September 15, 2019

Conversation is Difficult — Let’s Do Better

Conversation is Difficult — Let’s Do Better

In his book Disagreeing Virtuously, Olli-Pekka Vainio names three specific virtues that keep communities in conversation even when they disagree: open-mindedness, humility, and courage.

• C. Christopher Smith. How the Body of Christ Talks

• • •

I’ve been getting more criticism lately about the moderation of our comment threads here at Internet Monk. This pops up occasionally, but it seems like it has been more frequent in recent days.

But in reality, it’s been like this from the start. Here are some excerpts from a post I wrote just a couple of months after Michael died, back in 2010.

Wow.

We’ve had quite a week so far here at Internet Monk. The comments have been pouring in faster than I can follow them, and I’ve had to go back and clean up several messes where people spilled venom or knocked down a wall trying to create a new corridor for the conversation.

If your comment was deleted in one of these discussions, it may have happened for one of several reasons:

  1. You were denying someone’s salvation.
  2. You were being just plain mean. Rude. Impolite. OK, a jackass.
  3. You posted a comment so extensive it broke the record for longest essay on iMonk.
  4. You got off the subject.
  5. You got caught up in a discussion that was off the subject.
  6. You got caught up in a little game of “You vs. Me” and forgot there’s a whole community involved in this discussion.
  7. You gave off the attitude that everyone else involved in the discussion was unworthy of your attention, so you shouted what to you seems obvious, rolled your eyes at being seen in the company of such ignoramuses, and stormed out again. (see #2)

I thought I’d throw out a few reminders today to help us as we listen and talk with one another.

ONE: Internet Monk is a conversation, not a church.
Some of you seem exasperated that we are not upholding a particular confession of faith here. We’re not calling certain commenters heretics. We’re allowing the “liberals” to have a voice. Gasp, even non-Christians are allowed to make points.

Friend, this is not a church. I am not your pastor. We have not entered into a covenant here. This is a conversation. Yes, we come from a distinctly Christian point of view. Yes, we talk about the Bible and theology and church and missions and following Jesus. I hope people are edified and helped. There is definitely a ministry aspect to this blog.

But it’s also a conversation blog, and a conversation is an open proposition. All are welcome. Yes, those who enter the discussion should be aware that making and defending arguments can be a rough and tumble business. But they should also expect respect. No matter what their views, they are human beings, made in God’s image, people for whom Christ died, and our neighbors.

Let’s all learn the fine art of conversation.

TWO: Internet Monk is a blog, not a free speech forum
Some of you think we’re being unfair when we edit or delete your comment or speak in a way that you think is inconsistent. I’m going to be brutally honest — what matters in the final analysis is what we who moderate the blog think about whether or not a comment is appropriate, not you.

Michael Spencer once wrote:

I do not have any commitment to absolute free speech on my blog. I have worked hard for the success I have in this medium, and I do not share it or allow others to denigrate or manipulate it. You may participate, but I do not sponsor wars, slander, threats or pointless arguments.

I’m not a perfect moderator, so if you want to accuse me of being hypocritical or inconsistent, I already agree with you and it doesn’t matter. You won’t win the comment war.

If you insist on getting your point of view heard, and are frustrated here, you are free to start your own blog. It’s easy to do, and that would give you complete freedom to set your own rules. Here, we have ours, and they’re clearly defined.

To read about us and how we operate, go the FAQ/RULES page.

THREE: Internet Monk is a trust, not my bright idea.
Even though you are hearing my voice as the main writer on this blog, I write (and solicit the contributions of others) as one entrusted with a legacy, not as one starting from scratch. That means I have a responsibility to keep the material at iMonk at a high level, and also to maintain a certain continuity with the voice and emphases of its founder, Michael Spencer, as well as to chronicle my own journey and perspectives.

Michael’s writing is why I and hundreds of thousands of you were attracted to this blog in the first place. Not only because he shared his own life with such vulnerability and grace, but also because he was willing to pick some fights, make a few enemies, and point out regularly that many of the “emperors” we are all enamored with have no clothes.

Sacred cows make great barbecue, and we’re gonna keep the cook fires burning. You are not going to like everything you read on Internet Monk. If you do, we’re not doing our job. In fact, those of us who write on IM don’t agree with each other on everything. How boring would that be?

Conclusion
So, please, stay in the conversation here at Internet Monk, and invite others to join us. We promise to do our best to keep it fresh, stimulating, thoughtful, and sometimes disturbing.

We are always open to constructive criticism and suggestions. You can contact Chaplain Mike by email through the link at the top of the page.

In general, I have always been a more lax moderator than Michael Spencer was. The main reason is simple. Michael worked at a Christian boarding school and had opportunities throughout the day to devote time to keeping up with what was happening on the site. I work full time out in the community, am on call 2-4 nights each week, have a different family situation, and therefore have much less freedom to carefully follow along with the conversation on Internet Monk.

I have also overseen the transition of this blog to a more conversation-oriented blog, with a wider berth given to the kinds of comments that might well have been deleted or even gotten commenters banned in the past. For the most part, except for off-topic material, I will only delete comments if I think they are way out of line or represent a condemning spirit, an unwillingness to engage honestly or fairly with others, or attacks that come from downright meanness.

And I definitely have my weaknesses as a moderator. In particular, I have not been as good at something I probably should work on — making sure that certain voices do not dominate the conversation or persist in trying to have the last word.

In days to come, I am going to do my best to pay more careful attention and engage more to keep conversations on topic and civil.

It is my hope that each of you who wants to participate here at Internet Monk will also take a little time to think about how you can make this conversation more vital and helpful to everyone.

The old rule applies in conversation: “Measure twice, cut once.”

Or as Eugene Peterson’s rendering of James puts it: Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger.”

Comments

  1. Burro (Mule) says

    I have a pretty thick skin, CM. Don’t gig anybody on my account, please.

  2. Susan Dumbrell says

    Hello my Companions of the Way,

    I live at the upside down part of the globe. Yes, your politics affect the rest of the world but think of us who live in the lower shadow of the globe. I for one, are really over the politics you express daily and sometimes many times a day.
    I read all the thoughts which cross our Blog.
    We support and encourage each other through the joys and darkness. We are a universal church which we express in the Blog. I have been so encouraged by many of us who listen and contribute. I have found stability in difficult times. But always the dialogue for me has been towards my God and my Saviour Jesus Christ.
    He is my rock and my Salvation. Not ………….T!!

    Let us pull ourselves out of the mire which entraps us.
    We are more that the source of perceived pain.
    Christ is our corner stone. Let us build on Him.
    The politics of the USA is not God’s Kingdom.

    We pray for you, pray for us who live in the rest of the World.

    May we all find peace from our God and with each other.
    Blessing to all from Australia,’
    Susan

    • Christiane says

      Good to hear from you, Susan. Bessings to you from our troubled land. We are America strong and we will survive the present crisis.

      You are right: ‘the politics of the USA’ is not God’s Kingdom
      and thank God for that truth!

      Wisdom

  3. …open-mindedness, humility, and courage….

    About open-mindedness, I once heard a saying that expresses how I feel: An open mind, like the digestive tract, needs to be open at both ends. I will not eat something again that I’ve already excreted.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      Also, remaining open on the top end, requires openness at the bottom end.
      Otherwise Intellectual Constipation. 🙂

  4. “in reality, it’s been like this from the start.”

    Oh yes, especially in the mid-00s, when the Truly Reformed set IMonk in their sights. Those were some very nasty comment wars, even worse than what we’ve seen here lately. Not that a little more moderation ever hurts… 😉

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      Yep. The lull of the early teens has made us all doughy.

      Aside: Where did the Truly Reformed go?

      • The fall(s) of Driscoll, MacArthur, Mahaney & Co. apparently took the wind out of their sails. They’re still out there, but mostly I think talking to themselves.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          They’re still around, trying to take over denominations by stealth (much like Stalin took over Eastern Europe after WW2).
          Wartburg Watch is keeping an eye on them.

  5. I’ve never had an issue with CM’s moderation. Sometimes the automatic filters are troublesome.

  6. I certainly read more than post. While I find most of the comments at least entertaining I would offer this opinion as a reader more that a person who post comments To some here have a little self control. I sense the Chaplin Mike is a fair, certainly decent and moral person who is open minded. As regulars some of you need to help the Chaplin by self censoring and staying on topic. I know many of you are passionate, have a message or just want to share but you must know when the post are not germane to the topic. However, I am a total free speech, free thought person also so I think the Chaplin errs on the side of freedom of speech and commenting. Again what is the original purpose of this site? Things and events change but remembering what the foundation of the site is would help. I do not get a sense that many regulars here are struggling in a void , searching for answers, they seem to have them all. I will still check in as Mike the Geologist, the articles and Chaplin Mike all are interesting. .

    • I do not get a sense that many regulars here are struggling in a void , searching for answers, they seem to have them all.

      I seem to have overlooked these regulars, and that’s very unfortunate because I’m in desperate need of some answers.

      • They say that perception is reality. My perception is that you are one of the regulars. You do not seem to be in desperate need of some answers. Sometimes you answer your own comments before anyone else does.

        This is not meant to be a criticism, just a perception.

        • When I use the reply option to my own comments, it is because I want to expand on the comment, not because I’m answering myself. I thought this was fairly obvious, and others sometimes do the same, though I likely do it more than most. I will avoid that in the future, since it seems to be confusing, and I will try to be less prolix.

          Although I’m definitely a regular, I certainly don’t think of myself as someone with all the answers, and I express uncertainty in my comments on a regular basis. I do have a lot of questions, though, about what the posts and the other commenters have to say, and like to ask them; and if something someone says does not seem to me to hold water, I question and criticize it. In this I can’t promise not to continue along the same track in the future, because there would be no point in being here if I stopped.

        • Christiane says

          I like how Robert works out his thinking here. I don’t see how he writes as something that is a problem or needs to be ‘corrected’, I think that he has ‘a voice’ and uses it and is understandable, and he is not one to discourage others. Quite the opposite. Robert F is a positive and thoughtful voice in my opinion, yes.

  7. To me it feels like, in recent years, commenters have succeeded in scaring IM away from even *looking* at certain sacred cows, let alone barbecuing them. IM articles these days deal mostly with issues around how we read the Bible, how science and religion relate, and how we navigate growth and change in the life of faith – all super important issues.

    But, in the meantime US evangelicalism is in crisis and rapidly losing young people because of its defense of white supremacy, the “boys will be boys” attitude, gun worship, and the idolatry of the culture war. All those things get alluded to in comments, but rarely in the main articles. There’s no one guiding the conversation and proposing in-depth ways of unpacking those issues theologically and sociologically, so all we end up with is little salvos of comments from one side or the other but rarely any meaty conversation.

    • Michael Z, the crises in U.S. evangelicalism are real and troubling to me. Unfortunately, they are all wrapped up in politics these days, making the ecclesiastical issues that Michael and I were more focused upon seem like nothing. I was never much of a politico, and rarely felt any passion about political issues until the rise of Trumpism.

      But to be honest, trying to say anything publicly about this on this blog makes me feel like I’m about to tackle a hornet’s nest and do little more than contribute to the chaos that is all around us these days. And you’ve seen what happens in the comment section whenever he who shall not be named or any of the issues related to him are brought up. It becomes more than a full time job just to stop the bar fights from breaking out.

      So I’ve wavered between criticizing certain way beyond the bounds situations regarding evangelicals (Franklin Graham or Falwell Jr. or Jeffress for example) and just trying to provide a place of respite from all the noise.

      I’ve even thought about starting another blog just to deal with evangelicals and the culture war and Trumpism, but if I can’t keep up with things around here, how am I going to add something else?

      When you add to the mix that DT seems to delight in continually throwing things out there just to create chaos and spark outrage as a strategy for keeping us all off balance, I’m not sure I want to fall into that trap.

      Am I making sense here?

      • Perfect sense.

      • “ I was never much of a politico, and rarely felt any passion about political issues until the rise of Trumpism.”
        Replicates my experience. Never felt that my participation in the political process ever remotely approached something like indispensability but now, while my participation could be classified as a dripping spigot in the Chesapeake Bay, it has become compulsory for me to speak up, sign on line petitions (which I would Never do), vote for Democrats (which I would Never do) in local elections ( (which I never cared about and still pretty much don’t ) and generally engage in political discourse. The politics of our day are an expression of an archetypal uprise in the collective psyche and we are being swept along by it as much as we are participating in it. It is both the result of an era and the birth of an era. There is nothing random or accidental about it. In that light the conversation is unavoidable. Like Shaq (Shaquille O’Neal) in his prime, you can’t stop it. You can only hope to contain it. I’m becoming more convinced every day that we are only at the beginning of a global upheaval that will require considerably more of every open heart and mind to find the light which will seem more and more diffused. Sounds melodramatic I know but there it is.

        • –> “Like Shaq (Shaquille O’Neal) in his prime, you can’t stop it. You can only hope to contain it.”

          It was called, “Hack a Shaq.”

          😉

        • –> “I’m becoming more convinced every day that we are only at the beginning of a global upheaval that will require considerably more of every open heart and mind to find the light which will seem more and more diffused. Sounds melodramatic I know but there it is.”

          It does sound melodramatic, but I think most of us here at iMonk agree with it. And we desperately hope it isn’t true.

          Lord, please have mercy.

          • I just finished rereading a book called The Apocalypse Archetype by Edward Edinger. The book is just over 20 years old. It is a look the book of Revelation from a strictly psychological point of view. Apocalypse of course means, “revelation”. The nature of any giant revelation is, as we say, “earth shattering”. The scary thing is that while he gives little credence to fundamentalist literalism and sees from an utterly different point of view, he comes to similar dire conclusions. The only hope he offers is the possibility that some things could be mitigated if enough people awake to what is happening and why it is happening. By seeing it and incorporating it we change it. We bring it to the light and it becomes light. Not being a literalist he does not see these things as a fait accompli but it’s unsettling how little chance he sees for avoiding a bloody cataclysm. Again, that was written twenty years ago.

      • Christiane says

        + 1

    • Richard Hershberger says

      “But, in the meantime US evangelicalism is in crisis and rapidly losing young people because …”

      I am not and have never been an Evangelical. I observe the crisis from the outside. If young people want nothing to do with Evangelicalism, I can only nod in agreement. It never tempted me in the least. My concern, however, is for Christendom in the larger sense. I frequently see people describe the qualities they want, but cannot find in a church, describing what many mainlines have to offer. It is not infrequent that a comment to this effect is dismissed. Evangelical churches have put a lot of effort into marginalizing mainlines. Being told that mine is an “apostate church” is one of the more polite things I have seen. Evangelicals have so internalized this that even as they outgrow Evangelicalism, a mainline church remains unthinkable. What is left? My guess is that the most common result is sleeping in on Sunday, then going out for brunch. I don’t worry for Evangelicalism, but I worry a great deal for Christianity.

      • Hear, hear.

      • Good post. Thanks for your thoughts/insight.

      • Dave Greene says

        “But, in the meantime US evangelicalism is in crisis and rapidly losing young people because …”

        I am beginning to see this as a good thing, both for the nation and maybe for Christianity as well.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        Have you listened to the Vox podcast interviewing Skye Jethani on the “future of the church”?

        https://soundcloud.com/thevoxpodcast/200-the-future-of-the-american-church-with-skye-jethani

        I feel it would be interesting from your position; he feels that the Mainlines have won, without knowing it. Which is an interesting idea.

        • I just now listened to it. I’m not much impressed. I went in knowing nothing about either guy. As soon as they started talking about mainlines it was immediately obvious that they have no mainline background or practical knowledge. The bit about the mainlines having won is a cartoon understanding of mainlines: we love gay marriage, so if Evangelicals accept gay marriage, they will have become mainlines.

          There also is a lot of both-sides-do-it. We are assured that there is even now the rise of a liberal fundamental church. I honestly don’t know what they mean by this. Later on, there is a discussion of how modern political campaigns no longer try to capture the center, but rather try to freak their base out. The example of how a Democrat freaks his base out is to talk about racism. So I ask: Are you saying that racism isn’t really a thing? Or that yes, it is a thing, but we should all chill?

          This is self-satisfied self-identified centrism: assume both sides are extremists and split the difference. If called upon to divide four cookies between Johnny and Bobbie; and Johnny asks for two while Bobby asks for all four, they give Johnny one and Bobby three, and congratulate themselves on how reasonably they solved the problem. feh.

          We are all on our journeys. I suspect these guys aren’t now where they were at the beginning. Perhaps they are still trekking along.

  8. I used to be an everyday participant and have been for the past week or two but I took off for about a year sometime back and now tend to pop in and out. Unfamiliarity helps with objectivity. Not knowing someone’s general stance makes it possible to see a comment with an unbiased perspective. On the other hand it also makes it possible to get sucked into their web of misdirection, if they are so inclined, unbeknownst to oneself. That’s no big deal because it’s rare and if it does happen somebody else points it out. Meantime things are fairly tension free.

  9. Random idea: I wonder if there would be any way to have blog posts that are, themselves, conversations (either interview-style or an edited conversation between two people coming from different backgrounds or viewpoints) to try to model what those difficult conversations might look like.

    • Patheos and Jesus Creed provide advice on the better ‘conversations’ on their sites. Take a look!

  10. Thanks for the post, CM.
    For me too little , too late. I agree with randy says’ quote that Robert F reposted.

    This used to be a place of great conversation, I learned so much, was exposed to new thoughts, ideas, etc., loved the book, movie, sermon, YouTube recommendations…all helped on my journey.

    But I decided over a week ago that I will check I on occasion, this is no longer a place that is safe, cordial, listening, but rather ‘I’m right, and let me tell you about it’ mentality. Plus, ‘how many ideas and people of all religious and political persuasions can I bash?’

    Posters have been rude and arrogant, I find that I have no place for that in my life; as I posted a while back, that doesn’t appear, at least to me, to be reflecting a Jesus-shaped spirituality.

    I’ve recommended this blog to so many over the years, but no more.

    I’m certainly NOT pretending I’m above the fray or I’m better than the other posters here, just that it is no longer safe. It has so bothered me the way posters treated other posters. We’re all adults, but certainly not acting (ok, posting) as if that were the case.

    CM, as your title says…conversation is difficult.

    I have enough of that in other areas of my life, don’t need or want more.

    I’m not angry, I’m sad. And yes, I’ll continue to read as is possible, just not religiously.

    So appreciate you addressing this.

  11. “We’re allowing the “liberals” to have a voice.”

    How far the pendulum seems to have swung. Please do the same for the “conservatives”….

    • I find this criticism confusing. Are you saying that this site is actively suppressing “conservative” voices? Don’t you feel free to post your opinions? Or does “having a voice” mean being able to post without any criticism of your point of view?

      Could you explain how you would like this forum to be different than it is now? I’m truly interested.

      • Klasie Kraalogies says

        Indeed. All sorts of voices are here – including mine, the president atheist (former Believer). What is sometimes censored is not position, but anger, insult and hate. If one is challenged , that is not censure, that is communication and debate. And if one’s POV is out there, you may find yourself challenged by a lot of people. That is not a mob. That is being challenged by a lot of people. It is not oppression.

        Persecution complexes are not becoming.

      • Christiane says

        People want certain ‘voices’ curbed and mine is one of them, but I must confess I don’t think I could do that in all conscience and I am guilty of SCREAMING my truth sometimes when I see children suffering and I know this;
        so I am willing to be put into moderation and not to be offended by that,
        and I am willing to be banned and to not be offended by that also . . . . but when someone from the extreme far right wants to ‘silence’ people, to shame them, to belittle them, and their targets are speaking out for others who have been oppressed,
        I have problem with that.

        So, there will be times I may be SCREAMING. I don’t mean any harm, it’s just an overflow of heartbreak and not intended to be trouble.
        I trust Chaplain Mike’s supervision of this blog to put me in my place as needed, and I wish for no one’s voice on the extreme far right to be silenced, as that is not something I would wish for myself or any soul while we humans upon honor and conscience, MUST speak out for others who are being persecuted

        so sorry to have been trouble, yes

        • Christiane, I’ve never once heard you call for the silencing or curbing of a commenter’s voice here, no matter how much you disagreed with their POV. That redounds to your credit, and I hope others would repay you in kind.

          • +1.

            And my comment to you yesterday was more of a caution to avoid responding to posts with a one-note response. There’s a danger in becoming like Steve Martin (our way-back frequent poster, not the comedian) who seemingly responded to everyone’s comments with (paraphrased) “The blood of Christ solves everything.”

            You are a very kind, generous person, Christiane. Never lose sight of who you are at heart.

            • –> “And my comment to you yesterday…”

              That was intended for Christiane, not Robert F.

            • Adam Tauno Williams says

              It is actually one of the Best things about IM, IMO. I do feel like I, in some fashion, know many of the others who have been wandering in and out of here for years. And occasionally friends need to nudge each other. I feel I’ve been nudged and nungee from and to many; I suppose from a greater distant that can seem more combative than it [I believe] is. I’d be thrilled to have a beer with just about everyone who writes and comments here.

              The distance between IM and somewhere like RNS, in terms of reader interaction, is night and day. There is no mistaking one for the other.

              Sometimes a comment-edit or comment-delete option would be much appreciated.

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says

              (our way-back frequent poster, not the comedian) who seemingly responded to everyone’s comments with (paraphrased) “The blood of Christ solves everything.”

              Don’t forget his “Preach Law to Convict, then offer Grace” MP3 loop.

      • (My original post of this might have gotten lost in the ether, so forgive me if it gets found and becomes a double-post.)

        I won’t answer for rhymes, but I’ll give you my interpretation/viewpoint.

        The rallying points at iMonk are centered more around liberal opinions than conservative ones, which leads some of the readership to feel disenfranchised.

        I think that’s a fair assessment, but it probably shouldn’t be too surprising given that most of the traffic here leans left-of-center.

        • But I think conservative commenters here also believe that CM is using a double-standard favoring liberal voices in moderating, letting liberals get away with too much, and curbing conservatives unfairly. I think they’re wrong, but I believe that’s what they think.

          • I believe your answer illustrates the issue at hand. “They’re wrong to feel that way” doesn’t show much desire to understand those who don’t see things as you do.

            • Are you saying that it’s not okay to disagree, or are you criticizing the way I’m wording disagreement? I don’t understand.

              • “I can see how they might feel that way” is the best way to show an understanding of the issue.

                • Ok, I can understand that. But then, is disagreement okay as well?

                  • If you ever figure that out, please share it with me. I could use the answer to help me in disagreements with my spouse!

                    • If I could figure that out, I’d send you a complimentary copy of the book that I would make 100s of millions for writing — autographed with a special inscription just for you.

                    • Better yet, one to read, and one sealed and in mint condition as a collector’s edition.

                • Klasie Kraalogies says

                  Except I can’t see it. I really, really can’t. Would love some examples of what they see as justifying them feeling that way.

                  • Well, I know some think that I should be reined in, that CM lets me run on too long a leash. That’s not even necessarily mostly about politics, but other matters. I think there are several other regular commenters they think are given too much leeway as well, perhaps in a more political direction.

            • I thought that the entire first part of my comment was expressing what I thought was understanding how they might view things. No? It didn’t do that?

              • You know what? Upon reading it again, you’re right. I let the second part of your comment sway the flavor of the first part. My bad. Thanks for conversing with me, Robert F!

                • If the second part of what I said was what stuck with you, it must be because I put too much emphasis on it when I wrote the comment. I’ll try to not be so emphatic about the critical part when my overall goal is to express understanding, to the degree that I can.

            • If one feels bad that one’s position is critiqued as wrong, that is understandable. But that in no way is any indication about whether your position IS actually wrong. And to insist that things not be argued over to preserve one side’s feelings is essentially shutting down the conversation.

        • They also seem to think it was different when Michael Spencer was the boss, and yearn for a return to his way of moderating.

          • Times were different then too. The shifts that Michael was chronicling hadn’t come to full fruition yet. But they have now, and the results are obvious to see. In one sense, I am glad he is not around to see it. :-/

    • Where are the real ‘conservatives’ these days? The ones for whom balanced budgets made sense. The ones who prized the division of powers as outlined in the US Constitution? The ones for whom honorable behavior was a hallmark of being an American in this world?

  12. senecagriggs says

    “But, in the meantime US evangelicalism is in crisis and rapidly losing young people because of its defense of white supremacy, the “boys will be boys” attitude, gun worship, and the idolatry of the culture war. ”
    __________

    I would, as a very active Evangelical, politely disagree with the above statement.

    • This is off point and would lead us down a rabbit trail, Seneca. Please respond to the post itself.

    • I would, as a very active non-Evangelical, also politely disagree with the above statement.

      Polls consistently show that the reason the young folks are leaving the church is that they don’t believe the doctrines anymore. Now that doesn’t mean that these cultural issues don’t matter; they certainly do, but you’ve got a lot of folks running around thinking all they need to do is come up with a plan to draw the youth back. The hardcore folks double down and just drive the process faster, and the “liberals” are obsessed with finding out just what they’re doing wrong.

      Times are changing. A certain aspect of our religious culture is dying, and not going quietly. But it is dying. The Church will have to learn to live in a strange new world. A world in which they have to compete with newer angrier voices. Can the church survive without being culturally privileged in some way? What happens when it becomes a minority opinion?

      Let’s talk about those things too.

      • Christiane says

        thank you, Stephen 🙂

      • I would go a step further and say that the face of God is changing and young people are typically the first to herald such a monumental thing. Joseph and Mary are good examples. I think a sea change is occurring and young people are looking for what is real. They are, being young, susceptible to many errors but if they are leaving it is for a reason and the adults must begin to look deeper.

        • Christiane says

          the authentic Christianity the young are seeking will be
          “as powerful as the earthquake that opened St. Paul’s prison gates in Greece”

          2 Timothy 1:7
          ‘For God has not given us a spirit of fear,
          but of power and of love’

          maybe it is not so bad that the young walk away from any faith community that remains silent in the face of suffering ?

    • Those on the inside are usually the last to know. Ask the frog in the pot.

  13. Klasie Kraalogies says

    Another comment: Chaplain Mike runs this blog. He tries his best. His not perfect. Stop moaning and complaining. He is doing a stellar job under the circumstances.

    Bravo Mike! I really mean it.

  14. In the fifties and sixties we often drove from our home in Arkansas to Michigan where our grandparents lived. A large fraction of the trip Dad would have the radio on WOWO of Ft Wayne. I have fuzzy memories of pop music, news and interesting discussions. Don’t remember the details but the thought of it gives me a warm feeling and positive nostalgia.

  15. Oops. Meant this for Saturday’s Brunch