September 28, 2007

Tagged With Evolution Meme

Tangled Up in Blue Guy just smacked me upside the head with an Evolution Meme blog-tag. This one is a bit different from most I've encountered, providing an excuse for some self-reflection. I am supposed to list five previous posts which reflect the evolution of Atheist Revolution and tag five other blogs so they'll do the same.

Much like the evolution of species, the evolution of a blog does not occur in a nice linear path. It zigs and zags in unpredictable ways as good ideas move one in important directions and bad ideas are discarded or lead to blind alleys.

I can identify a few different patterns through which it would be possible to highlight the evolution of my thought as reflected here. And yet, I'm not fully satisfied that any single pattern is sufficient to represent this evolution.

1. I suppose it is probably a good idea to start at the beginning by going back to February of 2005 for the first post.

Bush's re-election was still weighing heavily on my mind, and I was becoming increasingly worried about the theocratic Right. I announced, "I will use this blog to organize my thoughts on religion and politics in American life. I also hope to spark some discussion and critical thinking in others." I think it is fair to say that I started this blog mostly as an online diary without any real intent to build readership. Frankly, I had no idea what it even meant to build readership back then. This was my first foray into blogging, and I was fairly clueless.

When I reread this post now, it strikes me that I had intended Atheist Revolution to be a blog about religion and politics from the start. This is something I've struggled with to the present day, periodically losing sight of how best to balance these topics, and still not convinced that I've achieved what I initially sought.

2. The arrival of Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005 shook me to the core and would mark an important shift in my thoughts about the role of politics in this blog.

By this point, Atheist Revolution had already become increasingly political. I had discovered that addressing atheism in America simply could not be done without a fairly heavy dose of politics, and it seems that I was posting on political issues as much as atheism, religion, or any other topic. Katrina led me to question my priorities, create Consequences of Republicanism as a spin-off blog that would focus much more on political issues, and nearly resulted in the abandonment of Atheist Revolution.

3. By the Spring of 2006, I was refocusing my interest on atheism.

I'm not quite sure how I ended up at this point. I think I went from worrying that atheism might not be worth my attention in the face of so much social injustice to realizing that the plight of atheists in America was (and continues to be) a form of social injustice. It was around this time when I think I finally realized that I might be able to make a contribution to the understanding of atheism and give something back to the online atheist community which had been so important to me. I was reading every book on atheism I could find and was thinking more about readership as a way to spread the atheist meme. Politics was still important, but I had all but abandoned my other blog, spending more time here.

4. Exploring atheism more fully would lead me to realize that it simply could not qualify as an entire belief system but only as one part of a much larger worldview.

I was reading more about secular humanism and realizing that I was much more than someone who did not accept certain beliefs. There were many others which I not only accepted but upon which my worldview rests. I recognize that I have barely scratched the surface and have to go well beyond where I started. And yet, there is plenty to explore along that path.

5. The Fall of 2007 finds me thinking more about the importance of building a secular community.

This is so close to the present that it wouldn't mean much to try to reflect on it now, but it appears that my growing interest in promoting atheism has connected with a desire to see atheists become valued members of a culture that continues to reject us. I've noticed that Atheist Revolution has become much more focused on atheism and the politics of atheism and much less focused on broader political topics without clear links to religion. This has even led to a revival of Consequences of Republicanism, albeit with more limited goals than those with which it initially launched.

And now it is time to tag five other blogs with the evolution meme:
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