Feast upon the Word Blog

A blog focused on LDS scriptures and teaching

State of the Blog 6 Months Later

Posted by douglashunter on June 11, 2007

I seem to recall that back in December or January we decided as a group to do this blog as a 6 month trial run and then take stock, see how we have done, what we have done, and consider how well it has meshed with the wiki page.

If I am not mistaken we are around the six month mark? What do people think?

For my money this site has been home to some of the very best discussions of Mormon theology, scripture, and teaching that I have ever participated in or read, (when I couldn’t participate). This site seems to have attracted generous people who think seriously about the topics found here. I have felt very fortunate to participate here and hope to see it keep moving forward. I think initially the Wiki folks were unsure of how well this would work, so how do you guys feel now after the initial trial period?

Also what do we hope for going forward? For me I can think of three things:

1) Attracting more participants / readers.
2) Increasing the number of pragmatic discussion concerning the classroom and teaching in the LDS context.
3) Getting more lessons posted for different classes.

What are others thinking?

65 Responses to “State of the Blog 6 Months Later”

  1. cherylem said

    Thanks to those of you who started this blog. When I first found the blog I was both thrilled and a little wary of the public nature of the discourse, which I communicated more than once privately to Robert C. But so far none of my fears have been realized and the discussion here has been rich and deep.

    I wonder if there is a way to group the posts in a more user-friendly way. For instance, could all posts for the specific lessons be listed under that lesson head? For instance: GD Lesson 15 as the major head, with subheads beneath. I think there are teachers out there who could more easily use this blog as a resource if it were just a little easier to reference the different posts to the lessons discussed.

    When we’re writing a post we’re able to indicate where we want the post to be located. Could those locations be even more specific? i.e., NT, Lesson so and so . . . ?

    And thanks again for those of you who had the vision and belief to start this project.

  2. brianj said

    Douglas: Thanks for reminding us. “This site seems to have attracted generous people who think seriously about the topics found here.” You say it very well. As to your specific questions:

    1) Attracting more participants / readers.
    I’m not sure what to do about this. There are often more readers than commenters on blogs, and I’m okay with that here. As much as I’d like to hear from everyone visiting the site, I also understand that some people prefer to read only.

    2) Increasing the number of pragmatic discussion concerning the classroom and teaching in the LDS context.
    I think this would be easier to do (for me) if I had a concern that I was trying to address. For example, I remember when a visitor, Matt W, expressed concerns about teaching a particular lesson to his class of youth. That yielded some very helpful discussions. I don’t know if a “suggestion box” would work, but maybe?

    3) Getting more lessons posted for different classes.
    I’ve been meaning to post some of my lessons from when I taught Gospel Essentials. What other classes did you have in mind?

    Cherylem:
    “I wonder if there is a way to group the posts in a more user-friendly way.” It may not be possible until/unless we host the site ourselves. We are quite limited in our capabilities using a WordPress hosted site. But I fully agree that it is a bit difficult to find the posts I want. For example, this last week I knew I wanted to read the posts on Lesson 17, but it was hard to find them. The best solution is probably to find a better integration with the Wiki, because the lessons there are very nicely grouped and easy to find. I know Matthew was working on some ideas of how to do this. I know others were busy transferring info from the blog to the wiki as well (and I am guilty of not helping at all, sorry!).

    By the way, you are one of those I thought of when Douglas wrote, “…generous people who think seriously….” I’m so glad you joined us!!

    My biggest wish:
    What I would like to see most is better integration between the blog and the wiki. Both are such wonderful tools, but I just have not been able to find the time to contribute to the wiki.

  3. Corbenic said

    I think this quote says it all:

    **Jesus, calling forth Lazarus, “cried with a loud voice,” phone megale (v.43) the very expression used of his dying cry in Matthew 27:46. In each case the cry paradoxically signals a new birth.” Working off the idea of birth, is there something structural going on here? A circle pointing back to Nicodemus (who came in darkness), the transformation of water into wine, the seemingly beyond belief demand of re-birth now culminating in the greatest miracle of resurrection and the promise of a subtantive transformation for all? The image of birth is also echoed in the tomb/womb and even the burial clothes/swaddling clothes.**

    What a bunch of nonsense masquerading as profound scholarship. And even if these observation were right on the money (or even understandable), of what value is the insight? But this is what I expect when I happen past this blog. Sometimes I think this is surely pure jest.

  4. cherylem said

    Corbenic#3,

    Thanks for writing.

    In fairness, I think we need to clarify that the quote you pulled was actually from Frank Kermode, Literary Guide to the Bible, p. 456-7 (Rebecca’s comment #13 on Sunday School Lesson 19, here: http://feastuponthewordblog.org/2007/05/19/sunday-school-lesson-19/#comment-5189). Actually, I liked very much that Rebecca brought this source to our table. The technical term “phone megale” led me to some other readings that broadened and deepened my understanding of the groaning/weeping/cry of Jesus. Also, I was reminded again (by Rebecca’s questions) of something I’d learned long ago: the relationship of Jesus’ clothing to the structure of Luke (swaddling clothes/burial clothes).

    You asked, and I think appropriately, what value is this insight? For me, not only has my reading of John 11 been enriched by the entire conversation regarding Jesus’ groaning/crying out/weeping, but also I am reading our unique LDS scriptures that relate to the groaning and weeping of God, and the mourning of God’s creation, with new eyes. Again I am amazed anew at the interrelationship of the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price with the New and Old Testaments: one voice – God’s voice – among the many; one overarching testimony crying out among the many given.

    So: no. not jest. Though every comment will not resonate with every reader, nor is such expected.

    Thanks again for writing.

  5. Tona said

    I’m one of those lurking readers. Here’s my opinion, FWIW. I teach a senior Primary class and often check in to see what “the grownups” are talking about on Sundays. I sometimes wish that there was more on the site about teaching youth and children, but haven’t felt like inserting my oar. I also would love to see a how-to or tutorial on using the wiki; I don’t think the blog and the wiki seem like they have much to do with each other.

  6. robf said

    I was thinking about it this yesterday. I’m happy with the way the blog is going, but my concern now is that activity on the wiki has really tapered off. I’m probably as guilty of any for posting quick comments and playing here on the blog more than spending the time to really work through the scriptures on the wiki. Maybe we could try to post things on the wiki related to our posts here, and then refer blog readers back over to those posts at the wiki?

  7. Robert C. said

    Douglas, thanks for this post, I can’t believe it’s already been 6 months!

    Cheryl #1, regarding more user friendly groupings of posts, in theory we could make categories for each lesson number, but I think that would get pretty messy on the left menu so I’m not sure it’s worth it. Ideally we could have only a few weeks’ lesson numbers displaying any given week, but I don’t know of an easy way to automate this, and if we do it by hand it’s probably better to do this on the wiki (more on the wiki below). Another option would be to have dropdown menus for the categories but I’m not sure we can do this using the WordPress.com setup we’re currently on. I’ll try to look into that option. The challenge we’re facing now that we didn’t face earlier is that many of us are two or three lessons ahead of others (our ward’s covering Lesson #22 for this Sunday, whereas I think you’re on #20 or so?), so the lessons aren’t grouped as nicely as they were before….

    Tona #5, I actually teach 12-13 year olds, but we use the adult Sunday school manual for the 13-year-olds instead of the 12-year old manual on modern-day prophets. Also, my lesson is drastically different depending on who shows up (it’s frankly been a challenge for me not to hope that certain more-difficult kids don’t show up!), so it’s hard for me to write out lesson plans or ideas that are specific to kids. I know there are some Primary lesson tips at the T&S blog that Julie Smith posted a year or two ago when she was teaching primary. If anyone’s willing to post Primary or youth-targeted lessons, we’d be more than happy to give them rights to post to the blog (wink, wink!). I’d be very interested in tips on teaching younger kids—I’ve thoroughly enjoyed teaching older youth when I sub, and I feel reasonably confident playing with nursery kids, but I still feel at quite a loss teaching my very energetic 12-year old boys (which is surely why I still have the calling!)….

    To break this up, I’ll discuss the wiki in another comment.

  8. Confessions, first of all:

    Corbenic says: “What a bunch of nonsense masquerading as profound scholarship.” Often enough, indeed (if you are, that is, coming across my posts/comments)! That is, there are undeniably those among us who have been corrupted by the influence of Continental thought, and who, as a result, write little more than gibberish (let me be clear that there are those among us who have been corrupted by the influence of Continental thought but somehow retain an ability to communicate, however!). But I would respond simply by saying that all scholarship is, quite simply, “a bunch of nonsense masquerading,” that nearly everything human beings have to say about anything important ends up being pedantic, preachy, confused, or downright silly. But I can only respond, then, by saying that the words are hardly the point. The engagement…

    After six months, what I appreciate most is the engagement that this blog represents. I highly appreciate the people who have been involved with it on any level. I do think there are some important things to say about where we have come from and where we are headed, and most especially about the wiki’s recent lapse into near inactivity. But that will have to wait, because I’m supposed to go be a part of a mock funeral in a few minutes! (To bring together the stark realism of the medium of film with a dissimulation of the culture of death… I’ll be thinking about that!)

  9. Robert C. said

    Regarding the wiki: Like others, I’m very pleased with how the blog has been going, but I am keenly aware of the fact that the momentum at the wiki has died down considerably, and I think the wiki has more long-term potential of being a very useful resource. I think there are two main advantages that the wiki has over the blog:

    First, the wiki’s better at organizing a lot of information. For example, I think the wiki is a good place to index and summarize the various lessons and discussions we’ve had on specific scriptures and topics. The problem is that it takes a bit of diligence to keep this type of index updated, and if it’s not updated then it’s not used very much, and if it’s not being used very much it’s hard to find motivation to be diligent about updating it—and so we have a vicious cycle of inactivity….

    Second, I think the wiki’s better for long-term and more careful (text-focused!) work. Blog discussions tend to be rather short-lived and once a post is in the archives, it is seldom referenced. In contrast, the nature of the wiki makes it much more conducive to careful, ongoing study. The problem is that I think it’s hard to generate this kind of sustained interest in certain topics, esp. when the Sunday school lessons move along at such a fast pace—I always feel a keen tradeoff between digging more deeply into the weekly Sunday school lessons, or working for more than just one week on a certain passage. Also, the learning curve for the wiki is steep enough that this becomes just one more obstacle for generating momentum at the wiki.

    Anyway, one idea is to take suggestions (as BrianJ suggested) in terms of a passage or topic to take up as a group at the wiki for a sustained period of study. For example, if we decided on a particular passage to study for the month of July, perhaps we could help several wiki newbies—a cohort—-learn together how to use wiki. The help pages at the wiki need improvement, but the wiki’s not really that hard to learn, a couple ten minute sessions trying to post things should get most users reasonably comfortable with wiki basics. So I think we’d be better off working on some sort of joint project like this to provide motivation, rather than just trying to improve the help pages at the wiki. (We’ve discussed a wiki-blog-wiki approach before, but now I think we should try a wiki-only approach, or at least wiki-focused where the blog is used perhaps only to discuss meta issues. This way we’re sort of pulling the Band-Aid off all at once rather than trying to do it piece meal….)

    I’m open to pretty much any suggestion in terms of a topic for sustained study, though I’d be more inclined to take up something from the Triple Combination than the Bible simply because there is less existing work out there on Mormon scripture. Some passages I’ve personally been meaning to take up more carefully in the near future are Alma 12, Mosiah 15, D&C 121, Ether 6, and Moroni 7—so I’d be esp. happy if we picked any of these, but like I said I’m ready to support anyone’s suggestion.

  10. Matthew said

    Douglas thanks for the 6 month reminder.

    I am happy with how the blog is going. Lately I have been wondering what should be my next step with the blog/wiki. So, this is timely.

    The wiki has been slow. And it is much more expensive for me to maintain than the blog which has got me wondering if I should continue to maintain it in the same way. But I can’t see how I could get rid of it entirely. If nothing else I want it as a personal tool. For example, last night we read Ether 4 as a family. Later, I really enjoyed reading through the commentary on that chapter on the wiki. Of course, there is still a lot of work that could be done adding more insights to that chapter, organizing what is there and making it a better resource for other people. And maybe someday I’ll spend time working through that or someone else will; but anyway, what is there is interesting. The good thing about commentary on the scriptures is the scriptures themselves aren’t changing much (happily). So it isn’t as if the wiki dies when it isn’t actively being edited. What remains of the commentary is not getting quickly outdated.

    Brianj (#2). I agree it would be better to have the blog and wiki more closely integrated. Originally I had thought about this in terms of look and feel, similar navigation, etc. What I think now is that making a similar look and feel for two tools that work in a very different way just confuses users. But anyway I read your suggestion as about integrating them in a more fundamental way. I’m not sure how to go about this….feel free to make suggestions and I’ll also keep this in mind. One thing I wouldn’t want to do is to try to do something that ended up making the blog less inviting or less easy to use. That is a big benefit of the blog and one reason we get so much more traffic here than the wiki.

    The blog is very focused on sunday school lessons right now. Which is great. Every 4 years those repeat. At some point we are going to be having the same conversations again or people are going to have to do the hard work of figuring out where we ended up last so that we build on that conversation versus repeating it. The wiki is a better medium for that type of thing. Maybe it is natural that people are drawn to the blog at this stage–when every conversation is a fairly fresh one.

    (As a side note, I haven’t participated in the wiki–or the blog–much in the last few months simply because I have been very busy and haven’t spent as much time in personal scripture study as I’d like. At some point that will change back.)

  11. David M. said

    After teaching the youth for the last 4 years (12-13 yo SS), I was moved to the adult gospel doctrine class last week. This blog has been a tremendous resource for me as a new adult teacher in helping me prepare. I find that you can’t get by on walking around knowledge with adults, I really do need to spend some time preparing every week.

    That said, I do have a general question which I am not sure has been addressed, or at least I haven’t found it yet. I have a collection of church books like most members seem to do, but as a new GD teacher with a small (personal) annual budget of about $150, what would you guys reccommend I invest in to aid my study and preparation? Beyond my church manuals I do have the New Oxford Annotated Bible so I was looking to get the Oxford Commentary to go with it, but after that I am looking for direction.
    Thank you,

    David M.

  12. Jim F. said

    I am perhaps the worst offender when it comes to failing to support the wiki. Like others, however, I find that it is easier to create a set of study notes for scriptures than it is to transfer them in useable form to the wiki.

    Hoping to avoid sounding too much like the proud father–though I am–I want to thank Matthew in particular for starting the wiki. Whatever his recent failure to work on it as much as he would like, he put a great deal of work into getting it started, and I think his vision of what it should be was a very good one. As it grows, it has the potential for being an important LDS site, and since it is more likely to be useful in the long run, we ought to devote more time and energy to it.

  13. This is a very nice blog that you have created. Have you looked through the many testimonies of our Lord and Savior at wetestifyofchrist.blogspot.com? You certainly may appreciate this also. God bless.

  14. Okay, with a few more minutes now (I was slotted last minute as the preacher at the mock funeral, and I had to find some way to preach a sermon in a relatively non-denominational way with about two minutes and while waiting for someone to bring me a bible!).

    As a kind of collection of SS lessons, I think the blog has been marvelous. Since I don’t have that calling, I’ve been only partially involved in the discussions surrounding those lessons (though I’ve tried to be as involved as possible).

    In terms of posts about teaching, I would, like Douglas, prefer to see more activity. Six months ago, there were perhaps two posts about teaching for every SS post, whereas there are probably ten SS posts for every teaching post now. I don’t think the relative slack has been a function of having covered everything already. What can we do to make that a primary focus again?

    In terms of scripture topics, I think the blog does pretty well, though such posts usually get about as much attention as a similar contribution does to the wiki. I wonder if it wouldn’t be simply better to put these on the wiki. Or if we could take up some of the suggestions that are already being made about working the blog and the wiki more closely together, there could be a more productive way of using posts about scripture topics. How could we do it?

    Otherwise, I think the blog is accomplishing its goals.

    The wiki, however, has lapsed into near inactivity. I know that at least one major factor in that lapse is a recent change on my part in how I’m stuyding scripture: I used to study whatever text I was studying directly on the wiki (I wrote as a way of thinking through a text), but I’m not doing that currently. (Husband-wife scripture study became family scripture study at the beginning of the year, and it took us a couple of months before we came to the decision to unite our “separate” studies into a single study together in the mornings, which we do out loud and not on the wiki, for obvious reasons. Since my “wiki time” has become husband-wife study time, I’ve found little impetus to get moving on anything on the wiki.) But I think this situation ought to be rectified. Some thoughts:

    I really think Robert is onto something with setting up group projects (we’ve talked about this idea before… several times). Transferring material to the wiki, or trying simply to improve the wiki as a tool, becomes very tedious very quickly, while engagement of the text and with others does not grow old at all (in my experience). Group projects seem to spur the most activity, and they seem to produce the best material on the wiki as well (after all, wikis themselves are based on the idea of doing something as a group and not as an individual). So I’d really like to push things in that direction.

    Can’t we think about activity on the wiki as a kind of study group that meets for a few minutes here and there, maybe for an hour or two a week? We pick a text and we all get to work, and it isn’t long before a fascinating conversation opens up. We pursue it until there isn’t really any interest any longer, and then someone suggests something else. It really doesn’t take long to figure out the wiki (believe me: I had nothing to do with wikis before I came across feastupontheword, and it only took me ten minutes or so before I felt quite comfortable). And everyone on the wiki is very helpful and understanding, fixing each other’s mistakes, etc. If we could get some commitment to a very specific project, then perhaps we could generate some healthy discussion there. I’d really like to see that sort of thing happen.

    To get started, I’d be very interested in Mosiah 15, as mentioned by Robert. (The second half of my book is essentially an exegesis, then a hermeneutic, and then an historical evaluation, of precisely that text in its relation to 3 Nephi 11; so I’d very much like to do some collective work on that text.) Any takers?

  15. nhilton said

    To the “Founding Fathers:” Thank you for this blog site. I was directed here after following Jim F.’s SS notes at Times & Seasons–clearly coincidental; however, I’ve found it incredibly influential to the nurturing of my testimony via gospel study. This, actually, is what I’m crediting you for.

    It is this cyber community of scripture-thinking people who have generated conversation, tho only through cyberspace, that has transfered to my own mental conversation which has resulted in a long-drawn personal pondering of the scriptures. This didn’t happen to me before this blog. As I experienced a listening ear (reading eye) and RESPONSE to my own contemplation in such a “SAFE” environment, my questions about scripture/gospel were encouraged and have seen greater development, expression and satisfaction. How often is a question silenced for fear of judgement or reprisal in a class or family setting? These places should be safe, but they’re not, really. The ananimity the blog offers makes candor possible–this is a good thing.

    At one point, several months ago, I actually wondered what would happen if a “friend” on the blog died–no one in particular. I felt so connected to them (ya’ll) via their comments and the impression they have had on me that I contemplated the reality of first, would I even know their life and interaction with me had come to an end and second, if I did know would I be compelled to recognize their existence and the end thereof (not just in blog space) by going to their funeral. O.k. so maybe I’m just a little left of reality here, but this is just an example of the profound impact the association on this blog has had on me.

    In case you’re feeling sorry for me at this point and thinking, “get a life!” I have to say that I do have a life…a very, very busy one. But too often this real life pushes my spiritual life aside, or at least impedes my pondering of the scriptures in depth. In contrast, this cyper-reality has given my pondering a place. Thank you.

    RE: the wiki, this I have more reservations about and less (zero) time to contribute to. I do think, however, that it is worthwhile and is simply a work-in-progress for those who have the time and inclination. With time, it will surely be a masterpiece of resource for any student of the scriptures and probably something I’ll use myself.

    RE: lesson plans, I have found the notes here very useful as a Gospel Doctrine teacher. I would also like to see the same lessons grouped together, per others’ comments. I think I voiced that in an earlier comment at a post about the blog months ago. I don’t think there is really a need to separate the material by age, because too often we talk down to younger students when it’s really unnecessary and counterproductive. Challenging them with real questions might be just the ticket to getting them engaged in class and personally searching the scriptures at home. I would like to see a longer list of recent posts and a longer list of recent comments– I know some blogs have much longer lists that ours. I find myself only reading the recent comments in the column at right and thereby might miss a recent comment on a different post that had been bumped off due to high commenting traffic. I think it’s a shame when someone ventures to make a comment and it just floats in cyberspace w/o a response, especially when it’s a newby commentor.

  16. BrianJ said

    Tona,
    Thanks for commenting. One of the challenges we face in creating lesson materials for children is that the authors of this blog are mostly Gospel Doctrine teachers, so we are preparing and posting our weekly notes. I would say to you—and anyone else reading this—to go give authorship a try: send one of your lesson plans, or just a few notes, or even just a few questions in an email to me, Matthew, or Robert (find me at brian9jo9nes@roche9ster.rr.com without the 9s). We can post it for you, and you can see how it goes. There’s no obligation to keep posting.

    David,
    I’m glad the blog is helpful. As for a book budget, mine is $0 per year so all my research is done online (I am spoiled with online access to a lot of journals through my university’s library).

  17. Robert C. said

    David M #11, I have the Oxford Bible Commentary and I quite like it as a one-volume commentary. A Bible dictionary is probably a good next purchase, I’ve heard Eerdmans is good. Personally, I would next recommend Kittle’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Abridged).

    There are probably a few other good tools books like this to get (e.g. I’ve liked the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament), but next I would personally be inclined to start buying commentaries. I had the luxury of buying a complete Logos commentary series (digital format is often much cheaper—actually Koorong is the cheapest place I’ve found to buy Logos products, note the prices are in Aussie dollars, about 80% of a US dollar…) which is really nice because then no matter what passage I want to look up (in the Bible), I can find something reasonably in depth written about it. The cheapest series I see is $150 for the Preacher’s Commentary, but I have no idea how good this series is, I’m guessing a bit more devotional and less scholarly than, say, the Word Biblical Commentary or Anchor Bible series….

    If you don’t want to save up for a whole series, the International Theological Commentary books are paperback (and therefore cheap) and quite good and might be worth accumulating one-by-one, but they only cover the Old Testament.

    Oh yeah, I almost fogot, a pretty decent commentary available for free is Dr. Constable’s Bible Study Notes which has pretty detailed notes on pretty much every book in the Bible….

    As far as the Triple Combination goes, GospeLink is probably the best bang for your buck. I’ve been a bit surprised how little there is as far as Mormon commentaries go—lots of work to be done!

  18. BrianJ said

    Matthew, Robert: I think many of us are saying the same thing but we’re having a hard time being specific: We want more blog in our wiki and more wiki in our blog. Here is my brainstorm:

    I don’t think too much should be done to wiki-ize the blog. It’d be nice to have a longer list of recent comments and an “active discussions” list, but these are just advanced blogging functions, not really wiki functions. Trying to make the blog very well organized would require a lot of work and rework, and the end result might be such a ghastly blog-wiki chimera that it is unusable.

    So I think the complementary option is to blog-ize the wiki. What I love about the wiki is how easy it is to find information, no matter how old or whatever. What I don’t like is how hard it is to discuss it. I know that those of you who use it frequently will say that it “really isn’t that hard,” but the evidence suggests otherwise. Maybe “hard” isn’t the right word—“inviting” or “intuitive” are probably better.

    Anyway, that’s the one thing I really do not like about the wiki: I don’t feel like I can readily informally discuss a topic with a lot of people at the same time (meaning, over a few days or weeks, rather than months or years). When I want to discuss a scripture, it’s because it is on my mind now—because it’s weighing on me or I have a lesson to prepare. The blog is soooo good at this. Yes, I often want to go back to something on the blog that is a few months old, and that is not always easy.

    Would it be possible to incorporate the blog into the wiki in a frame, similar to how the LDS scriptures are inserted? That would move the discussions on the wiki into a more blog-like format.

    To summarize:
    wiki-ized blog=bad; blog-ized wiki=good.

  19. Robert C. said

    Joe, I think Mosiah 15 might be a good suggestion to take up as a group, mainly because I think the Atonement passages are timely in terms of the Sunday school schedule.

    BrianJ, here’s your homework assignment this week: Go to the wiki and ask one scripture-related question. Just click an “edit” tab somewhere, it doesn’t matter where (though I’d suggest going to the commentary page for the most closely related verse, clicking on the discussion tab, and then writing your question there). I promise that someone will respond within 24 hours (probably much sooner! you can check for a response by either looking back at the page where you left the comment, or by going to the ‘recent changes’ page and following any activity…). And don’t worry about the formatting of your question, we can fix that if there are glaring problems. Also, a nice think about the wiki is that you can ask one single question, without feeling like you need to write up a whole post, so in many ways it’s easier to get more immediate feedback (the downside of course is that there are currently more readers of the blog than the wiki…).

  20. BrianJ said

    Robert: I promised myself—and you and Matthew—that I would do that five months ago! So why haven’t I done it? If it’s so easy and effective (and I’m not doubting you), then why don’t more people do it? To ask it another way, why do blogs attract so many more commenters? (Of course, maybe they don’t, but I am taking your and others’ word that blogs do.)

  21. cherylem said

    #11 David M,
    Here are some more websites that can be helpful:

    http://www.godweb.org/nrsv.html (the new Oxford annotated Bible)
    http://etext.virginia.edu/rsv.browse.html (nrsv, including apocrypha)
    http://www.biblegateway.com/ (other translations)
    http://etext.virginia.edu/frames/bibleframe.html (this is a side by side KJV and RSV)

    Brianj#2, thank you for your kind comments.

    nhilton #15, I’m with you.

  22. I failed to respond to David’s petition for a bibliography:

    I agree with Robert that a good Bible dictionary would be in order. I’m not personally familiar with Eerdman’s, but I have both the HarperCollins Bible Dictionary, edited by Paul Achtemeier, and the New Bible Dictionary, edited by J. D. Douglas. These are both fantastic resources. The former can be bought for between 20 and 30 bucks used online, the latter for around 10. Achtemeier’s project tends to have a more historico-critical bent, while Douglas’ project tends to have a more interpretive bent (which means that I personally often prefer this one), and both have very helpful bibliographies in as many entries as possible.

    I also agree with Robert that it is thereafter worth going after commentaries (or even monographs on particular subjects). You have to talk around to find out what commentaries are best (be wary of most online book reviews!), but I generally enjoy the Interpretation series, the Hermeneia series, the Continental Commentaries series, the Word Biblical Commentary, and commentaries published in the Old Testament Library. (The Anchor Bible can be fantastic, but it tends to depend a great deal on who authors any particular volume: many volumes are overly textual critical for my taste.)

    As for how to find these kinds of things cheap(er)—let me remark that I speak as a bookseller—here are a few resources:
    amazon.com (watch for used prices)
    abebooks.com
    alibris.com
    half.com (and you can search ebay from their main page)

    Also, for shorter term projects, do not scorn the possibilities of interlibrary loan. Most public libraries, if you have no access to a university, can get just about any book you want through worldcat or some other loaning program, and most public libraries will do all they can to make sure you only pay the two or three dollars it costs to ship the book back to the loaning library. A great deal of research can be done with twenty dollars through interlibrary loans!

    And perhaps most important for building a library of research resources: keep your eyes open! In just the past two months, I have purchased the following helpful study resources for less than a dollar each in my own hometown (a town of only 35,000 people in Eastern Washington): The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary for Romans 1-8; Nygren’s Commentary on Romans; Wildberger’s commentary on Isaiah 1-12 (Continental Commentaries); three volumes of the Hermeneia series (for Joel/Amos, Hosea, and the pastoral epistles); the Revelation volume of the Proclamation Commentaries; Charlesworth’s Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls (from the Anchor Bible Ref Library); the Anchor Bible volume on Matthew; Borg’s book on the Q document; and Jesus: The Last Day (Biblical Archaeology Society). All of that in just the past two months. If I were to write up a list of what I’ve come across in the past two or three years! I think such finds are more likely to occur away from the Wasatch Front (out here where there are pastors and serious Christians buying these things and then cleaning out their bookshelves).

    Anyway, good luck!

  23. douglashunter said

    A few thoguhts

    1) cherylem Writes:
    “I was both thrilled and a little wary of the public nature of the discourse, which I communicated more than once privately to Robert C. But so far none of my fears have been realized and the discussion here has been rich and deep.”

    For someone who is as dense as I am what is it that made you wary?

    2) Brian in terms of growing participants and readership I’m thinking very simply in terms of how widely linked were are among the LDS blogs, have been we announced and introduced on Times and Seasons, MFH, etc, etc, etc.

    also I still hold the view that we should have lessons from any or all classes posted here, such as youth, etc.

    3) Corbenic writes “What a bunch of nonsense masquerading as profound scholarship” and Joe suggests that all scholarship is “nonesense masquerading”. Notice that both cherylem and Joe are great example of the gererosity I was thinking about in my post!! But, Corbenic (and Joe) are, in my opinion, wrong. People here are just putting there ideas forth as they would on any blog, and I have no doubt that people here consider their words before writing. Masquerading, suggests that we are trying to be something we are not, that we are hiding or have something to hide, this clearly is not the case.

  24. nhilton said

    I’ve thought a lot about Corbenic’s comment #3. First I just laughed. But then I thought harder about the comment. Perhaps Corbenic was offended that he didn’t “get it.” Feeling perhaps that it was “over his head” & therefore labled the comment nonsense.

    FWIW, I didn’t understand Rebecca’s thought completely & just chalked it up to my own IQ & inexperience with the sources she was citing. Also, sometimes I’m in a rush when I read the comments & don’t take the necessary time to understand one. Maybe an investment of education is required in this particular case to find the comment helpful, or even to digest it.

    Rebecca & I were roomates in college & I know her brain does circles around mine…as do so many participants’ on this blog. However, what iota I can gleen from comments– no matter where they lie on the intellectual or spiritual scale– is worth my time here. Knowing Rebecca to be a very bright yet unassuming person, I doubt there was any masquerading going on.

    Incidentally, Rebecca & I hadn’t communicated much except for the occassional Christmas card over the past 22 years. So, when we “bumped” into each other here just a few months ago, I credited this blog for uniting like-minded people from all over the globe in a forum such as this. As we’ve discussed elsewhere, we often feel isolated in our local sphere so this blog gives us a broader circle of interaction. This is another aspect of the blog I’m grateful for.

  25. Karen Spencer said

    I would really appreciate more help with the Relief Society lessons. The blog has been great for Sunday School lessons, perhaps because they focus on particular scripture blocks. I wouldn’t even care if someone writes up a “post” per se, but even if you just put a post called “Open discussion for Kimball lesson 14.” Then those of us who teach can ask questions we have and see what help we can get. Just a thought.

    As far as the wiki connection goes… What if a certain page of the wiki were used as a post once a week, for everyone to discuss, and then at the end of the week someone could transfer the discussion into notes on the wiki?

  26. Matthew said

    I like the ideas about having people focus on a particular part of the scriptures for wiki changes.

    Brianj (#20) fair questions. Ones that you’ll no doubt be able to help us answer better if you take up RobertC’s challenge :)

    One reason people don’t post more to the wiki is that they are reluctant to set themselves up as an authority. It is wrong though to think of the wiki as authoritative.

    Another reason people don’t post as much is that it is harder sometimes to write on the wiki when you are trying to be more objective and represent a consensus view. This is true whether we are talking about the wiki or the blog. Just pick any of the blog posts and go back to it and say “I’d like to summarize what people think on this subject. A few people think A. Several people think B. Most people agree that C is right.” It is hard work to get that type of consensus (i.e. consensus about what we agree on and what we disagree on). But to me that just means that our discussions, though valuable, fall short of what they could be if we ended with a clearer picture of where we just went.

    Finally, I’m not really sure what it means to put the blog inside a frame like the scriptures are. Maybe we can discuss that idea offline.

  27. Michele Mitchell said

    Matthew (#10). What do you mean “expensive [for you] to maintain”? How do I make a donation? Thanks to everyone for all you share.

  28. Douglas, thanks for your comment there. I agree, especially about the semantic weight of the word “masquerading.” More than anything, I was trying to make the point that if one can detect any kind of masquerade in a comment like Rebecca’s, then there is just as much a masquerade in every other comment ever made. That is, I was promoting—albeit in a rather roundabout and perhaps overly generous way—the principle of charity.

    But back to my masquerade…

  29. I just wrote a first paragraph of exegesis on Mosiah 15, more a question than anything. Go there and help build!

    http://feastupontheword.org/Mosiah_15:1-5

  30. Cherylem said

    Okay. So how do we comment there? And can our comments be informal?

  31. robf said

    Here’s the intro to how to comment.

  32. douglashunter said

    Joe,

    yea, I was aware of that potential in your comment, but I figured I’d post anyway figuring you would explain if necessary. But I’ll admit to disliking (even in jest) the idea that contemporary theory leads to incomprehensibility. It’s a stereotype that foolish people such as Bob McCue toss about in their attempts to discredit folks they don’t like or understand.

  33. Matthew said

    Michele (#27), I pay 30 euros (about 40 dollars) per month for the wiki. Also Robert has made some helpful contributions to paying. I am considering less expensive options though I think it will mean giving something up–probably it will make it harder to upgrade the underlying software that runs the site as the people over at mediawiki continue to improve that.

    In contrast the blog is very inexpensive. I’d have to look it up to get an exact dollar value but I think it comes to 25 dollars a year or so. I could go into more detail but essentially the difference in price comes down to the fact that the blog is virtually free because we are using a standardized blog package. So far we’ve accepted those limitations.

    The wiki isn’t the type of thing that there is a good free service available for. Plus it more expensive because the software running the site has been customized (e.g. setting up all of the scripture pages and having the scripture window to scriptures.lds.org show on some pages). It costs a little more to get that kind of control and maintain customization through upgrades to the underlying software.

    If I had to choose between people supporting the site with content and people supporting the site financially, I would prefer the former. That said, I appreciate donations! The easiest way would be pay pal. Feel free to send me an e-mail to coordinate if you are interested: matthew9.faulconer9 at gmail.com (without the 9’s).

  34. Corbenic said

    “Perhaps Corbenic was offended that he didn’t “get it.” Feeling perhaps that it was “over his head” & therefore labeled the comment nonsense”.

    Perhaps Corbenic doesn’t want it. This is certainly not over my head. I understand it completely. That’s why I feel confident in calling it nonsense or at best, without value. Perhaps certain take delight in convincing themselves that they understand so much more than the unwashed, unstudied am ha-aretz and are therefore, a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes….

    The masquerading doesn’t describe the contributors, but some of the comments. They are simply clouds without water, trees without fruit, whether they are true or imaginings. If one spends the entire class straining at knats (fashioning a definition of “justice” or developing the “Law of the widow”, which have nothing to do with the Lord’s point in the parable of the importunate widow or, dare I, the objective put forth in the lesson manual) and therefore has not the time to cover some of the most important and life-changing teachings of Jesus (the Publican and the Pharisee), the poor starving am ha-aretz basically showered, shaved, and tied their neckties and attended Church for naught. Even if they think they are learning the Gospel of Jesus, they are like the starving who sleep and dream they are eating and drinking, but wake (Monday morning) to find they are wanting still.

    And I guess that is my main concern. The purpose of authoritative teaching is love, which springs from a clear conscious, a strong testimony and a pure heart (I Tim 1:5). Presenting Jewish history, sociology, ancient poetic forms may be helpful, but if the end is not Love, if people aren’t inspired to change, I’m afraid the words, however true, are naught but sounding brass or tinkling cymbals. I read some of these suggested class outlines submitted here and fear these are actually being used.

    I suggest the abandonment the corrupted commentaries by those who are ever learning yet never arriving at truth; who multiply words but not conversions (please consider 1 John 2:27).

    Become like King Benjamin who said “all ye old men, and also ye young men (sexist? Hmmmmm…..), and you little children….I have spoken plainly unto you that ye may understand”. For, you see, the Gospel is so simple that, when presented correctly, a child can understand you!

    Not everything is mystically symbolic (I note many assertions of symbolism here without backup i.e. pastures, doors, veils are feminine symbols!!!), not everything is related (groaning/crying out/weeping – swaddling clothes/burial clothes). Flies are not eagles because both have wings.

    Ooops. My dear significant other advises me that I should stop now. I guess S.O. may be correct. After all, it’s not the words, it’s the engagement. Please take this as a demonstration of my generosity. :)

  35. robf said

    Corbenic, I’m OK with your comments about the comments, but hopefully what we are doing here is spending more time commenting about and trying to understand the scriptures. Since we, all of us, are doing this through a glass darkly, while seeking for further light and knowledge, and especially since some of us are better writers than others, not every comment will have equivalent value to all readers. Now that you’ve pointed out some of the limitations to some of the posts, I hope you’ll continue to participate in the conversations here to share any love-based thoughts or considerations that may spring from your clear conscious, strong testimony and pure heart. FOTW, on its better days, is about fostering a community of people dedicated to just such conversations.

  36. Corbenic said

    In the light of the morning, I reviewed my comments which now seem a little harsh.

    I attend a ward that was once on fire with the spirit but seems to have lost their first love. There are starving brothers and sisters. Last night my S.O., who came from a church meeting to pick me up, unloaded a series of, well, let us just say, stories on incidents where love was absent. I guess I was in “freak-out” mode when I wrote my comments. We have such few moments on Sunday for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16) and it breaks my heart when full advantage isn’t taken because we spend class time in supposed scholarly pursuits. It doesn’t matter how true the factoids are if they aren’t life changing, soul-rescuing.

    I am sure doctors and surgeons gather to talk about techniques, medicines and procedures. I hope they do. The recitation of details, opinions and theories, however, would be useless to the person bleeding to death in the ER.

    I guess the contributors have fun here on the Feast. But after all the discussion I hope and pray they don’t let what they have participated in here diminish their ability to feed the Lord’s wandering flock what is needed.

  37. Robert C. said

    Corbenic #36, I think you raise a great question regarding the inspirational vs. the intellectual (to put it rather crudely). We’ve discussed this a fair amount in the past (here is one of many posts where it’s discussed…), but I’d be in favor of discussing this more (i.e. a post devoted to the topic—any takers?). This is an issue I struggle with every time I teach or give a talk. I also struggle with this every time I study the scriptures, pray, choose what to spend my time reading/studying etc.

    On the one hand, I think different people have different preferences. In one ward I was in, the SS lessons were so sappy and emotional that I felt the Spirit was offended by conflating emotions with the Spirit—and yet I found out later that these were some of the most spiritually uplifting lessons many of the class members had ever had. What gives?!

    On the other hand, I have to confess that I’m still suspicious of whether these class members were really feeling the Spirit or just mistaking emotion and motivational-style hype for the Spirit—but perhaps I’ve been unduly influenced by this talk which Noel Reynolds gave at BYU many years ago where he talks about the dangers of conflating emotions with the Spirit….

  38. Corbenic,

    The description you offer of your ward might just have been a description of my own, and my wife and I have the same kinds of conversation you mention. We worry a great deal, and, because I work with the young men specifically, I mourn almost constantly the lack of support these kids have at home, something about which I can do almost nothing. And you have nailed the matter: it is a question of love, and our ward is next to without it.

    And it would be a grave, grave mistake to conflate love with “the scholarly” as such—that much is certainly clear. Yet, at the same time, I think that there is a kind of connection between them (perhaps not between love and the scholarly approach that floats around this blog, but between love and “the scholarly” as such). I’m enthralled—and fascinated—by Joseph’s saying that “Thy mind, O man, if thou wouldst lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as wide as the utmost heavens!” I suppose that what I see in those words is the fact that love—that is, saving love—entails the broadest, most genuine scholarship of all: scholarship that studies precisely what must be known in order to save others, to strengthen and to build, etc.

    Agreeing with Joseph also that as soon as we tell the Lord “Thus far and no farther” the devil takes power, I have found that the most helpful “scholarship” is the kind that breaks my thinking, that loosens my categories, that shakes me from my dogmatic slumber, etc. What has come as a kind of shock to me in my work in the Church is that teaching that same way does more for building up the kingdom than anything else! If I love these boys enough to spend all week learning everything necessary to have my own thinking broken, then when I come into class on Sunday, they are so uplifted, so taught, so instructed, that they change and discipline their lives. And I don’t think I’ve yet taught someone in the YM program who has not told me personally on some appropriate occasion or another that I am the only teacher they have ever had in the Church who actually loved them.

    I suppose it is that personal experience that fires my continued interest in “the scholarly” per se. And yet I couldn’t agree more with Hugh Nibley: “The university is nothing more, nor less, than a place to show off.” I pray this blog does not become such, but a place where we talk more and more about how to teach with love, with real, saving love.

    We’re in this together, in this new and everlasting covenant. Thanks for your thoughts.

  39. nhilton said

    Corbenic #36 wrote “I guess the contributors have fun here on the Feast. But after all the discussion I hope and pray they don’t let what they have participated in here diminish their ability to feed the Lord’s wandering flock what is needed.”

    Yes, this is a fun Feast. Isn’t fun implied in the very word “Feast?” & to feast upon the scriptures is our goal. When you have fun, you’re filled with enthusiasm & want to share it! When I feast I’m well filled & it’s from the well filled cup (or lamp) from which we can draw & share with others. What we participate in here is exactly what enables us to well feed a flock…that & OF COURSE the Spirit. But, mostly, it’s that we’re a live wire, a conduit for the Spirit (hopefully) because we’re actively engaged in the scriptures.

  40. Corbenic said

    I had the opportunity as I sat in the waiting room of a government office to read my scriptures. I discovered in my reading that it is strain at a gnat and not knat (no wonder it wasn’t in spell check!).

    I enjoy the intellectual pursuit of gospel subjects. I think that it is indispensable. The more background we understand, the social, cultural, political, religious, even geographical settings, the more we will understand the teaching. Factoids are also great attention getters (touching on the social ramifications of John the Baptist’s diet, for example) and will draw the entire class’ concentration on your words. But once that is achieved, we should hit them with the word that “healeth the wounded soul”. To concentrate on these background issues without moving quickly on to the point of the scripture is like going to Louvre and admiring only the frames around the masterpieces.

    I will search this blog and catch up on any discussion I can find on the balance. Thanks for the suggestions. I should have done that first before jumping in.

  41. douglashunter said

    Really the only problem I have with Cobenic, is the basic premis behind what he writes. This being that he alone understands what is best for everyone in a SS or other class and that its his job to come here and tell us how wrong we all are. This cuts against the spirit of the blog and the generosity that he himself has experienced in reply to his comments. It also seems that he may be judging the content and effectiveness of our teaching by what is posted here, which can’t be done. He is more than welcome to come to any class I teach and participate in the discuss and then provide feedback.

    I’ve never seen any teacher in the church that could reach everyone in the room. I don’t think this happens. But that’s one of the reasons we formed the blog in the first place: to discuss methodology in the presentation of lessons!!! so we can be more effective teachers.

  42. Corbenic said

    Corbenic’s premise: “This being that he alone understands what is best for everyone in a SS or other class and that its his job to come here and tell us how wrong we all are” (John 9:34).

    Actually, I am sure others here don’t believe that is my premise. You seem to jump to superlatives in accusation…usually a mistake.

    I would say my premise is that if some space bug that eats paper came down and ate all of these wonderful source books, dictionaries, expositories, commentaries, interlinears, but left only the scriptures, we would have all that is necessary “to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus….That the man of God may be perfect thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Tim 3:15-7). The scriptures are self contained. There is enough in them to dazzle and amaze. We shouldn’t be like the ten year old jumping in front of the camera when you are trying to take a picture of a flying eagle before a mountainscape. We should be the Kodak signs one sees that tell you were to stand to take a snapshot of the scene.

    Further: “I’ve never seen any teacher in the church that could reach everyone in the room. I don’t think this happens.”

    I am sorry you never had this experience. I might suggest why, but, truly, I am not trying to be judgmental despite your….”It also seems that he may be judging the content and effectiveness of our teaching by what is posted here, which can’t be done.” I reread my comments and I wonder where you get this impression.

    I thought I was attempting to discuss methodology in the presentation of lessons. You may be relying too much on methodology in the presentation in your attempts to be a more effective teacher. See 2 Nephi 33:1.

    “He is more than welcome to come to any class I teach and participate in the discuss and then provide feedback”.

    I’ll pass.

  43. Corbenic said

    What caused me to submit in the first place was the request, which I took and hold as sincere, for feedback.

    You have achieved at least your first two goals:

    1) Attracting more participants / readers.
    2) Increasing the number of pragmatic discussion concerning the classroom and teaching in the LDS context.

  44. douglashunter said

    corbenic, I don’t think anyone here would disagree with your emphasis on the primacy of the scriptures. If you look around, the good folks here often express their feelings about the importance of scriptures. The place where there is a lot of room for dialogue is in how we engage scripture, how meanings are created and understood in these most valuable texts.

    My intention is not to create more negativity. I’m sorry that my last post did so. If you have read folks responses to you (perhaps other than my own) I think you’ll agree that they have been fair, engaging and generous. If you want to contribute to the discussions of scripture / teaching by relating your ideas of how to use scripture in teaching, or how to engage different passages I think everyone here would welcome that. We all feel strongly about the scriptures and teaching, thats why the dialogue possible here on this blog is so valuable.

  45. Corbenic said

    Thanks for your response. My heart sang and wept (the good kind) at all of the above comments. All, including you, have been generous, cogent and kind. I have tried to make my thoughts clear in the few moments I had and, by the responses, may have achieved that in a small way. My two cents suffered inflation, I am afraid. Thanks again.

  46. [...] by one of my favorite blogs, and a comment on another Blog that I consider to be my “bloggernacle” home, I bring up [...]

  47. djlott said

    I am a mom of 9 (5 still at home), counselor/ teacher in YW’s. I have appreciated all the teaching youth and teaching with the spirit discussions. I have changed the way that I teach, and how I approach the scriptures. As a busy mom/wife, I don’t always have time to respond, but with my oldest daughter’s wedding out of the way, I hope to be able to participate more.
    Sometimes ya’all are way over my head, and I spend half my time with a dictionary. But that is a good thing. I have spent time tracking down other articles mentioned or referenced, and have used a lot of ink printing things off.
    I am thankful that the blog/wiki exists, thanks for all your efforts!!

  48. Ben said

    “I discovered in my reading that it is strain at a gnat and not knat ”

    (cough cough) Actually, it’s “strain *out* a gnat.” The KJV is misprinted.

    Now back to your interesting argument…

  49. Ben said

    Oops, link disappeared.

    http://www.millennialstar.org/index.php/2005/03/18/straining_at_gnats_and_hypocrisy

  50. Jim F. said

    Ben, thanks for the link to Draper’s article. It is a good one for helping us sort out how to understand “hypocrites.”

  51. cherylem said

    Thanks, Ben. Your original comments and the links were great.

  52. BrianJ said

    djlott: Thanks for the comment. I also often feel like the discussions here are over my head, but I find everyone to be very patient.

  53. cherylem said

    Joe #29,
    Have you looked on the Wiki re Mosiah 15? Ben M. posted some stuff on this I thought was exceptional.

    Is this the kind of discussion you had in mind when you suggested Mosiah 15? Do you want us to post directly to the Wiki or is the discussion area sufficient?

  54. Any activity there is great. I did read Ben’s comments, and they are very helpful. At the same time, I’m far more interested in direct textual engagement. If you’d like to see a good example of what I think can come of this kind of sustained engagement (something I’ve been unable to promote in the past few days, though I’ll be back at it tomorrow), see the Isaiah 6 pages:

    http://feastupontheword.org/Isaiah_6_All

    If you look at the several pages there, you can see how much discussion went into this collaborative effort, and there were several hands in the project. I’d like to see this kind of textual work going on in Mosiah 15, much more than piling up interesting ideas or readings. But keep an eye on the commentary, and you will see what I’m hoping can come of it.

  55. Cherylem said

    Okay. Thanks. Just experiencing a learning curve here.

  56. Matthew said

    Cherylem (53). I realize you were addressing Joe, but here’s my response.

    First off, I also quite like Ben’s comment on the discussion page there. It is great.
    >Do you want us to post directly to the Wiki or is the discussion area sufficient?

    I want to see the hard work we do trying to make sense of stuff make its way to the commentary pages. Here’s why.

    The commentary page (unlike the talk/discussion page on the wiki) has as its goal an explanation of what the text means which we (as the community) agree on. The difference is that 14 months from now a reader could go to the commentary page and get an explanation of what we all think is the best explanation for a given text. In other words, even if we don’t all agree it would say something like “some think this and here’s why. others think that and here’s why.” That is a very different experience from someone digging up a blog entry with lots of discussion and reading through it all.

    A related aside. What do we make of comments we see occasionally (but not frequently) where someone begins by saying “I didn’t read through all the comments of the other people so I may be repeating something someone else wrote already–but here’s my take on this issue.” Is this desire to be heard without having to listen to be scorned?

    I don’t think so…

    Just as, when a discussion board has thousands of pages of text, but no FAQ, it shouldn’t be surprised when someone comes to that board and asks a question that has been asked 100 times before with lots of slightly different but closely related answers. The person didn’t try to find them and read through to figure out which of the slightly different questions and answers is particularly related to the question they have and may already answer it. And it seems a burden to expect them to.

    On the other hand, if the community has carefully put together a FAQ with the top questions and some answers widely agreed upon by the community and made it easy to find the FAQ, then it is reasonable to expect that as new people approach the site they look through the FAQ before they ask their question.

    In the same way, the commentary pages are meant to help future readers figure out how to make sense of an issue without having to read through everyone’s discussion of it. If we can’t work our views into it than we can’t expect that future readers will have read every related thing people have written on a particular subject. In other words, we are bound to having the same conversations again and again.

    Of course, where the scriptures are concerned no interpretation (even one which discusses multiple interpretations) should be considered final–and that’s why the commentary page is always open to further edits. But it would be good for further work to build upon previous work versus repeat it.

    Anyway, that’s how I see it :)

  57. Matthew said

    I am and will continue to be an advocate for posting things to the commentary pages because of the value that provides to us writers/editors/bloggers/commenters and especially because of the value it provides to those (and there are quite a few) who read (either now or in the future) but don’t participate.

    But…I’m not trying to suggest that people should feel guilty if they don’t post on the commentary pages. There are lots of valuable things to be done in this world and we each can/should decide where to spend our time. I certainly would rather have someone participate in discussion and never post to the commentary pages than not participate at all.

  58. Jim F. said

    Matthew is just trying to make me feel better because he knows that I feel guilty about not posting more frequently to the commentary pages.

  59. BrianJ said

    Matthew: Just to clarify, in #56 you say, “…explanation of what the text means which we (as the community) agree on.” This could be taken to mean that anything posted on the commentary page should go through a “community review” first, but I don’t think that’s what you want. Certainly the author should not be writing his own views, but isn’t it possible to have a neutral voice without summarizing a prior discussion?

    Also, the help info for the questions section specifically says, “a question you really have…, something you suspect…, question you think….” In your comment, you write, “if the community has carefully put together a FAQ with the top questions and some answers widely agreed upon by the community….” Again, notice your emphasis on the community, not on the individual.

    I’m just asking for clarification lest anyone read you the wrong way, or lest I persist in ignorance. I think your position is that the community can “get together” on the discussion pages, or we can edit each other’s work on the commentary pages. Either way, the wiki is, like all wikis, a collective effort and represents collective thought.

  60. [...] to the Feast Upon the Word wiki. Sadly, I’m not referring to the challenge he issued last week, but rather to one implied over four months ago, which I wholly accepted. So, how was my [...]

  61. Matthew said

    Brianj(59), Thanks for the clarification. I think your summary of my position at the end of your comment is right.

    In practice what this means is that if the community doesn’t edit something out it means that, at least, they(we) don’t think the content was so bad it needed to be addressed immediately. Sometimes I think people don’t agree but also don’t know where to start to disagree. A good thing to do in that case would be to put a comment on the discussion page which makes this point.

  62. David M. said

    Thank you for all the reference book recommends and online sources. They have been great and helpful.

    Now to answer the original post, if I had one request it would be something like the “I have a Question” section like the Ensign does (or used to do). I am woefully ignorant on many things, but as I prepare to teach my Sunday school class a question arises that I cannot find an answer to. More often than not I would assume it is due to my naiveté with the scriptures, and everyone correctly assumes everyone else already knows the answer. I would appreciate a venue for asking. Maybe this is already present and I have overlooked it.

  63. That is a very good idea, David.

    Matthew, might we be able to put something in the “About feast” link that provides the e-mail address with an invitation to submit such questions, which can then be introduced as an “I have a question” post?

    A possibility anyway?

  64. Robert C. said

    Good ideas David and Joe. For now, feel free to use the About page (next to “Home” at the top of each page of the blog…) for any questions, or of course any questions related to the relevant Sunday school or RS / MP lesson are always welcome.

  65. For those who have been attending to it, it will be no announcement that the wiki is suddenly nearly swamped with edits! Thanks to everyone who has taken the invitation here, and thanks to those who wandered there for other reasons.

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