Saturday, November 28, 2015

On ten years of blogging

Happy birthday to this blog! Well OK, Reignite's birthday was in August. I did mean to note this at the time but I was on holiday, and then the busyness of September hit etc etc.

The fact that the tenth anniversary of this blog went by quietly is pretty typical of the nature of this blog at the moment. It's true that I don't have the time to blog as much as I used to. And I also have a lot more outlets for my writing in various publications as a part of my ministry, which I didn't have in 2005 when I started. But it's also true that this blog has always remained a bit homespun and low-key, so there didn't seem to be a need to make a big thing about it. I try to keep it simple, and for example have never updated the format of the blog, which probably means it looks a bit old-fashioned now. But I like to let the writing speak for itself.

Although my writing here gets very patchy nowadays I have no plans to stop the blog. I still find it a useful format for bits of writing that don't really fit elsewhere. I don't publish sermons here as, in my view, those are very different forms of writing. And I don't post articles that I think will fit better in Unitarian publications like The Herald, The Inquirer, or Faith and Freedom.

This format is a bit more rough around the edges. It represents thoughts-in-progress that nevertheless I want to share. I'm not entirely sure who I'm sharing my thoughts with. I write mainly about Unitarianism and so I assume a Unitarian audience I suppose. But I write more bluntly and controversially than if I write for a Unitarian audience in The Inquirer. I suppose because here on this blog it is a self-selected audience. If you don't want to read my stuff you don't have to be here, so I feel free to write more boldly.

It was also the "voice" of a lot of blogs that were around that I enjoyed when I started writing in 2005. There weren't many British Unitarian blogs around then (possibly none?) and so my blogging conversation partners were generally Americans - such as Peacebang, Philocrites, Boy in the Bands and Never Say Never to Your Travelling Self. That community felt important to me, and still does in a way. But it was a bit sassy and critical. This blog continues to be in that genre.

Today I'm less certain who is listening to me, and joining in the conversation. There are a lot more British Unitarian blogs around now, but a lot of these have been used for printing sermons, which for me is a different thing. A blog is more about commentary, wonderings, and half-thoughts rather than a pastoral and faithful word to a particular community and context.

And there is an element of course of the web-log, the journal as well. I have occasionally written personally on here, probably too personally at times. There is a way that the evolution of social media now provides a more appropriate format for some of the things that I would have once put here. But I would not want this blog to be impersonal either. I write as a particular human and believe that's an important thing to embrace. Of course my life has changed in the last ten years. I started this blog when I returned to Britain after two years in the States. At the same time I applied, successfully, for ministry training, worked in Tesco before starting, then trained for the ministry in Manchester before being appointed in Bolton, where I am still the minister of Bank Street Unitarian Chapel. This is of course a big part of who I am, but in a way I don't write here as a minister. I write as an engaged Unitarian and human being. It's always been quite separate for me from my traditional ministry. I think that's how it will remain.

What does the future hold? I'm not sure. But I expect I will continue to be opinionated. And so this will still be a useful format for some of those opinions. We shall see. Thanks for being part of the journey.

Stephen