Earlier this month, Kevin Denee of The Restored Church of God posted an article on the church’s website concerning the evils of blogging. While Denee focuses his attention on teens, he concludes that even adults should refrain from using blogs altogether. Given that the blog as a medium has an infinite variety of potential formats and subject matter, it is worthwhile to investigate why Denee is so vociferous in his opposition. On face, his logic seems akin to demanding that people abstain from using knives, as they could be used for nefarious purposes.

Before delving into the article, it is worthwhile to note that this essay should not be viewed as a personal attack on the religious beliefs of Mr. Denee or the church. Rather, it is intended only to question some of the assumptions and accusations leveled by Mr. Denee on blogging as an immoral method of communication.

It is interesting that Mr. Denee posted his personal thoughts on blogs to the internet for others to read. Rather than stopping at this possible contradiction, we will assume for the sake of discussion that Mr. Denee would make an argument about “using the master’s tools” to tear down the plantation.

The definition of “blog” is up for debate. Whereas the term began strictly as shorthand for “web log,” many now include websites that simply offer links to published articles and news releases. Denee takes that liberal definition a step further: “Social networking pages and actual blogs are slightly different, and it is sometimes hard to distinguish the difference between the two. Therefore, in the case of this article we will consider them all blogs.”

It is fascinating that Denee embraces the internet, which is comprised of content uploaded by individuals, while decrying the use of blogs as a vehicle for expression: “Parents assume their children are innocently spending time on the Internet or doing schoolwork, when they are actually posting to their blogs.” Following this line of thought, it would be acceptable to read news stories online while at the same time urging others to refrain from reading the “comments” section from readers at the end of the article.

Denee also makes the claim that “some become so addicted to blogging, posting and instant messaging that other parts of their lives are neglected. Even when such people are away from their computers they will post updates through their cell phones.” While the last claim is debatable, the bulk of his statement certainly seems plausible. The negative association of blogging with instant messaging has further implications that will be discussed shortly.

“Stop and consider. The biggest mark you will ever make is to build God’s character and be born into the God family. Blogging will not help you achieve this.” Denee views the two as mutually exclusive when a few real-world examples suggest otherwise. Would a blog about the positive aspects of the Restored Church of God not help to build God’s character? What about a blog for refugees of Hurricane Katrina?

Denee says, “Perhaps the largest problem with blogs is they cater to one’s vanity.” Just a few paragraphs earlier, he pleads “Because this article is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT (emphasis in original), some may need to read it twice and use it as a stepping stone to further study on this subject.” The bible instructs, “Judge not lest ye be judged,” so no additional comments will be made on Denee’s soliloquy on vanity.

The article concludes: “Blogging is simply not to be done in the Church. It should be clear that it is unnecessary and in fact dangerous on many levels. Let me emphasize that no one —including adults—should have a blog or personal website (unless it is for legitimate business purposes). All that said, you can—and SHOULD—maintain friends the “old-fashioned” way, through actual personal contact, as well as letter writing, emailing or instant messaging.”

Denee earlier claims instant messaging had the potential to become addictive, but he now endorses it as a way to “maintain friends the old-fashioned way.” It bears mentioning that the top national news story at the time of the posting involved a Senator using instant messaging to lure a young congressional page into an inappropriate relationship.

The point is this: it is extraordinarily difficult to defend the internet, e-mail and instant messaging while claiming that most blogs are inherently evil. Denee offers a few bible passages to prove his point, but rather than amplify his position, they seem to dilute the value of his overall message. The selective re-appropriation of certain bible passages – freed from the shackles of context – may lead some to conclude that other claims he makes are equally fragile and dismiss them entirely.

The maxim “pick your battles” holds true here. Instead of splitting rhetorical hairs and testing limits of logic, it would be better to hold a more moderate position: blogs, just like the internet and instant messaging, are neither good nor bad. Encouraging responsibility is a noble endeavor for any person or church, but the categorical denunciation of a method of communication seems to illustrate how far the current message has drifted from the original mission.

By Nathan Rodriguez

P.S.:  The article seems to be a legitimate posting by a concerned member of the church, but could possibly be the most recent manifestation of a data virus.

Originally posted October 16, 2006 at PolicyByBlog

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