Friday, December 24, 2004

Henry on 95 Posted by Hello

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Coming out for a troubling reason


Monday, August 30, 2004

A New Year's Resolution List


Friday, August 27, 2004

Closet Christians

I circulate in a strictly Blue State circle. I'm culturally pretty Blue State myself, except for the fact that I profess Christianity and attend church regularly. I have a number of progressive (new word for liberal) friends who alienate me with their anti-Christian ideology-- and are part of the reason I feel myself ideologically at sea. Islam, Tibetan Buddhism, and whatever other religion, seem to get a free pass from criticism, but Christians suffer smackdown after smackdown. These are people who pride themselves on sensitivity to cultural difference-- just try to blame Islam for the current terrorism crisis (of course I don't, either).

A priest once asked in a sermon, "If Christianity were a crime, would the government have enough evidence to convict you?" I know that it's my responsibility, but I tend to keep the fact that I am a practicing Christian to myself, while every allusion to my homosexuality wins me progressive props. Even when I mention something Christian-related, I find myself saying, "Don't worry, I'm Episcopalian. We have an openly gay bishop, and the Archbishop of Canterbury likes 'The Simpsons,' and wants to be on the show."

One problem is that many progressives are ignorant of the diversity (a word they like) of both theology and social beliefs among Christians. Even leaders like the Pope, with whom I have major problems regarding sexuality and Church over lay power, share chunks of the leftist agenda, including critique of developed nations' responsibility for developing nations' poverty, war (including Iraq), and the death penalty. In addition, this Pope has named a huge number of developing nation cardinals to jobs in the Vatican, not to mention naming the first indigenous saint in Latin America.

And don't even get me started on the latent class snobbery that makes fundamentalists fair game for mockery. I believe that for the most part, people should treat the beliefs of even fundamentalist and evangelical Christians with respect and as part of the beautiful mosaic that is this country (strike up "This Land Is your Land").

Criticism of Christians, I believe, is appropriate when Christians try to implement their beliefs and values in the public sphere-- the schools, abortion, homosexuality, prayer in publicly funded institutions, those silly granite Ten Commandments in Alabama. I think that Christian political candidates and public officials, however, can speak out about their faith and values, so long as they are careful to sincerely celebrate religious pluralism. Surely progressives would jump up and down with glee at a Christian religious leader who denounced the war, called for social policy to reduce the gap between rich and poor, and advocated gay marriage? What would the intelligensia-- left and right do? And the electorate? Maybe rethink what is a perception bound to make the Democrats the perpetual minority party-- that it is unfriendly to out Christians.

Plenty of us are quite liberal. There is a great amount of theological diversity and debate in the Church-- even at least one bishop who questions the Virgin birth and the Resurrection. Many Episcopalians and other Christian sects are opposed to the Iraq war, pro-government social services spending, pro-gay, pro-choice, etc., etc., although there is debate in almost every denomination. But progressives are supposed to be in favor of vigorous debate of ideas, right?

A great blog that is quite eloquent on this subject is GetReligion, which doesn't seem to come from a particular religious perspective. Read the post that got me fired up here and here.

Visit the Center for Progessive Christianity site for even more enlightenment.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Political debate: lalalalalalalalala!

Wonkette hits the nail on the head with her entry on the "I can't hear you! I can't hear you! Lalalalalalala!" trend in political debate and Al Franken's Great American Shoutout. I thought liberals had contempt for George Bush because he was stupid. So much for brand differentiation.

All I can bear to do with articles about political tactics and polls and forecasts is maybe skim headlines and leads. I follow very few political blogs and no heavily ideological ones. Wonkette's even-handed gossip is an exception. And there aren't too many biographical or issue-oriented stories or blogs out there to keep me entertained.

Let's have the election tomorrow.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Gotta keep moving

Encouragement from blogger Josie Ann (who posted the first comment on This Is Serious) just when I needed it.

More blogs on blogging/the birth of a hot blog idea

This special report on blogging from the Guardian Unlimited may be old news to many, but I wanted to highlight it for myself to study.

Just sent an eager email to to offer to be a contributor to their eclectic and very smart site. I would love an audience and more brain exercise. Our fledling readers' circle on every other Sunday at Last Drop Coffeehouse has stirred my inquiring mind.

I'm inclined to use This Is Serious as my private doodle pad, and if someone finds me (likely through following a link I created from their site), I'd be happy to chat.

I am very excited about a brainstorm I had about doing a blog about educational fund raising called Advancing the Vision (see the prototype). The idea came to me fully formed during one of my frequent and intermitable bouts with insomnia this week. I thought-- This Is Serious is a blog in search of a direction, while Advancing will have a focus and fill a niche-- a good business model for a blog, although no money will exchanges hands. I am now recruiting big names in the field to be editors that will give the blog gravitas, great content, and attract readers. And I would like to get to know and learn from these fundraising superstars for my own purposes. I'll be a real blogger, and only a month after putting my toe in the water for the first time.

Another bonus of creating the Advancing blog: energizing myself and finding purpose.

Please come to our offline salon at Last Drop Coffeehouse (13th and Pine in Philadelphia, every other Sunday, 6:00 p.m., next meeting Sunday, August 21. No required reading.) Email me at harlan11268 at yahoo dot com for info.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Thoughtful reflections on blogging by Keith Robinson

More from Keith on successful blogging:

A Successful Blog Makes…
Friends. I tend to look at my readers as friends and I think many others do as well. I’ve also made quite a few offline pals via my blog. Who doesn’t need more friends?
Industry contacts. Similar to friends, these are people who can help you further your career.
Knowledge. I can’t tell you how much my blog has helped me learn. I can ask questions and discuss things I otherwise wound have never had the opportunity to talk about with people I’d have never been able to talk to.
Money. I don’t personally make much, but there is evidence out there of people making a decent living from their blog. Good content should be worth something.
History. I use my blog to chronicle things I’ve done, lessons learned and experiences shared. It’s a mini-history of a sort.
Opportunity. My blog has put in me in some opportune places I’d have never seen without it. By getting your name and content out there you open yourself to all kinds of opportunity.
Stress. It’s not all good, although I like to begin with the positive. A successful blog can be very stressful and time consuming.
Jobs. Similar to opportunity as successful blog can open the door to work opportunities. It can be a great extension of a resume or online portfolio. A blog can be a great way to land new clients.
Community. One of the reasons why I work so hard at my site is because I have a passion for the Web and I love to talk with others who share that passion. It connects me to a community I care about.
Personal pride. It just feels good to create something lasting and put effort into something you believe in.
Professional development. If you run a professional or industry blog you can’t help but learn things and hone skills that will help you professionally.
Anything you want. A blog can about, and for, anything at all. People try to nail it down at times, but in my mind it can be whatever you wish it to be and therefore you can choose what you get out of it.

I quoted Keith here rather than just linking to his site because I want to read his pointers every time I view my blog. Early in the life of "This Is Really Important" I want to record how I learned to be a good blogger.
He also has a great entry on creating an "about the blogger" page.

Nasty political pundits and the nasty things they say

Jeremy Chrysler of, highlights a National Review article by Victor Hanson that raises a question that I have been concerned about for the last couple of years-- the level of political rhetoric and debate (forget about political discussion--that's long gone)has become so personal and vicious-- it's all "the (liberals/conservatives) are lying stupid liars" and Crossfire thrust and parry. David Brooks has written about this in the New York Times, and there is a hilarious piece by P.J. O’Rourke, a conservative, about conservative talk radio in the July/August issue of the Atlantic. Ironically, Hanson writes for the National Review, a magazine that has mixed smart, high-minded writing with this mean personal stuff for years. Why does the liberal elite (of which I suppose I am one, and certainly I am surrounded by them) express such hate for Bush himself, rather than critique his polical ideology, policies, and record, with the possible exception of the occupation of Iraq, although many attribute that to his stupidity, not a new and risky doctrine of preemptive war.

Victor Hanson has a point (!):

[T]he Left hates George W. Bush for who he is rather than what he does. Southern conservatism, evangelical Christianity, a black-and-white worldview, and a wealthy man's disdain for elite culture — none by itself earns hatred, of course, but each is a force multiplier of the other and so helps explain the evolution of disagreement into pathological venom.

As if to prove Hansen's point, dozens of people posted angry comments in response to Jeremy's essay. But I would add to Hansen's litany enormous anger and bitterness about the Right's peronal attacks on Bill and Hillary Clinton. Indeed, it may be true that "they started it," but we have good tactical reasons, as well as a civic duty, to elevate our discourse, whether on not conservatives continue to act like cruel teenagers.

I am no Bush fan, but besides the fact that some of this is based on anti-Chrisitan antipathy and anti-Blue state sentiment, I believe that the animus is counterproductive. Bush’s record and stands on issues important to many people-- health care, retirement, the economy, the war in Iraq--are out of step with the majority of Americans, especially the small but powerful independent/undecideds. Plus there are plenty or rural, evangelican Christians, Southerners and anti-intellectuals that are potential Kerry people. Why alienate them and push them into the Bush camp? Can Kerry win the election only carrying Red states? And don't forget that there are Blue staters mixed in with the Reds.