Videos & the blog – update

I’ve just uploaded the last in my series on “How to grow as a Christian” – looking at the cross from Mark’s gospel.

I apologise that my blog has become even more neglected over the last month, but I have been uploading videos weekly.

If you want to follow these videos, the best thing is to subscribe to my channel there (click the Subscribe button on that page). You can also subscribe on Facebook, but I tend to find Facebook a bit more unreliable for showing you new content.

I will try to get a mailing list set up with new videos as that is probably the safest way! But the best bet for now is to subscribe on YouTube.

I’m not going to close the blog, but I just wanted to explain where I am while I’m not here…

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Comments closed

What do you want me to do? LEAVE? Then they'll keep being wrong!I’ve made the decision to close comments on this blog. This decision has been coming for a long time now, but my previous post finally decided me. It was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

The reason is mainly because I am no longer convinced that comments on blogs really achieve anything. In fact, I’d go further than that – I’d go as far as to say that debate on the internet is, around 99.9% of the time, utterly futile. I’ve been involved in debating things on the internet for many years now, and I’m struggling to think of a single time where anyone has changed their mind on an important issue as a result of these debates. I’m sure it does happen, but it’s depressingly rare.

On this blog over the years, I’ve written on topics which have generated a fair amount of discussion – the two big ones being atheism/secularism and same-sex marriage. Those two topics have drawn a lot of comments, mostly from the same regular commenters. What has happened, pretty much, is that our arguments have got to the point where you could almost script them. Sometimes I feel like it’s become a bit like Monty Python’s argument clinic!

Over the past couple of years, since being ordained and becoming a curate, I’ve become increasingly convinced of the importance of the local. My calling is first and foremost to the people who I actually live among and minister to. And, once again, I’ve become increasingly convinced that discussing things online is actually a distraction from what I’m supposed to do. I’ve invested a lot of time in discussing things here over the years, and I simply don’t think that use of my time is now justifiable.

Dialogue over important issues such as religion and atheism is possible – but it’s only ever likely to happen within the context of an actual relationship. The internet is, quite frankly, too impersonal and too prone to misunderstanding. You can’t really show love to a random stranger on the internet, not in the same way that you can show love to someone who is in your geographical area. I’m no longer interested in debating Christianity simply for the sake of being right. It’s better to show people living here what difference being a follower of Christ actually makes – something which, again, it is difficult to do on the internet. The internet actually makes proper discussion incredibly hard – you miss important things like nonverbal communication, you can become focussed on a very abstract argument and lose sight of the person.

So, from now on, I’m going to take the approach that blogger Tim Challies has taken (and probably others): instead of a comments section, if someone feels strongly enough about a post to write about it they can send a ‘letter to the editor’ (i.e. email me). Any which are helpful and constructive will be published.

Many thanks to all those who have commented and contributed here over the years, but for the foreseeable future there will be no more comments.

All quiet on the blogging front

Just wanted to apologise here for how quiet it’s been here recently. Starting my new role as the curate here, moving house, and having a daughter who’s just turned one continues to take up the vast majority of my time! I do have thoughts about things I can blog about, but most of the time I simply don’t have the time to follow through with them.

Anyway, in the short term I will be blogging a fair bit less but I do plan to return to blogging more regularly as soon as I am able (whenever that may be)… and I will post from time to time on various subjects!

Before the Storm…

The last three weekends have been pretty busy for us – we’ve been up in Colchester (or thereabouts) for various reasons! We had a great time seeing friends and family and generally catching up with people.

However, as of yesterday Mrs Phil is 37 weeks pregnant – which means that, if the baby is born any time from now on, it will be considered full term. We have now acquired everything we need for the baby (thanks in large part to the generosity of friends) – just one or two non-essentials we need to get for the hospital bag and we’re all set. It’s a weird feeling to say to people “the next time we see you… we’ll have a baby!”

Add to this the fact that the first term of my final year at Oak Hill starts next week, and you’ll understand that I may not have very much time for blogging in the coming weeks and months!

So this is an advance warning that things may get pretty quiet around here for a while, but for good reasons 🙂 I’ll at least try to post up when the baby is born and occasional progress updates, with maybe something more controversial now and then…

Site Update: Comments

Apologies for site-related updates! I have decided to close comments automatically on posts which are older than 30 days old. In general this is because the only comments I get on old blog posts are spam, and this is an attempt to try and curtail that. Akismet is pretty good at catching most spam comments, but one or two still slip through the net.

If you do happen to want to comment on an old blog post… I’m sorry. If I’m honest, I’m less convinced that comments are a good thing than I used to be. Anyway, feedback is still good, but it just has to be within 30 days unless there’s a particular reason!

If you want to contact me, there’s always the contact page…

Website admin complete

Just wanted to say that all the website admin stuff I mentioned in my previous post is now complete. In case you’re curious about what I’ve done, here’s a quick post with an explanation. Maybe it will help someone who was in a similar situation to me (i.e., paying for hosting you don’t need).

Previously I’ve hosted my site on a hosting package provided by Prime Hosting. This was costing me about £60 per year (I don’t think the same package is available now, I originally set it up in about 2005 and haven’t updated it since). I was also paying about £12 every two years for the phillsacre.me.uk domain name.

I’ve been questioning whether this is entirely necessary of late – I think I even blogged about this but can’t find it where… the problem is, what is the point of paying around £60 per year for hosting what is basically a blog when you can get a free blog on WordPress.com? I couldn’t really answer that question satisfactorily – in the past I’d used my site to host things such as DJ mixes, but these days there are loads of free services which can do stuff like that and there are also what seem like hundreds of free blogging services. In other words, I was paying out for stuff I didn’t really need.

So, the key question is, what have I done, and how much am I now paying? Well, I’ve done a few things:

  • Transferred the domain name over to 123-reg.co.uk, who are usually fairly good at domain name pricing. But the main thing is, with 123-reg you get flexibility – I now own the domain separately to the hosting, so I can choose to do as I like with it.
  • I’ve set up a new blog with WordPress (free account) – I was using WordPress before, so it was dead easy to export and then import my site over. Hence, I transferred about eight years worth of blog posts to this site without much effort!
  • I’ve bought an addon for my WordPress account which lets you use your own domain name – this is costing around £8 per year (USD 12).
  • Finally, to be able to handle e-mail I’ve created an account with Google Apps (free for personal use), which means I get the benefits of GMail with my @phillsacre.me.uk e-mail address.
Pretty nifty, huh? So there you go, that’s how I moved from traditional web-hosting to “the cloud”, or whatever you call it 😉