiration to many, known and unknown and you are loved and respected everywhere. Keep up the good work.

PS - the pic is great!! Love ya babe!

1/06/2008 9:36 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Hey, Roberta! You found a way to comment here! Yippeeeee....!

What you said makes me doubly humble, my friend. And, yes, I know you have deep connections to San Joaquin. I hope those folks are successful in rebuilding that diocese.

1/06/2008 9:43 PM  
Blogger Malcolm+ said...

I haven't volunteered a fullish profile. All one finds is that my name (if it is my real name) is Malcolm, and that I'm a priest on the Canadian prairie.

But after posting a comment on another blog, responding to that blogger's link to me, one of the commenters proceeded to that it "looked like" the new blogger was - and then gave my correct name, the correct name of the parish I'm at, and correctly identified that I am there as an interim.

I don't know how he did it. I'm not even particularly worried about it.

But I don't feel a strong need to offer up more - though I won't deny who I am either.

I do have a simpsonized pic of myself. But it's a cartoon for heaven sake.

BTW, the pic of you looks fine. I don't know about you, but when I have ongoing dealings with people I don't see, I imagine a face for them. In my imagination you had long, dark hair. And more of a tan. Who knows why.

1/06/2008 10:42 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Malcolm, I fully understand that clergy folks need to be a bit more cloaked and a lot more careful than lay folks like me.

Long, dark hair? LOLOL! My mother started me with "pixie haircuts" in my youth, and I never got into the long hair thing ... well ... except for a phase in the late '70s.

Isn't it funny how we envision each other?

I had a similar experience when I saw the StandFirmers blogging from New Orleans. I thought for sure they all had horns and fangs. Lo and behold, they did not. {grin}

1/06/2008 10:51 PM  
Blogger Grandmère Mimi said...

Lisa, how good to have a face behind the words. And what a nice face.

I had to come out with my real name at the Episcopal Cafè, but it was actually out there before that, when the First Draft wrecking crew pictures from New Orleans came out.

Then we had the gathering in New York with more pictures. I was a little nervous at first, but I'm fine with it now.

Good ta see ya.

1/06/2008 10:52 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Aw, Grandmère, you are so kind. Thank you.

I remember checking the OCICBINY pix and thinking you looked even kinder and gentler than I had imagined.

1/06/2008 10:57 PM  
Anonymous Leslie, St. Francis in exile said...

Dear Lisa,
It is nice to meet you!
Epiphany Blessings...

1/06/2008 11:46 PM  
Blogger Wormwood's Doxy said...

In my imagination you had long, dark hair.

Mine too, Malcom+!

And you know you are just fishing for compliments, Lisa--so I'll give you one. I think it's a wonderful photo of a very attractive woman (Says one short-haired woman to the other...)!

My name is out there too, if you care to find it---but I really love my nom de Net. "Doxy" is a side of my personality that---living as a woman in the American South---I can't always exercise in real life. Mostly my questions about faith, which might be difficult in some settings---but my "sassy" side as well.

That said, I don't say things online that I wouldn't say to your face. I've been embarrassed a few times by intemperately typing posts and living to regret them---so I've learned to sit on things a bit when I'm feeling really wound up.

1/07/2008 12:18 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Yes, Doxy, I've posted the "intemperate" piece from time to time.

No, I really wasn't fishing for compliments. With a bad self-image I was born, and with a bad self-image I shall die. No getting around that one, I fear.

So ... what is the story about "Doxy"? It's not a name or word with which I'm familiar. Or maybe you've posted about it on your blog, and I just haven't found it.

And I know exactly what you mean about being a sassy woman in the South. That's my native country, too.

1/07/2008 6:36 PM  
Blogger Wormwood's Doxy said...

I was really kidding about the fishing! But you ARE an attractive woman! Or at least *I* think so. :-)

As for "Wormwood's Doxy"--I posted about it here. It literally came to me in a dream...which is odd, since I rarely remember any of my dreams...

1/07/2008 6:44 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thanks for the link, Doxy, but let me correct it. provides the story of your name. (Your link had an extra character in it, which led to the dreaded "404 page not found" error message.)

I always thought "Wormwood" in your name referred to that which is more bitter than gall. So maybe you're the floozie who transubstantiates gall back into manna. (John Donne reference there, for those of you not familiar with his "Twicknam Garden.")

1/07/2008 7:12 PM  
Blogger Suzer said...

Love the pic, Lisa! And yes, it is scary to be ourselves in blogland. It is sometimes a dangerous place, and not for the timid (which is why my blog is private -- I'm among the timid!).

1/08/2008 9:19 AM  
Blogger Caminante said...

Great photo but I'd already seen one of you somewhere on this blog with the PB, no?

1/08/2008 5:05 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Good memory, Caminante. Right you are! I was the one not in the pretty dress. ;-)

Suzer, I'm not sure I'd say you're timid; but you're certainly more tender-hearted than I am. And that's a good thing.

1/08/2008 5:40 PM  
Anonymous Jan Neal said...


The ancient Aztecs believed we are born without a face and that we must win our faces bit by bit as we grow. If we lie, or if we are not clear about what we want to say, we will have a face without form. Only with an authentic face will we be able to come out of Tlalticpac, the world of dreams (from my blog).

I believe that you have earned your authentic face.

I always loved your blog and now I admire your courage.

Jan Neal

1/09/2008 4:16 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

That's a pretty cool way to consider it, Jan. If so, I think I am still trying to earn my real face.

And I'm very pleased to hear you've been a reader here.

1/10/2008 12:07 AM  
Blogger MadPriest said...

Your fame spreads far and wide - you little stirrer!

1/10/2008 4:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have a kind, thoughtful, and intelligent face. Glad to know ye.

Thank you for still allowing th elikes of anonymous me to post.


1/10/2008 10:50 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thanks, IT. And this house will always stay open to you.

1/10/2008 11:34 PM  

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