Blogging

A new blog editor for me

I finally gave up on ecto blog editor after it constantly crashed on me and I was losing posts. I hope they get ecto stabilized in the near future so that I can return to it. I have been a huge Ecto fan and a user of its predecessor Kung-Log. I have even had the pleasure if its creator Adrian coming on my blog before to discuss issues and problems with ecto. I still think its the best blog editor for mac, but for now I need another editor.

I tried Mars Edit and liked it a lot  - although not as good with images as Ecto - but now the trial is over and they want $39 from me. Not now, I am thinking, especially after paying for Ecto. So in the meantime, I have downloaded ScribeFire to work with Firefox and that will let me write some posts offline and then send them up when I get online. This post is my first ScribeFire post. Feels pretty good!


Blogging For Profit

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Even if you dont make money from your blog, Darren and Chris will help you blog better. And the new updated Problogger book, just released today, will bring you up to date. As for me, I am removing Google ads from my site again because I hardly make any money off them and because, despite years of watching my blog, they still post ads like the one this morning. Really!

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If anyone wants to sponsor this blog, let me know and I will put up a badge for you if your bid is successful. My mother will see your banner every day and she is a big spender, believe me. And my Aunty Olwen also. And also, if you dont have any money but your cause is worthwhile, talk to me anyway.


10 ways to stop watchdoggers from barking

There's another breed of watchdoggin' bloggin' out there. You are already familiar with the normal watchdog blogs that protect God's church from the scum of the blogosphere by posting daily about how far the church has moved into Babylon. They do this in a general way, occasionally picking on a few individuals [like the evil Rick Warren and the dastardly Brian McLaren] but very rarely do they land on a single person and try to blog him out of existence. Usually, its trends and streams and influences that get barked at by the watchdoggers.

This time it's personal.

However, In the past few years, some blogs have appeared that are designed to air a personal complaint about a Christian leader or organization and to bring them to justice. These blogs sometimes add another side to the story of a successful pastor, or bring to light a discrepancy in their reputation. Sometimes they allow people who have been spiritually abused to speak out publicly.

At best, these blogs add a new level of honesty, balance, justice and accountability to high-profile leaders. At worst, they generate gossip, promote an outlet for jealousy, and show the world that the church cannot get along with each other.

Recently, things have gotten nastier. Courts and lawsuits. And even Google being called in to bring anonymous bloggers out of the closet. Like they did with Thomas Rich, a disgruntled Southern Baptist who was not happy with his pastor at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville. His blog is FBC JAX WATCHDOG. Other blogs were investigated but let off the hook - tiffanycroft.blogspot.com and newbbcopenforum.blogspot.com. More squabble blogs than watchdog blogs. Nothing much to see, folks.

But what I find fascinating here is the role of Google as the keeper of records, the witness to ill intent, the courtroom spotter who identifies the accused.

“It’s hardball,”  Rich said of the church’s tactics in uncovering his identity. “It’s hardball religion, is what it is.” Jacksonville Times

Our new future, as I see it, involves opposing voices having a stronger voice than they used to have. In some ways, its a return to the village where everyone got to say their peace, including those who were disgruntled. Nehemiah had his detractors yelling insults to him over the wall. Jesus had the murmuring Pharisees in the back of the crowd, whispering and complaining as he was teaching. Street preachers have hecklers. And now, thanks to social media and micro-blogs, every mega-church pastor and high-profile Christian leader will have his or her blogging nemesis as a normal part of ministry. Better get used to it. It's going to get hotter.

What to do when the watchdoggers are nipping at your heels? Here are 10 ways to deal with them:

1. Don't be a jerk in the first place!

2. Be honest and live a holy life. Secrets get shouted from rooftops.

3. Build your own social media platform and keep friends close to you.

4. Take your online profile seriously. High Google ranking will enable you to tell your own story. [See my blogging tips]

5. If you are too busy to maintain a social media presence then have someone close to you do it on our behalf. John MacArthur (who actually has an untainted reputation and almost non-existant fallout online) has Phil Johnson. John Piper has Justin Taylor who handled the recent "Warrengate" issue. Who do you have?

6. If you fly around in a jet then you should be the first person to tell your church that you fly around in a jet.

7. Educate your watchdogging critics on private email. Don't belittle them publicly. Love them and befriend them as early as you can.

8. Own up to your faults. God might be using the watchdoggers to purify you.

9. Don't get paranoid. You don't have time to track everything that is being said about you and it will be a real bummer to read it anyway.

10. Ask God for mercy because we are all jerks sometimes.

UPDATE: Uber-watchdog blogger Pastor Ken is giving me a hard time on his site for my "condescending" blog post that you have just read. Pastor Ken Silva is the most relentless watchdogger I know and his daily diatribes have earned him a very high ranking. Now, to be fair to Ken, although he occasionally peddles in the trivial, his site is a real watchdog blog and not a squabble blog. And actually, my post was a little condescending - my apologies Ken. But I was not thinking of you when I wrote this. And Ken, I dropped the "emerging church" label a long time ago so please honor me by keeping up with the Joneses.


Remembering Michael Spencer, Internet Monk (1956 - 2010)

The blogosphere feels much emptier today with the sudden passing of Michael Spencer who you probably know as Internet Monk. He told us about his cancer but it was still really quick. Way too quick. I didn't get to insult him one last time. HT: Christianity Today LiveBlog

I often posted links to the blogged thinkings and inklings of the iMonk and you would have surely read his famous posts last year under the title "The Coming Evangelical Collapse". In adding clarity to what he was saying in those posts, Michael suggested that the evangelical church would suffer a collapse and enter a new phase, becoming a "smaller, more chastened, more diverse, less influential form." He didn't say it was going to die but, the blogosphere being what it is, the prophecy of an imminent church death was sounded near and far, much to the dismay of iMonk.

I can relate. Early this year I said the emerging church had matured and been incorporated into the wider church but the blogosphere pushed it further to say it was dead. It happens to the best of us.

Perhaps a better post to understand Michael's honest and brave style was a post on The Shack called Shack Attack! and also to see how he handled spammers in that same honest way that was strong but also gracious.

imonk.jpg This image of iMonk is taken from Bill Kinnon, who I believe has taken on the iMonk mantle of brutal but graciously honest book reviews.

My fondest memory of Michael is not our many common posts on the emerging church or spirituality or new media but rather when we discovered a passion for the same chef. In 2006 I blogged on an incredibly helpful book by an Episcopal chef in New York, Robert Farar Capon, who occasionally wrote a food column for the New York Times. The book, published waaaaaaayyyy back in [I think] the late 1960's, was called The Supper of the Lamb and Michael blogged on it the day before I did. We contacted each other immediately afterwards on email and since that time I have always thought of the iMonk as a brother in Christ AND a brother who understood the spirituality of cooking. I will re-post that tomorrow in memory of Michael.

Because of our common appreciation of that book, I think of Michael sometimes when I use my Chinese cleaver to chop garlic, and when I bring out the meat the next day in a new incarnation - both ideas from Robert Capon.

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This image is from iMonk on Flickr and is called "postmodern devil". HAHAHA - what a STIRRER he was!!!!!!!!!!

As a long-term blogger, and someone who set a new benchmark for honesty, iMonk is deeply embedded in the soundtrack of church history in this crazy new millennium. Michael, DUDE, I was honored to be listed on your blog roll and it was an honor to point people to your wonderfully, refreshingly honest blog posts.

HUGE GINORMOUS KUDOS to you Michael! Thanks for the warning on your illness and including us in your journey to the next life. See you one day and lets conspire again to do something there.

Want to honor and remember iMonk? Then pre-order his book - Mere Churchianity: Finding Your Way Back To Jesus-Shaped Christianity which will be released on my birthday, September 7, 2010. Come on. Dont be cheap.

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NakedPastor's 10 Suggestions for Blogging Pastors

Naked Pastor has 10 excellent suggestions for blogging pastors. Apparently I owe him a beer for reposting it here.

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1. Anonymity: I don’t favor it except in extreme cases. If you are going to put yourself out there, then do it. Unless it’s extreme. The purpose of blogging, IMO, is to make formerly obscure information available to everyone. Obscurity defeats this purpose. Again, unless your situation is extreme, dangerous, sensitive or unusual.

2. Originality: There are tons of blogs out there all saying the same things, quoting the same scriptures, repeating the same clichés. Although you may wish to remain rooted in your tradition, be original and creative in your thoughts and your articulation of them.

3. Privacy: Do not disclose sensitive issues about your congregation or people in it, your friends or family… unless you have their expressed permission for certain stories. You might gain some readers, but you will definitely risk the alienation of your people. Avoid sensationalism for its own sake. Respect others always.

4. Employment: You may run the risk of losing your job as a pastor if you upset too many or the right people. You will be expected to be conventional and orthodox and to fall within the bounds of normality and acceptability. Don’t let the blog rob you of time. I spend at the most one hour on my blog per day, and that includes drawing the cartoon and writing the post. The weekends I keep very light. Perspective and priorities!

5. Care: Some of the readers you gather may become an online community that you might have opportunities to care for as a pastor. This includes moderation, which I find very difficult sometimes. I like diversity so I’m a very relaxed moderator. Once in a while I try to remind the nakedpastor community that we can challenge ideas, but not insult the person. Difficult to remember and do!

6. Blogging: One of the things I had to realize is that blogging every day prevents you from writing perfected and completed thoughts. But I see this as completely valid: you are allowing people to observe you process your theology and praxis and person. Books are concrete. Blogs are concrete before it hardens. So your ideas and writing will be imperfect and sometimes outright wrong. Get used to it.

7. Monetizing: If you are hoping to make big bucks from a religious blog, good luck! I tried and pennies trickled in. After a few years though, I have been approached by a few businesses offering bigger bucks. But it won’t make me a living. Yet. I talked with Problogger about this a couple of years ago and he agrees: religious sites will have difficulty making money.

8. Networking: If you want to build a readership, it is important to engage with other bloggers, especially those who seem to be on the same page as you. I have made wonderful friends online and value them in my life. Plus, I just think there is value in online relationships. I feel that my life is enriched by these real people in far away places.

9. Support: I have found it crucial to have some local moral support for what you are doing. I didn’t at first because I didn’t think nakedpastor would turn into anything. But it did, and now I couldn’t continue as easily without my support network locally and virtually. I might mention here the important task of critiquing the church. One of the church’s slogans, “Reformed and always reforming” means that, unlike a business who’s chief end is profit, the church is concerned with change and reform. So critique in helpful ways rather than sounding like you’re just trashing the church. This is one area where my supporters are especially helpful.

10. Honesty: You can be as honest as you feel you can. But remember that there are others who will be affected. Some people can handle only so much. You’ll need to decide how far you are willing to go. You don’t want to become divided: one person online and another in person. Fortunately, I pastor a congregation that is, for the most part, tolerant or even supportive of nakedpastor. However, it is a tricky path that must be negotiated wisely.

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Fantastic. If I could add one suggestion to Naked Pastor's list, it would be this:

11. Code. Buy a book on xml or xhtml or basic code so you can tweak your posts correctly and not end up with, as most blogging pastors tend to do, an image with text aligned properly on the side. Master it or at least become conversational enough not to get pushed around by your blogging platform.



Best Religion Blog 2009: Father John Kicks our Butts

Father John Zuhlsdorf not only won the Bloggers Choice 'Best Religion Blog' for 2009 but he also raced passed us all on Technorati's Top Religion Blogs. In fact, he is miles higher than us and it might be impossible to catch him. Well done Father John! His blog, called What Does The Prayer Really Say?, gets updated many times a day and is quite holistic in its outlook - really good posts on almost everything - which is what I think blogs should be about anyway. Check it out.


top religion blogs on technorati


blogging from iPod touch

Just testing out my new iblogger application for my iPod touch.
Yes, I finally splashed out and bought an iPod, after all these years of not justifying the expense of a glorified music player. iPhone was out of my budget but the iPod touch graduated from a music player to something far more useful and so I got one. One of the biggest draws was language learning wis do much more convenient than my computer.
Anyway, nice to blog from this thing. Hello future!
Mobile Blogging from here.

Swissing Up your blog with Swiss Miss


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Tina Roth Eisenberg of Swiss Miss was sitting in front of me at The Feast. She is a web design guru with a huge following among designers and geeks. It was really nice to meet her but I have to say that her blog is sooooooo much better looking than mine which now appears SCRUFFY and very . . . non-Swiss. Maybe its time for a redesign?

I asked her if she used Helvetica as her favourite font which was a redundant question. Of course she does. On her blog is a link to a arial vs. helvetica test. YEAH HELVETICA!

Would you agree with me that her design appeals more to men [and geeky men like Johannes who is sitting next to me) than women?