OK, let me try to set a few things straight. The major purpose of this blog has been to engage others with perhaps differing opinions and differing world views in friendly and thoughtful conversations that we all may profit from. Hence the title: Sharp Iron, a line from the biblical book of Proverbs (chapter 27 verse 17) that says “Iron makes iron sharp; so a man makes sharp his friend.”.
I think that when we consider this scripture verse we should not forget that it talks about friends helping friends – to learn and grow intellectually, as well as spiritually. This would seem to imply treating each other in a friendly manner. I think it is very difficult to sharpen the mind of an enemy because (unless we are following Jesus’ command to love your enemy) we usually treat them antagonistically or, at the very least, with suspicion. I have been very pleased with how this has taken place on Sharp Iron, as well as a surprising number of other sites (which I have linked to – though not all of the sites listed are good examples of this). However, I have been accused at times as having a ‘thin skin’; that I don’t like to hear criticisms of my writing or my ideas (heck, who does?) and that I am not likely to take a personal stand on certain issues. Perhaps this is true but part of my responsibility (I think) as a blog host is to moderate. And moderation will not tolerate too much in the way of overzealousness, especially if that leads to rudeness.
My main goal here has been to initiate conversations about God and the spiritual relationships that we may have with God. This means that it is advantageous (and fun) to engage Christians, Jews, Buddhists, atheists, agnostics, deists and theists in discussions about how and where we may disagree as well as where we agree. I am often surprised at how philosophically close many of us are. Sharp Iron’s goal has never been to convert others to any particular philosophy or theology but merely to excite (hopefully) some discussion. On more than one occasion this has resulted in the changing of my mind about things. I shouldn’t be too surprised at this because to renew ones mind implies a change taking place there as well.
There are plenty of websites (and books, TV and radio programs) out there that claim to want this same thing – an open discussion of the issues. It appears that most of them are only interested in winning others over to their side of the polemical fence. This may even be their expressed goal. But I find it interesting that the vast majority of them use tactics that look to be expressly designed for the opposite effect. No one needs to take a course in rhetoric or debating in order to see this; when was the last time you bought a car (or anything) from someone who brow beat you with it’s qualities and benefits? Or told you that you were a fool or an idiot for not agreeing with him? But this makes up a lot of what you will find on the internet, both from atheists as well as theists (some who claim to follow a person that pointed to a better way). Lots of indignant people, insisting that they are right, that they alone are privy to the truth and demanding credibility. But in resorting to dogmatism, intimidation or ridicule they are merely hissing in the wind. The only people who will continue to listen are those of a like mind.