Thursday, 9 June 2011

Moving the blog?

Lately a lot of bloggers have been moving to the big religion site, Patheos.com. The site hosts dozens of bloggers, including Ben Witherington, Scot McKnight, Fred Clark, Roger Olson, Mike Bird, John Holbert, and Francis Beckwith. (More info about the site here and here.)

Patheos approached me a while back too, but I haven't been able to make up my mind. Basically, the attractions are: (a) they'd pay me; (b) they'd handle all my technical needs – so some of the technical features of F&T would improve (comments, post sharing, social networking, etc); (c) F&T would still retain its own independent design, etc; and (d) did I mention the money?

On the negative side, (a) the site has unsightly ads; (b) I feel a bit weird about making Christian theology one niche within a wider "pantheon"; and (c) did I mention those ads?

Obviously the money is appealing: I've never cared about getting paid to blog, but once someone suggests the idea, it seems to have a hypnotising effect. I guess if I had the technical expertise I'd be inclined to get my own domain for F&T, and maybe find a couple of tasteful sponsors for the site. But lacking that expertise (or the time to acquire it), what do you reckon about the Patheos option? I'd love to hear your thoughts...

109 Comments:

Tom Melbourne said...

I only ever read F&T through an RSS Feed reader, so the ads don't make much difference. I reckon a fairly high percentage of your readers would be the same.

Matt Cleaver said...

Seems like all the Patheos blogs only publish partial RSS feeds, which, I assume, would be looked down upon by loyal readers. That would be something worth checking into.

OKC Herbivore said...

damn the man, save the Empire!

Nick Norelli said...

Thank you for confirming that money is involved. I knew that no one would move to that unsightly corner of the internet for free. I'd prefer you to say here because I loathe Patheos but I understand the attraction of getting paid to blog.

Dimitri German said...

I agree. Ads (though they are annoying) probably wouldn't be that big of an issue for your readers. What if you made the move to Patheos but continued this blog as well? In other words, everything you post through Patheos also gets posted here. Copy and Paste. That way those of us who don't want to bother with ads can stick to this site while you gain new and more readers through Patheos AND you get paid. Win Win Win.

Brian Gronewoller said...

I will support the move if you work it into your contract that you get to write some humorous comparisons that pop-up whenever someone uses their "Compare Religions" tool on the home page. If you run out of creative ideas for that, you could quickly shift to pitting celebrities from each religion against each other. I'd love to see the "Celebrity Religion Death Match" between Steven Seagal (Buddhism) and Tom Cruise (Scientology).

Seriously, I love the low key nature of the blog here. But I wouldn't fault you for the move, especially since they will pay. And, I will continue to follow no matter where you are hosting the blog.

Also, I want to see a Viagra ad next to a blog post that you write on Song of Solomon.

James F. McGrath said...

Exploring Our Matrix recently moved to Patheos, too, and while it is perhaps still too early to be able to say much that is useful, I did ask some other bloggers who moved some time ago how their experience had been, and they both said the experience was positive.

They do have the option of full or partial RSS feeds, and so that is entirely up to you. It has taken some time to get used to Wordpress, and there certainly have been occasional things that I could not do that I could have on Blogger. But it also has nice features, and there is the promise of still more improvements with the next upgrade. And unlike the issue I'm seeing at this very moment, of there not being a box to subscribe to comments, Wordpress and Disqus (the two options for comments at Patheos) deal with that aspect of things more effectively and with a wider array of options.

I assume that they would not go for Dimitri's suggestion, but would move all your blog archives to Patheos.

Anyway, I'll gladly say more about my experience thus far, if you'd like me to - as long as you update the address for my blog in your blogroll! :)

Aaron Rathbun said...

I've always wanted to get paid for all the time and energy I put into blogging, but I simply can't subject my readers to ads. In our capitalist context of the ever-encroaching Market, and the commodification of every surface our eyes make contact with, I'd like to think of our theology blogs as a way to counter transnational corporations as the transnational Corpus Christi.

Jason Goroncy said...

So what you're saying Ben is that you're looking for a pimp.

I'm no great fan of the blog supermarkets, even though I shop there, but tend to do so almost exclusively via RSS feeds.

Self hosting is not as difficult as many think. All that said, I'd remain a loyal reader wherever you blogged, Ben. Perhaps a loyalty card program could follow with book points for each comment :-)

Anonymous said...

Especially considering Open Theism's flawless victory over Norman Geisler...

http://theguide42.blogspot.com/2011/06/open-theism-vs-dr-norman-geisler.html

mshedden.com said...

Do it. Take the money if it makes you blog more.

Adam Couchman said...

I recently purchased my own domain name through the blogspot.com settings page. It only cost US$10 and was relatively easy.

From your "Dashboard" click on "Settings" then "Publishing" and on that page there is the option to setup your own domain name. Alternatively, you can purchase it through a third party (like www.crazydomains.com.au) and set it up on the same page after purchasing the domain name.

If you did it that way, then nothing actually changes except the URL for your blog. blogspot.com redirects everything to your new URL. Presumably you would make it www.faith-theology.com (which by the way appears to be available at the moment).

Anonymous said...

With apologies to Shakespeare
To [blog], or [blog for money]: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of [unpaid blogging],
Or to take arms against a sea of [corporate bloggers],And by opposing end them? To die: to [blog]; No more; and by a [blog] to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to [blog];
To [blog]: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;

You know the answer!.....(money or no money)

kim fabricius said...

You'll certainly have to rebrand. Something like The Long Spoon.

silkina said...

I was going to say something along the lines of what Aaron Rathbun said, but less succinctly stated. So yeah, ditto Aaron. The ads are appalling and the commodification of religion makes me gag.

Anonymous said...

The question, as always, is: what would Karl Barth do?



Nein!

Pamela said...

I would read, and comment on, your blog wherever you are Ben. It's up to you. Being paid to blog - bonus!

Andy Goodliff said...

I'd say if getting paid is the reason for moving resist it (at least you're upfront that is one reason, as others have recently moved there, i've read nothing about the financial incentive) ... bloggers get paid in the free books they promote ... i wonder to use a british football analogy whether we'll end up with premier league bloggers, who end up get transferred from one 'patheos' type site to another for bigger perks ...

Terry Wright said...

Of course, I'd still read F&T, but moving the blog just seems unnecessary, even with the added financial incentive.

Brett Gray said...

You put a lot of time into this, and provide what is in the end a valuable service to many of us. So, I don't think there is any shame in taking a bit of money for it. Purists too often don't know the price of kids' shoes.

Paul Tyson said...

Talk to the Uniting Church and/or Charles Sturt, tell them what you are being offered, and see if they will match it to keep this fair dinkum beautiful ministry you do both valued (in remuneration terms) and indepenedent of comercial interests.

Peter M. Head said...

How much money is involved?

Anonymous said...

It diminishes you. It makes no theological sense. It associates you with a disparate group of Patheos-branded bloggers. You will now become a Patheos blogger. You are not a Patheos blogger.

If you want mammon, write a novel. (You can do it!)

Keep yourself pure.

mapoulos said...

The big thing I don't like about patheos is that most of the patheos blogs I've followed only give partial RSS feeds. I imagine that's something they encourage since it forces users to come to the site and see ads (or otherwise use their site). However, it means I'm much less likely to read the posts. I read most of Roger Olson's post before, but now I only read them occasionally if they really pique my interest, since I have to actually go to the site. That's a huge minus to those like me who have grown accustomed to the great tool that is Google Reader :-).

d-b said...

DIY OR DIE

depends how much money man... but this is the most aesthetically appealing blogspot i know. Would be a shame to see it littered with advertisements.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, of Thursday, June 09, 2011, 9:35PM said it best--a first rate critique. You only get one voice--keep it to yourself! (Or, more eloquently: retain it unto thyself [!])

Dom Corriveau said...

If they do the partial-post thing (so we have to click to see the rest of the post on the site) DON'T DO IT. I read significantly less of blogs who make you do that. If you think about how many blogs most of us keep an eye on, efficiency is huge, and that kind of linking is a huge step backward. Simply put, you'll be read less.

Love the blog

Anonymous said...

First time to the Ben Witherington site and Bam, a picture of a Starbucks cup with a open bible next to it, corporate co-option of all things is unseemly in my opinion and I would like to be free from the that influence, which is only grounded in the desire to sell shit to you, when I think thoughts that you put up on your blog. I say skip the incentive of the trickle of cash they provide and keep your soul.

David said...

At the risk of sounding fatalistic, Ben, I would suggest that it doesn't matter either way.
Things matter, of course; but I'm not sure our blog-hosting platforms matter.
I don't recall if you're a family man or not, but if you are then you could use the money. But if you feel this is some sort of compromise with TheMan and would besmirch your soul, then don't.
It's nice of you to ask us, but seriously, it doesn't matter.
(though the issue of partial vs. full RSS feeds concerns me, I would certainly chase down and read any post of interest. It's not that difficult.)

myleswerntz said...

Resist the Borg.

Aaron Rathbun said...

Brett Gray wrote,
"You put a lot of time into this, and provide what is in the end a valuable service to many of us. So, I don't think there is any shame in taking a bit of money for it. Purists too often don't know the price of kids' shoes."

I agree that Ben has an outstanding blog. And I agree that there's no shame in accepting compensation for one's labor -- indeed, we should be! But there are alternative ways to do it.

I'm grieved at the charge that "purists too often don't know the price of kids' shoes." If you reflect on this for only a mere moment, the opposite couldn't be more true. While some people unquestioningly will accept money to do something (even if it's from special interests, with strings attached, or with moral ambiguity), it's the "purists" who won't compromise for money, and will struggle as a result, while trying to remain faithful.

Different people have different convictions, and the lines do indeed get ambiguous. However, for me personally (and many other commenters here it looks like), having studied capitalism and the corrosive effects of marketing and hyper-commodification, I think this is something Christians should resist whenever possible. Marketing and advertising is the kerygma of the neoliberal capitalist empire, and it is even colonizing the imagination of the Christian Church. It's the theologians who must think critically about these matters, and offer an alternative kerygma.

Pat said...

Don't do it.

Lots of good explanations given above as to why (especially Aaron). Personally, I piggy back off of this blog by referring to the "What I'm Reading" section - I don't see that it would be possible to have that function at the Pantheon site.

Erin said...

I agree with Rathburn's post above, but here are some random tech-y thoughts:

-In the long run, I think the Pantheos sites will receive less new traffic than a blogger blog (because it's Google) or a highly trafficked private site. Witherington's original blogspot site has a higher google ranking from 2009(!) than beliefnet or pantheos. Same with Beckwith. Currently, Blogger>Beifnet>Pantheos in terms of google hits. I'd contact one of the people you mention and ask how it's affected their #s

-setting up your own site, complete with domain name, email, blog, etc is really pretty simple, and you could easily host files like, say some of your lectures... Offer a student some extra credit if they set it up and write one article.

-Monetizing the blog is the hard part, but I bet you could get some sponsers -you might even get help with a paypal donation button to help support the site.

-sounds like you could DIY and go to Patheos if you want. Harder the other way 'round?

In the end, it is your person that has the greater effect; we'll read wherever. People need to get paid; just do, no "buts" about it. If they don't influence the content & you get paid, then a few ads are worth keeping your home a little saner with less maintenance and more $.

Brett Gray said...

Dear Aaron (and all),

To a certain extent, mea culpa. The purists and kids' shoes comment could border on a cheap shot and wasn't thought through when it was made. In the interests of civil and respectful conversation, I take it back and apologise.

For the record, I am not a great fan of capitalism and have done my fair share of reading on the subject too. We have kept TV out of our house for some years so as not to expose our child to the 'principalities and powers'.

I just wonder at the amount of heat there is over this issue, and the amount of what feels projection that is going on in terms of Ben's decision as to whether or not to change his blog. He'd be a brave man to do it now considering the responses.

What is the moral difference between reading a well written and very professional blog with advertising and reading a well written magazine, journal or newspaper with advertising? What if Ben contributed to a journal, newspaper or magazine that had advertising (as he may well already have done)? Would that be selling out? And, if it isn't, why would he be selling out to allow advertising on his blog now?

However, I also agree a little with Pat, if you loose the 'What I'm Reading' section that would be a tragedy!

The Charismanglican said...

I'm interested in hearing Aaron's alternative ideas for compensation. I'd way rather get the money directly to F&T than filter it through crappy ads and a blog warehouse that incentivizes writing more than you need to.

milton said...

Romans 14.

Watcher said...

Does anyone know what the entry and exit option from Patheos is?

As valuable as the posts are the comments to the posts especially the classic theology for beginners posts, make them even more valuable. Will the old posts and comments be preserved when you enter Patheos. I've heard non Patheos specific horror stories of losing all comments when transferring.

Suppose (or probably when) Pantheos gets bought out by someone else and they force you to accept different regulations from the one that exist now? Would the content still be yours.

Anonymous said...

If your readers don't like the ads, they could always get AdBlock Plus for free. (Other ad-blocking software is (probably) available.) That is, assuming that using such software doesn't offend their sensibilities.

thedescribe said...

It would probably sever my last tie with F&T. That would be based on feeling more than virtue.
- DCLD

Anonymous said...

Will we get paid for our comments too? Your posts are good, but often at least one of the comments is just as good. (not me. I don't usually comment, but I do know I enjoy some of the comments just as much as the post they comment on)

Pieter Pronk

byron smith said...

Well done Ben for putting this decision out there for this community to pool its thoughts.

My instinct says "don't do it". Having read the comments and thought about the issue some more, my (tentative) judgement says "don't do it".

Mike W said...

I'd prefer if you didn't move too. I'd love to say it's an anti-consumerist feeling, but partly it is because Patheos wont load on my phone

Anonymous said...

It is fascinating reading all these comments. Two sides seem to be talking to each other here. On the one side there is recognition of the crazy amount of time Ben puts into this blog and how hard it is for us to find this sort of open sky and conversational community in the thought-a-sphere of our media saturated lives. This, we sense, just deserves some sign of recognition in terms of remuneration. On the other hand, there is an appreciation that this blog is an amateur affair – its done for love. There is a lot of fear that some sort of ‘mess of potage’ deal would sell this blogs birth right in love to the grimy instrumentalism of consumerism. Now there might be a solution that upholds the underlying principles of both considerations. How about we just subscribe – say a buck a month – to Ben’s blog? Some voluntary ‘support this blog if you want to’ button discretely side tucked maybe? But then that feels iky too… now it starts sounding like a church. This is a fascinating but tough one.

xopher_mc said...

Hey Ben,

I think that you would end up giving them a lot more traffic than they give you! Plus your nice rss feeds are great. I like the just add a please donate to 'my extensive library'/'charity I like' ect paypal button on the side.

AS a techi I'ld say setting up a wordpress blog on a domain is pretty easy its maintaining with updates is the chore.

Richard McIntosh

paul said...

I'd still read your blog, but I would be sad if you moved.

In my opinion, less is almost always more. Faith and Theology is already fantastic because of the substance.

As we say here in America, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

However, I completely understand the desire and need to be paid for your work.

You won't lose my readership, but I would enjoy the F&T blog a bit less.

Pamela said...

Gosh Ben - we love you!
I'd only add that from a purely selfish point of view I don't really want anything to change but as I said earlier I will read and comment wherever you are.
Tough decision.

Anonymous said...

Since you don't feel the need to be paid for what you're doing now (Blogging, that is), why should you wish for it? There must be someone in the university system where you are, who can assist you with the technical side of things. Your profile is already well established, and, the advantage of being known for your scholarship outside the academic community itself, has come your way; i.e. you are not a Mondrian-type, whose glory has been mostly posthumous. There's an advertisement for Jana Water (Croatian) on the wall of the Croatian Catholic Church in New York, right outside the Lincoln Tunnel--I always smile (understatement) when I see it.

Justin said...

I didn't have a view at first but now it's being pitched as 'Christianity vs Capitalism' it's quite hard not to take sides. Kudos to the spin merchants here for shaping a narrative (no seriously, I used to work in politics and it's harder than you think).

Somewhere along the lines I read that this is one of the most well-read theological blogs in the world. If that's true, surely the university could help out with hosting and the technical details (which, as others have said, is minimal for those who do this for a living) in exchange for reflected glory? Maybe some appropriate, non-flashing ads for theology degrees?

P.S. Is it just me having huge troubles posting comments? I keep bouncing between a Google ID sign-in and the 'post a comment' box.

Anonymous said...

I can't see what's wrong with getting paid. You can give the money away to the lefty/Christian/whatever organization of your choice. Let the capitalists provide the monetary funds necessary for their overthrow. Or you can keep it. I don't see the moral issue.

Ads are annoying, of course, but they are there to be ignored.

Brian Lugioyo said...

Ben,

What does your wife say? I'd go with that opinion. I don't visit your site for the aesthetics that the webpage offers but for the interesting and thoughtful posts you put here. Keep doing that and we'll keep reading regardless of ads or setup.

Brian

Nathan Smith said...

Keep the world wide web a web. The internet is strong when it is decentralized. Sure, you are hosted at blogspot now. If you are going to move your blog, why not move it to your own hosted domain?

kim fabricius said...

"I'm enjoying the story so far, but I have a feeling it's not going to end well."

-- Don Draper (Mad Men, "Flight" (#2.2)

Ben Myers said...

Kim:

"Ah! no more: thou break'st my heart."
—George Herbert

kim fabricius said...

Nice.

BTW, has anyone taken you to the top of Sydney Opera House, waved his hand at the panorama of the city, and said, "All this I will give you"?

On the other hand, if you do bow the knee, can I please have a cut for past services rendered? Otherwise, you market, I sue - ;). Which about covers the zeitgeist.

Henry said...

I just wrote a really long comment, and blogger ate it. I'd switch over to Patheos. All that would change is your host and your bank account.

phillip said...

No offence intended Ben, but you like quite a few other bloggers receive review copies for 'free' but nothing is for nothing, so you are already compromised having 'accepted a gift to pervert the eyes of the judge' and as Barth insists all money is dirty and that's just the daily foot washing we simply can't escape, and as Karl Kennedy of Neighbours once remarked 'money can't but you happiness but it does buy a better standard of misery' so go Gadget go.

Craig said...

Firefox's AdBlock extension is wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Of course, an alternative is to repair to the library, and write a very, very long book. You won't get paid for that either (not really), but it could bring you happiness.

Jeremy Patterson said...

On the one hand, don't move. On the other hand, I can't blame you for taking the money. I still read Roger Olson even though he moved. But I will say that the look/appeal of his blog decreased for me. I don't know that the move affects the quality of the content.

Kyle said...

You spend your time and energy adding value for other people. If you can monetize that, good for you.

I skim all of your posts, and click the ones I want to read. I'd be surprised if you lost any significant readership numbers from this, but surely you'd get more. Ben Myers content is Ben Myers content, regardless of urls and ads.

Anonymous said...

Bob Dylan

John Hobbins said...

Hi Ben,

Here are the reasons which keep me from moving to Patheos. With all due respect for my social location, the best way I know to keep a version of the three classical vows is to

(1) take a financial hit in order to blog [the time, talent, and money necessary to pursue blogging is a gift that comes out of my hide and the hide of my family and parish;

(2) resist the "friends with benefits" model across the board; this is another costly choice, the only one who seems to wholeheartedly approve is my wife;

(3) obedience to God rather than man [if I thought that the proof of concept of Patheos honored God, I would join, but I don't].

In short, I agree with Kim.

Mark Stevens said...

Ben, what does your wife say? She knows you best!

Luke said...

Links to Amazon already "monetize" the site.

In my judgment, Patheos blogs lose some of their aesthetic appeal - whether this is a technical issue or the subliminal effect of junky ads is an open question.

Patheos will only pay you because they think that you will generate them more than they pay. Why not work with a reader who has the appropriate level of tech know-how to monetize the blog and keep both your sovereignty and more of the dough?

Another avenue would be to approach a theological publication and ask to be affiliated (as Alan Jacobs is with The New Atlantis [text-patterns.thenewatlantis.com] or a few folks are with First Things).

Anonymous said...

I like the above suggestion of seeing if your institution would give you stipendiary support for this aspect of your work, given that you have an offer from another source that they might not want to share you with.

Also, if folks are so very worried about the ads, get adblock. It's a free plug-in available for most browsers and cleans up every webpage I view. No ads on NYT, npr, or bbc. Appearance shouldn't be a motivating factor but perhaps the source of the funds you'll receive for blogging should be.

Getting paid to blog would be great; perhaps this is incentive to find another way?

Bobby Grow said...

Ben,

Do what you want!

Anonymous said...

Dude, don't do it. It's so ugly over there. You'll go soft. You'll lose your distinction. You'll be like a footballer that's risen in stature at a small club whose career then goes down the drain when you finally make it big. Really, I don't see this turning out well for the quality of the blog, though perhaps you'll make more money.

kim fabricius said...

The full quote Bobby is looking for is Ama deum et fac quod vis.

besideourselves said...

Ben,

It is no doubt a kind of insanity (the kind that the world needs more of) that compels you to do so much work to enrich the lives of so many people at your own cost; most of whom you will probably never even meet, but have nevertheless formed meaningful relationships with based upon the communication of beautiful ideas. The interwebs then have presented new ways of forming relationships, but these new ways are still susceptible to the same old abuses and exploitations; and lets be clear, Patheos wants to exploit the trust and respect which you have earned from your audience, your friends, for their own economic advantage. All they're offering you is thirty pieces of silver for handing them (us) over.

There are a number of very important parallels between the Hacker and Christian counter-cultures, and the interwebs are the creation of the Hackers; intended to be a completely decentralised and egalitarian bastion of freedom and empowerment. These 'silos' like Patheos, walled internet sites that try to capture and contain content for monopolistic purposes are the very antithesis of those ideals, and ought to be strenuously resisted by anyone who wishes the internet to remain a truly free repository of the 'true riches', and an unsullied meeting place for the body of Christ. My first and lasting impression of Patheos is "ick"; I don't think you belong there at all and I would be saddened for your distinctive voice to be lost amidst that Babel.

Listen to Erin: the technicalities aren't that imposing. And while I know that Blogger doesn't quite have the street-cred that other options do these days, it actually puts more of the tools in your hands (for *free*) than any other blog-host. I'm praying that Providence will send someone your way who'll be honoured to shoulder some of the technical burden for you - there's bound to be dozens of tech-savvy students passing through your doors. I've seriously considered doing some web-hosting training myself simply so I can help older and wiser voices than mine to be heard on the 'webs lest it become a technocracy. And I'm sure I can't be the only one who feels that way.

As for Monetizing, I'd say that the feelers are now out. There must be dozens of ethical businesses who'd wish to tastefully sponsor your Blog, and if you wanted to remain ad-free, just set yourself up a Paypal account and link it to a "buy me a coffee" button on the sidebar, it might do better than you'd think. Seriously, yours was the first Blog I ever read, my entrance to the wide wonders of the blogosphere, and it even inspired me to start my own! I would be honoured to buy you two or three coffees right now if I could and I would raise my own mug to your health.

Anyway, sorry for the rambling response but I felt impassioned and simply lacked the time to make it shorter.

Shalom,


Peter.

Anonymous said...

As with any matter like this one, quite a few issues feed into it--it's not just about getting paid to write, or, technical support per se. At the risk of sounding crass, it's also a public relations issue, i.e., w/reg. to the Blog-readers who have been reading this site up to now, and how "we" would perceive you, should you make a "move". I think a lot of your readers would loose interest and drop off. I've glanced at this other site--the graphic values aren't worth two cents--it has a corporate feel to it. Also, advertisements and theology don't belong together--not only is the concept tacky, but there's real moral hazzard waiting in the wings as well. Here in the U.S., the late E.B. White would write a note to authors who did advertisements, and that would pretty much settle things there and then.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, just had a peek at Patheos; very American (neither good or bad, just a statement of fact), very pantheon, very corporate feel, very 'reasonable', very at home with contemporary marketplace/corporate realism - things that F&T just isn't. This reminds me of 5 star resorts - they are the same where-ever you go in the world - this is the homogenizing face of corporate global 'pluralism'. Frankly, what you do Ben is a shit load better than what they do.

(hmm, I'm having trouble posting to Justin.)

Paul Tyson

Anonymous said...

I really struggle with all the people who are happy to read the stuff you write (and clearly put a great deal of time and effort into) but oppose you getting paid for doing it. I am extremely skeptical about how many of them do their work for nothing in order to keep "pure". Yes, even Barth got paid.
I have absolutely no objection to you receiving some remuneration for your outstanding work. As always I'll reed via RSS and couldn't care less about the ads.

Anonymous said...

Thus spake the mighty Mount, and I
Made answer, with a deep-drawn sigh:
Thou ancient Skiddaw, by this tear,
I would, I would that [it] were here!

With apologies to ST Coleridge and Mrs Robinson.

Brett Gray said...

I find two things interesting at the moment - the exulting of the web as a type of media different, and potentially purer, than all others. I thought that Messianic view of the web's potential had gone out with the turn of the Millennium. I want to re-state an earlier question - what is the difference between Ben publishing his work in a journal or magazine that has advertising and allowing advertising on his site?

The second thing is I want to express amazement at the degree to which this 'matters' to so many people. It is as if Ben is being asked to maintain a hyperbolic level of purity so that we can feel innocent by association. It reminds me of my own current role as a parish priest. I think the word is 'projection.'

Anonymous said...

Must disagree with you Brett. It's not projection at all--it's about authorship, and, what it means to be a theologian, or even a writer, or an artist. Many actors can get away with appearing in advertisements or endorsing a product, but that's pretty much where we as a society draw the line. I think that when, e.g. the cellist Yo Yo Ma does endorsements of a wristwatch, he has really crossed that line. When painter Ross Blechner did an ad for Absolut Vodka, art ctitic Roberta Smith called him on it, and she was right. The higher up you go, the more expected of you. How can Ben expect to speak truth to power if Starbucks or Budweiser are horning in on his message? A better alternative for Ben would be to become a paid op-ed columnist. We don't associate economist Paul Krugman, who writes for the New York Times, with the advertisements in the paper--he has his own space there, and as a matter of convention, he can speak his mind, and remain credible, both as a professor at Princeton, and as a columnist/author per se. Otherwise, the mass media tends to pollute in general, it belittles and denigrates original and contentious thinking. We may all miss Ben were he to fold his tent and "repair to the library", as a wit up the line here suggested, but we'd respect him a whole lot more for it, and, presumably he'd have more quality time with his budding family as well, DWLindeman

Anonymous said...

Nota Bene, A typo here: it's the painter "Ross Bleckner", not "Blechner" as per above,
DWLindeman

Brett Gray said...

I hear you, DWLindman, and yet the money that goes to pay Paul Krugman, and to support the format that is the NYTimes, is in a large part derived from advertising revenue. Starbucks and Budweiser still slip in. Much modern art and classical music is dependent on support and sponsership from private business (I was at the Tate Modern recently, and UBS logos were everywhere). Nothing is pure...

One of the things that is driving my thinking at the moment is Andrew Shanks' recent work on Gillian Rose entitled 'Against Innocence'. In it he argues that a major motif of Rose's thought was a critique of flights to an attempted innocence or purity that allowed one to opt out of the difficult negotiations involved in being part of the world as it is, and thus helping to move that world towards healing. Such a desire for purity is always in danger of slipping into the abnegation of responsibility for one's agency and acts, the responsibility to get one's hands dirty.

I am not saying that Ben should or shouldn't move his blog, but I am saying that we need to question our desire that the current blog remain 'pure' and 'unsullied' by advertising. There might be good reasons for keeping it so. But there might also be questionable reasons why we want it to be so. Does it feed our felt need to be pure by association that Ben continue this format without remuneration? At what point does a proper reticence in the face of the commodification of just about everything become a new and subtle Pharisaisim.

Anonymous said...

Brett, As a matter of fact, I do not believe in "working for free". The trend toward internships is really a new form of "white-collar slavery". I've often given thought to how free a professor may be, here in the States, when he/she has an endowed chair named for the likes of Carnegie or Frick. But I'm not convinced by your sociology. What really matters is that such professors keep their noses clean and say and write what they think, no matter how iconoclastic or outrageous. It's the freedom of speech, and the content of that speech that matters, and I see no reason why such speech could not be characterized as pure, or unsullied. The alternative would be for all scholars and thinkers to put down their pens--not a good option. Apparently, even Socrates, and Plato had power-relation issues that need to be taken into account (as per recent letter to the NYTimes Book Review), but we give them a pass, since their manifest originality is so significant for us. I'd be enormously let down if, for example, Harold Bloom, Harvey Cox, Paul Tillich, Kierkegaard, or Glenn Gould did (or ever have done) advertisements. This not mere aestheticism or "subtle Pharisaisim" as you put it. What matters is that the categories of separation and the societal conventions by which we support them hold (e.g., an Op-Ed column). We maintain these conventions and distinctions, since we know and believe that more often than not what free speakers have to tell us is a matter of life and death, not to mention liberty. Christ reminded us that none of us are without sin, but he also advised us to render unto Ceasar what is Ceasar's, that is, just return it to him. I think these two aspects of the human condition, however paradoxical, can still coexist in an existential sense that gives some reliable and "free-will" space to all of us. Thanks for the debate (I'd sign on like the rest of you, but there's a glitch in my software right now),
DWLindeman

Student said...

Looked at pathos. Immediate reaction: don'ttel it. Your message and art will be diluted and lost in the maze of all the others. You're most effective as a stand alone. I didn't notice the adds; I noticed the ugly polished hyped sugar- coated feel. Keep your own voice clear and strong "and all these things shall be added unto you."

Student said...

Auto correct hell. Want to say " don't do it." Ads not adds. To reiterate: don't dilute faith-theology.

Tim Hein said...

Seeing you asked, my advice is NOT to do it.

Though I'm a huge purchaser of books, I grieve the centralisation, globalisation and commercialisation of the Christian 'industry' - so too the academic world.

Blogs are something of a counter attack to that - or were...

I think every teacher, preacher, pastor should have at least one project that they're never paid for. They're easy to find when you're starting out - but harder once you're popular.

It's getting harder online to know (even on Facebook) who's got a commercial agenda, even a subtle one. Resist it, I say. Seeing you asked.

"I lecture for free, I get paid to mark" Gordon Fee

besideourselves said...

And Brett,

Might I add that advertising per se is not really the issue to me; I'd be happy for Ben to Monetize his site because I trust him and there are plenty of 'commercial' endeavours that one can support with a good conscience. That is, the market is a human institution in which redemption ought to be active like any other. But, when those decisions are handed over to a soulless corporate entity, then Kim is right, it's pimping.

And these are actually issues that really matter to a lot of people, which is I believe what Ben was asking. This is not about projection, this is about communicating the principles upon which we base our own decisions; I don't patronise sites such as Patheos, I don't let my life become a corporate billboard, and as much as possible use the money I spend as a tool of social change.

And for the record I stay away from the print media in general because in it, values such as truth and art are far too compromised by commercial interests. The blogosphere is generally self-funded and self-published; a labour of love and that does in fact make it a "type of media different". The question at hand is, do we want it to stay that way?

Bobby Grow said...

Kim,

Is right, I provided the abridged version of Augustine's dictum ;-).

milton said...

I see that almost none of you appreciated the awesomeness of my comment, so I'll post it again:

Romans 14.

(If you're having trouble understanding how it applies to the present circumstances, see Barth's commentary on same.)

Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Dear realist anti-purists and tolerant non-judgementalists:

“I really struggle with all the people who are happy to read the stuff [Ben writes]… but oppose [him] getting paid for doing it. I am extremely skeptical about how many of them do their work for nothing in order to keep "pure".”

1.Ben gets paid for being a lecturer and did not set up F&T as a financial venture. The question here is not is Ben’s labour worthy of remuneration but rather is the ‘for love’ dynamic that has characterised Bens blog to date essential to it, or could it be commercialized without losing its original beauty?

2.Yes, I and many others do do things ‘for nothing’ because we think they are good things to do. I like getting paid for my job (though, as a sessional academic, I would be paid better if I was a professional lawn mower) but I don’t expect to get paid for reading, writing or running a blog; the conversation seems to me to be valuable for its own sake, and it does seem to me to degrade the dignity of the blogging conversation to give it an instrumental commercialized subtext in much the same way that pyramid marketing instrumentalizes ‘friendship’.

3. You seem to be implying that ‘the pure’ stand aloof judging ‘the sullied’ but really no-one is ‘pure’ so any judgement against any form of impurity is hypocritical, inconsiderate of Ben’s financial value, and most likely resentful of Ben’s abilities to be offered money. This completely misconstrues the nature of the concerns I have. If his church or university or us readers sponsored Ben so that he got the same financial recognition as ad sponsored ‘professional’ blogsters, this ‘purists’, for one, would be delighted.

4. But yes – have you read Klein’s ‘no logo’, have you read Packard’s ‘Hidden Persuaders’, have you read Cavanaugh’s ‘Being Consumed’, have you read Ellul’s ‘Propaganda’, have you read Adorno and Horkheimer’s ‘Dialectic of Enlightenment’, have you read Stiglitz ‘Globalization and its discontents’ etc etc? Our consumer culture is sick, is immoral, is structurally deceptive, manipulative and exploitative, is forming people in self centred atomistic despair, is destroying lives and the planet, and the simple fact that we cannot escape complicity in the darkness deeply embedded in our life form does not make our way of life good and right. What ever little futile acts of resistance we can do, we should do.

As a matter of curiosity Ben, what sort of money are they offering you? Is it the kind of thing you could give up your day job to do? Or is it pretty small beer really? Does the amount you get paid depend on the amount of people who visit your site (ie would there be subtle financial incentive to write for popular appeal)?

Paul Tyson

Brett Gray said...

Dear Paul,

Thank you for your critique of the line I, among a couple of others, have put forward. Mine is, admittedly, probably the minority report on the comments at the moment. If I could respond to a couple of the things you've said.

I am not in anyway advocating that we should never do something for free, or for the love of it. There is something wonderfully graceful about the gratuitous! And I think your question about whether Ben moving his blog might endanger its unique ethos in this respect is one of the strongest arguments against him doing so.

On point 3 of your post - I am not implying that it is always the case that the 'pure' stand aloof and in judgement of the 'sullied'; but I am implying that there can be a subtle temptation to do so. And I in no way implied, or meant to imply, that jealousy was at work.

I think it is point 4 which I struggle with the hardest. I have read some, but not all, of the works cited. I consider Cavanaugh's lovely little book practically essential reading for faithful discipleship in our time. I also agree that our consumer culture is, as you say, 'sick... immoral...' and 'structurally deceptive'. However, I don't think a reading list is a conclusive argument, or even a particularly helpful one. The pile of tomes dropped on my metaphorical desk doesn't dissolve the question - I want you to doubt your motives, as I no doubt should doubt mine. I want to ask if holding Ben to a certain standard of ethical purity is really all about resistance to the principalities and powers, or is there also just a smidgen of need and selfishness in it? As no doubt there may be a smidgen of need and selfishness in my point of view.

I want to tempt us to a little self-doubt. Maybe been reading too much Rowan Williams lately...

Brett Gray said...

Dear besideourselves,

Can I ask - you really wouldn't read any blog that had advertising, no matter who wrote it or how good the content? If so, I admire your principles, even if I question the mode of your tactics of resistance.

What I find more troubling is the idea that one should avoid print media - so you don't read (on or off line) the NYTimes, the Guardian, the Economist, the TLS, LRB, the New York Times Review of Books, The Christian Century, Sojourners? What about academic journals? You don't read anything that is printed with advertising?

The Blogosphere is a wonderful source or well written material, but it is also a source of much that is malign and unbalanced - a seedbed for the conspiracy theorist among other things. Please note, I am not implying you are a conspiracy theorist, or that your ideas are malign and unbalanced. I am just trying to characterise the Blogosphere in toto.

And what I also notice about the Blogosphere is that most people who read blogs tend to read those that confirm their worldview. I enjoy Ben's blog in part because most of the time I agree with him (and Kim makes me chuckle). And for this reason, I think, the Blogosphere is a mixed blessing. It has, I think, helped to lead to the fracturing of public conversation into ideological enclaves that find it almost impossible to talk to one another. I think blogs are an important part of a balanced intellectual diet... but if they are the majority of what you read I think your heading for a bad case of intellectual scurvy or ideological rickets.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Brett for your comments.

I must say I am finding this blog conversation very hopeful regarding a kind of grassroots ‘civic’ conversation about things that really matter happening outside of institutional, ‘political’ and commercial ‘logics’ and controls – for want of better words.

Yes, I think point 4 is really where the rub is, though point 3 is also involved.

I take it that you hold that there is really nothing wrong with marketing oneself, that entrepreneurial panache is admirable, that wealth is a blessing from God (not implying that poverty is a curse from God), and that the economic/commercial environment in which we live may have its problems but it allows for freedom of initiative and expression, it rewards success and as it simply is the way of life in which we live, there is no point in sulking about it or dreaming of non-existent utopias, so if one has the ability to do well out of it, why not do well?

It seems that you suspect I disagree on all these points or at least have an inadequate sense of suspicion regarding my ‘real’ motives for holding apparently more ‘purist’ views than the above.

Before responding briefly, I think a comment by the wonderfully learned Matthew Tan is appropriate here: “To put it simply, it’s all very complicated….”

Stated ‘simply’ I don’t disagree with any of the things I have characterised you as holding. So to have it implied that I want talented people like Ben to be as poor as church mice because it validates my vicarious but futile desire for ‘purity’ seems a bit rich.

But, stated less simply, yes, I think there are some deeper underlying differences of outlook between you and I regarding how we see ‘the real world’ (and the commercial world in particular) and what an attempted Christian response to the ‘real world’ might look like. Now I don’t want to overstate potential differences here and far be it from me to presume to know or understand your particular stance Brett. But – not speaking in personal terms - I think because contemporary Western Christianity is very at home in ‘the real world’ (hell, we largely made this world!) there is a certain ‘Constantinean’ reflex amongst many Christians where the obvious way for Christians to improve the world is by working with the status quo where at all possible. Neibuhr’s political ‘Christian realism’ translates into economic conservativism (free enterprise capitalist commercialism) and unbridled technological instrumentalism (also the status quo) very easily. Against this, attempts towards more Anabaptist non-conformism – Yodar, Hauerwas, Ellul etc – are cautious about the very different Kingdom of God being coopted to the role of a chaplain to the politico-economic-media-technological status quo, along the lines of Michael Budd’s concerns. This caution does not entail withdrawal or ‘purism’ or wishful delusion, or being un-realistic, or backward-looking techno-phobia etc (implications all too easily insinuated by ‘realists’) but is indeed cautious about a range of normal activities which ‘Christian realism’ never thinks twice about. If a ‘realist’ does not understand what the concerns of the ‘aspiring non-conformist’ are, fine, the ‘realist’ does not understand. But for a ‘realist’ to presume to know what an ‘aspiring non-conformist’ is really on about – ie projection, delusional unrealism, stingy spiritedness etc – is just not correct.

Paul Tyson

roger flyer said...

I don't care as long as you keep artistic control and continue to write brilliant posts (and include Kim from time to time.)

Anonymous said...

Do you really want to be associated with a site that has Beckwith as a contributor?

besideourselves said...

Hi Brett,

My real reading tends to be in books, with a bit in online journals etc, but I'm a young(ish) over-committed undergrad student who has just got sooo much catching up to do on that front (my physical and metaphorical desks sag and groan both) that I am very mindful of the need to catch up on 'The Conversation'. And that to me is the beauty of the blogosphere; it's the place where I get the chance to 'sit at the feet' of a wonderfully diverse and well-respected range of people (you may include yourself in that illustrious company), people who'd be leagues outside of the social, geographical or educational reach of this small-town Kiwi-kid in any other forum. And so I listen in on the conversation; I follow it about with the blog-rolls and 'what-I'm-reading' lists, I try to dip my toe in the comment boards, and I'm exposed to such a diverse range of well argued and informed viewpoints that I don't quite understand the 'ideological enclave' objection, well, not from my own experience anyway.

But I hope that helps explain why the commercial silos are so onerous to me, it's not the act of advertising in itself - as I've said, there are plenty of ethical businesses who deserve to be partnered with in that way, it's just that those sites seem so damned inauthentic. I think it's got do with the handing over of the 'clientele' to a soulless corporate entity and the loss of artistic integrity which that entails; I would be more than happy for Ben to choose his own 'sponsors' with the same ethos that pervades the rest of his site, if that's what he wanted to do, but something in the dynamic changes when you're no longer simply invited to participate out of the mutual love of beautiful ideas well communicated and become a customer in somebody elses queue.

And I certainly understand your comments about the 'dangers' of the blogosphere, but I'm perfectly happy to sift the wheat from the chaff for myself. I just think that it's easier to do so when dealing with (in this case very gifted) amateurs.

Artistic integrity will always be in question when art becomes 'product'. And I think the reason that people feel iffy in regard to theology in particular is that the medium must as a matter of course become a part of the message, and in this regard Mr Tyson's point 4 is cogent enough without having read those tomes I think.

And a disclaimer; using Firefox 4 with adblock plus, popup & helper I almost never see the ads themselves and rely heavily on checking the 'about', domain or portal itself for the determining "ick" factor, hence perhaps part of my objection to Patheos which has "ick" a-plenty.

I appreciate the discussion and I hope that in airing my rather idealistic views I haven't made myself too much of a stench in the realist's nostrils. And yes, to one's own master he stands or falls.

And finally, if I was gifted enough and presented with the opportunity to write for a living on a corporates payroll I would find it a very, very difficult offer to turn down (but I like to think that I still would).

Shalom,


Peter

patrick said...

Just keep one thing in mind: in general, people resist change. Think of all the past complaints people made when Facebook made certain changes, like adding in the 'news feed', etc. There were a million people protesting -- demanding to have the 'old Facebook' back. But it was better. And they got used to it. And on it rolled. Of course, there are differences between this case and the present one. But there are also similarities.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Brett for your comments.

Yes, I think point 4 is really where the rub is.

I take it that you hold that there is really nothing wrong with marketing oneself, that entrepreneurial panache is admirable, that wealth is a blessing from God (not implying that poverty is a curse), and that the economic/commercial environment in which we live may have its problems but it allows for freedom of initiative and expression, it rewards success and as it simply is the way of life in which we live, there is no point in sulking about it or dreaming of non-existent utopias, so if one has the ability to do well out of it, why not do well?

It seems that you suspect I disagree on all these points or at least have an inadequate sense of suspicion regarding my ‘real’ motives for holding apparently more ‘purist’ views than the above.

Stated ‘simply’ I don’t disagree with any of the things I have characterised you as holding above. So to have it implied that I want talented people like Ben to be as poor as church mice because it validates my vicarious but futile desire for ‘purity’ seems a bit rich.

But, stated less simply, yes, I think there are some deeper underlying differences of outlook between you and I regarding the nature of ‘the real world’ and what an attempted Christian response to the ‘real world’ might look like. Now I don’t want to overstate potential differences here and I don’t presume to know what your particular stance on any of these issues are Brett. But in general terms, there are Christians who are more or less at home in the modern Western politico-economic-consumer-techno world (hell, we basically invented this world!) and who equate an active and potent ‘at homeness’ in this world with ‘realism’; and then there are some aspiring non-conformists who find themselves very uncomfortable about significant structural features or ‘normal reality’. It often happens in forums such as this, on topics like this, that the ‘realist’ disparagingly labels the ‘aspiring non-conformist’ as an idealists, purists or utopian etc.

In my (broadly Anabaptist) ecclesial tradition we characterise this situation in terms of a Neo-Constantinean Christianity that assumes that one always goes with the status quo of modern ‘reality’ as a Christian where one at all can, as distinct from an attempted non-conformist stance which finds the Kingdom of Heaven to be at serious odds with a great many of the normal features of the reality of our sociological life form. Interestingly, Niebuhr’s ‘Christian realism’ in politics very readily translates into economic conservativism where the ‘free market’ and its media saturated, techno-instrumentalist consumerism is treated as either positive or value neutral. But in my tradition – see Yodar, Hauerwas, Ellul – conceptions of the economic and media status quo are more complex. And I mean complex. We do not advocate a withdrawal from ‘the world’ or its sullied normality, rather we seek to live within the world but not of the world. This involves a subtle and sensitive parsing of alternatives. Michael Budde’s work is very accessible on these sort of points. We must think these things through carefully for we do not want our faith to end up as a passive ‘chaplain’ to the status quo of the ‘normal reality’ in which we live.

So, I accept that ‘realists’ just don’t see what all the fuss is about for aspiring non-conformists regarding something like ad sponsored theology blogging. Ad sponsored blogging is so comfortably within normal ‘reality’ as it is presented to us from within our cultural life form that the very idea of thinking in alternatives seems delusional, and probably a bit sick. But then, be honest. You don’t understand. Formulating little theories about projection or vicarious purity to explain what must be ‘really’ going on – given the assumptions of realism – is, I’m afraid, a hermeneutics 101 total fail.

Paul Tyson

Fat said...

Ben
I would crawl over broken glass on bare knees to read this blog.
Move or stay - both are OK with me.
So long as your readers have a sense of irony then the ads won't bother them. (speaking as one who ran a church page on an MSN free site with ads for dating services and astrology readings)
I don't know the stats of your blog but I suspect that it has a far wider readership than contributorship and a discussionship greater again.

My question (money aside) - will the move expose more people to the words of wisdom here-in?

Student said...

Dear Ben, now I'm on a real computer rather than iPhone can type more of what I'd like to say.

Brief context: I've been a web master, designer, guru, hi-tech grunt, online writer and varieties of that ilk. Have spent 10's thousands hours working in dev online, as well as studying, reading and surfing as we all do. I'm web savvy, corporate savvy, well read and curious. I don't do bandwagons and am a rebel and a gambler.

I also believe, as Jesus said, a worker deserves their wages. I have no problem you being paid for every word you write. I can ignore ads, not even notice them, even the stupid popup ones.

I like change, improvement, and excellent communication; people who use all tech has to offer. I even have an iPhone ; )

I also care about you as a person, and venerate you as a teacher and artist. I want you to succeed in every way.

So I step back and think big picture, the big game. Faithful in little = faithful in much. Work smarter, not harder.

My gut intuition for you is that you can pipe into a bigger audience and spiritual and intellectual influence by keeping your own site. Going for your own domain name is fine and good. However, as I indicated above, joining pathos or whatever that is (too lazy to scroll and see) will dilute your message. I looked at that site not more than 2 seconds and knew this.

Now, if you stay independent, and also have your independent site piped into or linked to "pathos" that's ok. For example, new thought guy Wayne Dyer has his own site, and also blogs on a couple others. But he's still stand alone. Maybe Oprah does the same; surely Dalai Lama as well, and others. More and more "alternative" thinkers and doctors are joining Huffingtonpost; I'm thrilled to see that. But they still have their independent sites.

Your message is strong enough to carry it's own site, and then some. I mentioned big/bigger game (I mean a game that is played, not hunting game, lol). Step back, look through a scope--you reach more people, and yes, generate more income in the long run by keeping your own site and clean voice. I see our video lessons as a major leap forward in this progress.

Oh so many bloggers are really just stream-of-consciousness narcissists; your site has truth, depth, beauty, laughter.

I found you googling the two words faith and theology, of all things. I think if I'd found you on "pathos" I might've skipped you...I'd have thought you another beliefnet hype (that site is poorly done, design and ui wise, and the content commercial...boring...)

Certainly anything you write or probably even do is worth being paid for, because you have such a generous spirit, people want you to benefit in return.

Stay true to your muse, with a reminder that the world's way's aren't God's; often in discernment, of which we are advised to do in community, guidance is the opposite of what people (including me, but in this case I think not) advise.

A wise man, a rich man too, "Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these."

Blessings & grace to ya.

Anonymous said...

The matter at hand raises truly serious and substantive issues that involve such categories as agency, expression, intentionality, separation of powers, voice, reception aesthetics, compartmentalization as social activity, social conventions, "visible language" and of course, scholarly ethics. If two pampleteers from the 18th century who held diametrically opposing views were (hypothetically speaking)to publish their work on recto and verso of the same page of the same book, who wouldn't be confused by such, and most likely angered by it as well? I doubt the broadside editions of the American Declaration of Independence would have carried as much force and weight as they did, were an advertisement for snuff appended as a colophon to the bottom edge. Now, when organizations or petitioneers post a significant public announcement in a major newspaper, they invariably purchase an entire page, and find ways to fill up the page as well. It may seem paradoxical that we make so many deliberate distinctions that appear, initially at least, to contradict each other with regard to voice, authorship, and proximity to commercial interests, and, depend so often on a particular media-type context, but usually our gut instincts about what is appropriate, from the start, win out. As a society, we learn how to read these visual and written "separation codes" or "combination codes", and it is not wrong that we should have strong convictions about what is appropriate, or not, about them. When someone who should have known better has gone too far, courting a dilution, or even dissolution of his or her "voice" it is usually regarded as a kind of betrayal. This "voice" is connected not only to an individual agent, but to our ideas about what our human capacities are with regard to speaking what is true, and, even, what we may call the "voice of the human spirit", the voice we hear in the music of Johannes Brahms, for example. Certainly, there's nothing new (nor nothing especially old-fashioned) about making such fine distinctions. Susan Sontag admitted that she always arranged the books in her library in such way that ostensibly compatible authors (to her that is) would either be proximate to each other, or, "incompatibles" kept entirely separate--an arrangement that mirrored her own intellectual assumptions and predilictions no doubt. DWLindeman

Ahithophel said...

I hope it's not inappropriate for a Patheos guy to offer a comment here. Ben, I studied systematic theology with Sarah Coakley (she directed my dissertation) and pointed out your blog to her. I've long been a fan of this blog, so I recommended that our guy reach out to you.

Ads are a bit of a bummer, granted, but I think folks are accustomed to them. And the blogs generally have ads for publishers and seminaries, so they're generally context-appropriate. If you decide not to join us, I can tell you about some ways to build income through an independent blog, but they all involve having ads -- so it's ads one way or another, and much of the same ads.

No place is perfect, but we work hard to be fair and thoughtful and academically grounded. We've built a great community of inquiry amongst our bloggers -- almost all of whom are academics. Patheos is not built on the assumption (as some commenters have alleged) that all religious are the same, or we should all hold hands and sing campfire songs. The people behind Patheos (including myself) are true believers in the site, believing that it's important to educate and elevate our conversations on faith, important to build communities of intelligent inquiry, and important to provide the best and most thoughtful commentary we can on issues in church and society. So I think you'd be quite at home, and I think your readers would be surprisingly pleased with the move. Just my two cents.

God bless, and let's keep in touch, in either case.

Daniel said...

Whose image is on the money being offered? Just kidding. Cmon, isn’t this just an issue because we refuse to admit how deeply commodity culture is already insinuated into every aspect of our lives? Ain’t we mostly a bunch of affluent, privileged, probably mostly white guys here debating how much to tip the hotel chambermaid that cleans up our mess for minimum wage while we are out enjoying ourselves at a conference on “Postcolonial Motifs in the Synoptic Gospels and the Challenge of Subaltern Exegetical Voices.” Just how important do you think this blog is in the whole scope of things anyway? Why do you do this? Why am I even writing this? Well, mostly because I am watching the first republican debate on TV and I got myself so depressed and pissed off that I checked in here during a commercial (think of that, a commercial break in the middle of a freaking presidential debate!) As you might expect, each republican participant is trying to out-privatize, out-market soulutionize and out-monetize every other one as the answer to all this country’s problems (what is the problem that monetizing your blog solves? Is there any problem that money instrumentalized through the “free market” can’t solve?) I can tell you this, each and every one of the 9 republican contenders, from Michele Bachman to Newt Gingrich would not only take the money, but believes it is a patriotic, religious, and moral imperative to do so! So what is wrong with you? Well, we are all waiting to ‘marvel at your answer’ so it better be good, blessings, Daniel. (p.s. perhaps you could look at product placement on your videos and in your posts as an alternative to annoying ads? for example, take your story about Narnia below, here is how it could have read: ‘This morning while I was composing on my new Apple Ipad Jamie came inside crying, looking as scared as when we watched Avatar on our Sony 60” flat screen. He said, "There is a talking tree outside but it couldn't talk!" It turns out the tree near the swing set has a crack which is most definitely a scary mouth, well I got out the ‘Homer’s fix-all’ and plastered that scary crack shut for good! I told him there were only talking trees in the land of Narnia, not in our world. He agreed this was true, but added that all trees have eyes and mouths and noses inside them. Then he changed his mind and said trees are actually made up of smuckers green and yellow jelly on the inside. Yummy and on sale now at Ralph’s grocery.’ A win, win, win solution, yes?) Obliged.

Aaron Rathbun said...

Ahithophel: "If you decide not to join us, I can tell you about some ways to build income through an independent blog, but they all involve having ads -- so it's ads one way or another, and much of the same ads."

It's ads "one way or another"? False dilemma. Remember what Bush said, "Either you're with us, or you're with the terrorists." Hmm...

Only a Sith deals in absolutes.

diglotting.com said...

I see no problem with a move to Patheos. Heck, I would my blog to Patheos if the price is right.

Terry Wright said...

Daniel wrote: This morning while I was composing on my new Apple Ipad Jamie came inside crying, looking as scared as when we watched Avatar on our Sony 60” flat screen.

I think Ben already plugs Apple products as much as he can...

Anonymous said...

I would not have dreamt of, after 100 comments, having anything to add, but it seems to me I have.
More or less everyone is taking this on as the "right" or "wrong" thing to do. My take is "dangerous". Kim comes closest at Friday, June 10, 2011 4:56:00 PM

I work for a bank. Can you get closer to Mammon than that? As part of that position, I have to stay anonymous here. The bank would not like to be associated with any views I may be expressing. Well, the view that I am expressing is that Mammon is hideous and very very dangerous. About half (???) of the comments argue that "this is society and we just have to learn to live with it". I disagree. Fight back. Don't get too close. I was young and naïve, and now I'm in a cage. They pay me too well for me to escape. Do not voluntarily walk into a trap like this. Yes I give away quite a few crumbs of what they feed me, but there's still enough left. Do not bite. Stay free. The moment you get paid, it is no more a work of love. I've tried that too. Love became a chore.

Resist.

Brian R. Gumm said...

My inner Anabaptist (and LOTR nerd badge) says: Resist the precious!

Sure Blogger is a pretty shoddy blogging platform but that it's a Google product and shoddy gives it a certain endearing aesthetic. Plus you have the option as a blogger of ads/no ads...and I totally back no ads for a theology blog.

I can't tell you how bonkers it makes me to see the kinds of ads that pop up on various "religion" sites. BibleGateway.com, for instance, either shows me "Ban liquor sales on Sunday in Virginia!" or "Is there OIL in Israel?!" Having that assault me while I'm looking up Scripture is totally demoralizing.

My vote: Stay on Blogger.

Phil Sumpter said...

John Hobbins has a detailed post on this here: http://ancienthebrewpoetry.typepad.com/ancient_hebrew_poetry/2011/06/why-i-cannot-recommend-patheos.html.

Daniel said...

So, what have you decided? I have deleted a couple of the blogs I follow on FB recently. I noticed that they seemed to always be posting provocative comments that read like tabloid headlines. After you posted this I checked and every one of them was a Patheos blog. I wont mention names but here is an example, "After spending years "living like a Christian" I've decided I'm DONE. Here are those thoughts. I hope they will encourage you this week :-)" Maybe it's the bucks, maybe it ain't, but if you go patheos how long till your hacking into our phones? obliged and blessings.

Daniel said...

Sorry to harp on this, but this is a most strange and unusual prayer. It is what happens to prayer when you 'monetize' it.

Indeed, we are 'Frankensteining Christ in America.'

Obliged.

Daniel said...

Here is the link, don't know why it didn't post above?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J74y88YuSJ8

Wes Thompson said...

The Theology program requires the ability to use the principles of biblical interpretation to identify and evaluate basic elements of theological thought through systematic analysis of statements of truth, theologies, and doctrines of the Christian faith.

http://www.almedauniversity.org/under-graduate/bachelor-of-theology.html

Akib Zihan said...

Actually i was planning to move my blog.I know its not a good idea.But i need to move it.

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