Re: [asa] Why I may be less open

From: Rich Blinne <>
Date: Thu Mar 29 2007 - 12:09:16 EDT

On 3/29/07, David Opderbeck <> wrote:
> A couple people have commented to me off-list about the dangers of public
> newsgroups. I should clarify something. The decision to be unafraid to
> express ideas publicly that one thinks is important obviously doesn't mean
> being naive about the public forum. Clearly, there is all sorts of personal
> information no one will want to share on a public group such as these --
> stuff about kids, health, finances, etc. Equally clearly, there are more
> and less wise ways to express even ideas one thinks are important. For
> example, going on about the stupidity of the work of someone who is likely
> to sit on your tenure review committee is a bad idea -- and even more
> importantly, we're always required to speak the truth in love. Finally, if
> you want to discuss something publicly that you believe is important but
> that is controversial, you have to be prepared to handle opposition. I have
> always been public about my Christian faith, even though at times that has
> probably been a liability. My feeling is that there are times when you have
> to damn the consequences and move forward with things you believe in.
> Otherwise, why bother living?

Ah, if it were all that simple. The group of people on this e-mail list have
strong opinions and we are not shy about giving them. It's not the accurate
assessment and opposition to our opinions that causes pause but the abusive
twisting of them.

Recently I posted some research showing from brain scans that partisanship
was irrational. There was one response how the OTHER partisans were
irrational but not OUR partisans. Yeah, right. For all their flaws, the
Puritans anticipated this. Two characteristics they saw as the opposite of
charity were a party spirit and a censorious spirit.

I have been on the Internet for a long time. For example, I still remember
bang-paths to uunet. I remember in the 80s how USENET was a very collegial
place (and you could read EVERY message posted!). Even big P politics was
much more collegial. Now, particularly with the rise of the blogosphere it
is a much more bare-knuckle place. Again, if all we are talking about is a
more intense marketplace of ideas everything would be well. But, the
personal invective has gotten WAY out of hand. Flame war and trolling have
become part of the popular lexicon. You might respond that this is the world
and the world is fallen and I would say yes that's true. But, what I find
deeply disturbing is that the world has infected the church here.

Because of the adoption of the warfare model the church and individual
Christians have adopted an intellectually lazy approach to orthodoxy. You
are asked are if you are YEC, or ID, or TE by different groups in different
contexts. If you answer the question wrong you are punished. If you mapped
the groups and questions with a Venn diagram it would come up with the empty
set. Then there is a follow-up response presuming to know why you picked one
of those positions. You are also judged if you refuse to choose. Again, if
this was just the world I wouldn't be so disturbed.

The matrix of positions that are a substitute for thinking is not limited to
the question of origins. Big P politics also plays here. When Gregory Boyd
announced he believed in open theism there was little effect on his mega
church. When he didn't do a special patriotic 4th of July service his
church's attendance dropped dramatically. Biblical fidelity as we see here
is not the issue but making sure we fill the right set of bubbles on our
multiple-choice tests.

David, please note how often the following refrain is mentioned. "I really
enjoy the national meeting and seeing people face-to-face. But, the e-mail
list is just too much." The ASA has wisely chosen in my opinion not to take
a position on origins and is why the meetings are considered "safe". Many
in the ASA don't want to fall into the same "party spirit" that sadly many
parts of society in general and the Internet in particular have fallen
deeply into.

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Received on Thu Mar 29 12:09:42 2007

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