Congratulations to Crystal St. Marie Lewis, who received her Master of Theological Studies from Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, D.C. today. She blogs here (Window on Religion) and tweets here and is well worth reading.

Why I blog

Be sure to see the comments, below.

The group of Unitarian Universalist bloggers on Facebook have been meditating on a common questions, one of which is “why do you blog?”

Some of the reasons I blog are predictable: to muse aloud, to keep notes for later use or to promote something-or-other. It is not a systematic work, and its focus has changed over time.

I started blogging because of an aphorism about Universalist newspapers: one I came across when I was writing my unfinished thesis on antebellum Universalist history in the South. He — John C. Burruss, I think — wrote and edited his newspaper because the printed word would go where “the living evangel” could not go, and it would survive after he was long dead. Both assertions proved true. And it was the bit of folk wisdom I learned from a living minister: that if you wrote and published, anything would be forgiven you. I hope I’ve never done anything in such a need of such overwhelming forgiveness, but it’s clear, in Unitarian Universalist circles, where the power is. Public writing is important.

But more recently I’ve decided on another reason to blog. It’s far more effective to blog your little bit, and hope that it’s effective in some small way, then to be lost in bureaucratic committees. I read the agenda and minutes of the Unitarian Universalist Association Board of Trustees with a mixture of sadness and pity. So much work, so much responsibility, so much process, so little return.

Blogging, and by extension, shared or distributed, self-initiated online work seem to be better use of my little time.

ObscuraCam to help build church web sites

ObscuraCam is a phone app for Android to help citizen-journalists obscure faces in crowd photographs and videos, say, in undemocratic societies.

It might be helpful in building your church’s website. You can use it to hide the faces of minors and other vulnerable persons, should your church’s policies require or recommend it.

Two examples:


Your blogger, anonymized.


Your blogger, who doesn’t want his book choices known. (It isn’t perfect.)

If I was going to liveblog my life…

There have been some very good “follow along with the blogger” blogs out there. Continental road trips by bike. Eating on a foot-stamp budget. Recording very low consumption. Reducing one’s possessions to so many items. Recording every bit of plastic used: a personal favorite.

I thought of such an idea. Not for me, but perhaps for someone who’s finds him- or herself in such a situation as I describe. Consider a blog about shrinking one’s household goods in anticipation of some kind of loss. A loss of family members, or stable income or independence, perhaps. I’m thinking here of people who have to move from a larger house to a smaller one, or into a care facility. Or a chosen loss: a decision to be be more secure and more connected because one’s household goods are more manageable. (Hubby and I are a mild, everyday version of the later: the apartment we bought is smaller than the one we once rented.)

Image you know the downsizing is coming, and you live in a house large enough to carve out an “apartment” the size you will likely have. Or room. Bathroom optional. Kitchen optional. (Many people share these, of course.) Empty it completely. Then treat the rest of the house as a store in which you shop for filling the new, smaller space.

What would you choose? What storage items, forgotten items, “perhaps for later” items would be given up first? What might be given away with an easy heart? What items would be savored and valued above all others?

I’ve just returned from visiting family, and so been thinking about relatives, many now dead. I’m thinking about cleaning up their homes, and knowing that this task will one day will fall on my relatives. I would rather spare them the trouble, and it could be quite comforting to undergo this difficult task in the presence of others. And such a liveblog could be a gift, too: to draw our attention to the relationship we have with our possessions in greener and happier times, so we can act with strength when we have little choice.

Blog: Future Shape of the Church

Working on a blog post that’s taking some fact checking before I release it. But in the meantime, enjoy the writings of Anglican priest and blogger Edward Green at Future Shape of the Church His work on lay ministry and the appropriate role of liturgy in rural parishes — which have some parallels to struggling in-town churches — was what drew me to him.

Today's visit to the Occupy DC encampment

After going to D.C.’s commercial market for discounted produce, I dropped by the Occupy DC (or is it OccupyDC?) to drop off some onions and check out the vibe. It’s much larger and matured than last Saturday, when I tried to attend a march and rally with friend, Unitarian Universalist minister and new blogger Peter Boullata. (I was late.) Today, I ran into friend, Quaker minister and established blogger Micah Bales. (Do you note a theme?)

To mark the day, I filmed a panorama of McPherson Square, the encampment. Nothing award winning, but to give you a sense of size.

In an unrelated note, I later picked up a D.C. Ward Two Shelter and Evacuation Guide, a D.C. Homeland Security publication at the Georgetown library. Good to think ahead, since I live and work in Ward Two. Here’s a PDF of the guide (3.4 Mb). Come to think of it, so is McPherson Square, so perhaps it may be useful to one and all….

Blogs about universal restoration, from "Bible students"

Greetings: I’m looking for blogs written by or for independent theological universalists of the “UR” (universal restoration) or “Bible students” variety. I’ve noticed a strong tendency towards conferences there, and a conspicuous use of the Concordant version.

I’m trying to better understand the fellowship (or fellowships). Links in the comments would be helpful. Forthcoming conferences, too, if you have details, and I’ll also add them if and when I find any. Thanks.

Victoria Weinstein — in England

Dear friend, colleague and Unitarian Universalist minister Victoria Weinstein is on her way to that “sceptred isle” to lead worships, workshops and other meetings. I hope she’s able to work in some milky tea, mash and pie. Most of her time will be in and around London, but there are other events, and if you’re Over There and have meaning to meet her — and catch a glimpse of her alter-ego PeaceBang — please review these details at her blogs.