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From: John Berggren <jberg@NAPANET.NET
Date: 05 May 1998 06:37

Date: Mon, 10 Jun 1996 11:42:22 -0500 (CDT)
From: Gregory Singleton <
X-Authentication-Warning: ugsingle set sender to using -f

After over 100 such postings (the various food threads taken together
generated more posts on ecchst-l than any other topic ever) some of the
members became distressed. The following are only two of a dozen such
posts, and the litowner received several dozen more privately, most of
which were not particularly good-tempered:

Date: Wed, 28 Sep 1994 19:26:36 -0700 (PDT)
From: John Conway <
Subject: ECCHST listings

Dear Prof Singleton,
I subscribed to this network in the hopes of receiving scholarly help
with discussions of topics in ecclesiastical history.
Instead the network seems to be clogged with frivolous and unscholarly
opinions about food and/or polgynny!
Is it not time to impose your right as moderator to insist that messages
are related to the List's proper purpose? Individuals who want to sound
off on non-scholarly topics can surely do this directly to each other,
and not interfere with more academic pursuits. It is a waste of my time
to have to delete so many irrelevant interventions. I cannot believe
that these add to the reputation of what should be a valuable scholarly
resource. See what Jim Mott has done for HOLOCAUS-L in keeping the
topics discussed at the right level of academic interchange.
John S.Conway, Dept of History, UBC, VAncouver, B.C. Canada


Date: Thu, 29 Sep 1994 12:50:47 +0100 (BST)
From: Stephen Clark <
Subject: Re: ECCHST listings

I must endorse John COnway's post.
THis list seems to behave more like a usenet group populated entirely
by late night revellers.
If that's what it is, OK, but please describe it differently in your
If it's meant to be about ecclesiastical history, please talk about

Stephen CLark
Liverpool University

The listowner had to agree, and therefore posted:

Date: Thu, 29 Sep 1994 07:39:29 -0500 (CDT)
From: Gregory Singleton <
Subject: The Purpose of This List
Message-ID: <


Yesterday, in a private post, I suggested to one of the list members that
ECCHST-L is more like the conversations in the hallways or at lunch at an
AAR or ASCH meeting than like the formal sessions. Using that image, I
further suggested that humor will creep into the conversation from time
to time. I told the list member that the sillyness had run its course.
When I woke up this morning, I found out I was wrong.

We have had a little fun. Even the stodgy list owner has joined in.
Most of us are on several lists, and the volume can be staggering. Many
of us have teaching, research and writing obligations which make time
precious. I suspect that the majority of us have a sense of passion
about the subject matter of this list that befits a vocation. We even
have something of a Social Contract binding us to that passion. In the
following paragraph, I quote from the initial mission statement
circulated when the list began.
Ecclesiastical History is a discussion list for scholars, students and
others interested in Church History, History of Christianity, and/or
Historical Theology. Discussions of all relevant topics are welcome, and
we especially encourage comparative dialogue across centuries and traditions.
The list owner is not a Puritan (nor a Calvinist of any sort), and would
hate to see humor vanish from this list. I am only reminding us all of
the purpose of our sharing this cyber-space and exhorting us all to share
that space responsibly.

My thanks to those members who took a portion of a humorous thread down a
useful path with the discussion of the relationship between food and
soteriology in the cosmology of the Early Church


Gregory H. Singleton <

And some were contrite:

Date: Thu, 29 Sep 94 08:20:28 EST
From: "Warren Lewis, ERIC/RCS, 812/855-5847" <
Subject: Let us make souffles, rather than hash
Message-ID: <

For my part in our recent romp in the vegetable section, I accept
our SysOps correction.

Wit in the ether is like leaven in the dough, in right proportions.
If we use our propensity for folly as a style of discourse to lighten
and enliven our substantial exchanges, we will at once improve our
rhetoric and prove to all our consummate wits.


And some, thankfully, were not:

Date: Thu, 29 Sep 1994 11:35:45 CST6CDT
From: <
To: "Warren Lewis, ERIC/RCS, 812/855-5847" <,
Subject: Re: Christian Weddings (was Polygyny) (fwd)


Agag served boiled okra and deserved to be hewn to pieces fit
only for gumbo. However, since the boiled okra had been served
before the battle the name of the site had been changed to Gagall.
Incidentally some of my best friends are boiled okra eaters and in
fact I even married one of them.
I should also be noted here that a correct translation of the
Hebrew in the famous case of Elisha v The Children indicates that
they cried after him "Go up thou boiled okra eater, go up thou
boiled okra eater." Sometimes the punishment does fit the crime.

Which led others to respond:

Date: Thu, 29 Sep 1994 15:07:26 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Nature of this list

I do not presume tto criticize those who have recently added their comments
and messages to this list; however, I am beginning to wonder if we share
similar notions as to what ecclesiastical history is and entails. Anyway,
when I logged on this morning and found 114 messages in my mailbox, 99% of
them generated by this list in less than 12 hours, my skepticism was greatly
increased. Not long ago, I commented on another list that the Internet
can be a great waste of a scholar's time. I was roundly criticized and
denounced as a being narrow-minded. Attempting to read 114 messages is
a waste of time and energy by anyone's standards, which is why I deleted
every one of them. I hope we can get back to ecclesiastical history

Neil Anderson
Drew University


Date: Thu, 29 Sep 1994 15:10:08 -0400 (EDT)
From: Marshall Massey - The Environmental Projects Center
Subject: Appropriate posts

I found it disheartening to dial up this morning and see 101 messages
from ECCHST-L in my in-box -- all posted in just 24 hours. I don't
have time to read that kind of volume every day.

I found it *aggravating* when 37 of those postings proved to be
vapid chit-chat on Dr. Seuss and vegetables. Unfortunately, most of
them came labelled as responses to Greg Singleton's tantalizing post
on weddings -- which forced me to peruse each one before deleting it.

I enjoy off-topic posts. They keep a list alive. But if you're
going to share frivolities, please be sure they have merit. And label
them appropriately!

Otherwise -- well, if there are 240 subscribers on the list, and
your post takes 20 seconds to download, read, find worthless, and
delete, you've wasted 80 minutes of people's lives -- the equivalent
of locking a person in a closet for an hour and twenty minutes.

As a great ECClesiastic once put it --

When you go to the house of God ... draw near to hear rather
than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know
that they do evil.
Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart
utter anything hastily before God.
...Therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes
through much activity, and a fool's voice is known by his
many words.
-- Ecclesiastes 5:1-3

With thanks for your forebearance,
Marshall Massey Internet:
The Environmental Projects Center CompuServe: 71223,770

There were some moderate voices:

Date: Thu, 29 Sep 94 15:29:10 EDT
Subject: Veg & the List & Soteriology

Our host on this list, Greg writes:

My thanks to those members who took a portion of a
humorous thread down a useful path with the discussion of
the relationship between food and soteriology in the
cosmology of the Early Church

I have to say that I too was a little overwhelmed by the
quantity of vegetables thrown at our many heads yesterday,
and probably missed some of that discussion of soteriology
as a result (though I did pick up one wonderful late sending
from Bob Kraft re: "non-meat eating in early Christianity in
the Jesus traditions"--in fact, Bob and or Greg, if either of
you has a file of the "useful path" portion that you could
send me, I'd appreciate it; but no hurry, and not to worry if
you don't have the file or the willingness).

But this whole business of humor leading (or being led) into
usefulness tends to corroborate the thesis of "creativity
experts" (see, eg: the Portable Standford, *Creative
Blockbusting*) that the group mind (group of minds) that
doesn't freewheel misses out on some of its most important
thinking. It is often the "inconsequential" that triggers (has
as its consequence!) the "consequential"...

So my thanks go to Greg for moderating this list moderately.

Charles Cameron
Yet others defended the comic spirit:

Date: Thu, 29 Sep 1994 14:34:07 CST6CDT
From: <
Subject: Re: Nature of this list
Message-ID: <

Not long ago, I commented on another list that the Internet
can be a great waste of a scholar's time. I was roundly criticized and
denounced as a being narrow-minded. Attempting to read 114 messages is
a waste of time and energy by anyone's standards, which is why I deleted
every one of them. I hope we can get back to ecclesiastical history

I, on the other hand, who have often noted that anything worth
taking seriously is worth joking about, watched with absolute
fascination as a thread that began as a set of connected one-liners
soon degenerated into a rather learned and worthwhile discussion of
religious dietary laws and NT vegeterianism, a topic I had never
considered before.

To me one of the greatest values of INTERNET is the wonderment
of watching literate people joke and think out loud. But then I have
often been accused of taking the dictum "Don't take life too
seriously, you'll never get out of it alive." seriously.

G. L. Seligmann
Univ. of North Texas
Wnich led to this incipient point in REHU-L

Date: Thu, 29 Sep 1994 18:44:34 -0500 (CDT)
From: Gregory Singleton <
Cc: Multiple recipients of list <
Subject: Re: Could the vegetable conversation be continued off-list?

On Thu, 29 Sep 1994, Cynthia J. Cupples wrote:

It is nice that that ecchst-l has sprouted witty exchanges, but some
curmudgeons among us are lurking here to read about church history.

Cynthia Cupples

Cynthia has a good point. In order to accommodate the need of both
curmudgeons and comedians (I claim membership in both) I am negotiating
with our listerv people to set up a Religious Humor list. In the
meantime, may we all please take Cynthia's post to heart.


At which point a new chapter begins, which will unfold in Part III,

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John Berggren