Lay Anglicana Online House Group for Lent: How Has It Gone?

In February I wrote a Digidisciple post called ‘Lay Anglicana tries an online house group for Lent‘: this is the follow-up.

At the bridge table, after a hand there is often a post-mortem, but it is understandable that after every military exercise the similar process is instead called ‘a wash-up’. For some reason, the Americans prefer the expression ‘hotwash’ (perhaps they have been at too many British cold water versions?). At any rate, the military version traditionally begins with: ‘What Went Well’.

So what went well with our online house group, that is to say the discussion in the Lay Anglicana forum of Mark’s gospel, using Tom Wright’s Lent for Everyone?

  • It happened. Every day, the extract from Tom Wright’s book appeared in a forum post, together with his version of the text. This was thanks to 12 Baskets and SPCK, who had exceptionally given permission for the text to be made available in this way (in the interests of copyright, we will retroactively condense these extracts once the discussions are over). Ernie Feasey, a joint organiser of  Lay Anglicana who is studying for the priesthood (and a fellow Digidisciple) wrote his own commentary every day, in which he teased out the words of the gospel and Wright’s commentary, and offered a few insights of his own. He also posed a question every day for us to answer.
  • It was useful to be able to supplement our own comments with input from the Big Read 12 Facebook page, which we in turn contributed to, and from the Big Bible Project – Big Read website.
  • The ‘usual suspects’ who were already regular contributors to the forum took part: lay Anglicans like Ernie, Joyce, Charlie Farns-Barns and me. But we also had contributions from priests, in particular fellow Digidisciple Dr George Morley whose latest post was cross-referred in the forum: she also became a regular and provided a useful trained eye, if she won’t mind the description. And we had contributions from several new people, including one from New York City and one from an American living in China. We had no trolls or other vexatious persons.
  • There have been 347 posts so far – Tom Wright’s commentary extends throughout Easter Week, so we are not through yet.
  • It was a good bonding exercise for those taking part, and a good Lenten discipline having to read (and where possible comment) every day.

What Went Wrong?

  • Nothing really went wrong! But one or two unforeseen things happened…
  • We ran into difficulties when one of the contributors objected that Mark’s description of the Pharisees was anti-Semitic. This was an unexpected point, and the contributor was not just making an intellectual point, (s)he seemed genuinely indignant. I put out a plea on twitter for help from someone more versed in biblical knowledge and one person, thank goodness, replied  in the forum. Unfortunately, the original complainant did not return. Two of my priestly friends offered help and advice on twitter, but did not put their comments on the forum. I was better informed as a result, but would have felt uneasy about lifting their twitter comments (which are ephemeral) and copying them to the forum, where they are likely to have a considerably longer cyber-life. I think that the default netiquette position is probably that it is wrong to do this, certainly without permission? What do you think?
  • The other slight hurdle we faced was a distinct flagging of energy around the fourth Sunday of Lent. This must be a general problem, because the Church has already come up with a solution: it is called Rose Sunday or Refreshment Sunday or Laetare Sunday. But we rallied, recovered our energy and continued.

Would I do it again?

Yes, absolutely. Would others join me? I hope so!


About Laura Sykes