A formal list of Rules that would, in our humble opinion, only dampen spontaneity, cramp the style or blunt the verve of would be contributors. Nobody would want that to happen here.
Obviously, when we talk of Essays and Commentary we are excluding the kind of clever retort and vituperative repartee typical of a Chat Room, or a Bulletin Board; that in time degenerates into personal attacks, abuse, name-calling and broad unwarranted generalizations, unworthy of anyone with some acquaintance of Elementary Rhetoric.
Closely allied to this tendency, is the assumption as 'Fact' of things which clearly aint so or at least in grave dispute. To say, Everyone knows that the Universe was created c. 4004 BC is not acceptable. It is a na´ve assumption that signals trouble ahead for those who place freshman Anthropology above religious chronology. But the modest statement that " many sincerely devout people in the United States and Israel agree with the more traditional Rabbis, and Archbishop Ussher, that the Universe was created about 7000 years ago", is a Fact - indeed, a painful fact that is part of a complex of surviving traditions that provide much of the emotional fuel driving the Mid East conflict today. A more potent fraction of the fuel would be the belief that "Jehovah gave the Land from River to River, to His Chosen People". Notwithstanding the passage of 300 years, such beliefs, imho, are part of the rationale of Zionism over the past century; not the validity but the belief of it, is a fact worthy of discussion should there be writer with something new to contribute.
The word Essay then, would refer to the writers opinion, or the writers development of a certain theme, that may or many not have been suggested by some event in recent memory; but written with an appeal to reason. The word Commentary would restrict the essay to the study of some other Essay or finished work on this Page, or elsewhere. What does matter, very much, is the appeal to Reason not mere Prejudice, or an authoritative, I am telling you, so!
The word Reason is not as restrictive as will be supposed at first thought. A good Christian, Jew or Muslim can make a reasoned argument based on the Holy Book of his Faith an argument such that the equally reasonable Agnostic cannot reject as unreasonable on the ground that the Hexateuch assumes facts not based upon Archeological, astronomical, or geological evidence. That objection, historically valid in the 18th and 19th centuries, will not be urged against a skilful writer, aware of the status of the dispute, today, in the 21st Century. Let us face it: Darwin was a Prophet recognized in his own country, and in his own lifetime! He lies buried in the holiest location in England, unaccompanied by Bishop Wilberforce and his religious critics. This issue, like the status of general historical studies in general, is settled. One may consult the curricula of any good college or university. Todays Christian or Jewish writer, if intelligent, will not repeat the arguments of the nineteenth century. He should try some other tack - which if novel, would be welcome here. The run-of-the-mill Christian, or Orthodox Jewish Fundamentalist, fresh from a Southern Bible College or its equivalent, will not be welcome here.
All the word reason implies here is that writers develop their themes, with a clear understanding and statement of the presuppositions that underlie them. Thus, the Apologia pro Vita Sua of Henry Cardinal Newman will remain a well read classic; as will Thomas a Kempiss The Imitation of Christ even among hard-bitten atheists, of the Lytton Strachey variety. The book to read ( as Jacques Barzun would say), is Ernest Renans Life of Jesus which has been known to bring tears to atheist eyes without shaking them from their denial of Christs existence. The life and works of Dr Albert Schweitzer, are also models of a sincere faith and rational persuasion; vide, his Quest for the Historical Jesus now placed on the Internet.
The above can be generalized into a statement that the Common Fallacies (known since the time of Aristotle) should be excluded from ones writing. There are hosts of them; which may be called up by typing the words logical fallacies in a good search engine. They will prove amusing reading.
The intention of the founders of this Site is to avoid opinion derived from religious considerations. There are plenty of places where such ariticles would be warmly appreciated. Here, we seek to provide a venue for developing the subject without recourse to the emotional underpinnings of revealed truth.
While the above provides the general guidelines of the ECCMEI project and alludes to the sort and quality of material this site is designed for, a few specific submission guidelines should also be presented.
I All submissions over three thousand words should be subdivided into parts or chapters
for presentation. Articles of such size may be placed on the site in increments.
II All submissions must include a valid e-mail address. This address will not be included on the public site unless specifically requested, but the administrators must have the means to contact all contributors.
III All submissions will be considered final and the administration will not deal with constant updates and revisions. The contributor, however, is always more than welcome to submit supplementary addenda to their work as well as respond to criticism.
IV Please allow up to a week or more for submissions to appear on the site.