I’ve made the decision to close comments on this blog. This decision has been coming for a long time now, but my previous post finally decided me. It was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.
The reason is mainly because I am no longer convinced that comments on blogs really achieve anything. In fact, I’d go further than that – I’d go as far as to say that debate on the internet is, around 99.9% of the time, utterly futile. I’ve been involved in debating things on the internet for many years now, and I’m struggling to think of a single time where anyone has changed their mind on an important issue as a result of these debates. I’m sure it does happen, but it’s depressingly rare.
On this blog over the years, I’ve written on topics which have generated a fair amount of discussion – the two big ones being atheism/secularism and same-sex marriage. Those two topics have drawn a lot of comments, mostly from the same regular commenters. What has happened, pretty much, is that our arguments have got to the point where you could almost script them. Sometimes I feel like it’s become a bit like Monty Python’s argument clinic!
Over the past couple of years, since being ordained and becoming a curate, I’ve become increasingly convinced of the importance of the local. My calling is first and foremost to the people who I actually live among and minister to. And, once again, I’ve become increasingly convinced that discussing things online is actually a distraction from what I’m supposed to do. I’ve invested a lot of time in discussing things here over the years, and I simply don’t think that use of my time is now justifiable.
Dialogue over important issues such as religion and atheism is possible – but it’s only ever likely to happen within the context of an actual relationship. The internet is, quite frankly, too impersonal and too prone to misunderstanding. You can’t really show love to a random stranger on the internet, not in the same way that you can show love to someone who is in your geographical area. I’m no longer interested in debating Christianity simply for the sake of being right. It’s better to show people living here what difference being a follower of Christ actually makes – something which, again, it is difficult to do on the internet. The internet actually makes proper discussion incredibly hard – you miss important things like nonverbal communication, you can become focussed on a very abstract argument and lose sight of the person.
So, from now on, I’m going to take the approach that blogger Tim Challies has taken (and probably others): instead of a comments section, if someone feels strongly enough about a post to write about it they can send a ‘letter to the editor’ (i.e. email me). Any which are helpful and constructive will be published.
Many thanks to all those who have commented and contributed here over the years, but for the foreseeable future there will be no more comments.