My posts have been a little sparse and fluffy for the past week or two (I feel like I’m describing someone’s hair loss). This is a break in my consistent posting for the past few months, and I feel that I owe you all an explanation. First of all, life is crazy; one of my programmers quit last week (so I have to pick up or redistribute his work until we can find someone to replace him), and we’re in the middle of an office move. The semester is heating up, and I’ve got research papers to write and hundreds of pages to read. Once again, I am grateful for Miko’s presence here! And I still owe you all the art + religion post–I haven’t forgotten, and thanks to the several of you who sent in submissions.
Anyhow, if it was just the increased work and school loads, I think I’d still be on top of my blog posts. During two months of¬ consistent daily blogging, my readership has steadily declined. Because I write for an audience (rather than for my own sake), this is a bit discouraging. Writing these posts eats up a lot of time.
I’ve spent the past couple of weeks thinking about the purpose of Mind on Fire in its current iteration, and this steady drop in hits. First of all, I think that the decline represents the flight of my LDS readers.¬ Mormons have always made up the bulk of my visitors, and I’m no longer invested in Mormonism. I’ve stopped reading and participating in all but a few LDS blogs (the individual and feminist sites listed in my sidebar). I think I’ll stay involved as a feminist critic and as a scholar of Mormonism, but I can no longer relate to the struggles of so many of my LDS friends when I don’t share their fundamental beliefs. I no longer self-identify as a Mormon. I feel saddened as I write this, like I’m saying goodbye to an old friend, or moving from the neighborhood I grew up in.
That said, I write primarily for the community that manifests itself here in the comments, and you all are quite a mix of skeptics, believers and skeptical-believers and believing-skeptics. Some of you are Mormon, but I think you’re still interested in the topics of discussion even if I don’t touch on LDS subject matter.
So what of my involvement in Mind on Fire from here on out? (I’m only blogging about my blogging–Miko is a free agent, and has her own mysterious schemes…)
I still identify as a post-Christian. There’s enough work done by existential and even atheistic Christian theologians to allow me to twist some meaning out of Christian symbolism. I continue to be fascinated by the quest for the historical Jesus, and plan to read and write more about Ehrman (I’ll write up my chapter later this week) and other scholars.
I will continue to provide a forum for dialog between atheists and believers. I want to help both groups to move past shallow stereotypes¬ and to realize that there is value in subjective, spiritual experience and in critical thinking about religion. That said, I’ll still have a lot to say about the negative aspects organized religion. I’ll also try to work in my study of ritual on occasion. I’ll continue to post my Wednesday challenge as a way of helping us all to increase compassion, awareness and a sense of connection, no matter what our individual approaches may be.
I plan to spend this year seriously considering my commitment to Quakerism. I haven’t applied for membership yet, though I’m encouraged as I meet more and more non-theistic Quakers. I would like to explore my Quaker values (simplicity, peace, integrity, compassion, equality) in depth and consider my place as an spiritual atheist in the Society of Friends. I’ll probably continue to write political posts (especially on non-violence and feminism) from a ‘Quakerly’ perspective.
I don’t have the time to devote to my OC pilgrimage. It is now officially on hiatus, though I plan to write about my experiences at various places of worship as they come about. I may experiment a bit with religious journalism. I have some interviews in mind. I also want to review a bunch of SoCal religious bookstores (from Fuller Theological Seminary to The Bodhi Tree on Melrose to Trinity Broadcasting Network’s cheese shop).
Finally, I’m on my way to reading a hundred books this year, and I’d like to write a short review for each title. I’m only a few books behind in reading, but I’m over a dozen behind in reviews. Expect an eclectic mix of fantasy (without elves and hobbits), science fiction, religious studies, and popular religion and science.
Whew! Thanks for bearing with me.¬ Writing this post was cathartic, and helped to give me a better sense of direction and purpose for this site. I’ll spend more time writing and less time worrying about my site stats. Thanks to all of you who continue to read and contribute. I’m committed to providing you all with another year of blogging goodness.