Wait, a new Quaker blog, what retroness is this?

And just as we’re talk­ing about the con­tin­ued down­ward entropy of blog­ging, here’s a new Quak­er blog. Isaac Smith of Fred­er­ick (Md.) Meet­ing (and Twit­ter) has the first post in a time-limited, “pop-up” blog. He’s call­ing it “The Anar­chy of the Ranters.” I’ll over­look the sim­i­lar­i­ty to this blog’s name in the hope that the peo­ple who have been drop­ping com­ments on mine since 2004 ask­ing about the dif­fer­ence between Quak­ers and Ranters will start both­er­ing him now.

The first post is “Defen­sive­ness as a The­o­log­i­cal Prob­lem for Friends,” a good blog­ging debut.

The ques­tion of who belongs in the church, which has always been of cen­tral impor­tance, is what’s at stake here, and unfor­tu­nate­ly, it is often being answered in ways that are hurt­ful and alien­at­ing — the oppo­site of what the gospel promis­es.

Jason Kottke on blogging, 2018 edition

Two things on the inter­net that I con­sis­tent­ly like are Neiman­Lab and Kot​tke​.org. The for­mer is Harvard’s jour­nal­ism foun­da­tion and its asso­ci­at­ed blog. They con­sis­tent­ly pub­lish thought-provoking lessons from media pio­neers. If there’s an inter­est­ing online pub­lish­ing mod­el being tried, Neiman Labs will pro­file it. Kot­tke is one of the orig­i­nal old school blogs. Jason high­lights things that are inter­est­ing to him and by and large, most of the posts hap­pen to be inter­est­ing to me. He’s also one of the few break­out blog­ging stars who has kept going.

So today Neiman Labs post­ed an inter­view with Jason Kot­tke. Of course I like it.

There are a few things that Jason has done that I find remark­able. One is that he’s thread­ed an almost impos­si­ble path that has held back the cen­trifu­gal forces of the mod­ern inter­net. He nev­er went big and he nev­er went small. By big, I mean he nev­er tried to ramp his site up to become a media empire. No ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist mon­ey, no click­bait head­lines, no piv­ot to video or oth­er trendy media chimera. He also didn’t go small: his blog has nev­er been a con­fes­sion­al. While that traf­fic when to Face­book, his kind of curat­ed links and thoughts is some­thing that still works best as a blog.

Although I don’t blog myself too much any­more, I do think a lot about media mod­els for Friends Jour­nal. Its reliance on non-professional opin­ion writ­ing pre­fig­ured blogs. It’s a ful­ly dig­i­tal mag­a­zine now, even as it con­tin­ues as a print mag­a­zine. The mem­ber­ship mod­el Kot­tke talks about (and Neiman Labs fre­quent­ly pro­files) is a like­ly one for us going into the long term.

Last blog stand­ing, “last guy danc­ing”: How Jason Kot­tke is think­ing about kot​tke​.org at 20

February Flashbacks

I’m ter­ri­ble with blog­ging these days, aren’t I? Actu­al­ly my last few bits of writ­ing have been for Friends Jour­nal. I’m post­ing once a month for the Editor’s Desk series high­light­ing upcom­ing themes and I’m writ­ing every oth­er intro­duc­to­ry col­umn for the print mag­a­zine. For exam­ple, here’s February’s The Roots of Our Lifestyle. I chime in when a vin­tage post of mine hits Red­dit as hap­pens every so often and I often drop “hey, this would make a inter­est­ing arti­cle” com­ments in live­ly Face­book threads, along with a link to the Friends Jour­nal sub­mis­sions page.

Well, one way I’m try­ing to psych myself is to look at my his­to­ry of blog­ging every month.

1 Year Ago: February 2017

A rare juicy post of mine from the last few years and one of the few times any­one has fol­lowed my blog’s Ask Me Any­thing link.

AMA: Con­ser­v­a­tive and Lib­er­al Friends? But even these brief obser­va­tions are impre­cise and can mask sur­pris­ing­ly sim­i­lar tal­ents and stum­bling blocks. We all of us are humans, after all. The Inward Christ is always avail­able to instruct and com­fort, just as we are all bro­ken and prone to act impul­sive­ly against that advice.

5 Years Ago: February 2013

Some fun!

Sec­tar­i­an Symp­toms: Jumpers, Shak­ers, Quak­ers, and… 

10 Years Ago: February 2008

Oh look at that, I was com­ment­ing about a Friends Jour­nal arti­cle!

Look­ing at North Amer­i­can Friends and the­o­log­i­cal hotspots. Over on Friends Jour­nal site, some recent stats on Friends most­ly in the US and Cana­da. Writ­ten by Mar­garet Fras­er, the head of FWCC, a group that tries to unite the dif­fer­ent bod­ies of Friends, it’s a bit of cold water for most of us.

15 Years Ago January 2003

I was writ­ing about U.S. for­eign pol­i­cy seemed to be avoid­ing a grow­ing sit­u­a­tion in North Korea. Oh my, too time­ly still.

Tough Time to Love War(Making). Pres­i­dent Bush and his team of war mon­ger­ers have been so busy look­ing at Iraq that they’ve giv­en North Korea just spo­radic atten­tion. Recently-declassified reports show that the U.S. Cen­tral Intel­li­gence Agency has known much more about North Korea’s nuclear bomb mak­ing over the last dozen years than anyone’s been admit­ting.

20 Years Ago: Early 1998

This is like one of those Face­book memes where you present a preschool­er with a piece of tech­nol­o­gy that dis­ap­peared decades ago and ask them to guess at the use. Hey kids, gath­er round: have you ever heard of the Polaroid 600 and Spec­tra series? I had them both.

Bur­nished Polaroids. This is a style of pho­tog­ra­phy I got into a few years ago. It’s appeal is sim­ple: it takes lit­tle tech­ni­cal exper­tise and the process itself is lim­it­ed in time. Every­thing boils down to basic form: a suc­cess­ful pho­to depends on set­ting up a good shot and then bring­ing it’s poten­tial out in the bur­nish­ing. 

November Flashbacks

Once a month I’m doing flash­backs to past eras in my blog.

One Year Ago: November 2016

A year ago the shock to the sys­tem was Trump’s elec­tion. One reac­tion of mine was a promise to blog more; I set up the sys­tem but I’m still not as fric­tion­less about it as I’d like.

Wak­ing Up to Pres­i­dent Trump: We do not get to choose our era or the chal­lenges it throws at us. Only some­one with his­tor­i­cal amne­sia would say this is unprece­dent­ed in our his­to­ry. The enslave­ment of mil­lions and the geno­cide of mil­lions more are dark stains indeli­bly soaked into the very found­ing of the nation. But much will change, par­tic­u­lar­ly our naiv­i­ty and false opti­mism in an inevitable for­ward progress of our nation­al sto­ry.

Five Years Ago: November 2012

Five years ago I wrote about how I had been blog­ging for fif­teen years. Do the math: it’s now 20 frig­ging years since I start­ed blog­ging.

Fif­teen Years of Blog­ging: I keep double-checking the math but it keeps adding up. In Novem­ber 1997 I added a fea­ture to my two-year-old peace web­site. I called this new enti­ty Non­vi­o­lence Web Upfront and updat­ed it week­ly with orig­i­nal fea­tures and curat­ed links to the best online paci­fist writ­ing. I wrote a ret­ro­spec­tive of the “ear­ly blog­ging days” in 2005 that talks about how it came about and gives some con­text about the proto-blogs hap­pen­ing back in 1997.

Ten Years Ago: November 2007

Free­lanc­ing and work­ing the overnight shift at Shoprite, I won­dered if my Quak­er­ness was hope­less­ly use­less to my new cir­cum­stances.

Who are we part one (just what pam­phlet do I give the tat­tooed ex-con?): I love the fel­low who gave the mes­sage and I appre­ci­at­ed his min­istry. But the whole time I won­dered how this would sound to peo­ple I know now, like the friend­ly but hot-tempered Puer­to Rican ex-con less than a year out of a eight-year stint in fed­er­al prison, now work­ing two eight hour shifts at almost-minimum wage jobs and try­ing to stay out of trou­ble. How does the the­o­ry of our the­ol­o­gy fit into a code of con­duct that doesn’t start off assum­ing mid­dle class norms.

Twenty Years Ago: November 1997

Four years before 9/11, I was ask­ing how we could break the cycle of ter­ror­ism.

How Come the U.S. Trains All the Ter­ror­ists?: It would seem a sim­ple case of U.S. mil­i­tarism com­ing home to roost, but it is not so sim­ple and it is not uncom­mon. Fol­low most trails of ter­ror­ism and you’ll find Unit­ed States gov­ern­ment fund­ing some­where in the recent past.

Expanding the Quaker writing pool

Shhh: there have been a few times late­ly when I wish we had more options when choos­ing arti­cles forFriends Jour­nal issues. Yes yes, we did notice that the fea­ture arti­cle con­trib­u­tors for the Octo­ber issue on “Con­science” were all old­er men and that the top­ics were per­haps a bit too famil­iar for Friends Jour­nal (non­vi­o­lence, civ­il dis­obe­di­ence, con­sci­en­tious objec­tion). They were all great arti­cles. And I think clich­es can be impor­tant (see foot­note below) for a pub­li­ca­tion like ours. But yeah.

I had hoped the idea of con­science would leap up to new writ­ers, espe­cial­ly in our cur­rent polit­i­cal cli­mate, and that the arti­cles might serve as a bridge between 1960s Quak­er activism and today. Some­times our themes inspire writ­ers and some­times they don’t.

I’ve occa­sion­al­ly writ­ten Quak­er­ran­ter blog posts about upcom­ing sub­mis­sion oppor­tu­ni­ties but I’d like to make it more offi­cial and post these every month from the Friends Jour­nal web­site. We’re call­ing the fea­ture “From the Editor’s Desk.”

I’d also like you all to share these with peo­ple you think should be writ­ing for us, espe­cial­ly if they’re new writ­ers com­ing from dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives. Diver­si­ties of all kind are always wel­come.

I was a Quak­er blog­ger (and thus writer) for many years and I worked for Friends Jour­nal for part of that time but I only once sent in a sub­mis­sion before I became senior edi­tor. Why? Was I wait­ing to be asked? Was I unsure what I might write about? What­ev­er the rea­son, we need to always be find­ing and encour­ag­ing new peo­ple. Some of the most inter­est­ing arti­cles we’ve pub­lished start­ed after one of our fans shared an upcom­ing issue top­ic with some­one who was out­side of our net­work. My goal with these posts is real­ly to encour­age you all to share these in emails and on your Face­book walls so we can keep expand­ing the Quak­er writer uni­verse.

Here’s the first one: a call for writ­ers for the March 2018 issue on Quak­ers and the Holy Land.

Foot­note: Every once in a while we’ll get some arti­cle in and I’ll sigh because I can remem­ber a pre­vi­ous arti­cle that cov­ered the same ground. When I go to look it up I real­ize that the ear­li­er arti­cle was pub­lished fif­teen or more years ago. We have new read­ers every year and it’s okay to cir­cle around to core themes every decade or so. We also need to remem­ber the inter­est­ing peo­ple and inci­dents that hap­pened long enough ago because our col­lec­tive mem­o­ry is always in the process of fad­ing. I’m a peacenik long­time Quak­er so I knew Dan Seeger was the named defen­dant in a major land­mark Supreme Court deci­sion in the 1960s, for exam­ple, but I don’t assume most Friends knew this. It’s still a cool sto­ry. It still inspires. It’s impor­tant to keep the sto­ry alive.