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The Quill and Nail–an Exposition

July 3, 2007

So, my brother decided to change the name and set up this site, so I figured I would explain it and give you a promise.

The title emerged from an old Puritan custom in which one usher would rouse any unsuspecting sleeper during a sermon (a necessary task, since sermons could go for many hours!). This usher brandished a pole, often with a feather–or Quill, as they were called–on one end and a nail on the other.

If the hapless sleeper was a woman, the usher would gently nudge her awake with the feather; however, if the sleeper was a man, he got the nail. That’s the story Brando told me today, and the one that I have heard before.

The moral of the story (which is my own contribution) is this: sometimes one who needs to be corrected (corrected is even too strong of a word; encouraged fits better in most cases) needs only the tone of a feather. However, other times one needs the intense prodding of life’s circumstances, or a stern rebuke from a friend.

It is crucial to know which of the two to use, especially on a blog. Far too often, only the nail is brought out, as if no brothers or sisters in Christ need a mere feather. That is one of my chief concerns with Christian blogging–not that it is so negative, though it is, but that not many seek to properly assess whether only a feather is necessary.

There was the explanation, and now for the promise. I (and I’m sure my brother will agree with me on this) will strive to consistently discern when someone needs to be encouraged, admonished, or gently corrected (I don’t believe rebuking has much of a place in blogging, save in extreme conditions), and then I will follow through. I will endeavor not to apply too hastily a judgment onto that person or ideology, but once I have reached a fair assessment, I will endeavor to either endorse, encourage, or warn away from that ideology or person. The second step is just as crucial. Even if the problem is properly judged, but no action is taken, then that judgment was worthless.

Only God’s grace can enable me or my brother to write in such a way, so bear with us. We are sinners desperately in need of God’s grace, both for salvation and for sanctification.  We will fail to discern whether the nail or feather should be brought to bear, as we will in all likelihood fail to execute a proper response after the discernment has been made.  That’s the only guarantee about myself that I can make in this fallen world.

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