Saturday, July 04, 2015

Samuel James blogged about Christian bloggers and then pulled down what he said in the wake of a Christianity Today piece supporting bloggers? Meditation on courage for the 4th of July (sarcasm alert)

For those who remember that post by blogger Samuel James here's a synopsis of the reasons he told Christian bloggers, as a pastor's kid, to not follow Mark Driscoll around:

1) It really serves no good purpose.
2) It obscures Christian forgiveness.
3) It empowers skepticism towards the local church.
4) Finally, it punishes Driscoll’s family.
When, a year later, Samuel James decided to blog about what not to do when a fellow Christian embarrasses "us", he got some flak, and then he wrote another post about the humble 20something blogger not anticipating the crazy reaction to that point.

But if there's something humans have a great talent for its appreciating accumulated context.  The internet may have a short attention span but it is a thing that has the memory of an elephant, give or take the deployment of robots.txt but entities like Mars Hill or Mark Driscoll's team to prevent things from being quoted.

Wenatchee The Hatchet has discussed Samuel James' talk about bloggers a couple of times here.

What's been interesting to note is that since this Christianity Today op-ed on the value of watchdog blogs and the linking to Samuel James' bromides against it, Samuel James seems to have seen fit to remove this year's ruminations on the badness of stuff like watchdog blogs

That the article at CT was written by Michelle Van Loon and Marlena Graves ...

hey ... check this out.  It kinda looks like Marlena Graves was one of the people to whom Mark Driscoll declared "we were virgins when we met" about himself and Grace Driscoll.
Interview by Katelyn Beaty and Marlena Graves/ January 5, 2012

M[ark Driscoll]: No, and for us, we sinned, quite frankly. We were virgins when we met and were sleeping together as high-school boyfriend and girlfriend. [emphasis added] Then Grace came back to Christ, and I came to Christ in college, so we had to stop sinning sexually. I'd say if we both could go back and rewrite history and change one thing, that would probably be the thing we would change. But we did repent and met with our pastor. And then we did get married, between our junior and senior years of college.
What may be most instructive about Samuel James' blogging activity is that his pieces that talk about watchblogging are down.  To Wenatchee The Hatchet this reflects the problematic impulse in evangelical blogging and a problematic precedent within the history of an entity like Mars Hill that rather than explicitly say you're sorry when a controversy erupts over something you decided to make a matter of public record it's easier to just obliterate the offending item and just "move on".  In online journalism revising and redacting can be popular, as it with blogs ... but it's preferable to publicly retract what you regret saying or note that a correction has been made.  If you decide to de-publish something for the sake of someone's career or to prevent harm to their job prospects or to ensure personal safety that's okay. 

What Wenatchee The Hatchet has found most galling about a blogger like Samuel James is that Samuel James insist on posting a photo of the Driscoll family in his declaration that bloggers not follow Driscoll around.  Wenatchee avoids dragging the Driscoll kids into a discussion of Mark Driscoll's public role except when Mark Driscoll makes it impossible to not mention them on a particular point, such as when he anchored his tendentious reading of Esther to a conversation with Ashley rather than a compelling exegetical/textual defense of his view. 

Samuel James needs to consider the possibility that blogging about how bad watchblogging is only to de-publish in the wake of a CT article that singles his dubious reasoning out not only comes across as unprincipled but also cowardly.  James' motives could be pure as undriven snow for all we do or don't know but what he has said, in the context of controversy surrounding Mark Driscoll and blogging, does not seem particularly wise or informed.  What makes it more unfortunate is that it seems James has been finding it easier to just take down what he wrote rather than feel any obligation to, maybe, apologize for some stuff he's written.  If he's not sorry and doesn't feel he made a mistake in publishing what he published why didn't he leave it up? 

Well, for folks who might want to read what Samuel James may no longer want you to read ... in the United States there's no "right to be forgotten" as there is in Europe.  Today being the 4th of July let's celebrate the liberties available through the First Amendment by being able to read what some have tried to suppress, eh?

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