Cranach is in a list of top 50 blogs

Joe Carter at the First Things blog lists what he considers the top 50 blogs of the year.  And this  blog is one of them.

With an estimated 200 million active blogs written in the English language, choosing the best blogs of the year is a daunting task.

Fortunately, I know which ones they are.

Listed below are the top 50 blogs that I have found to be the most convicting, enlightening, frustrating, illuminating, maddening, stimulating, right-on and/or wrongheaded during 2010.

The selection process is, by necessity, intensely personal and unapologetically subjective. There are a number of blogs that are written by brilliant thinkers and stylists yet, for one reason or another, have not captured my imagination in the way that the blogs on this list have done.

via The Best Blogs of 2010 » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog.

Joe Carter was one of the pioneering Christian bloggers with his Evangelical Outpost, so his praise means a lot.  As he explains, his list focuses on blogs that deal in religion, culture, and/or politics–as First Things does–and so leaves out a lot of categories.  You’ll want to check out the whole list.  Some of them I already read regularly, but many are new to me, and they are probably worth reading also.

I do appreciate being numbered in their company, and you commenters deserve to get in on the honor.

Nail your theses onto this blog

In honor of Reformation Day on Sunday, let’s make our own theses for the Reformation of today’s church and post them not on a church door but, in accord with our new information technology, here on this blog.

A thesis is ONE SENTENCE, stating a position you would be willing to defend.

I will start, posting some sentences, one per comment, drawing on a couple of my recent rants.

I am aware that some people will have different opinions and that some of the theses might contradict each other. That’s OK.

Let’s discuss them not on this thread, which would mess up the numeric order of our theses, but on the post below, put together just for that purpose.

Let’s see if we can come up with at least 95. If we have 613, that’s fine too.

So what do you think needs to be said to help get contemporary Christianity straightened out? Let’s get this Reformation going.

[UPDATE:  We are getting away from the one sentence rule.  Also, don't hijack this post for old arguments!  I'm moving some of these to the discussion post below.  We have some great material here, so let's keep going in that vein.  We passed Martin Luther in quantity of theses by the end of the noon hour!  UPDATE:  I am deleting comments that aren't theses and that violate the rules I have set up for this post.]

Discuss the theses here

Take a thesis you want to discuss from the thread above, copy and paste it into a comment on this post, and talk about it, whether to expand upon the point or agree with it or take issue with it or whatever. (Again, do that here rather than interrupt the growing list of theses.)

[UPDATE:  Stop hi-jacking this thread to continue the notorious 637-comment argument of weeks ago.  I'm going to start deleting comments.  (Mike, I'm not talking about you.  You were an innocent by-stander who wandered into a bar fight.  Sorry about that.)]

Blog arguments

Friends, way back on September 28–that’s last month, 16 days ago–I posted about our pastor’s sermon on a parable:  The Rich Man & Lazarus | Cranach: The Blog of Veith.  That innocent little post has now chalked up a record 422 comments at last count.  What happened is that a very heated debate broke out between Lutherans and non-Lutherans on the true meaning of John 20:23.  Before long, Luther was getting bashed, and non-Lutherans were getting bashed, and feelings were getting hurt on both sides.  Then, at about comment #359, people started talking about ME, taking me to task for allowing unkind things being said on my blog.  I should not allow certain things to be said.  I should establish a  code of conduct, require registration, moderate comments, monitor what people say, and delete negative remarks.

I actually do delete some comments when they go far over the line, but I can’t monitor everything that is said, especially what is said on posts from a month ago.  And in principle, I value open and free discussion.  That becomes impossible if people insist on silencing their opponents.  In general, this blog has the reputation of having a higher level of discourse than other blogs, a reputation I don’t want to lose.  At the same time, there seems to be some misunderstandings.  So I will offer some thoughts:

(1)  The word “argument” has become a synonym for “fight.”  (As in, “He had an argument with his wife.”)  That shows the decay of contemporary argumentation.  An argument is supposed to be a train of thought that leads to persuasion.  The goal of an argument is not to score points but to win over your opponent to your way of thinking.  An effective argument ends in agreement.

When you insult, mock, name call, or otherwise make your opponent angry, you will never win the argument.  That is, you will never persuade your opponent.  Instead, you will make him or her “defensive,” as we say, and from behind that defensive bunker, your opponent will never surrender, no matter how good your logic and evidence may be.   So mean and vicious and hurtful remarks are simply counterproductive.  I shouldn’t have to ban them.   They are the equivalent of an admission of defeat.

In the current case, both sides were giving as good as they got.  At the same time, it is unfair to zap your opponent, and then get all upset when you get zapped in return!  Again, both sides were doing that.

(2)  Ah, but Jesus called the Pharisees a “brood of vipers.”  If Jesus can call people names, I can too.  No, Jesus spoke as one with authority, and not as one of their scribes.  We are not Jesus and lack His authority.  We are scribes.

When I read that passage, I do confess and feel that I am a viper.  Some people do bear God’s authority by virtue of their vocation.  When I am castigated by my pastor, or parents, or boss, or the police officer who caught me breaking the law, they do have the calling to deal with me and I take their words to heart. When someone without that calling castigates me, it does not convict me but only makes me angry.

(3)  Ah, but we must proclaim the Law to convict people of sin!  First of all, not all disputes involve moral failure.  But, setting that aside, applying the Law is far more involved than just calling people bad  names or even saying they will go to Hell.  Applying the theological use of the Law means holding up God’s Law as a mirror so that people will see themselves and their sin, provoking repentance and then a turning to Christ, to the Gospel which also must be proclaimed.   But if the person you are attacking does not see his sin, but rather is provoked into self-righteous indignation, you have failed to apply the Law successfully.  Preaching the Law is more like surgery than beating with a blunt instrument, which is why Luther and Walther call the ability to apply and to distinguish Law and Gospel is the highest art.

(4)  It is good to hold discussions with people whom we do not agree with.  We have a tendency to only talk with people like ourselves (Lutherans with Lutherans, Christians with Christians, conservatives with conservatives, liberals with liberals).  But if we ever want to, again, win anyone over to our side, we need practice talking with those who do not believe as we do.

One of the great strengths of this blog is that it attracts–how, I don’t really know–people of many different views.  I loved it when that Muslim guy joined in recently, stating his objections to Christianity, which many of you–including diehard opponents usually–joined together to defend.  I’m glad to have the “spiritual but not religious” Bunnycatch3r here.  And the whole gamut of Christian theologies.  And the atheists who chime in.  Don’t you see how good that is?

The old record for most comments was held by a series of posts involving Michael the atheist.  You commenters, for the most part,  treated him with great gentleness.  And do you remember how he said, at one point, something to the effect that this blog was his support group!  I don’t think we came to an agreement with him before he stopped posting, but who knows what might have happened to him since then and what part some of you might have played in his life?  If I excluded him or deleted his negative comments about Christianity, or if you just resorted to calling him names or got all offended at his very presence, the opportunity to talk with him seriously about Christ would never have happened.

So, in conclusion, I’ve got to trust you, and I do.  Learn how to argue.  Don’t have a thin skin.  Talk with people you don’t agree with.  Try to win each other over.  Realize that we have in common both the wretchedness of our sin and the forgiveness of our Savior.

Facebook connections

I am one of the few people left in the world who does not have a Facebook account.   Maybe I’ll get one one of these days.  Right now, it seems like just one more thing to check.  Still, I appreciate its potential for facilitating human interaction.  Commenter Todd wrote me this message:

In reading the comments about the decline of phone conversations, Facebook came up. I realized that, though I am friends with a few Cranach commenters on Facebook (Bror, FWS, Louis, WebMonk … that’s all I can think of), I don’t really know how to find other people I might talk to on a near-daily basis — on your site, that is. After all, we mainly use handles on your site, and even those using their real names aren’t always easy to find elsewhere. I know I’ve tried to find you on Facebook, but I never found an account I was sure was yours.

Anyhow, not sure if anyone else wants to get connected via Facebook, but if this is of interest to you and you want to do a post about it, my Facebook account can be found at http://www.facebook.com/tstadler Or, you know, if you do have an account, you can add me, too. Or not. People use their accounts differently, I understand.

But I enjoy seeing what glimpses I can catch of people when they’re not replying to a post or comment. It’s not always the same picture you get from reading more argumentative writings. In fact, I can’t remember the last political thing I said on Facebook. This might surprise some people.

Todd in a later message said how he appreciated following and getting to know his frequent political nemesis Bror.  “After all, once you realize someone isn’t just some political/theological firebrand, easily pigeonholed and stereotyped, well, you tend to view them more as they are, as humans.”

So he is inviting you to “friend” him.  (Nouns as verbs!  Hard for me to deal with!)  Beyond that, he suggests that anyone who would welcome further contact with Cranach commenters could just post as a comment his or her Facebook URL.  Whereupon you could friend and be friended.  So if you’d like to do that, do that!

How Amazon.com funds this blog

Speaking of buying that Bo Giertz novel through this blog reminded me to thank all of you who are using Cranach as your Amazon portal.  Going to that site from here, using the Amazon search box in the sidebar, gives this blog a commission on whatever you buy.  The commission starts at 4% (though I’m getting 6% because of how much I’ve sold).  That’s not much, but you all really buy a lot of books.  And since Amazon.com now sells about everything, some of you are buying major appliances, such as ovens, through my site, giving my earnings a big boost!  I’m making from $25 to $100 every month, which more than covers the expenses of this little hobby.  (Cranach readers buy more books than click Google ads.  Those are making me nothing.  But that’s a sign of your sophistication.)  So thanks to everyone who has been patronizing my virtual department store. And for those of you who haven’t, if you ever need a book. . . or an oven. . .I’d be much obliged if you would start your Amazon search from that widget below the Lucas Cranach information.

If you want to get in on this action on your own blog or website, go here.


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