Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The moribund Orthosphere

It looks as if The Orthosphere group blog


has pretty much died, with no original posts for more than a lunar month.

It had a reasonably vigorous lifespan of a couple of years; the idea being launched on this blog:


But, like almost all group blogs, The Orthosphere has been somewhat less than the sum of its parts; and like all unmoderated blogs, the good commenters (of whom there were several) were generally overwhelmed by the spiteful, angry and semi-crazed.


In general, the basic idea of The Orthosphere was of a 'Mere' Christian blog of traditional religionists who opposed the sexual revolution and the liberalization and Leftist colonization and take-over of mainstream Christian churches.

However, the Orthosphere consensus soon became apparent that 'Mere' excluded Mormonism. This dismayed me greatly, because ever since I became a Christian, and indeed before I became a Christian, the inclusion of Mormonism within Mere Christianity has been a lynch-pin of my personal agenda.

So, that put me decisively out-with, and at-odds-with, the basic Orthosphere philosophy - even before I stopped trying to become Eastern Orthodox, fled the Church of England, and began calling myself a Theoretical Mormon .


Indeed, what I regard as the failure of The Orthosphere to generate and sustain a unified perspective and web presence among traditional Christians has highlighted for me, and helped persuade me of, the impossibility of the Mere Christian idea as a basis for any kind of 'movement' (and this 'movement' ideal also underlies the bigger and more influential First Things http://www.firstthings.com/ and Touchstone http://www.touchstonemag.com/ magazines and blogs) - and, in general terms, the political affiliated associated with Francis Schaeffer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Schaeffer#A_Christian_Manifesto).


Despite my own unaffiliated and un-churched status; my hopes are now pinned on specific Christian denominations in specific places; and I reluctantly accept that there is near zero prospect of active interdenominational cooperation and support among real (traditional, non-Leftist) Christians.

The best that can be hoped for among Christians is a non-aggression pact - but I'm not even sure whether than would work for long; given the strength of resentment between denominations, and the nature of the religious priorities which they demand.



Adam G. said...

Discouraging. I wouldn't give up on the idea altogether. There are shining counter-examples, like John C. Wright. And I believe that God expects it of us anyhow, whether or not it succeeds much.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Adam. I would love to be proved wrong!

Bonald said...

Well, one of us has been very busy this month in particular. I've got a half-dozen posts in my head with no time to write. I don't know what's up with the others.

As I recall, we had one anti-Mormon piece and one pro-Mormon piece; we have a couple of Mormon commenters and at least a couple of stridently anti-Mormon ones. And I've defended classical theism and trinitarianism prompted by your attacks a couple of times. (I plan to address your latest string of attacks when I get the time.) It would be more precise to say that the position of the LDS in the Orthosphere is contested in a way that of, say, Catholicism and Calvinism are not.

My own impression is that the Orthosphere has become too timid since Lydia went after JMSmith over abolitionism and slavery. There's a sense that nobody wants to say anything controversial unless we're sure everybody is on board with it. I restarted "Throne and Altar" right after that incident, so I could have a forum where it's clear to everyone that I'm only speaking for myself. What's more, those writing under their real names can face consequences for somebody else's rants. Already one of our writers has been questioned by his university over his association with us racist, theocratic nuts.

Unfortunately, the things we all agree about have mostly already been said.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Bonald - It sounds like you agree with me, but are explaining *why* this is the situation.

Samson J. said...

the Orthosphere has become too timid since Lydia

Stop right there. Because of Lydia??

Already one of our writers has been questioned by his university over his association with us racist, theocratic nuts.


Despite my agreement with reactionary ideas in general, I have to say the Orthosphere is moribund for several reasons:

-it lacks anyone with any real charisma
-it fails to offer anything of relevance or use in day-to-day life

Without those things it's hard to get something off the ground.

Bruce Charlton said...

@SJ "-it lacks anyone with any real charisma -it fails to offer anything of relevance or use in day-to-day life"

Clearly these are subjective evaluations - but I disagree. Jim Kalb is a real 'heavyweight' with a superb style; Bonald and Proph wrote fiery solo blogs; Kristor was a legendary commenter on VfR. Indeed, I like all the bloggers! That is not the problem.

However, I agree it lacks character - because there is no dominant father figure, the comments are all over the place; on the one hand there is a basic schism between the conservative Protestants (Alan R and Thomas B) and the Roman Catholic majority.

BUT - to run a blog there are basically two models:

1. Blog *at least* once every day; this is what most professional bloggers do - Steve Sailer is the master.

2. Blog every week on a particular day, with a vast and epic essay. Mencius Moldbug was (for a relatively brief period) the master of this type of blog (although he did not often get involved in the vast unmoderated comments, which were essentially worthless IMHO).

As for group blogs - the only one I really like (and I like it a lot) is Junior Ganymede - but that is mostly for the wise and lyrical Adam Greenwood (the other bloggers like Bookslinger, Zen and Vader mostly post topical links rather than original mini-essays/ observations). But I wish they posted more regularly and commented more on each others pieces.

So - I don't see a good model for a group blog - of course there are several big Leftist multi-author newspaper type blogs Kos/ Salon/ Huff - goodness knows); but they are indescribably terrible - the libertarian blogs like Instapundit and Pajamas Media generally are better, but no doubt do net harm by supporting the liberal agenda...

I suspect that a trad Christian blog would have to be single author, and either daily brief or weekly big.

Bonald said...

I said "since", not "because". The discussion with Lydia was just a notable part in the discovery of the differences of opinion among the site's writers. If someone else is going to be punished for what I write, I'd at least like to be sure it's something that person actually agrees with. In general, I don't see anything brave in jeopardizing other peoples' livelihoods in pursuing a personal hobby. Hence, I've got my personal blog for the inflammatory stuff.

Then again, maybe all of this is just what's led me to post less on the Orthosphere. I don't know why Kristor and Alan have gone quiet lately.