Moving the ministry to

From here on, the focus of my writing ministry will be at, and that is

  1. interpreting Universalist Christianity for today, particularly in practical and popular ways, and
  2. identifying and developing methods to operate churches and other ministries more efficiently and economically, including worship and leadership development,

plus short notices and news as appropriate.

An archive of my writing, to date, will be mirrored at, which will continue with miscellaneous religion news, pop culture and opinion. will continue as a documents archive, and will grow slowly to support my work at

The name “Boy in the bands” started as wordplay on the stage play and film The Boys in the Band, and the Geneva bands I wear when preaching. The play doesn’t match my experience as a gay man (and never has), I’m hardly a boy, and I only preach occasionally (though I do still wear bands) so even if the name ever made sence as a public persona, it doesn’t now.

Changing domains means a hit to readership, but in time that heals. That said, I’d appreciate you reading my blog here, and sharing the word.


Crossposted at

Transcription workflow notes

So, it’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post, but I’ve not been inactive. And since I have the day off today, I thought I’d catch you up. Over the next couple of days, I’ll be putting up two chapters from the 1946 Parish Practice in Universalist Churches as text; I’ve previously posted it as a scanned PDF.

I want to discuss my workflow. I can do the odd report, but I’d like to see more Universalist and other documents transcribed, and to have typographic errors discovered and corrected. I shouldn’t be the bottleneck.

In the past — going back twenty years or so — I would photocopy a book, carefully crop it into a single column, rephotocopy these onto letter size and take them to a central computer center where they would be processed by Optical Character Recognition (OCR). I’d get a file back, and then edit it.  Later, I would use a flatbed scanner at home and OCR software at home, but some documents required the images being edited to one column. These processes were very time consuming. Sometimes, transcribing by keyboard was more efficient!

Image capture and OCR software have improved markedly. Today, instead of scanning, I take a picture with my phone, and use a graphical front-end to powerful OCR software to process the text. It’s not always clean — a second snap and process is sometimes necessary — but the improvement over twenty years ago is striking.

In particular, on my Ubuntu Linux (14.04 LTR) machine, I use YAGF — “Yet Another Graphical Front-end for cuneiform and tesseract OCR engines” with the tesseract engine.

Changing the character set, or trying to

So, my blog is old enough that the character set is all goofy. Translation, when I try to write something in Esperanto with circumflexes, I get question marks or oddments in their place.

Example: ĉiutaga preĝejo. This will not do. This blog needs to display in UTF-8, but doesn’t. And converting the database is not risk free.

This notice is in case I ruin my blog for a few hours or a few days. reclaimed

Short update: I lost my oldest domain — — because I don’t have the email addresses I used to register it years ago. I feared I might have to transition to, but lo! I got the original domain this week. Whew! (I transferred it to a new owner: me.) reads as now — both addresses work — and in time I hope to move the content to a simpler, faster platform. And maybe add more documents!

Long live

Well, I can’t seem to reclaim the domain, despite my repeated appeals to the registrar. (I don’t have access to either email address with which I registered it aeons ago.)

But I own, so after some tinkering I’ve moved the site dedicated to the “Christian hope in the final restoration of all souls, and those who believe it” there. It’s largely historical and liturgical material.

But this episode has shown me the limits of WordPress for what should be a simple site, so I plan on converting it (with all the text) to a simpler, easier-to-maintain and (I hope) faster loading platform like Pelican. And now that I have a functioning site, I can try.


Interested in Universalist scholarship?

So, I may pivot towards longer form, evergreen writing; at this phase, everyday short blogging is too much work and not terribly rewarding. I particular, I want to write Universalist theology and other works demonstrating scholarship.

So, a request. Who out there would be willing to review ideas? And what would you like to see addressed? I’m still working through this.


Plans for 2015

I’m not much for resolutions: I rarely start well, forget them quickly and then late in the year reproach myself for failure. Why bother?

But I will make plans for the blog. I mean it both as a notebook for me and (more importantly) a resource and commentary for you, the readers. A review of blog traffic, feedback and my own thoughts lead me to focus on:

  • practical, ready-to-use resources for churches and individual believers
  • fresh interpretations of Universalist Christianity
  • skills to cope, survive and thrive in a changing world without snark or finger-wagging

I’ll also work on building readership, and would appreciate you help though referrals, plus links on blogs and in social networks.

Ah: I could write on boy bands, as so many seek them here, but I won’t consider that right now.

2014 blog metrics in review

Happy New Year! My (minimal) celebration plans are done, the last of my year-end charitable giving is out and I’m musing on resolutions (to not have any).

Back in April, I established some goals for the blog and now that the year’s ended, I thought I’d report back.

  • So before the end 2015, I want to have written 4,000 blog posts. On track, this is post 3,778.
  • And I want to have reached 3,600 blog posts by the end of 2014 General Assembly. Accomplished May 23, 2014.
  • From the beginning of 2014 to the end 2015, I want to be cited at least 25 times by blogs which linked back to my blog. Twenty-eight already, the UUA Interdependent Web roundup being the most frequent source.
  • Because the writing is complementary, I want 750 followers on Twitter by the end of 2014. (I’m @bitb.) Accomplished July 15, 2014. Reached 800 on March 24, 2015.
  • I’d like my average readership to be 60 per day by the end of 2014. Maybe, but if so, just barely. Probably the wrong way to measure. This blog has had 23,430 sessions.. That’s an average of 64 a day. 84% of visits were from the United States.
  • As a product of my blog work, I want to be invited, by the end of 2015, to participate in one non-blogging event, though it can be online, and I’m disallowing invitations by close friends. Not yet, but I was invited on friend, minister and blogger Victoria Weinstein’s Peacebang tenth anniversary spectacular yesterday.

Happy New Year!

Speaking anonymously for public engagement

Unitarian Universalist minister and blogger Ken Collier blogs about civil disobedience and anonymity. A recent two-part series (first, second) by an anonymous seminarian, posted by Unitarian Universalist minister and blogger Tom Schade, overlaps this and he’s just posted a defence of his publishing anonymous posts as I’m putting this post together (Sunday night). I’ll respond to these because those blog posts and comments are public, but I’m also responding to comments on Facebook and elsewhere, and these are almost impossible to reply-to here.

There’s a lot of interest — again Facebook hides much — and some denunciation, both on the content of what has been written, and by the fact that some has been published anonymously or pseudonymously. I care about the second issue, and in particular whether it’s improper to be anonymous. The logic goes thus: if you have a complaint, be bold and up front with it; this is the path of those who use in as civil disobedience. And without knowing who you are, how can we reach the goal: a discussion.

As if there was an etiquette for this sort of thing. I’ve found an article I read before called “Is Snowden Obliged to Accept Punishment?“, by Michael J. Glennon, persuasive. In particular, accepting punishment has been, for most of the people who conducted it, non-optional. To be present to resist is to be present to be prosecuted, or at least known. Given the sacramental esteem a protest arrest has among some Unitarian Universalists — one that never gets the white privilege treatment, by the way — little wonder that rules might be assumed.

And we are talking about more than integrity, but about punishment, real or suspected. The kind of thing you can’t get bailed out for and be praised as a hero. Standing up by name sounds noble, but only if you think a world without whistleblowers is worth having.

Part of the problem comes from our own self-conception: as family of faith with close bonds, rather than a network of persons and institutions that have competing priorities and values. Like all people, those with authority (including well-established ministers who may not think of themselves so) think their actions are fair, and don’t appreciate being challenged, or sometimes even having their authority pointed out. Money and settlements are insufficient, so it pays to not be identified as a problem in a structure built on relationships and policed by covenant, a concept that gets expanded and abused as convenient. (I’ll be coming back to this some other time.)

I mentioned whistle-blowing before, and inasmuch as the testimony of an anonymous complainant is a disclosure, this is also a kind of whistle-blowing. It’s certainly a call of alarm. The value of an anonymous disclosure and complaint is to get the item in public discourse, something that’s easier in the Internet era than ever before. It tests the general merit of the complain, pulls out disputants who don’t wish to be anonymous and flushes out devil’s advocates. And this testing and discourse shows if it’s safe to be more public and candid. People who have less to lose go on the record about something they would have never otherwise chosen. (And accordingly my opinions of some people are much lower now; others, much higher.)

For the record, I require signed comments unless there’s a good reason to keep an identity hid from others. But I demand a working email address and some evidence that the person is who she or he claims to be, and I did (and) allow anonymous commentary about Starr King School for the Ministry and the credentialing process.