The Poet of Ur: "Genus: Blog, Species: Comment"

Wheaton College professor, and guest poet of Ur, Dan Haase has been watching our conversation from a distance. Dan sent along this short piece to help us pause and think. It has made me wonder, should this blog be seeking to elevate the dialogue among brothers and sister in Christ–a place for us to grow through the spiritual discipline of conversation? Or, should this forum simply reflect the character of the church today–both its decency and decay? Perhaps Dan's words will help us all think more carefully before we submit comments in the future.

Genus: Blog, Species: Comment

Some come like snakes –

Through cracks, and holes,

and misconceptions of argument –

Hissing out their truth,

causing dust to rise,

into the eyes and nostrils –

Then, in clouded mind,

With venom in the veins,

The BODY dies.

January 31, 2006

Displaying 1–10 of 17 comments

Hal Moran

February 03, 2006  9:26am

From a not-so poet. See more at www.halmoran.com This one is titled, "Hollow words are like empty tracks" I'm sure you could hear it now…the soft breeze through the olive branches and maybe the chatter of a few small children. And Jesus was talking. Loud enough to reach a multitude but calm enough to strike a different chord, apart from all the other noise. Like the time he said, "Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy laden." Most of us are greatly affected by speech. The slightest change in tone, and the words take on a whole new meaning. And after too many hollow words, we just give up listening. Many speakers have devoted their lives to perfecting their skill and figuring out how to communicate powerfully. Jesus didn't rely on PowerPoint and fancy graphics flashing across a wide screen, yet he was the greatest orator on earth. He simply used the common elements of his day. He spoke with intention and love, meekness and power. And when he spoke, the crowds gathered. Moreover, they never forgot what he said – and what he said changed the course of history. No other speaker has ever been backed by such power and motive as was the Son of God. Perhaps, our speech should more closely mirror that of Christ. Deliberate, yet delicate. Filled with hope, not hype. In other words, simply stated is never over rated. "For God is in heaven, and you are only here on earth. So let your words be few." Eccl. 5:2

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gveale

February 03, 2006  5:49am

Surely it is hubris to contend that your blog can "reflect the character of the church today–both its decency and decay?". What evidence can you produce to show that respondents accurately represent all the schools of thought current throughout the Church? The fact that this is a Blog, and that it is a "Leadership" blog, will deter many evangelicals from participating at all. Furthermore, the Poet of Ur (or "Pretentious? Mois?")actually highlights the main problem with this blog - it is deeply Postmodern, in the worst sense of the term. Let me explain. Derrida never advocated that a text can be read in any way, or that it contained no meaning, or an infinite number of readings. Derrida contended that there was never simply one true meaning to a text. Any attempt to impose one true reading was an act of violence. Now take the recent anxiety generated by Mr. McLaren's views on homosexuality. Mr McCLren refused to participate in the act of violence, and impose a truth on Scripture - that is to say he would not state his views on homosexuality. The fact that coherent alternatives to the traditional reading of the Bible exist was enough to prevent Mr McClaren from declaring his own view. Of course a reading can be coherent and lack explanatory power and scope - but to reject anothers viewpoint altogether on these grounds seems to be an act of violence to Mr McClaren. It would be arrogant, I suppose, to assume that we have insights into the text that others lack. Now my worry is not Mr McClaren's sexual ethic. My worry is that the refusal to come to a decison garnered such praise. It seems it is better to wrestle with an issue than to come to a definite conclusion on the matter. Furthermore to disagree with Mr McClaren is, in the view of many respondents, arrogant, uncharitable,or ungracious. One's arguments against McClaren need not be challenged - simply one's motivations for making those arguments. And now we have a poem. Is it stating the obvious - that disagreement in the church on any issue can lead to bitterness, even malice? Or am I missing a deeper meaning? Or is it meant to have a meaning? However, let us consider the warning - don't put venom in your arguments. Amen. But doesn't it "prove" my point that the truth or falsity of another's opinion is not the substance of the issue in the evangelical church, as represented on this blog? What matters is the way we disagree with each other. Love has been reduced to tolerance, hate to harsh words. Perhaps rigorous and detailed arguments would be a better way forward - the sarcasm on this blog often seems so bitter and pointless because the respondent has not taken aim. Paul's rhetoric would be a good example to follow - logic on fire. Another use for the blog would be to open Pandora's box. Perhaps a writer could fail to understand editorial policy. Then they could suggest that many new evangelical leaders are rejecting the usual evangelical position on some controversial issue. Of course the writer will not give any details, and will not provide any evidence. That does not matter. Once the article goes online, and debate begins, it becomes a fact that evangelicals are no longer united on the issue in question. The genie refuses to go back in the bottle. That's where hubris will take you I suppose. But if it's all done in an attitude of love who is to say it is wrong?

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Linda

February 02, 2006  7:43pm

There are just some subjects that the devil uses more than others. We must teach the whole counsel of God. Often a text taken by itself and disseminated causes anger. To speak the truth in love we must one, speak the truth but never avoid the part about God loving sinners. Everything God said He said for a reason. We forget that people reap the consequences of living apart from God's way. The WORD became flesh. The problem is when our flesh becomes words.

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Mark Guthier

February 02, 2006  2:24pm

Growing up in a conservative denomination, I was told over and over not to ask questions. "Put your hand down," the teachers might have said. "We don't want to hear from you." If this blog looks ugly sometimes, it is only because God's Church looks ugly sometimes. Canceling the blog will not accomplish anything—except to silence some Christians with real questions. It won't be the first time no one wants to hear what they have to say. Still, I understand blogs like this can be intense. They aren't for everyone. (Mel Gibson's Passion was intense. It wasn't for everyone either.) God's Church is full of dynamic variety—and I am more comfortable in some parts of His Church than in others. In fact, God Himself is full of dynamic variety we call the Trinity. And frankly, I am more comfortable with some parts of God than others. Comfort level is not a moral issue, though. It is an issue of taste. If God isn't glorified when you read Out of Ur, don't read it. But please don't presume that God can't be glorified when other people read it. I find great encouragement in the variety of voices here. Let's not silence them.

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RXP

February 02, 2006  1:09pm

I agree with Scott Ramsey- this blog, at least the comments, should be done away with. The media may not be the message, but it's impossible to ignore that it influences it strongly. The medium of blog-commenting, and internet dialogue at large, is regrettably not totally suited to Christian dialogue in my opinion. The hallmarks of blog comments (at large) are a lack of accountability, assumptions about others rather than understanding, bad faith in argument, and a tendency to aim towards point-scoring rather than truth-seeking. (I want to note here, to my conservative brethren, that I'm not a post-modern dialogue fetishist. If anything, I think we should err on the side of pointed arguments than the side of constant, never-ending committee meetings and dialogues. But, importantly, I think those arguments should be made with charity and in the spirit of love, and the fact that blog comments, as a medium, are (at best) not conducive of such is what I'm addressing.) Read any major blog where comments are allowed. It's either a bunch of me-tooisms, which are more or less pointless fan mail, or when argument does arise, it's scathing invective. The advent of blogs as a major cultural phenomenon can be fairly traced to the tidal wave of political blogs, and I think all of us, regardless of political affiliation, can recognize that we live in a toxic political culture. Since the major blogs on the web which allow comments are all political, and they set the agenda for the medium, I think we may be engaging in wishful thinking to assume that this medium is not one which contains such rather detrimental tendencies. I've been reading this one for a while, and although people new to blogs are (rightly) critical of the tenor of a lot of the comments, you should realize that this is one of the tamer comment sections, even in Christian blogs. I think, given the characteristics of the medium, it's the best it's going to get. If you think that's not good enough- and I don't- then just disable them entirely.

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Scott Ramsey

February 01, 2006  11:31am

Having followed this blog for a good while and waded through the most recent posts and comments, I think CT should do away with the blog. The potential for good is certainly there, but currently it is serving mostly to deepen the divisions that are tearing away at the church in America. I'm not sure if it can be handled another way, but I don't believe this blog is currently serving to edify the body of Christ. I love blogs and the idea of allowing everyone to engage in a conversation, but these last few posts and their comments have involved virtually no conversation and a lot of mini-lectures. I would like to think that Andrew is correct, but I can hardly bear to watch the mess that this place has been recently.

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nick

February 01, 2006  9:38am

here we ago again.

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andrew jones

February 01, 2006  7:11am

i dont know if strong censorship is a good idea - so i have to disagree with hamo and jason, both of whom are dear friends [hey look at us - from australia and england and NZ and we are all here on this blog! hamo - stop standing in front of the mirror!!!] censorship is the natural course a large organization would take but i really think a hands off approach could allow a blog like this to be self-regulated and self-corrected IN THE LONG RUN, even though it will be messy in the short term. and poetry is a great addition to the conversation.

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Nairda

January 31, 2006  10:06pm

If this forum does reflect the CHARACTER of the church today, I conclude there is a great lack of it. I can no longer make out His heart flowing and moving through the words expressed here. In individuals yes - their voices drowned out by the cacophony all around them - but the overall tone...well if I wasn't already a believer I would see nothing here to show me we're any different than what the rest of the world has to offer. I would see nothing of interest to draw me to Him and his people. And that is tragic.

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hamo

January 31, 2006  5:15pm

I agree with Jason. Why does this refer only to the commenters need to think? If the editors had taken more time to read the posts before publishing then they would have realised they were setting off a pretty big bang. I am still surprised the editors haven't taken more responsibility for the absurd and offensive content of Driscoll's post. To say it was edited because the topic wandered off topic is very hard to believe. Why not accept responsibility for the content(you are the editors right?...) and then you could even apologise... there's a novel idea! Frankly guys - read this post again and then stand in front of the mirror for a few minutes.

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