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


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#1 Greg Wolfe

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 12:05 PM

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.

#2 opus

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 02:01 PM

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. smile.gif

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, 18 May 2009 - 02:02 PM.


#3 Holy Moly!

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 06:42 PM

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

#4 Greg Wolfe

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 08:47 PM

QUOTE (Holy Moly! @ May 18 2009, 06:42 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
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.

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#5 Holy Moly!

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 10:22 PM

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.

#6 Greg Wolfe

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 12:52 AM

QUOTE (Holy Moly! @ May 18 2009, 10:22 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
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.

#7 Holy Moly!

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 01:08 AM

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.

#8 Joel C

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 01:29 AM

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†symbiotic, and interact with each other in an inextricable way; nevertheless, I've always felt that having a separate section for faith and religion topics was extremely helpful.

If only for one reason, then for the fact that we represent a vast spectrum of convictions and denominational associations. We have Catholics, Orthodox, Non-Denoms, Presbyterians, Methodists, Charismatics, Anglicans, Baptists, and probably most other major varieties of the Christian faith out there. Not only that, we also have the occasional member from a differing faith, or those holding to no faith-system at all. In the past, the Religion board has serviced the needs of such a community well, providing us a middle ground where we can discuss and come to grips with those differences. These discussions we have about art and life can be often be precarious, and the religion board has been a well-needed spot where we can divert some of the conversations that become more complicated as a result of differing faith stances.

As for the politics section, I will admit to having felt some discomfort over it's presence here on the board, even while being an occasional participant. For me, where the religion section has been complementary, the politics section has always felt like an overwhelming competition with the arts section, especially during election season. Where the religion section has always seemed to be about seeing our differences, and how they bring us together, the politics board has predominately in the past been about seeing our differences, and how they drive us apart. I know this can't be an overarching rule in regard to history, but I think it's definitely a trend, or at least to my eyes.

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.

Edited by Joel C, 19 May 2009 - 01:36 AM.


#9 Greg Wolfe

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 02:04 AM

QUOTE (Holy Moly! @ May 19 2009, 01:08 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
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.

#10 Greg Wolfe

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 02:15 AM

QUOTE (Joel C @ May 19 2009, 01:29 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
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.

#11 Holy Moly!

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 02:20 AM

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.

#12 Greg Wolfe

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 03:13 AM

QUOTE (Holy Moly! @ May 19 2009, 03:20 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
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.

#13 Buckeye Jones

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 08:31 AM

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.

#14 Christian

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 10:10 AM

Greg: I donít recall why Iím an ďexistential doctor nowĒ Ė something to do with some personality tests A&Fers took a few years ago, I think Ė but the qualifier under my name looks odd. Are you planning to retain those monikers, or whatever they are? Iím not sure they mean anything to anyone. Iím not sure what they mean to me.

Also, my post count has disappeared. Remove hat, bow head. Iíll miss it.


#15 Cunningham

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 10:31 AM

QUOTE (Christian @ May 19 2009, 09:10 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Greg: I donít recall why Iím an ďexistential doctor nowĒ Ė something to do with some personality tests A&Fers took a few years ago, I think Ė but the qualifier under my name looks odd. Are you planning to retain those monikers, or whatever they are? Iím not sure they mean anything to anyone. Iím not sure what they mean to me.

Also, my post count has disappeared. Remove hat, bow head. Iíll miss it.

You can change this in "My Controls".

#16 Overstreet

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 10:58 AM

Joel C wrote:
QUOTE
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, 19 May 2009 - 10:58 AM.


#17 Christian

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 11:03 AM

QUOTE (Cunningham @ May 19 2009, 11:31 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
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.

#18 M. Leary

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 11:19 AM

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.

#19 SDG

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 11:31 AM

QUOTE (MLeary @ May 19 2009, 12:19 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
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.

#20 M. Leary

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 11:42 AM

QUOTE (SDG @ May 19 2009, 01:31 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
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.