Abductive Columns

Monday, October 17, 2005

Wikipedia; The Free Encyclopedia

I love Wikipedia; The Free Encyclopedia. It’s open-source and definitely pomo. But I am totally frustrated with the editors (from what I can tell each page has its own set of editors) who seem to have complete control over any additions or edits to the (their) Church of Christ page. The perspective they evoke is right-winged conservatism and it’s not the predominant view among churches of Christ today. I’m sure some of you who read this blog have at some point crossed paths with this right-winged group. I’m so sorry.

I’ve spent my weekend (and part of Monday) negotiating with these men for space that would describe the emergent Church of Christ. Sometimes I’m ashamed of my tribe.

I made an addition Friday evening to the section titled “Other Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement bodies” by Saturday morning it was gone; deleted! I had also added a section titled “Noted Blogs among the Church of Christ.” Guess what? They deleted it too. Strange thing; they had links of their own on the (their) site. They referred to my additions as spam links.

After a bit of navigation, I discovered a backside to the Church of Christ main page where a lively conversation was going on on the Wiki discussion page. I lurked for awhile and learned my attempt to add an EC section to their Church of Christ page was creating quite a stir.

The better part of my Saturday was spent on this discussion page pounding out the differences between traditional and emergent. The word liberal was thrown around far more than necessary. I felt their understanding of the word was spurious. So I suggested that in matters of faith a liberal was someone who rejected the death, burial and resurrection.

I was surprised to learn that one of the editors was 27 and the other 31. I could be wrong but my hunch is they were graduates of Freed-Hardeman College. I found it very difficult to articulate the gathering conversation with a couple of uninformed young men. This weekend was their first exposure to the EC. We went back and forth. Throughout they sent mixed signals; first it’s on then it’s off.

Finally I was told that the person who deleted my addition Friday evening was someone who only visits the site once a month and has a habit of deleting everything and anything he disagrees with.

I was told to go ahead and add the section on the Emergent Church of Christ. I went back and made the addition and shortly after received the message that my article was being considered for deletion in accordance with Wikipedia's deletion policy. I went back to the discussion page. Here’s what I read:

This article should be called "The Emergent Movement in Churches of Christ." But even then, I doubt this page can be salvaged. Emergents are apparently not clear on what their movement is, where it's going, who's involved, or what vocabulary to use. They are very, very long on philosophy and wordiness.
Since Punk Monkey and others had already started a page for the emergent church on Wikipedia I had to ask for a subsection on my tribe’s page. I’m happy there is an EC stand alone page. But too bad for the EC and what’s happening among my tribe. It’s simply not going to be included among a dying segment whose archaic perspectives and methods are given front and center on Wikipedia. By the way the Wiki editors slammed the EC article also. Here’s their comment:

They (emergents) are very, very long on philosophy and wordiness. Look at the Emerging Church article and you'll see what I mean. I believe the author (that would be me in this case—as if I can do better than the writers on that page) should focus his energies on improving that article. It needs a lot of help.
So Punk Monkey; get busy.


At 9:47 PM, Blogger Stacey said...

I come across many who view the Church of Christ much like the editors of Wikipedia. It's a great resource, but the content there has to be taken with a grain of salt. It is quite biased, and one has to be careful that it is not tainted with false views.

I am hoping you are more successful in future attempts to spread truth concerning the emergent church. It is most definitely needed. Keep up the great work!

At 2:27 PM, Blogger Wade said...

Fred--Sounds like you've been having (un)fun. You've got more patience than I do for that sort of thing. Rock on.

At 6:52 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Here's what I said on the deletion page.

'KEEP' The article contains useful information about the movement. Some of the comments for deletion seem to be because of disagreement with the views of emergents. The jibe about "secret knowledge" may be perceived by some of us as a not-so-veiled reference to the ole gnostics. And "we" all know they were heretics, right? This is guilt by association. But the purpose of this discussion about deletion is not about whether they are heretics or not. (Yep, the emergents do have difficulty conveying what they are up to, but they are making the effort and do not claim, as far as I know, that they have any secret knowledge.) There was a critique about emergents being long on philosophy and wordiness. Whether they are or not is beside the point. Whether they are right or wrong is beside the point. What is to the point is that they are a small but growing movement within the CofC. They are around and that cannot be changed or deleted away.

I didn't mean to post anonymously but haven't completely figured Wikipedia out.

At 8:48 PM, Blogger Keith Brenton said...

Don't hold back, Fred ... tell us what you really think!

Nil legitimae carborundum, if I may paraphrase - don't let the Establishment get you down.

At 3:40 PM, Blogger Neal W. said...

Keep speaking up. There lots of struggling young CoCers who need to know that there's another voice within the CoC.

At 5:11 PM, Blogger Jim Shelton said...

I know the reputation Freed-Hardeman has -- I should, I have worked there for fifteen years -- and I understand why you find it a convenient target in your blog. However, as someone who apparently is offended by the use of "guilt by association" (referenced above in your post), I find your cheap-shot "hunch" about two guys being graduates of Freed-Hardeman University a good example of the pot calling the kettle black. It seems an assumption is implicit in such a remark that all the thinking at Freed-Hardeman is monolithic (and yes, thinking does go on there even if it might surprise you). Perhaps you did find it hard to articulate with a couple of "uninformed" young men and perhaps they were FHU graduates or perhaps not. Nevertheless, I can assure you that I have taught many young men and women through the years at this school who would have no trouble being as articulate as you or most others. In addition, they might even surprise you in their thinking as well as their ability to do so.

At 5:15 PM, Blogger Jim Shelton said...


"guilt by association" -- okay, so it was referenced in a comment by someone else. Even though one accounting professor (myself) may not be able to keep comments and blogs straight, I still maintain there are students at FHU who could. ;-)

At 1:06 PM, Blogger john o'keefe said...

well, i think the article needs a great deal of work - but to be honest, i have had very little to do with the writing of the current incarnation.

it does need cleaning, and if you are willing - let's clean it up :)


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