November 24, 2009

Opinions? I got 'em.

"Jim's minions" at the BibTop50 asked for input tonight, about returning the "conservative/liberal" labels to the BibTop50 site. Here's what I offered:
“Some people cheat at cards, but not on their wives, and vice versa.”

Some of the previous labels were more helpful than others. None of them told you what to expect from a blogger on all topics. Other topics are problematic themselves. Is minimalism “conservative” because it’s cautious or is it “liberal” because evangelicals tend to side against it? Furthermore, if all maximalists or Marxists are automatically placed at one far end of the spectrum, why do those issues receive more weight than any others? And are these the issues that *have* been most distinctive, or the ones that *should* be more distinctive, or both, or neither? I’m just thinking out loud here…

You might do just as well with less controversy to list organizational memberships: SBL, ETS, IBR, etc, or nada. That’s factual information that also, to some degree, lets people speak for themselves. On the other hand, I am admittedly “very conservative” in many areas but thus far in life I still cling to anti-denominational ideals, so to date I have refused to even read anyone’s doctrinal statements, much less sign them. (I’ve never shared this position online, before now.) Point: You can’t always judge why someone holds what they hold, denies what they deny, or joins what they join.

A formal rubric would be a nice start towards clarity, at least, but unless you’re soliciting voluntary opinions on an exhaustive questionaire, you might consider expressing somewhere that you’re really only labeling the blog’s content generally, which may or may not reflect the larger views of the blogger themselves. (Not to mention that it may not even reflect the blog overall.)

In the end, if it’s just for fun, do whatever you guys want to do. I’ll probably enjoy it. Be as subjective as you like. But in that case, it’s probably going to bring up a different issue.

After Crossley’s SBL paper on N.T.W. and the Bibliobloggers this morning, a well known biblioblogger raised a question about whether anonymous bloggers face different obstacles in expressing personal opinions as opposed to pseudonomyous bloggers. (I also noted that point on this site, during a recent debate.) If a distinctive personality takes responsibility for subjective labels, they are valid opinions everyone should at least respect. But if it appears to new visitors on this site that these labels have some vaguely officialized legitimacy, some might begin to suspect the endeavor as an unfair attempt to poison the well of public opinion. This site is becoming more and more well known by the day, and will soon be linked (officially or not) with SBL itself. That could potentially make all this become a more serious issue.

Personally, I’m copacetic. I fully embrace(d) my former label as a “very conservative”. I never tire of repeating that I enjoyed interacting with N.T. Wrong. I would still prefer that you all (whomever you are) identify yourselves individually in some capacity or another, but if you choose not to do that, you might prepare to expect more backlash once you start expressing opinions. In any case, you won’t get much backlash from me. Via con gusto. I got more fish to fry.

In summary, y’all (Jim and Jim’s minions, NTW, or whoever wrote this post), I have no concerns whatsoever for anything you all decide to do. I hope it’s clear my cautions are merely directed at the manner in which you decide to do it.

Thanks for specifically soliciting this advice. I just love spouting off. ;-)

I hope you find these thoughts helpful.
If you're interested, you can follow the continuing conversation here.


Rod said...

Nice job, Bill. I had a problem with the labeling too. We just had to let the minions know they were in the wrong.

Bill Heroman said...

I just want to know if they're in the Wrong.

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