Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Rules for Religious Right Bloggers

I've been an avid consumer of blogs for five or six years. I am decidedly left-wing but have always enjoyed reading blogs from the other side, partly to understand the other perspective and partly because I seem to enjoy making myself angry.
I'm one of those bleeding-heart types that wishes we could all hold hands and sing The Youngbloods' Get Together under a rainbow while bunnies and fawns frolic in the background, so in that spirit I present some helpful guidelines for Religious Right bloggers who come into contact/seek out discourse with the secular left wing. Yes, my side makes mistakes too. I'm sure someone can make a list for them (if such a thing does not already exist).

1. If your main reason for believing in something is religion just come out and admit that. If an opinion is deeply entrenched in religion it usually can't be changed, and you'll almost certainly be unable to convince the other side if they do not hold your religious views. Most people are not douche bags and will respect your views and drop the argument. If they are douche bags and use that as an opportunity to call you a moron why are you bothering with them anyway?

2. Don't ever use scripture in a debate with an atheist unless they ask you to quote bible verse to back up an argument. You are more likely to succeed in making a point if you don't bring the bible into it. As soon as you use scripture any good arguments you make will be disregarded. The exception to this is if you are asked to prove you are not misrepresenting the bible, but be prepared for your sparring partner to suggest you are misinterpreting the passage and/or taking it our of context. Yes, you will find that irritating, which leads me to number 3.

3. Don't expect that the other side is completely ignorant of the complexities of your religion. There is all likelihood that you have studied the bible more than they have, but for all you know they may have spent many years in the church before a change of direction.

4. Try not to witness to others on the internet. I actually sympathise greatly on this one. If you are religious you believe the stakes are so very high that you have a duty to tell anyone anywhere about the truth as you know it. That urge comes from a wonderful, kind place, but try to hold back on it. Witness to others all you like in the real world, but stifle it on the internet. Why? The written word lacks the ability to communicate with tone, facial expression and body language. I have been witnessed to many times out in the real world and I have never felt anything less than affection for those doing so, but the internet lacks that ability to convey warmth. I have had people on the internet espouse opinions identical to my own and completely rub me the wrong way. It is so very unwanted, which leads to...

5. Don't give unsolicited advice. This applies to everyone and is one I struggle with greatly. The internet creates a false sense of intimacy and friendship. I can read a blog for a couple of years and never comment and then one day I stumble across an entry for which I badly want to hit reply and give my $0.02. But who am I to them? They don't know I have read their blog every single day, for all they know that entry was the first I ever read. The best rule of thumb is only ever give advice when it is asked for and if you simply must give unsolicited advice you should take it to email so that it is private.

6. Don't ever make an entry on your own blog directing your readers to a debate you are currently having elsewhere. I've seen this happen so many times. Some bloggers are quite blatant about it: "Come help me teach this libtard a lesson!", while others are more subtle and pretend they are just helpfully giving their readers a link to a discussion of interest. It makes you look cowardly by trying to get back-up when you have waded into a debate on a blog in which you are clearly the minority view, and it can sometimes lead to very nasty people attacking the other side. You may be able to have a civil debate with someone, but you may have lurkers on your blog whom share your views but not your civility. If you have lead them over they are representing you.

7. Do show support for others. Do direct your readers over to a blog to congratulate them on the birth of their new child or offer condolences over the death of a parent. This is the best thing you can do to promote good feelings about Christians.

8. Don't gloat over a victory. After an election or a supreme court ruling many people will be feeling quite battered and bruised. Don't go over to the other side and gloat when it goes your way. Feel free to do so on your own blog but be prepared to alienate some of your readers.

That's all for now. It's a strange first post for a blog, especially since I don't intend for this to be a debate blog.

No comments: