Well, I guess I’m just going to unsubscribe. I’ve got (without exaggeration) more than 200 other RSS feeds to read, and though I don’t keep up with every word of all of them, I find each of them fairly regularly offers me something of value… encouragement, information, inspiration. There are other blogs out there that I’ve studiously avoided (you know, like ones that name themselves for a portion of one of the seven churches in Revelation) reading or linking because I just don’t find any value. There is no open conversation and there’s more disinformation than information. Other people tend to tackle that, but not me. I get too frustrated. I go into a conversation thinking I can be good-natured and friendly and we can have an open dialogue, only to get blindsided and disappointed in the whole thing. Me and my ideas can be mocked, but I think I’ll just prefer for now to avoid the whole thing. People like Mike and Andrew and Bob can handle all of that without me… and if their blogs mention something worth knowing about the ones I’m not going to bother with, I’ll get it second-hand from them… whom I’ll still be reading.
But conversations that have no value to me… why should I bother? I think it’s unfortunate that a small group of vocal people who can audaciously request 1,000 comments on a controversial post — no matter how “important” their blog is to Technorati, to their followers, or to their own self-appreciative egos — can spread disinformation about the emerging/missional church with not a whit of proper attribution or thoughtfully engaged critique should so characterize for one “crowd” what the emerging/missional church looks like, and for another “crowd” what the Reformed theological persuasion looks like. I identify both with reformed theology and with the emerging missional church… and it’s just downright annoying that a single source can make me so annoyed with how each is portrayed to the other. In the reformed line of thought, I much prefer the more gracious and well-spoken John Piper speaking about God to the verbose castigation proffered by the narrow-minded John MacArthur directed toward all with whom he disagrees. One represents a thoughtful interpretation of reformed theology, the other represents a thoughtless representation of an attitude toward others which is in serious need of reform. It seems to me that no matter how great a theologian one follows, whether Edwards or Spurgeon or Calvin or whoever… there remains in each of their thoughts and character some room for error. If one of them should be ungracious toward the theological convictions of others, it seems to me a poor apologetic for one’s own continued mocking and scoffing… unless of course the attitude could be found in the example of Christ. “Spurgeon said it, I believe it, that settles it!” is a difficult attitude to grapple with. To disagree and dialogue is one thing… and I’d be happy with that if I could find it. I only see disagreement and ridicule, and ridicule at the suggestion that the ridicule is not appropriate treatment of one another in Christ. Maybe Wesley or Finney or Calvin or Spurgeon would have spoken out ungraciously about the emerging church… who knows? But then again, so what? Maybe the wisdom of Gamaliel goes unheeded after its initial application. Maybe some people think that God isn’t big enough to handle himself and needs defending against people who love him but are nevertheless judged to be weak in the theology department.
Here on this blog, I’ve had commenters who disagree with me. Not a lot, but enough to test the way which I would respond to them… and I’ve always tried my best. At times I’ve received some correction or adjustment and at times some thoughtful discussion has resulted which aided each of us in understanding another’s position, whether or not we agree with it. I believe we honour one another not so much by capitulating and/or agreeing with each other, but by seeking to understand one another. Jesus met with resistance from the religious establishment and was left sitting with sinners and liberals, where he had many a good conversation over a nice meal, and was able to impact the lives of those with whom he spent time. I guess it’s the same for me… at least the sinners and liberals and I can seek to understand one another. And that would be profitable conversation for all concerned. Paul advised Titus:
Do not get involved in foolish discussions about spiritual pedigrees or in quarrels and fights about obedience to Jewish laws. These things are useless and a waste of time.
And for me, rather than become embroiled in endless unprofitable frustrating diatribes, I’m selecting “Delete” and going off in search of profitable conversation… that which encourages my faith and praxis rather than ridicules it.
I’m just glad I’m not the ONLY one with 200+ feeds. People have been “looking” at me funny ever since I confessed that at Smulo’s place a couple weeks ago. Now I’ll just say “Well, Brother Maynard does too, so it must be OK.”
And I agree with you. I know some people feel it is their mission to follow the naysayers, and we do need people like that. But it’s not my calling. Sometimes it’s exactly like talking into a bottomless pit, and my personality doesn’t have the patience. I just get angry and that doesn’t do anyone any good.
This needed to be said, and you said it well.
Attempts to justify that kind of mocking and ridicule are pretty flimsy and only add to the blindness and self-deception concerning the tone and behavior. However, as long as that is the stance, participating in the dialogue is pointless and ultimately frustrating, and the invitations/goading to do so should be ignored.
Real conversation can only occur with at least a minimal degree of mutual respect and courtesy. While one might expect that among “brothers”, obviously in the blogosphere it isn’t always the case.
A wise choice, my friend. I wrestled for awhile, trying to put into words what my basic unrest was with these kind of websites, and I finally settled on: “Taunting, the timeless weapon of bullies worldwide, from the children’s playground to the halls of the theologically smug”.
Good post, Maynard. I suppose I am blessed by not taking time to figure out the technology to have feeds and the like and simply go where I know I will find edifying writing, like here, by the point and click, add to faves, etc. method. I’ve been absent a while, but for a good cause. It’s good to have the opportunity to stop back by.
Wise choice and one I myself made a long time ago. Recently, with the posters that everyone was talking about, I read some of their blog again, and it made me rather ill.
For many months, I tried engaging them in dialogue, but found very quickly that there is no way to have productive conversation with them unless you’re willing to treat them like they have the corner on truth.
Frankly, I got so tired of being mocked and patronized that I finally just blew the dust off my keyboard (what cyber equivalent to shaking dust off of one’s feet is there??) and left. What I read in recent weeks shows that they have not moved beyond where they were a long time ago.