While the Kirk’s controversy is in hiatus, and the feeling of crisis is suspended, I’ve had some time to reflect on this blog.
I started it as a communication tool for my congregation during the June General Assembly. It served very well in that capacity but I was surprised by the number of non-Kirk people who were reading it and making comments. I tried, at first, to answer every comment I could.
When the Kirk began to withdraw from the PCUSA the readership and comments grew. Now there were too many comments for me to respond to and, very interestingly, the commentators seemed pleased to be countering each other with their comments. It seemed to take on a life of its own.
For the most part, commentators were decent, making good points to my blogs and to each other. Then it began to degenerate. Points and counterpoints got personal. I managed all the comments rather loosely. The comments came to me by email first, where I could judge those that should be posted and those that should simply be thrown out.
Some of those posting said that I only put in comments that supported my side. Anyone briefly reading any one page of comments would see the falsehood in that. The only rules I used to eliminate a comment were 1) no profanity, 2) no personal attacks against anyone but me, and 3) it had to make some sort of sense. You wouldn’t believe how many posts did not pass muster for one, or even all, of the above reasons.
I got some criticism for allowing “anonymous” people to post. If you look carefully, some of the anonymous posters signed their names at the end of their posts. Others were satisfied to remain in the dark, some with good reason.
There were people who posted with malice. The content of the posts didn’t qualify for elimination but, I’ve I’d had a rule concerning intent, they’d never have seen the light of day.
It was inevitable that I, and people at the Kirk, would begin to speculate about the people posting. “Jodie” was a favorite among many. Her first post said that she had no agenda in her responses, but that soon changed. It was clear that she was much opposed to the Kirk’s theology and actions. Others joined her in highly disapproving posts, often encouraging each other, sometimes getting a rise out of Kirk members who posted responses.
Other posts sounded like they came from denominational officials. I think that some did. I got an email from a former member of Hollywood Presbyterian church who, somehow, had the ability to track where some of my posts were originating. I followed this up and found that a great number of posts came out of the Louisville offices, and one even came from the Presbyterian Benefits office in Philadelphia.
If you look at the world map below my profile sidebar, you can see where the posts generally come from. If you click on the map, a larger one will appear. You’ll notice that I still have friends in the UK who are keeping up on news from me. Brazil has a large dot because of Jason Gardner and his family, who are our missionaries there (he posted comments non-anonymously). There are hits from Tanzania (Kathy Colby and Valerie Vaughan, our missionaries there), and from Nairobi, where we have mission contacts. I have no idea who is accessing this blog from China, Australia, New Zealand, Crete, Istanbul, Sri Lanka, South Vietnam, Indonesia, Mexico, or Europe. Costa Rica lights up because of our many contacts there through Kirk missions.
I’ve enjoyed writing the blog, even though some of what I’ve written was done in the toughest and fatiguing days in my career. I know that the readership, which was holding at 2,500 a day, will fall off precipitously (I looked at my graph of “hits” and it looks a lot like a graph of the membership decline in the PCUSA). The blog will now go back to my original intent—reaching the membership of the Kirk with current and accurate information about the denomination and our church.
I’m working on a review of the “best of comments” that I’ll publish in the near future.
Keep praying—keep the faith.