May 27, 2005

How then shall we Blog?

This is one of those posts that is hard to categorize, so I've dumped it into everything else. It's a little bit Intolerant Tolerance, but it's also a little bit Theology, but it doesn't really fit into those categories at all.

A bunch of us from Mind and Media have joined Blogcritics. Seems to be a perfect fit -- they review books, so do we. Match made in Heaven, right?
Not exactly. In fact, quite a few of the members of Blogcritics were none too happy to see their site "overrun" by a bunch of "fundamentalists." And they made it clear to us in their comments on our reviews.

What do you do in this situation? How can we be salt and light to a group of people who want neither -- or see no need for either? I see three options:

1. Get mad right back at them. Match them attitude for attitude, invective for invective. Call names, question parentage.

Obviously not the best option if the goal is actually having them read you and think about what you've written. I admit, I've done this in other venues, and it does have a sort of hgih to it, as the adrenaline starts pumping and you wait for your opponent's next post. But nobody ever really changes their minds in a "discussion" like this, AND it feeds the stereotype of evangelical Christians as "intolerant bigots" who think that they're always right.

2. Leave. "I don't have to put up with this garbage. You all aren't worth the trouble." OR "I'm in over my head. I need to learn some more before I can hang here." Or any number of other reasons.

This is honorable, to an extent. But it does give "them" a victory -- one more fundamentalist that they've run off from their turf. But we don't have to put up with that kind of garbage.

3. Stick around, pick your battles. Make your stand on ground that matters, but don't let that be your only point of interaction. You have other interests -- use them. Post reviews about the last Grisham novel, or the DVD you just bought. Once people see that we're actually human, they can deal a little better with the fact that we're humans with different theological beliefs.

This is the path I'm following. After a big exchange on the Blogcritics Yahoo! group, I posted a short note defending myself, and others. So far, it's been received better than I expected (and the adversarial side of me was itching for a fight, too!). People there can be reasonable -- they just don't want to be beaten over the head with the Bible. I think I can understand that.

Christianity is a LOT more attractive to others when they realize that we're actual people, and not theo-bots on a mission to rule the world. Take a stand on the Truth that we believe in. But show the rest of your personality. Who knows, your next friend might just be an agnostic former Buddhist from Jersey or something.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 10:31 PM | Comments (8) | Add Comment
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1 For what it's worth, Warren, I think you're taking the right approach. Obviously engaging in a flame-war is going to be a bad witness, and just leaving accomplishes nothing. Staying, and hopefully becoming a member of the community and allowing them to see other facets of your personality, looks like the best course of action, if you can develop a thick enough skin to take the insults that will surely still find you every so often.

Posted by: songstress7 at May 28, 2005 12:45 AM (ie93s)

2 I've heard that at least one person left because of the mistreatment -- and I don't want to knock that person's decision. It's a personal choice, and I'm sure they didn't do it lightly, or without a lot of thought. But whatever the reason for leaving, it gives "the other side" a victory, at least in theor perception. In reading some of the reaction to some other folks' offerings at the site, I wonder if I would have stuck around if my post had been similarly attacked. At least most of my commentors were targeting specific issues, and not just insulting my intelligence (or lack thereof). Ad hominem is tough to combat, and I have seen a lot of that exhibited. I'll probably post a review of Total Truth there when I finish it, just to irritate some people (lol). But I'll probably do some other reviews first.

Posted by: Warren at May 28, 2005 12:41 PM (a64K1)

3 Great, I can type ad hominem with no problem, but I mistype things like their (in my comment) and high (in the post). Sad thing is, two years ago I taught keyboarding to junior high school kids. How's THAT for "those who can't do, teach?"

Posted by: Warren at May 31, 2005 01:47 PM (a64K1)

4 You mean as a Christian we are not to blast them into submission. Now that is a novel concept. lol Keep up the great work!

Posted by: Wayne M at June 02, 2005 06:39 AM (y/2WM)

5 lol, Wayne. The sad thing is, a LOT of people haven't figured that out yet.

Posted by: Warren at June 02, 2005 09:12 AM (a64K1)

6 Total Truth!! Now that WILL be interesting! Love that book. Thanks for the experiential advice. I am new at this. Hopefully, God helps us to be gracious. You say yelling doesn't change minds but truthfully, I have never witnessed s changing of minds. I'd love to hear about a bending of the minds, rather than blending. Let us know if some lightbulbs go on, k?

Posted by: cwv warrior at June 02, 2005 12:59 PM (yP3uI)

7 I do think there are times to respond in kind. After all, there are two parts to the double proverb: Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes. (Proverbs 26:4-5, ESV) Some people need to be put in their place, and only sarcasm or telling it like it is about downright awful reasoning will do it. Other people need to experience other kinds of responses. The trick is knowing when each is appropriate.

Posted by: Jeremy Pierce at June 25, 2005 07:39 PM (Ihkjb)

8 I agree, Jeremy. The problem is that I don't always know when each is appropriate. I tend to shy away from nailing people to the wall until it's the last resort -- which is probably not the best way to do things.

Posted by: Warren at June 25, 2005 08:03 PM (iJfPJ)

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