Friday, October 07, 2005

Reader feedback, please

In a comment on the previous post, Cyberkitten wrote:
I'm more than happy to discuss the Gospels with you. Maybe you should post a Blog about them & see where it leads.
I'm not sure whether Cyberkitten meant that, or if he was just expressing annoyance with me. (You'd have to read the comment in context to understand why I say that.)

But in fact I have been thinking about beginning a series of posts on the Gospels.

I hesitate to do so for two reasons. First, I don't want this blog to be narrowly about religion. Religion as it touches on other matters, yes; but not an examination of the Gospels as a pursuit in itself.

Second, because the posts might seriously offend you. Some of you do not believe in God; some of the theists among you are Jewish and may not want to hear about the Gospels; and the few Christians among you may well be put off by my liberal theology. When it comes to religion, I am quite capable of offending everyone!

The first objection is not insurmountable. My current pattern is to publish a substantive post a minimum of three times per week:  Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday nights. There is no reason why I couldn't continue that pattern, and publish an additional post on the Gospels each Saturday night. (Time would be the challenge, but presumably I can work it out.)

The second objection is more difficult for me to evaluate. I don't want people to think I'm trying to propagate my religion. Indeed, I fear some of you are already beginning to wonder.

(For the record, I am not trying to convert anyone to Christianity. In my mind, it is no different than discussing my views on any other topic:  e.g., whether President Bush was responsible for the post-Katrina debacle. But I realize there is a heightened sensitivity when the subject is religion — even more than with politics.)

I began to investigate a liberal perspective on the Gospels more than fifteen years ago. Writing on the subject would give me an opportunity to consolidate the disparate conclusions I have formulated over the years.

It would also allow me to explain my beliefs and how I reach my conclusions. I joked earlier that I am capable of offending everyone on this topic. Put in a more positive way, I am in a position to promote understanding between alien worldviews.

Maybe if we have a really good discussion, world peace will break out. Wouldn't that be nice!

I would also gain a great deal from a dialogue on the subject, assuming anyone posts any comments. I am always attempting to sharpen my thinking; you can help me achieve that. It is the same objective for everything I post on this blog. I help you sharpen your thinking; you help me sharpen my thinking; and maybe we move a little closer to understanding one another.

I know your first response will be, It's your blog, you should write about whatever you want to write about. But I want to know:
  1. whether anyone would have any enthusiasm for a series of posts on the Gospels; and
  2. whether anyone would be so offended they might stop reading Simply Put altogether.
I've worked hard to build up a core of regular readers and commenters, and I would hate to lose all of you tilting after windmills.

Feedback, please.


At 7:26 AM, October 07, 2005, Blogger CyberKitten said...

For starters I'm certainly not annoyed with you. It seems that ideas from the previous posting had run out of steam. My suggestion was basically to start a new subject heading rather go off on a complete tangent in the on we were already in.

I can understand your hesitation(s). Discussion of the Gospels per se might be a little heavy for a lot of people - plus the fact that it might involve research as I for one don't really know my way around them. Maybe you could start with a piece of one Gospel (with context) and we could discuss that - rather than ending up doing a Lit Crit on the Bible itself

At 8:18 AM, October 07, 2005, Blogger Juggling Mother said...

I agree it could be interesting, but you'd have to start from the assumption that your readesr know nothing about the Gospels.

If you stick to once a week, I'm sure it won't interfere with the other topics on Simply Put.

At 9:20 AM, October 07, 2005, Blogger snaars said...

Q wrote: "I want to know:
whether anyone would have any enthusiasm for a series of posts on the Gospels; and whether anyone would be so offended they might stop reading Simply Put altogether."

Gosh, I stopped reading Simply Put a long time ago because I just can't tolerate a viewpoint that conflicts with my own.

Since I'm not visiting your blog anyway, I could hardly be unenthusiastic about not reading your perspective on the gospels, now could I?

At 9:41 AM, October 07, 2005, Blogger Stephen (aka Q) said...

Suddenly I have a headache. I'm making the same expression as the ape in your photo.

At 10:07 AM, October 07, 2005, Blogger CyberKitten said...

Maybe if you start us off with something easy... like maybe a quote and a question/point of view/observation.....?

Just a thought.

But be gentle with us atheists.... you know how fragile we are (grin)

At 12:31 PM, October 07, 2005, Blogger Jack's Shack said...


I have been reading your blog and comments elsewhere long enough to have a decent feel for who you are.

I will not be put off by your posting about the Gospels. You are entitled to your beliefs.

From my perspective the only time I start to get bent out of shape is when someone tries to force me to accept their faith as superior to mine.

Judaism is the best religion for me. Not best, best for me. The distinction is significant.

IMO the bottom line still comes back to whether you are a good person or not, not whether your religious POV agrees with my own.

At 2:27 PM, October 07, 2005, Anonymous J said...

I just started reading a couple weeks ago, and I don't think I've commented here before. I have to say, though, I'd be highly interested in a series on the gospels. My vote is that you start tomorrow. ;-)

At 3:02 PM, October 07, 2005, Blogger Stephen (aka Q) said...

Hi, J, glad you spoke up. And very encouraging words, too.

I briefly visited your blog and I will definitely be back. No doubt you'll be receiving comments from me before long.

So far all of you have been encouraging me to take the plunge. It seems I haven't seriously offended any of you so far. I should discuss something controversial once in a while.

In terms of structure, what I had in mind was:
(a) post a short passage from one of the Gospels;
(b) briefly identify a specific point of meaning — this would be comprehensible to a non-technical reader; and
(c) as a post script, discuss the passage from the perspective of "higher criticism" (i.e., is the passage historical or unhistorical in what it affirms about Jesus?; on what grounds do scholars arrive at that conclusion?).

Section (b) would be comprehensible to any reader. As for section (c), I would attempt to make it comprehensible to a non-technical reader, but the subject matter may be of interest to only a limited audience.

I could publish section (c), or these Gospel posts in their entirety, on another site. If I do that, I'll provide a link on Simply Put each time I post something on the other site.

At 1:06 PM, October 10, 2005, Blogger Carolyn said...

I'm probably commenting on this kind of late..but I just got enthused about the internet again.

I agree with what you said, that you should write what you're interested in writing about on your blog. I wouldn't be interested in reading or commenting about the Gospel, but I certainly wouldn't stop reading your blog over it (only prioritize my limited time online and skip those posts).

At 12:09 PM, October 11, 2005, Blogger Stephen (aka Q) said...

Thanks for the input, Carolyn.

I imagine that the blogosphere, and most anything else, look rather disinteresting when you've just returned from Burning Man.


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