Thursday, September 13, 2007

Your Help Needed: Letting the Cat (halfway) Out of the Bag

Well, Lucy, we've got some 'splainin' to do.  This is going to be a lengthy entry, so sit back, grab a cup of your favorite addictive caffeinated beverage, and get ready to hear a tale of wonder.

Well, it may not be a tale of wonder, but it's at least a tale of heartache (similar, eh?).  As we explained yesterday, TEDS administration has been strongly suggesting that we shut down our website.  What we'd like to do today is answer a lot of questions for our readers and for the administration.  At the end of that, we need your feedback

You can email us or you can comment on this post.  As we're trying to decide what our next step is, we value the opinions of the administration and our readers.  But first, bear with us as we answer a few questions.

1.  Who is behind The Secret Diary of D.A. Carson?  
This is easily the most asked question we get, both from curious readers and TEDS administration.  While we can't reveal actual names (more about that later), we can give you a little information that may surprise you.

The site actually consists of a think tank of four different people: one writer/collaborator, two collaborators, and one editor/censor (who we sometimes lock in the closet when we have a disagreement).  Article ideas are kicked around each week and eventually the suggestions and team input makes it into an article written by our "Don."

Most people have assumed that "the Don" is a single TEDS student.  Some of us have never even set foot on campus and the four of us literally live a thousand miles apart.  We can't be much more specific than that, but trust us when we say that the administration has made a lot of wrong assumptions about the "person" behind this site.

2.  Why did you start the blog?
We're all big fans of "The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs", an awesome site that was started over a year ago and has thousands of regular readers, us included.

What we loved about that blog is that it gathered a bunch of technology geeks together and enabled them to have a laugh about the weird things in the industry and then have a discussion in the comments section.

So one day, the idea hit us: wouldn't it be cool if we had a site like that for TEDS?  A site where people could have a laugh, chat things out, etc.  It would be a fun little thing we could try and if no one read it we could just shut it down.

3.  Why D. A. Carson?
Well, the answer to this should be pretty obvious.  Not only is Dr. Carson the face of Trinity, but in many ways he is the face of Evangelical scholarship.  If you're going to write a "Secret Diary" of a famous person in hopes of gathering TEDS students, choosing Dr. Carson is a no-brainer.  

4.  Are you criticizing Dr. Carson with your posts?
Absolutely not.  No, we don't agree with everything that Carson says and writes, but for the most part we think his scholarship is top-notch and we very much appreciate the contribution he's made to Christian thought and theology.

Just like "The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs" made a character out of Apple's CEO, we have made a character out of D. A. Carson.  Our Dr. Carson calls himself "Dragon" and "the Don", has a slight crush on Robin Meade, uses words like "frickin'" and "Emerjerk", and always thinks he's right about everything.

To be fair, the real D. A. Carson may do all of those things, too, but we doubt it.  The truth is that we don't know him at all; all we know is what we've read in his books.  So we're not being critical or trying to reprimand Dr. Carson; we're simply using him as a springboard for the site, just like "The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs" uses Steve.

5.  Are you criticizing Paige Patterson with your posts?
Yes.  And if that didn't make you smile, you can probably just stop reading right now and send us your hate mail.  

Seriously, though, we quickly realized that we couldn't just talk about seminary life all the time.  We'll continue to do that, but other topics will have to be approached.  So we decided on some very light-hearted criticism.  We've even criticized people and things that we like because we're making a character.  

This blog is not meant to be taken that seriously.  We can't stress that enough.  If you want serious discussion of theological issues and scholarly debate, there are a ridiculous amount of blogs that you can read and most of them are pretty boring and dry.  If that's your thing, great!  But if you want to take a break from that, we want you to come relax on our blog and have a laugh.

6.  So what's the controversy?
Well, that's a good question because we're not exactly sure.  It all seemed to start when Felix Theonugraha, the associate dean of students for TEDS, left us a comment about the fact that he wasn't crazy about the site.  We published the comment and told him we felt he was misunderstanding our intent, but we figured that would be the end of it.

Well, it wasn't.

Last week TEDS administration informed us that Dr. Carson himself didn't like our site and wanted us to take it down.

And you know what?  We were completely prepared to do that.  You see, we're Christians before we're humorists, and if Dr. Carson was truly offended by the site, we were going to pull it.

They told us that we could correspond with Dr. Carson himself if we wanted to.  And we did want to because we wanted to explain to him what we're explaining to you now: how we started and why, and that it was never meant as a criticism of him.  If, after that, he still wanted us to remove it, we were going to do that.  We just wanted him to know that we truly have respect for him.

However, when we notified the administration that we would indeed like to correspond with Dr. Carson, they took the offer off the table and said he wouldn't speak with us.

They told us that there were "others at the school who do not appreciate what you are doing and take it very seriously."  They told us we should just "trust" them on this and that "some of the things [we had] written had been very offensive even if [we] didn't intend for them to be."  In fact, we were told, "the details might surprise you."

So what does that mean?  Your guess is as good as ours.  Unless the administration really is aligned with the mafia (a post we felt was SO over the top that everyone would clearly see we were kidding), or they think we've hurt Fred Phelps' feelings, or Paige Patterson is going to be the next TEDS president, we don't know what the hubub is over.

In fact, we don't know if Carson really has a problem with the site or not because no one will let us correspond with him OR tell us why people are so "offended."  All they tell us (and they tell us this repeatedly, believe me) is "shut down the blog" and "reveal your identity."

7.  So why not just shut the site down?
Well, that would certainly be the easiest thing to do.  It was a lot of work even before administration was giving us such a hard time.

But there's a little problem.  As it turns out, people actually like us (we're shocked, too).

We started this blog just one month ago.  In that very short time we've gone from 4 unique visitors a day to over 150 unique visitors a day.  And you know what?  Only half of them are from TEDS.

We're getting visitors from every state and a LOT of visitors from Texas, Kentucky, Louisiana, and California.  Are those locations ringing a bell?

They should: they're the states with the biggest seminaries.  That's right, lots of seminary students are tuning in every day to see what the new article is about.

Since our inception, we've received over 60 comments and over 40 emails.  We haven't published every comment and we've published almost no email (just some questions for our Q & A articles), but here's something that may surprise the administration: out of over 100 correspondences from readers, we have had a total of 6 that were critical of the blog as a whole.  Sure, we had some people who didn't agree with our homeschool article or our Emerjerk article, but they all said that they liked the blog even if they didn't agree with every post.

So what does that tell us?  It tells us that a very large group of people understand where we're coming from and enjoy what we do.  A small, but very vocal, minority don't.  

So how is that different from anything else in the world?

8.  So what's next?
Well, we have three options:
1.  Shut down the blog
2.  Keep going as we are
3.  Stop this blog and start doing The Secret Diary of Paige Patterson.  Just kidding.

Okay, so we have two options.  What makes the decision difficult is that many people and even some internet outlets have enjoyed the blog.  

However, if we have hurt or offended you in a way that "might surprise us," we really do want to hear from you.  If you tell us not to, we won't publish your name or comments or let anyone know that you contacted us.  In all seriousness, we want to know why you want us to stop blogging.  You can email us right now by clicking here.

Also, if you've enjoyed the blog and want us to keep it up, we want to hear from you, too.  Some of you have already let your voice be heard, and we appreciate it.

In the end, if Dr. Carson, after reading this, still strongly feels that we should take the blog down, we'll do it.  We just want to hear it from him and not a messenger.

If however, there is just a small group of people in the administration that aren't crazy about it and we get a lot of comments and emails from people telling us to keep going, well...that's going to have an affect on our decision.

To contact us, please feel free to email us: stephtheintern@gmail.com

Or leave a comment on this post.

Thanks again to all our readers.  Your emails, comments, and laughter are the reason we've kept it up.  Regardless of the outcome, it's been a fun ride.  

We'll be taking the rest of the weekend off to sort through the massive amount of email we're expecting and we'll update you next week as to what all takes place.  In the meantime, we have a "Fake Carson Q & A: John Piper Edition" we'll be posting on Monday.

Now put down your caffeinated drink and contact us by email or comment or we'll send Fake Carson to your house to destroy you in badminton.  You don't want a piece of "the Dragon," you frickin' Emerjerk (yes, that includes you, Paige Patterson).

44 comments:

Nick Kennicott said...

Keep it up -- it's very funny and obviously satire not meant to offend. I always enjoy a good laugh and the Don delivers every time!

Stacy said...

Hi, I'm stepping out of the shadows and proudly letting you guys know that I love this blog! It's hilarious and anybody who thinks you guys are serious needs to get a life. Please don't give in to the man and shut down.

David said...

first visit (thanks to Joe) You definately need to keep it up.

Anonymous said...

I think you definitely should create The Secret Diary of Paige Patterson. Stop joking around and get to it. Chop chop!

Anonymous said...

This all sounds great, except why should anyone trust you not to publish names or comments when you published an anonymous comment yesterday that specifically requested not to be posted? (It's kindof hard to miss since it's the first line of the comment.)

Mark said...

If Steve Jobs can appreciate the Secret Diary of Steve Jobs, hopefully Carson can come to appreciate yours as well. Keep it up!

Henry Neufeld said...

I just found out about your today, but I think it's a great idea, and your material is very funny.

Some folks need to get a sense of humor.

D. A. Carson said...

Since that comment was left on a blog article asking whether we should keep posting to this blog, we understood "please do not post" to mean that they were asking us not to post to the blog anymore.

If they had said "please do not post this comment," we would have taken it differently.

If you are the one who wrote that and want it removed, please email us and we'll gladly take it down:

stephtheintern@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Re: the "please do not post"

That was an understandable misunderstanding. My bad for not being clearer about requesting that the comment not be posted. After your post today, I'm not sure there is a point in taking it down, but I was dissapointed that is was posted in spite of my request, and am glad to know that was a misunderstanding.

Anonymous said...

Keep it up. DO IT. D.A. (a.k.a. DC Talks, DAC, etc), if indeed he has ever seen this, might actually have an intelligent sense of humor and see this for what it really is...the highest form of flattery...and a very good use of your free-time.

If, however, Felix Whoever thinks he has the mind of Don, think again. You don't need to protect him. He's a big boy. His kids would LOVE this site!

Finally, we need more of this. Let your hair down and kick back for theological tomfoolery. It's a good thing.

My 2 Cents

Anonymous said...

Also...good going with the extra-long post. That was SO D.A.

My 2 Cents

Ron said...

Unfortunately for the TEDS administration and Dr. Carson for that matter, the way these things usually work in the age of the internet is as follows.

If they successfully get you to stop posting, 10 more sites will pop up doing much the same thing. Some of those will possibly be more vicious since those who are running them are doing it to some degree to prove a point. Most if not all of them will not be as well written or funny.

Repeat ad nauseam. I think they all need to realize that they're better off embracing something like what you're doing rather than fighting it. It's the nature of the new digital world.

Plus, it's funny. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

i am a teds student and I say keep it up! lets be honest... Carson takes himself way too seriously anyways!

Baus said...

I say until you get a personal email from Dr. Carson, stating his personal objection, you have no Christian obligation to take down this blog or reveal your identities just because an administrative board says "many people are offended." So what if thousands of people are offended that TEDS exists? Do they have some kind of obligation to disappear because people are offended? Uhm... no.

I think you ought to post (temporarily, in a "sidebar disclaimer thingy") a bit of D.A. Carson exegesis on the biblical idea of "causing offense" and "Christian liberty" and "love" etc. As Christians you've got to realize that Christ is more honored by this blog than He would be by you taking this blog down. My bets are that Dr. Carson agrees.

Eugene R. Schlesinger said...

I've very much enjoyed the blog. I find it a hoot, and never once thought that it reflected on Dr. Carson, a man whom I hold in the utmost respect.
Unless Dr. Carson himself wants this site down, I'd ask you to keep it going.

D.C. Cramer said...

As a current TEDS student, I can assure you that Dr. Carson has heard about the site (whether or not he is offended is another issue).

I haven't read through all your blogs, but the complaint I heard raised by the faculty (i.e., other profs) is that some of it has at times been mean-spirited.

So, I would suggest that if you continue, you keep your censor out of the closet (no pun intended).

As long as you are not mean-spirited, and you are sensitive to the feelings that even a world-renown scholar like Carson has, then I don't see any prima facie reason for shutting things down.

I would be flattered if a "Secret Diary of D.C. Cramer" ever popped up in the blogo-sphere. Again, as long as it was satire, not mockery. I trust you know the difference.

Best,
Dave

D.C. Cramer said...

One other small point:

I wouldn't insist on Dr. Carson himself contacting you.

Here's why: I could easily envision the following situation: 1) the blog is personally embarrassing, 2) the administration knows of Carson's embarrassment, and 3) it would compound the embarrassment exponentially to personally admit to being embarrassed.

That's not to say that administration does not owe you some explanation before you should seriously consider taking action, but I don't think it would be prudent to require direct acknowledgement by 'the Don' himself.

Best,
Dave

PastorPatrick said...

As a graduate of TEDS and a former student under D A Carson, I would agree that it is worth keeping it up.

But I am also planning next Sunday's sermon - the topic? "Submission" as a spiritual discipline. Jesus knew what it meant to submit to God. We too are called to be submissive to God and the government and ...

I trust that you will be sensitive to what God wants, as much as you are to your readers and to the TEDS administration.

I will keep you in prayer.

Yours because His,

Anonymous said...

KEEP IT UP!

I was found this place a while back when SBC outpost linked to your page patterson post. I do not hate or even dislike page patterson. I am thankful for his leadership in the Southern Baptist Convention. I have defended him to many who seem to take shots at him unsubstantially. HOWEVER, I thought this was absolutely hilarious. I did not take it as "mean-spirited" or anything but pure satire and charichature. I think all of the jabs you have taken have been in good fun and were in no way offensive to me. I am quick to defend my heros in the faith (like the real D.A. Carson) but there is nothing here that needs defending. IT'S "FAKECARSON.COM" FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! I don't understand how this could be misunderstood.

One thing I have found in my adult life, is that in Higher education, many take themselves too seriously. I have also found this to be true in the greater evangelical world. We need to have enough humility to take a joke.

We all know that we all think more highly of ourselves than we ought. And scripture tells us that we should think of others more highly than ourselves. SO...I agree with a previous commentor that said that if the REAL D.A. contacts you, you certainly should remove it. That tribute to him, in honoring his wishesm, is far greater than any tongue-in-cheek fake blog would be. So I would urge you ONLY UNDER THOSE CIRCUMSTANCES TO REMOVE IT.

If others simply demand it, I say stand firm and continue the laughter that is echoing across seminary networks all throughout the country. You know your own hearts and you are accountable for your motives. If you four can honestly post without sin, then do so and don't let any galatians bind you with phony arguements that christian brotherhood means we can't make a joke. SHEESH

KEEP ROCKIN DRAGON,
Tony

jason allen said...

Keep it up. No one should take themselves that seriously.

FakePaigePatterson said...

FakeDon,

Please return my calls. We need to talk. There's a trophy Québécois caribou mount in it for you if you take this blog down.

FakePaige

Danny Slavich said...

I think (from what I've read) that this blog has crossed lines. I don't think the slaps at Paige Patterson are in the spirit of "humor", and, sometimes, are just mean and unbiblical.

I know very little about D.A. Carson. He seems to be a serious person. Maybe he doesn't appreciate the site.
Either the way, I think the issue can be addressed biblically, a la, Ephesians 4:29, and the two issues addressed there:
(1) is it corrupting or unwholesome?
(2) does it give grace to those who "hear"?

On #1, I think that sometimes this blog crosses the line (like in the case of Patterson).

But I also think that, on #2, it DOES give grace to those who hear, especially to arrogant and overly confident seminary students. These students (I'm at SBTS) often also idolize men like D.A. Carson.

Personally, this blog helped me not take myself or great Christian men too seriously.

Hopefully, students like me can make the connection from taking ourselves and great a little less seriously, to taking Jesus more seriously -- i.e., to realize that it's about HIM, and not us (or great men).

Blessings,
Danny Slavich

Anonymous said...

Definitely keep this up! As a current TEDS' student, one of my biggest qualms with the seminary culture is that people lose their sense of humor and ability to laugh at themselves. Why we take ourselves so seriously, and think that that is the "better" way to live, is beyond me. But I say that anything that counteracts that mentality (like this blog) is desperately needed, so keep it going. This is one of the most good-natured and hysterically funny blogs I've read in a long time!!

Anonymous said...

you need to do a Paige Patterson blogg....

The Friend said...

I agree with Stacy and Nick! A coworker told me about the Don's musings and I decided to check you out. As a graduate of one of the venerable seminaries, I find your blog hilarious and also helpful in many ways. Keep it up! God Himself has a great sense of humor: look at the duck-billed platypus - need I say more? We'll pray for anyone that has problems with your blog, that He will give them a sense of humor, too! Rock on!

Joe Martino said...

So, I just found your site tonight. I've not read any of it and I have no idea if you've crossed any lines. But keep the site up. IF D.A. writes and asks you to shut it down that might mean something but to this point is just sounds like some institution is trying to be well an institution.

Anonymous said...

I like your site. Please keep it going.

rcm said...

As a new seminary student in Indiana, I appreciate what you guys are doing here. Keep it up.

Tim said...

To be honest guys, it's hilarious but you should close it down. For three reasons:

1) This point has been made but "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God." (Romans 13:1) Your not really submitting to those above you and ther seems to be a lot of students at the school criticising lecturers and the school itself based on your comments. I find it hard to see that as submissive nor does it do this...

2)"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to hose who hear". (Eph 4:29) How is the blog building up?

3)I assume your training for some sort of full-time ministry. If so "Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speec that cannot be condemned, so that an apponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us." (Titus 2:7-8) You need to be an example so your ministry can't be condemned. Again is this a good example? Because of points 1 and 2 I don't think it is.

Everything should be below giving Christ the glory, even really funny posts! If you can give him the glory in being funny keep it up. If you can't then close the site but first of all post nice and big and bold (in a way that the Don would be proud of) that your closing the site for the glory of Christ.

Sorry to be a spoil sport. But weigh it up eternally.

minternational said...

Re. what Tim said

If you find it hilarious but think for those 3 reasons it ought to be pulled, surely your laughter is wrong?

Actually, I think your 3 points are wrong:

1) If the bloggers aren't students at TEDS, they aren't subject to the authorities at TEDS.

2) If the blog punctures self-importance through satire (and other such things) it is in fact building up. Humility is a great building block; maybe the site encourages that virtue in us all. btw, I'm not suggesting the real DAC is self-important; I take on board what the bloggers have said about the creation of a character.

3) If the bloggers are anonymous, they aren't examples. But even if people know who they are, if points 1 and 2 above are valid then they aren't setting a bad example.

My 2c.

Anonymous said...

Why can't you Christians laugh at yourselves? Is this really so freakin' serious?

Anonymous said...

just wanted to say... don't listen to TIM. He sounds like a pedantic, bible beating fundamentalist. I am a teds student and I think that his use of the scriptures are ridiculous. keep up the blog. the fact we are even having this conversation is completely ridiculous.

friend from a slightly more southern seminary said...

Satire has a legitimate function. The enterprise of theological scholarship indeed risks taking itself too seriously. I laughed a lot at what is posted here, and I was led to repent of my own tendency to idolize my own profs and heroes.

Nonetheless, it appears that you have used photographs from a private event on this blog. I can't imagine the Don would have thought those would be posted. Would that not constitute a breach of privacy? I think you crossed the line there.

friend from a slightly fuller seminary said...

@ friend from a slightly more southern seminary:

Oh my gosh, relax! It's not like they put up a home sex tape of the real Carson. They just posted some pictures of him playing in the yard with some seminary students. That hardly seems like a federal offense or a "breach of privacy." In the age of the internet everyone has photos of themselves online whether they officially authorized them or not. Some of you guys seem to take offense at anything.

MrMathMan said...

I'm laughing out loud. I don't expect admin-types to find the humor. Hopefully either DA does find it funny (and be flattered, which he should be) or if not, contact you directly.

mmm

michael jensen said...

Shut it down. It is disrespectful.

justin said...

See Scot McKnight's comments here: www.jesuscreed.org. Kind of a good point?

bpun said...

I have to agree Scot McKnight. I know you're not trying to be mean-spirited, but it really comes across that way. I also do think you should respect the wishes of TEDS. I do appreciate humor and think critiques are important. But not in the venue.

michael jensen said...

Yeah, I don't think it is so funny that it is worth it, to tell truth. It certainly wasn't obvious to me that you weren't meaning to directly satirise the man himself.
Why should he have to go through all the emotional angst of deciding whether to email you or not?

Mike Clawson said...

For the record, I think what you're doing is just fine. We Christians do need to be able to laugh at ourselves more.

But why not just email Carson yourselves and ask him directly how he feels? Surely you can find his email address and just shoot him a quick explanation.

friend from a slightly more southern seminary said...

Slightly Fuller, which will it be for you? Do you think we should take our cues for what is acceptable from what is common to current technology, or should we frown on the idea of a home sex tape online? You cannot have both.

Jason said...

I have recently discovered this blog and I would hate to see it shut down. I'm not trying to be mean but most of those leaving comments of disapproval don't get it. The biblical passage quoting is sophmoric and people need to get a life. As far as submission to authorities goes, what is the problem. There is no figure of authority to whom you should submit. TEDS has no ecclesiastical authority over the bloggers. God forbid anyone write anything that might cause anyone to check their idolatry of evangelical figures. To the Bloggers: Good form, Keep it up. To the naysayers: Grow up!

Joe said...

Some people leave their mark on the world by serious devotion to helping others understand and live according to God's word. Others seem to offer nothing but exceptionally frivolous commentary, calling it humor. I'm sure you have better things to do with your time and talents, guys.

Tessa said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


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