December 2, 2020

A Few Reminders (to keep the place from burning down)

By Chaplain Mike


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.

* A special “Thanks” to our Episcopal and Anglican friends, who helped us understand the conflict in their Communion through the eyes of those in its midst.

Back to the subject of comments—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)

Guess what? The week is not over, and some of the upcoming posts may spark even more spirited debate. So, I thought I’d better take preemptive action and throw out a few reminders 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 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, not only in a general sense, to keep the material at iMonk at a high level, but also to maintain a certain continuity with the voice and emphases of its founder, Michael Spencer.

His writing is why I and hundreds of thousands of you were attracted to this blog in the first place. Not only because Michael 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 Bar-B-Q, 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 always agree with each other on everything. How boring would that be?

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 Jeff and Chaplain Mike by email through the links at the top of the page.


  1. getting reminded of the rules of the house, from time to time, is a great and necessary idea

    keep at it
    and THANKS


  2. Chaplain Mike (or maybe Michael Bell?) – just out of curiosity, what have been the subjects of the all-time top 10 iMonk posts, as ranked solely by of sheer quantity of our comments?

    • Steve, I will look into that–but it may take a while. You can email me directly to remind me if you have not heard from me in a few weeks on this.

      Good question…

    • As someone who started reading here about 3 years ago when a big number of comments was around 40, I think the biggest collections of comments have come from YEC discussions. And if one of these doesn’t hold the record I’ll bet that the YEC discussions in total have the largest collection of comments.

      • David,

        As one who has been around about the same length of time or slightly longer, I suspect that you are right.

        Another large group of comments would come where Micheal was seeking explanations about Catholicism. At times, they too generated more heat than light.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Nothing packs ’em in like Evolution or Homosexuality.
        Either of those = Instant Flamewar.

        • I would speculate that’s because – for a large segment of the readers – either of those subjects inevitably touches on the issues of authority and interpretation of scripture, etc.
          In fact, the Catholicism posts probably touch on authority issues as well.

          Could it be that the authority of the scriptures our *real* hot-button issue, and the subjects of YEC, sexuality, etc. are merely the arenas in which this is played out?
          (I’m not looking for answers in this comments section, but I am hoping that some statistical analysis would shed light on the suspected underlying issue for a future post.)

          • I think I’m with you on this, Steve. In the previous post, “The Archbishop Strikes Back”, I had to hold myself back from responding; but the authority of scripture does seem to be what’s at stake within the Episcopal church, even though the ordination of gay clergy is the arena where it’s being fought.

            And I agree that it would make a great post in the future, flamewars and all.

          • I agree, Steve. Very insightful.

    • gotta be YEC;creation;ev……..I’ll betcha, though RC/EO/Protestant border wars might be second (Michael wasn’t real fond of that as I recall)

  3. You mean all this went down whilst I was away ?!?


  4. Yeah, one of my posts went away earlier today. All things considered that was probably a good thing – that particular little side-bar really needed to disappear anyway.

    Indeed, as one who moderates elsewhere I probably should have left things alone, but…(((blush)))

  5. Chaplain Mike:

    I hope you do not grow weary in well doing, managing this blog. Mike had huge shoes to fill, but you are doing great. I really appreciate all your work.

  6. I love your picture! You do a great job finding these things.

    You might want to delete this comments, since it is off-topic . . .

  7. I love you, Chaplain Mike. Keep up the good work, attempting to keep us in some kind of line. (Or at least some kind of civil meandering-about.)

    I think my biggest problem of the seven you listed is that I get off-topic.

  8. Thanks so much, Chaplain Mike.

    I have visited other religious websites/blogs, and I’m amazed at the mean-spiritedness and hatred I regularly find among supposed brothers and sisters in Christ. Then I come back to this site, and get my bearings again.

    Internetmonk is such a rare place for civilized and respectful dialogue, and I appreciate all that you do to keep it that way.

  9. In the words of Saint Bono, this is really ****ing brilliant. In fact, I plan to paste a link to this at a website where I help moderate … provided the above Mr. Mad hasn’t posted it already.

    Keep up the good work and the good fight of faith, Chaplain ol’ chap!

  10. Hey Chaplain Mike,
    You know what’s great about having a blog? You also have the delete button!! Have at it. Sometimes an abortive strike is needed. (Sorry about the “abortive”, that could start a whole new war).

  11. Yeah I was wondering whatever happened to the ‘don’t question people’s salvation’ rule. Seems like its been broken quite a bit lately. Either that or whole denominations are called Satan spawn. I’m seriously tired of seeing ‘so-called christian’ over and over and over and over.