My heart is heavy today. I found out yesterday morning that a young family friend took her own life. It was a shocking reminder to me to “be kind” to the people I meet. I encourage that of all of you as well. You do not know what people are going through, so treat everyone with kindness regardless of how they treat you. Her passing has just been announced, and I don’t feel free to say anymore, but please pray for this family as they are undoubtedly devastated.
Today is also the ninth anniversary of the passing of Michael Spencer the founder of Internet Monk. Just a couple of weeks ago was also the tenth anniversary of my first article posted to Internet Monk. I believe that Michael Spencer created Internet Monk about 2000 which means that we are about 19 years old! Through the miracles of Internet Archiving you can read an early version of it here. For those relatively new to Internet Monk you will be surprised by some of his influences in his early days.
Today, I wanted to take some time to recount my journey with with Michael Spencer and Internet Monk, and encourage you to share your journeys as well.
I first encountered Internet Monk in 2008 through a dispute with my Pastor over the importance of the mode of Baptism (sprinkled, poured, dunked) and the validity of re-baptism. (For clarity’s sake infant baptism was not part of the equation.) A google search led me to the blogging of Darrell Pursiful and his series on Baptism. Darrell was constantly quoting articles that Michael Spencer had written, and in due time I ended up visiting Internet Monk for myself.
I was pretty much hooked right away. Here was the guy who was saying the things that I was not free to say (though he was looking over his shoulder the whole time). While his views would evolve and change over time, he wasn’t afraid to tackle some of the big issues of the Evangelical world, that few would touch: Inerrancy (2005) , young earth creationism (2003), homosexuality (2003), mental illness (2006), and a critique of evangelism techniques (2003).
After reading for a while, and then commenting, I pitched a couple of ideas to Michael Spencer. They were pretty much shot down.
In March of 2009 Michael released his series on “The Coming Evangelical Collapse“, that got picked up by and printed by the “Christian Science Monitor”. I thought that he would get hammered for what he wrote, bu I also thought that what he said rang true to me, so I offered up another proposal:
“Would you be interested in a guest post showing a further statistical analysis of the ARIS data, that supports what you have been saying?”
To which he responded:
“Yes… send it… make it readable.”
About a week later Michael sent this:
“Thanks Michael. You did a great job and we will do it again. In fact, consider submissions to IM to be an open invite from now on.”
Exactly ten years ago today he posted my third article, and Michael added the byline “Internet Monk First Officer”. This article was picked up my the Manchester Guardian, among other places, and has been cited in several scholarly books and articles. That was a pretty significant moment for me.
I wrote four more articles over the next few months (those stats articles do not come quickly), and then got sick. I was hit with the double Whammy of severe sleep apnea (blood oxygen levels were dropping as low as 61%) and Type 1 diabetes. (I was one of those rare instances of acquiring Type 1 in adulthood.)
I only wrote one more post before Michael Spencer passed away. Sadly we never got the chance to meet in person.
I did get both my sleep apnea and diabetes under control and volunteered to continue writing. Chaplain Mike and Jeff Dunn agreed. After posting sporadically while dealing with family issues, I became a regular weekly writer from the middle of 2013 to the middle of 2015, then again had to take another break because of family concerns. I have been back writing for the past year.
Some of you may remember that I started working on compiling Michael Spencer’s notes on the Gospel of Mark into a devotional commentary. Well, that is still ongoing, and I hope to be able to release Volume 1: Mark 1-8 by the end of next year.
What has been your experience with Michael Spencer and getting to know Internet Monk. Your thoughts and comments are very welcome.
Finally to come back to my original thought, here is an appropriate saying from John Wesley:
Do all the good you can,
to all the people you can,
at all the times you can,
in all the ways you can,
by all the means you can,
as long as ever you can.