Friday, June 28, 2013

The Passing of Vridar

It is with great sadness that I report that the mythicist blog Vridar has been taken down to day.  I consider Neil to be a personal friend.  We were both relegated to the 'conspiracy theorist' category at the Biblioblog Top 50.  Neil of course had a much more popular and widely read blog than mine.  Vridar consistently placed in the top five blogs at the Biblioblog forum while mine languished far below that.  At some point a group of like-minded individuals decided to wage war on 'undesirable' blogs and this site was lumped together with his.  That's how we started communicating.

It's not like we talked everyday.  The truth be told we're friends on Facebook and that's about it.  Nevertheless I always felt some sort of bond with Neil owing to the deliberate attempt to belittle him and his work.  Apparently investigating the traditions which saw Jesus as wholly divine is forbidden in the Biblioblog community or a sign that you are mentally unbalanced.

In the last few days, Jim West had a hand in revamping the Biblioblog Top 50 and added new members to the lowest rung of hell in the Biblioblog universe.  James Tabor, Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where he has taught since 1989 and R. Joseph Hoffmann (M.T.S. and Th.M. from Harvard Divinity School and D.Phil. from the University of Oxford) have been recent additions to the 'cellar.'

I am not going to get into who took down Vridar's blog and the circumstances surrounding those events.  Anyone who wants can go to James McGrath's blog and see for themselves how this has played out.  I will only say that I figured it out yesterday - long before Neil got confirmation from Wordpress.  I knew who the perpetrator was and I called him out on it.

I am not going to invoke freedom of speech questions or academic freedom here.  Instead I am going to note that a sociologist would say that the 'Biblioblog community' has all the hallmarks of a dysfunctional social order.  It's Lord of the Flies revisited through a digital medium.  It starts with a group get together to classify a small group as 'undesirable.'  They are the butt of jokes and ridicule.  The man who brought down Vridar did great personal harm to me, my livelihood and my family.  But that was ignored in the cajoling that went on at the time.

There were posts like 'Stephen Huller is not a Biblioblogger.'  No, maybe.  But that was thanks to an arbitrary decision based on popularity.  Neil wasn't a 'Biblioblogger' either.  Now James Tabor and R. Joseph Hoffmann are excluded too.  How could that possibly have been justified?  I remember complaining about the academic credentials of many of the 'favored.'  I noted that at least I had published an academic paper in a peer reviewed journal.  Now top tier scholars are also made the subject the ridicule.

And the justification for all of this?  Of course, it is 'to protect the academic integrity of the forum.'  Or is it just a grouping reflective of Jim West and the decision-makers at Biblioblog Top 50.  It doesn't matter at this point.  The game of this group 'making sport' of weaker, 'lone wolf' bloggers has led to a situation where my friend Neil Godfrey has lost his life's work.  Do I blame the actual perpetrator of these actions?  To a degree, yes.  But I think greater culpability lies with the Biblioblog community.  Many of these people claim to be Christians.  They are supposed to be living embodiments of Christ person on earth (at least before American's took over the Christian identity).

I think they should stop pretending to be Christians or change their ways.  It isn't people like Neil Godfrey and me who are bringing Christianity into disrepute.  It is the actions of those who claim to be 'of Christ' but show no signs of learning anything from his teachings. 

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