There’s a Quaker statement from 1656 that, I think, says something important to us diarists and bloggers: “these things we do not lay upon you as a rule or form to walk by, but that all, with the measure of light that is pure and holy, may be guided: and so in the light walking and abiding, these may be fulfilled in the Spirit, not from the letter, for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth light.”
In my branch of the Society of Friends (Quakers) there is no hierarchy of the sort one finds in most institutions–especially religious ones. There’s no preacher, merely a clerk who convenes the Monthly Meeting for Business. There are no elders, merely a committee of Ministry and Oversight. These, like all of our other committee memberships and positions, are rotating: no one person can serve any function continually. We try to keep away from anyone becoming the one who can tell others what to do.
There aren’t many of us, but Quakers of this sort have been around for hundreds of years without falling into hierarchy. It can be difficult: there are times when each of us secretly wishes to bash another over the head rather than hold her (or him) in the light. Still, we have managed.
Recently, there has been talk about the blogs, that eventually someone is going to have to make some order of them, or they will never be taken seriously.
Looking back at the Quaker tradition, I disagree. If they need committees, bloggers are perfectly able to constitute them, and to do so without compromising independence (reliance on the Spirit, not the letter)–and to do so without help from authority. Already, bloggers hold each other to surprisingly high standards (I, at least, have been taken to task justifiably–and more than once) while respecting the rights of others to their views (well, for the most part… all right: there IS the troll thing… ).
The quote I give above often accompanies our Quaker books of Advice and Practice, the nearest thing we have to a creed. We use it to remind ourselves to give advice and not rules.
To my way of thinking, the blogs will live as long as bloggers, too, stick to advice, not rules.