Saturday, February 05, 2011

Soliciting Comments on Comments

How do you discern the fine line between [A] providing an open forum for comments that engage and empower the sharing of opinions across differences and [B] providing a platform for inflammatory rhetoric that is invested not in dialogue but in division?

I'm really interested in what readers of this blog think ... particularly those of you who tell me they "read it all the time but never comment." I think I've reached my limit on the diatribe and need to rethink my "comments on comments" and come up with some "New Rules." What say ye?


desertcat said...

I don't read comments on most of the blogs I visit regularly simply because I feel somewhat sick after I read most of them (the comments). It's one thing to state an opinion (and everybody has and is entitled to theirs) but when it is done with a pointing of the "holier-than-thou" finger I stop reading and go find a good book.

I wish people could just talk, not pontificate, especially when it is accompanied by finger-pointing, name-calling and hyperbole.

Just my .02 before taxes. Worth much less after.

Bateau Master said...

Your [A] may seem like a [B] to some when their truth/reality differs from yours.

Could it be a Martin or an LG are witnessing to whom they believe have chosen the wide highway over the narrow gate? If they believe such, are they not obligated to do so?

Now how wide the diversity of opinions that are welcome in your forum is entirely your call. Are you comfortable with those looking to challange your outlook on issues you hold with complete certainty? Are you comfortable exchanging ideas and opinions with those that look upon you as lost? I wouldn't be.

LGMarshall said...

I man's 'sharing of opinions across differences' is another man's 'inflammatory rhetoric'.

How can you have Dialogue when all have the same point of view?

I'm sure it's upsetting to know about the male prostitute that killed Mr. Kato... but Radio Netherlands Worldwide reported it. I thought that was a reliable source. [why is truth called 'inflammatory rhetoric'? ]

This was not mentioned to inflame, it was mentioned because people have a right to know truth that is relevant to the case.

The zeal from those that disagree with your teachings, comes from our love of our Christian Fellowship, can you fault us for that?

If you want a blog spot that stands up for religious freedom, then you may have to read posts from those zealous for God.

It's your are free to block any posts or block any names you wish.... We're not trying to make your blood pressure go up. Truly, sorry.

On the other hand, if you are receiving an inordinate number of comments [ 'inflammatory rhetoric'.]that you disagree with... then maybe it's time to step back...& take an honest look at some of your postitions?

Anonymous said...

I am interested in dialogue...but it is hard to do across our diversity of viewpoint. So I have tended to pull back on making a comment because I agree with you that "providing a platform for inflammatory rhetoric that is invested not in dialogue but in division" is unhelpful.

John Sandeman

Just Me said...

All I can offer Susan is that it isn't easy. I have gone through many stages in my years of blogging, but ended up where I am now. The short version (for me) is that I try really, really hard to not get dragged down into the mud. I try to present information that doesn't target people; only topics. I desperately try to not blog angry. I also try to "get all the facts" before I post something.
There is SO much anger out there and I try (although sometimes fail) to not add fuel to the fire. Any comment that targets a another commenter is deleted.
It isn't easy; some days I just wait for the world to just blow up from all the steam that's building. It can be overwhelming.

God's peace be with you.

Martin T. said...

I'm sorry if anything I said comes across as "inflammatory rhetoric" but as LGM said, how can you have dialogue when everyone believes and thinks the same way. That isn't dialogue, it is a club meeting. The very stances that I have, such as reserving the sacrament of marriage for one man and one woman as God intended in creation and barring non-celibate homosexual clergy would automatically be offensive to you because of the fact that you're homosexual. The damage that has been caused to the Church has been dismissed by you as "the cost of discipleship". I just don't believe it has been worth it. You say our opinions causes division but it already existed before I found your page. If you were to change your guidelines to "all must agree with me", which would absolutely be your right to do so btw, guess what, the division will still be here. I'm sure that even in your diocese there is division (and they may or may not be vocal about it) but it is there. I haven't called for any violence or for any harm to those living in that lifestyle. What happened to Mr.Kato and others in the US and around the world is sick and those people should be punished to the highest degree, but even then, it doesn't all of a sudden make biblical standards null and void. It's your blog and your choice with who you want to be posting here, but if you have an open blog, prepare for your ideas to be challenged by others.

IT said...

Admittedly I have no patience with any of this any more.

I think it telling that the first to comment and the most numerous to comment on your blog are a few who say really hurtful and insulting things. Turd, punchbowl. I am getting to the point where I won't even click on "comments" here because they are so, so hurtful and rude.

your call.

W/v: rejec(t)


Thanks to those who responded. Maybe we'll get some more. But for right now, I'm kind of where IT is. I guess what I'd like to imagine would be differences of opinion that can build up conversation ... not tear down other people.

And maybe it's symptomatic of being a "cockeyed optimist" to believe one can accomplish that [a] on a blog and [b] with folks who are so convinced they have Sole Possession of The Absolute Truth that there's no dialogue ... just diatribe.

I also look at what's going on around us right now ... LGBT kids being bullied to death ... Ugandans being beaten to death ... marriage equality still to win in this country and in this church ... and I think I'm just ready to let those who think we're all heretics bound for the Lake of Fire to hold those opinions somewhere else.

Anyway, thanks again. I'm going to "sleep on it."

Ann said...

I just ignore those who just want to pick a fight - and it is your blog so you can decide who gets to talk and if it seems abusive - delete them. If they want to do that they can get their own blog - blogs are free.

JCF said...

I'm grateful you're asking the question, Susan.

I'm afraid I'll no longer be able to endure reading your comment threads, while these vicious attacks---based upon scurrilous lies---on LGBT people continue to be posted here.

Fr Jake used to have the concept of the blog-commenter "Time Out". Those who willfully refuse to "respect the dignity of every human being", need some time apart from posting comments, to think about the pain they've inflicted.

lizziewriter said...

Hullo, I should read your blog more often. Out here in the sticks and among my little network I wonder the same thing, and I strive there too... how to dialogue with those who really and truly, in an old fashioned "I'll help the Blacks and Women but you know, God really made them inferior to us and they'll always be that way," feel that homosexuality is wrong and will fight for what they believe are Biblical mandates. Never mind that it's tradition, never mind that we are supposed to have separation of church and state. Sometimes our fellow liberal/progressives are equally unhelpful because they get just as strident and obnoxious as the conservative/fundamentalists do.

I should develop a computer usage pattern that includes reading blogs more often.



All of this is so helpful and clarifying ... and I have literally three minutes before I have to head out the door for church this morning to add a couple of quick thoughts:

I'm attracted to the "time out" idea. I think we've reached the point where to keep repeating the
"You're not reading the Bible/Wer're reading the Bible differently than you are/You're not reading the Bible" pattern isn't going to do anybody any good.

And -- in my mind (and it IS my blog!) -- comments are for conversation. When I'm in conversation with somebody, I want to know more about what they think, know or understand ... and why they think, know or understand it.

That happens through dialogue ... not diatribe. And diatribe isn't disagreement. It's categorizing brothers and sisters in Christ as "ilk" (for example) ... and it's what I'm looking to put an end to here.

So I'm going to work on some "NEW RULES" (ala Bill Mahr.)

Stay tuned. Off to church ... where we're having a noted Muslim leader come address what's going on in his Egyptian homeland and then I'm going to the Gay & Lesian All Saints (GALAS) Super Bowl Party.

Just another day in paradise!

Patricia Brush said...

For years, I have belonged to an Internet community called Women In Ministry Online. The participants come from all over the world, from many traditions, and represent the political spectrum.

We are able to have a dialogue because participants are encouraged to be respectful of each other. We discuss issues and situations and church polity, but we never imply that anyone is stupid or unchristian if their beliefs or practices are different. We are going for understanding, which does not necessarily mean agreement.

If someone posts something that I don't agree with, that's fine. I can read it and try to understand and leave it at that, or I can respond with what I believe and how that works in my life without in any way negating the message I am responding to.

We recognize that each person grew up in a different context, that each has had many different influences. We simply cannot, nor would we want to, be all the same.

When I came out on WIMO, everyone was supportive. Those with more conservative beliefs remained friends and promised to pray for my journey. Nobody condemned me.

WIMO is a wonderful model but I don't know how that could begin to work on a blog where the participants have not pledged to support each other in prayer, where the participants are not in community.

danielj said...

Dear Susan+
Hi i am one of those who read but seldom post. I have been reading the latest rounds of this current intrusion...right from the start with these guys I knew it wasnt going be good.

Years ago, while still in ministry, I had the honor of being in fellowship and mission with some native american christian leaders. Indians have alot of experience with outside assaults from velvet gloved, and not so velvety , religious spiritual snipers.

This group I was involved with, even in their virtual online activities, used a commmunity model of behavior for people coming in and making comments. Beside the usual ones about respect which we often use....they have a couple of unique one thay may or may not be of use to you. Anyway here they are:

1) If you want to be among use, please share something about your Christian journey from the past, and what you are currently doing as part of Christ's body.

2) You may disagree with use, which is ok. but if you want to be among use, you must first listen before you speak.
Only when you have listened to us, learned where and why we are, do you have the knowledge to ask meaningful questions and give meaningful comments.

the Lord be with you Susan+
blessings Dan

jt said...

Hi Susan! I'm one of the "read but don't comment" types--probably because most of my comments would be along the lines of "Yeah, what she said!" The one time I disagreed with you over hate crimes I did post my thoughts, and well, it wasn't a good scene--that was something that was really important to you, and I guess my comment didn't come across in the spirit it was intended. So now I just read and watch, cheer you on most of the time, and generally don't read the comments.

But vis a vis comments being hurtful or helpful: First, there are the obvious rules--no name calling. Stop and pray/count to ten before you hit "post". Imagine it was your mother/sister/brother/pastor/someone important to you who you were saying such things to, is that how you would phrase it? People who don't stick to those rules aren't helping with dialogue.

But then there's the more passive aggressive stuff, which can be very hard to distinguish from naivete (there really ARE people who haven't been through these fights before and don't know they are using codewords for really hateful attitudes). That's where having a moderator who actually will call people on their phrasing and intentions is helpful. A three-strikes and you're out rule usually works pretty well.

JCF said...

Could it be ... are witnessing to whom they believe have chosen the wide highway over the narrow gate? If they believe such, are they not obligated to do so?

Have you seen, Bateau Master, Inquisition-type images, of someone being burned at the stake? Commonly in these images (here's an example), a priest holds up a crucifix: attempting to prompt a conversion in extremis.

It fits w/ the theory of Inquisition-torture: "Destroy the body, if necessary, to save the soul."

So I ask of Inquisitors, Bateau Master: why not? To quote you, "If they believe such, are they not obligated to do so?"

Are there NO limits to what one may do, to "save a soul"?

But if there ARE limits, should not the ones WITH the souls-to-be-saved, have a say?

Bateau Master said...

JCF - My statement of "I wouldn't be." answers your last question. I expect Susan Russell will make the adjustments to answer that as well.

I leave the remainder of your dramatic post to roam your own truth/reality paradigm.

Matthew said...

A few thoughts (and I don't necessarily mean this to be a response to lgmarshall and Martin but it informs why I find such comments unhelpful). As for glbt rights, we have been "dialoging" this issue for decades and I find that neither side has anything new to add. I find the same is true for womens ordination. So the comments are disagreements form the sake of disagreeing or cheers from your friends. I find dialogue is helpful on issues I've only begun to ponder, or am ambivalent about or feel uninformed. Commenting that you consider homosexual sex sinful is not helpful to me when I've grappled with the issue in all it's manifestations for twenty years and am pretty firm in my ideas.

Paul said...

There have been occasions where blog comments have been very enlightening. Unfortunately, these have been more the exception than the rule. I enjoy reading blogs on an RSS reader where I don't even see the comments. Some blogs seem to attract inflammatory comments, but it seems out of proportion to the posts on the blog.

One of the problems is that very few of us have the skills necessary to discuss these issues calmly with those on the other side of the issue. It isn't easy. I wish we could use these arguments to teach those skills, but that would probably take more time and resources than are available. For many people, an opinion is a weapon to beat people over the head with. That is the example we see in the media, and there are few counterexamples to learn from.

JCF said...

Ya got me alright, Bateau Master (you w/ the non-abbreviatable handle ;-X): I read your questions, w/o reading the rest of your post (My bad!).

Nevertheless, I don't regret posting my own questions (re the Inquisition, and Ends&Means).

My personal feeling, is that if one has to commit violence, physical or verbal, to "save souls", then one is already LOST one's self. OCICBW, and I've committed too much (Lord have mercy!) verbal violence myself...

Martin T. said...

JCF, define "verbal violence".

Bookguybaltmd said...

I'm with JT: I'm amongst those who read but don't comment because I would usually just be saying "yea, what she said...."

On the other hand, I DO read the comments; I often appreciate the chance to read your (collective, not just Susan's) responses to the mugwumps - at least the responses to those mugwumps who can put together an argument with aparent cogency - they usually fall apart with the slightest application of fact and logic. You and your commenters are quite good at responding constructively.

I often comment at other web sites. Sometimes, I recognize the mugwump thought for what it is, but reach a blank on how to reply. I can keep repeating the same replies, but I really try to reach these people. So I am always looking for fresh ways to accomplish that connection.

I know is it usually futile, but I do TRY to give cogent, loving, but firm responses. I am afraid it is not in my nature to mince words.

It has been very helpful for me to see how you and others on your comments page respond so that I can adapt some of your thougts and references to my needs. You frequently come with tactics that I can use or with approaches that help me think about ways to reach these folk, things that I can use in explaining or defending our faith.

For example, it's interesting to be able to point out to the Schori bashers that their own representatives voted for her at convention. I believe I found some of the documentation here for some good responses along those lines.

Another example is references that counter the frequent claim by the mugwumps that we "haven't done the theology." I had some references that I could use to counter that statement ("um... actually, it's the other wy around, here's a list of references to the theology on our sde, vs this one highly criticised and disparaged refernce on your side...").

I've added several references and links to that list of "we have too done the theology" from your posts, but also the posts from other commenters as well.

So, although I know you get tired of answering, I hope that you and others will keep listening to the mugwumps and, more importantly, keep responding. I, for one, find the discussion very useful in forming my own responses on other blogs. More ammo for me to use in other contexts.


Bookguybaltmd said...

BTW - Any documentation of the coneeolonist vote for KJS as PB at National Convention would be particularly much appreciated. I've heard this and have been assured of it by trustworthy people who were present. But Video would be fabulous!

uffda51 said...

What I've learned from this blog is that Susan is a much more gracious and tolerant person than I am.

I can only imagine the nature of some of the posts that she does not publish. I've gotten a very tiny taste of this myself as a result of having a couple of letters on marraige equality printed in our local newspaper. Since I'm in the phone book, I've gotten some interesting mail. Always anonymous. Always assuming I'm gay. And always mentioning how "Christian" they are.

I try to remember that everyone who supports LGBT equality and was raised in the church was taught the same "clobber" passages, and later came to believe differently. People can change.

Exchanging ideas and and opinions is fine. But when ideas and opinions are labled as absolute truth and facts presented in opposition to these assumptions are ignored, dialog has ended.

Martin T. said...

Why do you and everyone else that lean to your views call them "clobber passages"?

MarkBrunson said...

When I see people - who are supposed to be promoting a progressive or liberal view - start talking about "dialoguing," it's the same as the endless discussions by a bunch of old straight men about gays.

It's telling that the argument against the so-called "echo chamber" is coming from conservatives. They don't come to dialogue, they come to hurt, to undermine, to destroy hope and joy. And all this fantasy of "dialogue" is another way of enabling them to do that - see how much "dialoguing" the conservative blogs do and you'll see their real agenda.

Echo chamber? I've never known a liberal who won't slap down other liberal supporters, even on small differences - the only echos are from liberals, who still believe that there is anything to dialogue about, and conservatives, who jadedly keep the line open to kill us a little bit more. Perhaps, if the conservatives made any effort at sensitivity, at restraining their jeering, triumphalist, barely-contained happiness at every hurtful comment they can come up with, I'd believe in this mythical beast, "dialogue."

And, yes, I'm saying it's them - we are reactive, but they do start the mess, and it's time to be honest about that.


Here's what Jesus had to say about "verbal violence" (or at least what Matthew had to say about what Jesus had to say:)

Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, `You shall not murder'; and `whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.' But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, `You fool,' you will be liable to the hell of fire.

Oh Oh!

Bookguybaltmd said...

Good one, Susan. I'm adding it to my little collection of ammo....

Hey, I guess that's kind of a good example of what I was trying to say in my earlier post....


Bookguybaltmd said...

@ Martin T - Because these passages are so frequently misappropriated, mistranslated, and misinterpreted as 'clubs' with which to "clobber" gay people.

The issue, of course, is with the way these obscure passages are misappropriated to "trump" the basic commandments, summary of the law, as well as Jesus' sermons, directions, and outright commands for his followers.