I’ve Got a Problem

I have really enjoyed my time as the editor of SBC Voices over the last 2 1/2 years. Blogging has been one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I get a little bit torqued when people take shots at blogging and bloggers because it has been such a great thing for me personally. I have been writing since I was a kid – I’ve got some handwritten stories in files that I would hate to have anyone see, but I have been writing since I can remember. Blogging gave me the one thing I had never had before, an audience. For the first time, a few people actually read what I wrote. That is an amazing blessing.

But, the downside of this is that SBC Voices is a lot work. We are unique among the Baptist blogs. Most of the prominent blogs in the SBC world are focused on the ideas of the author. Many of the big-time blogs moderate comments or restrict them severely. The focus of those blogs is the wisdom of the blogger and not the discussion the blog engenders. But SBC Voices is a “blue-collar” blog. None of us here are on the denominational a-list (trust me when I say that 2nd VP is far down the list). We are just Baptist Christians who write our thoughts. We hope the readers enjoy what we write, but our opinion pieces are viewed more as discussion-starters than final words.

So, we have some pretty active discussions around here, and managing them leaves me feeling like the lion tamer at the circus, without the whip and chair!  And, I have to admit, it is wearing on me. I find myself jealous of certain people who seem to be able to be patient and kind to people no matter how they act on the blog. I’m not one of those people.

I am struggling to maintain my patience with some of the bloggers and the discussions that go on here. Let me introduce you to a few of the bloggers who wear me out. (None of the names are meant to apply to any particular person.)

1) “The Sky is Red” Ronnie – he just likes to quarrel about everything. He goes through a blog, even one he agrees with in large part, searching until he finds something to correct or quarrel with.

2) Monotone Marvin – he has just one note and he keeps on singing it – loudly – regardless of what tune anyone else around him is singing. Marv is able to turn every discussion into his pet topic. Write a post on any topic you please and he can turn it into a discussion of the blessings (or failures) of Calvinism, or the failings of whatever entity or SBC leader he is currently miffed at . Dude, there are lots of notes – learn some new ones.

3) Bulldog Bobby – he never gives up on a discussion, no matter how petty or silly it becomes. Everyone else may move on, but Bobby keeps biting at the subject, sinking in his teeth and never letting go. My working theory is that productive discussion seldom takes place after about 75 comments (if the topic is Calvinism, alchohol or the GCR, that number is much lower).

4) Driveby Darrell – stops by to bless us with his wisdom, especially to tell us how wrong we all are about everything, then drives on, never sticking around to discuss his pontifications.

Of course, every website has its trolls and its bombastic blasters. Among Baptist blogs, we may have more than our share.

Here’s my problem. I want SBC Voices to be a free and open atmosphere where we can discuss issues. That is who we are. But I am concerned that when we allow things to go to a certain point, serious people who want to engage in serious discussions don’t want to discuss things here.

So, figuring out how to manage the discussions here is quite a challenge – like trying to nail jello to the wall; you never quite get the job done!

And I am getting tired of the struggle. Almost every blogger goes through blogger-burnout at some time or another. I’m getting tired of the rigmarole and I don’t really what to do about it.

  • I do not want to stop writing. I really enjoy that.
  • I do not want to change the nature of this blog – we are a blue collar blog built around discussion, not just blog posts.
  • But I am also unwilling to continue with things exactly as they are.

I am not a contentious guy, but I find myself more and more caught up in discussions with angry bloggers who think I am being unfair to them. I think that because of the nature of this blog, people feel like we are a free-speech haven. We are not. Our supreme leader, Tony, has given me one instruction – that Voices must not be a single viewpoint blog, that various voices need to be heard from. I agree with that.

But we have no obligation to let everybody say everything they want. If you want to comment here, you have to follow some basic rules.

  • Honor the Lord.
  • Honor others.
  • Speak the truth in love.
  • Argue issues, not people.
  • And here’s the one that gets people upset – you have to listen to the moderator. If I ask you to back off, you have to back off. I may be wrong (everyone I’ve ever challenged has thought so, certainly), but I hold the whistle and I make the calls. You do not have to like that, but that’s the way it is.

You get the point.

So, what am I gonna do?

First of all, I would apologize for losing my patience with people when that has happened. Sometimes, my frustration boils over and that is never okay.

Second, I am going to start something new. When a discussion gets to that place where it is picking over the bones of a discussion, going back over the same ground time and again, getting more chippy, petty and silly each time, I’m just going to shut the comments on the post and let us move on.

Third – well, I don’t know what third will be. That is in the future. I keep looking at what we have and thinking about how it can become better.

We’ll see what happens.




  1. cb scott says

    Fourth, I will not ban Sports comments that invade comment threads although they have nothing to do with the substance of the post under which they are made. This will especially be adhered during FOOTBALL season and during the World Series.

    • Dave Miller says

      I may ban all discussion of the “game that must not be named” between the two most evil teams in America.

      • cb scott says

        That would be oppressive and discriminatory. Where is the ACLU when guys like me need them?

        Hath not a Sabanite eyes? Hath not a Sabanite hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, heal’d by the same means, warm’d and cool’d by the same winter and summer as a BUZZARD-EYE is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tackle us, do we not break away? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. If a Sabanite wrong a DUCK what is his humility? Revenge. If a LONGHORN wrong a Sabanite, what should his sufferance be by BIG 12 example? Why, revenge. The villainy you teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.

    • says

      I’m with Chris. Thought I would drive by, post a random comment that stirred up a fuss and then not stick around, but I’m afraid the beer-swilling Calvinists wouldn’t let me get away with it. So let me just agree to disagree and let it be at that.

      However, for the record, and in all seriousness, the rough-and-tumble manner of the discussion here is part of its attractiveness. Get two Babdists in a room and you’ve got at least three opinions present. I think you guys are doing a fairly decent job of balancing free discourse with civility. Keep up the good work.

      • Dave Miller says

        That is the problem. The discussion is the heart of our sure, but it is also a source if great frustration.

  2. says

    As with any good Baptist preacher, you just had to have three points didn’t you? Couldn’t stop at two. No! That just wouldn’t…….
    Oops. Sorry, Dave. :-)
    Seriously, I agree with you. You’ve done a great job over the past few months that I’ve been on here. I truly appreciate all the different perspectives and the commitment each person makes to keep the discussion moving. I think all of us are better for our interactions when they are done in the spirit you encourage. I also think you’re right, and I’ll carry on in any way you feel is best for all of us.

  3. says

    The idea of closing comments after a while is a good one. Nothing I have ever read here has much value after the first 200 comments…much less 300 or 400+.

    You do a good job.

    • says

      I’m with you on that–at some point, enough has been said. usually when we run to 200, it goes to a one-on-one discussion. Let those two hash it out privately.

      Or, as is usually the case, it’s just two going back and forth with no resolution. End it and be done.

    • cb scott says

      William Thornton,

      I think your observation is correct. Of course, as with all good subjective observations, there is one arena of dialogue that must be exempted from your plan for Credible Baptist Blog Operation (CBBO).

      When a post is Sports related, especially if it is FOOTBALL related, there are two rules of thumb that should be followed.

      1). Comments should be unlimited about the SEC and its greatness. However, if an SEC NATION is defeated by a Lesser Conference NATION, comments should be kept to a bear minimum.

      Let me give the perfect example. When the National Championship is played and the SABANATION stomps the Monk School from South Bend 12′ into the Gridiron and I write a post about it, comments should be completely unlimited, even up into the thousands.

      2). However, if ancient flying dinosaurs (using a possibility based on some recent posts here) come back from the dead and carry off St. Nick, the entire coaching staff and water-boy, along with the starting O and D from BAMA’s ranks, giving the Irish a possibility of winning. . . . And somehow they do win, all comments should be ceased and a three day time of morning should be invoked and no posts related to Sports should be allowed.

      • says

        Dear SEC CB,
        None of which would apply to heralding the greatness of the Ducks who were robbed of their chance at the championship game by referees who were obviously taking money under the table from some SEC fanatic.
        (See how quickly we can turn this to a sports related discussion?)
        Lovingly and with a warm heart,
        Duckman Dale

      • Truth Unites... and Divides says

        College football is fun, but pro football is more interesting. And fantasy football with pro players is even more fun!

        The college game is interesting because it’s relevant to see which players will get drafted by which team and what impact they might have as a rookie for fantasy purposes.

        That’s what college football is good for… to see how it feeds into pro football… and fantasy football.

        These are good apples. Eat more.

        • cb scott says

          Truth Unites… and Divides,

          In all “truth” it is obvious some folks “united” when you were younger and dropped you on your head a multitude of time and “divided” your brains.

          How could anyone in his right mind make such a statement as you have heralding Pro FOOTBALL and fantasy football (oxymoron) as better than NCAA FOOTBALL?

          Obviously your brain has been “divided” from the “truth.” Hopefully, you will soon be “united” with your senses.

          • Truth Unites... and Divides says

            College football is a good feeder program, good training grounds for The Real Game in the National Football League.

            Pro Football, baby! That’s where the action is at!

            College Football? A means to an end. And that be… Pro Football, baby!

            College Football = Minor League Baseball. It’s okay. But it ain’t the Pros.

  4. Richmond Goolsby says

    I truly enjoy most of the content on SBCVoices and have found it to be edifying. Thank you for all the work you put into this ministry.

  5. Jess Alford says

    Under the basic rules you have listed, will the moderator also adhere to the first four rules? Will the moderator blow the whistle without bias.

    In any serious game the ref. makes mistakes, are we allowed a replay?
    With all respect, I just want to be clear.

    • Dave Miller says

      I try, but do not always succeed in being fair. I do not discuss moderation decisions here, bit my davemillerisajerk@hotmail.com is always available.

      But there is no arbiter. I’m afraid my decisions are pretty much final.

      Obviously, my opinions are not.

  6. says

    Dave Miller,

    I am praying that our Lord will continue to give you strength to endure with tact and compassion. These spiritual advantages are obviously already yours. But I am sure that moderating this blog also causes you weariness, annoyance, and temptations toward rudeness and anger. I think you handle yourself quite well. But I also think you do this mostly for us; not for wealth, not for fame, and not for worldly ambition.

    Your task is too often thankless, and personally expensive. The idea of laying down the burden must be very attractive sometimes; like now. I am glad you are here. Thank you!

  7. Randall Cofield says


    You guys have the premier blog on SB issues. The issues posted are relevant, and the discussion is, on the whole, civil, due in no small part to your method of moderation.

    I say if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it…

  8. Rick Patrick says

    Yours is a very nice post, Dave. And I believe your intentions are noble in seeking to moderate fairly.

    However, if SBCVoices truly wants to hear from the other side–those of us with reservations about the GCR, the Gospel Project, and the Calvinist movement generally–then it must ask why nearly all those who used to come here and espouse this minority viewpoint have felt so ridiculed as to necessitate their departure.

    Simply for sharing ideas, I’ve been charged with conspiratorial delusions, insanity, and a weak commitment to ministry. Who really needs that? Overall, this is not a safe place to espouse Traditionalist viewpoints, although this is not the fault of the moderator, in my opinion.

    Dave, while I believe you and Tony want SBCVoices to reflect all views, the simple truth is that the Reformed commentators on the stream do not really wish to hear from the other side, and thus show little respect for those whose views differ from their own. If you truly want your site to present both sides, you have to respect the people offering opinions contrary to yours. This is accomplished only by interacting with the ideas in the post without resorting to the verbal abuse of the author.

    • Randall Cofield says


      Dave, while I believe you and Tony want SBCVoices to reflect all views, the simple truth is that the Reformed commentators on the stream do not really wish to hear from the other side, and thus show little respect for those whose views differ from their own.

      Perhaps you meant some of the Reformed commentators on this stream….?

        • Randall Cofield says


          Don’t mention it.

          I wish to hear your misguided “other side” views on TGP and Calvinism anytime you care to post.

          ……..(emoticon inserted, then expurgated to avoid adding to Dave’s Problems List)….

    • Truth Unites... and Divides says

      “Overall, this is not a safe place to espouse Traditionalist viewpoints, although this is not the fault of the moderator, in my opinion.

      Uh? Calvinists are Traditionalists.

        • Rick Patrick says

          Dear Truth Unites…and Divides,

          When I use the terminology “Traditionalist” I am not speaking either (a) culturally, with regard to traditional values, or (b) historically, with regard to the earliest views of our denomination. Rather, I am referencing a very specific theological statement of Southern Baptist salvation doctrine entitled, “A Statement of the TRADITIONAL Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation.” The document is sometimes abbreviated simply as the “Traditional Statement.”

          One might quarrel with the title of the document itself, but there is no reason to object to my use of the term “Traditionalist” as a way of distinguishing one theological perspective from another. The way that I am using the term “Traditionalist” as “one who adheres to the Traditional Statement authored by Dr. Eric Hankins,” it cannot truly be said that Calvinists are Traditionalists.

          • Truth Unites... and Divides says

            “When I use the terminology “Traditionalist” I am not speaking either (a) culturally, with regard to traditional values, or (b) historically, with regard to the earliest views of our denomination.”

            I see. Given this, let’s do agree that Calvinists do have traditional values, and also that Calvinism is reflected in the earliest views of the SBC.

            “The way that I am using the term “Traditionalist” as “one who adheres to the Traditional Statement authored by Dr. Eric Hankins,” it cannot truly be said that Calvinists are Traditionalists.”

            I see. A bit of unintended equivocation occurs when you use the term “Traditionalist” without sufficient qualification. It would have been much more helpful if you would have said that you were a “Hankins-Traditionalist” instead of just “Traditionalist.”

            BTW, when Hankins wrote his statement, did he mean to exclude Calvinism and Calvinists from affirming his statement?

          • Rick Patrick says


            On your first paragraph, agreed.

            On the equivocation point, permit me an anecdote. When I first moved to Alabama, I ordered tea in a restaurant. It arrived at my table presweetened with sugar, while I prefer to use artificial sweetener. Upon informing the waitress that I did not order “Sweet Tea” but “Tea” I was told that “Tea” IS “Sweet Tea” and if one means the other kind, one has to order “Unsweet Tea.” I consider “Hankins-Traditionalist” an awkward and unnecessary term, generally eschewing the hyphen. In the context of current SBC issues, “Traditionalist” IS “Hankins-Traditionalist.”

            As to the issue of whether or not Dr. Hankins intended to exclude Calvinism from his statement, he should probably be allowed to speak for himself. However, it seems clear from the preamble, if nothing else, that he may believe, as I do, that the majority of Southern Baptists are NOT comfortable describing their salvation doctrine as any form of Calvinism at all, and thus he may be seeking to offer a POSITIVE statement of what we DO believe rather than making a NEGATIVE statement against what we DON’T believe, a view sometimes called non-Calvinism.

          • Truth Unites... and Divides says

            Me: “Given this, let’s do agree that Calvinists do have traditional values, and also that Calvinism is reflected in the earliest views of the SBC.”

            Rick Patrick: “On your first paragraph, agreed.”

            Given this God-honoring agreement, it stands to reason that since Calvinism is reflected in the earliest views of the SBC, then Calvinist SBC’ers can be justly held to be traditionalist as well. Without qualification to boot.

          • Rick Patrick says

            Well, Calvinists ALONG WITH Traditionalists BOTH contain streams among the earliest Southern Baptist views. Is there a prize for being first? Frankly, I have very little interest in quibbling about how many of the earliest Southern Baptists were Calvinists and how many were not. That’s not at all referenced in the Traditional Statement, which is not a History Treatise.

            As to the theological labels of Calvinist versus Traditionalist, I see no need for qualification either. Again, it’s not about history, but theology.

          • Truth Unites... and Divides says

            Just striving for helpful semantic clarity with regards to theological shorthand.

            Eg., Doug Hibbard: “As if you were striving to first understand a differing viewpoint and second trying to express your viewpoint clearly.

            If you are “on-the-record” already as pro-Calvin or pro-Hankins…”.

            Pro-Calvin or Pro-Hankins is an example of helpful semantic clarity.

        • Rick Patrick says

          That’s the kind of helpful semantic clarity you would expect from a man who declined seeing “The Hobbit” because he heard it was “a little short.”

    • says

      Rick, I think every author on here has received the type of treatment you describe at one time or another, regardless if they are Reformed or not. Sometimes our articles warrant such treatment. Sometimes they don’t. I think if we all could “do unto brothers as we would have them do unto us,” we would all be better off. In other words, it’s not the topics we discuss that tick people off (TGP, Calvinism, SBC methodology, etc.), it’s how we make our arguments, the “evidence” we use, and what we insinuate in addition to the presuppositions that the commenter brings to the article. We cannot change the commenters, but we can change what and how we write. We must do better at writing articles that argue our positions strongly (as the subject matter demands), yet with grace. All SBC Voices Authors should pursue writing better articles (myself included) that glorify God from beginning to end, while edifying our readers.

      • Rick Patrick says


        “Sometimes our articles warrant such treatment.”

        I respectfully disagree with this idea. I don’t think personal attacks are in order simply because someone expresses an opinion. They can debate the ideas, but it should not become personal, even if the commentator believes that the evidence to support the writer’s opinion is insufficient.

        By the way, congratulations on your family’s Youngest Restless Reformer! Enjoy him. He will grow up faster than you’d believe.

        • says

          Rick, what I mean is that if our articles attack someone personally, we should expect to be attacked personally as well.

          Thanks. Pray that the little guy knows Jesus. Although I’d rather him believe like me, so long as He repents and trusts in Christ alone for salvation!

    • dean says

      Rick, thank you for your comment. I have chosen to become what I guess is known as a troll. I have chosen to read and not to comment. I feel I am not welcome at this sight. It is Dave who makes me feel that way and not the stream contributors. I will make a comment every now and then and try my best to not to respond again. I noticed you had quit commenting several weeks back following a very nasty stream of comments. You were ganged up on and the comments were personal and Dave did nothing. Even after you left the stream the comments about you continued. From that moment you dropped out for a while. I figured you were simply the next person to ease out. It is apparent some others have.

      • says


        “I feel I am not welcome at this sight. It is Dave who makes me feel that way and not the stream contributors.”

        Yep… Me 2… Many times… Regardless of the topic…

        (Signing back off now)

        • Dave Miller says

          All I’ve ever asked from you Greg, is that you show a little bit of grace in your conversation with others. You are always welcome to comment if you follow that simple guideline. It’s up to you.

          • says


            Funny how you are the only one making this charge…

            Seriously Dude… The last time you shut me down, the guy I was attempting to have a conversation with was in full agreement with me… And you shut me down after one comment!

            I guess “Grace” is in the eye of the blogger…

            But I realize I am not being very gracious toward you right now so I will shut myself down this time… I’m out of here!

          • Dave Miller says

            I want to make a confession here.

            When I first started editing this blog, I wanted everyone to like me and think well of me. Things got out of hand.

            So, I decided I needed to have a firmer hand, deleting more comments and calling people to behave themselves on the blog. I am well-pleased with the results. I think the discussions are better here than they were.

            Of course, the down side is that I have made a lot of people angry. People get really chippy when you delete their comments – no matter how bad their attitude. They always view it as my fault.

            That is fine. But I am going to continue to delete inappropriate comments and ask people to do better. People are going to continue not to like it. But that is the way it is.

            While comments are off, davemillerisajerk@hotmail.com is available.

    • Dave Miller says

      Guys, I’m really not interested in another rehash of the Calvinist/Non-Calvinist brouhaha here.

      • says

        Well there’s your problem. As 1 Peter says, one should always be prepared to give an answer to the Calvinism debate. Or at least that’s what my “John Calvin Approved” Bible says.

  9. says

    (1) I was searching through this post and agree with it in large part, but I finally found something. (2) This post was written by the 2nd VP of the SBC and it just had to mention (3) Calvinism and alcohol; remove my comment and I’ll blog about it. (4) I just thought I’d drop by and point that out to everyone.

    Love you, Dave. :)

  10. Greg Harvey says

    I would consider an automatic shut off after a week. That could be extended for obviously less controversial material or shortened for more tendentious comments. The common term for older threads that get re-opened in gaming contexts is “thread necromancy” or bringing a thread back to life. Might I offer that most of the comment threads simply aren’t deserving of the Resurrection?

    If it becomes a burden, make whatever change is required so it is less burdensome. Between the editor in chief and the publisher, you guys “own”. It shouldn’t own you.

    • Dave Miller says

      We have an automatic shut down after either 45 or 90 days. But I think you are right that I may shorten that. Honestly, little productive discussion takes place after a certain point.

  11. says

    Seriously, (sad I feel the need to start my comment that way), THanks for moderating this blog/discussion board. I appreciate it! I’m just wondering if there might be a way to let us recommend people to be blocked, and if you get a bunch of votes to consider it or let the person know that they’re on the verge of removal.
    THere are a very few people who I have thought just ought to shut up and go away. Even though I think I’ve been guilty of the problems you listed, myself.
    I don’t want to be annoying to you or anyone else, even at my most opinionated! So thanks, don’t quit, keep up the good work, and I’ll be nice!

    • Dave Miller says


      I think, in all my life, this is the first emoticon I’ve ever left.
      I feel a little dirty.

  12. says

    One of the things that we have tried to do is allow people to be guided by their own conscience. Unfortunately, there are some whose consciences do not guide them like we would like.

    The more practical issue is this: Dave is the moderator/big dog around here. He does not, however, only mind the blog. He has work that his church expects of him and work that he does in relation to the SBC. So, one thing that happens is this: somebody posts a comment that is a little close to the line of what should not be said. Then, there’s a string of angry responses.

    And it all happens in a day. By the end of the day, the comment stream is stacked with angry, personal attacks, and some of them are leveled at Dave who has not even had time that day to look at the blog.

    So, do a little more self-policing. Not back-seat moderating. Spend more effort on whether or not your comment is anywhere near God-honoring than you spend on whether or not someone else’s was.

    And realize this: every one of us here are supposed to be functional adults, and adults who are operating under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the authority of Scripture. So if you have a “word of correction and rebuke” find a way to phrase it as you are speaking to your peers and fellow co-laborers for Christ. Not as if you are rebuking the Devil nor as if you were re-instructing a child for tenth time not to chase the cat with scissors.

    As if you were striving to first understand a differing viewpoint and second trying to express your viewpoint clearly.

    And yes, there are those of us who come and go from commenting and even posting and it’s often influenced by the way the generally attitude is flowing. Ask yourself if you’re helping the conversation or hurting it.

    If you are “on-the-record” already as pro-Calvin or pro-Hankins, pro-GCR or anti-GCR, pro-TGP or anti-TGP, then you do not have to re-enter your same objections or defenses every time the issue comes up. Seriously. This is not life in a monarchy where the king is checking to make sure someone defends him every time or always toasts the king first. You can let it go.

    It may be simple moralism to apply this rubric, but ask yourself: “If I said this to my brother/sister in person, could we both pray together for God’s blessing after I say it?”

    If the answer is “Only if I think God approves me being a big hypocritical jerk,” then maybe you ought to let it go and let someone else carry the ball for a while.

    • Dave Miller says

      Doug, this is such a good comment, it deserves to be a separate post!

      I have actually been spending less time on the blog, which is good for me, but bad for the blog.

      And frankly, I do not read every comment. Not by a long shot.

    • says

      “…then you do not have to re-enter your same objections or defenses every time the issue comes up.”

      If someone is wrong on the internet, it is both my civic duty and my divine duty to set them right.

        • says

          I’m thinking there are some folks who could type up their standard objections, put it on the net, and then just come, post a link to that in one comment.

          Then, actually *engage* the discussion and remember, if someone wants your standard “Traditionalists are bad/Calvinists are worse” opinion, they can just click your link. And if that’s all you have to say, then you’ve already said it. Saves time.

          • says


            Sometimes I ask clarifying questions online and get blasted for it as if I’m being dismissive and rhetorical. Sometimes writing online is tougher than talking to one another.

            I like your idea of using a standard objection link. :)

          • says

            I have that trouble with questions, too…

            Because there are times I want to know, want to understand better and then I come out sounding like “You actually believe THAT?!?!”

            Which isn’t helpful. Then there’s the overall tendency (or fear that the tendency exists) to assume what people believe based on their questions. Like someone asking questions about Young-Earth Creationism or Calvinism or Traditionalism and then there’s the “Oh, you’re on the other side” response.

            Nope. Not sure what side I’m on. Trying to understand all sides, really.

            And a “This is my response” link would be handy for several things. Like an FAQ: Ok, for those who think Calvinism is anti-missionary, please click this link and read before you make that accusation. For those who think Traditionalists think God doesn’t save people, please click here…and so on.

  13. says

    It is time for all of us to read Isaac Watts. Start with The Improvement of the Mind.
    Summary found here: http://www.eng.auburn.edu/~sjreeves/cm/improve.html

    If we are looking for rules to live by here, we could hardly do better than this:

    It is a great happiness to be acquainted with persons wiser than ourselves.
    Waste not the time in trifle and impertinence.
    Lead persons into a discourse of the matters of their own peculiar province or profession.
    Confine not yourself always to one sort of company lest you should be confirmed and established in the same mistake by conversing with persons of the same sentiments.
    In mixed company among acquaintance and strangers, endeavour to learn something from all.
    Be not frighted nor provoked at opinions different from your own.
    Believe that it is possible to learn something from persons much below yourself.
    It is of considerable advantage, when we are pursuing any difficult point of knowledge, to have a society of ingenious correspondents at hand, to whom we may propose it.
    Let some one person take a book which may be agreeable to the whole company, and by common consent let him read in it.
    Whensoever it lies in your power to lead the conversation, let it be directed to some profitable point of knowledge or practice.
    Attend with sincere diligence.
    When a man gives his opinion in the plainest language of common sense do not presently imagine you shall gain nothing by his company.
    If you have not a clear idea of what is spoken, endeavour to obtain a clearer conception of it by a decent manner of inquiry.
    Represent what objection some persons would be ready to make against the sentiments of the speaker, without telling him you oppose.
    When you are forced to differ, represent how far you agree.
    Let your correspondent fairly finish his speech before you reply.
    Never remain in ignorance for want of asking.
    Be not too forward to determine any question with an infallible and peremptory sentence.
    Truth itself is in danger of being betrayed or lost, if there be no opposition made to a pretending talker.
    A wise and a modest man may repel insolence with its own weapons.
    A triumphant assurance hath sometimes supported gross falsehoods, and a whole company have been captivated to error till some man with equal assurance has rescued them.
    Be not fond of disputing every thing pro and con.
    Do not bring a warm party spirit into a conversation which is designed for mutual improvement in the search of truth.
    If you perceive a person unskilful in the matter of debate, lead him into a clearer knowledge of the subject.
    Take heed of affecting always to shine in company above the rest.
    Though you should not affect to flourish in a copious harangue and a diffusive style in company, yet neither should you rudely interrupt and reproach him that happens to use it: but reduce his sentiments into a more contracted form.
    Be not so ready to charge ignorance, prejudice, and mistake upon others as you are to suspect yourself of it.
    Banish utterly out of all conversation everything that tends to provoke passion or raise a fire in the blood.
    Whensoever any unhappy word shall arise in company command your tongue into silence. If this should not be sufficient, let a grave admonition, or a soft and gentle turn of wit give an occasion to stop the progress of his indecent fire.
    Inure yourself to a candid and obliging manner in all conversation.
    Choose such companions as may be capable of administering to your improvement.
    Nor is it every sober person of your acquaintance, no, nor every man of bright parts, or rich in learning, that is fit to engage in free conversation for the inquiry after truth if he lie under any of the following infirmities.
    Exceedingly reserved.
    Haughty and proud.
    Positive and dogmatical.
    Affects to outshine all the company.
    Whiffling and unsteady turn of mind.
    Fretful and peevish.
    Affects wit on all occasions.
    Crafty and cunning.
    You should watch against the working of these evil qualities in your breast.
    When you retire from company, converse with yourself in solitude.
    If reason, decency, and civility have not been well observed amongst your associates, take notice of those defects for your own improvement.
    By a review of irregularities you may learn to avoid follies.