Where to start?Back when I was a kid, we had a sandbox in my back yard. From time to time, it would get wildly messy, with sand spilled over the edges, ditches down to the bottom of the box, and piles of the stuff on the seats. At times like these, my mother would give me a little plastic rake, which meant it was time to straighten out the sandbox…

I’m no longer a child, but it seems this metaphor is in order as I observe the workings here at CRN.info. While I believe we are doing many of the things we set out to do, a little bit of raking is in order – as I hinted at this past Thursday morning before heading back to teach a class in claymation at the Legacy camp in Ignacio, CO. After reading the comment section in my article, it seems that my hinting needs to be much stronger.

So – for the raking:

1) Since our struggle is not with ‘flesh and blood’ – I am asking all CRN.info writers to write articles in such a way as to address ideas rather than singular critics. In doing so, for the next 30 days we will not provide critique of any specific individual, by name (particularly writers on SoL/C?N/AM). While we will, as is part of this blog’s purpose, defend individual Christians and/or groups of Christians who are unfairly attacked, we will try to address specific criticisms of them – if they exist – or reveal the logical fallacies in blanket criticisms.
2) We will continue to allow ANY and ALL comments. To my knowledge, aside from auto-filtered spam, we have only deleted three comments since this site was created – two duplicate posts and one comment that should not have been deleted, for which an apology was given. It is our position that the selective acceptance of comments only serves to create a fallacious air of ‘proof by assertion’ and an atmosphere of intellectual dishonesty.

3) Threadjacking is getting tiresome, and it will be dealt with in a number of ways. There is no need, for instance, to drag previous discussions – say, on Calvinism vs. Arminianism – from previous threads onto current threads which have nothing whatsoever to do with the old conversation.

Where this becomes a problem, I will first post a warning within the particular discussion and ask for the participants to either drop the tangent, or move it back to the topic under which it belongs (if such topic exists…) Next, if it continues, I will email specific individuals – even if they are writers here – and ask them to drop it.

If my requests go unheeded, the offending individuals will go on the ‘moderation list’ (which is currently empty) for a short duration of time. The ‘moderation list’ is simply a place like the penalty box in hockey, where comments are held long enough to not appear in the right comment sidebar. I have only had to put someone on this list once, and hope to not have to do so again.
Finally, if the behavior continues, I will ban the individuals from this site, but I hope to NEVER have to do this – and you really will have to push me hard to make this happen.
4) Petty sniping between ANYONE is childish. Between Christians, though, is just plain ugly and sinful. I have not been above this, and I have had to apologize for it many a time. Lately, the number of ‘zingers’ and ‘one-liners’ – which I suppose have been calculated to amuse oneself, rather than engage the subject at hand – are tired and old. Certain individuals – I suspect they know who they are – are really wearing the patience of many readers. Please stop.

If you cannot respond intelligently to the topic at hand, or if you only desire to deflect criticism of your position without offering anything rational in your defense, then don’t comment. If you feel your man/woman-hood has been challenged, there are arenas in which to deal with the hormonal issues involved – this is not one of them.

5) Intellectual honesty (primarily to myself and my writers) – When we criticize the watchblogs of certain behaviors and then engage in them ourselves, we are engaging in a game of plank-speck. We need to avoid these pitfalls, and more:
Eisogesis/Prooftexting: When I and others eisogeted Chris P’s comment from earlier this year (”the only cure for AIDS is death”) to cast him as uncaring and insensitive – despite the fact that his broader comment and a later clarification were unsupporting of this view – I was being as intellectually dishonest as critics of Rob Bell are when they eisogete a paragraph in Velvet Elvis and then contend that Bell does not believe in sola Scriptura.

Straw-man/”What He Means Is”: When I re-worded an argument from amy earlier this year to make it say something she didn’t mean to say, and then proceeded to tear the re-wording apart – I was just as guilty of building a strawman as were the Pyromanics a couple weeks back when they did the same thing to Scot McKnight, and just as guilty as 95% of the articles on AM, which are almost wholly built on beating down straw men.

Personal Extrapolation: When we quote commenters from SoL/AM/C?N and extrapolate their views as if they are that of the writers of said sites, we are doing the same thing that we criticize when someone sympathetic to one or more of our contentions writes something bone-headed and it gets extrapolated as if it was our view.

Systematic Extrapolation/Broad-brushing: When we extrapolate views of our critics to extremes beyond what they intend – or when we broad-brush groups of fundamentalist/reformed brothers in certain ways, we are doing the same thing that we criticize when people broad-brush emerging/emergent Christians in unfair, inaccurate ways.

Other logical fallicies: We need to strive to avoid ad homenim, assertion, and other logically fallacious methods of debate. Some of these are easy to fall into, in which case we need to quickly apologize if we do so. In the same way, when we point them out in defense of unfairly maligned brothers and sisters, we need to do so in a way that allows apology.

6) We will continue to attribute all articles to the author of the article, so that the author of each article is easily identifiable.  To do anything else would be intellectually dishonest, and would only lead to confusion on the part of the readers.  As it is written somewhere, we should let our ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and our ‘no’ be ‘no’, which at its basest view includes who it is saying ‘yes’ and ‘no’ in the first place!

FINALLY

Why am I writing this? Threefold:

1) I want to be held to a standard of decency and etiquette which I expect from, but see little of, in the watchblogosphere. Some of our writers and Dan Kimball (I don’t know who was first, and I’m too lazy to figure it our right now) recently wrote a comparison of the opposite of this standard as to yapping poodles. Going one step further, I will engage a pop-culture reference, comparing such behavior to piranha poodles. I don’t want to be one. If I write these expectations down, I expect that even if my friends don’t hold me to them, my critics certainly will…

2) It is hard to move in a direction without first setting the course. I also expect my writers to try to follow the guidelines above, even if those who criticize them or me will not.
3) I am not pro-emergent or anti-fundamentalist, etc. I am pro-Christian. As such, I have this nagging belief that we – all Christians – should have a way of interacting with each other, especially when we disagree, that is unlike what is seen in the rest of the world.

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This entry was posted on Sunday, July 15th, 2007 at 6:55 pm and is filed under Original Articles, Updates. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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10 Comments(+Add)

1   robbymac    http://www.robbymac.org
July 15th, 2007 at 8:01 pm

Hear, hear.

2   Julie    http://www.loneprairie.net/lp_blog/blog.htm
July 15th, 2007 at 8:09 pm

1. Guilty as charged.
2. Excellent.
3. IBID

I am excited for the next 30 days.

3   D.MacDonald    
July 16th, 2007 at 4:34 am

As someone who enjoys reading this site I am very apprehensive about dipping my toe into the swirly pond of the comment section (My knowledge of the Word is somewhat lacking in comparison to many of the contributors here)

However I applaud the stance that is being taken here and I pray that it bears much fruitful and edifying discourse.

Godbless

4   Henry (Rick) Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
July 16th, 2007 at 6:58 am

Wow. If I didn’t know you were already saved I would have thought you have just walked down the blog aisle! Let us hold HIM up for ALL to see!

Great Chris.

5   JohnD    
July 16th, 2007 at 1:24 pm

Chris,

This is so excellent! These standards and guidelines that you want all of us to adhere to can only be described as “salt and light” in the blogosphere. Thank you for “raking the sandbox!” It needed to be tidied up.

6   clearly    http://seeingclearly.wordpress.com
July 16th, 2007 at 2:35 pm

Does this mean that threads with titles like, “Oh Ingrid you’re so cute when you distort” will be deleted?

7   Matt B    http://matbathome.blogspot.com/
July 16th, 2007 at 2:38 pm

Nothing gets deleted. If one of our writers does something that appears to be uncouth, we don’t cover it up.

8   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
July 16th, 2007 at 3:52 pm

Clearly,

As Matt pointed out, we don’t delete things, as this gives the appearance of a ‘cover-up’ of sorts, and in internet/blog etiquette is considered to be somewhat dishonest.

9   Henry (Rick) Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
July 16th, 2007 at 4:39 pm

My own guess is lighthearted humor, without rancor and malice, is still acceptable. “You’re so cute” is probably lighthearted enough.

The Apsotate Pope of all Purpose Prostitutes of the Reformation may be somewhat over the top. I look forward to having substantive discussions about some of these subjects. We are all so trained to connect personalities to discussions.

10   Russ N.    http://russ-ramblings.blogspot.com
July 16th, 2007 at 7:56 pm

Chris,

Dude, this is Excellent! I love the way God works in the lives of His children.