Saturday, February 25, 2017

The social graces in the Internet Age

            This blog has seen a pleasing readership increase. I appreciate those who share their finds, and I appreciate those who comment. Recently a constant reader sent newspaper extracts focusing on the early work in the UK. Many were past the era we’re researching ... but they named congregations. Important to current work? Yes.
            Congregations in the USA and UK called themselves by diverse names. We consider the search for a usable name in one of the ‘nearly done’ chapters that will appear in volume 2. So the ephemeral facts in a few very short articles add to our understanding. This is good. Thanks. Never think what you have is unimportant or that we already know what you know.
            As a reminder, this blog focuses on the Russell era, and our current research focus is on the decades up to 1890 or so. That doesn’t mean we are uninterested in later material. We are not posting about the Rutherford era at this time. But if you have something, send it along. Assuming we don’t drop dead before, eventually we’ll move on to Rutherford and associates. [We have books outlined to the transition to Governing Body governance. Most will never be written simply because it will take more years than we have to do that. Bruce is old, and I won’t continue the project without him. His balance and guidance are essential.]
            We are suspending work on a chapter about events and predictions for 1881. This is temporary. It is a key chapter. But we have more research to do. While we wait on some documentation, we’re shifting to the development of individual evangelism. This is a constant theme in Watchtower Society treatments of this era, though as they tell it, the story is disconnected from contemporary practice and events. This chapter only exists as notes. We start writing it next week.
            What can you do? Read the appropriate issues of Zion’s Watch Tower, Herald of the Morning, Spirit of the Word, etc. If you see a comment that makes you think about Watch Tower evangelism in new ways, tell us about it. Use the comment trail for this post or email me.
            We only have four years of Spirit of the Word. What do you have? We have a few pages of The Millennarian. What do you have? Many years of Paton’s World’s Hope have gone missing. What do you have?
            Many who visit this blog for the first time are casual readers. Because our readership has grown, our place in google search results has risen. That brings many new readers, most of whom stay briefly and move on. Some return. Some use material found here for their own projects. That’s okay. This blog is meant as a resource for others. But ... no competent researcher will use a blog post as a source unless it contains original, contemporary material. Dig further. Get to the source of a comment. It is your responsibility to do so.
            If you use this blog, visit on a regular basis, are entertained or informed by it, you have some social responsibilities. If I invited you to dinner, poured my best rum or coffee or wine, fed you my best food, you’d say thank-you, or everyone would think you a boor. The internet age gives many the feeling of anonymity. They forego civility. But the obligation to be civil hasn’t gone away. “Well done” or “You informed me” or similar comments are your way of saying thanks for the feast. If you can add to our research, even better.
            Currently, most of our readers are first-timers brought here by Google search. I don’t expect anything from them, though I wish they would stay and read more. Some do. I like that. We have some that have visited for years, maybe a thousand or more times, who I know have never left a comment. You could remedy that if you are one of them.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for updating us on the development of the 2nd volume,and for suggestions of how we can help. Almost every day there is something new to feast on. Much appreciated

Andrew Martin said...

I SO agree with your statement:

"The internet age gives many the feeling of anonymity. They forego civility. But the obligation to be civil hasn’t gone away."

I believe the current obsession with electronic devices (social media, etc., etc.) has just about nailed the coffin shut on civility.

Anonymity is no excuse for lack of civility, as the following text reminds us:

"But you, when making gifts of mercy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your gifts of mercy may be in secret."

In that case, anonymity was even encouraged, but as an accompaniment to very civil actions.

In some quarters, if you don't text, you're nothing. The texters won't deign to lower themselves to return a phone call, or even reply via email. And you can just forget about letters. I think I'm starting to identify with your frustration - it's pretty much the same as my "friends" who never reply anymore.

OK, rant over. Please keep reminding us of the need to acknowledge new research, and to keep asking questions!