I am a parish minister currently serving the Eliot Church of Natick MA. Eliot Church is a Community Church affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ. Any statements made and postions held in "Unity," however, are solely mine(of course, they may be used with appropriate atribution). Therefore if you disagree, please do not blame the church!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Great Idea #1

Well, this place needs sprucing up so…I am starting what will hopefully be an occasional series. Preachers will be familiar with the sermon series. These often occur when the obvious topics have run their course and yet there clock keeps ticking and Sunday keeps coming. For this series I have chosen the title “Great Ideas” in homage to the many blog conversations going on that reflect on the intellectual life of our liberal religious movement. That having been said, I doubt too many of the ideas I find will be directly religion-oriented. Why is this? One of my concerns for the professional ministry and also for the involved and enthusiastic laity is that we all remember to be interested in other things as well. As liberals our faith and theology isn’t so much a separate category of our lives as a way of explaining the whole thing.

So here is Great Idea #1 (Incidentally, these aren’t MY ideas. I am stealing them): SELF-PUBLISHING.

Yes! Take a bow bloggers! You are a great idea. My previous post about the Berghoff and Marshall Fields reminded me of how precious originality is. It is also a challenge. A quick look at the hit counters of most of weblogs will show a remarkably low readership! Yet we struggle on for the sake of originality. So, I applaud the great idea that is the blogosphere. I applaud all of it: the crazy rants, the bemused ramblings, baby blogs, travel blogs, even wedding blogs. Congratulations to everyone for making noise!

That having been said, there are other ways to get the word out. These are important, too. I am talking about the low-tech here, things like zines, small presses, and self-made books. All of these forms of communication--with their poor(ish) production value and low circulation also put original thoughts and ideas out there. In fact, they are even more accessible than blogs for those without an office computer.

Here is an arena for action. Why doesn’t everyone write something—a meditation manual, for example--and instead of submitting it to Skinner House or some other similar (and, yes, comendable) venue, mail it to everyone they know with the permission to photocopy? Sure, the font, binder, and paper texture wouldn’t be nearly as good but, hey! Then we could avoid titles like “Have you really looked at your hands?” and “Soap On, Soap Off: the Everyday Spirituality of Cleaning Stuff.” OK, I made those up, but just barely. Individuality in the world of printed media (or any world, really) keeps the big folks from getting inane, tedious, repetitive...

The problem is, of course, that self-publishing requires humility. There is no money and no real fame. The impact is, theoretically, greater if you can convince some large multi-national to distribute your work without having to compromise message or quality. Copyright, I believe, is a bit sketchy as well. But hey, I have a question for you. Would you rather be famous or change the world? I vote for change. If only because under every bushel there is something worthy of being let into the light.

Think of Antiques Roadshow. Without ol' Uncle Mort's beer-can rendering of an African Elephant, it would be just some regular PBS thing about old paintings and jewelry. Writing can be (and is!) a folk art, too. Folk art makes life exciting!

Where is thy stapler? Get writing…!