January 25, 2005


Hugh Hewitt's 95 Theses (Edward B. Driscoll, Jr, 01/25/2005, Tech Central Station)

While it's not the first book on the subject, Radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt has written perhaps the most easily accessible book on the Blogosphere yet -- what it is, what it's accomplished, and where it's going. It's also unique in its discussion of the business aspects of blogging. [...]

"I'm stepping back and looking at a new communications technology available to anyone with a nickel and a modem, and saying that that's got huge consequences."

How huge? Well, Hewitt compares weblogs to Martin Luther's Protestant Reformation of the 16th century.

Isn't that a bit presumptuous? Is the Blogosphere really comparable to the Reformation?

"Absolutely", Hewitt says (and other bloggers agree). "The Church lost control of the text, and when they did that, especially with its translation into German, individual people began making decisions for themselves. Today, Big Media has lost control of the information flow, and the consequences are immediate and all around us. And business, especially, is figuring this out."

On the one hand, this would be a far better thing than the Reformation, since the Church was an institution worth preserving, while the Press is not. However, we'd do well to recognize that the Reformation wasn't meant to liberate individuals, just shift power to certain individuals.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 25, 2005 6:23 AM


Your statement "However, we'd do well to recognize that the Reformation wasn't meant to liberate individuals, just shift power to certain individuals."

Is largely true for Europe, where the Radical (Anabaptist) Reformation was surpressed, but that aspect of the Reformation was planted here and grew into a major component of our present individualistic civil religion.

Posted by: Dan at January 25, 2005 9:06 AM

Outside of few of the major media outlets that can have people assigned to specific topics or government agencies, reporters generally have to have knowledge that's a mile wide and an inch thick, because they may be covering a story on a new cancer drug today and an arson investigation on a mutiple-fatality fire tomorrow. The advantage of the Internet is there are a lot of people out there who work in those specific fields and know those topics, and therefore can call newspapers, magazines and TV broadcasts for inaccurate reporting (accidental or deliberate) when they see it.

However, for the most part, there's only so much power that can be transferred to the blog world, since most of its members are more in the role of ombudsman than reporters. There are exceptions, such as the web posts from soldiers in Iraq or citizens there, or the new information dun up on the Washington state gubernatorial election fraud that the two Seattle papers were declining to cover for a while (at least now one is). For those stories, there is a loss of power by the big media to determine what does and doesn't get covered -- death by a thousand ombudsman, so to speak. But for the lower-profile stories, the media is going to be around for a long time to come in its current format, because so much of what is covered isn't high-profile enough to warrant major oversight from the bloggers.

Posted by: John at January 25, 2005 9:18 AM

The real reformation has been the use of an army to free nations that were not party to any treaty.

Bloggers, however, have shown us the glut of free time people have on their hands.

Posted by: Randall Voth at January 25, 2005 9:54 AM


So Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell tell me from their multi-million dollar tv studios.

Posted by: oj at January 25, 2005 10:38 AM

The Church did not lose control of the text, as Hewitt says; Guttenberg was a Catholic, his first products were Catholic bibles. The Church's hierarchy simply lost control of themselves. The Reformation merely amplified the corrupt Church's worship of self. This turned out to be excellent for markets and "freedom."

Ayn Rand, icon of unfettered free market philosophy, was all about the truth of greed's pragmatic virtue and the evil of self-sacrifice.
Mz. Rand was also an atheist, the power shift of the Reformation eventually ends in myriad well-reasoned cul-de-sacs like Ayn Rand.

Posted by: Palmcroft at January 25, 2005 11:23 AM

The moment the Bible was translated into German and, through Guttenberg, became widely available, The Church lost control of the text.

As noted in a recent post elsewhere, information is the anti-tyranny.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at January 25, 2005 11:29 AM

How can the church have lost control of the text when the words didn't change?

They lost control of the context, and then the text itself terrified them. Consider the section on the Grand Inquisitor from Brothers Karazamov.

Posted by: jim hamlen at January 25, 2005 11:49 AM


Luther's translation of Rom. 3:28 added the word "alone" to the phrase "man is justified by faith [alone] apart from works of the Law..." This isn't information, it's heresy. For that matter, Gnosticism and Antinomianism were not "information." The Reformation was about making Christianity into whatever suited the individual, be he Luther or John Kerry.

Posted by: Palmcroft at January 25, 2005 11:53 AM

The Church never "lost control of the text," because the text itself is part of the Church. Unlike scriptures handed over or dictated by angels in caves, such as the Book of Mormon and the Koran, Christian Scripture was compiled and authenticated by the institutional Church. The Lutheran Mass book contains the Athansian and Nicene Creeds.

The problem with the so-called "Reformation" was that it surrendered the Church's spiritual power (as well as property) to the state as a bribe for political protection for the "reformers," and compromised the separation of church and state.

Posted by: Lou Gots at January 25, 2005 11:58 AM


That's as may be. But when books became cheaply avaialable, translated into the vernacular, and people learned to read, then people had the ability to assess Scripture for themselves.

The consequence of those causes was the Reformation.

The alternative is about making Christianity into whatever suited The Church.


Christian Scripture was compiled and authenticated by the institutional Church.

A little circular, no?

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at January 26, 2005 7:24 AM

Except that they were illiterate and believed whatever charismatic preachers told them.

Posted by: oj at January 26, 2005 7:34 AM
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