A New Season

It’s been half a year since I’ve posted anything here. With the rise of Facebook and Twitter, I found that most of what I wanted to say was easier to say on those platforms, and because of that I spent most of time there. But after a few weeks of vacation this summer and a chance to think about what was next for this blog, I’m planning on returning to it.

I’ve been reading with increasing alarm about the way that Facebook’s newsfeed was able to be manipulated by advertisers – both the sort you’d typically imagine and now various nation states using the feed to spread false news stories and to inflame already difficult situations. Given my desire to find a way to demonstrate that, if we are serious about the Gospel and about our relationship to God, we must be in the strongest relationship possible with our neighbor, it’s hard to see how the way social media and micro-blogging services work today are helping.

Actually – it’s worse. There are multiple studies that are showing that people who are over-consuming social media tend to struggle with a sense of alienation and their own self-worth more than people who try to stay away.

So, it’s back to the past for me. Back to using my own blog. It will still post automatically to Twitter and Facebook, it will still be automatically linked to our diocesan website, but the content will be here… in all its wonderful glory. Heh.

I’m heading out mid-week to the 2017 Fall House of Bishop’s meeting in Fairbanks Alaska. I’m planning on posting reflections, pictures, etc. here. Hopefully that will be enough to invite me back into a regular discipline of posting again.

On the right use of tech in ministry

Saw this over on Pastor Adam Copeland’s blog:

Luther, centuries before, wrote about the tools of the day as articles through which we should show love to our neighbors.

In this light, my iPhone becomes a tool for faithful living. It’s unusual for me to go more than a few hours without using my phone. I use it for directions, and daily to search for information about our world. I my phone to text message friends. I use it to tweet and check-in with my network on Facebook. I use it to LOL and type condolences.

Together with my MacBook, my iPhone is the main tool with which I live, work, and serve God. 95% of my written communication happens with the help of my iPhone and MacBook, and I communicate for a living. It’s my vocation.

In so many ways, we can use smartphones to serve God and neighbor. To text love. To advocate with hashtags. To tweet the gospel. To chronicle justice. To snap joy. To spread good news.

via Pastor, Bless My iPhone | A Wee Blether.

There’s more on his blog site and you should read it all. But the key point he’s making is one that I haven’t seen many others making; personal technology is revolutionizing the way clergy do ministry. That’s something likely both good and bad, but to this date it seems like it’s also an unexamined truth.

I’m glad some folks are thinking about it. We probably all need to be more intentional about working through the implications for the way we share the Gospel today.

A word about readership

So with the news of my move to Rhode Island now public, and people in Rhode Island understandably curious about who I am, I’m seeing a lot of new readers here on the blog. Welcome, I’m glad you’re poking around. I’ve been blogging for just about ten years now and there’s a lot to read. Some of it is even worthwhile.

But I probably should warn new readers that a few years ago, after General Convention in 2009, I decided to change the focus of my blogging. Up until that point I was writing occasional pieces about issues confronting the Episcopal Church at the broadest level. But in 2009 I decided that if I was going to write something in that area, I would do better to post it over on the Episcopal Café where it would get a much broader readership. (The Café sees about 50 to 100x more readers on a given day that I have here.)

This blog was originally started so that I could have a way to share my own thoughts about how I lived out my faith and my understandings of science. It was a common question my students asked when I was teaching at Lehigh and I just didn’t feel comfortable talking about my faith and my theology in a class where I was paid to teach physics or astronomy. I’m happy to talk about my faith, but it didn’t seem appropriate in that setting. So I created this online outlet. Most of the posts that deal with that area were labeled with both the science AND religion tag. At least until recently. Of late, having taken my initial vows as a member of the Society of Ordained Scientists, I’ve started tagging such posts with the “SOSc” tag.

The science posts are mostly things that I thought my students would find interesting. When I posted them I used the same “voice” as I did in the classroom, and I assumed a working knowledge of the basics of physics and/or astronomy. If you’re new here and reading those posts, they will probably seem a little wonky. But if you keep in mind who I was writing for, perhaps they won’t make me seem too obscurantist.

I’m planning on keeping the blog going even as I’m moving into a new phase ministry (assuming General Convention concurs next month with the decision of the electing convention in Rhode Island). I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to write about though. I’m probably going to be a little less “wonky” – I’m getting a different group of people reading my posts and writing in that more technical style wouldn’t be very helpful for most of them. I’ll probably still want to do some writing and “question asking” about how technology and scientific thought will be influencing the practice of Christianity in the 21st century, and in particular how they will influence the common life of the Episcopal Church.

And I might have a few other things to say about this and that… So stay tuned.

You might, by the way, be interested in following me on twitter (@wnknisely – see the button on the upper right). I’ve been posting a number of interesting items (to me at least) on Twitter that in the past might have been a blog post. Twitter seems an easier and faster way to share the ideas.

So, thanks for reading all this. Thanks for checking out this blog. And if you decide to keep on reading, don’t be shy about leaving a note in the comments if I say something you want to ask for clarification about, or just want to tell me you disagree. Over the years it’s been the comments here that have taught me a great deal about science, and about new ways to think theologically. And for all of you who’ve shared in that, I’m grateful.

Wait! There’s more!

Yesterday, while I was diddling about with the banner on the top of the blog, I happened to notice that the email widget which subscribes people to my posts by email is reporting that there are something like 675 people doing that. That’s stunning to me.

Between email subscribers and the 200 or so of you who read my posts by RSS subscription, and the 200+ people who just load this page the old fashioned (in their web browsers) there’s quite a little community going. Thank you for that. I learn more from your comments than I imagine you do from my posts. Some of you have been instrumental in helping me think through theological issues, or have pointed out something to me about the implications of an experiment that I totally missed.

And that fact that so many people are willing to have my natterings clog up their email regularly is quite humbling.

But in case you don’t visit the web page very often, I should probably tell you that I share much more than appears here on the blog. I link to lots of articles, that are interesting, but, for whatever reason, not “bloggable” via my twitter account. (http://twitter.com/wnknisely)

There’s a similar number who follow my twitter account as who subscribe to the blog via email, but I’m thinking those are two roughly non-congruent sets of folks. So, if you want more, now you know where to find it.

And thanks for reading. Seriously. I’ve been quiet here for a while mostly because of a bad case of writer’s block. But that seems to be clearing for a whole bunch of reasons. Knowing you’re here helps.

Update on migration

Okay – looks like I’ve been able to migrate all the blog posts and all the comments over to the new site. There are a couple of gotcha’s…

  1. I’ve lost a couple of the sidebar widgets; but most of the functionality is still there.
  2. Looks like the photo albums are going to be lost; but again, I haven’t used them in a while. Been using MobileMe galleries for that. They’re going away in a year too, but at least I’ll have some time to figure that one out.
  3. I’ve lost most of the photos that I’ve posted over the years. Can’t see a simple way to fix that.
  4. Some of the very earliest posts have broken links. But that might be because my very first blogs were done on Blogger. I’ve tried to make sure everything was imported because the essays I wrote from the 2003 General Convention still get read reasonably frequently.
  5. I’ve lost the list of posts that I was featuring. Which again is okay. I may see what I can do to replicate that functionality here on the new site. Is that something any of you were using?
  6. At various occasions some friends have posted here as authors. Laura and Jennifer were colleagues of mine in Bethlehem. While we’re still friends, they’re not likely to post here again, and I didn’t see the point in creating author accounts for them. So some of what they posted for me will be now under my name. Most of that posting took place during the 2006 General Convention, so if it’s not an essay from that time, but rather a post of a news story, that’s probably one of them and not me. Bill Martin’s posts were tagged differently from the beginning, and you can tell which ones where his pretty easily.

I think that’s the whole list.

I still need to update the RSS feed to the new site. (I’m not sure if moving the DNS nameservers will do that automatically or not. If not, I’ll have to encourage people to update to the new feed.)
Once I’m sure I’ve got things working properly, I’ll move the domain “entangledstates.org” to this new site. I’m thinking that will happen early next week.

Here’s a question for you. Are you seeing adverts on this site? My intention is that you won’t. I’m not seeing any at the moment, but if they appear, I’ll pay to have them turned off.

And a second question: Is there anything that I’ve missed?

Let’s see how this works shall we?

If you’ve been reading my posts on Entangled States, you’ll notice that the rate of posting has been slowing down lately. Partly that’s because I’ve been running out of things to say, partly it’s because I’ve been planning a move from one blog host to another service. I’ve been with Typepad for more than 6 years now. But I’ve noticed that Typepad is rolling out fewer and fewer updates, and they’ve pretty much ignored the mobile revolution that’s happening.

WordPress seems to be a much better service – especially as far as mobile blogging goes. And it’s much cheaper. And because this blog is really just a hobby of mine, and I pay the expenses out of pocket, and because I have a daughter starting college this fall, saving a bit of money is a very good thing. Especially according to “She who must be obeyed”.

So I’ll be working on making the move this summer. Hopefully I’ll be able to import most all of the posts that I’ve previously had posted on the old site. I’ll probably do a little bit of work fixing things up as I do all this. The blog has been sort of neglected for a while.