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How did A&F website/forum begin?


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#1 Sara

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Posted 22 November 2005 - 01:51 PM

How did this forum get started? I'd love to know a bit about the history of the A&F website/forum.

Sara

#2 Overstreet

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Posted 22 November 2005 - 02:19 PM

Well, first came the dinosaurs...


Oh, no, wait. You don't want the WHOLE history, do you?

Well, I'll get the ball rolling.

It started, if I recall correctly, with Doug C. and a site called Chiaroscuro.

He started a discussion board attached to that.

A few of us climbed aboard, some migrating from a discussion board attached to... IIRC... The Phantom Tollbooth's site.

Then it grew and grew and many of us got to know each other.

Eventually, we moved to a newer site moderated by Alan... I can't remember exactly why. Maybe because Doug didn't want to continue hosting the dialogue at his site, maybe for the advantages of the features of new discussion board programming....

Someone want to jump in?

There were some extremely tough times. I was an administrator for a good while, but grew weary of spending my time trying to put out fires, calm down tempers, and break up disputes. I wanted to ENJOY the board.

Things have improved a lot, and I think we've all learned lessons and grown. Not that we don't still stumble into paintballing from time to time, but I am much more comfortable here this year than I was last year.

Alan does a tremendous job staying on top of the details and organizing this thing.

#3 Sara

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Posted 22 November 2005 - 02:35 PM

QUOTE(Jeffrey Overstreet @ Nov 22 2005, 03:19 PM)
Well, first came the dinosaurs...


Oh, no, wait. You don't want the WHOLE history, do you?

Well, I'll get the ball rolling.

It started, if I recall correctly, with Doug C. and a site called Chiaroscuro.

He started a discussion board attached to that.

A few of us climbed aboard, some migrating from a discussion board attached to... IIRC... The Phantom Tollbooth's site.


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So did Doug's group and the Phantom Tollbooth's site meet to discuss religious films? What was the thing that brought you all together?

Sara

#4 Overstreet

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Posted 22 November 2005 - 02:40 PM

No, not literally.

An internet discussion attached to Doug's site grew when some of us chatting on an e-mail list (connected to the Phantom Tollbooth site) decided that there was more action and better discussion over on Doug's site.

None of us have regularly met together in person. (Although many of us have met each other.)

#5 BBBCanada

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Posted 22 November 2005 - 02:43 PM

Yeah. I think we have to congradulate Alan, because, man, I wouldn't want his responsibility to keep these boards running smoothly! Thanks Alan. Also, to the "old-timers." Guys like Doug C. have to be congradulated for even starting this in the first place. Thanks to you as well.

#6 Sara

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Posted 22 November 2005 - 02:45 PM

What was the Phantom Tollbooth all about? I'm drawing a blank. Was it a movie or a book or what?

Sara

#7 Sara

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Posted 22 November 2005 - 02:50 PM

QUOTE(Alan Thomas @ Nov 22 2005, 03:46 PM)
QUOTE(Sara @ Nov 22 2005, 03:45 PM)
What was the Phantom Tollbooth all about? I'm drawing a blank. Was it a movie or a book or what?

Sara

View Post


link

View Post




I just followed your link, Alan. So the Phantom Tollbooth is a magazine and still going strong.

Sara

#8 Sara

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Posted 22 November 2005 - 03:02 PM

QUOTE(Alan Thomas @ Nov 22 2005, 03:53 PM)
Well, it's been a while since I visited PT. They really need a visual refresh. There are so many new and easy-to-use tools out there, like Mambo, that would make PT really cutting edge. (And I just noticed--I'm a "former" staffer (under the name w-i-l-l-c-o-x, not the pseudonym Thomas--but apparently Google hasn't indexed that page!)

View Post




I looked on Amazon. The Phantom Tollbooth is book for people 9-12. (Anna Quindlin said at age 10 she wrote in a book report that this was the best book ever.)

I think one of my girls read it. But it sounds like it is a boy's book. There may be a co;y somewhere in this house!

Why were you all drawn to PT?

Sara



#9 opus

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Posted 22 November 2005 - 03:11 PM

I can't remember who contacted who first, I think I did. I stumbled across the site, really liked it, and then told them they could reprint my reviews whenever (and I think they still do - like Alan, it's been awhile since I've been there, and yes they do need a redesign). I met some of them at Cornerstone one year (I think I also met Peter). Around that time, I discovered the Film Forum list, which led me to A&F.

#10 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 22 November 2005 - 04:17 PM

The Phantom Tollbooth created the OnFilm YahooGroup (or was it still an eGroup then?) discussion list in August 1999; I don't know how others got involved, but I was invited to join by one of the PT editors, who had probably seen me go on and on and on about film at rec.music.christian. The discussion list still exists, but the traffic has been REALLY slow the last few years.

Doug Cummings, who created the Movies & Ministry website (which used to be here) in 1998, subscribed to OnFilm for a while, but he felt it was a bit too lowbrow, or something. He ended up leaving the group and ditching his original website in favour of the more vaguely and artsily named Chiaroscuro: Spirituality in the Cinema. This new website had a message board, which I believe Doug Cummings co-founded with Steve Lansingh of The Film Forum (now renamed The Joy of Movies). Lansingh, too, was a former OnFilm subscriber, and he had created the 'Film Forum' column at Christianity Today's website in November 1999 before passing the reins to Jeffrey Overstreet (another OnFilm subscriber) in February 2001.

Eventually, technical problems with the Chiaroscuro message board led us to create the Film & Spirituality Conversation message board at Novogate in March 2002, which was eventually renamed The Promontory Film & Spirituality Conversation, after an organization that Jeffrey was associated with at that time. The renaming happened partly because Doug had grown increasingly disenchanted with religious film criticism; he eventually scuttled Chiaroscuro in 2003 and replaced it with his new website Film Journey. Chiaroscuro's place as one of the board's three sponsors was taken by Decent Films, the website run by Steven D. Greydanus, who had joined us in the Chiaroscuro message-board days.

I can't remember why we moved exactly, but in the summer of 2003 we started a new message board at PromontoryFilm.com, which then became PromontoryArts.com, and then eventually became ArtsAndFaith.com. Fortunately, all the posts made at PF and PA are incorporated in the archives at A&F, whereas the posts that were made to the earlier message boards now exist only in fragments, whether in personal archives like my own or in sites like web.archive.org.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway, 22 September 2009 - 12:30 PM.


#11 Overstreet

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Posted 22 November 2005 - 04:20 PM

QUOTE
before passing the reigns to Jeffrey Overstreet (another OnFilm subscriber) in February 2001.


While I'm flattered by the implication, I think you mean "the reins."



#12 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 22 November 2005 - 04:23 PM

[1] Oh, whatever.

[2] Ha! smile.gif

BTW, in writing that account, I was reminded of a chart that a friend of mine has -- I think it came from a Yes CD boxed set? -- showing how all these various prog-rock bands were related to each other, by virtue of certain musicians playing in multiple bands.

#13 DanBuck

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Posted 22 November 2005 - 08:26 PM

Yes, I came in during the Lansingh / Doug C. conglomerate. Soon after, JO took over Steve's spot at CT and became a moderator. Months later, Steve left.

Kennedy came in at the same point as me.


Let's list the "oldies." Those here at least since the novogate days.


JO
PTC
Alan
Russ
Darrel
Stef
DanBuck
Kennedy
Doug
MLeary
MattPage?
Others?

#14 Darren H

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Posted 22 November 2005 - 09:38 PM

That you forgot about me, Dan, I'll chalk up to the year or so that I spent on a much-needed sabbatical from the forum. wink.gif

#15 Anders

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Posted 22 November 2005 - 11:49 PM

I've been around since the early days of the Novogate board, which I discovered through the Film Forum (via Christianity Today).

And my life was forever changed (no sarcasm)...

#16 Persona

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Posted 23 November 2005 - 12:49 AM

I should probably be smarter than I am, for when I came to the boards it was me, Doug, Peter and I think one other guy. It was in the fall of '99, which I remember well, for I had just moved back into the Chicago area. It was at the Chiaroscuro site, a word I still enjoy trying to figure out how to spell.

Peter, when you speak of Doug do you purposefully try to antagonize him or is it just your built-in nature?

QUOTE(Peter T Chattaway @ Nov 22 2005, 04:17 PM)
Doug C., who created the Movies & Ministry website (which used to be here) in 1998, subscribed to OnFilm for a while, but he felt it was a bit too lowbrow, or something.  He ended up leaving the group and ditching his original website in favour of the more vaguely and artsily named Chiaroscuro: Spirituality in the Cinema


This is an aspect of the forum that has haunted us for years, and I have to say that Doug has done a very good job lately of not responding to your personal attacks.

-s.

#17 BBBCanada

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Posted 23 November 2005 - 01:04 AM

QUOTE
Peter, when you speak of Doug do you purposefully try to antagonize him or is it just your built-in nature?

Isn't family WONDERFUL????


#18 Rich Kennedy

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Posted 23 November 2005 - 01:24 AM

Those dates! Was Novogate REALLY in '02? Bronz Age, right? It's hard to believe that I've known y'all so long! I guess, that put's my entrance at Fall '01 when the film sites merged.

#19 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 23 November 2005 - 01:57 AM

Alan Thomas wrote:
: I'm not quite as sure about Doug's motivations. Maybe it had something to do with
: personality conflicts.

Well, I was just going by what I remember him saying in posts to the various message boards themselves. I tried to keep our private e-mails out of it.

FWIW, I could have also mentioned that Steve Lansingh dropped out some time during the Novogate era because ... um ... as I recall, I think he just got interested in Other Things. It was not too long after he and Amanda moved to Seattle. I remember him saying how much he was enjoying his new cooking class.

stef wrote:
: I should probably be smarter than I am, for when I came to the boards it was me,
: Doug, Peter and I think one other guy.

FWIW, I didn't start posting to the Chiaroscuro message board until Jeff pointed out its existence to me.

: Peter, when you speak of Doug do you purposefully try to antagonize him or is it
: just your built-in nature?

Let's just say I long for healing. As I recall, the moment I began posting to the Chiaroscuro message board, he expressed misgivings about me being there -- which, of course, goes back to the way we found ourselves butting heads on the OnFilm group.

It is a fact, because Doug himself stated this fact, that he did not like the way I (and perhaps others) quoted Entertainment Weekly articles and top ten lists at OnFilm (along with all the other things we wrote or quoted there; the fact that we also quoted mags like the Chicago Reader didn't help, alas, because we apparently quoted critics that he didn't like). That is what I mean by "lowbrow". Doug publicly expressed his disapproval of those things, and he has continued to do so ever since. So I don't think I'm saying anything controversial here.

(Of course, as Ebert might say, it's not WHAT you say but HOW you say it ... but whatever.)

Likewise, I don't think there is anything all that controversial in noting the progression from "Movies & Ministry" to "Chiaroscuro: Spirituality in the Cinema" to "Film Journey". There is a definite movement away from something explicitly Christian, or at least explicitly ecclesiastical ("ministry"), to something "vaguely" spiritual (or perhaps even non-spiritual!), as well as a definite movement away from pop-culture terminology ("movies") to terminology that is, well, "artsier" ("cinema").

Since Doug himself publicly said he wanted to move away from the sort of thing he had done in his earlier years, that seems fair enough.

: This is an aspect of the forum that has haunted us for years, and I have to say that
: Doug has done a very good job lately of not responding to your personal attacks.

He is evidently not above initiating them, though.

#20 MattPage

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Posted 23 November 2005 - 03:36 AM

Dan (and others)

FWIW I joined the old Novogate board in the summer of 2002, so presumably just after it started relatively. (I only just realised that. It seemed pretty well established at the time).

Matt