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Monday, June 04, 2012

Question of the Day

Okay, here it is. I get conflicting input. You help me decide.

There are some who comment here that you don't often get to see. Some you've seen a lot of until I cut them off. Some you've not seen at all. I filter the comments I receive. After all, my mother reads this blog, and I don't want to subject her or anyone else to some of the stuff that people feel free, in the anonymity of the Internet, to spew. And I care enough about you readers not to subject you to some of that stuff. On the other hand, I also filter some of those with opposing views because they are belligerent, argumentative, perhaps short-tempered, generally not respectful of other views or other people, that sort of thing. I know that the dialog won't go well. I know that there will be no point, no end, no resolution. So I don't start by letting those comments get posted.

So, my question to you, my readers, is this. Should I let them through and let you see their comments, or should I continue my filtering? Do you, for instance, want to see the stuff that Dan Trabue writes so very often in response to what I write, or do you prefer a peaceful reading atmosphere? I will say up front that, for a lot of that, I will retain my right, nay, my responsibility to filter. It's my blog; I can do that. But do you want me to let more through so you can see and interact with it or is it better without the argumentation? You let me know.


Craig said...

Personally, I'd be fine with letting more through the filter.

Dan Trabue said...

Regarding this...

Do you, for instance, want to see the stuff that Dan Trabue writes so very often in response to what I write, or do you prefer a peaceful reading atmosphere?

Do you truly believe that one can have a peaceful atmosphere only when there is uniform agreement? I don't believe that you could possibly believe that enough to state it out loud, although there does seem to be an undertone of "it sure would be more peaceful if he'd just go away..."

And no doubt, if you have ONLY comments which say, "way to go, Stan! Amen!" one could call that a sort of peace - a peace of uniformity. But I believe we all believe in a greater peace - the sort that comes even in the midst of disagreement.

The peace of, "Ya know, I love you Stan/Dan, but I have to disagree on this point... what you're saying just doesn't appear to make sense to me. Perhaps you could answer this question..." and the great and glorious give and take of the Christian church NOT united in blind agreement, but in love that lasts even through disagreement. The love of God our Creator, who created us just a little lower than God's own Self, the love that is greater than any disagreement.

I love you, Stan, even when I disagree with you. You are my brother in Christ and neither height, nor depth, nor principalities or even disagreement can separate you and I from the love in our Savior, Jesus the Christ.

Do I vote for discussion over "filtering..."? You know I do.

What a glorious chance to show the world the love of God in the body of Christ! Amen?

Stan said...

Breaking news ...

In an amazing turn of events that no one could have possibly foreseen, it appears that Dan Trabue is in favor of allowing Dan Trabue to comment openly and often on my blog. Who could have imagined?? What a shock!!

Joking around, Dan. Of course you would want me to allow your comments through. Trying to figure out how much of what you say falls within my guideline of "friendly discussion of issues" is very, very difficult. That's why I'm asking other readers. ;)

Dan Trabue said...

Stan, I'm not speaking of me, personally. I'm speaking in favor of the idea of free and open conversations with much give and take. It's why I don't ban or censor comments on my blog.

But I guess you were just joking, fair enough.

Still, I would hope your friends would stand in favor of free and open conversations. I think this is a critical Christian and human ideal that is in need of promotion, not denial. I believe in you and your friends, Stan, and that they would not fear or deny conversation simply because it either asks questions or raises problems or just disagrees.

I believe you all have the brains, grace and fearlessness to want to engage with those who may sometimes disagree. I see much to lose in such censorship and very little to gain.

And, of course, I'm not speaking of banning/limiting those who are abusive or mean-spirited in their comments. I'm just speaking of those who disagree.

What is there to lose in entering in conversations with those who respectfully disagree? Even if agreement is not reached, at least both/all sides have the opportunity to be raised, and that is a good thing, seems to me.

Dan said...

Why don't you just go over and beat your head against the wall?

Stan said...

That's a definite option I'm considering as well.

Stan said...

@Dan Trabue:

"Conversations with those who respectfully disagree" have never, ever been a problem. I think of "anonymous", my local (because he/she appears to live in my area) atheist who visits the blog and comments from time to time. He (for the sake of simplicity) clearly disagrees with my beliefs and considers them nonsense, but he doesn't express it that way and is, for all intents and purposes, disagreeing respectfully. "Why do you think that?" "Oh, really? Doesn't make sense to me, but, okay."

Doesn't always work that way, does it? If we disagree, many will not do so "respectfully". It's "Pharisee!" or "How dare you conflate your opinion to God's view?" or "Coward!" or some other less-than-respectful exchange that is not respectful or conducive to dialog. If it was only, "Well, I think it's this" and the response was "Well, I think it's that", it would be fine. Too often it's not.

Dan Trabue said...

Stan, first off, I remained extremely polite in face of denigrating and belittling comments. I remained polite in face of you and your friends rejecting my Christianity in spite of my orthodoxy on essential Christian tenets.

I only began to respond to these less-than-polite comments with slightly less than polite comments as a reaction to your behavior. In other words, I took my cues from what you and yours considered reasonable discussion and followed your example and responded in kind.

Secondly, if I offer the opinion that THIS behavior or THAT comment is pharisaical, well, that is my offering of an opinion. It has almost always been done respectfully as possible, but no doubt, people don't like it when their behaviors are called pharisaical. But it remains an opinon, not unlike your opinion that I'm not a Christian, despite my orthodox testimony.

Disagreeing about behaviors/words is not impolite in itself, is it?

If I note that, "By saying, 'this isn't my opinion, it's what God says' you're conflating your opinion with God's Word..." how is that anything other than offering a respectful and reasonable opinion? One which you could respond to, if you so choose.

In this comment here right now, where specifically have I been disrespectful or argumentative? Is it not the case that I'm merely offering opinions and raising questions?

David said...

I can't imagine the amount of flak you just dump. There are trolls, and haters, and idiots, usually all combined in one. Out of morbid curiosity, I'd vote for less filtering, but then I think about what you do let through, and I can't fathom the filth spewed forth.

Dan T, with Stan having several posts with 20+ comments on them, tells me that he does allow disagreement. But knowing him as well as I do, he only encourages disagreement with reason. Saying "No you're wrong" and not backing up that claim is not disagreement with reason. Calling Stan a bigot, or hater, or who knows what else he gets called, is not a constructive conversation. And frankly, a lot of what he allows through from you isn't constructive. You constantly repeat yourself, contradict yourself, misrepresent yourself, mislead others... You claim that you only disagree with him, and yet you produce nothing that is logical, or credible, or biblical. You claim to hold the Bible in high esteem, but you relegate it to myth and legend, as if it is equal with the Iliad. If anyone came to you and said they were an Iliadite, and followed the teachings of the Iliad, you'd think they'd lost a few screws. How can the Bible be the basis for faith and practice, when it isn't even true?! It may have truths in it, but so does "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus". You claim that you and Stan believe in the sanctity of Scripture, yet you treat it as any other postmodern writing, where the reader gets to say what it means, not the author, or in the case of the Bible, the Author. Do we always know? Certainly not, but we can be certain enough for the most part to allow it to change our lives, because we know the Author wouldn't write an obscure book to teach us how to live and believe in Him. Therefore, any other discussion between you and those on this forum goes way askew because there is no firm foundation on which to stand and talk to each other. Stan, and his supporters, interpret Scripture, using Scripture. His detractors interpret Scripture however they please, and then call him pompous for saying...exactly what Scripture says. So, if Scripture is the Word of God, and Stan says, "the Bible says 'For God so loved the world'", then yes, he is speaking for God, since God said it. Stan has been very clear from the beginning that he avoids those topics that he might be tempted to translate through himself, rather than the plain reading of Scripture.

Stan, I vote you keep the trash talking out like you always have. What is unclear is why Dan T insists his disagreements are "peaceful", when they frequently are not. The ones we do see tend to not be out and out hostile, but they do tend to be aggressive...and aggravating. Trying to talk to Dan T and the others like him can be frustrating, because no matter how clearly something is stated, it seems to ricochet off their forehead and disappear into the ether, causing the same response to be repeated half a dozen times. I commend you for your patience, and pity you for the filth you are forced to delete.

Stan said...

@Dan Trabue:

You see, Dan, this illustrates the difficulty. The question is "Should I allow people that often appear to be less than friendly to comment on my blog?" I suggest that certain behaviors appear to be less than friendly. Your approach is to argue this to death. It is not, "Well, I can see that you might consider such behavior to be unfriendly" or anything like it. Just like you believe it is unkind of me to conclude that your "Christianity" is not genuine Christianity. I think it's reasonable and, in fact, important (because if it's true you will need to reconsider your position ... you know ... to avoid Hell). Now, I can tell you 'til the cows come home, "I'm not being unfriendly or unkind", but that doesn't make you perceive it as any less unfriendly or unkind, does it?

Let me try another example removed from you. One commenter used to visit here quite often. At some point, he decided I was "playing the victim card". Now, I wasn't feeling like a victim nor was I trying to come across as one, so I explained to him that I was not and explained what was going on. He disagreed. He repeatedly informed me that I was being a victim and not discussing in a straightforward method. No matter how many times I explained my arguments and reasoning, he refused to hear it and kept the "victim card" line of attack. Eventually I told him I'd have to stop allowing his comments because it was not on a friendly basis. He protested (and hasn't been back), but as I tried to explain to him, if you have a friend and you tell him, "You're playing the victim card" and he explains he's not and why, if you continue to hit him over the head with the accusation, eventually he won't be your friend anymore. That is, "not friendly".

So, when you present your argument on whatever it is you present your argument, it starts out (generally) friendly. As you continue to argue, however, you become less than friendly. Your arguments become more demeaning and the ideas become less the issue than the people with whom you are arguing. It does not seem to be within your vocabulary to say, "Well, I can see you're convinced of your view and I'll just leave it at that." Despite your affirmation that we cannot know for sure what the Bible says or what God thinks, you will fight for your viewpoint as if it is a biblical certainty or a word from God. You assure me that it's okay to accuse people of being pharisaical or "unchristian" and it's not "unfriendly", but you take offense when the same is returned to you. Further, you limit friendly conversation further by asserting that what I read in Scripture cannot be God's opinion and shouldn't be expressed as such ... as if God's Word is obscure and God's mind is not available. If I or anyone else does suggest something is God's idea, it is arrogant and unacceptable. That, then, is the end of the conversation, don't you see?

There has always been a problem in our interactions ("our" meaning "yours, mine, and the rest of us") here in that the sense of the conversation tends to escalate to something closer to a shouting match than a friendly discussion between friends. One of the things that generally makes this the sense of it is the vast volume of comments you make, beating something to death and always playing the victim card ("You're not answering my questions! I'm being misrepresented!" That sort of thing). The question is "Should I allow people that often appear to be less than friendly to comment on my blog?" Your response is "You ought to let friendly people comment on your blog ... and you must define 'friendly' as whatever I say it is ... depending on the moment." That won't quite work, will it?

Stan said...

Note: All the questions in that response are rhetorical. The best response you could have is to see that there might be some conflicts and understand that there might be some misgivings and perhaps you ought to just let it go. The worst response will be to send me another comment about how you're right and I'm wrong and I ought to do what you think is right rather than what I think.

Neil said...

I think moderation is wise. If you let atheists comment and it is obvious where they are coming from then that is less of an issue. But any false teachers claiming the name of Christ must have full rebuttals made to all their comments. That gets old for me after a while, so I just ban them.

We are under no obligation to give wolves a platform, but I think we are obligated to fully respond to them and label them as such if we let them comment.

Stan said...

Thanks, Neil, for that considered response. More for me to think about.

Marshall Art said...

And here's the opposite of Neil's perspective:

While I don't disagree with Neil, there is something to be said for allowing the false teachers that platform if the proper counterpoint follows. My method for deleting or "banning" visitors leans toward the lack of substance in a comment. I have one troll that likes to post the most inane and worthless words as if he thinks it really puts me out all that much to delete it later. Even those I sometimes feel like leaving in place, so that the fool can show others just what a blazing fool he is.

But this is why I allow the false teachers. I give them all the room in the world to make their case for their heresies, just as I give libs all the room to make the case for their nonsensical liberal positions. The sin for me would be to let them stand without response, as if those opinions have real worth and validity rather than to show how they don't.

Dan T is a particular case. I feel that allowing him to post comments will someday provide him the opportunity to tie together all the loose ends of his perspective, to fill the gaping holes of his understanding, to get questions answered fully without him resorting to such a response as "agree to disagree" as if the issue discussed has no real weight. His is a case that constantly brings to mind the question of "how wrong can we be about Scripture and still be worshiping the REAL God, and not one of our own making?"

I also have no problem with name-calling as long as it is accompanied by an explanation, such as "well, you're an idiot/heretic/whatever, and here's why..."

So I guess to allow most anything that isn't initially derogatory and just seeing how it goes is the way to go.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

I vote for banning people like Dan. They are time wasters and keep posting the same tired arguments and claims, and then when rebutted you get charged with slander, libel, ad hominem attacks, etc, etc. And people Dan have links to their sites full of false teachings, and I don't want any one going there to get confused!

You will never win an argument with Dan and I don't believe in giving him that much forum. I know he's been banned from other sites I have visited in the past, and I finally banned him from mine due to his promotion of homosexuality, including the fact that he almost always takes the strings off topic.

Anyone who has a link from their name to a site with false teachings will not get posted on my comments with their link. Also, I finally banned those comments with bad language or those which were just attacks - such as I received from many, many Beth Moore followers.

Stan said...

Beth Moore followers? Who'd have thought?

Marshall Art said...

Jeez, Glenn, then you'll have to block my comments (when I actually find time to visit) as I am still linked to Dan's blog, and one other goofy, psuedo-intellectual progressive christian.

Yet I'll still visit even if you do.

Dan Trabue said...

You all wonder why I comment so much, with such long responses. The reason is, so much of my position is misunderstood/misrepresented. For instance, in the few comments that have appeared here since my last comment, enough errors in representing my position have been offered that it would take several posts to deal with them all. So, that leaves a reasonable person in a pickle.

Do I try to correct these misunderstandings? Each one of them? Do I let the misrepresentations go un-noted? What do you think is a reasonable response?

For instance, David said...

Saying "No you're wrong" and not backing up that claim is not disagreement with reason. Calling Stan a bigot, or hater, or who knows what else he gets called, is not a constructive conversation.

I could point out that I'm quite sure that you all agree that if someone says something that is bigoted, or uses bigoted rationales, that pointing that out (or at least offering the opinion that "That sounds bigoted for these reasons...") is a rational response. Do you think that someone who says something bigoted ought to have their opinions ignored? I doubt that you do.

Or where David said...

You claim to hold the Bible in high esteem, but you relegate it to myth and legend, as if it is equal with the Iliad. If anyone came to you and said they were an Iliadite, and followed the teachings of the Iliad, you'd think they'd lost a few screws. How can the Bible be the basis for faith and practice, when it isn't even true?

I mean there is just a lot to unpack there.

1. Just because someone identifies a parable as "a parable," does not mean they don't devalue the Bible, nor does it make the Bible "not true." We ALL agree with this.

2. Similarly, if I think rationally, this text sounds exactly like a mythic storytelling, that does not mean that I devalue the Bible, nor does it mean the Bible isn't true. It is just a storytelling device, not dissimilar to parables.

3. I have pointed this all out before, but here is that same misleading and irrational comment again. No doubt, David missed my clarification before (or perhaps he's just ignoring it, I don't know), but should I correct that misunderstanding/misrepresentation/slur or should I let it go?

And what of the other misrepresentations that followed this comment or in Stan's and others' comments?

Responding to false allegations takes time and effort. And yet, I think it's important to do so, so as not to leave false comments about what I believe standing (allowing for even more gossip and falsehoods to be spread and ingested).

Do you see the problem?

This is why I always suggest that you all be more specific and direct. Rather than saying, "Dan is a false teacher," which is a falsehood itself, say, "When Dan says X, I have a problem with it for this reason..." and be specific.

That way, there are no slurs, no slander, no gossip, no falsehoods. It's only you offering opinions, as I offer my opinions and strive to do so without impugning your names, but trying to stick to specific comments.

Isn't that a more reasonable way to communicate?

For now, I will let the other poor understandings lie, as you all complain when I go on and on. Suffice to say that anytime you all are saying, "It's Dan's position..." or "Dan thinks..." you are almost always wrong, especially when you don't cite a specific quote from me.

If nothing else, I'd think that, for your own sake, you'd like to continue these conversations, rather than limit them, so that you could learn to actually represent what Others think, rather than misrepresent us, as is so often the case.

Truth is a great thing, fellas.

Vaughn Ohlman said...

I agree with Marshall Art. I would also like to see that little 'prove you're not a robot' thing taken away :) I mean, you have moderation on already.

Stan said...


Actually it wasn't Marshall, but ...

I took off the "prove you're not a robot thing" at the first request to do so and within two days had 37 "comments" from robots. These were not comments from humans. They spewed almost entirely nothing at all. Gibberish. Repeated gibberish on the same posts long, mostly of long ago. Trying to weed through all that, stretched out to an ongoing basis, even with moderation on, would likely put an end to my interest to blogging.

Now that might not be a bad thing, right?

Stan said...

@Dan Trabue:

I guess you make my point for me. Trying to wade through your lengthy comments even after being told that your best response would be not to comment further is just more work than it's worth. But I have to respond because it is the point of the question of the post and likely the answer as well.

If I understand you correctly, you believe it is important that you not be misunderstood, that you correct all misrepresentations. That's the reason for this follow-up comment at all. As I indicated, the response, "Well, apparently we won't agree" or something like it won't happen. The argument will continue.

Your double standard is really abrasive. It is good for you to call a bigoted response bigoted, but it is not good if someone says the same to you. It is good to call someone pharisaical if you think they are being pharisaical, but if someone else is concerned that you are not a Christian and you think you are, it is wrong of them to say so. Do you think that someone who thinks you are in jeopardy of Hell should have their opinions ignored? Apparently you do.

"Truth is a great thing, fellas" you assure us, but only, apparently, if it is "truth" to which you subscribe, "truth" that you recognize, "truth" that aligns with what you believe. Anything else is "opinion", "hunches", and, most likely, arrogant phariseeism, cowardice, bigotry and hate.

I know that many have suggested here that I let your comments through more often, with only one or one and a half suggesting otherwise. Just the sheer audacity, double standard, and refusal to "play nice" makes me lean away from it. That and the amazing amount of time and effort spent writing responses to your voluminous writings. I'm still considering, but it's not leaning in your favor.

Stan said...

To my readers, I guess I've found my answer. I know that there were several votes (as if this is a democracy) to allow Dan through (because it is most often Dan that gets blocked) and I understand. And I am inclined in many cases to let him through because it might be good to address his arguments. And I'm not as hard over as Glenn about not allowing anyone for fear of linking to their false teachings and all that, although I certainly understand it.

But I have to say that it is Dan himself who is convincing me not to change my current filtering. On this post alone I've already deleted multiple responses because he doesn't know when to stop arguing and can't seem to see his own double standard -- "I can say unkind things about you because they're true, but you can't say unkind things about me because they're misrepresentations!" -- and the like. Even after asking him not to comment further on this, he has ... repeatedly. What it finally comes down to is that I have neither the time nor the inclination to keep refuting his what-I-consider-to-be mindless arguments on so many topics without any common language, truth basis, or respect. It just seems fruitless to me.

Maybe I'll let some through as I have in the past in order to engage some salient, important considerations, but I'm afraid, for the most part, most of his comments don't fall under my definition of "friendly discussion of issues", so I'm going to have to rule against loosening my filters right now.

Vaughn Ohlman said...


Well, it was Marshall Art that I wanted to agree with, his post where he said "here's the opposite of Neil's perspective"

Sorry about the robot thing. I guess that's what you get for having such a popular blog. I never have the problem. Sigh.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...


You're funny! No, the actual commenter - e.g. Dan - who links to their own heretical site. Your site is a good one to allow the link to!

Glenn E. Chatfield said...


Just for clarification -

For my blog, those with links to bad sites don't have their comments deleted - they just get posted without the link.

I've only blocked two people in the 4 1/2 years I've been blogging, and both spent an inordinate amount of time promoting the homosexual agenda by lengthy posts which took way to much time to respond to properly.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Oh, and I put moderation on when I began getting tons of spam, including links to porn sites!

Stan said...

Glenn: "they just get posted without the link."

I'm curious, Glenn. How do you do that? I don't know of any way to edit a comment or to remove a link in a comment.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Well, blogspot really doesn't let you do so. I know wordpress does. I have done it two ways:

1. I post a comment under myself with an intro statement about why I couldn't post with the link, and then I paste in the actually comment from my e-mail notice, and add the author's "handle" at the bottom.

2. I sign of blogger and then post the original comment as anonymous, copied from my e-mail notice, and including the "handle".

By doing this, I have had complaints from the posters who call it "censorship" by not allowing their link, but I couldn't care less about that. I'm in the business of protecting the sheep - not sending the to a poisoned field for eating.

Marshall Art said...

There is another way to deal with your concerns. Post the comment without a reply from you. You are not obliged to reply if you don't want to do so, but you would still be allowing the comment (thus preventing accusations that aren't accurate) and others could respond if they so choose.

It's not a great alternative, just another.

Naum said...

My comment policy on blogs I run (not the organizations I have setup web blog/sites for, as the leadership there determines where to set the open/closed meter) is as follows:

1. Zero tolerance for spam.
2. No commenters undertaking personal attacks on other commenters. Debate, dissect, criticize, lambast, roast, etc.… the ideas/thoughts/statements, not the writer.
3. Only exception to #2 would be myself, as I do not mind criticism, but do not include family or friends in it, or there will be ZERO TOLERANCE.

The web works best as a 2-way medium, and while it is justifiably the prerogative of the site proprietor to include or exclude how he/she desires, the open web is so much more edifying, educational, instructive and a living model of the Socratic method of dialectic. I learned just as much from comments, not only on my site, from the articles (though, not all sites, many traditional media companies, like newspapers, never figured out how to do comments property… …also, youtube comments are a morass of inanity) all across the giant global graph.