August 18, 2019

So, You Tell Me

Hi all. Your friendly neighborhood publisher here with a few questions for you. First of all, a great big “thanks” to each of you. Because of your loyalty to visit and spend time on InternetMonk, we are in the top 1000 of all blogs on the internet. That would be number 952 out of 1,256,299 blogs. Among 6,728 religious blogs, we are number six. That is incredible! And it is all thanks to you, the faithful here at the iMonastery.

Honestly, numbers like that don’t mean as much to us as each one of you do. You come here and share your hurts, your pains, your life with us. And we are very humbled indeed that you would do so. Chaplain Mike and I recently shared lunch together and one of us said—I think it was Mike, but it may have been been me; goat curry can tend to mess with one—that even though we are not getting paid for this, we would not trade what we get to do for anything. We truly are blessed to be serving you in this way.

Joe Stallard, our faithful web master, recently completed an update to the site to make it more user-friendly. The changeover went incredibly smoothly, thanks entirely to Joe. We hope you like the new format and find it helps you to get where you want to go faster and easier.

We want to hear from you how we can make the InternetMonk an even better place for you to come and visit. What are some changes/additions you would like to see? This is a chance for you to be the “program director” as it were. Well, ok, not really. But it’s a chance for you to share your thoughts and ideas. We can’t do it all, at least not right away, but we will consider all of your ideas.

I want to say once again how incredibly blessed I am to be working with the greatest writers on the planet. I get emails all the time (and I do mean that) asking for more posts from Damaris Zehner  and Lisa Dye. I would love to have a regular spot for them—we’re working on that. And as you get to know Joe Spann, Mike Bell and Adam Palmer, I’m sure you will want to hear from them more often as well. I talked yesterday with someone I am hoping will begin to contribute regularly. He will definitely stir things up.

Here are some starter questions:

  • Would you like for us to add a regular podcast or video cast? Is this something you would take advantage of if it were offered?
  • We try to post something twice a day—morning and evening. Is that good for you? Do you have time to read and digest two posts a day?
  • Are there subjects you would like to see us tackle? (I don’t tell any of the writers what to write about. They are free to take on whatever is on their hearts. But I can toss out ideas.)
  • Are book reviews helpful to you? Are there books you want us to consider reviewing?
  • Do you have any desire to meet me in person? I do travel some, and would love to have lunch or dinner with a group of iMonks when I come through your town. My next roadie will be toward the end of March. It will take me through El Paso and then on to Phoenix/Scottsdale. Spring Training baseball, anyone?  (There is a restaurant in Scottsdale right off of the 101 called White Chocolate Cafe that has the best carrots in the world. Yes, carrots.)

Finally, I want to thank those of you who have made financial contributions to us. This enables me to pay for our hosting, buy books to review, and other things. (Yes, “other things” includes taking care of our First Lady in a small way.) You can donate through the home page by using the PayPal button. It goes into the account of Electric Moon Publishing, but all goes toward this site. Thank you. I mean it. Thank you very much.

Ok. Comment away. I look forward to hearing your ideas.

Comments

  1. Forums!!!

    • Good idea. Too often a good conversation in the comments section comes to an end as other posts are placed ahead of it, and it soon gets forgotten. Forums would help keep a good conversation going. The “I’m teaching creation/evolution to church kids, please give me advice” post, for example, would be helpful to a lot of people, but in another week you’ll have to dig through the archives to get to it. If it was a forum…well I guess you’d just have to dig through the forums section instead, but hopefully it would be a bit more manageable and accessible.

    • Please! Sometimes it takes me a few days to digest what’s been said and commented in a post, and I have followup questions — but everyone else has moved on to the next new topic. A forum that would let you see posts with new activity would help greatly. On the other hand, I haven’t seen forums which look as attractive as a blog site like this.

    • As one who served as a moderator on a now-defunct forum I can tell you forums can involve a lot of work. With volunteer moderators, such as we used on the board I was on, it might be doable, but…!

    • I like the idea of forums. If it’s not feasible, maybe a sidebar list of posts hierarchically arranged with the most recently commented on at the top. At least that would let one see and maintain comment activity by revisiting.

  2. I’ll give it a try:

    “Would you like for us to add a regular podcast or video cast?”
    Not for me, thanks.

    “We try to post something twice a day—morning and evening. Is that good for you?”
    Two’s about right; sometimes one is best, but please, no more than two.

    “Do you have time to read and digest two posts a day?”
    Barely.

    “Are there subjects you would like to see us tackle?”
    I like what I’m finding here. I have no particular suggestions.

    “Are book reviews helpful to you?”
    Wildly so. I’ve learned of and bought a handful based solely on the reviews here.

    “Are there books you want us to consider reviewing? ”
    Here’s one: “The Church and Abortion: a Catholic Dissent” by George D. O’Brien. Good book.

    “Do you have any desire to meet me in person?”
    Yes, but not enough to get me up from Tucson to the Phoenix area, which stole all our spring training teams and acts like it owns the State of Arizona. Seriously, I’m grateful for the hard work that goes into this blog. You all post things here that -along with the comments – have really made me think hard about life

  3. Wow, Jeff, congratulations for being among the top blogs of the internet! It is a testimony to the great writing that you, Mike, Lisa, Damaris, Joe, Mike Bell, and Adam do. And the commenters here are wonderful.

    I know others love podcasts and videos, but for myself, I just never get around to listening to them if they are more than a couple minutes long. I can read much more quickly than I can listen.

    I do read all the posts that get posted here and MOST of the comments. It is hard to keep up with the comments because even though I have new comments on a “feed,” for some reason I only receive some of the comments there. (So, if someone made a comment that they expected me to respond to and I didn’t, that may be why.)

    I have contemplated whether it is better to have our comments the way we have them, in that we can respond to a particular comment instead of just adding the comment at the bottom of the page. The way we are doing it makes the blog easier to read in terms of following a particular discussion, but it surely is not easy to see if there are new comments that I may have missed.

    As you know, I do wish there was an edit button for our comments that lasted for around 15 minutes so we could fix it if we need to. It’s not crucial, though.

    I do like the book reviews. Keep them coming!

    I like the humorous postings too. Keep THOSE coming too! We all need a little laughter in our lives. And I hope you are OK with us going off track a bit, when we get talking about something funny in our comments when the original post was actually a “serious” one.

    Other topics? Boy, you folks cover so many. I could use a concise history of the beginning of Christianity. I want to know more about how the church came to be what it was in the first 300 years. I will read a book about it eventually (any suggestions?) but if you or one of your writers want to tackle that in a posting, that would be great.
    It’s interesting to think about what would have happened to the Church if Constantine had not made it Christianity the religion of his empire. Some folks say it would have died. Some say it would have stayed more “pure.” I don’t know.

    And I would like to meet you sometime. If you are ever coming to Maine for anything, let me know. I have fantasized about you and your writers renting an inn in Maine for a weekend and then those of us in Maine and NH could come and spend time with you. Who is from Maine here besides Ted and I? I know there was at least one other person at one time.

    • I really like the idea of an inn in Maine, Joanie–especially if it were close to Pat’s Pizza…and wash it down with some Moxie…

    • You guys are great. I don’t have to be captivated by every post to make this extremely worthwhile. God bless you.

      What are the top five religious websites/

  4. Here goes:
    1. Keep yourself and Chaplain Mike WRITING! Everything else is gravy, but the two of you write the most engaging posts

    2. Podcast: Yes, but Id have to hear it first. I LOVED Michael’s.

    3. Book Reviews: Yes

    4. Posts: 2 a day is PLENTY

  5. First of all, I love the redesign. It is much easier to scroll through and look at the most recent posts.

    While Michael’s podcasts were wonderful, I don’t really miss that feature on the blog so much. With everything on your plates, I probably wouldn’t add that to the to-do list as a regular feature. To me, the writing is much more valuable.

    Two posts a day are plenty, but I’m wondering if you ever sleep? I do miss the panel discussions that offer multiple voices/perspectives on a single topic…but that’s not a complaint, really. What is there to complain about, with so much well written, thought-provoking content????

    But if suggestions are what you want…what if you offered the occasional unstructured “open mic” to the group. It was fun to read about people’s favorite music, books, movies, etc. I would also love regular posts on books/studies/etc for small groups – bible studies or book studies, I don’t care. I lead a women’s group, and it is a pain going through the…junk…to find something worth using.

    Love the book reviews, although they feed my book-buying addiction. So I should hate them and tell you stop.

    If you’re ever traveling i-70 in Kansas, please stop in Hays. I would love to buy you a beer at our award-winning brewery.

    Thanks for everything you all do.

  6. Hi Jeff,

    Thanks for asking!

    I’m not sure I would listen to podcasts, and I have to admit I have a hard time keeping up with the two posts a day – I truly don’t know how you guys do it. Book reviews – absolutely. I just read “Not the way it’s supposed to be” by Cornelius Platinga. Loved it.

    As for topics, I would personally love an exploration of the poetic books and how they relate to our lives in Christ. And how about how to read prophecy? Not the stupid stuff like “who is the antichrist” but a real exploration of the prophetic voice and prophetic eyes looking beneath and above and beyond events.

    If you are ever in Geneva, Switzerland we will treat you to a foodfest of fondue, raclette and tartiflette … but not all at once, otherwise you’ll need your arteries cleaned out pronto!

    • mmmmm….raclette! I discovered that while living in Germany, and it has become a family tradition!

      • What is it? (Sorry to divert the thread, but I really want to know!)

        • So do I!

        • Oh, my – you poor children, you have not lived! Raclette is this really good (but kind of stinky) cheese that you slice up and put on a special raclette thingy do – basically a heating element, to get the cheese all hot and toasty with a nice crust on it. Then you let the cheese slide off its little tray and on to some waiting small boiled potatoes. You can also have thin dried ham with it, or sausages (pretty close to hot dogs). In between luscious bites, you should also eat some small pickles to digest it.

          Tartiflette is a French creation (from the French Alps) that is basically a potato casserole with cream and bacon bits with really yummy cheese on the top. People like it for apres ski, but it’s a bit heavy for me!

          With both meals, as well as fondue, one must consume ample amounts of wine, and certainly only as an aid to digestion. 🙂

          I invite you all to a Swiss culture fest (American style) if you’re in the neighborhood!

  7. Congrats on the high blog ranking! To answer your questions …

    1. Podcast: I would definitely take advantage of this. I am a long-distnace runner and listen pretty exclusively to podcasts when I run. I also loved Michael’s podcast, so I’d definitely check yours out.

    2. Posting twice a day: Honestly, I don’t usually have time to read two iMonk posts a day. This site covers relatively deep topics and the post are sometimes quite long, so I read what I can, including comments. But there are many times that I have to skip a post because I don’t have time to really read it.

    3, Subjects: I like what you’re doing now. For whatever reason, I particularly appreciate CM’s reflections on his work. I also like the occasional light-hearted post. Also–when the iMonk writers were discussing “Between Noon and Three,” I was wishing I had read the book and could join in the discussion. It might be interesting to do an iMonk “read-along,” similar to what I’ve seen on some other blogs, where a new chapter is discussed once a week.

    4. Are book reviews helpful to you? YES.

    5. Do you have any desire to meet me in person? Sure, why not. Let me know if you’re ever in the mountains of western North Carolina.

    • I’m in agreement with Nina here in regard to posting twice a day. I can’t keep up and I want to because this is such good stuff, life changing for me actually.

  8. Thanks for the awesome blog!

    Regarding suggestions, I agree with Joanie that it would be interesting to have a series on the early church (first 300 yrs). Also, I appreciate posts that deal with how we should approach the bible (especially from a post-inerrantist perspective).

    The book I’d LOVE for you to review/critique is The Human Faces of God by Thom Stark. I really, really hope that either you or Chap Monk will read and review this book.

  9. Dan Allison says

    I really like the blog just as it is. It’s good to see someone taking tough, principled positions regarding the (censored expletive) that goes in America’s churches and passes for Christianity. It’s good to have a place to express my own deep hurt and deeper outrage about it. I probably wouldn’t listen to a podcast — Michael’s accent, his folksy charm, the rhythm of his voice — would be hard to top, but if others want it, and you guys have the time, go for it. I think perhaps an occasional “feature story” about Christians who are “really” doing it right would be uplifting given the almost-universal gloom regarding America’s churches. I appreciate the book reviews and the books you guys choose to review seem right on target. Keep fighting the good fight.

  10. Isaac (the poster formerly known as Obed) says

    I’d listen to the podcast, but might not watch a video podcast. listening to stuff when I work is a big thing for me

  11. Perhaps – In addition to you, Mike, Damaris and Lisa, other people could submit posts to you and you could choose which posts to put up. Put up one post a day from the regular team, and the second would be guest posts. This might save some of you time, but maybe not the person(s) who reviews posts that have been submitted for consideration. This might broaden the range of topics.

  12. David Cornwell says

    Keep up doing the book reviews. I’ve read several on the basis of what I’ve learned here. Others are on the waiting list. I would like to see/hear podcasts; definitely interested. Prayer, spiritual formation, and the disciplines are subjects I’ve been very interested in for about a year. Some posts I just skim or skip because I’ve settled the subject in my mind and satisfaction long ago and gain nothing from further discussion. Maybe that’s having a closed mind on those subjects, not sure. However I’m glad to see even those postings, because it means other people are discussing them.

    If either of you are ever in North Indiana somewhere it would be great to meet you, coffee or lunch or whatever on me.

    This blog is some of the best writing on the internet and is a great blessing. Thanks to everyone for the thoughtful writing and discussion.

    • “This blog is some of the best writing on the internet and is a great blessing.Thanks to everyone for the thoughtful writing and discussion.”

      I can’t phrase it better than David has done, so a hearty “Amen.”

  13. I would like to see more religious diversity. The same few people post almost every time, and they all seem to be U.S. evangelical Protestants. (This despite the fact that regular posters include Catholics, Orthodox, liberals, and atheists.) I am not sure whether this is intentional, or an artifact of Spencer’s social circle. In any case, the result is a lot of talk about transcending this evangelical subculture, in favor of a wider Christian identity, but always a return the same narrow range of perspectives. The major exception is those panel-style posts (was one of them called “Liturgical Untouchables”? something like that), which seem to have languished.

    This raises the question of whether site contents ought to vet articles for theological correctness (according to the standards of the site owners), or whether it should be possible to include, for example, people like Gene Robinson.

    • David Cornwell says

      The other day when discussing the “pastor” I would liked to have heard more from the Catholic perspective. I haven’t known a lot of priests, but in one town where I pastored a church I knew two priests, one following the other. Both were exceptional men and wonderful pastors.

    • One of the unique features of this site is it’s already wide diversity within orthodox, creedal Christianity. There are plenty other places, imo, that are either much broader or much more narrow than here. Fundamentalists and Calvinist echo chambers, or Buddhists and Sufi’s together. But I don’t know anywhere where Presbyterians and Pentecostals can get together for robust discussion where we all agree on some very core issues, yet approach them from an extremely broad array of perspectives.
      Gene Robinson is considered by may to be outside of creedal orthodoxy. But remember, Chaplain Mike is an ELCA Lutheran (I believe). I am pretty sure there is at least one writer who is catholic, and Anglican authors are constantly being referenced (Mark Gali, Robert Capon). Will Wilimon one day, Thomas Merton the next.
      I don’t know that there is a broader place for Christian dialogue that can still maintain any formal sense of Christian identity. If the family becomes too broad, suddenly being a Christian starts to have no meaning.

      • We are very, very picky as to who can write for us. I have turned down two New York Times bestselling authors who submitted pieces that just didn’t fit.

        Chaplain Mike and I are overjoyed at having Lisa and Damaris write for us so often. Either one could author a book right now (I have been in the book world for some time, so I do have a bit of knowledge in that area.) The others–Mike Bell, Joe Spann, Adam Palmer–are also incredibly talented writers. And there is a good amount of diversity represented in this group.

        If it makes you feel any better, someone I have asked to consider writing for us told me yesterday he is thinking of switching churches as the one he is in now is “just too damn Evangelical.” Does that help?

    • I like hearing the Evangelical Protestant views, since this is kind of an exotic beast as regards my own experience. I would love to hear more, though, about non-American Evangelical experience – how do places such as, say, Britain cope when Americans come in and start up their own missions? Do they feel supported? Threatened? Vaguely insulted that us lot over here are not considered ‘real’ Christians unless a splinter group set up in Small Littleton, USA, some eighty years ago comes over and instructs us?

      😉

      Two posts a day are great – I like to check morning and evening.

      Book reviews? Yes! I’d like to see maybe the Liturgical Gangsters involved, or a Gangster type thing, where people review books outside their tradition (and if that means Reformed commenting on a biography of the Little Flower or Orthodox critiquing ‘Your Forty Best Days of Wealth Now Life Lessons from Habbakuk’, even better!)

      • ‘Your Forty Best Days of Wealth Now Life Lessons from Habbakuk’? Oh great, Martha. Now Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer will be racing to see who can get that one out first…

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        I would love to hear more, though, about non-American Evangelical experience – how do places such as, say, Britain cope when Americans come in and start up their own missions? Do they feel supported? Threatened? Vaguely insulted that us lot over here are not considered ‘real’ Christians unless a splinter group set up in Small Littleton, USA, some eighty years ago comes over and instructs us?

        Think of what it must mean to Palestinian Christians — who’ve probably been Christian for centuries, some even tracing back to first-century converts — when Pastor Billy-Bob’s missionaries come over to convert them! After all, they’re not American Fundagelicals so they can’t be REAL Christians, YEC Uber Alles, Pin the Tail on The Antichrist, Rapture Date du Jour, Prosperity Gospel, Culture War and all!

    • Du verstehst nicht, Werner. The blog says “post-evangelical wilderness”. It’s not a result of Spencer’s “social circle”, but of his theology.

  14. I’ve been led to actually buy some of the books reviews/referred to in the blogs–Keep pitching!
    Is there any chance the Liturgical Gangstas will ever come back? I do miss them.
    Podcasts/videocasts…maybe not so much.

  15. Yes, anything more than two posts a day will not be read by me regardless of quality. I already have a hard time keeping up and this is the only blog I read most of the time.
    PODCASTS – consider uploading sermons? Spencer did his regular podcast but he also posted his sermons, which I really enjoyed.
    There are a lot of view points represented here by the writers, readers, and commenters. How about some debates? Not just comment wars, but structured debates among the authors. One thing that brings me back here all the time is constantly being challenged by new viewpoints. Have two guest panelists go at it over some peripheral theological issue and let the readers decide who wins!

    • Like a cage match?

      • Hmmm…what would be good debate topics?

        1. Infant baptism vs older baptism
        2. Will some people be tormented in Hell for eternity?
        3. Should women be in authority over men in Church matters?
        4. Is the Bible inerrant?
        5. Should Christianity be inclusive?
        6. What happens during celebration of the Lord’s Supper (Communion, Holy Eucharist)?

        I am sure there are many others. Good night, all!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I’d like to see a revival of the Podcasts. Or at least an accessible library of “Internet Monk Classic Podcasts”.

  16. One more Mike says

    Just make sure to keep the IMonk classic posts. With the blogs growing popularity we cant forget where it started; Michael Spencer nailing up his 95 theses on the virtual door of the evangelical circus. And keep the archives up, there’s so much great stuff there.

  17. i like the effort, creativity, thought-provoking topics & resulting comments. the one on homosexuality was the one that set the bar imho. i liked the interaction of many different perspectives even if they did not come to any common agreement.

    being raised Catholic i already have enough personal experience with that faith expression to avoid anything deeper. i am not in need of looking at my Christian journey through the lens of Catholic or Eastern Orthodox worship expression. i like how Micheal already addressed the uber-charismatic/Pentecostal extremes so that aspect of crazy uncle kookiness has been identified.

    the other topic capturing my attention is the creation wars debate. science & religion always interesting material.

    other things that have not been touched on much; 1) mental illness & severe psychological problems that Christians suffer through; 2) Christian converts from other faiths, Muslim, or Jewish or Eastern religions; 3) hearing from & about Christians in other cultures; & 4) addressing some of the more scary fringe elements of Christian extremism. not as a sensationalist expose, but more of a ‘what-makes-em-tick thing & being made aware of how badly God is misrepresented by those claiming to be Christian.

    i also like the real success stories of Christians living out the gospel without the happy testimony time PR that glosses over the human element. something i can identify with as i live out my faith on the Jericho Road…

    anyway, keep up the good work…

  18. First off, hats off to Chaplain Mike, Jeff, Damaris, Lisa, and everybody else who contributes to iMonk. Y’all have done a wonderful job of keeping Michael’s conversation going. The writing, the subject matter, the genuineness; all these things, and many more, are apart of what makes me coming back to iMonk. God bless you all! Also, thanks much to Webmaster Joe. Your work on the site is invaluable. This being said, you had several questions, I believe.

    Would you like for us to add a regular podcast or video cast? Is this something you would take advantage of if it were offered?
    A: I don’t see why not. If you feel it would be worth it and you have time, go for it. I can’t promise I’d keep up with it all, though 😀

    We try to post something twice a day—morning and evening. Is that good for you? Do you have time to read and digest two posts a day?
    A: Two posts seems to be a good number to stay with. An occasional third post- like “breaking news” or something- would be fine.

    Are there subjects you would like to see us tackle? (I don’t tell any of the writers what to write about. They are free to take on whatever is on their hearts. But I can toss out ideas.)
    A: I’m game for any subject, really. Although, I second (third?) JoanieD’s suggestion about Church history. The way to move forward is to understand our roots; how much more so in the Church! Also, it would provide a great amount of background information, and perhaps help us dispel various misinformation we possess concerning certain subjects.

    Are book reviews helpful to you? Are there books you want us to consider reviewing?
    A: The book reviews are awesome. Keep’em coming!

    Do you have any desire to meet me in person? I do travel some, and would love to have lunch or dinner with a group of iMonks when I come through your town. My next roadie will be toward the end of March. It will take me through El Paso and then on to Phoenix/Scottsdale. Spring Training baseball, anyone? (There is a restaurant in Scottsdale right off of the 101 called White Chocolate Cafe that has the best carrots in the world. Yes, carrots.)
    A: That would be awesome! Whenever you drop into Phoenix, lemme know. I’m game for some talk- and that White Chocolate Cafe doesn’t sound half bad either 😀

  19. From this agnositc I take off my hat and salute both you Jeff, and CM!! (cheer goes up!!!) 😀 😀

    Can you consider these topics as future discussions..?

    1. But can a Christian be disappointed in God? Can they ever be angry at God? If not…then why? Why do Christians always attribute positive acts to God and negative acts to Satan? Why don’t they ever hold God responsible? Why don’t Christians ever get frustrated publically about God? Do they believe its a sin…and if so..is that Biblical?

    2. Can I hear your take on evil that is not the result of free will? (please elaborate, give an example)

    3. What exactly is the prosperity gospel? How would you define it? What is the difference between being blessed versus believing in the prosperity gospel?

    4. Do Christians make the Bible and idol? Do Christians worship the Bible?

    5. Do Christians take some liberties in saying that the Bible is from God and divine? I was thinking the Gospel of John starts out by saying the word became flesh (reference to Jesus) and while I am familiar with vs like 2 Timothy 3:16, Joshua 1:8-9, etc.. wouldn’t you say those versus are retrospective to those individual books? I mean (and I may be mistaken…call me on the carpet…) there really isn’t a verse in the Bible that says these 66 Books from Genesis to Revelation are divine and from God and exist in this intended format to be used in this way. Do you think Christians are mistranslating the Bible when they say that?

    6. In the Bible if it talks about generational sin, and that comes down upon people, then where does the issue of free will come in? Isn’t there a conflict there?

    7. Also in regards to Adam…why is it that Adams’ sin affects and carries down to you? Why am I or anyone held responsible for Adams’ original sin?

    • Eagle,

      Some of those topics might actually make an interesting “Liturgical Gangstas” discussion, as well.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Re Eagle’s Third Thesis — Michael Spencer wrote of how The American Prosperity Gospel was spreading into Third World churches, but never went into detail. This should be a part of any series on the Prosperity Gospel — how it’s infecting churches outside America. (I understand African churches — the poorest of the poor in the Third World’s Third World — are especially susceptible.)

      Re Eagle’s Seventh Thesis — This is the idea of “Original Sin” first proposed by St Augustine some 1600 years ago and prominent in Western-rite Christian theology. (Many of the beliefs about Infant Baptism, the Immaculate Conception of Mary, and even the old theory of Limbo are secondary applications of this idea.) I understand Eastern-rite Theology doesn’t take the idea this far or that deterministically; they speak of “Tendency towards sin” instead of “inherited Original Sin”.

  20. It’s been too long since I’ve interacted here. I think I have always thought of this “place” as interacting with Michael, and after his passing, it’s just not the same. And of course it won’t be. That’s nothing against anything that you faithful guys are doing here. I think it’s a good thing to keep it going. I’m just talking about me. Now, on to these questions…

    Would you like for us to add a regular podcast or video cast? Is this something you would take advantage of if it were offered?
    I like podcasts. I like interviews on podcasts or panel-like discussions on podcasts. I loved the Internet Monk podcast. I probably have more of them saved than Michael kept himself. I think I would listen to it. Maybe once a week?

    We try to post something twice a day—morning and evening. Is that good for you? Do you have time to read and digest two posts a day?
    I can barely keep up with writing a blog post once a MONTH! For me, twice a day is a bit much. And length of posts can be a shutter-downer to me too. You guys are wearin’ yourselves out with twice a day – even once a day.

    Are there subjects you would like to see us tackle? (I don’t tell any of the writers what to write about. They are free to take on whatever is on their hearts. But I can toss out ideas.)
    I’m a theology geek, kind of.

    Are book reviews helpful to you? Are there books you want us to consider reviewing?
    I honestly don’t read much – especially new books. I know I’m a minority in this category.

    As for meeting people – that’s always cool. It might be a cool thing so have an “Internet Monk Gathering” of sorts down in Clay County, or Lexington, if that’s easier. I would definitely do my best to make something like that. Peace to you, guys.

  21. PODCASTS: I enjoyed Michael’s podcasts, especially his sermons. I would probably enjoy more podcasts as I do a lot of driving, but only if they could be downloaded to my mp3 player. I almost never watch video or listen to anything on my computer.
    Twice a day posts seem to be about right. I like the “classic IMonk” posts a lot. I grow as a Christian and I like to revisit those posts to see how I’ve changed and to get into subjects more deeply. Also, new commenters appear and I like seeing different points of view. My favorite posts are Chaplain Mike’s teaching posts. But I think all the writers here are very gifted.
    I enjoy book reviews and find them helpful.

  22. Would you like for us to add a regular podcast or video cast?
    Yes. Loved Michael’s and hope you can produce something along those lines.

    We try to post something twice a day—morning and evening. Is that good for you?
    Yes but no more. Subjects are deep and many comments are thought-provoking. Not enough time to absorb it all. The rapidity of new posts lately sometimes doesn’t give me time to leave a truly thoughtful and substantial comment before the next post takes the lead position. Would like a way to allow for more extended conversations when things head that way.

    Are there subjects you would like to see us tackle?
    Like what is happening now. Jesus-shaped life and faith. Spiritual growth. Difficult scriptures. Liked the posts on vocation especially. The ongoing goofiness and occasional sublime goings on in evangelicalism. Most of all I appreciate the civility and thoughtfulness and openness of the discussions here, and the charity and gentleness that is so often evident. Keep that alive.

    Are book reviews helpful to you?
    Very much so. More on my wish list now than I have time to read. The good stuff is hard to find. Keep the recommendations and critiques coming.

    Do you have any desire to meet me in person?
    Very much so. It’s hard to find kindred souls where I live in the ultra-conservative culture war Bible Belt of California.

    I’d like more chance to interact with other commenters also on a variety of subjects. And I’d like to think that the site could lead someday to building viable alternatives to the evangelical circus in real life, not just online. Any way to encourage and make that happen would be a service to the Kingdom.

    Peace and blessings and joy to all. This is a great and incredibly nurturing and challenging blog and I hope and pray it continues.

    • And thank you to all of those who keep this site going. I can’t imagine the workload and commitment it must take. Know that your efforts are not in vain and that you are a great source of encouragement and spiritual nourishment to many of us.

    • “It’s hard to find kindred souls where I live in the ultra-conservative culture war Bible Belt of California.”

      This is tongue-in-cheek, right? Or maybe you live in the suburbs of San Diego? 🙂

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Oh, they’re there, SoCal’s Ultra-Conservative Bible Belt Culture Warriors — a Communism-begets-Objectivism reaction to the surrounding granola bowl. Not that many in numbers and usually barricaded behind the walls of their Calvary Chapels, but they’re very vocal. Like the complement given to Appalachian Mountain Preachers — “They are LOUD!”

        More properly, SoCal is a granola bowl of can-you-top-this Extremism among Anointed Activists of all kinds. I used to listen to local Christian (TM) radio and some of it would probably go too far even for the buckles on the Bible Belt.

        I just keep my head down, build plastic models, play D&D, write and draw Furries, and just try to live a life.

      • I should have said Bible Belt portion of California. Otherwise known as the central valley. Local demographics and culture here are very different here from much of the rest of the state.

      • You should have been here during the Prop 8 campaign. That brought them out. They were at our door wanting to post their signs in our yard, and out every night ripping down every sign in our part of town that supported the other side. Actually they’re more into culture war and politics than Bible. I’ve heard some of them discussing Bible, and they really don’t know what’s in the Bible. Somehow Jesus is not their Rabbi, not so much the one they follow but the one who agrees with their opinions about culture and politics.

        • That’s sad.
          And scary.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            And it gets weirder. The only way I can describe it is everybody in the state just went screaming crazy about Prop 8, and for two-three months around that election, The Crazies were out in force. Sign teardowns, vandalism, attacks on Mormon Stake Houses (because the Mormons became associated with Prop 8 for some reason), and after it passed a reaction like you saw after Obama’s 2008 victory except from the other side. One Anti-Prop 8 group even published the names and addresses of every Pro contributor in an obvious “Let Bubba Do It” retaliation.

            Two of the ironies of Prop 8 were the big black-and-brown turnout for Obama helped swing the Pro vote — those ethnic communities tend to be very strait-laced on the subject. And the Anti mayor of San Francisco gave the Pros their best ad with a sound bite from when the State Supreme Court first decreed Same Sex Marriage was OK: “IT’S COMING! WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT!”

            Like I said, the Crazies came out of the woodwork and took over the state for a couple months, in a campaign that should have been covered by Hunter S Thompson. The only way to do it justice would be Gonzo Journalism.

  23. I wish you wouldn’t call us iMonks. There was only one iMonk and he is no longer with us. You guys are doing a great job carrying on for Michael. Using that moniker for all of us just bothers me.

    • Well Scott, I can tell you that Michael Spencer would love us calling each other that. He never saw himself as anyone special. And to know that we all are following in his footsteps to be Jesus-shaped would make him so happy. So please know when I reter to iMonks, it is actually a compliment to what Michael Spencer started…

    • I have an uncle who is an actual monk and I have heard them jokingly refer to one another as monkeys so if they don’t take it too seriously……..?

  24. I love baseball in March. Even though I live in Northern AZ, I always try to take in some Spring training games. I would love to take in a game with you, as long as it doesn’t fall on my wife’s birthday (March 26).

  25. I’m a student at Duke Divinity School, and I know some of my classmates read here too. Come to Durham and have lunch with us! 🙂

  26. I’ll second every other recommendation that’s been made for adding forums as a way to keep topics active.

    I really enjoy the site and the opportunity to comment, but often find myself on the other side of the issue. Maybe I’m just contrary by nature, but much of the writing seems to be coming from those that may question the crazy goings-on in the modern day church, but by and large are still an active part of a local congregation, and in many instances on the payroll.

    I would like hearing from someone who has literally left the building, and is not just looking out the window. I think a provocative, intelligently written piece would give some insight into those that have taken this path.

    • We’ve left the building and taken to the streets. We choose to not return even for a wedding, and choose to not support the institution in any way. We have many friends with similar feelings, but they choose to stay, mostly because of the relationships. Also it is just so easy to walk in, plop down and listen to a canned something, then throw a couple of dollars in the plate.

      • Not even for a wedding? How is that being charitable to the couple?

        • We don’t go to weddings much anyway. I’m retired. I was a wedding caterer, which almost everyone we know seems to know. The church folk think I ought to cater their weddings for free (after they find out how expensive wedding catering is). For some strange reason the wedding dates always seem to fall on dates when we have other plans. The last one we did the happy couple pled poverty. A few weeks later they purchased a large RV. As I told my wife, “Now we know why they were so poor. They were saving up to buy that RV!”

  27. I almost never take the time to listen to audio or video posted to blogs. I’d rather _read_.

    So if you decide to add podcasts or videocasts, please put them in a separate RSS feed.

  28. “Would you like for us to add a regular podcast or video cast?”
    Not for me, thanks.

    “We try to post something twice a day—morning and evening. Is that good for you?”
    Two’s about right.

    “Do you have time to read and digest two posts a day?”
    Barely.

    “Are there subjects you would like to see us tackle?”
    Just continue using Michael’s writing as a guide.

    “Are book reviews helpful to you?”
    Yes. I liked the idea of reading a book together and then discussing.

    “Do you have any desire to meet me in person?”
    Not particularly.

  29. First, a huge thank you to Jeff, Mike, and all the rest for maintaining this blog at such a high level. Michael was the soul of this site for so long, it is almost a miracle it is thriving after his death. This is a testament not only to him, but to those who have come after him.

    Michael was very insightful, and I miss his tartness sometimes. But Chaplain Mike is more balance and nuanced in his writing, and I greatly appreciate his theological depth and biblical knowledge. To be frank, I am amazed at the quality and quantity of his posts, especially since he has a full time position as a chaplain. Jeff, you supplement this well.

    In regards to your questions:

    I rarely have time to read two posts a day. One is plenty for me. I doubt I would listen to podcasts. I have a lot of topics that I would love to see discussion about (including the ones that Joanie and Eagle mentioned), but I am a little unclear on what the limits are. Is the blog about all things Christian, or does “post-evangelical wilderness” imply a more limited purview? I think there is a good balance between “edifying” posts and “challenging/controversial” posts. I wouldn’t mind seeing more humor.

    Perhaps the best thing about the site is the way the comments actually interact helpfully with the post topic. You and Mike do a wonderful job of promoting diversity while eliminating hurtful and caustic comments.

    Again, a huge thank you.

  30. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    I’d like to see a series on Evangelicals and sex. (Of which we just missed an annual opportunity for a Singles Misery Day tie-in.) I’ve come to the conclusion that these days Christians are just as screwed-up sexually as everyone on the outside, just one-eightied into a completely-opposite direction. Random off-the-top-of-my-head corollaries of the above:

    * The de facto “Salvation Through Marriage” doctrine (and anathema to any singles over 30, as the Onward Forward Toward guy used to post about). Kind of like Clericalism, except instead of Only Clergy Counts, it’s Only Marrieds Count (and Focusing on their Families). The corollary I’ve experienced where Marrieds do NOT associate with Singles, like we’re the new lepers or we’re just there to steal your spouse or something. And the total cluelessness of Marrieds towards what it’s like to be Single.

    * The de facto “Marriage is Christianese for Getting Laid” where you see similar behavoir to the Heathen, just with a ring and wedding ceremony involved. As in “marriage-crazy” Bible college girls going for their MRS degreee instead of “boy-crazy” secular girls going for a hookup. As in the “We’re all gonna die! I don’t wanna die a virgin!” mass-wedding craze Cerulean Sanctum related at a local Bible college during the “88 Reasons” Rapture Scare of 1988. What Rabbi Boteach called “the seven dimensions of a woman” don’t include Perfectly Parsed Theology OR Dynamite-in-Bed sexual skills. (I seriously wonder if this is a factor in Evangelical Christians’ high divorce rate; Perfectly Correct Theology does not sound like something that would forge a long-term pair-bond.)

    * Emphasis on “Thou Shalt Nots” fighting Lust (TM) to the point a lot of singles get just too scared or worried to even approach each other. Which easily leads into:

    The advocacy of Quiverfull arranged marriages, complementarianism-turned-male-supremacist, and other things in reaction to the outside world (again, Communism-begets-Objectivism) to where the original IMonk said “some of what I’ve heard from the Christian Courtship Movement wouldn’t be out-of-place in Medieval Islam.”

    * The latest incarnation of Bridal Mysticism, from Jesus-is-my-Boyfriend P&W songs to Jesus-is-my-Edward-Cullen-Sparkle-Sparkle-Sparkle fangirling. (Which I encountered during those disasters called Christian Dating Services. How could any mortal male like us compete with THAT?)

    * Somewhere lost in the mists of the Internet, there’s an essay called “The Christian Sex Cult” that proposes a lot of this originated with St Augustine, systematizing theology 1600 years ago when Christianity had become legit and the quick-and-easy-way of Martyrdom was a fading option. St Augustine proposed a “dying to self” with self-control instead of dying in the arena, and there was the possibility he carried some of his own personal baggage into this. (Monica’s son Auggie was a real horndog in his younger days and a monastic celibate in his later years; in neither case would he have had the chance to interact with women as people — only (before) as sex objects and (after) as forbidden fruit, and this had to have affected his head.)

    • Dear Headless Unicorn Guy,
      Great comments all around. Sadly, I think you have to delve into the psychological literature because Christendom has largely severed the head from the genitalia. Never the twain shall meet. Robert A. Johnson wrote two books called “He” and “She” on understanding masculine and feminine psychology. Of course once you jump into that arena you follow the leads to other books. Carl Jung has a bit to say on the subject. Of couse it requires a liberal sensibility because Jung often refers to God as a psychological archtype. That has never slowed me down though. What he and many others have to say is valid in its own right and is effectual for the edification of the body.

  31. I’d like to second the thanks from everyone. This place has been very edifying for me.
    1) No thanks to podcasts
    2) 2 posts are about right. 1 is fine.
    3) 1 topic I thought of is the dimensions of God’s sovereignty. I read Tony Dungy’s book, and he stated the usual about God willing all things for good. Since my uncle spent 10 years in the Gulag, I find that one hard to swallow. It’s easy for successful people with a hiccup in their lives, but what about those whose whole life is tragedy?
    4) Book reviews are “meh”.
    And I’d like to second the desire for forums (fora?) for longer, sustained discussion.

  32. I’ll give a +1 to the folks saying “thank you” for keeping this site going! I never knew Michael personally but his textual “voice” was amazing, and I am very glad you have dedicated your time and talent to this!

    I would actually like *fewer* posts. It seems like if I’m not checking this place morning, noon and night then suddenly there’s a dozen posts with 200 comments to catch up on, and all the interesting conversations are already over. If you could go a little slower, and when there’s a lot of commenting activity on the last post, wait for it to slow down before you post the next entry? Once a day for the meaty ones would be fine. I’m not someone who lives on Twitter and instant updates, though I’m sure you have a range of readers, from the ones who check in every six monts to the ones who have RSS pings whenever a new comment goes up. 😉

    I’m not a pod or videocast person–I always ignore those, along with music videos, ’cause I find them a horrendously slow form of information transfer. If there isn’t a transcript, I’m find with never knowing what was said. 😉 That’s just me, though.

    Seriously, El Paso and then on to AZ? I’m in Albuquerque, are you coming by here??
    (I’m not a post-evangelical, though, never having been evangelical per se…)

  33. I will ditto the positivity. Great site. I was an evangelical Christian for 20 years and then went into the ‘desert ‘ for twenty years. I then returned to the chuch of my childhood, the Catholic church. I seriously miss the robust sermons from my evangelical days so this site compliments my church experience with rich, thought provoking discussion. I agree that it is tough to keep up with the content and feel current in the discussion so definitely no more than two posts a day. Thanks again.

  34. I love your site, but I do have to say that two posts a day is a lot. When I get behind, I sometimes delete them all and start from scratch because I read a lot of other blogs as well. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up.

    I so appreciate what you do 🙂

  35. I’m jumping late on this, I hope Jeff and the crew are still reading…

    FIrst of all, I loved Michael’s iMonastery, and I love what you have been doing to keep the ship going in a nice direction since he prematurely left us. So, thank you big time, and may God bless you all.

    As for new stuff, I think you could launch a (weekly?) series where iMonks recounted us their faith journey: where did they start from, where they are now (and what’s good/bad about it), where did they stop along the way, why do they hang around this community. From the tidbits I gleaned from several posts and comments, many people here have rather interesting stories to tell. Reading about other people’s journey could be encouraging to many, and would be a nice way to get us to know our fellow monks better. Even those who have remained in the same church for their lifetime could enlighten us by telling what keeps them there.

    Maybe this could start with the writing staff, but could be easily extended to other associates, such as the Liturgical Gangstas and regular commenters (on invitation).

    A post with practical suggestions for improving our Bible reading would be appreciated as well.

    However you do it, keep up the good work! 🙂

    Best regards from Brazil,
    Rafael

  36. Great blog!
    Only thing that I would love to see. As someone who spends a great deal of time in the car listening to podcasts, I would love to see a weekly or fortnightly review of a different Christian podcast. There are some great ones around (and some very dodgy ones). I am always looking for new perspectives and to hear what others have thought of the podcasts I regularly listen to.