January 16, 2021

Open Mic

Saturday the Last — Open Mic

This is our final Saturday post on Internet Monk, and I thought we should give this one to the community of commenters that has made IM so rich over the years.

So, the mic is open. Let us hear what Internet Monk has meant to you over the years. That’s the sole subject for today.

As for my contribution, I’ll let Bruce Cockburn put it into words and music for me.


  1. Thank you to everyone who contributes to this site. I discovered internet monk in the early 2000s and was blessed by hearing someone asking some of the same questions about evangelical Christianity that I was having. I don’t think it is an understatement to say that Michael’s writings saved my faith at the time. Thank you so much everyone who has written here. This site going away will leave a huge hole for me.

    I know there is just one week left so it is probably too late to make requests, but CM (or any commenters) could you please share some of your experiences experiencing God? I am not in a good place and am very worried about my family and its future. I need to hear of people encountering the supernatural. I want to know that such things occur and I am not just making Pascal’s wager when I try to continue in faith.

    Anyways, thank you again for keeping this place running for so long after Michael’s death. May God bless you all and protect you in the year to come.

  2. I found this place c. 2006 and have been a regular reader since then. I’m not a Christian in the accepted sense, but I have found like minds here, thought-provoking and sometimes deeply moving posts and good debate. I would like to thank all the writers and contributors over the years and of course the regular commenters who now feel like a virtual family even though I rarely take part in the debates myself. A special mention, of course, to Michael Spencer and to Chaplain Mike; I don’t really have the words to convey how much I’ve learned from each. Blessings to everyone as we all go forward from here.

  3. Yesterday morning I opened the site expecting to enjoy a blow-out Brunch, but instead was the Open Mic–which is ok and a fitting time for us to give appreciation to Michael Spencer, Mike Mercer, Mike Bell, Mike McH, (long line of Mikes there), Jeff Dunn, Daniel Jepsen, Damaris Zehner, Rob Grayson—and at least several other article contributors whom I don’t remember. Thank you to all.

    I also understand that Daniel Jepsen has been a significant helper in keeping this site functional–thank you brother.

    Thank you Mike Mercer for keeping the vision alive these past 10 years. I know it has been a labor of love, yet I’m sure it has cost you in many ways untold.

    I was brought to this site by a younger friend who was into the New Monasticism several years before MS’s death. He would be surprised to know how well I “stuck.” At the time we were hosting a house church than usually had 15-20 who regularly gathered and kept in close contact with each other. Some of us had more than once been “let down” by the Religious Business Clubs, and, in my families instance our wonderful RBC congregation had been “dissolved” upon the advice of an “apostle” who had been invited in to confer with the elders. (I need to write a small book on our negative experiences with church from 1998-2004.)

    I likely listened to all of Michael’s Coffee Cup Apologetics–and are likely downloaded on my 3rd old laptop.

    Michael was a reasoned voice in the midst of all the insanity that regular American Christendom was.

    I have loved the virtual meetings with so many of you. I will miss our regular comment shows ;o) Yous and I have changed a lot over the past 15 years or so; I see it in you and I feel it in me. Thank you for allowing me to grow in your presence.

    Tom Christian
    Kingsport, TN

  4. I learned about IM through TGC late 2010 and have been a daily reader since then. IM has provided a safe place to expand my worldview and faith. A big thanks to the various contributors who wrote and all the commentators, the discussions increased my learning and opened my thinking to perspectives. I will forever be grateful and plan to re-visit to reread various subjects. I will miss IM and all the wonderful folks who have enriched my life.
    Grace, peace and smiles to all.

  5. Eckhart Trolle says

    I’m your troll. I’ve posted under a number of names, but “Eckhart Trolle” was probably the funniest. (Either that or Goatse McGoatface.) Sometimes I posted genuine comments, sometimes I was just “stirring stuff up.”

    I discovered the site back when Spencer’s “Coming Evangelical Collapse” article got published in the Christian Science Monitor. His thesis came as a pleasant thought, although I remained unconvinced. Anyway, his article led me to his blog, which as I recall carried a somewhat longer version of the article. Spencer’s basic agenda seemed to involve a reformation of US evangelicalism, or failing that, waiting for some new, more authentic form of it to arise in “the evangelical wilderness.”

    I disapproved. To me, the version of Christianity pushed by Spencer was hardly much of an improvement over the forms he was criticizing, whether in terms of social issues (such as gays) or biblical interpretation (he attracted the sort of person who preferred N.T. Wright or Ben Witherington over John Meier or Raymond Brown). Maybe he was like Gorbachev, trying to save Communism while it was collapsing all around him. From a certain point of view, moderates are part of the problem–they give evil social systems a chance to adapt and avoid destruction.

    I got the idea that what Spencer, and most of his commenters, were aiming for would look a lot like one of the mainline Protestant denominations (hence the talk of reclaiming liturgy), or perhaps some sort of “ancient future” blend (encouraged, I suppose, by the presence of Catholic and Orthodox posters). While the overall message remained somewhat amorphous, Spencer curated it very carefully. He had nothing but contempt for the Ethiopian church, for instance, or for Swedenborgianism. Whole swathes of Christianity got ignored (Quakers, UUs), or commandeered into the “ancient future” project (Catholics and non-Ethiopian Orthodox).

    And while some forms of skepticism were encouraged (e.g. against YEC or pre-millennialism), others were not even voiced, and even the former tended to be received with undue reverence. This was dishonesty, I felt, little different from the types of dishonesty practiced by your average mega-church. (Realizing that it must be strange to hear a troll invoking honesty!) It is much as though refugees from the Flat Earth movement, realizing the dishonesty of some of their leaders, had decided to think things over, but without really re-examining any of their most basic assumptions. Perhaps they missed the community aspect.

    Spencer, I felt, did not deserve any kind of following, nor did he deserve to be remembered and promoted after his death, e.g. by publishing posthumous books adapted from his sermons (and marketed through traditional “Christian” outlets). So I trolled, hoping to frustrate your projects in some small way. Also, the Saturday blogposts were funny.

    And now you are disappearing. Oh, I realize you have a Facebook page somewhere, and that some of you are working on Spencer’s Markan commentary, but the blog will apparently be gone soon. So…victory?

    Vade in pacem.

    • “I didn’t like it so I tried to ruin it.”

      You should run for president bro. That ticket gets a lot of support these days.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says

      Ooohhh how clever of you!

      In actual fact, people like CM have real lives and can decide for themselves what they spend their time on. The fa t that you want to run around pissing on another’s grave makes you a really sad little shit. And yes, I am more than comfortable saying that. I am the local atheist and these are my friends you are bleating about. Piss off to the the dump from whence you came.

    • I let this post stand because it shows the kind of environment Michael and the other authors posted in. The vast majority of our commenters have been honest, truthful, and good-hearted participants in conversation. But we had to be on guard regularly for trolls and others who chimed in just to be hateful or disruptive.

      Don’t take this troll seriously. Just remember that this cyberworld is a mixed bag that requires constant vigilance to promote truth and goodwill.

  6. I encountered Internet Monk when Michael Spencer was writing, at a time when I was experiencing increased doubt about Christianity and moving away from some evangelical beliefs. Although my background didn’t have the strong politicization or circus-like quality of some, I eventually felt like I couldn’t stay. This site has been a source of encouragement (and some laughs on Saturdays) for me for years, and I’ll miss it. Thank you to everyone that has written here, and God bless you in all that you do.

  7. Marv, the old warrior no more says

    I began my online “friendship” with Michael Spencer. We shared a common heritage when I was staff manager of a conservative baptist university and Michael was teacher of a like minded religious fundamental secondary school.

    We traded observations, intuitions, insights, and hard earned wisdom, by private e-mail, from time to time. Like many others I too felt loss at this passing from this life.

    Yet, as much as I value all those nuggets of wisdom, from Internet Monk and all its authors and readers, I sense that Chaplain Mike is making a timely decision closing active discussion on this site.

    A friend, neighbor and personal trainer, whom I greatly respect, summed it best.

    “The enemies of existence, whatever form they had assumed, are quietly recognized as the teachers of the greatest lesson of the warrior’s life. Peace gradually replaces the need for further testing. The sword is replaced with the poet’s brush, and the fighter evolves into the philosopher. Such an advancement of the heart is the true and ultimate reward of the warrior’s quest for enlightenment.”

    May the peace of Christ be the legacy Mike Spencer, Chaplain Mike, and all others, on this site.

  8. When I returned to my faith in 2014, I somehow found my way to this site. It helped me tremendously in deconstructing what I believe and gave me new perspectives. Thank you CM and all who contributed and posted your thoughts. It definitely has made a difference in my faith. Peace to all.

  9. Still nothing from Adam??

  10. Thank you Daniel Jepsen and CM for Saturday laughs. I wondered here off the street and it’s been a lifeline. Hardly comment but loved reading the comments. Thank you all.

  11. I somehow found this blog back in 2006.

    In other comment threads, at other times, I’ve said how much the folks here have meant to me over the years. In 2006, i was in full detox mode, but now…. I’m in a different place, thanks in no small part to so many of you.

    It’s hard to contemplate the loss of contact and the dissolution of the community here. Many of us, i suspect, have come here in great need, and eventually we (i hope) began to be here for others who were/are in great need.

    I wish we could have a big party or picnic when the pandemic subsides. I would like to meet you folks, which is a rare thing for online groups.

    This is admittedly a strange time for me, having just lost my mom and having no more obligation to care for her in whatever way i could. It’s freeing, yet very sad. Am still not sure what my plans will be for the coming years.

    It feels strange that you folks won’t be here anymore.

    OK, not able to think much about that ATM.

    I will miss all of you.

  12. I came across Internet Monk in 2005, when I threw myself into volunteering for a young adult ministry, and started searching for ideas. Apparently Michael Spencer’s work as a teacher at a Kentucky pushed this up in Google’s algorithm. Though it wasn’t what I was searching for, it was definitely what I needed. Michael wrote with force, wit, and honesty, and it was refreshing to my soul. It was a bummer that he was getting flamed by the “Pyromaniacs”, though that seems tame compared to social media these days.

    I appreciated Chaplain Mike keeping the site going all these years. I especially valued his posts on end of life care, and I bought several of CM’s books for friends who were dealing with elderly parents and hospice.

    In the last 10 years, the site changed along with the interests of its contributors and readers. To be honest, some of the criticism of the evangelical movement reminded me of the teenager who is embarrassed and mortified by everything their parents do, and wishing they were born into a different family. I certainly think there are a lot of fair targets for critique there, but that aspect got tiresome for me, and over time I found myself visiting less often.
    Still there have been many great insights and content, and I appreciate the incredible amount of labor that went into keeping it going. I guess everything has a season, and I thank you all for the blessing this has been.

  13. Thank you, Chaplain Mike, for the incredible amount of work you have done all these years in writing and managing this forum for Christian reflection. This blog has been a regular, usually daily stop in my internet wandering. I found the blog when a friend told me of the writings of the great Michael Spencer, about four years before his passing, a loss I feel to this day.

    As a long time lurker who rarely commented, I will miss this site more than I can say. I will especially miss the writing of Chaplain Mike, particularly on grief, Mike the Geologist, Daniel Jepsen’s Saturday compilations and the observations of a host of commentators including Dana and Rick Ro. I will particularly miss Robert F, who has touched me thru his poetry and his witness to faith in the face of anxiety, loss, self-doubt, and loneliness. I resonate with some of his theological reflections, and am grateful for his writing, despite our political differences.

    Grace and peace to Chaplain Mike and to all who have written and commented here. Blessings and a heartfelt thanks. You will be missed.

  14. Not sure I have anything extra to add that everything that has already been said here, or that I’ve said previously.

    I can’t count the number of times I have excitedly shared links to posts here with friends or family. Living in Europe, it is kind of strange to find that only now are topics arising that were being broached here more than a decade ago, it’s slightly surreal.

    I also appreciate all the people who have contributed in comments. The haiku exchanges. The vulnerability and doubts.

    Not sure where I – or we – will wander to next. This was/is a very special and unique ‘community’. It would have been nice to meet some of you for real.

    I guess we’ll all just have to head for the iMonk booth when we get to heaven.

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