Plow ahead, wash, rinse, repeat

Philocrites wrote

What if we simply decided to plow ahead and, for once, simply ignored protestations of hurt feelings and creeping credalism? Here we are, attempting to do liberal theology; deal with it.

I’ve been trying to do that for a few years now, and at the worst times have been subjected to trifling “are you really a UU” questions. Fie!

I don’t agree with chutney’s cooperative action and categorization schema, though. Seems too much like committee work and, having been in the position of electronically herding UUs (mailing lists) before, can tell you it is a thankless task, and more time consuming than it ought to be. Group blogs, as we have seen, either don’t work or overwork in an atmosphere of controversy or crisis. Good group blogging (I suspect) needs extraordinary discipline and good boundaries, and a crackerjack editor. Both are hard to acquire, but the later is slightly easier to come by, but takes resources that might be better put in writing. Also, what do I need with a second blog, unrelated to the one I have? The unblogged have access to blogger.com if mere space is all that’s desired.

I think bloggers should continue to blog, encourage one another to step up to more substantive work, allow guest blogging opportunities to those uncommitted to the blogging life, open or fix trackbacks, and find a mutually agreeable tagging scheme for their postings.

Aggregation, more than collaboration, I feel is the key to success.

Author: Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

4 thoughts on “Plow ahead, wash, rinse, repeat”

  1. One advantage of a group blog, though, is that it encourages new bloggers to band together — to join it — which gives them a more powerful tool than Blogger or AOL Journal or other starter programs and corrals them into a shared set of topics and tags that allows readers to find all the related material in one place.

    Long-time bloggers wouldn’t have to give up their sites. They could cross-post, gripe from the sidelines, or post whatever they wanted on their own sites and hope that the other theology-bloggers referred to them — which is certainly what I hope would happen. But I have no idea whether I’ve seen other UU blog posts about our theology conversation. I can’t spend all day tracking them down, and the average reader certainly won’t.

    As it is, aggregation is useful only in the midst of a conversation. Several weeks from now, it will be virtually impossible for a newcomer to this conversation to find all the posts on various blogs on the same theme.

    Which brings me back to a suggestion I made earlier: Those of you who are geekier than the rest of us could decide that your mission in life was to set up a deli.cio.us page (or some even geekier tool) that flags every theology-related UU blog post. Then we could all direct people to it. But I have to say that a tool that appeals to the geekiest isn’t a way to reach religious liberals who just want better theology.

    Of course, I came into this conversation hoping to urge people to see the merits of a better and different kind of magazine. I don’t enjoy committee work — but I do think there’s an audience out there for more good writing from liberal religious (and, candidly) liberal Christian writers. That’s what I’m really interested in. Group blog, magazine, easy-to-use website — I don’t actually care. I care about finding better ways to introduce good ideas and good writing to people hungry to read them.

  2. Scott,

    I loathe committee work and wouldn’t participate in anything like it. I suggested we go with the P&P for exactly that reason—it’s already there, so there is nothing to decide. No herding.

    Frankly, finding a mutually agreeable tagging scheme seems more like committee work than just letting people tick off categories. And I’ll bet less than five of us UU bloggers use tagging as it is now. I don’t want to be the one teaching them to use delicious and/or technorati tagging.

    Without my suggested categorization scheme, how do you suggest people find new, usable online UU theology? Without a group blog, how do you suggest we involve non-bloggers?

  3. If you want a morderated debate between a consistently engaged group of people, then you need something like a forum – much more open and accessible than a mailing list. For an example of a forum that works (and generates a fair bit of serious theological discussion) see http://forum.ship-of-fools.com.

    If you want something that allows the dissemination of more in depth and serious works of theology, then I guess you want an online magazine (with some mechanism for low level feedback attached). But such things are of necessity going to have a limited audience.

    Blogs fall in the middle somewhere – posts are too short for proper articles and too long for forum posts. The big advantage of blogs is that there doesn’t need to be a central ‘place’ that all the bloggers and readers have to come to.

    Combine all three and what do you have?

    Urg. I just realised I’m describing Beliefnet. Oh well.

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