I recently read an a book review by a guy named Matthew Lee Anderson. He was reviewing a newly released book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans. (I'm also planning to read the book... maybe over Christmas vacation?) If you look on my blog reading list, you'll see that I do read her blog, and while I frequently disagree with her ideas, interpretations, and perspectives...
...I'm also frequently challenged... forced to examine once again what I believe and why I believe it. Many times, I've discovered that her point of view deserves closer examination rather than mere dismissal because it doesn't line up with what I've always thought and been taught, even if after that examination I still find myself holding closer to those original beliefs. At least I know why I say I believe as I do.
But that's not really the point of this post. Mr. Anderson, in his review, utilizes a powerful metaphor that has detained many of my thoughts of late. Let me share his exact words (emphasis mine):
"I am increasingly saddened by the state of our Christian discourse online, including my own involvement in it.
I’m no Roman history expert, but I take it that it was their love of entertainment that led them to the [Colosseum]. It’s a bloodthirsty idol, entertainment, for it knows no boundaries nor respects no persons. Over the past two years, Christians have engaged in a variety of controversies—which they have been doing for a long time, but which seem to be coming and going with a greater rapidity while being discussed at a significantly more shallow level....
|The Christian Martyrs' Last Prayer, byJean-Léon Gérôme (1883)|
In each, the form of arguments have rarely been commendable and the level of discourse ennobling. We have increasingly, it seems to me, been taken by these controversies and fought for page views in the midst of them. And that has meant mostly fighting each other, clashing verbal swords and letting the digital blood flow in the streets. I know well that there is a time to disagree and to draw lines. And I also know that when the controversy is upon us, the drumbeats of war always beat the loudest, and it is usually in such moments that we should speak of peace. Perhaps we would all do well to wield our intellectual swords with a good deal more care....
|Pollice Verso ("Thumbs Down") by Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1872|
...I thought that blogging held promise for the church to improve its dialogue and help minds think more Christianly. I now wonder whether that is true, or whether the intrinsically shallow nature actually induces an entertainment-oriented mindset that prefers the action of a controversy to silence or to the boring, mundane work of saying the same old thing. I see the tendency toward degrading speech in myself and have watched it come to the fore over the past year. And I am not at all certain it should continue, either in me or in the rest of this small corner of the internet. Because if evangelicalism continues to be a movement that lives on controversy, then it is certain that it will someday die by it."
As a reader of blogs...
perhaps as one who comments, or one who shares poignant
or meaningful-to-you posts
on Facebook or some other social media outlet,
what responsibility do you think you have to prevent
the type of electronic gladiator games of which Mr. Anderson speaks?
If you are a blogger, do you believe you have a responsibility to steward your words? How do you go about doing so?
Do you have some method to keep yourself accountable?