Saturday, February 23, 2008

Fight! Fight! Fight!...Or Not

Amy Forbus laments that the most popular discussion threads in the Methoblogosphere are predicated on conflict, not unity:

I've been noticing for a while now that bloggers I follow (read: mostly Methobloggers) tend to have a good amount of fun with each other on lighthearted posts, a great deal of discussion on controversial posts, but very little dialogue on overtly spiritual posts. I've seen some really nasty debate over doctrinal nonessentials in one online community in particular. Yet, when somebody gets serious about matters of faith, comment boxes stay empty, or close to it. Andrew Conard has done a series of thoughtful posts on the Trinity this week, and has received a total of three comments.

David Camphouse responded:

Additionally, I think it points to something far more powerful and possibly even exciting...a sense of "closer-than-you-think". By that I mean, we get so caught up in the "opinion pieces" of the church, that we forget how close we are on the actual "doctrine pieces" of the church. We have done so much bludgeoning of each other with the opinions leaving us empty to really engage in the doctrine. We believe the same things, but tend to feel that they need to be acted out in different ways, and that the way another person acts out the same belief is invalid, because it is not my way. I think the silence tends to show a "closer-than-you-think" mentality that should encourage us to see each other in better light and could be the quiet assent to unity with one another. Maybe this is a great focus point ahead.

I think that David's right: silence implies consent. Which is a pity, perhaps. We should be equally inclined to voice agreement as we are disagreement. But perhaps silence also implies boredom. I mean, explorations of Trinitarian theology are important. And "I saw a tree today and it reminded me of God"-type devotional posts are spiritually formative (for the writer). But anything that reads like a technical manual or like a teenager girl's diary is unlikely to spark interest beyond the writer him/herself.

Earlier this week, I ran a series of posts about the homosexuality debate in the United Methodist Church. But by Wednesday, I knew that all of us had said what we thought and that it was time to move on to posts which unify, rather than divide us. I like to think of humor blogging as a redemptive activity in our connexion. Humor is a very intimate thing; mysterious and emotive. If I can get conservatives and liberals to laugh together, I can contribute to the unique emotional sharing of community laughter across ideological lines.


the reverend mommy said...

I would agree with both you and David. When I post something overtly theological, I almost never get comments except when someone strongly disagrees. I would like some affirmation on those postings, but it's not really necessary.

When I post prayer -- either that which I have written or that which speaks to me (this week it was St. Francis), I VERY seldom get response. It's not that people aren't reading them -- I supporse response is not really needed. Although an "amen" in the comments would be appreciated.

And since I avoid political or controversial postings (frankly, I'm not into politics, as such), the most comments I get are on things I consider just day to day "getting by." Or things that I would consider "drivel." And yes, I post drivel on occasion.

Todd said...

I just knew that this was going to be another barbecue post.

Michael said...

On an extended point, I've answered some posts in which I am in full agreement but rarely have seen a "thank you" from the author which makes me wonder whether they even care if someone is reading or not. I would love to see more comments at my blog, but that's not really why I post though I try to make the time to respond to any comments positive or negative.

I agree, however, that controversy is going to get a lot more response.

John said...

On an extended point, I've answered some posts in which I am in full agreement but rarely have seen a "thank you" from the author which makes me wonder whether they even care if someone is reading or not.

Yes, that can be aggravating.

I try to comment on every commentor's blog and give general responses to comment threads. But I've been so busy of late that I really won't be able to resume that until after May.

Of course, I've had about a 100 comments in the past week, so it's kinda hard. Lower-traffic blogs don't have that excuse. Effective bloggers keep in mind that they operate in a community, and engage it.

the reverend mommy said...

Brag about it, won't you.


John said...

I keep on tellin ya, RevMommy -- post about zombies. Early and often.

Olive Morgan said...

Thank you John. Is this a feature of the Methoblogosphere, I wonder? When I used 'modblog' as my server (before it 'died' on me), I had many lively conversationsand really felt that I was sharing the Good News. Now much of the joy has gone out of blogging, partly because most of the bloggers are on a much higher theological plane than I will ever be and partly because I don't enjoy 'talking to myself' (which is how it feels!

John said...

Olive, talking to yourself isn't such a bad thing. Shoot, it's the only way that I can find intelligent conversation around here ;)

Olive Morgan said...

Don't we have any young people who blog in the Methoblogosphere or stray into it sometimes? It doesn't seem like it to me - and it's the company of the young that gives me most joy in my life. I echo the sentiments expressed by the reverend mommy, though I did have a comment once when I posted a prayer.