Category Archives: Blog administration

Want to learn WordPress for church site development?

I’ve recycled my domain to a fresh (hours old!) WordPress install, to serve as a church website for an imaginary church.

I want to invite three or four people, particularly those with church responsibilities and few local resources, to walk through the process of (modestly) customizing and managing such a site.

My added goal is to learn what’s the most needed; I hope to do a training off-schedule in Providence during General Assembly.

If you’re interested, leave me a note in the comments below, with your time zone and any particular goals. Please reply by Tuesday, March 25, 2014.

Taking blogging requests

I’m taking the train to Boston tomorrow in anticipation of the installation of close friend and colleague Victoria Weinstein (whom you may also know from her blog persona) as the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Lynn, Swampscott, Massachusetts.

I like trains because I can rest, read, listen to music and write with less-than-usual distraction. I’ll be planning my blogging, and writing some evergreen posts. I’ll test out my phone, and the limits of mobile devices in anticipation of General Assembly.

And I’ll take requests. Are there subjects you’d like me to explore here? I’m here for you.

My blog workflow

This is blog post #3,500; I’ve been writing over almost eleven years. I thought worthwhile to talk about how I blog now.

  1. I try to keep several blog posts written and scheduled for publication. Right now my goal is six scheduled posts at any given time. Just because I try to publish something every day, it doesn’t mean I write something new every day.
  2. I treat the week as the basic measure of time. I tend to post heavy or controversial works early in the week. I post follow-up or supporting information mid week. And lighter items, including quotations and happy thoughts later in the week.
  3. I publish scheduled items at 7:00 a.m. Eastern time (sometimes later on the weekend) to be fresh for morning and lunch readers.
  4. If I’m included the blog round up (hi Heather Christensen!), I usually get a bump in traffic over the weekend so I’m not prone to start a heavy new subject.
  5. Controversial items do bring traffic, but I won’t bait readers by saying something I can’t defend. (That doesn’t mean I’ll open debates, though. They’re rarely productive.)
  6. Theological topics, I’ve learned, take tons of time to do correctly and get little attention.
  7. If you want me to write on a subject, or focus on a theme, comment. I try to respond to commentators’ requests and interests.
  8. I tend to blog one or two overlapping themes.
  9. I block out text-heavy blog posts, this one included, using my phone to dictate through the WordPress phone app. I copy edit and add links later. Saves the wrists, you know.
  10. I promote the more substantial blog posts and resources on Facebook and Twitter.
  11. I do have an editorial style, though so far unwritten. (No, I won’t refer to you by “the Rev.” but I will refer to you as a minister on first reference if it’s applicable, for instance.)
  12. Growing edge? More images and charts.

Why I blog

Be sure to see the comments, below.

The group of Unitarian Universalist bloggers on Facebook have been meditating on a common questions, one of which is “why do you blog?”

Some of the reasons I blog are predictable: to muse aloud, to keep notes for later use or to promote something-or-other. It is not a systematic work, and its focus has changed over time.

I started blogging because of an aphorism about Universalist newspapers: one I came across when I was writing my unfinished thesis on antebellum Universalist history in the South. He — John C. Burruss, I think — wrote and edited his newspaper because the printed word would go where “the living evangel” could not go, and it would survive after he was long dead. Both assertions proved true. And it was the bit of folk wisdom I learned from a living minister: that if you wrote and published, anything would be forgiven you. I hope I’ve never done anything in such a need of such overwhelming forgiveness, but it’s clear, in Unitarian Universalist circles, where the power is. Public writing is important.

But more recently I’ve decided on another reason to blog. It’s far more effective to blog your little bit, and hope that it’s effective in some small way, then to be lost in bureaucratic committees. I read the agenda and minutes of the Unitarian Universalist Association Board of Trustees with a mixture of sadness and pity. So much work, so much responsibility, so much process, so little return.

Blogging, and by extension, shared or distributed, self-initiated online work seem to be better use of my little time.

Quick lessons for web site builders

Or perhaps I should say, “quickly learn some tools because a part of the church website isn’t doing what it should and I can’t find help” or “I don’t want to sound like an idiot when meeting with the web person we got.” Or, “I want a hobby and jet aircraft are expensive.”

Don’t Fear the Internet is a charming series of seven short videos that outline the basics. It’s clearly a work in progress (or halted in its tracks) so don’t expect to use PHP and you won’t need the FTP program mentioned early on. But it describes some things that took me much more effort to learn the first time, and shows how less can be more.Prepare to use skills between each video before starting the next. But even with a bit of noodling, you can get through much or all of it in two hours. And how many learning experiences can you say that of?


Ten years of Boy in the Bands

Ten years ago, today I made my first blog post: a prayer. In the meantime, I have written more than 3,400 posts, developed some resources and welcomed more than 7,100 comments.

The last 10 years seen a lot of change to my attitude which church theology and the Unitarian Universalist Association. I’ve picked up some skills, and let others go. In the larger world, some old friends have gone and new people have risen up.

Thank to you, dear readers, who have made the experience rewarding and I appreciate the many readers in commenters to this blog. I don’t know what the next ten years will bring, but it will certainly be something new.

Getting my hand on the rudder…

I think I know why I’ve had such a hard time getting back into blogging. I just can’t convince myself there’s much I can add that would help. I classify my various criticisms of Unitarian Universalism, liturgical tidbits and data ponderings in the same way: a foundation on which others can make some good. But I suspect the social forces are too strong for our religious fellowship’s poorly-resourced and gentilly not-hardly-countercultural ways. (And I don’t have much hope for most religious institutions, whatever their basis.)

And reading the UUA Board’s recent meeting agenda hardly filled me with hope. I might comment on that, if I thought it would do any good. When I have something to write, I’ll be back.