Monday, February 21, 2011

Blog Spotlight Monday - Internet Monk

I am starting off this weekly series with a big name and one of my special and most influential blogs.  The late Michael Spencer's blog, Internet Monk, or iMonk as it's known.  Michael's subtitle captures a dominant flavor of what iMonk is all about: Dispatches from the Post-Evangelical Wilderness.  You see, Michael came to see over time that mainstream American evangelicalism had abandoned its roots, forsaken its essential doctrines and practices, and put anything and everything in its place - from wacky fads to aberrant teachings - to the detriment of its adherents.  More importantly, Michael noticed over time that the crisis within evangelicalism wreaked havoc with the faiths of professing Christians.  Many of these Christians reluctantly lived with their resulting stunted growth, left evangelicalism for other Christian traditions, left the church altogether, or even left the faith entirely.  His experience with teaching and pastoring helped him see these problems in a clear way, and saw himself as a "post-evangelical" who was living in a wilderness.  His was always a call to point out evangelicalism's problems and to give some measure of comfort to those who knew what the problems were but had no way to solve or act against them. 

Michael started his blog in the early days of internet technology which probably helped lead to its success.  His is one of the top Christian blogs on the net.  Michael enjoyed one of the most diverse audiences on the web, and the legions of commenters over the years bear that out.  He constantly looked to those who held other views and traditions to write for him at iMonk.  Many of evangelicalism's problems could be more easily seen from those outside the circles.  A few years ago, Michael announced that he had a book deal going and that he was going to write about his experiences with the church in a book to be titled Mere Churchianity, a takeoff of CS Lewis' book title Mere Christianity.  Late in 2009, he told his readers that something wasn't right with his health and later revealed that he had terminal cancer.  He passed in April of 2010, after completing his book but before its release.  He left the keeping of his website to several trusted friends, who have continued his legacy for almost a year now.  Although now most of the writing is done by Chaplain Mike Mercer, Jeff Dunn and others, plenty of classic Michael Spencer posts are re-posted to keep his spirit present.

I started reading iMonk after noticing many other blogs that referenced that site.  I admit that often I didn't know what the fuss was about.  I had trouble figuring him and his site out.  But over time, I began to see.  I started commenting occasionally, tossing myself into the huge conversations that erupted after each post.  It was frustrating for a long time and it seemed that I had little to contribute, and received few replies, even from Michael.  But I kept commenting.  Then one day in 2009, I received a personal email from some dude named Michael Spencer.  Well, whaddya know?  I know a guy named Michael Spencer, over at the Internet Monk blog!  What a coincidence.  Then I read the email.  It was from him.  True to the way he was, he made me an offer I couldn't refuse.  For the first time, I am posting his short email in its entirety here:


I've been reading your work for a while and I'm a fan. I want you to know that if you ever have anything you'd like to occasionally submit at Internet Monk [dot] com, I'd like to publish it. I'd like to see you have a wider audience. You're a good writer and we're on the same page about a lot of evangelicalism.

If interested, let's talk.


Michael Spencer
It was an opportunity I felt I simply could not pass up.  I managed to get only an introductory guest post to him, which he published in May of 2009, as personal and family problems related to the economy prevented me from putting the time and heart necessary to continue writing occasionally for him before his untimely death.  As I re-read my intro piece, I am struck that my views on certain things have changed or mellowed over even such a short period of time.  All in all, I am greatly thankful for his ministry and wholly endorse Michael Spencer's blog, Internet Monk.

1 comment:

  1. I Wonder if Michael didn't want you to continue the project after his demise?

    Not Prophet Gene.... Just me