I suppose as the weather gets colder, more of us are indoors hunkered down over our computers for stimulation and entertainment. Maybe that explains the fact that three or four threads have recently pulled in 100+ comments.
Thought it might be interesting to look at how some of these big discussions play out, and I'll use the "Backlash?" thread below, which had attracted 154 comments when I last looked at it.
In searching comments for language that reflects the original post ("Barna," "bigger sin," "study," "non-Christians," "unloving" and "contempt"), I came up a total of 24. That doesn't mean the remaining 130 posts were off-topic, but if you read through the comments you'll see they tend toward a more general discussion of homosexuality than on the Barna study--i.e., that young Christians and non-Christians feel homosexuals have been treated with special contempt by Christians.
One might have imagined (even hoped) that the topic would encourage us to look at the way we talk about homosexuality, to ensure that we speak of homosexuals with as much love as we do condemnation for homosexual sins, though certainly "live" discussions range beyond the original topic and become more diffuse as time passes.
Another observation: I counted 14 participants in the discussion. In a relatively equal exchange of ideas, everybody would kick in about 11 comments (154 divided by 14). However, the number of comments from each of the individuals varied from a high of 38 (about 25 percent of the total), with the next highest numbers 28, 18, 17 and 15 from four other individuals. The rest of the participants were at or below 11 comments each.
As one of the bigger blabbermouths on the blog (though not in the "Backlash?" thread), I offer a few suggestions that might make the blog more productive:
1. Keep your comments focused on the topic. It's often helpful if those who initiate threads pose a question they want people to address (something I don't always think to do).
2. If you see something on a thread that suggests another line of discussion, ask that a new thread be opened. People have written me offline several times to request another thread, and I'm usually happy to do that.
3. Try not to hog the thread. Lord knows there are topics we can all get worked up about, but it's easy to commandeer a thread such that you drive people away from the topic (mea culpa).
4. When you disagree with people, give reasons.
5. Close played-out threads so people can get onto fresh topics. Sometimes threads die a lingering death, with comments buzzing around the topic in a circular, repetitive fashion. I felt this happened on my Dumbledore topic, though I wish there was a way to close comments without hiding those that had already been posted. Maybe this will be possible in the new blog.
Just my opinions and suggestions, of course, and food for thought while I take a self-imposed vow of silence for a week or two as an exercise in humility and self-control.
Update Nov. 2: My husband and I don't agree on most things, so it was interesting to get his reaction to the "Backlash?" thread, which he found very enlightening because it reflected the whole range of Catholic reaction to homosexuality with references to important documents. He pointed out that on many other Catholic blogs, the conversations tend to be more strident but less deep and less well informed.
Raber also agrees with those of you who felt I had a lot of gall trying to dictate rules about posting. I did say they were suggestions, but apparently he wasn't fooled. Marriage is a great lesson in humility.
Back to further reflection and devotions for All Souls.