By Larry Beane
GO must be moving to the big leagues.
A few months ago, we began to notice that we were being spammed. Comments began to appear with user names of middle-eastern origin, with links to a variety of websites from job postings to pornography. It has become increasingly difficult to track these down and delete them.
It speaks well of GO, as we must be generating the kind of traffic that would interest such, er, "entrepreneurship."
We've also noticed another recent phenomenon, which seems to be motivated by the same yearning desire for internet hits: comments consisting of provocative anti-Christian hate-speech in the form of screeds and rants unrelated to the topic.
In this day and age, anyone and everyone can have a blog, can spew slander and hatred against Christians, engage in lies and sensationalism, and even expressions of psychological derangement: freely and without government interference. But, of course, such bloggers rarely get noticed, and so they resort to the same piggyback method as our middle-eastern friends in a desperate bid for attention.
I do feel compassion for such people, and we certainly should pray that they get the help they need, the forgiveness in Christ that they crave deep down inside, and that they learn the Christian values of love, tolerance, and respectful dialogue and discussion. These qualities are becoming increasingly rare in an environment of mounting hostility to Christianity and to traditional values, in a world of increased narcissism, and where mental illness and lack of self-restraint seem to be on the rise.
In short, our culture is becoming increasingly uncivilized.
I believe that, to a man, the editors of Gottesdienst believe in freedom of speech. Speaking for myself, I would oppose any effort to censor or outlaw repugnant or even blasphemous speech. But having said that, nobody has the right to barge into my church or home, use profanity, blaspheme our faith, or engage in slander. Anyone who would do such a thing would be asked to leave and practice his free speech on his own property and in his own forum.
Similarly, Gottesdienst Online is our forum for discussion. We are unabashedly Christian in faith, Lutheran in confession, liturgical in our tradition, and catholic in our orientation. We unreservedly and unashamedly accept the Holy Scriptures as being the inspired Word of God, without error, and divinely authoritative. Those who hold contrary opinions are truly welcome to engage in respectful dialogue with us.
However, antics such as that of a recent commenter who dropped the name of a Lutheran layman (who sometimes comments at GO, and often disagrees with us) and falsely accused him of wearing Klan regalia, and maliciously and ruthlessly attacking several Lutheran pastors and bloggers, describing them as "evil" - as well as referring to our church body as a "hate group" - are not welcome here. It is one thing to express disagreement; it is entirely indecent and sinful to engage in slander. It will not happen on our watch. We will not encourage or tolerate such comments here.
If you don't get the hits at your own blog, perhaps that is helpful feedback that no-one is interested in your attempts to provoke. If none of the Gottesdienst editors are taking your bait and reading your material, perhaps that is helpful feedback that we're just not interested in rolling around in the mud with you.
For the time being, comments on GO will be moderated. This is no different than a newspaper editor picking and choosing which letters to publish, or a person holding a press conference refusing to answer ridiculous questions unrelated to the topic. We encourage spirited debate. But rants and raves unrelated to the topic at hand, hate-speech, spam, slander, and blasphemy against our Lord and the Christian faith will simply have to be taken outside.
But we do appreciate the compliment, and are very happy that so many people care about the faith and its confession in the traditional liturgy so as to put us in the category of blogs that are spammed.
We must be doing something right to attract such attention!
Soli Deo gloria!