Tuesday, September 26, 2006

I respectfully dissent...

Although I have been making a determined effort not to get too wrapped up in the current controversies within the Anglican Communion, I still find myself checking up on current events now and then. I fear it is rather akin to the morbid fascination that causes drivers to slow down and rubberneck at the scene of a fatal car crash. Last week I was intrigued by the statement issued by the Global South Bishops. After reading the reaction from my usual sources for information on all things Anglican I decided to take a peek at the reaction of the loyal opposition.

Thus I wandered over to Fr. Jake’s web site and read pretty much what I expected to. It was a highly indignant post which characterized the GSBs as attempting to impose their views on everyone else in the Anglican Communion. There were a number of colorful descriptive terms notable among them being “hubris.” The post had only just appeared (there were no comments yet) when I read it. I then did something I don’t do often on liberal / heterodox blogs. I posted a comment.

What I wrote was something very close to the following.

I think the word “hubris” might be more accurately applied to the unilateral overthrow of 2000 yrs of carved in stone Christian doctrine and telling the rest of the AC in effect that they will just have to lump it. I also find it mildly amusing that the left wing now running ECUSA takes such extreme exception to coercion in matters of the faith when they are actively and harshly attempting to coerce the few remaining orthodox (small “o”) Christians still wandering around the ruins.

I regret I am unable to provide the exact words I used. Which brings me to the point of this post. Within at most three minutes of posting my comment it vanished. Apparently Fr. Jake who once styled himself as an “eclectic and sometimes heretical priest,” only has tolerance for certain forms of heresy.

Now there are a lot of different kinds of blogs out there. Some are little more than diaries. Others deal with specific subjects and still others can be more eclectic. Mine is probably a cross between the last two types. It has a focus but I will post on anything that strikes me as interesting. Also many blogs deal with controversial subjects. And of course some blogs allow comments and some do not.

There is absolutely nothing unethical or wrong with not allowing comments, even if you’re posting on a controversial subject. And if you do choose to allow comments your not under any obligation to allow posts that are obviously abusive or off topic. As an example when I first started Ad Orientem I had open comments. After I got some unwelcome spam posts I eventually changed that to require my approving posted comments. Prior to making this change I only deleted comments from a single poster for reasons other than spam. The comments (repeated despite several warnings) were very personal Ad Hominum attacks on another poster by a radical Old Calendarist. It eventually reached the point where I had to ask the offending party not to post on AO in the future. Since I began reviewing posts before allowing them to appear I have only rejected one post. It was a response to one of my recent posts about Pope +Benedict’s speech and Islamic reaction. The post was little more than a rant against organized religion and contained links to two websites which were pagan and intensely hostile to monotheistic religion in general and Christianity in particular. They were full of the sorts of weird theories and historical distortions that would have made Dan Brown blush. Even then I was reluctant to reject the post, although I ultimately did so.

The reason is that (and this is only my opinion), I feel that if you are going to post opinions on controversial subjects, and you choose to allow comments, then its frankly a bit cheesy to only allow concurring opinions. The reader is invited to peruse AO and note that there are contrary opinions here and there. My posts have not gone unchallenged and sometimes the dissenting posts have made good points. While my post on Fr. Jake’s blog was certainly critical, even sharply so, it was no sharper than his own editorial against the communiqué of the GSBs. Of course it’s his blog and he can do with it what he likes. But to allow comments on controversial posts and then delete critical submissions invites ridicule. I would suggest you’re better off just posting your articles and turning off the comments if you don’t want to deal with contrary opinions or debates. To allow only concurring opinions seems to suggest a sort of society for sycophants.

Some of the best blogs on the internet have a lively give and take on hot topics. Just look at Al Kimel’s excellent blog over at Pontifications. The subjects are frequently controversial and the discussion can get pretty spirited. But I don’t ever recall any real lack of civility. Al might choke on this a little bit, but it was some of the posts on his blog from champions of Orthodoxy in debate that helped resolve any lingering doubts I had about my relationship to the Roman Catholic Church which I still hold in high regard, my very profound theological differences notwithstanding.

In closing I would like to note that I have never met Fr. Jake and have no reason to believe he is anything other than a fine and descent man. It’s entirely possible I may have just caught him on a bad night or in the wrong mood. We all have bad moments when we are not well disposed to criticism. I can say with a fair degree of safety that I don’t agree with him on religious matters, but he is as entitled to his opinions as I am to mine. My singling out his blog is not intended as a personal attack. There are unfortunately a lot of blogs and forums out there that seem to do the same thing.

Free Republic (which I have linked in the sidebar) is an excellent source of news and commentary from a conservative view point. But ONLY a conservative view point. And you had better be the right kind of conservative if you plan to jump in over there. I think that weakens Free Republic to its detriment. Just as I think that a lack of critical discussion anywhere on hot topics is injurious to dialogue and comprehension of opposing views. How can you dialogue with someone you won’t let talk? And if you’re unwilling to meet the challenge of dissenting opinions what does that say about the strength of your own position? Just some food for thought.


Anonymous said...


Kimmel's blog is no more. After this weekend, the "blog" will be a monologue. Must be something about swimming the Tiber that causes one to think that one's views approach pontifical importance.


Anonymous said...

Just as well. I was consistently treated quite rudely when I posted on Pontifications -- never by Al, but rather by other regulars. As some of these boorish men are clergy and quite popular in the Christian press, I'll omit names to protect the guilty for the betterment of Christendom. Perhaps Al gave up on monioring the volume of posts, hence went to a monologue.