One-Two-Three-Go!

Geoffrey, you seem to appreciate the chance to give feedback on others’ writings. It’s a shame you don’t extend that same courtesy to your readers.

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When any of you has a grievance against another, do you dare to take it to court before the unrighteous, instead of taking it before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels—to say nothing of ordinary matters? If you have ordinary cases, then, do you appoint as judges those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to decide between one believer and another, but a believer goes to court against a believer—and before unbelievers at that?

In fact, to have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud—and believers at that. – 1 Corinthians 6:1-8

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When I started poking around the Internet, nine years ago, I thought it was a great opportunity to engage in serious conversations with all sorts of people on all sorts of topics.  I envisaged writing a high-minded blog that would stimulate long conversations and debates from which all would benefit.  I insisted that discussions follow rules little different than those were we face-to-face.  It took me a couple months to realize most people, most of the time, aren’t in the least bit interested in “debate” or “discussion” on the Internet.  It’s a contest, a game with no rules except winning – kind of like Butch Cassidy’s rules for a knife fight.  It became most apparent when, in a discussion forum on Huffington Post, someone whose name I can’t recall, carried on and on about “science” disproving “religion”, to which I responded, in a rather lengthy, pedantic way, that the post itself demonstrated this person didn’t know what he was talking about when using either word.  I went on to insist on definitions, to let readers know specifically what he was talking about, and so on.  To which I received in response . . . well, the Internet equivalent of a shouting down.  Incidentally, it was also around this time that I realized I needed to ditch anonymity and my nomme de Web.  I started a new blog, using my own name, making clear who I was, giving readers the opportunity to judge for themselves if I was qualified to say what I was saying.

I still allowed comments.  From 2006 through 2013, I wrote thousands of posts.  Some had no comments at all.  Others had interesting comments.  By the end, however, I was stuck with essentially two persons whose sole desire was to argue.  One of them was really quite ignorant and stupid.  I say this out of no pride in my own intelligence and learning; it’s just an objective fact.  The other person was far more intelligent and educated at an Ivy League School, with which he would beat others as a point of some pride.  That he carried a five pound bag with ten pounds of baggage around with him, well, it was obvious to any and all but him.  My favorite example was when I made an offhand comment that Freud invented the subconscious.  My Ivy League commenter insisted he “discovered” rather than invented.  So, I turned in my library to an article Freud wrote in which he basically says he invented the notion of the subconscious in much the same way Immanuel Kant invented the “thing-in-itself”, an empty concept that served an explanatory purpose without itself being anything real.  As such, the subconscious is whatever people wish it to be, much as dark matter and dark energy in physics are current place holders for actions we do not understand and do not fit conventional theories.  Even confronted by a rather lengthy series of quotations from Freud in which he freely admits making the whole thing up, this commenter insisted, over and over, that I was wrong.

I tired of both.  When I started this new site on a new platform, my very first resolution was simple: No comments.  Like so much of the Internet (exemplified by Twitter, to which I used to belong but have since left because it is a sewer, much as the comment sections of newspaper articles are pits of despair), my comment section, when populated at all, was little more than opportunities for people to try and pick fights and engage in argument.  Coming to realize, several years before, I had no interest in debate, the best way to avoid it is not to allow space for such.  This is my choice, rooted in experience, and I stand by it for a variety of reasons.

First of all, as a Christian, I’m not the least bit interested in arguing my faith.  With anyone.  I declare my faith, profess my adherence to the Living Word, confess my faith in the Triune God, and folks can take it or leave it.  I have neither the time nor inclination to explain to those who want to pick fights why I am who I am and live as I do.  It’s no skin off my nose they disagree with me; their lack of faith and fervent belief they have a mission to tell me how wrong I am means less than nothing to me.  They certainly have the right to create their own websites or blogs and praise their own greatness, and have others join the mighty chorus of self-righteous praise.

When I write my blog posts, I’m stating what I believe and how I live.  Simple as that.  It isn’t up for discussion.  If you agree with me, that’s great.  If you don’t, that’s great, too, because Lord knows I wouldn’t want a world filled with me’s.  If someone feels a serious need to take me to task, they can write a blog post, detailing my errors, to which I am welcome to respond in one way or another.  Indeed, by and large, that’s the approach I take.  With you, Rev. Drew McIntyre, with Dr. David Watson, even with Cynthia Astle over at United Methodist Insight.  That I decided to take to the comment section of Watson’s blog and engage in a discussion, well that’s not only my prerogative; it’s a privilege he extends by including a comment section, in which his praise chorus can come along and tell him how marvelous he is, while those who seriously disagree with him are treated as unworthy of serious consideration.  He even treats serious criticism as personal attack, refusing to engage at all.  He has a single rule for comments: Agree with me, and I’ll thank you; disagree with me, and I’ll either claim your disagreement has nothing to do with my writing, or it’s a personal attack and I won’t engage at all.  And it’s his spot, he’s free to do as he wishes with his site and his comments.  I am free, however, to point this out to any curious reader.  Which, except on this rare occasion, I do here, on my own site.

As for the implication either of hypocrisy or cowardice (neither of which are original or even interesting) or whatever you might have been hinting at with that somewhat snarky comment, I would merely repeat myself: My blog, my rules.  Like a knife fight, there really aren’t any rules, which allows each of us and all of us the freedom to act according to what feels best.  If you don’t like it, well, since I do not know you, I’m not sure why you would think I care.  I certainly don’t show up in your comments telling you how wrong you are for allowing comments, nor would I ever be so presumptuous.  That you see fit to do something similar to me says far more about you than it does about my policy of not allowing comments.

As I have spent far too much time repeating myself than I ever prefer, I shall just leave with this thought.  I do you, and those with whom I disagree, the honor of taking time to write a lengthy response on my blog, which offers me the opportunity to make my own position clear, which creates a far better contrast than showing up in your comment section and typing, “You’re wrong!” in as many ways as I can imagine.  I treat you, and others, with the respect and seriousness the subject matters, if not any of the people (most especially me) deserve.  Because, you see, my operating principle is simple enough.  I don’t matter a whit.  Nor do you.  Nor does anyone else.  The subjects about which we write, however, life-and-death, and deserve to be treated with all the seriousness that entails.  I have no interest in making myself a name, a mover-and-shaker, or impress those who are (or at least think they are).  My thoughts, while certainly rooted in all that comes before, is all mine.  I take full responsibility for it, especially for the weaknesses and flaws therein.  I would far prefer folks read what I have to say, and think about what I’ve written without caring about me one whit.

So that’s my response to your comment as to why I don’t offer others the same opportunities they make, especially comment sections.  I’m not interested in an argument.  I’m not interested in being right.  I’m not interested in impressing anyone.  I’m only interested in making my position clear, hopefully stimulating thought among others.  As for the rest, it’s a game that has no rules; those who understand that win because they don’t play.  Most especially when others insist on setting arbitrary rules that can neither be enforced nor exist anywhere except within their own heads.

And you’re welcome to respond with a blog post of your own, if you wish.  If not, well, OK.

 

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About gksafford

I'm a middle-aged theologically educated clergy spouse, living in the Midwest. My children are the most important thing in my life. Right behind them and my wife is music. I'm most interested in teaching people to listen to contemporary music with ears of faith. Everything else you read on here is straw.
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