Wow–my second week of “Top 3 on Tuesday,” and already I’m hitting a snag. I’ve known since I first conceived this idea (which is to say, I’ve known for about a week), that I was going to feature “Internet Monk” as my second blog. I just think it’s a really good resource for Christians: it is updated very regularly, and it is full of posts on current events in Christendom, deep spiritual thoughts, and even many informative historical analyses. (Plus, it’s got one of those round-up things I was talking about, and those are always fun.) Apparently, the blog was started by a man named Michael Spencer in November of 2000. It became really popular: in fact, “It was recently voted the number 6 blog at ChurchRelevance.com and is rated the #11 blog in the Christian blogosphere,” according to its information page. Sadly, Spencer died of cancer in 2010; before he died, however, he passed his blog to Michael Mercer, who goes by “Chaplain Mike” on the blog. Chaplain Mike has kept up with the blog ever since.
Here’s where I ran into my snag, though: like I said, it seems that Internet Monk is always being updated. And so, it’s really hard to pick out three posts to serve as highlights, or even to pick out my three “favorite” posts. So I thought about it, and what I’m going to do instead is to highlight the three posts that really got me interested in the blog. I initially thought I’d try to put each blog’s best foot forward, but at least two of these three posts are somewhat controversial. Oh,well. I figure that they’ll at least let you know if this blog is for you, or if you should run, screaming, in the opposite direction:
This was the one that really sucked me in. It’s by the original author, Michael Spencer. He is a little more “in your face” here than I usually prefer, but despite the occasional burst of vitriol, the overall content of his message was soothing to my soul:
There are thousands of people who don’t buy the kind of flat, literalistic inerrancy that is being sold among conservative evangelicals today, and, sorry to disappoint the gallery, but we don’t have to. Being a Baptist doesn’t force me to buy the search for the ark, young earth creationism, Hamm/Hovind, complementarianism, homeschooling, conspiracy theories, Dobson’s view of politics, bad Christian art, arrogant leaders, bad scholarship or the SBC’s view of itself as compared to other denominations.
Yes, I am critical of some of my brethren. I’ve never lived a day in Protestantism that there wasn’t a critical conversation going on. If the memo has gone out that we’ve stop asking questions and contending for answers, I didn’t get it.
And then he talks about Roger Williams, concluding that, “I may be wrong, but this web site is exercising something Baptist Christians used to care deeply about: DISSENT.” (Emphasis his.)
Yes, he may be wrong. I know for sure that I disagree with some of his opinions, even here, but I do believe passionately in critical thinking, which often expresses itself in dissent. It was a good reminder that disagreeing with the (seeming) majority doesn’t automatically make one a heretic. Sometimes I need to that reminder.
I have been ridiculously bad at keeping up with politics this year. To be honest, I just don’t follow them at all. So when I heard from Greg that Newt Gingrich won in SC, I was completely shocked. I just didn’t get how that could happen. I had just discovered this blog, and lo and behold, they had a discussion in the comments section that I actually found to be helpful. Yes, most of the response seemed to come from “liberal” readers, but what I liked the most was the conservative response. See, I honestly could not understand how Gingrich won SC, and hearing the conservative rationales, I felt that I understood it better. Here is a sample conservative response from “Miguel” in the comments:
I do believe moral character to be important, I just can’t become a single issue voter over that. We don’t need an incompetent saint in office. And I’m not waiting until somebody “pure” enough comes along in order to vote for him. I will take the lesser of two evils any day of the week, and I will sleep at night guilt free knowing I used what little influence I had for as much good as it could do.
It was actually helpful to me to listen to the conversation.
This article is a great example of the way the blog highlights the church’s past. I had never heard about any of this crazy guy, St. Simeon Salus, who lived in the sixth century:
For much of his adult life, Simeon practiced the ascetic life of a hermit in the desert. Then he decided to return to his hometown of Emesa, prompted by the Spirit. His foolish behavior began immediately when he entered the village dragging a dead dog around, attracting attention and contempt. It is said that he then entered the church, extinguished the lights, and began throwing nuts at the women in the congregation. Upon exiting the church, Simeon turned over the tables of food merchants in the streets.
I mean, c’mon. Don’t you want to know more about that guy?
Okay, hopefully that’s enough information to allow you to determine whether or not this is a blog for you. I will leave you with this question: had you heard of Internet Monk before this? I’m just curious to see if any of my readers were holding out on me:).