Wise news from Northeast India

Northeast India has one of the world’s clusters of Unitarians, and they now have a blog. That makes me happy. It’s a mountainous, forested area: pictures of it remind me of West Virginia.

One blog post talks about a new church start following an evangelistic meeting between two villages that have churches. In typical Unitarian fashion, there was a bit of soul-searching about the wisdom of evangelism, but the writer, H. Helpme Mohrmen, concluded

if we want our church to grow whether we like it or not, there is no alternative than to go evangelising. We might like the using the word evangelising but we need to go preached our religion and pay heed to the call [Northeast Unitarian church founder] H.K.[Singh] made 125 years ago.

The model, based on maps, cooperation and planting has legs and at root could work here, too. Read more.

And if you can read Khasi, there’s this blog too. Thanks to the tip from the UK Unitarian and Free Christian blog Unitarian Communications.

How do people read blogs? Some advice.

I spoke to someone recently who apologetically noted that she didn’t read my blog: the context was a lack of time.

I can understand this, in one way. Who has time to visit dozens of sites, even weekly? The problem: blogs look like static billboards or bulletin boards. To see if a bulletin board has changed, you visit it — and pin up a note if you have one. But it takes an effort to visit each and every blog or bulletin board, and one’s not likely to do it very often.

But that’s not the only way to read them. Most blogs — certainly any built on a modern service or software; my apologies to any who still homebrew their blogs — can be read in a non-bulletin-board way: through a feed reader.

This blog publishes my blog posts and your comments in a format that’s easy for web services or software to consolidate — the preferred term is aggregate, but here the meaning is the same — into a running stream. Most of these web services or software will show you headlines and beginning text the newest posts of the blogs you like, making it easy to scan them. Most of these web services or software have a facility to subscribe to a blog automatically. So you go one place to keep up, and within the software or web service, you can often tag, promote or annotate interesting posts, so you can refer back to them if needed.

So what are these web services or software? Google Reader is an obvious choice if you like Google products. But since I’m (unsuccessfully) trying to not give Google all my business, I use a free-standing feed reader. LiFeRea, since I use a Linux computer, but there are options for other operating systems.

But those just starting or only interested in a few feeds, a browser-based tool might work well. Sage, for Firefox, is the kind of thing I mean.

Blog posts I'm reading today: our past and future

Unitarian Universalist minister and blogger Elz Curtiss (Politywonk) writes movingly about the hagiographic and political misuse of Unitarian and Universalist history, and it power to misshape the truth about our traditions. Worth reading.

Unitarian minister and blogger Stephen Lingwood (Reignite) talks data — the size of congregations in the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches (GA), our counterpart body in Great Britain (and a handful of congregations elsewhere, like the UUA) just reported in its Annual Report. (Can’t find it online.) Unlike the UUA, the GA doesn’t have a historical practice of publishing congregational size data, so this report is noteworthy, if chilling. He sounds the wake-up call, given the smallness by congregations and overall of the GA — only one of the GA’s 170 churches wouldn’t be classed as “small” in the UUA — and how many congregations could easily slip below the water line.

It also makes me think the Church Admin plugin for WordPress I noted might be more useful for the British churches of 15 to 60 members than the American ones I was imagining for a use case. (The developer is also British and that comes across in the plugin.) Since it’s in rapid development, I’ve not properly tested it, but I’d be willing to do so if any British Unitarians would like to examine it with me.

Another Christian Universalist blogs

Please also follow Christian Universalist minister David Spatz at his new blog Christian Universalist Fellowship.

He was ordained last year under the auspices of the Christian Universalist Association — the most robust, I think, of a constellation of small Universalist groups distinct from the Unitarian Universalist Association. He also sits on its board. (So perhaps the “Independent Universalist” moniker isn’t right, but will do until I come up with something better.)

And — heavens! — he lives in Maryland, less than an hour or so from me.

Returning to the blogosphere

I’m so glad to see Unitarian Universalist minister Parisa Parsa return to the keyboard and begin writing again at Pastor Prayers.

Welcome back! And for those that missed her the first time, be sure to read the blog regularly.

Second thoughts about a static site

I don’t mind being called idealistic when it’s true. Like my dream of a CLI-only office suite for Luddite churches.

But news today from Amazon makes me think another lost cause — static web sites, for churches or anyone else — might have legs. Amazon has a whole second business providing cloud web services, which, if you do anything in web development is not news. You get lots of power, storage space, distributed work capacity and the like at a very, very low cost. One of these services is S3: Simple Storage Service. But until today, you couldn’t host a website on it, even though you could stash your site’s photographs and videos there.

Now, with a couple of caveats, you can. The caveats? First, the URL has to have a subdomain attached, so www.boyinthebands.com or fun-liturgies.boyinthebands.com is OK, but a plain boyinthebands.com isn’t. (It’s an incentive for a bunch of small churches to share a domain, too.) And forget dynamic content: services that are generated on the fly. But many church sites are little more than Internet pamphlets, so why need they pay a cent more than they have to? And I do mean cent. One could reasonably host a site for a few dimes a month.

It’s not turn-key easy. I expect to have to learn a few things first. (And re-read this blog post.) But once I find a static web generator I like — no WordPress — and way to manage my Amazon Web Services account — I finally signed up for one, or rather activated that function from the one I use to buy books and CDs — I’ll move some of the universalistchurch.net content over, or make some other trial site.

Read this blogger

Micah Bales is, among other things, a blogger, Quaker minister and a far better Esperantist than I am. He and his wife Faith Kelley and a small group of others are the Capitol Hill Friends worship group.

He’s got quite a bit of cachet among Quaker bloggers but I think he deserves more exposure. He’s got a great voice for Christian mission and wrestles effectively about his own tradition in a manner that might prompt us to do the same.

The Lamb’s War