What are we doing here? Do we strive for recognition, do we seek approval? Do we have a plan to influence the community we live in? Are we just observes of the Jewish chronology? Can we influence the course of our communities? Certainly the "mainstream press" thinks they are interpreting the course of history. They think of themselves as powerful enough to appoint presidents and assign success. What is the place and purpose of the Jewish blogosphere?
Blogging is just another form of communication. We are here for the same reason we talk to friends and strangers. We want to share our experience, teach others, and learn from them. We want to warn people away from danger and recommend good things. It is not the primary purpose of my blogging to morally improve the Jewish people. Just as it is not the purpose of driving to drive safely (to use an illustration of Dennis Prager). You drive to get somewhere. You blog to get somewhere.
The purpose of life and of blogging is to enjoy it (in the best and deepest and most meaningful sense of the word). I wish I had Tom Wolfe's eye for status details but I don't. My obsession is with meaning. I try to unlock and share what is meaningful to improve our lives (and morality is just one aspect, though the most important part, of a good life).
It is not the purpose of marriage to act ethically with each other. Though that is an indispensable part, it is not the end-all and be-all of the relationship. Same with blogging.
If I have a gift as an interviewer and a writer, it is opening people up and getting them to share what is deepest and most important. Moral inspiration is only a part of this process and it is not the part that I do best. I do best trying to reveal reality and to share a few laughs about it. Due to my colorful past and present, I can't help but bring disrepute to any cause I espouse. So I concentrate on telling the stories of our lives and leave the moral inspiration to those who do it better than I.
Here's one technique that I use with trying to understand people who say things that seem impossible.
What do we do as Orthodox Jews when we encounter Jewish text that says things that we can not fathom? That seems wrong. That violates our common sense. Do we dismiss the Torah as wrong? No. If we have texts that conflict, do we say that they were composed in different eras and reflect the differing perspectives of the different strands of Biblical thought? No.
We don't rest until we have reconciled seemingly irreconcilable texts, until we have made sense of texts that seem the opposite of sense.
A similar technique helps one understand and communicate more effectively with those who say things that you are sure are wrong.
If you really want to understand the Torah or another person, assume that what they are saying is true, and then seek ways for understanding how it could be true.
If you do that, you can come to understand almost anyone you want to understand.
If you say you can't understand a particular person or point of view, you are really saying that you don't want to go to the effort of understanding them.
One technique to better understand a blogger who seems outrageous is to ask whether they are being ironic, sarcastic, histrionic or humorous? Have they experienced a different emotional reality in Judaism than you have, things that have shaped the writer to express emotions and thoughts you find incomprehensible?
Now, understanding people is exhausting and time consuming. We only have finite resources to do this and we have to choose with care which persons we truly want to understand. Frankly, I don't try to understand most people I talk to. With the exception of charity cases, work and social obligations, I only want to understand people who are smarter and more learned than I am.