Posts tagged with: blogging

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Thursday, November 8, 2007

Today was a pretty full day that just wrapped up a few minutes ago. Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY, opened up the day with a keynote address, “Pioneering the New Media for Christ.”

Mohler emphasized the communicative mandate of the Christian faith: “To be a Christian is to bear the responsibility to communicate.” Setting this statement within the context of stewardship, Mohler emphasized the biblical foundations for a Christian view of communication. In creation God made human beings in his image, as communicative and rational beings. The account of the Fall in Genesis 3, however, provides us with the context of sin.

Although Mohler didn’t make the link explicit, the Fall’s effect on communication comes to expression in the Genesis 11 account of the Tower of Babel. So language can be both used properly and misused (to lie, to slander, to gossip, and so on). But after Creation and Fall comes Redemption, which is expressed in terms of the divine communication, the revelation in Jesus Christ (the Logos of John 1).

Mohler engaged Francis of Assisi’s instructions to teach and preach “with words when necessary.” Admitting that actions must be consistent with our declarations, Mohler asserted that words are always necessary. “No one is going to intuit the Gospel,” he said. Citing Romans 10, Mohler noted that faith comes by hearing the Word.

With a brief theology of communication in view, Mohler examined the varieties of technological means that have been used to transmit the Gospel. Christians, he said, are a people of the Book, a “literary” people. Noting that Christians initially used radio to a greater extent than television, Mohler provided the basis for a comparison of various kinds of media.

In this way, the advent of the Internet is more like radio than TV, insofar as the ease of access, production, and broadcasting, in North America is far more extensive than was popular access to TV in that medium’s early days (78% of Americans have access to a computer, and that percentage is markedly higher the younger the target group).

Mohler’s address provided evidence for the claim that blogging, podcasting, and videocasting are legitimate and important media for Christians to responsibly and prudentially engage the culture and proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.

The talk raised the following issues for me. Given that “Godblogging” as a phenomenon is “talk about God” in a particular form, the possibilities for identifying the parallels, relationships, and continuities between “Godblogging” and “theology” (God-words) are plentiful. I also considered Augustine’s treatise on Christian rhetoric, De Doctrina Christiana (On Christian Teaching), especially Book IV, as a source of seminal relevance.

On a more minor point, Mohler attributed the lack of Christian engagement in film in the early days of Hollywood to economic and artistic deficits. It seems to me that there was just as much a cultural deficit, which is perhaps what he meant by an artistic deficit, in the sense of the inability to appreciate beauty wherever it exists. There was (and still is among some) a profound and deep distrust of the theater and film (and television by extension) as inherently deceitful and powerful tools of diabolical power, given the pagan backgrounds of the theater.

Here’s what the CRC’s 1928 Synodical Report on Worldly Amusements had to say about film in particular:

It is also common knowledge that the moving picture industry is to a large extent in the hands of unscrupulous men, whose only concern is large financial profits regardless of the moral influence of the presentations. A large number of these pictures are a shameful exploitation of the sex-instinct; and many other exert a baneful influence through the portrayal of crime, a flippant attitude toward parental authority, the dignity of hte govenrment and of the church. Because of these things the movie-theater is undeniably one of the most destructive forces in our country, morally pestilential.

Based on these and other observations, the committee recommended abstinence from theater attendance by Christians.

With that minor caveat, Mohler’s address was full of Christian wisdom about the technology of our culture and Christian engagement. More to follow in the morning.

Also: The folks at Stand to Reason are live-blogging the event. There are a number of posts on Mohler’s talk.

A new blog has been added to our blogroll sidebar (along with a much-needed round of housecleaning on old and out-of-date links). Announcement below:

The Social Science Research Council is pleased to announce the launch of The Immanent Frame, a new SSRC blog on secularism, religion, and the public sphere.

The blog is opening with a series of posts on Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age, including recent contributions from Robert Bellah, Wendy Brown, Jose Casanova, Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, and Colin Jager. Robert Bellah has called A Secular Age “one of the most important books to be written in my lifetime,” and there will be more to come on Taylor’s major work in the weeks ahead, with posts by Rajeev Bhargava, Akeel Bilgrami, Hent de Vries, Amy Hollywood, Tomoko Masuzawa, Joan Scott, and others. Meanwhile, Charles Taylor himself has just made his own contribution to the already ongoing conversations.

But The Immanent Frame won’t be limited to discussions of A Secular Age. Later this fall we’ll also host a series of posts responding to Mark Lilla’s The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics, and the Modern West. And there will be posts on a variety of other topics too-from pluralism and the “post-secular” to international relations theory, religious freedom, and the future of shari’a.

This new SSRC blog will draw on, and is closely linked to, the Council’s expanding work on religion and the public sphere. We invite readers to email us with comments or questions at religion@ssrc.org.

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Max Goss, an alumnus of Acton programs and the purveyor of the weblog Right Reason, subtitled “the weblog for conservative philosophers,” has written a farewell post marking the blog’s “retirement.”

It’s not clear whether or how long Right Reason’s archives will remain publicly accessible, so avail yourself now of searching through their extensive archives. Here’s a sample of the sort of thinking you can expect to find from the site’s penultimate post, “The Executioner and the Torturer.”

See also “The Death of Blogs,” by CT’s Ted Olson: “What tired bloggers are increasingly discovering, however, is that it’s not necessarily the quality of their blog posts that matter. It’s matching their quality with frequency.”

And if you want to see the Christian blogging world at its yearly zenith, check out Godblogcon 2007, co-sponsored by the Acton Institute.

A big tip o’ the hat to Joe Carter over at evangelical outpost for including the Acton PowerBlog in The EO 100, which he describes as “the top 100 blogs that I have found to be the most convicting, enlightening, frustrating, illuminating, maddening, stimulating, right-on and/or wrongheaded by Christians expressing a Christian worldview.”

Also check out the 30 Most Influential Religion Blogs at Faith Central by Times (UK) reporter Joanna Sugden. Alas, the PowerBlog did not make the cut for this eclectic ranking. Then again, maybe we simply didn’t have the right stuff, the je ne sais quoi that elevates one’s religion Web blog into the elite flights alongside productions such as The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Hmmmm.

Today marks the second anniversary of the PowerBlog’s inaugural post, which reflected on the recent passing of Pope John Paul II. Given that the average blog lifespan is measured in months and not years, we’re proud to have reached this milestone.

Thanks to all the contributors both within and without the Institute who have helped to make the blog successful. Special recognition is especially due to Jonathan Spalink, who is the man behind the slick design and functionality of the blog. And of course without the PowerBlog’s faithful readers, the entire enterprise would be pointless.

In the last two years the blog has grown to be a significant feature of the Acton Institute’s online presence. Here are some of the vital stats from the last 24 months:

  • 1500+ blog posts

  • Currently between 1500 and 2000 daily visits
  • As of April 3, 2007, top 5 post categories (# of posts in parenthesis): Business and Society (297), News and Events (245), Environmental Stewardship (194), Effective Compassion (170), Bible and Theology (142)

Please leave your comments, questions, and suggestions in the comments sections of this post. We’d love to hear what you love about the PowerBlog, what you don’t like, and anything of which you’d like to see more or less.

Are there special topics or events you’d like to see us cover? Do you want to see more live-blogging of particular conferences? Is there anyone you’d like to see added to our cadre of blogging personalities? Can you not wait to get your hands on an Acton Institute PowerBlog coffee mug (details forthcoming)?

We’re always looking for ways to improve our offerings here and your thoughts would be most helpful as we celebrate the PowerBlog’s “cotton” anniversary.

It has been said that when Jonathan Edwards would roam about the countryside on his horse, he would record his observations and thoughts on little scraps of paper and pin them to his coat. When he returned home, his wife would help him unpin the notes and he would arrange them on his desk and use them as a basis for recording his thoughts in more permanent form.

This story has been viewed by some scholars as apocryphal, although Paul Elmer More repeats the image:

It must have been one of the memorable sights of the world to have seen him returning on horseback from a solitary ride into the forest, while there fluttered about him, pinned to his coat, the strips of paper on which he had scribbled the results of his meditations.

But whatever the source of his recorded observations, it can’t be doubted that his meditations found their way into his Miscellanies, a set of writings on various topics worked on throughout his lifetime.

In the writing of these Miscellanies, we can view Edwards as a proto-blogger of sorts, and if we can stretch the image a bit more, we can see the Miscellanies as an early form of hypertext. At least, the topical and occasional nature of the Miscellanies render them well-suited for the tools of a digital age, where tags and hyperlinks can quickly and easily connect writings previously separated by time and page.

The hypertextualization of Edwards’ Miscellanies is, in fact, what The Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University has accomplished. As part of the project to digitize Edwards’ entire corpus, the beta phase of the first installment of texts has been made public and is free to access during a trial period.

All 1373 Miscellanies are now text searchable and linked by topic. Now, for instance, you can scan through all eight of the Miscellanies (and another sermon), written over the course of a decade, that treat of the subject of “self love” with a few clicks of a mouse button.

And so, with the work of the Jonathan Edwards Center, we now have access to the works of Jonathan Edwards, the O.B. (Original Blogger). Hey, if Jonathan Edwards can be my “homeboy,” then we can certainly indulge one or two other anachronisms.

Another one for the “is there anything they won’t try to regulate?” file:

Not every idea that sprouts in Brussels is good for you…

THE Government is seeking to prevent an EU directive that could extend broadcasting regulations to the internet, hitting popular video-sharing websites such as YouTube.

The European Commission proposal would require websites and mobile phone services that feature video images to conform to standards laid down in Brussels.

Ministers fear that the directive would hit not only successful sites such as YouTube but also amateur “video bloggers” who post material on their own sites. Personal websites would have to be licensed as a “television-like service”.

Viviane Reding, the Media Commissioner, argues that the purpose is simply to set minimum standards on areas such as advertising, hate speech and the protection of children.

But Shaun Woodward, the Broadcasting Minister, described the draft proposal as catastrophic. He said: “Supposing you set up a website for your amateur rugby club, uploaded some images and added a link advertising your local sports shop. You would then be a supplier of moving images and need to be licensed and comply with the regulations.”

Not that this is a big surprise; the European Union is practically synonymous with bureaucratic over-reach and hyper-regulation. But still, shouldn’t common sense kick in at some point?

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Chuck Colson introduces a new initiative at BreakPoint, a blog called “The Point,” which will feature contributions from “sixteen people blogging on pretty much everything under the sun: persecution of Christians, literary feuds, comedy troupes, AIDS, the Pope’s comments on Islam, TV dramas . . . you name it, they’re blogging about it.”

It’s been added to our blogroll. Check it out.

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Here are the Top 5 Acton Institute PowerBlog posts of 2005 (by number of visits):

  1. The Ethics of ‘Price Gouging’, Monday, August 29, 2005

  2. Benedict XVI on Markets and Morality, Thursday, May 5, 2005

  3. Bono: Aid or Trade?, Thursday, June 2, 2005

  4. Puggles, Malt-a-Poos, and Labradoodles, Oh My!, Tuesday, August 23, 2005

  5. Museum of Plastic Cadavers, Friday, May 20, 2005