catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 3, Num 2 :: 2004.01.16 — 2004.01.29


We need to talk

Why does catapult have a discussion board?

The idea for *culture is not optional was actually incubated in an online discussion board. Several individuals had graduated college and were longing for the community they experienced on campus, so they began communicating online as a way to maintain relationships and keep growing in knowledge and maturity together.

Since that initial board, *cino has grown to include Christians from various places and backgrounds who share a common commitment to the practical working out of faith in culture. The sense of community afforded by being able to interact online is one of the advantages to publishing catapult online instead of in print; the work we are doing with *culture is not optional would not be as effective if individuals were reading and learning in isolation instead of sharing and struggling with others. We believe that using the Internet as a tool for strengthening community exemplifies stewardly use of the Internet and puts *cino at the forefront of using technology to advance the Kingdom.

Are all of the discussion board members Dutch or connected to Dordt College?

While several of our members are Dutch and/or connected to Dordt College, this is a result of the idea for *cino having originated with a few Dordt grads (see the discussion topic, “”" target="_blank">Is *cino Dutch?"). We can attribute this connection to the fact that Dordt graduates students with a solid vision for redeeming all of culture and taking practical steps to change the world.

Increasingly, the discussion board is drawing individuals from other denominational backgrounds, including those who are struggling with the foundations of Christianity altogether. We believe that this combination leads to thoughtful and challenging discussion, rather than a closed clique of neo-Calvinists all virtually nodding in agreement.

If I sign up on the discussion board, will *cino ever sell my information for marketing purposes?

Nope. Never. We understand that people (including ourselves) feel incredibly vulnerable to junk e-mail when they sign up for anything on the Internet and we don’t believe that sending unwanted advertisements is a stewardly use of time or money. The only mail you?ll ever receive will be sent by *cino staff and if you would prefer not to receive *cino e-mails at all, just e-mail and request to be taken off the e-mail list. You will still be able to post on the site even if you?re not on the e-mail list.

Does the discussion board have a moderator who can censor posts?

Our site administrator has, on only two occasions, deleted posts, once at the request of the poster due to sensitive issues and once due to an off-handed comment that could have been interpreted in a destructive way. We don’t like editing posts and will only do so in extreme circumstances. Our discussion is generally respectful and we don’t feel the need to “police” the interactions so they appear a certain way. We prefer the online discussion to resemble spontaneous interpersonal communication as much as possible, with all of its mistakes and, occasionally, tension.

What are some noteworthy discussion topics from 2002-2003?

Top votes for generally interesting discussions went to:

Site members generally found political discussions on various topics to be very challenging to assumptions about faith and politics. Other helpful and informative topics include “Offensive books”, “The Music Industry” and “Transcendentalism”.

Selections for most amusing threads/moments on the board in 2002-2003 include:

  • Beer
  • Masturbation Kills Kittens (a topic that graced our homepage top 5 during one of our first conference displays. Unfortunately, due to some really strange database error, it can no longer be accessed—yes, we’re serious and no, we didn’t do that on purpose.)
  • Favorite Commercials
  • Calvin Festival of Faith and Writing (when James Schaap unexpectedly responded to a post about him)

Other nominees included the sporadic “”" target="_blank">Hope for Hip-Hop" and “”" target="_blank">Is punk music valid?" thanks to discussion board member Lopez, who sources say should post more often.

Occasionally, due to the intensity of some of the topics discussed, discussions get heated—were we all actually in the same room, some of us would no doubt walk out. Threads that are particularly memorable for their tension include “”" target="_blank">uck", “”" target="_blank">Kill Bill", and discussions about the war in Iraq that reportedly had one member wanting to challenge an ideological opposite to a cage match.

What’s the deal with the long posts?

Some of our members take posting very seriously and think about their posts so much that by the time they sit down in front of the computer, they have a lot to say. Our very own Grant is a nominee in this category for his general verbosity, though the award for the actual longest post goes to either dddroog for his environmental diatribe on the “”" target="_blank">Water Crisis in New Mexico" thread or to Sandy Wilbur for his lengthy post on the “”" target="_blank">Spiritual Gifts" thread. Our members say that Sandy, like Lopez, is another sorely missed favorite. Generally, those with long posts also have a lot of wisdom to share, so we appreciate their contributions in spite of the migraine headaches.

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