Letters to the editor and a certain faculty member at Covenant College...
(Tim) Blogs live in a weird world. On the one hand, posts can be responded to immediately in the comments section at the bottom of the page. On the other hand, posters can't live their lives responding to the comments unless the blog is all they do. Over 12,500 comments have come in to this blog in the past two and a half years and readers know it's not unusual for a single comment to run into the thousands of words.
Think about it this way...
If this blog were a print magazine, David and I would be able to select one or two letters to the editor we thought representative of the many we receive (and also not select other letters we didn't want to allow to see the light of day). Then, we could send those letters to the author of the original piece and give him a chance to respond to his critics in print in the next issue. After that exchange ran in the next issue's letters to the editor column, it would be the end of it. Original article, many responses, one or two selected for the next issue's publication, author given ability to respond to those one or two, next issue containing those one or two and the author's response, the end of it.
But blogs? Well, many don't allow comments at all. Many more only allow comments from verified e-mail addresses and full names--in other words, no anonymous comments. Many more only allow comments from verified e-mail addresses and full names, if the blog owner decides he wants to allow the comment to be posted. In other words, comments are fully moderated.
David and I do not have the time (or inclination if we had the time) to verify the e-mail addresses or full names of commenters, and we almost never moderate comments. Maybe one in 250 or so we remove an obscenity, pull for slander, or remove temporarily while we work behind the scenes with the author to bring the comment into conformity with the rules of the road. So largely, this forum is open to a degree that would throw print publications and most other blogs into meltdown. And sometimes David and I go into meltdown at the consequences of this policy.
For instance, often there are commenters who agree with what we've written, but then carry that agreement into areas and convictions David and I don't hold. Others agree with us in a manner that makes us blanch at the tone in which the agreement is expressed. One of the most frustrating commenters of all is the one who disagrees with us without having comprehended what we've written. So, their summary of our arguments are far afield from what we wrote or think. Such commenters go on and on disagreeing with their summary of what we've written while never acknowledging they're dealing with a straw man.
Yes, there are times when the failure is ours--not theirs. We have not been clear in what we've written so it's predictable that our readers are confused and think we believe something we don't. Often, though, the fault is the reader's. This becomes clear when we write to correct their understanding and they refuse to change their summaries, continuing to post comments (often) ranting against a man or a conviction that have never appeared on this blog. Almost always, this is the commenter who will ultimately find one of his comments removed.
Moving to the particular...
This morning, I had an extended conversation with a Covenant College graduate who didn't like my posts dealing with Covenant. It was a good conversation which I found helpful. One of the criticisms raised was my singling out of one professor at Covenant, apparently calling for his dismissal. What I've written could be understood that way.
Let me correct what I've written, then, by saying that I did not intend to call for any particular professor's dismissal. What I do believe is that there are professors at Covenant who need to be dismissed, particularly given evidence such as the one-third of faculty members who are pleased to respond to a public campus poll that they believe Senator Obama is a Christian and are supporting his presidential bid.
Houston, we have a problem. And the problem isn't that some faculty members will vote this, and others that way. It's that one third of the faculty members who responded to this survey freely reported that they believe a presidential candidate who is radically opposed to the most basic categories of biblical morality--sodomy and Molech slaughter--is a Christian.
Think the Third Reich, people, and ask yourself whether we've learned anything--anything at all--from the Holocaust?
Those who advocate the national socialist leadership of Hitler and Senator Obama ought not to pass as true spiritual leaders within the Presbyterian Church in America, nor to be supported by the people of God's tithes and offerings. Are we clear?
So then, how would a president or trustee go about finding which faculty members need to be corrected, rebuked, or dismissed?
I have provided examples of the sort of easy first steps to take in such an investigation, and when I took those steps I found one name cropping up again and again.
But by pointing out the obvious signs of "does not compute" with this professor, I did not mean to call for his dismissal. Only to suggest that he seemed as good a candidate as any to have a warm conversation with.
My friendly critic this morning pointed out, quite rightly, that I am not in a position to know the realities of specific faculty members at Covenant. That's true. I do not serve on the Board of Trustees, so these decisions are not mine to make. For that I'm quite pleased and did not mean to usurp their authority. But I did mean to point out their authority and to encourage them to use it in a way that those watching would see and hear the birth pains of that reform.
If you're not satisfied by my explanation, consider that each faculty member who supports Senator Obama's candidacy had the option not to respond to the poll at all, keeping his true convictions to himself or herself. Or, better yet, deciding that Christian faith and the support of our modern-day Holocaust are incompatible. That you can't serve both God and Molech.