Last week some members of the e2religion usergroup began asking about the node Beyond Belief: A Buddhist Critique of Christianity (henceforth referred to as BB). Some felt that as it is a cut and paste job from another Web site, it should be removed. (Even the acknowledgment at the beginning that there is no information on the author or whether the work is in the public domain was copied verbatim.) Others had no problem with it staying, but recalled that all writeups written as a rebuttal to its claims had been removed and wanted to know why.
I sought answers among the gods and was able to reconstruct the node's history -- which I'm making public as it involves an application of policy regarding "imported" works here on E2 that may not be obvious.
- whizkid imported the short book BB into E2, a work that may or may not be in the public domain but which has been reproduced on the Web in several places. Each chapter was given its own node.
- Writeups were posted under some of the individual chapter headings, addressing the critiques contained in those chapters.
- whizkid filed a request for the deletion of those writeups. He contended that by placing the book on E2 he was only making use of the database's archival function. Line by line rebuttals to the piece are as out of place as a line by line challenge to racist elements in Huckleberry Finn would be if that work were ever imported into E2. Furthermore, he said the rebuttal writers were treating him as if he were the author.
- The editor who responded to the request was convinced, and was also mindful of a policy wherein for the sake of organization, commentary on and reviews of imported works should be added under the parent node of the work rather than under its individual chapters. For instance, a writeup about the imported Huckleberry Finn would go under Huckleberry Finn and not Huckleberry Finn: Chapter 11.
I reported to the e2religion group that we had no evidence that BB is not in the public domain, and that a restriction is being enforced that any responses to it must be made in the node Beyond Belief: a Buddhist Critique of Christianity. This generated the percepton that whizkid, whose radical opposition to Christianity isn't exactly a secret here, finessed the editors into allowing him to post a cut-and-paste broadside to which no effective counter-arguments could be made.
I could see both sides of the argument and was unsure how to resolve it, so I turned to dem bones for guidance. In doing so I forgot that bones has a Zen Master-like habit of responding to requests like these with a solution that settles the issue but ADDS to my problems. He offered me a choice: remove the BB node series as befits our treatment of cut-and-paste content, or allow one well-written and non-flaming review/response under the parent node.
In making this decision (which I pondered for several days, obsessive type that I am), I consulted with a Buddhist noder who said that since the disputed piece is not any kind of authoritative Buddhist work, he felt that its removal was not an issue. So here is how it's going to be:
- Beyond Belief: a Buddhist Critique of Christianity stays. If nothing else, it means that a large number of very common objections to Christianity reside in one place rather than in eighty gazillion different nodes with extremely non-helpful titles like Elwood's open letter to god.
- As bones suggested, one book-review type writeup may be posted under the title node.
- That review, if and when it appears, will be written by me. While the fact that I am arrogant and power-crazed obviously has an impact on this decision, it seems to me that I am the only one involved who is interested in countering the node's arguments but is not pissed off by them. Emotions have been stirred to a point where the temptation to flame might be irresistible. And because I love y'all, I wouldn't much enjoy deleting your writeups.
- If you want to counter the arguments made in BB's individual chapters, why not create helpful nodes on those topics? It's been claimed for example that BB misrepresents Christian beliefs about the relationship between Jesus and Jewish Messianic prophecy. Wellll....how about hitting the books, educating yourself about the different schools of thought regarding that relationship, writing a node called Jesus and Jewish Messianic prophecy, and softlinking it to BB Chapter 5? Coming up against objections like these gives you an opportunity to explore these issues more deeply than you might otherwise.
Please note than there may be exceptions to the policy described above, such as Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible.