HARRISONBURG, Va. (Mennonite Mission Network) – When East Coasters are sleeping, Will Fitzgerald is brewing morning devotionals.
Fitzgerald, who blogs based on Third Way Café’s daily "Sip of Scripture" passages, is Third Way Cafe's first known regular blogger and a computer scientist who commutes weekly between his home in Kalamazoo, Mich. and his job in California at a start up company called Powerset.
Fitzgerald, 50, has been voluntarily writing a daily blog – or Web log – since January called "a simple desire" offering commentary on the daily Bible verse chosen to reflect Anabaptist teachings and emphases. Third Way Café seeks to put a public face on Mennonites.
Fitzgerald is a first-generation Mennonite whose blog grew out of his desire to see more writing on the Internet from a Mennonite perspective. “One way to see that happen is to write some of it myself, as someone who has, relatively late in life, come to identify the way I seek to follow Jesus as Mennonite,” he said.
According to Newsweek magazine, content for Internet web sites is increasingly supplied by the users themselves. Fitzgerald's commentaries are short and easy to read, just as “A Sip of Scripture” is brief (1-4 verses). He doesn’t claim to be a theologian, (although he reads Greek) so he tries to write honest first reactions, thoughts of songs, poetry and situations he has lived through.
"Sometimes I try to focus on just a phrase, a word or two, especially if it’s not immediately clear to me what it means,” he said.
The time difference between California and the east coast works in his favor. The next day's "Sip" is posted to show up at 12:01 a.m., eastern time, which is only 9 p.m. in California and so he often posts his blog sometime after 9 p.m. California time. Or, he writes when he is on the commuter train there.
When in Kalamazoo, he usually writes from a home office before his workday starts. In the informal style of the Web, if Fitzgerald is too busy it might take him a day or two to catch up with the verse of the day.
“I can’t guarantee how long I’ll be able to keep this discipline up – but for now, it’s part of my regular spiritual practice,” says Fitzgerald, a member of Pine Grove Mennonite Church in Battle Creek. He also has a personal blog available from the “a simple desire” home page.
Normally Fitzgerald, married and the father of two children, ages 20 and 13, considers himself "a bit time-obsessed" so part of his disicpline is to not pay attention to how much time he spends meditating and writing the blog. Sometimes he spends just a few minutes, and other times he spends quite a bit longer tracing down the meanings of words.
The personal spiritual benefit for Fitzgerald is that he often finds himself thinking of the scriptures that he's written about through the course of the day, and sometimes days after, affecting what he thinks, says and does.
"I sometimes have trouble sleeping at night, and thinking about or even working on that day's passage 'in the night watches' is usually better than 'eating the bread of anxious toil,'" he said.
Fitzgerald hopes this will encourge more people to "start weblogging from a Mennonite perspective. I've seen how it builds community among my Quaker friends, and I'd be happy to see the extended dialog happen among Mennonites as well."
His blog logs about 40 readers a day, and readers post their own comments every now and then.
“Sip of Scripture” passages follow a different theme each year and this year focus on mission or outreach-oriented passages. Sign up for a free subscription online or read a brief description/review of blogging in the media review section of Third Way Café.