A year ago this week, “Queering the Church” was taking shape – initially as private posts, initially on blogger. It was not formally launched until the week after Christmas, but as Advent is a good time for review and taking stock, I am doing that this week, not next.
First, I consider the successes – where, in this endeavour, did I find God?
The most important thing, the greatest success, is just that I have kept going. Except for a couple of months re-orientation in the spring, I have not dried up. Nor do I suspect I ever will – daily my problem is not what can I write about, but either how to find the time for all that I want to add, or what to leave out.
Next, a major continuing delight is the clear “success” of the site, as measured by reader response. Last week I passed 30 000 page loads for the year, and currently sit at about 200 – 300 a day, and growing steadily. This is small fry for the major blogs out there, but for a narrow focus such as mine, I am pleased. I get a particular kick out of the time difference between the Us (where most of the readers are) and the UK. I regularly wake up and find from my blog stats that I have had 50 -100 readers between midnight and breakfast. Even while I am sleeping, the site continues to do the Lord’s work for me – because that is how I see it.
That is the next great satisfaction. What started out as an apparently crazy idea has taken root, and with it my conviction that this is, indeed, a form of mission. This is not just me being delusional: the responses I have had in comments, on this site, on Daily Kos and the other places where I sometimes cross-post, and in email correspondence, has told me explicitly that there are many people out there who find my stuff helpful. As that was the whole idea from the start, to help out those who are struggling, that’s terrific.
Comments are not just a place where I lap up the encouragement and appreciation (but believe me, I do). I also learn a lot. There have been many occasions where a comment has presented new information, put a question that has prompted fresh thinking by me or another reader, or forced me to substantiate and elaborate on my statements – and sometimes prompted corrections or adjustments to my posts. Comments are (nearly) always welcome. The only exceptions are when they are viciously antagonistic, without any reason or courtesy. So keep them coming, please.
Above all, the comments and feed-back have prompted me to take my own ideas seriously. It was not originally my intention to write too much on my own thoughts. With no training in theology, and a poor knowledge of Scripture, I intended to concentrate simply on sharing the resources that had helped me. But as it became clear that some of the bloggers and writers that I most admired were taking me seriously, I grew in confidence. That in turn to spend more time thinking and reflecting on my own views, which has been a growth experience for me. (God bless you, Bill Lindsey, for flattering me with the label “theologian”, and helping me to see that perhaps is was I have become – even if only an untrained, amateur, “barefoot theologian”.
What of the disappointments – where have I fallen short of intentions?
This really is the flip side of having developed more of ideas than I had originally planned: I have conversely, provided less of the resource sharing than I had hoped.
My choice of WordPress was largely motivated by the possibility of operating a series of “back pages” for thematic material on specific topics. I had hoped that these would grow into a comprehensive resource for a full and balanced presentation of all the different strands that could help answer the question “what is a gay Catholic to do?”: Scripture, Spirituality, theology/magisterium, history, personal stories, resources, and community directories. While some of this is up as structure, I have to admit it is pretty uneven and much of it is half-baked. There are gaps, and much of what is up desperately needs to be updated and technically improved.
I am not happy with the layout and standard of editing. Far too often, post in a rush and do not take enough time to proof read or check spelling, alignment, and basic text layout. I would also prefer to liven up the basic WordPress theme I now use (“Garland”), which is functional in providing the two side columns I wanted, but which I find boring in appearance.
The balance and overall tone has not always kept topath I had aimed for. Carping, criticism and defensiveness are too easy for gay Catholics. I deliberately and quite explicitly stated that I was aiming to concentrate on the “good news” available to us: Good News in Scripture (i.e. “God Spell”), good news in spirituality, in theology, in history – and in daily news. I think I have done some of this, and a sharp response to stupidity and lies is sometimes required if we are to stand in prophetic witness, but I sometimes fear the balance has been wrong.
A permanent weakness in my make-up is that I am too given to following whim and impulse, and lack structure and follow-through. What that means here is that I have at times begun what should have been a continuing series, but have not followed through beyond one or two posts. This has created a great deal of unfinished business – never a great idea in Ignatian thinking.
What is the “Unfinished Business“?
Most notable here is the back pages, especially on Scripture and Spirituality, which are badly underdeveloped. both of these can be invaluable in countering the hostility experienced from the institutional church. I had hoped to develop extensive pages here to show how to use them, but have done very little in this respect. The other back pages have more material, but are poorly organized and presented.
Site navigation needs to be improved.
One of my hopes on starting out was that it might develop in time into a fully collaborative team blog. That has not happened on this site, but I am delighted that this is now taking firm shape as a completely new site with half a dozen experienced bloggers as founding contributors. That is well under way, and should be formally launched early in the New Year. there are implications for QTC, though. When I saw this as possibly developing into a team blog, I deliberately avoided putting too much in here that was strictly personal. Now that the team stuff will go up elsewhere, I can relax my guard a little more. I now need to take a view on whether, and how far, to be more personal and relaxed.
Difficulties: Help Needed
While I found profound satisfaction from this blog, and remain convinced that I must develop it much further, the past year has in other respects been difficult. Financially it has been a disaster: looking back, it seems miraculous that I have survived at all. I have to thank the Lord most profoundly for getting me through the year without excessive anxiety – and for providing an opportunity for next year that should provide at least a minimum level of security. I will however, need a little more help than it that to cope with the expenses of keeping up this site. The time has come to ask for a little help from readers – which I will do shortly.
But first, once again: Thanks for everything thus far. I’ve enjoyed the ride – I hope you have too.