Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Pictures of Anonymity

I remember years ago hearing my father say, "An unsigned letter isn't worth the paper it's written on."

Having recently been bitten by anonymous commentators in the blog world, I've spent a good bit of time contemplating the difficult balance between privacy and anonymity online. I've discovered a paper published online that thouroughly discusses this topic: Anonymity and Pseudonymity in Cyberspace: Deindividuation, Incivility and Lawlessness Versus Freedom and Privacy. This paper and personal experience have led me to conclude that there are four basic types of people who comment anonymously on blogs. The Justifiably Fearful, the Insecure Participant, the Naughty Nitpicker, and the Nefarious Schemer. Over the coming days, I'll seek to unpack these various types.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

This is more like the Al Mohler I knew 20 years ago

I was stunned to read this on Marty Duren's SBC Outpost blog tonight.

Comments by 1Revsview (found here) and Flaming Moderate (found here) confirm sentiments I expressed this past Saturday.

The Perils and Pitfalls of Allowing Anonymous Comments on My Blog

An anonymous commentator whom I took to be David, addressed as David in comment responses, and who NEVER corrected my use of the name David if he is not, apparently is not the David/volfan007 of Grace and Truth infamy. He is simply one of the thousands and thousands of Anonymous blog commentators out there.

I have edited my previous post to reflect this claim.

For the time being at least, I have made the choice to restrict comments to only registered users of Blogger who have completed a profile. Blogger users who register only to receive a pseudonym are subject to having their comments removed regardless of their content.

One of my email addresses is available in my profile for non registered users to comment directly to me.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Shedding Tears for a Frightening Example of Today's Baptist Seminary Student

Wade Burleson's Grace and Truth blog is a site I check daily. I not only enjoy his writing style, his content is edifyingly provocative. By that I mean that he nearly always challenges me to think more deeply.

If you follow a blog as active and conversational as Wade's for very long, you begin to get to know something about the people who frequently comment.

For months, I have read the comments of one who, until he was literally forced out of the closet by Wade a couple of days ago, was known only as volfan007. (If you take just a second to Google the very unique pseudonym, you quickly notice the he is a fairly prolific commentator on a variety of blogs.) When threatened with the loss of the privilege to comment on Grace and Truth, volfan finally began signing his comments simply as David. That, and I suspect, a more thorough email to Wade detailing a bit more that a single name, has apparently been enough for him to be allowed to continue.

1. A study of volfan's posts on a variety of blogs reveals a dependence on formulaic, almost code word language that reflects some period of time spent in an environment of paranoia and indoctrination. There are many observable points in his writing where I wonder if the words are any longer his own. They seem to echo mantra type phrases that are apparently deeply believed but maybe not understood well enough to articulate in his own words.

Southern Baptist seminaries have strayed from their role as academies of higher education in theology and other ministry fields. They have become doctrinal "concentration camps" where individuals excel not by bringing the best of their creative minds to understanding God but by being willing to accept the party list of who are the right theologians and who are the wrong theologians, learn the right theologians pet phrases, and regurgitate the correct position when cued. A theological position held by a theologian on the right list is accepted without question while positions held by theologians on the wrong list seem to be dismissed so quickly and with such scorn, it causes me to doubt that the depth of serious examination that would be required has been brought to bear.

2. While holding fast to the legitimate position that scripture is literal and inerrant, there is the habit of writing as if his interpretation and understanding of scripture is equally inerrant therefore rendering any idea that conflicts with his understanding automatically liberal heresy.

Seminaries apparently are doing little to help its graduates distinguish between an opinion of a pastor or pastor in training and the Bible. Humility is a rare commodity among graduates of the last decade. Ask anyone who has served on a pastor search committee recently.

3. I believe the previous observation to be a corollary of the seminaries and recent seminarians apparent obsession with authority -- particularly their own. There is an inordinate focus on an almost Darwinian hierarchy in which those who have climbed over the most backs to get to the top of the organizational food chain of denominational institutions are genuflected to and deferred to regardless of even obvious injustice and obfuscation. The wannabes of the student body will excuse almost anything except a sexual indiscretion (and occasionally even those) on the part of the guys who have made it to the top.

4. Misogyny is veiled in platitudes posing as respect for women. Many, though thankfully not all, graduates of the last decade that I have met fairly drip with condescension when speaking to women in the church about theological issues. One who would be called a man of God has the audacity to patronize serious Christian women referring to "preacherettes" and "deaconettes" and apparently believes that this is what Jesus would call them because these woment are threatening the "rule" of men in the home and the church. The fear of women in seminaries is almost palpable.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Is it really that important to be "in"

Another phase of the debate in Southern Baptist circles about women in ministry is underway. (God forgive us.) If you're feeling a bit masochistic click here, here, here, here, and here. As evidence of the intensity of the debate just on the Grace and Truth blog, these five postings have registered more than 900 comments.

I am under no illusion that anything I might have to contribute will not drowned out in the clatter, so I've decided to reprint my comment here for the 3 people who might read my thoughts.

Earlier today, texasinafrica wrote, "Many of us in the moderate world wondered if there would come a time in the SBC that after the moderates were purged, it would then become a question of who was conservative enough."

A few "hellbound" moderates were purged and took the route some "heavenbound" conservative PPL folks are taking now -- out of the SBC. Many of us "hellbound" moderates stuck around and dutifully donned the gag officially distributed via Sunday School Board channels.

I and many, many of sisters and brothers were sneered away from the "cool kids table" 20 years ago because we believe a password other than "Jesus is Lord" is too narrow. Yet we continue to support SBC work with our sweat, prayers and treasure. (If a signed creed were required with every check sent to the SBC, the SBC would be hurting for money!)

If the effort to stem the tide of continued narrowing of boundries fails, I hope you'll discover just as I have that the "cool kids table" really isn't as cool as it seems. The reality is that 90% of all that is accomplished for God's kingdom takes place IN SPITE of the cool kids, not because of them.

It is a shame that the cool kids table appears to be expanding the "he-man woman haters club" chapter. That club is not new. Just ask Molly Marshall-Green. Just ask the hundreds and hundreds of women who were raised in the SBC who are now serving God in other denominations in leadership of all kinds, including the

I would ask you and all Grace and Truth readers to go to http://revgalblogpals.blogspot.com/ and browse the hundreds of blogs of deeply committed, Christ loving women who do Great Commission work around the world...again...IN SPITE of the cool kids, not because of them. You see, the gag that the cool kids hand out only works at the cool kids table.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

So as not be be one-upped by Preachermom

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Reverend Earl Charles the Pertinacious of Burton-le-Coggles
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Get a load of this...

I scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan. I am an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. I believe that God's grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. I am influenced heavily by John Wesley and the Methodists.

The bold comments come straight from QuizFarm. It looks to me like I'm more of a Holy Roman Methobaptericapalian.

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Neo orthodox




Reformed Evangelical




Modern Liberal


Roman Catholic


Classical Liberal




What's your theological worldview?
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