I spent a very pleasant hour this morning with Alan Wilson who is the Bishop Of Buckingham and an enthusiastic, and very good, blogger. During our conversation we rambled widely round the subjects of the web, blogging, religion and the church and with a good deal of shared beliefs and ideals.
One of the things I found most interesting in our discussion was Alan's description of the Anglican church as being loosely organised, relatively dogma free and encompassing a really wide range of religious beliefs. We talked about the nature of churches and the degree of structure and institution needed to hold them together. Alan's position is very similar to my own - that dogma and rules are vehicles for power rather than entirely necessary for collective understanding, and that "small pieces loosely joined" can be a more robust and long lasting alternative. However we also talked about the high degrees of autonomy and individual capabilities that are required for such loose structures to work and we talked about the need for some sort of framework that people can use as a support to making sense of things.
I mentioned a conversation I had with Thomas Koch in Hamburg about the transition from the days when the church provided the principal sense making framework, through the totalitarian period of fascism and communism to the materialism and faith in the market that is beginning to run out of steam today. Thomas and I both felt this need for some sort of new framework, religion is amost certainly the wrong word, but some set of principles and underlying beliefs about the web and the world it is enabling, that helps make sense and provide an inspiring overarching story for life in the 21st Century.
I love the fact that shared belief in the web brought Alan and I together and helped us to bridge some fairly significant differences in our world views in such a way that we both, I hope, moved forward. This is why I get so excited still about the web and remain optimistic about its impact on society. It makes these connections so much more likely and the ensuing consequence feels like evolution on steroids.