I just finished a huge round-up of posts from GBC attendees. It is, I believe, the most comprehensive list of GBC attendees comments available.
First, Hugh Hewitt is the most gracious, engaging, and humble man I have ever met. He is the epitome of the classic “scholar and gentleman.” Even though he is a man of great influence, he has the particular and peculiar virtue of being able to treat everyone equally, regardless of stature. The success of GBC is due in large part to his support and encouragement.
Secondly, I have been humbled and honored by the many expressions of thanksgiving that I personally have received. I am doubtful that I have earned them as much as people think. When I think of people who deserve praise, I think of those who did not get mentioned this weekend, as well as the outstanding Seth Cutter and the talented Hilary Dotters. While Hugh’s promotion was important, their contribution was essential–without them, GBC would not exist.
Thirdly, Dr. John Mark Reynolds has been thanked far too infrequently by convention attendees. If you attended GBC, then do me a favor and send credit his way. The Torrey Honors Institute is his program, and it was under his direction and leadership that GBC happened. An energetic and visionary man (as you all now know!), Dr. Reynolds motivated and inspired me throughout the entire process. GBC was his event, my jokes notwithstanding.
Fourthly, I have thanked her already, but my wife has certainly sacrificed more than any wife should ever have to sacrifice. The last few weeks, I have only lost sleep–she has lost a husband. Without her giving me away, I could not have done what I needed to do. It is her sacrifice, not mine, that will be rewarded in heaven–I have my reward in full already.
When I worked at a summer camp, we had a maxim that we always said: “Camp is for the campers.” It would remind us that we were there not to have fun ourselves, but to provide a service. The same might be said of GodBlogCon, of which I think it can be honestly said that it was for bloggers and about bloggers, and less about the blogging.
The reason, I think, is simple: blogging is a forum where inter-personal interaction occurs, and should occur. It is not simply the abstract transmission of ideas, but the personal transmission of ideas–it is my blog, and that affects the way I write my post and people read them. This is similar to Dr. Reynolds’ insistence that we should present a full-orbed picture of ourselves on our blogs by revealing the internal dialogue we go through. It is the same thought that Dr. Muehlhoff expressed when he argued that what bloggers need is a rich, textured, emotionally aware explication of opponents’ views–cognitively complex explanations. Blogging will be go beyond MSM simply because it’s personal, and not institutional, and because people are built to connect with others. The greater degree to which blogging fulfills that, the more successful it will be.
GodBlogCon attempted to capture that spirit by providing lots of free time to simply sit and chat. Whether this was effective is for others to decide, but there was a marked difference to the careful observer (myself!) between people’s interactions on Thursday afternoon and their interaction this morning for breakfast.
If blogging is primarily about people and only secondarily about their ideas, then the corollary is that primarily what Christian bloggers need to be effective is faith, hope, and love. Our blogging must become, as everything in our life, the arena where we exercise virtues that can only be found in our souls. Tod Bolsinger’s comments on Friday night that people who struggle with anger should not blog were most interesting to me because, though he didn’t develop this extensively, he implied that virtue is a pre-requisite for healthy blogging. We post in anger because we lack the virtue of meekness, but it is the meek who will inherit the blogosphere, because the meek will keep people around and will allow people to feel secure and safe enough to share dissenting opinions. If blogging is dialectic (a la Reynolds), then it ought be a healthy conversation if it is to help us see heaven at all.
Since its inception, I have sought to make Mere-Orthodoxy (which, you’ll notice, has a name that suggests we are committed to the orthodox Christian faith) a place where diverse opinions could freely share their ideas (unless, as in one case, the discussion could go no further and my time was being swallowed up). Have we succeeded? Our comments and our archives will betray us, which is exactly what archives are for–to judge whether the environment one is creating on their blog is more conducive to the free inquiry of ideas, or less than it previously had been. But the reason is because I seek the virtues of faith, hope, and love, even in blogging.
The question that has been posed for GodBlogCon is whether it will be more conducive to the free inquiry of ideas in the future than it was this year, because GodBlogCon, like blogging, must be about the free and open inquiry into ideas between people who exemplify faith, hope, and charity toward each other. This does not mean boundaries–because blogs are free-ranging inquiries between anyone who comes to play does not entail that blogging conventions must follow suit. However, the challenge is before us and it is up to us to meet it. We’ve have not shied away from a challenge yet. I think we understood that it needed to be fundamentally about people and healthy conversation, which will provide the basis for inclusion of more and more diverse persons to that conversation. In short, I am not worried about the possibility of having a more diverse, less politically oriented GodBlogCon 06. In fact, judging by the tone of GBC I, I wholeheartedly expect that.
Note: this post does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Torrey Honors Institute, Dr. John Mark Reynolds, or Biola University. It is an expression of the author alone and reflects only his views.