A new leaf for this blog

The very few people who out there who still read this blog know that I frequently make a resolution to change the direction of what I’m blogging about (see 1, 2, &¬†3)… well I guess I’m going to do it again.

My wife started writing a blog around a few months back called Our Last Homely House, which has made me long for the time when I blogged regularly. But I also am beginning to embark on some new changes in my life, so I think it is time to start blogging more regularly again.

The two changes of late are that I have began working again as a part-time pedicab driver (my third job after my part-time work as an attorney and a Mennonite minister) but also that I have begun half-time studies at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (through their hybrid online/in-person M.Div Program). It is these two areas of my life (cycling for hire and being a seminary student) that I will be writing out for the near future…. and one more subject, that is the joys (and frustrations) of trying to do these things while also being an engaged and joyful father to a six-year old and a husband to a woman who both delights and challenges me (in all of the best ways possible).

So, that’s the new direction. I might touch on other subjects but for the most part I want to stay focused on these areas of interest.

Notice regarding comments and emails sent to me from this blog

I’m receiving some threatening emails regarding¬†my prior post regarding the t-shirts sold in Oklahoma City which I would argue are offensive

Strong opinions are one thing but threatening remarks and insults are another thing. I’m willing to continue the conversation with people who want to discuss it in good faith and mutual respect. (and I pledge that I will show the same respect in the future to those who want to continue the conversation)

For those who want to continue to insult me and threaten me, no offense but I don’t care to talk to you. I will be deleting your comments from this blog in the future and will not be responding to your emails.

About the latest reincarnation of JMBzine.com

I’m changing the direction of this blog yet again, to refocus on those areas of my life that are not related to my professional life, politics or activism. (all of that stuff can be found in the future at GIRightslawyer.com or PeaceReport.org)

For a longer explanation of what this change is about, keep reading…

I’ve published various things online for a long time, first a personal website (starting in 1995) and later a blog (starting in 2001).

These websites have gone through many, many, many changes. In the early days it was mostly about music I liked and things I found interesting. Later on, as my life changed I wrote a lot about my days living in Austin (as my religious and political beliefs continued to evolve). Upon return to Oklahoma, I settled into a routine of mostly writing about radical politics and the peace movement with frequent excursions into the subjects of religion, spirituality and occasionally other interests.

Much of my blog writings were deeply personal. I expressed a lot of sorrow in times of depression, but also enthusiasm for things that thrilled me. And there has been a lot of anger. I’ve railed against the military, the government, corporations, and a lot of others stuff. I hope there has been some graciousness too, but I’m afraid I mostly let the anger rule my rantings. The anger got so bad I gave thought to quit the blog, but I tried instead to redirect the anger in better directions (with varying degrees of success).

As I have settled into a career as a an activist attorney, I’ve seen the blog take less and less importance in my life. Partly due to time constraints but also because I was spending more and more time posting on Twitter, Facebook and other social networking websites. My blog also got hit by denial-of-service attacks and I received death threats from people who don’t like what I do for a living, so I necessarily had to quit posting personal stuff on twitter and I pulled most of website archives down. I hated to do this, but I felt I had to for my own personal safety.

But I’ve missed the blog. And I’ve also began to grow weary of the increased commercialization of social websites like Facebook (and the growing moves to eliminate all vestiges of privacy in those arenas). Facebook’s moves to the creepy have made me want to have more control over my own expression of my own thoughts.

I want to be the one who decides what I will publish for the world and what I want to remain private, not some faceless evil corporation.

So, this blog is going to begin again. I will continue to post occasionally on facebook for my political/professional work (because, boy, it is a good tool for organizing), but will be switching my more personal (and hopefully timeless) things to this space.

Part of this move is for my own mental health and happiness. I do love to express myself, but I need a better venue to think and write about things that are distant from the day-to-day political struggles of the world and my communities.

So, I’m hoping to avoid political rantings and the like over here and instead talk about things that are meaningful to me for other reasons. I’ve been seeing for the last 6 months or so that my life is horribly out-of-balance, and I want that to change. And I think this need is direly important.

In World War II, Great Britain faced its darkest hour. Everything was turned upside down in the epic struggle. Yet, when the finance minister said that Britain should cut arts funding to support the war effort, Prime Minister Winston Churchill pushed back with a succinct and potent response: “Then what are we fighting for?” (see Canada.com for discussion of this quote)

I also think about this stirring quote by the character John Keating from the classic movie Dead Poet’s Society:

We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?

The legal activist life is a “noble pursuit… necessary to sustain life.” But it is not the sum total of my life. There is so much more than the struggle for justice. There must be time for me to tend my garden, and paint, and play music, and enjoy art, and everything else worth savoring. So, this blog is going to be dedicated to “poetry, romance, love” and all of the other things that I stay alive for. I will talk some about spirituality too, but not so much about the political aspects of it, but more what Dorothy Day referred to as “the duty of delight.”

So be it. Carpe Diem. Thanks for reading.

Updated look for JMBzine.com

Wanted to let regular readers know about the slight redesign of JMBzine.com. Two big changes are worth noting…

1. I’m pretty broke, so I’m doing some ads. I put them all on the left hand side of the page, so they can be easily ignored. I tried to pick a few companies that were non-creepy (a US-based pottery company, audible.com, book sellers, etc.) but if anyone knows about stuff about my advertisers that I need to be aware of, please shoot me an email. I need to make some bucks but not at the expense of the values of this website.

2. The graphical links to causes I support have mostly been moved to the Links page.

Comments, critiques and suggestions are always welcomed.

Response to a death threat received by me on this blog

I normally have a policy of not allowing JMBzine.com readers to post threatening messages in the comments (which I started after a few overly excited folks decided to post threats during the Sally Kern controversy), but I now have a reader who is directing threats at me.

I think likely the threats are just a crazy chickenhawk wannabe-badass shooting off his or her mouth, but all the same this person shouldn’t be posting this crap.

Here is the post with the comments in question

Here is the text of the comment with threat in it (#17)…

p.s. ill be coming for you so watch your back right below the neck in the carotid artery

As for the identity of the commenter, the emails provided are obviously bogus, but i do have the IP # of the person. Commnents #16, 17, 18 & 19 were all posted by…

between 7:14 and 7:21 p.m. today.

According to the whois, this IP number is assigned to Cox Communications, so this is likely posted by a local person. I will be contacting Cox obviously, but thought I would go ahead and post this information publicly as well to hopefully shame the person who hides behind an anonymous handle to post threatening remarks.

Seriously, do you think this will shut me up. If I’m not afraid of the US government, I sure am not afraid of you.

Happy Anniversary Rena! — Thoughts on Blogging

Peacearena.org: 5 year blogiversary, or, my thanksgiving story

I started blogging on Thanksgiving weekend in 2003. I was inspired by an Oklahoma blog I started reading shortly after moving to the state in January. That blog: JMBzine and its owner is now a friend and colleague of mine in several social service and political projects.

Of course, I have blogged very sporatically, and using at least five different URLs and using the following blog tools

* Movable Type
* Blogger
* WordPress
* Xoops
* Wordress again
* Drupal
* WordPress again

It is hard to believe that it has been 5 years (both of Rena’s blogging but also of my friendship with her). Time sure does fly.

Rena’s post has made me think a bit of what I’ve learned about blogging over the long haul. (I started blogging on May 24, 2001, so I’ve been doing this for 7-1/2 years)

I’ll have to give it some thought, but most blog authors who stick with it for a long time do one of three things…

1. They write lots and don’t worry much about editing. (which is mostly my philosophy)
2. They are super dedicated and treat much like a “real” publication (sorta the Okiefunk.com model — most who manage to do this either have lots of free time, are super-dedicated and/or have figured out a way to make money off their blog)
3. They stop and start many times, often reinventing themselves in the process, but they don’t ever give up for very long (I’ve done this some, as has Rena)

I think the key though is to just do it. I wish more people would. It is such an empowering thing to do and has definitely made my life richer.

Also on a sidenote, I took a quick scan through my old mass media grad school term paper, The Blogging Phenomenon: An Overview and Theoretical Consideration. It is interesting to look at for me, because I had only been blogging for a few months when I wrote that paper. I also found it interesting to look at the Mass Media theories discussed in the paper (the 2nd half of the paper). I think I can now say that those theories were in fact pretty descriptive of what happened with the phenomenon of blogging. Blogs serve as both the “agenda setters” but also as news makers who shape not only what is discussed but how it is discussed.