The New Christians

The New Christians

The Limits of Blogging

Andrew Sullivan posted a graf from Alan Jacobs in which Jacobs argues that the “architecture” of blogs makes it impossible to honestly converse about important and weighty matters, like the existence of God.  This question is particularly compelling for this blog, since we’re tackling Original Sin, same sex marriage, and the like.


Blog posts are just too short to deal with the Big Issues, and too
likely to be fired off in short order, with minimal reflection and no
pre-post feedback from wiser and cooler heads.



No one’s going to resolve these questions today any more than at any
previous point in human history. But I worry about these questions
being relegated to professional theologians or free-for-all comments
section spats. A little dorm room conversation in one’s later years is
worth doing – and blogs, if they’re edited and curated well, can help.

N.b., Andrew does not allow comments on his blog.

So, what do you think?

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posted February 14, 2009 at 12:55 pm

I would say that any channel of communication, -to the exclusion of all other channels- is bad. Only reading books is bad – no dialog. Only reading blogs is bad – no reflection. Only dorm room/dinner party conversation is bad – too casual. Only classroom discussion is bad – too isolated. Only preaching is bad – no discourse.
Blogs can play a role, but not The Role.

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posted February 14, 2009 at 12:59 pm

Blogs and comments are a different way of conversing. It’s a new thing. The social protocals are yet emerging. Where is this leading? Nobody knows. Are conversations always constructive, fair, and open? Not on blogs, in congregations, or around family tables. We all have passions, agendas, sensitive areas, etc. The important thing here is that we try to “dialogue” our way into the future, albeit imperfectly. And I believe that blogs and comments allow more people to contribute to that dialogue. They’re radically inclusive. That’s what makes it beautiful – and messy. But who says messy can’t be beautiful?

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posted February 14, 2009 at 1:39 pm

Blogs are a limited medium – as is any medium – and I wonder if Jacobs and Sullivan are expecting too much of the blog format.
Most forms of provocative discussion begin with some sort of thesis presented by a writer/presenter, be it on an op-ed page, a blog post, a journal, a book, a magazine, or thesis nailed to a church door. Feedback and discussion ensue, in a variety of organized or unorganized manners, in ways that are recorded and in ways that are not recorded, in ways that are refined and in ways that are unrefined. So? What’s the problem?
If a blog post and comment field rants get someone thinking about a topic, which leads them to an article or a book and greater discernment about the great issues of our time . . . wonderful! The problem, as jhimm above writes, is when our only source for opinion and information is the blogosphere.

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Darren King

posted February 14, 2009 at 7:57 pm

Over time I have grown a little frustrated with the limitations of certain kinds of dialogues being held in a blog-environment.
1.) Often you get a couple loud-mouths on either side of a hot-button issue who tend to outshout everyone else – often by the sheer number or sheer intensity of their posts.
2.) There are often very few rules of discourse set.
3.) One can only moderate the dialogue – after the fact – unless one tries to pre-approve every post before it gets posted – which gets time-consuming and takes away from the spontaneous nature of the conversation.
4.) Often style takes precedence over substance. There is a certain art to quickly posting a one-liner or two to humiliate the “other side”. And perhaps we can give style points to a well-crafted, zinger of a post. But what often falls by the wayside in the process is a robust, nuanced debate where people can respond in moderation.
And, lest we forget, their is a greatly-underestimated value to the self-editing tool of having another human actually sitting across from you when you respond to them.

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posted February 15, 2009 at 4:02 am

Hi. I am due to write a short pseudo-scholarly (if that makes sense) paper on blogging for a denominational publication and your post seems really timely as an input to the questions of blogging ethics and etiquette. May I have permission to cite this post?

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