Why do we encourage people to identify themselves here?

(Adam Wright) #1

It’s hypocritical to accuse Nereus of cowardice for not utilizing his name publicly. As pastors at Clearnote you are in an antifragile position. You have their congregation as a base of support, so anonymity means little to you. In fact, when you are an author, generally getting some controversy is beneficial.

For most of the rest of the people on this forum, we are in a more fragile position if we use our actual names. This makes it quite tempting to stay close to the boundary of what culture says is acceptable. For church people who are not self employed, the risks of losing our job for saying something not politically correct are growing all the time.

Pastors, have you accounted for this? Have you prepared a plan of support for members of your congregation that are fired for speaking the truth with their real name, as James Damore was? You are asking them to risk the means of support for their families, so I hope you are prepared to take care of them in the fallout.

Is there such a plan in place?

Women Registering for the Draft
(Joseph Bayly) #2

You do realize that you are talking to a room of people who live all over the world and have identified themselves, don’t you? And that the man who last commented isn’t a pastor?

As it happens, the church has long cared for those who have financial needs. There is even an office called “deacon” that is established just to do the work you describe. If you read the book of Acts, you’ll find out more about it.

(Adam Wright) #3

Yes, that is the point. Andreas has taken a far greater risk than you have, and this risk has been taken at your direction.

Those who comment with their real names have skin in the game that you do not have.

(Liam Drzycimski) #4

This conversation should be less about risk and more about transparency. Especially among fellow believers, a Christian should never hide behind a pseudonym if they are going to present their opinions in public.

(Joseph Bayly) #5

Nope. I’ve “directed” nobody to comment here. It’s entirely voluntary. And we let people comment here anonymously, including yourself. But not for long if you keep complaining.

(Adam Wright) #6

This is your site to run as you see fit. Your site, your rules. Thanks for hearing me out. I am dropping the issue.

(Nathan Smith) #7

I really appreciate the consideration and conversation here about anonymity and pseudonyms. When the topic was broached on SOS last week, my first reaction was that it didn’t matter and we should deal with the message, not the messenger.

But in my gut I never cared for anonymous sources. I had a friend in college who wrote the school president regarding an issue that had rocked the student body. He wrote anonymously. He was worried about repercussions. I told him he should sign it if he wanted to be taken seriously. Deep down I knew he should stand up and be a man about it.

I knew my dad would never write anonymously. If it was worth saying, it was worth signing. If it was worth saying it was worth suffering for. Even Shakespeare knew a coward dies a thousand deaths while the valiant taste of death but once. Those were the good old days before the internet and my conviction regarding anonymity has waned. This has, I guess, been a tough week for SOS and Sanityville, but a good week - I think - overall.

I agree that there are considerations on what exactly is appropriate to say in an internet era when there is so much apparent anonymity. It’s an era when anonymous accusations are going to be leveled against good men, an era when we know that what we say is going to be taken out of context, on purpose, by people who care not a whit for the truth and just want to take a good man down. My good friend Toby Jennings was run out of GCU because of his statements on Black Lives Matter. His wording could have been better, but in context what he was NOT saying was obvious. But evil has always hated good, that’s what makes it evil. And yet…

And yet, as a song once said , “like the Three-In-One, know you must become what you want to say.” In my gut I care little about the message if I don’t know the source to be a good man (a principle that makes me leery of the song I just quoted). Christ did not maintain anonymity. He did not take shots at the Pharisees and the Saducees by penning anonymous letters to the Jerusalem Post. He stood up like a man with his shoulders back and said what he had to say.

For me, I’ve rarely sought anonymity but I’ve often held my words back in cowardly fear of repercussions, meanwhile watching others do the same thing and make a mess as they do so. I’m sure a lot of otherwise good men held their words back in the Jim Crow south. I’m sure it happened in early 30s Germany. I’m sure the list here is long. I wonder how many silent disagree-ers there were when Aaron molded the golden calf.

Anyway, I’ve appreciated the conversation. I’ve benefited from it. I’ve appreciated @jacob.mentzel and the the other men who have spoken the way they have, for exercising a courage that’s rarely seen among men in our society. Thanks guys, for following Christ and becoming your message. Reminds me of that poem, ‘Windows’ (I think) by George Herbert.

(AndreasM) #8

Adam, let me answer since you referred to my post. It is not hypocritical to accuse Nereus of cowardice over his anonymity and I will tell you why.

I know the Internet since 1995, back then everybody thought it’s a great new world. Anonymity, security and repudiation was always very important to the technically minded as documented by the rise of PGP, Tor and Signal and their respective time. The narrative was and is that this helps whistleblowers and rebels against an authoritarian regime. I bought into it, until I realized (and again, not in small part due to @tbbayly ) we are in a different narrative: The world must know the Father and they always have killed the messengers. This is was Jesus predicted.

I do think anonymity has its place, especially for fugitives, people who smelled the fresh air and want out. They have questions and need answers, they are brothers who are “weaker” and whose conscience can’t deal with it (1 Cor 8).

But what Nereus is doind is totally different in tone and style, he just attacks Pastor Tim for things that happened a long time ago. And why does he need anonymity, what does he fear? The world will gladly have us eat each other (Gal 5 15). It’s not a fruitful discussion. That’s the difference.

No, there are no support plans in place. As I wrote I trust my Lord and Saviour. When the time will come He will provide. Please take a look at history. The country in which I was raised and live has an authoritarian past. Many christians just shut up. But those who didn’t didn’t go into anonymity. We can go into detail about that if you want.

(Valerie) #9

I think it makes a big difference what one does with one’s anonymity. I went strictly with my pseudonym (Kyriosity) for many years, switching to my real last name on Facebook only when a concern came up that someone might report me. But there were always plenty of people who knew who I was, so I was not without accountability. One of my favorite commenters on the interwebs is a pseudonymous fellow, who keeps it that way for security reasons. I don’t know if the proprietors of the blogs he frequents know his identity. But he doesn’t troll or abuse or make a general nuisance of himself, and I find I am very tolerant of anonymity when it is accompanied by logic and fair-mindedness. Which is to say, I think there’s a way to do anonymity right; it’s just rarely seen.

(Joseph Bayly) #10

These are some great comments. I don’t expect “Adam” to respond. To my knowledge he hasn’t been on the site since I requested that he change his username to an obvious pseudonym if he isn’t really named “Adam Wright.”

Anyway, I have yet to actually answer the question… So, why do we discourage anonymity here?

First, here is a community poll and discussion on a related topic that is worth reading for understanding how this forum evolved to its current state:

But, of course, we went into that poll already inclined to avoid anonymity as much as possible here. Here are several reasons we encourage people to identify themselves:

  1. It pushes us to have the courage of our convictions. This is essentially what @andrm said above.

  2. It causes people to self-censor. This cuts both directions. Yes, it will make men think twice about saying controversial good things. But let’s not forget it also makes us think twice before letting loose our worse impulses. Consider this quote from an article about the people paid to censor content on FB:

    “Some of the posts Miguel reviews are on Facebook, where he says bullying and hate speech are more common; others are on Instagram, where users can post under pseudonyms, and tend to share more violence, nudity, and sexual activity.”

  3. It strengthens other men to stop self-censoring and begin to proclaim gospel truths with boldness. We live under constant surveillance, and that is another thing that causes us to self-censor. When Bruce Schneier wrote on this, he said:

    Consider the decades-long fight for gay rights around the world. Within our lifetimes we have made enormous strides to combat homophobia and increase acceptance of queer folks’ right to marry. Queer relationships slowly progressed from being viewed as immoral and illegal, to being viewed as somewhat moral and tolerated, to finally being accepted as moral and legal.

    In the end, it was the public nature of those activities that eventually slayed the bigoted beast, but the ability to act in private was essential in the beginning for the early experimentation, community building, and organizing.

    We are progressing the opposite direction with regard to Christian conviction. Going into the closet. Take the issue of sexuality as an example. There is not a single topic or issue providing better evangelistic opportunities for Christians to witness to the world today. Does that mean there shouldn’t be any place for men to explore this topic and discuss it back stage without the world watching? No, of course not. But it does mean that we should be training up and strengthening men for boldness in the face of persecution, not teaching them to cower in fear.

  4. It encourages and strengthens accountability in real life. As @Kyriosity said, it matters what one is doing with his anonymity. But even more, as @andrm said, it matters why one is acting anonymously. Combining the two, we realize that the man who refuses to let his pastor or anybody else outside his nuclear family know what he is saying online is telling us an awful lot about himself through his rejection of accountability. Equating this anonymity with men like Knox is absurd. They are not even comparable, because they aren’t doing the same thing.