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Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes (Turn and face the strain)

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Posted · Report post

Dear A&Fers:

By now you've noticed the new design elements for the board -- our new "skin."

The most obvious changes have to do with integrating the board into the IMAGE design/program suite.

I want you all to know that while the news about IMAGE's new sponsorship of the board was greeted with more or less universal acclaim, I'm still sensitive to the sort of impression we're creating.

For example, I realize that the baggage we bring to this board might feel like a lot of marketing and advertising.

Please know that the ultimate goal of all of our programs is the nurturing of community. The journal, the blog, the e-newsletter, the summer workshop -- all of it is about community.

If the organizational baggage ever fails to serve the human good of community/communion, then just shoot me.

Also, I should mention here that the "Politics" and "Religion" forums are being turned into read-only archives.

I know that constructive discussions have been held in those forums and I understand the argument for taking political and religious debates "outside" the arts forums.

But this is the "Arts and Faith" board and it seems best to us, given IMAGE's focus as well, to concentrate on the nexus that gave birth to this community. If there are political and theological implications to the arts topics being discussed, then by all means address them. Just do so within the arts-related thread. And please do so in a civil manner.

Thanks for taking the time to read this note and for being a part of this wonderful community. Don't ever hesitate to get in touch with me.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Well done, Greg. Integrating marketing and advertising doesn't bother me at all. I realize that it's sometimes a necessary evil, but hopefully, it's an evil that can be kept tasteful. :)

And while I'm a little bummed that the "Religion" forum is now "read only", I certainly understand the reasoning behind the decision.

Edited by opus

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Posted · Report post

I'll see your "I understand the logic" and raise you an "I still think eliminating those topics is shortsighted and silly"

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Posted · Report post

I'll see your "I understand the logic" and raise you an "I still think eliminating those topics is shortsighted and silly"

And to think -- I was just in Anacortes, WA, where you're from -- so we missed the opportunity for you to call me shortsighted and silly to my face!

Oh well, maybe another time.

:D

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Posted · Report post

Oh, I need to change that, i just moved away from there last december. Anyway; to be clear, I think the decision is shortsighted and silly--everything should be "talkaboutable" to steal a phrase from David Dark. That's different from thinking you, personally, are shortsighted and silly.

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Posted · Report post

Oh, I need to change that, i just moved away from there last december. Anyway; to be clear, I think the decision is shortsighted and silly--everything should be "talkaboutable" to steal a phrase from David Dark. That's different from thinking you, personally, are shortsighted and silly.

Well, the best way to demonstrate the essence of the "talkaboutable" is not to baldly call something "shortsighted and silly" -- but to say enough to at least justify using those terms, right? To actually "talk about" the issues?

That might involve beginning by taking the reasons I put forward, weighing them in the balance, then proposing your counter-reasons.

Somehow my guess is that if you did all that, the words "shortsighted" and "silly" would disappear -- not that you would agree with me, but the sheer act of actually "talking about" the subject would eliminate such language.

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Posted · Report post

The "issues" here are easy to talk about, because we have this topic thread to do just that. What I want to be talkaboutable is politics & religion.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Just a quick thought here on this issue. I certainly don't think that the decision to remove the Politics and Religion boards was a "silly" decision. As far as it goes at least for the Politics board, I'm in concurrence with the decision. That particular board was by far the most potentially divisive, and at some points, downright vitriolic section of the former iteration of A&F.

However, as far as it goes for the religion section, I've always felt that it belonged, and perhaps belonged in a different setting than the "wider world" sub-category. This is, after all, a board called Arts and Faith. We have a section dedicated to art, but now we have no place dedicated to faith. I know that the argument against that would be that art and faith are

Edited by Joel C

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Posted · Report post

The "issues" here are easy to talk about, because we have this topic thread to do just that. What I want to be talkaboutable is politics & religion.

Ah, but there is no reason NOT to talk about politics and religion on this board -- the question is: where? under what heading?

To recap:

1) This board began out of an interest in "arts and faith."

2) It called itself "artsandfaith.com."

3) It's new sponsor is focused exclusively on..."arts and faith."

Therefore, the proposal is to discuss the political and religious dimensions of the arts...in and through the arts.

There is something admirable about a board that has grown so big and lively that people want to discuss their favorite recipes and sports teams.

But there is also some loss when focus becomes...unfocused.

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Posted · Report post

I may be alone in this (in regard to the religion section), and I'm not wanting to make a fuss about it; I'm afraid that perhaps I've not made my point clearly enough. As it is, I'm thrilled with how the board is developing and morphing, and so thankful for the thoughtfulness that has been put into this process; I've just always appreciated the presence of the religion section, and would certainly be happy to see it integrated once again into the board.

Joel:

I hear you.

There is no clear-cut objective choice here -- there are only prudential decisions.

Religion has a stronger claim for a separate section than Politics on A&F, but the need to help re-focus the board on its core identity -- faith IN and THROUGH the arts -- is the prudential call we've made.

Maybe we'll change our minds down the road.

And for the record, eliminating these two forums was not an easy decision.

So thanks, Joel, for noticing that we're trying hard to be thoughtful in making these judgments!

Meanwhile, there's still an "Other Topics" forum.

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Posted · Report post

I totally respect that you're not making these decisions capriciously. On the other hand, I don't think you can really claim it's just to keep the focus narrow, when you're not ditching the forum on sports.

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Posted · Report post

I totally respect that you're not making these decisions capriciously. On the other hand, I don't think you can really claim it's just to keep the focus narrow, when you're not ditching the forum on sports.

Dear Mr. Moly:

Sports may go. We haven't gotten to that yet.

Deciding to let go of Politics and Religion took a lot out of us -- we've been working hard to make many decisions and changes in a relatively short period of time.

Again, thanks for letting us know your thoughts. We absolutely want that sort of thing to be par for the course at A&F.

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Posted · Report post

Greg

Perhaps what would be helpful is an articulation/conversation about your vision for this board? I'm only marginally familiar with Image; I'll click through the parent site a bit to explore. I understand a desire to re-focus the discussion on the arts portion of the board--though I've also taken away the impression that you're very interested in maintaining and developing the community aspects of it as well. With that in mind, the "other topics" fora help foster that sense of community.

I know (virtually, of course) several co-posters as more well-rounded people because of religion, politics, sports, gardening, etc. Take Peter, for example, as prolific a poster as we have: through the years, one charts both his interest in the minutae of time travel plot mechanics, biblical films, abstinence, fatherhood (medical scares included!), and movement from Evangelicalism to Orthodoxy. I guess "charts his interest" is an inadequate phrasing, as the events we've seen virtually flesh him out as more than a fast typist with high speed internet access--he is who he is.

The same could be said for many other posters here. I liken the forum into a product launch--the arts are the package that gets consumers to lay out an initial investment of time (they are the tie that binds), but it is the full-rounded conversation that develops the repeat purchase.

Allowing the non-arts fora to continue (in some form or another) as well as encouraging discussion in the arts realm to fully engage the religious and political topics they touch, will only strengthen this community, broaden it, and perhaps even have a transformative effect at the local level. That's what it really about, right? At the end of the day, my interactions here help inform my life at the local level. My life at the local level impacts my fellow neighbors, co-workers, co-congregants. And, God-willing, this is another precious stone in that foundation that is the now-but-not-yet Kingdom.

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Posted · Report post

Greg: I don

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Posted · Report post

Greg: I don

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Joel C wrote:

Just a quick thought here on this issue. I certainly don't think that the decision to remove the Politics and Religion boards was a "silly" decision. As far as it goes at least for the Politics board, I'm in concurrence with the decision. That particular board was by far the most potentially divisive, and at some points, downright vitriolic section of the former iteration of A&F.

I've heard from more than one insightful film critic who has come to this board, seen the discussions on the politics branch, been aggravated by the conversations there (and upset by what they felt were "dominant" perspectives), and decided not to "associate themselves" with this community.

While I think that was rash and short-sighted, I also wish they'd stayed. Perhaps we'd be benefiting from their participation in the arts conversations if they hadn't been worried about becoming "guilty by association" with certain political debaters here.

For whatever it's worth, I agree with Joel C. And if some of us *start* a political discussion online elsewhere, I don't see why that would be any problem at all.

Edited by Overstreet

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Posted · Report post

You can change this in "My Controls".

Done. Thanks. Wow, it's been a long time since I've been in to edit my profile.

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Posted · Report post

FWIW, in even more ancient versions of this board, there was always a great deal of conversation on matters of theology in politics within threads on particular films. I liked the way this delimitation forced people (at the best of times) to contextualize thier responses in talkaboutable terms. The politics and religion sections are afterthoughts to a conversation that had gone on for quite some time. All film talk is already political and religious.

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Posted · Report post

FWIW, in even more ancient versions of this board, there was always a great deal of conversation on matters of theology in politics within threads on particular films. I liked the way this delimitation forced people (at the best of times) to contextualize thier responses in talkaboutable terms. The politics and religion sections are afterthoughts to a conversation that had gone on for quite some time. All film talk is already political and religious.

Well, maybe. But film talk that is political or religious is still a different sort of conversation from political or religious talk that is political or religious.

I'm not complaining or objecting, mark. Jjust observing.

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Posted · Report post

Well, maybe. But film talk that is political or religious is still a different sort of conversation from political or religious talk that is political or religious.

Oh yeah, I am truly a child of my age on this point. I prize the former far more than the latter. A different sort of conversation, a different sort of listening. But I am willing to go along with the geist here.

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My two cents: as an occasional poster, I think it's too bad to see that the politics & religion sections have been archived. The religion forum especially contains some of the most insightful thoughts I have ever encountered, and it was a privilege to engage them over the past several years. I'm sorry to see that it will not be continued.

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Posted · Report post

Just to throw my own two cents in, I'm not particularly choked up about losing the Politics forum. It was a huge sinkhole for me in terms of the time I spent reading it (with very marginal participation), and worse it coloured my view of certain individuals as debates turned ugly.

But the Religion forum seemed to me to be a very important place for discussion on a board called Arts&Faith. I'd rather see the Sports, Humour, et al. all go and keep Religion; Religion (in an ecumenical sense) to me seems to be one of the key distinctives this board has over other film boards on the net.

I am mostly in sympathy with MLeary over the integration of political and theological issues into our film discussion. However, I can certainly think of many times when a more specific discussion of religion was more appropriate in its own forum (i.e. I learned some really interesting things about Catholicism over the last few years, and in a far less divisive way than I did during the war over The Magdalene Sisters on a previous incarnation of the board.)

I think if we do not bring in a Religion (or Politics) forum of some sort, we need to be prepared to resign ourselves to a level of thread derailment and evolution far greater than we have in recent years. This is not something that I necessarily oppose (I feel it keeps our conversations organic and fresh), but something that the "new boss" needs to consider.

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Posted · Report post

But the Religion forum seemed to me to be a very important place for discussion on a board called Arts&Faith. I'd rather see the Sports, Humour, et al. all go and keep Religion; Religion (in an ecumenical sense) to me seems to be one of the key distinctives this board has over other film boards on the net.

I second this. Obviously I've never spent any time in those forums but Sports and Humor don't really seem to have a lot to do with the driving force(s) behind this community.

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However, I can certainly think of many times when a more specific discussion of religion was more appropriate in its own forum (i.e. I learned some really interesting things about Catholicism over the last few years, and in a far less divisive way than I did during the war over The Magdalene Sisters on a previous incarnation of the board.)

These are good points all around. In a perfect world, or the world to come, film/art threads wouldn't be derailed as often by religion and politics. But they are, and the religion board has been a nice way to keep up with contemporary theology or movements in the church, and it has kept a lot of awkward discussion out of film threads. I recant, and cast my Gadamer tinted glasses behind me. Semper reformandum.

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Posted · Report post

Well, I imagine Greg and whoever else is making decisions have taken some cues from years of moderation and forum hopping, and I'm happy leaving their decision alone (even if I see points to both sides). I'm certainly uneager to revivify a political board. I've not come across a board yet where I found the political discussion healthy. And I'm fine with contextualizing religious discussion to the arts as long as the bunnies don't go running far too long (and then, might they not be taken to private message?). I sort of like religion sections, little tastes of them, but as I think one person mentioned, I would waste far too much time there. And I've come to the conclusion (God help me, I think I may get an MDiv at a snooty place someday) that a lot of religious debate these days just makes my stomach turn, as passionate as I can be on some topics (circle back to the taking far too much of my time comment). Also, I imagine there is someplace on this board (?) where we just post little questions/announcements/have drinks at the pub (i.e.--"I am looking for someone who can make heads or tails out of Barth for private chat"). Maybe this would be the 10 day section for those who are able to post there (I currently find that I am blocked from starting topics anywhere)?

What I really came on here to say is that this is a dizzying place to orient oneself too. I think somewhere along the way I've seen book discussions and writing prompts (though I never could figure out what the assignment was, just that there had been one... like everyone was talking in mysterious code about "the way things go" here). Of course, this will probably all seem very simple in a week, whatever week I manage to spend more time on here (I write poetry, and I have been a very off and on participant lately at a poetry board which I used to be very devoted to and that also just revamped its site; I think I need to focus my time back there).

Thanks for the welcome, Cunningham and Greg. Fresh inspiration to all!

Deborah

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