A few weeks ago, in the comments of another post, someone said (emphasis mine):
Don’t ever speak of my God that way again.
While my opinions happened to align a bit more closely with the other points that the commenter was making than that of those of the person with whom he was arguing, the proprietary nature of that one sentence was nauseating. Certainly, the phrase “my God” is appropriate in certain contexts. Our faith should be personal, and so God becomes “my God”. But it’s a relationship between you and God, not a tool to distinguish or distance yourself from others, as though you had the corner on the market or — worse yet — own God.
Sidebar: On the plus side, this was shortly before Good Friday, and my pastor had asked me to speak briefly on Mark 15:34 at my church’s Good Friday service. There were so many directions to go and applications to make from this Scripture, that I was very much at a loss as to where to begin with my preparation. Then God put a flashing neon sign in front of me in the form of this (mis-)use of two words and things fell into place nicely.
So why am I just now bringing this up? Two reasons:
- The preceeding was way too short in and of itself. If I ever wrote anything that short, your head would explode at the cognitive dissonance. No one’s ever gonna accuse me of brevity.
- A variation of this issue has come up again.
Apparently, a book was released recently in which the author, Carrington Steele, lifted liberally from a few web sites (and possibly other sources) without attribution. In and of itself, bad form. The author claimed Fair Use as her reasoning — whether or not this is applicable is up for debate. It’s also irrelevant.
The majority of what she took (unattributed) was from sites of an ODM-ish nature. Maybe I overstate my case, but it has always seemed that one of the primary purposes of an ODM is to “discern” and disseminate (what they perceive as) truth. Yet many of them are up in arms over the dissemination of “their” truth.
One of the offended parties was Herescope. To their credit, when speaking of other instances of unattributed use of items that they generated, they said:
We have endeavored to praise the Lord that His Truth is getting out anyway, as Paul did in Philippians chapter 1, when he wrote of those who had motives of envy, greed or contention, yet proclaimed “What then? Notwithstanding every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice.” (vs. 18)
Kudos to them for this. They also note that this case is different in that material that they generated was used in different intent and context by Ms Steele. And this can certainly be a troublesome issue. It’s the primary reason that I wrote this post when my words were used and twisted to attack a friend.
But unlike that instance, the material that Ms Steele used was unattributed. So is the implication that the cross-section of folks that read both Herescope and Ms Steele’s book are smart enough to notice the similarity of certain passages, and simultaneously stupid enough to assume that Ms Steele’s conclusions and applications are those of Herescope as well?
One of the other offended parties was Lighthouse Trails. Their analysis of the situation comes in the guise of a book review. One can almost see the hand-wringing, as if the blog authors really didn’t want to publicly address the issue, but felt that they “had no other choice”, since there is apparently someone holding a gun to their heads, forcing them to “review” every book with which they come in contact. Again, the intent and context was misused by Ms Steele; but again, the material was unattributed. So, the same smart/stupid assumption must be made about the cross-section of readers of Ms Steele’s book and the blogs and books written by Lighthouse Trails.
While both Herescope and Lighthouse Trails did contact Ms Steele, this is an issue that should remain between them, Ms Steele, and perhaps the various parties’ publishers (particularly in the instance(s) where Ms Steele took material from published books without attribution). In our society, there is the (unfortunate) reality that a publisher — not the person who created it — “owns” material that they publish. And so, there is possibly call for all of the afore-mentioned parties to address this issue.
However, the general public receives no benefit whatsoever by the airing of this issue. The general public’s consumption of material certainly falls under the aforementioned Philippians passage. Compounding the problem is the fact that Ingrid and Ken the anonymous editor at CR?N used their blogs to further spread the news to people who have no dog in this fight.
When I was a kid, Mom told me that passing along “information” that has no relevance to you and/or the persons to whom you give the information was a pretty good definition of both “gossip” and “tattling”. How sad to know that my own mother lied to me — it’s really “research”.