Birthday Blog

Paul Harvey

Happy Birthday to Us!

Our blog is one year and some 60,000 plus unique hits old. So, happy birthday to us! I hope you’ll forgive a few birthday reflections. Here are my top 5; I invite more from anyone else who has read this blog, or from any of our editors.

1) This is way too much fun to be a mere time-waster and procrastinator, though it surely serves that purpose quite well thank you very much. All the same, its quotient of fun is directly proportional to its voluntary nature. As a friend of mine wrote when I asked this person about becoming a contributing editor, “whenever anything becomes remotely obligatory, I immediately resist doing it.” That kind of reassured me. This isn’t like grading papers or serving on “curriculum and requirements” committees: here, we don’t have to do anything other than whatever we want to do. If that happens to interest people, great; if not, then it still serves as playtime. So, for those who wonder why we don’t cover this or that topic, here’s my response: feel free to make any suggestion you want, but better yet, start your own blog so your item of interest gets full and daily coverage.

2) All of #1 being acknowledged, I feel strongly about promoting our field, new books, articles, reviews, and items of interest. I know if something like this has existed in my graduate school days, I would have felt that much less adrift and working on my own.

3) Controversy draws people like schoolyard fights draw crowds. Whenever we’ve had fights here, usually with someone else out in the blogsosphere, readership shoots up. That seems in part to be the nature of the medium; blogs are kind of made for quick arguments. It also seems to illustrate the schoolyard principle in action. This leaves me with some mixed feelings. Argument is good, and sometimes we’ve had that amongst our various contributors. At the same time, blog wars have left me feeling a bit sullied at times, like I’ve just watched too much reality television. When conflict fascination meets conflict aversion, ambivalence reigns.

4) Blogs operate against a basic principle of academic communication that I’m otherwise pretty good about following: take a deep breath before going on the attack, as you’re likely to regret just typing out the first thing that comes to your mind when the blood is up. Email can have the same effect, of course, which is why we have books about email etiquette proliferating now. Anyway, I’ve thought about attaching a testosterone meter to my computer, sort of like a breathalyzer; thus, no emailing while drunk, and no blogging when what you really want to do is box. I’ll give this rule about a week before dumping it in the same corner where all the other new year’s resolutions sit mouldering in their graves.

5) I’ve met, virtually and in real life, more interesting folks over the past year than I could have ever hoped for, so all this procrastination has paid off well in that sense. I look forward to meeting more of you this year. Stop by more often, send us your comments, and send us your posts on subjects of religion in American history that interest you.

P.S.: For the many, many of you who have commented on the cat, suffice to say, he’s yours to have, come by and pick him up anytime. He needs a good home. Just be prepared with scads of paper towels and “pet spotter” spray.


John Fea said…
Paul: As your first contributing editor (I made my first post on July 7, 2007--it got no comments!) let me say it has been a pleasure to be blogging with you, Kelly, and the rest of the contributors. My entry on July 7 was the first blog entry I had ever written so this has certainly been an adventure. Thanks.
Randall said…
Happy Birthday, Religion in American History Blog!

The blog has made me more aware of other blogs and other religious history sites. It also makes me think more about the benefits of scholarly networks.
Anonymous said…
Happy birthday, Religion in American History. Thanks for making academic blogging reputable.
Mike Pasquier said…
To Paul: Thank you for being an ambassador of the fields of history and religious studies. It's people like you that give young folk like me a chance to sound stupid.

To My Fellow Contributors: Thank you for the conversation and insight. Although I have to admit that it is a bit strange to know most of you only by virtue of the blogosphere. I'm looking forward to meeting you at many conferences to come.

To My Readers: I'm sorry.
Anonymous said…
Happy birthday to Religion in American History and Paul Harvey for his leadership. Keep up the good work!
Kelly J. Baker said…
Happy birthday blog! As others have noted, this arena provides a great space for scholars to work out their thoughts on current as well as historical insights. The posts of our contributors prove thought-provoking and often controversial. I am glad to be involved.
DEG said…
60K hits! Wow. That's almost 165/day, which is impressive for a topical blog.

Well done, Religion in Amer. History blog, and happy b-day! Also, thanks all around to Paul for setting up this forum.

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