Disengaging from the Conversation

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I can understand why some writers would not like to be posted here. They are being used as foils for the squad of progressive writers to play off of. That would get tiring after a while. In no way could I call that dialogue or conversation. UM Insight is not about conversations or journalism. It is about advocacy and there is a clear slant on perspectives here. As a reader I can accept that. I like to see what those whose views are different from mine are saying. When I want to read articles by people I agree with I know where to find those as well. I do occasionally get irritated when UM Insight pretends to be something other than what it is. Objective journalism is not what this site offers. But like I said, I do not expect that here.

Kevin more than 6 years ago

Shift in focus

I picked up on UM Insight shortly before GC2012 and found it a great clearing house of thought. However, I have backed off from reading it because it tends to come across as mostly a place where liberal/progressives complain and belittle those that do not agree with them. Joel Watts is right that there is a grave absence of Wesleyan theology on this site. And if you think Wesley would be pleased with the theological diversity running amuck within The UMC, I invite you to make a careful reading of Wesley's sermon, "The Catholic Spirit" and pay very close attention to the second half of the sermon where he describes in detail the person truly of the catholic spirit; you just might be surprised. And for the record, I do not believe that all together we have the big picture. I have found the theological diversity currently present in The united Methodist Church to be confusing and unproductive. It was not until I distanced myself from the UMC that I finally came up with a clear understanding of who God is and who I am that enabled me to stand in the wide open space of God's amazing grace. Basic orthodox Christianity as handed down by the saints, including John Wesley, has not been clearly taught in The UMC for a very long time; it has very little in common with fundamentalism of either the liberal/progressive or conservative persuasion.

Ella Pauline more than 6 years ago

not exactly grace-filled

If a person doesn't want their writings posted to the website, then they have a right to do that without being harassed or threatened.

Contrary to what you tell yourself, you do not do that great of a job making dissenting views feel welcome. As "advocacy" (forget about the journalism), you aren't under any obligation to give "equal time." But, don't pretend that you want the free exchange of ideas when you want to be an advocate for your perspective. Those are two different things. But, all too often, people want to consider themselves "tolerant" when they only tolerate those who already agree with them.

Creed Pogue more than 6 years ago

The question of ad hominem

Part of the problem here is with the lack of clarity concerning when an argument becomes ad hominem. If what is happening is a dialogue, then there is reason to remain engaged, but if a dialogue descends into a process of name calling, then disengagement is often the best path.

The problem is that what one side will often take as simple description will be taken by the other as a personal attack. Take, for instance, this posting. You have labeled the bloggers you name as "conservative." I don't know that any of the named bloggers accept this categorization. In fact, Drew explicitly identifies himself as a Via Media Methodist, which connotes a rejection of the category "conservative." Doubtless those who fall further left on the "progressive" spectrum may think of these bloggers as conservative, but to label them as such is likely to be perceived by these bloggers as an ad hominem attack. It categorizes them by terms that they don't accept themselves. I also note that this label appears to be one of the issues that evoked Joel's escalating response in the twitter discussion.

If we want continued engagement, we need more care about articulating each others positions in terms that they would accept.

Kevin Carnahan more than 6 years ago

Leaving/re-entering Conversation

Once regularly contributing individuals cease to participate in discussions. Given the avowed policy of advocacy journalism, this is understandable. Not long ago United Methodist Insight suspended comments from readers due to comments that were not well received. That decisions since rescinded reflects a similar desire to control engagement.

It may be that this disengagement will cut page views at one or another sites. The individuals cited are effective writers. Their work will doubtless show up elsewhere at sites of the authors choosing. Readers will simply go to those sites. Nothing will be lost in the conversation.

bthomas more than 6 years ago

Coordinator Replies

I believe that BThomas is confusing United Methodist Insight with its esteemed colleague, the online United Methodist Reporter. UM Insight has never suspended comments from readers. Our policy is that all comments are moderated, and that any comments that attack individuals or are otherwise uncivil will not be publish. For a full discussion of this policy, see the article "Curbing Our Tongues and Covering Backsides."

cynthiaadmin (United Methodist Insight) more than 6 years ago


I beg your pardon.

bthomas more than 6 years ago


Thanks, BThomas. Just wanted everyone to be clear that "our lines are always open," as the infomercials say! :-)

cynthiaadmin (United Methodist Insight) more than 6 years ago

Disengaging from the conversation

Sadly I have learned over the course of repeated attempts at develooping and maintaining conversations via e-mail, that human communication relies very, very heavily on non-verbal cues to give context and interpretation to words. Especially when topics that prompt strong emotional response are the focus of the conversation the likelihood of misinterpretation and offense seem to be exponentially increased even among very literate, well-educated people. The attempt to bridge the divide(s) in United Methodism via the internet are worthy. Having the trail of conversation available can be helpful to understanding. But without a sense of tone, inflection, body posture, timing, intensity, etc. the possibility of meaningful dialogue on difficult subjects is greatly reduced. What is really needed is more face to face, one on one conversation between those with significantly different points of view on the same subject. Instead, even we as a nation in the U.S. seem to be gravitating to associating only with those who agree with our points of view. A disturbing trend both for country and faith.

Torrey Curtis more than 6 years ago

We don't bowl together anymore

I didn't grow up in a town with a bowling alley, so let me start with that disclaimer, but I've often said that part of what is tearing us all apart is air conditioning, faux front porches, and a decrease in bowling leagues.

I'm lucky enough to have grown up in a small town, with grandparents just one town over, who were farmers, and lived in a big white house with a huge front porch (and no air conditioning). That front porch was the social media of the day. Especially on Sunday afternoons, we'd all be out there, and friends and family would be coming and going all afternoon. There were discussions of all sorts there, and we kids saw modeled for us, how to disagree in a civil way, and that it was OK to disagree. (Not that there weren't a few family feuds along the way.)

In lots of big cities, especially industrial cities, nearly everyone in town was part of a bowling league (in other places, it might be softball, or hockey). Participation in these was nearly as socially important as church membership, and you'll notice they were mostly team related. You had to get along with the folks, even if you didn't agree with them, and I think we learned how to respect and even sometimes appreciate different points of view.

We just don't socialize any more. We get up, go into our attached garage, climb into our car (and may not even know whether the windows actually do go up and down), push the button for the garage door once we're locked in the car, drive to work, drive home reversing the process, and head out to the BACK deck, instead of the front porch. Pull out our phone, and check our carefully curated list of friends, twitter followers, and news sources.

So I agree completely with commenter above. It's hard to discuss difficult issues without being at least voice to voice (phone) if not in person, and we do all we can to avoid having to have those discussions with anyone who doesn't exactly agree with our position. Just today, I was unfriended by someone who posted on Facebook, "I'll probably lose some friends over this, but homosexuality is a sin." In the comments, I asked for anyone to name the verse they thought supported that position, as I intended to respond as best I could...admittedly to refute their interpretation of the verse. The lady posting the meme immediately removed my comment, and unfriended me. In a PM, she said she wasn't going to argue politics or religion with anyone. My response to her was, "Yet you posted the meme on your public wall on a social media site?" Maybe a little snarky, but I was already unfriended just for disagreeing. So, we can't always have the discussions we need.

And yes, I'll go ahead and say this. Progressives seem more willing to engage the discussion than conservatives. I know I am painting with a broad brush, but I'll have a discussion and/or debate with anyone. Lots of conservatives seem to be more absolutist like this person. I'll say what I want, but not disagreement allowed.

John Masters more than 6 years ago

Just . . . wow

I'm speechless. Honestly.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford more than 6 years ago