There is a Hole in the Web, Imonk, R.I.P.
April 9, 2010, 07:08
Filed under: Uncategorized

Michael Spencer, the Internet Monk, 1956-2010

Earlier this week the web became a dimmer place as the light of Imonk, Michael Spencer was removed from this world.  Imonk’s blog was the first blog I ever read on a regular basis.  I read his essays first, the blog was an afterthought.  I was googleing depression and found an essay on an overturned boat.   It was about Mike’s Dad, who suffered from profound depression, before medication and acceptance for such an illness was acceptable or available.  I was still mourning the passing of my Dad,  and can still recall the imagery of this powerful writing to mind.

I ended up a faithful reader, and sometimes commenter on his blog.  Many of the blogs I read today, and many of the commenters on this site I met there at the Imonk’s busy web-page.  Some of you have become wonderful friends of mine,  and I owe it to Michael, and thank him for it.   I would like to share some other things I owe to this great word smith.

The “Evangelical Circus”  was a term Mike coined to describe the churches of the bible belt that he was so familiar with, and that caused him so much conflict and distress.  He loved Jesus and all who do the same,  but so much had occurred to muddy the spring of Living Water that he needed to express his frustration.  I had a really hard time grasping a lot of this.  Only after months and months of reading the strange, other worldly experiences of so many believers did I come to realize the damage being done to the Word and the Gospel by many who professed to love it.  The comments shared by so many gave testimony to the hurt inflicted on Seeker, Sinner, and Saint alike by a Bride who overshadowed her Husband,  a church of the name of Christ, but not of His personality.  I really needed this understanding in my ministry.  Thanks,  Michael.

Being a northerner, I had assumed that the Fundamentalist churches I had been exposed to were out of the ordinary, freak aberrations,   inevitable but rare,  unfortunate but ignorable.  The thousands of comments I read over the years convinced me that this myopic legalism was almost the norm for Evangelical churches who embraced a form of legalism that fell far short of the Way of Yeshua the Messiah.   Imonk’s blog helped me  to minister to those escapees of such churches and bring healing to wounds that were very slow to heal.  Thanks,  Imonk.

My acceptance for liturgy also is owed to the Imonk.  Our service at Dayspring is still very informal, but I  check the liturgical calander and have even thought of having an earlier more liturgical service in what I would call, “High Baptist”.  More hymns, doxology, corporate prayer, responsive reading.  We will see how God leads.  Not long ago  I would have never entertained such a thought, as I had be influenced by the “as the Spirit leads”  movement to such a degree that I sold short those expressions of worship that were more formal,  even though I found them beautiful and meaningful personally.  I am richer for the understanding.  Thanks Michael.

Once I emailed Michael apologizing for arguing a bit too forcefully on his site after being drawn out by Surfnetter, and Michael was kind enough to email me in return,  starting a correspondence that showed him to be very kind and understanding.  I was wrong to get so wound up in his house,  but he did not condemn,  but rather understood and helped me deal with difficult debaters by giving me a new perspective.  Thanks , Imonk.

Seeing a chubby preacher who was born in 1956, plays guitar, blogs, and who loves Little Debbie, die of cancer really hits home with me.  It is like looking in a mirror.  Why did I survive my cancer and God chose to take Imonk home?  I learned a while back not to hurt my head trying to figure out the ways of the Lord.   I have smoked, drank, drugged, caroused, and generally sinned far more than the humble Monk,  yet here I am writing about him.  As so many things in life, it just does not seem fair.  I told my kids for years, if you want fair, it comes in once a year on the fair grounds on Rt. 118,  other than that you just need to wait for Jesus. As for me,  I remember that I am mortal.Thanks Michael.

Speaking of not fair,  how do you explain that this man worked for peanuts all his life serving the Savior, and had just “made it” with a book, and magazine interviews after 10 years of faithful blogging and 3 decades of teaching the Word.  You don’t.   How do you explain to the world that  passing from this life to the next can be gain?  You don’t.  He worked for the kingdom, not for the world.  Thanks, Michael.

I did not agree with everything this man said.  I still say he was raised in a cult, [ boy, did that get him going!] but I learned to type IMHO near the comment.  [Not that I am humble in all my opinions, especially that one]  One big point of disagreement was the Roman Catholic church.  The evangelical circus has so damaged his wife Denise that she has become a Catholic.  Perhaps because of this Michael though the RC church was growing with discontented Evangelicals.   In my area they are selling and raising Catholic churches by the dozens, and few who call themselves Catholic know much if anything about their faith, the bible or take the whole thing very seriously.   In my neck of the woods there are Uber Catholics in the minority, and the majority of practitioners who in truth are social members.  His comments did make me very aware of a group of people so injured by the Circus, that they sought refuge in another group of believers.  Thanks Michael.

I learned a lot at Internetmonk.com   My kids are buying me Michaels book for father’s day.  The site will stay up, the articles will be re-read, the podcasts will be re-heard, but there will be no fresh Imonk until we meet at the Throne.  If you told me a few  years ago that I would cry for a man I never met, whose work I simply read on a blog,  you would have been met with disbelief, but every day is a learning experience.  Thanks Michael.

6 Comments so far
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He was a nice man.

I’m sure all of his questions are answered now.

I pray that the Lord will comfort his family and use his death to bring others to Himself.

Thanks, Will.

Comment by theoldadam


I don’t quite remember the details, but I’m sure we crossed paths because of iMonk. Moving tribute.

Comment by Steve Scott

Well written my friend. As one of those that has been connected through the iMonk spheres of influence in the land of blogs, I share many of your same sentiments. I have considered writing something as well at my blog, but I simply haven’t had the words to do it yet.

Comment by jeofurry

sad that imonks gone. death really sucks.

Comment by graceshaker

You are right. “Fair” comes once a year. I will miss the Monk, but I’m glad that the site will remain. There is still a lot that I haven’t read there from the early days. I do hope we don’t treat it as a shrine, though, and make it a Michael-shaped kind of place (wreathes, candles, days of remembrance). I can almost hear the sound of him rolling over…

Comment by Kat

I had no idea.
I had made a conscious decision to avoid blogs, even my own, because they kept me agitated all the time.
I am sick about Michaels passing.
I found iMonk while looking for posts and sites about disillusioned Christians or those of us who have come to detest the “church”.
He also responded to me personally many times. sometimes in admonishment.
It has been a taxing year for me and my family with deaths, injuries, cancer, surgeries and on and on.
This is just another blow.
I see you have not posted anything since April around the time of Michael’s death.
I hope all is well with you, my friend.

Comment by Rob

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