Thursday, May 18, 2006

The importance of TitusOneNine

Rachel Zoll at the AP has written an interesting article on Episcopal Church blogs, their use, and their philosophical and ideological underpinnings.

Kendall Harmon's blog, TitusOneNine, is singled out. I have to admit, TitusOneNine is a great community forum. Kendall posts on just about everything, and one can get an excellent sense of what conservative Anglicans are thinking and why they're thinking it by checking out the comments on Kendall's posts.

Unfortunately, there's no forum with the same number of readers for the left. Not even close. While the AP piece singles out Jim Naughton's page, Blog of Daniel at the Episcopal Diocese of Washington's web site, most liberal religious opinion pertaining to the Episcopal Church is found outside purely Anglican circles, such as Political Cortex and Talk to Action. I look forward to the day that Blog of Danial matches TitusOneNine for readership.

But something Jim Naughton was quoted as saying in the AP article caught my attention:
The Internet and blogs do give megaphones to anonymous bigots, but they also allow you to organize more quickly and, in some instances, trade opinions across ideological lines.
I have to agree. I visit TitusOneNine frequently, and I sometimes post comments (such as the comments section in response to Zoll's article). The subsequent exchanges are almost always rewarding. Yet, I am often amazed at the commenters' lack of sensitivity to issues of civil liberties and the high level of suspiscion they have of those who criticize conservatives. There's definitely a spectrum, but I'm very happy that Kendall is willing to put in the effort to keep the site alive and thriving.


Todd Granger said...

Unfortunately, there's no forum with the same number of readers for the left.

Accepting for the sake of discussion the imposition of the secular political dichotomy of left/right on theological matters, do you not think that this is because - rightly or wrongly - theological conservatives believe themselves to have little or no voice in the official channels of The Episcopal Church?

If this be the case, then the unfortunate thing is that theological conservatives believe themselves shut out - not that theological liberal weblogs can't attract readership. Of course, the polarization in the Body of Christ is the fundamental unfortunate, not to say unfaithful, fact.

Matt said...

Todd, I don't have a general theory for why liberal Anglican websites have not yet generated the kind of readership that T1:9 does. My guess that it the result, in part, of the nature of what Kendal Harmon posts on. That is, on everything. Because of the way he presents material to his readers, without a direct idealogical bent (as one might find on David Virtue's rather obnoxious, though occassionally informative website), anyone can get involved, and anyone with an honest argument to make will get involved. Also, the blog allows immediate comment posting. This causes headaches for Kendall and his crew, but it is indispensible in generating rapid and vibrant discussion.

It could be that the stronger blogospheric voice from the theologically conservative end of the spectrum is, as you say, the result of being shut out. But that was the past -- I don't think that one can any longer argue with a straight face that conservative Episcopalians are now "shut out" of the debate or are left without a voice. Those days are past.

One salient fact about the commentariat of T1:9 is that it does tend toward polarization. This is, of course, unfortunate on every level. But it's getting better. I've only really been looking at the blog since March of this year, but I have noticed a growing body of (sometimes shrill) lefty readers who are increasingly willing to have their voices heard.

Matt said...

In the last paragraph of the last comment, I think I implied that a growing number of lefty commenters makes T1:9 less polarized. I didn't finish my though.

What I meant to add that while more voices are popping up on the left, there are also voices among both theological liberals and conservatives who are interested in finding common-ground solutions.

Some still like polarization (the regular commenter "Sarah" on T1:9) is a good example, but others do not.

Matthew said...

The leftie sounding board isn't a blog but a mailing list. The HOBD mailing list and the Magdalen mailing list are very much revisionist echo chambers. Every once in a while a traditionalist will post to the HOBD list (usually Brad Drell), but the tone is stridently not welcoming to him.