This blog outlines some more of its goals. While I want people to think for themselves I also want to explain the challenges and problems of the internet. This blog is a supporter of science, academics, and intellectualism. In an era of fake news and false websites I want to define this blog more. This blog wants people to be enlightened and empowered. That comes through thinking for themselves. This post is meant to build upon another post I did in 2017.
“If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it.”
“Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood. All is riddle, and the key to a riddle is another riddle.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Richmond train station
Enemy of the State final scene, is this how the internet works? Trolls, bullies, and people that fight to the end?
The other day on Twitter I saw something which grabbed my attention. Then, this evening John Fea wrote about it and that confirmed some of my feelings. So before I work on another post I want to remind people of a post I did and expand on it. Early in 2017 I did a post about what I want readers of this blog to do. You can read that post in, “I Want You to Think For Yourself, to Challenge What You Hear; and to Learn to be Skeptical.”
The Death of Expertise
One of the challenges today is that the internet is leading to the death of expertise. You have people that are challenging education, science, and Googling away everything they need. Some people Google their health situation and debate with doctors and challenge their professionalism. Others are rejecting the work of academics and scholars. Many people are going against science by drawing from alternative fact or dubious sources. This is a major problem and its getting worse. On Twitter the other day I saw Jonathan Merritt challenge historian Thomas Kidd. It did not go well for Merritt in the end. A number of academics corrected Jonathan Merritt. Jonathan Fea wrote about what occurred at his blog tonight. One of the books that I think captures the age we are living in was written by Tom Nichols who teaches at the US Naval War College. The book he wrote is called, “The Death of Expertise: The Campaign against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters.” In that book Tom looks at the culture and issues that arise from those who are anti-intellectual who are challenging facts today. This is one of the books that is on my reading list.
Captain America Winter Soldier scene, again does this represent the internet? Though I have to say I am a Steve Rogers fan.
The Problem with the Internet
The internet is a double edged sword in many ways. The positive aspect of it is that it allows for the free flow of information. Now , is the easiest time to obtain information. From religion, to politics, to gardening, to health and fitness you can find a lot of information through Google in a matter of seconds. Its both a technological wonder but it also comes with some risk and danger. The downside to the internet is that it has given rise to a lot of people who are challenging the status quo. They are challenging academics, science, and the establishment in many ways. One problem with the internet is that it can give a platform to anyone. Anyone who is charismatic enough can create a platform for themselves and others. The creation of fake news, and propaganda on the internet stuns me. Some of the material I find when I research is disturbing. There are countries, groups and people dumping bad information with the goal of muddying the waters. For some people they do not know what to think or believe. They don’t investigate or shift through everything and they are struggling to disprove that information.
The other problem is that the internet gives a platform for narcissists and others that can have personality disorders or more. One of the reasons why I do not consider myself to be a victims advocate is because I am not trained as one. I am a researcher which I will get into below. But many of those who claim to be victims advocates have not been trained either. For me its intellectually dishonest to claim to be a victim’s advocate when you lack the legal, psychological training and more. Many people are also into empire building as well. They are about carving out their space on the internet and fighting to hold it. Life is too short for that either. But as wonderful as the internet is it has a lot of challenges as well. That must be remembered and considered.
I am an Intellectual and Establishment Supporter
As for myself this writer is a strong supporter of both intellectualism and establishment. You will not see me push conspiracy theories which many Christians are sadly into. You will not see me question the academic establishment. I went to grad school at a very prestigious grad school in the upper Midwest. I carved and honed my skills in the library and computer lab in researching and writing. Time was also spent in achieves and historical societies along the way digging through primary source material. So I will not attack the intellectual establishment and remain a firm believer of education. This writer is into truth, and not empire building. I could care less about a blog or social media site that is read by millions or more. I care about getting the right narrative and the information presented factually for you the reader to decide. I am a strong supporter of the establishment. For me that includes government, science, business and more. That doesn’t mean I won’t criticize the establishment if it needs correction. But I categorically reject being associated with those who do choose to take that course of action and go against the establishment with nothing but the goal of tearing down.
People Must Think for Themselves
This blog is largely my opinion. Its a collection of my thoughts. The articles written here are unique and come from hours of work and late nights laboring in my kitchen in the Washington, D.C. area. Remember that this is one opinion out of many. I work with the material, develop sources, research and read. Now as I said, I have been academically trained. But I am not a theologian. I studied at grad school but I have not gone to a seminary. My historical training however deeply influences my writing. There are reasons why I keep going back to historical references in a large number of articles composed here. If you were to ask me who influences me the most when it comes to writing it would likely be Studs Terkel and David McCullough. Studs Terkel from Chicago who won a Pulitzer Prize in history is known for history of the common man. His work on the depression is first rate. David McCullough is known for history of the Panama Canal, Roosevelt, Truman and more. David has a way of breaking down history and making it accessible to other people. If you want to know who I aspire toward when it comes to blogging the writer who influences me the most would be Warren Throckmorton. His work is deep and he has a tenacity to dig into the material and stick with it. Some bloggers have almost an ADD approach where they write about something that pursue the next big headline. Warren stuck with Mars Hill, ECFA and is still writing about Gospel for Asia. That is to be commended.
When you read this blog I want you to remember this is one opinion. The goal of this blog is not to tear down some of these organizations that I write about. That said there are many bad apples that need to be closed, and its my hope that it helps people walk away from some of these places. For others that goal is to address issues and make them better in the course of time. And yet for others its to highlight some positive aspects to those individuals. Take the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA) for an illustration. There are some good pockets in the EFCA. There are good pastors and churches. There are good leaders as well. Then you also have corrupt churches and problems that need to be addressed. Then you can also have situations that are encouraging that you can draw attention to and feature. All that makes writing about the EFCA challenging. I work hard and pour time into this writing project. Its a lot of work but its a privilege to do. If you read me I want you to think for yourself and weigh what I have composed. Some bloggers or social media personalities are narcissists and they are about control. They try and control the narrative and use their platform in unhealthy ways to advance themself. Anyone who reads me I want to be emboldened. If anything I want them to read, discuss, consider and compare the material to the organization I am writing about or other publications. I won’t be offended if you disagree. I won’t be troubled if you come to a different conclusion. And I won’t be disappointed if you leave. Sometimes the truth is hard for people to take. Been there and done that as well. The goal of this blog is to empower you with knowledge. In my opinion you can’t be a successful writer if you hide your motives and be loose with the truth. You won’t get that from me in my writing.
I have been thinking of writing this for a while. The exchange between Jonathan Merritt and Thomas Kidd triggered putting this together. Being aware of the social media and bloggers out there also helped me to put this post together. I don’t want people to be controlled but empowered. The single best thing you can do for yourself is to think for yourself. If you start to think for yourself and think in a critical capacity, and by that I don’t mean criticize for the sake of criticism. What I am asking you to do is weigh the facts, look at the evidence and come to your own conclusion. My commitment to you is to try and create the most original blog that provokes your thinking. if you are thinking along those lines and weighing the evidence then I will have done my job. Because that is what I want at the end of the day.