As you know, in the last few days I’ve mixed it up with Patrick Chan of Triablogue. Some of my readers appreciated the efforts. Apparently not all did however. Kor wrote:
“I was saddened to see this string of posts on your own blog, as they seem to run counter to the message of the love and grace of God that you so diligently defend on a regular basis.
“I’ve been a regular reader of your posts for some time and even if I don’t agree with all your views, I appreciate the ways you’ve challenged my thinking. I hope you take this as an attempt at constructive feedback.”
Sure do. Thanks Kor and I hope you keep reading.
Now allow me to offer a reply. Let’s deal with each of my three installments separately.
In this first installment I set out to launch a general critique of Triablogue and the methods I see being consistently employed to marginalize other voices. But here is the problem. How does one seek to do this when the catalyst for the critique (Patrick’s original article) is a parody? (I don’t think Patrick’s work in this instance really qualified as satire. But that’s a side issue.) Anyway, you know the old saying: “Fight fire with fire”. If a person launches a parody or satire then to respond straight makes you sound churlish, grumpy, a stick-in-the-mud, even if your critical rebuttal is fair. It is much more effective to launch a humorous counter-offensive. And so that’s what I did. And while using satire I laid out a comprehensive critique of Triablogue while bringing a smile to at least some of my readers.
In the next installment I shifted the spotlight from a general critique of Triablogue to a focused critique of Patrick Chan. One of the claims he made in his original parody was that I was an “ethical subjectivist”. This is completely false. But again the dilemma. You need to avoid critiquing a parody straight where possible. So I continued the line of humor but with a serious point. I began with a charitable assumption that Patrick actually had some minimal familiarity with my ethical writing. But then I noted that this left Patrick with a dilemma. Either he was intending to mislead his readers as to the truth of my views or he didn’t care about the truth at all and was only concerned with marginalizing my voice under a pile of charges. Patrick’s fixation on cow manure in the blog thread provided a first-rate platform (if a rather stinky one) for me to present his dilemma. Again, fighting fire with fire but with a redemptive purpose behind it.
But what could be my justification for “Patrick Chan and ‘The Comeback'”? Wasn’t I just making fun at this point?
It is true that this final installment doesn’t have the serious purpose of the earlier two articles. But then what’s wrong with ending on a bit of levity? And it is true that as I glanced over what Patrick had been up to at Triablogue I thought that it showed a lot of time and effort — perhaps too much time and effort. So I wanted to suggest to Patrick a couple points: in comedy timing is really important and less is often more. (As a sidebar, I also found his Johnny Carson references to be very dated. How about an update with Jon Stewart?)
Finally, I thought it helpful to end with a link to a hilarious Seinfeld episode. After all, it is harder to be angry at a person when you’ve just watched Seinfeld. The humor of old Seinfeld episodes is something on which most everyone can agree.
In conclusion, I recognize Kor that satire is not to everyone’s taste. Views of what is humorous and what is appropriate (and what is Christlike) may differ. And it seems that on this point you and I clearly have a parting of ways. But hopefully you can at least appreciate the thought and intent that went into my end of this conversation. In fact, in my view this has been my most enjoyable and constructive engagement with Triablogue so far.