Archive for the 'Blogging' Category

Since the very beginning of this blog, we’ve been pretty firm in our “no comments are deleted” policy, with only a couple minor exceptions (with neither an attempt to silence/whitewash voices).  However, it’s becoming apparent that we need to add a little bit more to the way we’ve been managing this.

Some general observations/policies (for those unfamiliar) on this topic:

1) First-time commenters are automatically moderated until their first comment is approved.  We often run down IP addresses and match against some other sources to verify who someone is (or is not), and whether they’ve commented on this blog (or other blogs) before under different names/aliases.

2) For some people, relative anonymity is important (i.e. preventing people from tracking down personal/ID information and misusing it) and understandable.  As such, we do not demand full names.

3) “Moderation” (which puts comments into a queue for delayed approval) is used, rather sparingly for commenters who almost exclusively post items which:

* are consistently  nasty
* are consistently derogatory w/ little/no OP relevance
* ignore warnings on personal attacks against other commenters
* consistently ignore requests from CRN.Info writers

Ch-ch-ch-changes

With these in mind, we’re currently examining some changes in commenting policy (while keeping the “no comments are deleted” policy, as-is). Here are the proposed changes:

1) Commenters who wish to retain relative anonymity may continue to do so.  All that we ask is that you have a valid email address with your sign-in (which is only visible to CRN.Info writers) OR that you have the name of a CRN.Info writer who can verify your identity contained in the email field.  [example: We at least one commenter who is a single female and is concerned with her safety, and only one of our writers knows here and vouches for her as a commenter)]  If you have a regularly maintained blog that you’ve established, that’s good enough, as well.

2) We expect all regular commenters to maintain ONE name/alias by which they post (Example: We know who nc is, and he’s always nc).  If, for some reason (for instance, the overabundance of Chris’s and Nathan’s) you need to change in the future, just clear it with us so that we can keep track of you.

3) We expect that the ONE name/alias by which a commenter posts is not, in itself, purposely offensive or derrogatory toward another commenter/group/pastor/etc.

Comments/Commenters outside of these guidelines will be put in a moderation queue if, after a grace period, things aren’t rectified.

Personally, I hate doing stuff like this – particularly when it’s just a couple of folks currently at issue.  However, this seems to pop up every few months, so we might as well put it out for discussion and act upon it.

Thoughts? Additions?  Subtractions? Division/Multiplication?

Shalom

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This post amused me:

After hearing an interview with Bono recently in which 1/3rd of it was bleeped due to his fondness for the F-word, I’m sure that this album will make a deep and lasting Christ-honoring impression on the world.

As a U2 aficionado (ah, who am I kidding; I love U2!), I think I can confidently say that our dear friend at Slice is far too worried about U2. Actually, I’m rather surprised because recently, our dear sick friend (who needs our prayers for his back and money for his ‘ministry’ by the way), Pastor/Teacher/Prophet/Reformer Ken Silva posted this, which is a collection of music he himself has written.

I listened to the song ‘Eye of a Hurricane’ and I specifically heard Kenne drop the ‘d’ bomb several times in the song. Yet, no sarcastic calls from Slice about the ‘deep and lasting Christ-honoring impression’ that Kenne will leave on the world.  Then Kenne defended his decidedly ’secular’ music this way in a terribly verbose and rambling missive of which I will quote but two sentences:

At the same time apparently there was also some confusion as to the recent posting of some of the many songs I’ve written. I was pretty clear that they were not worship songs, though I have written some of those as well, but were instead geared primarily to a secular audience.

Two thoughts.

1. To the author of Slice, can you please provide a link or some substantiation of your remark that a recent interview with Bono had to be 1/3 deleted because of the ‘f’ word? I’m interested in seeing if you counted correctly.

2. To the author of Slice, and in the interest of fairness, can you please rebuke Pastor/Teacher/Prophet/Songster/Poet/Reformer Kenne for his absolutely appalling use of the word ‘damn’ in the song ‘Eye of the Hurricane’? I am offended and I feel like Kenne might be leading some people down a path towards damnation with his ‘music geared towards a secular audience.’

One more thought.

1. I suspect that U2’s influence in and around the world and the church will, despite Bono’s ‘fondness for the ‘f’ word’, will be judged by the fruit it produces. At least Bono understands grace. And has a recording deal.

Do you people really have nothing better to do with your time? Why don’t you buy a U2 CD and listen to it? You will learn more about grace in one U2 song (say, Daddy’s Gonna Pay for Your Crashed Car or Grace) than you will in 10 pages of Slice or Apprising posts.

The utter hypocrisy of the Slice post (and a similar post at Apprising) sickens me.

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Let me start my first post on CRN.Info by saying that I see it as a real big privilege and honour to have been invited to write for this site. I first came to CRN.Info via a link on Chad Holtz’s site who I found on A Little Leaven. So never say that nothing good can come from the ADM’s… What I like so much about CRN.Info is that everybody gets a chance to speak their mind on whatever subject is posted and comments only get moderated in the most extreme circumstances. I have only once seen comments deleted and that was to protect someone who frequently comments here and who is mostly critical about CRN.Info. There are not many sites on the web, and that includes Christian sites, that have this kind of integrity and I count myself fortunate to be in such company.

The Forest or the Tree?

Lately there have been a number of posts at CRN.Info that got derailed because of people getting hooked onto one small detail in the post. One such example is the post by Jerry on the 3rd chapter of Rob Bell’s book Jesus Wants To Save Christians. The reason why it bothers me is not so much that the thread got derailed, although it does make me “die moer in”*, but that people missed the message of the post. It just gets lost in all the noise of the comments. This got me thinking about some things my dad taught me.

My dad was a wise man who faithfully pastored small churches, never looked for the glory and had a spotless character. If I can grow to be half the man he was… He gave me these bits of advice:

Put it on the shelf…

When reading a book or listening to a sermon and there is something that you do not like or understand at that point in time, don’t ignore that together with the rest of the book or sermon but rather write the thought down, put it away and revisit it later.

This advice has come in handy on many occasions in two ways. Firstly when something I read or heard some time ago would come back and suddenly make sense or be truth in another context or time. Sometimes it was things that I heavily disagreed with but then God seems to open up some truth to me and use the previously discarded to change something in me. The second way is that when I do that I can actually focus on what I can learn and appropriate now in my life. In other words don’t get so caught up in the detail that you don’t agree with or don’t understand that you miss the core message that God wants you to hear.

He might be a donkey but…

Growing up in a legalistic pentecostal denomination there was lots of preaching that made you feel like a useless piece of you know what and this caused me to dislike a lot of these preachers (my dad was quite the opposite). When there was a service where one of these preachers spoke I protested loudly about going and then my dad would drop this bit of wisdom:

Separate the message from the man. If God used Balaam’s donkey he can use anyone to get the message across.**

I think we can use some of that… I might not like John MacArthur’s Truth War-type attitude but I learned a lot from the Grace To You programs. You might not like Rob Bell’s fuzzy language but his fresh perspective on things might just open something new about God you’ve missed before. Separate the message from the man and you might just hear God speak to you.

The diamond in the rough…

Look for the wisdom, truth that applies to you, in the most unlikely places

Sometimes people will come with the biggest lot of nonsense and you might think what a load of … That is when you need to start prospecting, filter out the dirt and find the diamond. Most of the ADM’s writing falls into this category for me and like prospecting it is hard work but sometimes there is wisdom to be found that can be applied to my life (Even if it is to learn not to act in similar fashion).

These bits of advice might not be deeply philosophical or theological but I found God speaking to me at the most unlikely of times and that makes them precious to me. (And because my dad said so…)

* An Afrikaans expression for very angry
** I’m not calling anyone a donkey

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One of the reasons I am convinced that the ADM’s of the blogosphere are not, have not, and cannot be ministers in any useful sense (such as located, local church ministry) is because of the very nature of the ‘work’ they do. So at the Boar’s Head Tavern, Paul McCain wrote:

But it got me to thinking. Where is the line between pathological negativity and the necessary identification of error? And it got me to thinking, when am I so caught up in finding wrong that I miss what is right [my emphasis]

People who are ‘in’ ministry simply cannot engage in the nefarious ‘work’ of unbridled criticism. Why? Because those who are ‘in’ ministry know all too well the rigors of the ministry. Why? Because those ‘in’ ministry understand all too well how much the criticism hurts and, to be sure, how much of it is nonsense and simply untrue. Why? Because those called to ministry had better have a profound working theology of grace.

I think it is tremendously important to keep ministry in perspective because ministry done by ‘ministers.’ Ministers, those who are of that un-hallowed club of so-called professional clergy, are necessarily weak, fragile, broken, and nervous people. Did you catch that? People. I think it is this ‘person’ aspect that is altogether forgotten when it comes to preachers of the Gospel. Preachers, or ‘ministers’, are simply forbidden, however subtly, to be human.

Ministers are not allowed to make mistakes, lose their temper, have bad days, or sin. Ministers are called upon by congregations to be the most legalistic bunch of Christians there is. Preachers are expected to live by the rules and die by the rules; preach the rules; expound the rules. (Sadly, most preachers are not allowed to actually enforce the rules and when they do, well…use your imagination.) When preachers start talking about grace, asking for grace, or offering grace that’s when congregations, and ADM’s, start getting really antsy.

Ministers are the leaders, so we’re told, and if they fail somehow, preach a bad sermon, be at all emotional, or discouraged…well, we can’t have that because ‘we’ might lose those folks who visited the church on Sunday. It’s much better for the preacher to be fake and have those visitors think everything is alright than for the preacher to be real and risk that they might go to the church down the road. Personally speaking, the dehumanizing of humans who preach is one of the most insidious of all the services provided by the ADM’s of the church, both those in the blogosphere and those in the pew.

A blog friend of mine, Jason Goroncy, posted an absolutely brilliant post at his blog the other day titled: The Scandal of Weak Leadership: A Sermon on 2 Corinthians 11:16-12:10. I think you should read it and be encouraged, especially if you stand week after week in any kind of pulpit. In the post, Jason wrote:

This is the sort of ad that I can imagine the church in Corinth writing. How disappointed they must have been when they got Paul! He was not the eloquent speaker for which they had hoped. Instead of providing the ’strong’ leadership they wanted, he treated them with gentleness. And while he was prepared to teach about spiritual gifts, he hardly ever talked about his own ’spiritual’ experiences, even less gloat about them. And rather than mixing with the influential, he insulted them. Even worse – he would not take their money!

Instead of getting Arnold Schwarzenegger or Napoleon or Takaroa, in Paul the Corinthians were given a weak, sick, persecuted, afflicted and bruised human being. And then to add insult to injury, Paul had the audacity to tell them that his weakness was actually proof that he was genuine!  [Are you kidding me?--jerry]

[...]

And as for that mysterious ‘thorn in the flesh’, who knows? The commentators have a field day here: Paul had a theological opponent; Paul had an unbelieving wife; Paul had poor eyesight; Paul had homosexual urges; Paul had malaria – all of which are possibilities, but must remain speculations. Whatever it was, and however much Paul at times wished it removed, it served as a constant reminder to him that the integrity and effectiveness of his ministry would rest not on his worthiness or credentials but on God’s grace.

There’s that word again: Grace! Jason’s paragraph that follows the above quote is simply beyond words in its brilliance. Here’s a snippet: “Here is grace’s way – that God has a deliberate policy of positive discrimination towards nobodies, that the kingdom of God belongs to the poor and that the earth will be inherited by the meek.”  Yet the ADM’s of the blogosphere and pew continue to believe that weakness is just that: weakness. They refuse to see weakness for what it is: God’s grace.

I love God’s grace. It is no mystery to me any longer why last year I was able to take one seminary class and it was Doctrine of Grace. It is one thing to know grace. It is something else entirely to experience it, believe it, and conduct oneself in accordance with what one has believed and experienced. In my estimation, there are some people in the world of blogs who simply have not experienced or believed God’s grace. I’m convinced of it. Furthermore, they simply do not understand that in their fervor to protect God’s orthodoxy, they are destroying the ones called to proclaim it.

I wonder who is really held captive?

The coup de grace, where power-criticism is finally silenced, comes at the end when Jason quotes from Henri Nouwen, (*sarcasm* alert) which I know automatically disqualifies the sermon as orthodox and legitimate. Still, it is worth repeating and perhaps committing to memory:

The way of the Christian leader is not the way of upward mobility in which our world has invested so much, but the way of downward mobility ending on the cross … Here we touch the most important quality of Christian leadership in the future. It is not a leadership of power and control, but a leadership of powerlessness and humility in which the suffering servant of God, Jesus Christ, is made manifest … To come to Christ is to come to the crucified and risen One. The life-giving apostle embodies in himself the crucifixion of Jesus in the sufferings and struggles he endures as he is faithful and obedient to his Lord. So Paul preaches the crucified and risen Jesus, and he embodies the dying of Jesus in his struggles to further point to the Savior. His message is about the cross and his life is cruciform, shaped to look like the cross … I leave you with the image of the leader with outstretched hands, who chooses a life of downward mobility. It is the image of the praying leader, the vulnerable leader, and the trusting leader. May that image fill your hearts with hope, courage, and confidence. [Henri J.M. Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership (New York: Crossroad, 1989), 62-3, 70, 73.]

So be encouraged you who preach or you who find yourself at the barrel end of an ADM AK-47. You are in good company. I send this blog post out to all those who have found themselves the subject of negative or critical or downright hateful blog posts this week. I send it out to all those who have no voice of their own or who cannot defend themselves or choose not to. I also thank Jason for writing this sermon and preaching it.

And finally, a word to the ADM’s of the church, both in blogs and pews, learn about God’s grace. I promise it will free you from that nagging, persistent feeling you have that your ‘ministry’ is to stand guard at the door of God’s throne room in order to prevent any weak, sinful, decrepit loser from finding God’s grace time and time again. It will free you to be so caught up beholding what is right that you won’t even have time to look for what is wrong.

Soli Deo Gloria!!

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At some point someone at Lighthouse Trails Research should read the articles to which they link. When/If this is done it is quickly apparent that their alleged research fails – and does so miserably.

Lighthouse Trails Research Project warns believers of the dangers of Spiritual Formation and even lists schools, colleges, authors and churches that offer classes in the same. Spiritual Formation is “A movement that has provided a platform and a channel through which contemplative prayer is entering the church. Find spiritual formation being used, and in nearly every case you will find contemplative spirituality. In fact, contemplative spirituality is the heartbeat of the spiritual formation movement.” As far as I can tell, if a schools offers a class with “Spiritual Formation” in the title – it is guilty of promoting this dangerous trend.

We can only assume that spiritual formation in and of itself is acceptable, for who could deny this as biblical? The offense appears to be the use of “Contemplative Spirituality” which they define as:

Contemplative Spirituality: A belief system that uses ancient mystical practices to induce altered states of consciousness (the silence) and is rooted in mysticism and the occult but often wrapped in Christian terminology. The premise of contemplative spirituality is pantheistic (God is all) and panentheistic (God is in all). Common terms used for this movement are “spiritual formation,” “the silence,” “the stillness,” “ancient-wisdom,” “spiritual disciplines,” and many others.

And here is where their supposed

Re-search: [ri-surch, ree-surch]  – noun

1. diligent and systematic inquiry or investigation into a subject in order to discover or revise facts, theories, applications: Recent research in medicine…

becomes a colossal

Fail: [feyl] –verb (used without object)

1. to fall short of success or achievement in something expected, attempted, desired, or approved: “Their research failed.”

On the page that contains the above definition for Contemplative Spirituality (which we would all oppose if it were really as they describe) are links to two articles; one by Dallas Willard and another by Richard Foster. It takes one only a few minutes to read these two articles to see how the “research” of Lighthouse Trails Research Project “fails.” Compare the accusations in the definition above with these two excerpts…

Dallas Willard:

So let me say to you very formally: Christian spiritual formation is the process through which the embodied/reflective will takes on the character of Christ’s will.

Spiritual formation in Christ would, then, ideally result in a person whose reflective will for good, fully informed and possessed by Christ, has settled into their body in its social context to such an extent that their natural responses were always to think and feel and do as Christ himself would.

Richard Foster:

Nothing is more important in Christian Spiritual Formation than our need to continue ever focused upon Jesus. This is not formation-in-general. This is formation into Christlikeness. Everything hangs on this. Everything. Jesus gives skeleton and sinews and muscle to our formation. In Jesus we find definition and shape and form for our formation. Jesus is our Savior to redeem us, our Bishop to shepherd us, our Teacher to instruct us, our Lord to rule us, our Friend to come alongside us. He is alive. He teaches, rules, guides, instructs, rebukes, comforts. Stay close to him in all things and in all ways.

We need to study the Bible with a view to the transformation of our whole person and of our whole life into Christlikeness. We come to the Bible to receive the life “with God” that is portrayed in the Bible. To do this we must not control what comes out of the Bible. We must be prepared to have our dearest and most fundamental assumptions about ourselves and our associations called into question. We must read humbly and in a constant attitude of repentance. Only in this way can we gain a thorough and practical grasp of the spiritual riches that God has made available to all humanity in his written Word.

…if you read the whole articles from which these quotes were excerpted, you will see how neither is remotely an example of the definition created by Lighthouse Trails. Neither promotes altered states of consciousness, the occult, or either pantheism nor panentheism.

When your examples contradict your premise – that is a research fail.

Unfortunately, many do not read the links, they simply drink the Kool-Aide as if it were safe.

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God is allowing this to be unleashed because of America’s rebellion and the wickedness within His own church.

The “this” in the above declaration of God’s behavior is the accusation that someone has “rented several rooms at Washington’s Doubletree Hotel for their Sodomite orgy.”  It’s hard to say who posed this theological rot since no author was given.

But it does raise some interesting questions such as:

In what history is this person living that America was so godly in previous generations?  How is America rebellious now and she was not before?  Was America not in rebellion when she enslaved a race of people?  Was she not in rebellion when she committed near genocide for gold and land?  Was she not in rebellion when she persecuted people based on their religion and/or nation of origin?  The assertion that God is somehow so much more upset with us now, because the nation is tolerant of this sin as opposed to that sin is theologically retarded.  Such assertions remind me of the warning: “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name” (Exodus 20:7).

Now, regarding “wickedness within His own church” – let me see if I have the logic correct?  God is allowing a group of homosexuals to openly flaunt there sin because of wickedness within the church?  Now “church” was not capitalized, so I am not sure if the author is thinking in terms of local churches or the Universal Church.  I have a hunch such theological distinctions are beneath our author… that, or they are not able to discern them -  but I digress.  So, we are to suppose God is allowing sinners to sin based on others sinning within his church?  Two questions: 1) for what are God’s purposes in this? 2) is this anything new?

Sure, the particular sin may be new, but that’s only real estate.

Finally, this whole declarative statement of what God is doing in Washington this week was preceded by “There’s no stopping them now” – the “them” being the homosexuals.  What a telling statement.  There is no stopping them… now?  Why because the President of the U.S.A. thinks they are not sinning?  Because Gos is allowing them to sin?  And have we ever stopped them before?  Is it our job to stop them?  Is calling their sin a “Sodomite orgy” really going to help win them to Christ – or just make “someone” feel better?

I find the thought of people lost in their sin(s) sorrowful – regardless of what sin it may be.  I find homosexuals trading the natural for the unnatural to be repugnant – whether they do it in groups or in pairs is irrelevant.  But I find the attitude of this unknown poster at Slice of Laodicea to be both.

[I am hoping this does not turn into yet another thread of comments on homosexuality - that is not the point]

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I’ve been reading Walter Isaacson’s biography on Benjamin Franklin recently, and in a portion I read this morning, the fable of The Man, the Boy and the Donkey was referenced.  Franklin noted this fable in a pamphlet he wrote to instruct printers on how they should decide on what clients to take on.  Franklin was a big supporter of the free press, but he also realized there may be times when a printer must refuse to print something on moral grounds.  Perhaps more importantly, though, he realized that trying to please everyone would quickly lead to pleasing no one.

The fable he referenced is the following:

The Man, the Boy, and the Donkey

A MAN and his son were once going with their Donkey to market. As they were walking along by its side a countryman passed them and said: “You fools, what is a Donkey for but to ride upon?”

So the Man put the Boy on the Donkey and they went on their way. But soon they passed a group of men, one of whom said: “See that lazy youngster, he lets his father walk while he rides.”

So the Man ordered his Boy to get off, and got on himself. But they hadn’t gone far when they passed two women, one of whom said to the other: “Shame on that lazy lout to let his poor little son trudge along.”

Well, the Man didn’t know what to do, but at last he took his Boy up before him on the Donkey. By this time they had come to the town, and the passers-by began to jeer and point at them. The Man stopped and asked what they were scoffing at. The men said: “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor Donkey of yours—you and your hulking son?”

The Man and Boy got off and tried to think what to do. They thought and they thought, till at last they cut down a pole, tied the Donkey’s feet to it, and raised the pole and the Donkey to their shoulders. They went along amid the laughter of all who met them till they came to Market Bridge, when the Donkey, getting one of his feet loose, kicked out and caused the Boy to drop his end of the pole. In the struggle the Donkey fell over the bridge, and his fore-feet being tied together he was drowned.

“That will teach you,” said an old man who had followed them:

“PLEASE ALL, AND YOU WILL PLEASE NONE.”

I have to admit that the first thing that came to my mind when reading that were the recent discussions we’ve had here concerning Rick Warren.  It seems to me that there is nothing he could where he doesn’t displease someone.  This could be said of many Christian leaders I think.  I know that when I was overseeing a campus ministry, I was amazed that I always managed to disappoint or tick off someone.

All of this is to not defend or demean Rick Warren, but rather to observe once again as we enter the new year, that the more things change, the more they remain the same.

May you all have blessed new year and continue to live honestly and with conviction!

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One of the books I read (and recommend) this month is Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior by Rom and Ori Brafman.  In it, the authors explore many of the common ways that humans and cultures derail rational thinking, along with ways of combating these behaviors.  It was a very fascinating read (at least for nerds like me), and has made me rethink the way I approach a number of situations.

One of the topics examined that I found most relevant to the discussions here, applicable to most Christians, ADM’s & non-ADM’s included, is Diagnosis Bias.  They observed this in multiple settings, from interviews to first dates to classroom instruction to NBA players.  [In the latter arena, they cited the research which shows that in the first five years of a player's NBA career, a player's draft order has far more impact on his playing time than the actual productivity, statistics and per-minute contributions of that player on the court.]

Each day we’re bombarded with so much information that if we had no way to filter it, we’d be unable to function.  Psychologist Franz Epting, an expert in understanding how people construct meaning in their experiences, explained, “We use diagnostic labels to organize and simplify.  But any classification that you come up with, ” cautioned Epting, “has got to work by ignoring a lot of other things – with the hope that the things you are ignoring don’t make a difference.  And that’s where the rub is.  Once you get a label in mind, you don’t notice the things that don’t fit within the categories that do make a difference.”

So, basically, humans tend to quickly label things so that they don’t have to continue to observe and evaluate.  Data that doesn’t fit the diagnostic label is discarded (or twisted to fit the diagnosis) and data that does fit is overemphasized.  Without intentionally, systematically and diligently working against this, though, you are in trouble if your initial diagnostic is off.

What does this sound like?

The Commitment Swamp

One of the other traps noted by the Brafmans is that of Commitment Bias – where once someone commits to a position, person, idea, etc., the cost of letting go becomes great enough that irrational behavior ensues in trying to stick to that commitment, beyond rational bounds.  This is sometimes called “throwing good money after bad…”

One demonstration of this behavior is called “Max Bazerman’s twenty-dollar auction” – where a professor auctions off a $20 bill to his classrom, where all bids must be in $1 increments.  The winner receives the $20, but both he/she and the second-highest bidder must pay out their bids for the auction.  In this experiment, typicallyt all but the top two bidders drop out quickly.  It is then not uncommon to see this bidding war go over $100…

Nobel Prize-winning economist Daniel Kahneman, who, together with Amos Tversky, first discovered and chronicled the phenomenon of loss aversion, offers a telling reflection of our psychology during such situations.  “To withdraw now is to accept a sure loss,” he writes about digging oneself deeper into a political hole, “and that option is deeply unattractive.”  When you combine this with the force of commitment, “the option of hanging on will be relatively attractive, even if the chances of success are small and the cost of delaying failure is high.”

We see this all of the time in blog discussions – where someone espouses a particular loosely-held belief.  This belief is criticized and, oft times, the original person then defends it beyond their “loosely-held” passion – making it more strongly-held than it originally was.  Eventually, they may have so invested in an argument that they cannot bear to lose face by backing down to their earlier “loose” position or non-position on the topic.  I’ve seen it happen recently in some of the “universalism” discussions (one one side of the spectrum), while seeing it most all the time at the other end of the spectrum (such as when clear evidence is brought to bear discrediting one of PB/Ken/Ingrid/other ADM’s arguments, and the individual just digs in much harder – refusing to admit wrong – or hurries to change the subject/divert the discussion elsewhere).

Combinations

Recently, we’ve noted these (and other) ’swaying’ phenomena, along with instances where an ADM target and an ADM non-target can make the exact same statement, and one (the target) is lambasted, while the non-target is agreed with.  However, while we’ve tended to use such things as examples of the lack of the “D” (discernment) in ADM’s, what it really comes down to is poor diagnostics (the “d”iscernment part) with lots and lots and lots of blinders then entrenched with commitment bias and the fear of losing face.

Combating the Sway

Probably the most effective and notable way of combating these biases is to recognize them and call them what they are.

With Diagnostic Bias, when I read journal articles (religious or professional) that I suspect or know I have a bias for/against, I try to imagine that the person who wrote it either agrees with me and is a friend of mine (if I’m diagnostically biased against it) or that they are an opponent trying to persuade me (if I’m biased for it).  This has saved me on a number of occasions.

With Commitment Bias, particularly with blog discussions, I often take “time-outs” to discuss the topic IRL with someone I trust, to see if I’ve ‘dug in’ where I shouldn’t have.   Many times in threads I have had to issue apologies or partial-retractions because I’ve found myself defending something loosely-held far too strongly.  This isn’t because of any virtue I possess, though, but rather God using those around me to bring me back from an edge I’ve gone too close to, or crossed.  [You can also figure that if I've backed off and apologized, even if I don't mention it, I've received feedback (at least from my wife) that I'm over-committed on something.]

At a macro-level, this one is interesting.  For the first year of this blog’s operation, we/I fought rather hard in defending the right of emerging churches to exist and for the helpful voice they bring to the table.  As a result, we also had to consistently fight to try to demonstrate that we, ourselves, don’t consider ourselves “emergent/emerging”, and to fight that diagnostic label.  This past year has been some of the same, but some of the opposite, as well – where we’ve had to defend fundamentals of Christian teaching against liberal/lenient pressure, and then fought the “fundamentalist” diagnostic label.

Like so many things, I see the middle ground as somewhere important to hold.  Defying labels, and avoiding the diagnostic flaws inherent with labels.  Committing to positions, but not over-committing beyond the bounds of reason and Christian charity…

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(Note: This is not an indictment of the commenter that I reference here.  Several folks here and on similar and dissimilar blogs — myself included — have been guilty of the same thing.  This is an “if the shoe fits” observation.)

Earlier today, Jerry put up the first part of a multi-part post reviewing Rob Bell’s latest book, Jesus Wants to Save Christians.  Being the lightning rod that Bell is ’round these here parts, I fully expected the comment thread to degenerate quickly, and I wasn’t let down.

The third comment expressed disappointment that supposedly (according to the commenter) “those who have not read the book do not qualify for this thread”.  Jerry wrote over 1400 words, none of which (apparently) provided any ammunition for Bell to be crapped on.

So according to this commenter, Jerry just wasted his breath, because no ammo means no point in having a discussion.

God help us.

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Over at Slice, Ingrid Schlueter opines about a pastor:

After looking at an increasingly androgynous Rob Bell in this video, I’d say Bell doesn’t seem limited to a gender either.

Now, I’m curious. Is that personal attack? Does that statement reflect the God that Mrs. Schlueter follows? Does statement reflect the God of the Bible? If this isn’t a personal attack, what is it? What’s the point of it?

In another recent thread we were asked for the proof that ADM’s attack? Well, how about these apples?

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