Thursday, March 3, 2011

Today: One-thousand posts on Fiat Lux

This is the 1,000th posting on Fiat Lux. One-thousand.

I must admit that many of my posts -- okay, most -- are not particularly memorable. But I hope a few are. And, as an ex-journalist (and no newshound is really ever an ex), I appreciate milestones, and 1,000 is a good one for looking back.

I started this blog nearly three years ago as Lori and I were preparing to embark on this zany crazy idea of moving from our comfortable nest in the West to the faraway wilds of Virginia.

I wasn't quite sure what I had in mind with this blog other than chronicling our adventure to East of Reno and giving me a platform for my meandering thoughts, theological ramblings and otherwise, and giving you a place of conversation with me.

I hope you consider this blog a blessing if for no other reason than it has given me a parking place for stray ideas and stories so that they don't clog up sermons more than they do.

The topics here have roamed the map, from the Virgin of Guadalupe to my own reporting from the floor of General Convention in 2009 in Anaheim.

There have been 169 references to biblical passages (who says we Episcopalians don't read the Bible?). The most frequently cited Old Testament book is Isaiah; the most frequently cited in the New Testament is the Gospel of Luke. The most frequently referenced 17th century Anglican divine is Jeremy Taylor; the most frequently cited contemporary theologian is James Alison.

I must say I am awestruck by how many readers come here. As of last night, Fiat Lux has been viewed 107,849 times. It has gone from a handful of readers in June 2008, to an average of about 150-200 per day.

Readers come from all over the world. This week we've had readers from the North Slope of Alaska to Capetown, South Africa; from San Francisco to ParaƱaque, Philippines, and many places in between.

The most intriguing frequent visitor comes from a server located at The Royal Veterinary College in London, which my tracking software shows is located right where Lambeth Palace is located. Hmm, what to make of that?

In the last 1,000 posts, the most frequently viewed item is a prayer by Mother Teresa that I put here in 2008, and if you want to see it again, click HERE.

This blog has gone semi-"viral" twice. When I re-posted a video of a weather report done in Anglican chant, it became an overnight sensation in the monasteries of Romania, thanks to a link sent to the monks by a friend who had been a Peace Corps volunteer in Romania. You can see that video again by clicking HERE (and it's still funny if I do say so).

Last week we went semi-viral again, this time because someone posted on Facebook an item from my blog by Garrison Keillor about Episcopalians that I had lifted from and re-posted last December. We've had more than 1,000 hits on that item since last week. You can read it again (and keep this count going) by clicking HERE.

I've much enjoyed bringing you these items as they strike my fancy. A regular feature has been "The Monday Funnies," and I've run that for 89 Mondays, with a few time-outs for Holy Week and somber news events. Most of the jokes come from my friend Patrick Hill, who lives in the El Dorado Hills above Sacramento in California.

It's also been my pleasure to bring you poems from time to time, and most of the poems are gifts from my friend Karen Claussen Bishop who lives in Knoxville, Tennessee. Lori and met Karen and her husband Jim on a hiking trip in Southern France many years ago. The most frequently posted poet here is Mary Oliver followed by Beat poet Gary Snyder.

You may not have noticed this, but all of the poems on Fiat Lux are re-posted onto another blog linked to this one. You can find the poems of Fiat Lux by clicking HERE.

Now and then I write something original and I hope some of those reflections have been worthwhile. I've stayed out of politics (mostly); I think you can find better commentaries elsewhere. Once in awhile I dip into church politics, but again, I think you can find better commentaries elsewhere.

Among the pieces I am particularly fond of is the series on prayer two years ago during Advent; you can find the first installment by clicking HERE.

I tried to add to the discussion on the morality of the death penalty with a lengthy reflection I wrote last summer after the sentencing of two young men who were convicted of murdering a young friend. You can read my death penalty reflection by clicking HERE. The item got 11 posted comments, which is a lot for this blog, and many more private emails.

I've also tried to give you a glimpse of my own story and my own prayer life, as I did a few days ago with an item about a "thin place" that is hugely important in my own spiritual journey. You can read that by clicking HERE.

When we drove east to Virginia in 2008, I wrote a travelogue along the way, including a post driving through Kansas pointing out the Oz museum. You can read that one and see more photos by clicking HERE.

I've stayed mostly out of doctrinal disputes because I think they bring more heat than light. But I took a stab at original sin, forgiveness and salvation, and I appreciate the kind comments from many of you especially those of you who couldn't quite follow my reasoning or agree with me. You can read that series on original sin beginning HERE.

I've had a great deal of fun picking the artwork and photographs for Fiat Lux. Among the artists I've used the most are the legendary Chiura Obata, and lesser known contemporary artists including He Qi and Kathrin Burleson.

I've relied on some very talented photographers, particularly Bonny Bronson, Dudley Rochester and Diane Wakat. I've taken a few of my own, including the photo, right, of St. Paul's at dawn a couple of weeks ago when I was opening up on a Sunday morning.

For the most part, comments left here have been respectful and enlightening, and I much appreciate the wisdom others bring to this space.

I was compelled against my instincts to moderate (review) comments before posting because a few were nasty and several were commercial spam. The tactic worked. The purveyors of nastigrams seem intimidated by the prospect of being reviewed before posting, and the spammers have gone elsewhere looking for easier targets.

As for the future of Fiat Lux, I intend to keep doing this while I can and while my interest level stays steady. Somehow I have managed to bring you one new posting nearly every day, and maybe that's because my journalism blood runs deep. I've taken a few breaks and probably will again, but my goal is to bring you something new every day.

As for changes, there will be a few. Fiat Lux needs a facelift. We've had the same template for all these three years, and it's time for a new look. The baby being baptized in the upper left (that's my hand), will be starting school soon enough; we probably need a new icon. There are newer templates with more features, including captions for photographs. So don't be too startled when you open this up and it looks different.

The meaning of Fiat Lux is "Let there be light," and that is my personal mission statement, and the mission statement of the great university that educated me, my sister and my parents (the University of California). The current look has a lighthouse in the upper left corner and I will maintain the lighthouse theme. But we might need a new lighthouse. The lantern atop St. Paul's (see top photo by Bonny Bronson) evokes a lighthouse, and I suspect it will be displayed more prominently on this page in the near future. Stay tuned.

I think it appropriate to wind up with a poem. This one was sent yesterday by Karen (of course!) and I think it fits a few themes here today. Enjoy:

The Blue
By Billy Collins

You can have Egypt and Nantucket .
The only place I want to visit is The Blue,
not the Wild Blue Yonder that seduces pilots,
but that zone where the unexpected dwells,
waiting to come out of it in the shape of bolts.

I want to walk its azure perimeter
where the unanticipated is coiled, on the mark,
ready to spring into the predictable homes of earth.

I want to stroll through the pale indigo light
examining all the accidents about to rocket into time,
all the forgotten names about to fly from tongues.

I will scrutinize all the surprises of the future
and watch the brainstorms gathering darkly,
ready to hit the heads of inventors
laboring in their crackpot shacks.

A jaded traveler with an invisible passport,
I am at home with this heaven of the unforeseen,
waiting for the next whoosh of sudden departure
when, with no advance warning, to tiny augery,
the unpredictable plummets into our lives
from somewhere that looks like sky.
Finally, dear reader, thanks for coming on this ride with me and these 1,000 posts. Send me your ideas, your comments and your prayers. Blessings to you and yours always,



margaret said...

Congratulations, Jim -- happy 1000th! I've been a regular reader since the beginning, and have never been disappointed in what you've given me each morning. I have often sent on to others selected poems, videos, and random wisdom. Thanks for being such a wonderful companion in the way.


Pam said...

I also want to thank you Jim for the information, insights, and unique perspectives that you share via this blog. It has become an essential part of my day...a centering focal point that encourages thought and reflection.

Karen said...

I love the thought, the artistry, the poetry and the generous sharing in this blog, and am really thankful for it. For me the images and the poetry especially highlight the whole, and some of the poems and images that you have posted seem to have become a part of my mental landscape. Thank you for taking the time and trouble to share, day in and day out.

Betsy said... I have said before, one of the many gifts you have given us is your blog. It is one of those constants I look forward to. Gifts differing. Simply filed with grace.


Betsy said... I have said before, one of the many gifts you have given us is your blog. It is one of those constants I look forward to. Gifts differing. Simply filed with grace.