Saturday, February 25, 2006

Dialog with the Message Boarders

A word of personal commendation
By Dennis E. McFadden

I want to take this opportunity to credit "Jerry" (I know his full name but am withholding it) with EXACTLY the kind of Christian deportment that is so often missing in our conversations about the ABC (by both the left AND the right). Following my original post regarding Central Baptist seminary on Wednesday, February 22, Jerry sent me an email with supplementary/contradictory data, sourced from the ATS. I was delighted to put it on my blog immediately, along with an "eating crow" graphic.

Then, having not had the opportunity to see that correction, but having viewed my criticism of a couple of contributors Thursday, February 24, he posted a strongly worded comment to my piece, asking me if my behavior was inconsistent with my rhetoric. While his comment was quite passionate, it was entirely fair and a pretty good observation (had I not already done exactly what he felt I should do).

Evidently, when Jerry discovered that I had posted his entire e-mail to my blog, he voluntarily deleted his own comment (although blogspot had already sent it to me in an e-mail form).

Reactions by some of the bloggers at were quick. One suggested that my blog account does not permit comments from unregistered users, but that he would have liked to have said:

"I am glad to see that you have found the ABC Family RoundTable at I wish you had been willing to give your readers the opportunity to see both Bruce Gourly and Timothy Bonney's comments in their original context, on our forum."

Ironically, just this week another frequent blogger from that same forum sent me an e-mail expressing dissatisfaction that I so often quote people's pieces in full. He advised me that it was not good netiquette to publish someone else's writings, even with attribution. The comment cited above, however, is exactly why I prefer to utilize entire articles when practical. Without the context of the words of those we are opposing, it is entirely too easy to make them sound foolish and to select only the words which will appear the least formidable. Constructing straw men of the left is just as ethically wrong as fashioning straw men of the right. When you publish enough context for people to make their own judgements, they can determine for themselves who has the better (and more truthful) case.

But, back to my commendation of "Jerry." When a reader to the forum assumed that the comment had been removed by me for editorial (presumably ideological)reasons, it would have been simple for Jerry to let the matter stand, leaving me to appear foolish or mean spirited. Yet, that is not what he did.

Responding promptly, "Jerry" said: "As far as I know he's never deleted a comment from his blog. That was me. But I scuttled it very soon after it was posted. McFadden and I seem to have cross-posted and my comments were no longer valid. (And too too confrontational in the first place.)"

WOW!!! What an example of the kind of Christian deportment that those of us on the right (as well as the left) could stand to learn from. When given an opportunity to allow an unfair and untrue characterization to tar an ideological opponent, "Jerry" proved himself to be a "stand up" guy, abounding in integrity. [For the record, my only deletion of a reader's comment came in the first week of blogging when an unwanted advertiser posted spam in my comments section. That prompted me to switch to registered users only as apparently the only way to avoid being spammed to death.]

Jerry evidenced integrity as well as class in his communications with me and in the message board. His simple act of truthfulness and kindness inclines people to assume a greater credibility for his future comments. May his tribe increase! These next months and years will be difficult enough in the ABC. Our strongly held and principled disagreements could easily degenerate into the kinds of bitter acrimony and ugliness characteristic of so many "church fights." We do not need to make it worse by demonizing good people with whom we disagree.

[His Barking Dog cops to being mostly negative about many things in the ABC. These are personal opinions, however, and do not imply endorsement by any official entity in the PSW]

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