NQC 07: bloggers roundtable
Good morning from Louisville. It’s been illuminating waking up to an inbox of comments commending me for my mellower commentary about last night’s music. That was not what I expected. I spent a good hour after I went to bed wondering if I had been unnecessarily harsh. Guess it could be MNP’s absence throwing me off my NQC game, as one commenter suggested (I do miss her). But I also wonder and/or hope if the change isn’t all mine, if maybe there’s a slow but steady shift toward a higher threshold for the kind of ranging critiques I’ve tried to model here.
That’s a nice segue into the bloggers roundtable, because this question of the difference between criticism and attack — and how much this debate is fueled by culture in gospel music that’s unaccustomed to critique in any form — was a central topic of conversation. There’s no point in rehashing everything we said because we didn’t cover a lot of new ground. I was, however, pleasantly surprised to find how quickly the vast majority of the room moved toward the closest thing to consensus that bloggers probably ever get in agreeing that a diversity of perspectives is more important than whether or not we agree with one another. I know this may sound like a well-duh sort of observation, especially given the audience. But a good part of the first half of the conversation was consumed with a vigorous exchange about what is “fair game” – to quote myself – for commentary in a genre so heavily mortgaged to the people’s characters and personalities. We were often miles apart, so to come together more or less around the idea of a plurality of voices was pleasantly surprising, and not a foregone conclusion in the moment. I had expected more pushback from people about my ungodliness, but the dissenting voices were few and fairly unpersuasive, at least to my ear (but that’s probably not any surprise).
In general, I think the real value was not anything we didn’t or didn’t discuss (David Bruce Murray gives his take here) but the act of community building. That sounds awfully naive, I fear, but the sense of a ongoing sustainable conversation among writers interested enough to spend time sharing their thoughts and analysis online is an important part of chinking away at the tyranny of the joyful noise mindset. Blogging isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and that’s undoubtedly a good thing for gospel music in the end. I’m grateful that NQC and Clarke Beasley gave us a place to congregate. I’m not sure he didn’t send Aaron “Paparrazzi” Crisler in the room to blind us all with photo flashes as a way to distract from the absence of any BLTs. Maybe next time, though.
Btw, though it was small and pushed up against a much larger rectangular one, there was indeed a roundtable there.