Category Archives: blogging

Hello, I Must Be Going

Under the close supervision of Mr. Right I’ve just copied all of my posts over to the new site:

strangefigures.wordpress.com

As it turns out, I think I’m happier with the new blog design and the new name, so all’s well that ends well.  I hope that those of you who were subscribed here will go the added mile and subscribe there.  Or add me to your reader, ’cause I’ve got a nifty RSS button now.  In the spirit of the new blog title, and leaving behind, as I am, this barely used site, I bid you adieu with a ditty from our friend Groucho.

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I’ve Finally Found a New Name!

Some of you know that I’ve been trying to find a new name for this blog since discovering that there is another word press blog with a very similar name.  There’s nothing unethical about the similarity, of course, and I have considered just leaving well enough alone, especially after this exchange with my mom:

Mom:  Have you found a new name for your blog yet?

Me:  No, I’ve come up with up with lots of ideas but every idea I’ve had is already taken.  It’s very hard to be original.

Mom:  Really?

Me:  Well, you know, I read that there are over 120 million blogs.

Mom:  Oh.  Then maybe you should stop trying to be original.

It seemed a sort of bluntly insightful comment, really.  In a world of (at least) 126 million blogs, who am I kidding to think I can be original about anything?  Maybe it’s not worth fretting over.

That said, I came up with a title the other day.  And I like it.  And it’s shorter than the current name, which is apparently a good thing in blogdom.  If you know of another blog with a very similar name, just do me a favor and don’t tell me.

So in short order I will be blogging at Strange Figures.  I’ve run the title by my focus group (well, okay, just Baph) and it has been found acceptable.  Why Strange Figures?  Well, it does hint at the same mood as onlyslightlyunhinged, and it also evokes a little Flannery-esque sense of the grotesque.  And you know how I enjoy the grotesque (in the literary sense).  But here’s the real reason:  I love the Marx Brothers, and “Strange Figures” is from a bit in “Animal Crackers”, which I post below.  The exact line is at 4:08.:

That’s it.  No deeper meaning.  I wear myself out sometimes, trying to find deep meaning in everything.  Perhaps it’s okay to name my blog after a movie line that makes me laugh.

I will be switching all of the posts over to the new address/title soon, but I want to do it under the supervision of Mr. Right or Baph, so that I don’t accidentally delete everything I’ve done here.  I’ll keep you updated.

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The End of Civil Religion

That post title sounds a little ominous, doesn’t it?  Let me explain.R.I.P. graffitti image courtesy artworldsalon.com

In the spring of 2009 I saw an announcement in the religion section of St. Louis Post Dispatch.  The paper was seeking to add new writers to its online site, Civil Religion, in an ongoing effort to build a diverse coalition of bloggers.  Blogging sounded like fun to me, and I replied with information about myself and my particular spot on the religious spectrum.  To my surprise I was selected, and entered some very impressive company.  I joined several clergy members, heads of religious organizations, a law professor, an author, people with advanced degrees – and as for me, I brought my own vast store of expertise.  Joking!  When I attended the  training session at the newspaper office I was greeted by one of the veteran bloggers, a no-nonsense conservative Catholic.  She had the information sheets on each of us and after she glanced at mine she said, “It says here that you are a Christian and an anarchist.  I think your have some explaining to do.”

That was the beginning of my blogging adventure at Civil Religion.  It was a bit like learning to swim in the deep end of the pool.  I quickly learned that some of the atheist readers were going to treat me like an idiot for being a Christian.  And some of the conservative Christians were going to accuse me of heresy.  And some of the political conservatives were going to accuse me of being a “loony left-wing liberal” (one of my favorite comments).  But the important lesson in all of that was that I could do very little to change those perceptions.  Certain people cannot be cajoled out of their animosity.  They will hate you on principle.  That was actually a freeing realization, once I got past the “Wah!  There are people who don’t like me!” stage.  Having a voice in the world – through writing or teaching or simply being engaged in relationships – means I will be disagreed with, sometimes strenuously.  I may even be disliked.  It is not, contrary to what I used to think, the end of the world.

Yesterday we Civil Religion writers received notice that the site is being put down like Old Yeller.  I wasn’t surprised, because for whatever reason, readership had dropped sharply in recent months.  On some level, I’m even relieved.  I haven’t been living up to my commitment to Civil Religion in the last couple of months – partly because of my heavier involvement at church, partly because I started this blog for pleasure.  But I’m also feeling a pang of sadness.  On a purely selfish level, Civil Religion gave me a platform that I didn’t have to create.  There I could get hundreds, even thousands of views and dozens of comments on a post.  Here I get excited if I have ONE comment.  There I felt that I was writing for an audience.  Here I am learning to write as a discipline regardless of whether I have an audience or not.

That’s enough pining.  I’m sharing this news with you (my small but precious readership) because the end of Civil Religion is going to make only slightly unhinged get very weird, very quickly.  We’ve been advised to move any posts we want to keep, and I will be relocating many of my old posts here.  Most of them will seem dated (because they are), but they are worth keeping and, I think, worth sharing.  So prepare for a jumble of old and new posts in the days ahead.  I won’t cheat on my postaday2011 commitment, though.  I’ll continue to put up something new every day.

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An Unpleasant New Year’s Surprise

I’m up early enjoying the quiet of the house on this New Year’s Day, but I’ve made a terrible discovery.  There is a blog here at Word Press called Slightly Unhinged.   Boo!  Not only is that blog significantly older and more established than my own, but it sounds as if I’m trying get into a mental health competition with that blogger.  Courtney, if you’re listening, I’m sure I’m not less unhinged than you.  You managed to recommend more than five books on your blog, and you write about fashion, beauty and health; all subjects I wouldn’t dare to touch.  But this appellation is clearly not big enough for the both of us, now that I know you exist.  So I must begin the difficult process of coming up with another name for this blog.  And that stinks.

Readers, I welcome suggestions.

And on another note, Word Press is starting a campaign for 2011, encouraging bloggers to commit to writing either daily or at least weekly.  I was really gung-ho for the daily thing until I sobered up (just kidding, Mom!).  There is a discipline to daily writing that I am trying to develop, but I don’t want to kill myself right out of the gate.  So…I’m joining the postaweek2011 campaign, with the hope that I can write significantly more than that.

Last night Sam threw the last of our no-bake cookies into the back yard.  As I finish this post I’m looking at a very contented squirrel sitting on the deck chowing down on a no-bake cookie.  That makes me happy; almost happy enough to forget about my naming troubles.

Addendum:  I’ve been rethinking this Postaday2011 thing.  Why the caution?  What am I afraid of?  If it’s a busy day can I not at least find the time to post a quote or a video?  I think I can, by cracky.  I’m carpe-ing the dang diem.  So I’m joining Postaday2011, baby.  Watch me.

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