Walking the line between confident self-expression and pompous diatribe is tricky (ironically enough, “diatribe” comes from a Greek word that means “waste of time”). This is certainly true of blogs in general, and mine specifically.
Last week, I crossed that line. I wrote a public criticism of the educational methods used in my Greek class here at seminary. At the time I thought it was balanced and well thought out. It isn’t. Re-reading the post in light of my professor’s reaction to it, I can readily see how I myself would have been really offended if a student had written those words — or any words in that tone — about a class I taught.
Blogging has some great strengths: it gives voice to those who otherwise would not have had voice. It allows bloggers to explore their thoughts and feelings in public conversation with others. But always, always, with freedom comes responsibility. I think it was the apostle Paul who said something along the lines of “although all things are permissible for me, not all things are good for me.” Another way to put it is that freedom without self-restraint can easily become indulgence. Last week, I was guilty of that. As a blogger, I ought to do better.
As one seeking to follow the way of Christ (or even just as a human being), I ought to consider carefully the impact my words have on others, and the harm they can cause. At the very least, I ought to use my words to encourage and build up what is good, rather than to tear down things I have little understanding of.
Since my comments were made in a public forum, I choose to use the same public forum in which to apologize to my professor and to my blog readers, who should expect better of me.
Looking back over previous posts and even reflecting on pre-blog experiences I recognize I have a pattern of speaking first and thinking later, requiring frequent apologies like this one. As an educator, I have affirmed often my belief that repetition and experience are key ingredients of the educational process — so there’s really no good excuse for my failure to have learned this lesson by now. Back to the drawing board…