Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Guidelines for Participation in God Talk

When you comment on the God Talk blog, you agree to the following guidelines. Please read this post thoroughly before using this Website.

First off, let's cover Typical netiquette rules: 

1. No shouting (usually shown by ALL CAPS).
2. No rants.
3. Don’t take offence at how people respond; don’t give offense by the things that you say to others. Remember that without the inflections and facial expressions that we employ in face to face conversations, communication is not always clear. We may need to ask for clarification, and will need to be patient in providing it.
4. Don’t worry a lot about spelling, grammar and punctuation, but remember that producing messages that are readable and understandable is part of good communication. Some of us are better at writing than others, but we all have good thoughts to share. We all mentally correct for our errors when we’re typing, and so we may not see them at the time. We will probably all be grateful to have grace extended to us when we err, and so we need to readily extend grace to others as well. 

And now, some Biblically-based guidelines for online interaction from the folks at Sojourners:

We will strive to create safe and sacred spaces for common prayer and community discussion as we come together to seek God's will for our nation and our world.

1.) We believe Jesus' teaching that "Blessed are those who make peace" (Matthew 5:9). We acknowledge that most of us have been guilty of violence in our hearts and with our tongues. We hold ourselves to the higher standard to which Christ called us: to refrain from not only physical violence but violence of the heart and tongue. "Do not commit murder. Anyone who murders will be judged for it," and "Do not be angry with your brother or sister" (Mathew 5:22-23).

2.) We commit that our dialogue with each other will reflect the spirit of the Scriptures, which tell us, in relating to each other, to be "quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry" (James 1:19).

3.) We believe that each of us, and our fellow human beings, are created in the image of God. This belief should be reflected in the honor and respect we show to each other, particularly in how we speak. "With the tongue we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God....this ought not to be so" (James 3:9,10).

4.) We pledge that when we disagree, we will do so respectfully, without falsely impugning the other's motives, attacking the other's character, or questioning the other's faith. We will be mindful of our language, being neither arrogant nor boastful in our beliefs as we strive to "be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love" (Ephesians 4:2).

5.) We recognize that we cannot function together as citizens of the same community, whether local or national, unless we are mindful of how we treat each other. Each of us must therefore "put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body" (Ephesians 4:25).

These points outline how Christians are to treat each other on the Internet and face-to-face. Anyone who participates in this discussion, needs to respect our community guidelines when reading and posting comments. Comments that do not abide by these guidelines or contain inappropriate content will be removed by the blog administrators. If you do not agree to all the terms and conditions of this agreement, then you may not access the Website.

I know all this sounds very formal, but clear guidelines for behavior are an important part of making this a safe space for all to explore spirituality. This is a safe space for all people, and a large part of that safety comes from knowing we won't be attacked for any of our thoughts or questions. Part of our welcome to one another in this cyber-space is creating safety for all who come here, and this is a responsibility for all of us.

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