Stumbled across an alternative to the standard blogroll at this South African blog:
A blogroll is really just a “blogger’s list of hyperlinks to other blogs”. More often than not it quickly degenerates into a you-scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-yours rewards mechanism. I decided to drop it from my sidebar because I was concerned that by linking without prudence I’d give unfettered consent to views disparate from my own and I had a deep sense of discomfort with that thought.
The result is a Watchlist (probably not as sinister as it sounds), a table of blogs categorised by theological positions. It's probably a mark of my innate aversion to theological disputes that, even if I fit into some of those categories, I couldn't tell you what they meant.
There are some blogs I enjoy reading but whom I wouldn't link from the sidebar, because, as the quote above notes, links imply consent. I guess the easiest way round that is to change the sidebar heading to 'I don't agree with all of these but you might find them interesting'. There also seems to be a desire to protect his readership from false teaching and mistaken points of view.
1. If I wanted to protect my readership from false teaching, I should stop blogging. As one of my tutors used to say, "10% of what I say is wrong, the trouble is I don't know which 10%". 10% is probably way short of the mark.
2. Do readers need 'protecting', or is that just not treating them as adults? This is all linked to the debate on censorship, and having joined the campaign to get the adultery ads removed earlier this week, I would want to argue that, all other things being equal, we should be commending good things rather than bad things. I mentioned the site concerned, but deliberately didn't link to it. Being a church leader adds its own set of dynamics - I blog as myself, but I'm also conscious that there are standards and expectations attached to being a vicar. Part of what I've promised, and what I'm committed to, is encouraging and building up Christians in their faith. So I guess that's one of the filters which comes into play when deciding what to link/sidebar and what not to.
3. Does categorising blogs by theological position really help? I've probably got more to learn from people I disagree with than people I agree with, and interacting with bloggers of no faith, or different faith to my own not only helps me think through my own ideas more thoroughly, it exposes me to points of view and insights I'd not come across otherwise.
4. A sidebar link isn't unfettered consent: I'll often follow a link from here and go over and disagree with it. Unless its a Bishop, of course.... But I suppose it's a fair assumption that anyone listed in a blog sidebar is, effectively, recommended by the blog owner.
5. There may be safety in silos, but I really can't see what good it does if Christians retreat into bounded sets of like-minded people. The Biblical writers/speakers were out there in the market place, talking about politics, economics, relationships, war, agriculture, work, family, poverty, justice, you name it. It may feel more comfortable if we only have those conversations with ourselves, but it doesn't actually do any good. If Christians actually believe that their faith has something to say about these issues, and that the Bible is relevant to 21st century life, then we need to have the courage of our convictions and be ready to debate these things in the public square.
6. My baseline is, normally, not to link to something I wouldn't want to find my kids reading.
Having said all that, I'm aware that my sidebar consists primarily of sites which I enjoy reading, or which I agree with, and most of them are Christian bloggers. A bit more diversity might be the result of me putting my hyperlinks where my mouth is.
Last question: does anyone out there deliberately link to sites they aren't fans of? Most of my linking to other points of view happens within posts on specific topics, and the sidebar functions a bit like an Amazon page: 'if you like this then you might like...... '
Ht Khanya who points out that categorising people can prevent us from hearing what they're actually saying.