Special Member’s Report: OL Ver 3.0
Vol: 81 Issue: 23 Monday, June 23, 2008
Well, we went live on Sunday with the redesigned OL — without a lot of fanfare, to give folks a chance to get used to it. A few of you have already visited and expressed your opinion in the poll we put up in order to get your thoughts.
When last I looked, the split was about even between those who liked it and those who either didn’t or hadn’t yet made up their minds.
Now that it is live, let’s talk about it a bit.
First, you’ll notice that what is linked as the Member’s Homepage is really just the old Omega Letter. If you really hate the new page, you can bypass the whole thing and go to our old home. Just click on the link under the Omegaletter tab that says “Members Homepage.”
We’re going to keep the member’s features right where they are. We’ll make a few cosmetic changes to the front page by moving the publicly accessible pages one level up to the new page. (Let’s call all the new stuff ‘public’ and the old stuff ‘members’ for now so I don’t lose my place)
The OL briefings, and private member’s forums and other member’s features will remain basically unchanged. But to the outside world, the member’s section will be a locked door.
There are two ways to approach the reality that, great, swelling words of freedom aside, Christians are no longer free to preach the unvarnished Gospel. The freedom not to be offended trumps freedom of speech in practice, principles notwithstanding.
In Canada, preaching from the Bible is hate speech, subject to criminal prosecution before a legally empowered human rights tribunal. In the US, there are concurrent efforts by the IRS, the People for the American Way, the ACLU and a significant portion of the US judiciary to use the legal system to silence the Church.
Canada uses the Human Rights Courts, whereas the US has found civil rights legislation very useful. In either country, there are things one can no longer say in public without rousing the ire of the Thought Police (at whose ire, even real police tremble in fear).
That is the reality. There are two ways to deal with it. The first is to go ahead and shout the truth from the housetops (or, in this case, upper case letters on a webpage) — and it seems the more admirable choice.
Going down in a blaze of glory kind of appeals to my inner thirty-year old. Maybe it is the extra twenty-five years or so that causes my attention to swing back from ‘blaze of glory’ to ‘going down.’ I think that is why they send young men to fight wars.
Young men seeking glory don’t tend to focus on questions like; “Then what?”
If somebody wanted to bring the full force of the legal system down on the OL, it would crush it like an egg — and then what? (Making bold statements doesn’t have the same impact if nobody hears them. )
The other way to deal with it is the same one that kept the Romans from crushing the Church in the first century. We split between our public and private communications.
Certain ‘privileged groups’ prowl the internet seeking places to be ‘offended’ so they can denounce the offender and/or haul him before some kangaroo court.
Nobody is going to be offended by stumbling over some Bible study on Leviticus if it isn’t publicly accessible.
At the same time, we still want to be able to reach out to the lost with the truth of the Gospel, without running afoul of the Thought Police by digging into the meat of the Scripture, or by freely expressing our opinions on topics like abortion, gay rights, Islamic terrorism, and so forth.
Our solution, therefore, is to do both. We have a public website where we can reach out to the lost, and a private, member’s only site where we can fellowship freely. As I said, there won’t be a lot of changes to the member’s site right now, other than cleaning up the old public front page and moving the public stuff forward.
The Omega Letter will be delivered the same way, and the current issue and the archives will remain unchanged. All of the existing forums will remain the same — whatever changes are made will be in terms of simplifying getting around.
In essence, the old website will continue to have the look and feel you’re used to, plus all the features. Think of the public side of the website as a ‘value-added’ section. There will be commentary features and news stories there that you can comment on, in addition to the blogsite.
I hope you like the additions. If you don’t, I hope you will at least give them a chance. We’ve worked very hard on them, and our only intention was to preserve our fellowship and improve the overall usefulness of your Omega Letter. We want to let you explore the new site, and we really want to hear your comments about it.
The software is new to us, and despite weeks and weeks of testing offline, there are no doubt plenty of bugs we missed. Please let Frank know — you will be doing him a HUGE favor.
There are other new features; including the ability to subscribe via RSS, download to a PDA, post video, an OL ‘Wiki’; a whole bunch of things -all of which will make the site more interactive and give you more input into its content and style.
We’ll be rolling them out one at a time as we develop a ‘feel’ for the new site and we all start to get comfortable with things.
So, take a look around, explore some of the links, kick the tires and slam a few doors. Let us know what you think. Especially Frank. He’s the unsung hero here.
Frank drove all the way here from Chicago to spend the last week working with me to kick things off. He and Connie are, at the moment, making the long drive home.
Please pray with me that the Lord will grant Frank and Connie journey mercies, and put a hedge of protection around them as they make their way home.
And may God bless us all. Every one.