Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to listen to messages from all over the US and the world because of the wonderful invention of the podcast. I am utterly and completely addicted to three things: the Word of God, mp3 sermons and coffee. Without the first two, I could not live my life. Without the third, I get horrible headaches. I should stop #3 but I’ve chosen not to.
But I digress. My addiction to mp3’s leads me to a conversation that I’ve been having with myself about plagiarism. I’m also an avid reader of blogs–of people I know, of people I’ve known, of people I hope to one day meet and with whom I’d like to exchange ideas. I spend a good portion of my day listening to ways to grow myself, the kingdom of God, my current church.
Over the past few days, I’ve been reading some thoughts that people are passing off as their own that I know have been written in books that I’ve read, in sermons/teachings that I’ve heard, on other blogs that I’ve read. This leads to the question that runs through my head. Where is the line between the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and stealing information almost verbatim from other sources? I have the distinct feeling that I’ve heard many things plagiarized in the past, but I didn’t know because I was only receiving my information from one source. I subscribe to a podcast from a group called Creative Synergy. In their first podcast they address this issue as it relates to borrowing material from websites and from other churches’ media. Stealing is stealing whether you take it from a non-believer who will never know the difference or from a church that will never hear your message or read you blog to know. I used to joke that I wish that God would give me some space because I can sense Him even when I am in the shower. Perhaps we should all come to that realization. God sees everything, is omnipresent. I wouldn’t want to have to account for stealing others idea to make myself sound smart. I’d rather be dumb as a rock and quote people, giving them credit, than be dumb as a rock and get caught in the act of stealing. How would that affect my integrity?