The New Year at God Blogging

religious unity correctWelcome to the first true God Blogging post of 2010. (An earlier brief post re: this doesn’t count.) It’s hard to believe an entire year has gone by since journalism as I knew it was blown to smithereens, via a business agreement between two media giants that resulted in Arizona’s oldest daily newspaper being replaced by this blog site cum citizen journalism venture. Like millions of other laid off workers in this country, I’m remaking myself at mid-life, plowing through a federally subsidized teacher certification program after finally accepting (most days) that there is Life After Journalism.

Which brings us to this blog. I neglected it in the latter months of 2009 because of an internal battle over my former identity (professional – read: paid – journalist) and my current writing options (unpaid blogging; barely-paid and unpredictable freelance reporting; better paid but sporadic and tedious PR writing). I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say I’ve come to an understanding with myself that, in spite of being unpaid, blogging aides my sanity while wrestling with school papers demanding MLA citations. This was the first insight I got when reading the just-published The Happiness Project, which author Gretchen Rubin defines as an approach to changing your life:

“First is the preparation stage, when you identify what brings you joy, satisfaction, and engagement, and also what brings you guilt, anger, boredom, and remorse. Second is the making of resolutions, when you identify the concrete actions that will boost your happiness. Then comes the interesting part: keeping your resolutions.”

I have yet to identify all might bring me joy, etc., or all that brings me guilt, etc., but I know that one joy builder is

Another joy builder is playing in the Flagstaff snow
Another joy builder is playing in the Flagstaff snow

blogging, so I’m resolving to do more of it, the short details of which you can read about here in the newly updated “About Me and God Blogging.”(Regular readers will recall that I tried to get a virtual Happiness Project group started last year but didn’t follow through. This year, I will blog my way through Gretchen’s book, which is a more reasonable goal for me considering my school requirements. I’m very much into setting reasonable goals this year.)

So, as promised in the “About” link, here’s some thoughts on God (and more) news of late: First, perhaps you heard that FOX News’ Brit Hume thinks Tiger Woods needs Jesus to stop philandering. I won’t add much to the cacophony, except to point you to Rabbi Brad Hirschfield’s interesting take over at Beliefnet and then, for LOL religious disrespect all around, John Stewart’s video on it here. (Yes, I do believe God has a sense of humor.)

Second, if you are interested in contributing to charities who do good out in the world, consider adding GoodSearch to your browser. In a few minutes, you can add it to your toolbar and then every time you use it to search the Web, money is donated to a charity of your choice. FAQs are here, but it seems a fairly painless way to get someone else’s money directed to good works in what sometimes seems like a hostile, selfish world.

And speaking of good, way back in September, Washington Monthly came out with college rankings of a different sort: They ranked 258 national universities for the amount of “public good” they provided based on three categories: Social Mobility (recruiting and graduating low-income students), Research (producing cutting-edge scholarship and PhDs), and Service (encouraging students to give something back to their country). University of Arizona got an overall score of 51 out of 100, with a ranking of 160 (out of the 258) in Social Mobility, 18 (!) in research expenditures and 36 in the “faculty in national academies” area (both part of the “Research” category), and a ranking of 97 in the number of graduates who head off to the Peace Corps. ASU, by comparison, got an overall score of 33 out of 100 in the rankings. For full detail, check out the interactive rating scale here.

If you’re interested in what one of the major go-to religion sites has to say about the top religion stories of the decade (including the rise and fall of the Religious Right and the rise of the New Atheists), check out Beliefnet’s multimedia article on that here, written by a reporter from Religion News Service. There is a great “related features” page at the end of the slides/article.

silhouette-of-woman-prayingFinally, there are a couple of changes in the sidebars of God Blogging (and more). I deleted the “What I’m Reading” because, seriously, who really cares? I’ve added a “Let Us Pray” because at least some of the people who read this blog practice prayer and I wanted to offer the option for those wanting to share prayer needs a place to do that locally. Send your requests via the “Contact Me” button over on the right sidebar. And please, if you don’t practice or believe in prayer, practice kindness and don’t harass those who do. As This American Muslim says in his bio, if you don’t like what you read, close the browser.

The other blog change is that I’ve winnowed out links listed under “Stalking,” deleting those that have died or haven’t been updated for two months, and I added a couple new ones. I don’t agree with what is written on all of them, but think they make for a well-rounded short list of faith and religion writers (this being, after all, primarily a God blog), so check them out if you’re so inclined.

The exceptions to “religion-blog-only” standard are three: Rubin’s Happiness Project; my personal blog about studying for teacher certification; and The Desert Lamp because the UA students who write it are intelligent, witty, ask questions about Arizona higher education that no one else appears to think of. For instance, check out this post noting that the “as nearly free as possible” chant re: state funding of education refers only to instruction, not the fancy-schmancy dorms and other accouterments University leaders

Our just-graduated mechanical engineer son (right) with one of his ME professors at NAU's December graduation ceremonies. No more tuition hikes for him, and our UA daughter has less than two years till graduation.
Our just-graduated mechanical engineer son (right) with one of his ME professors at NAU's December graduation ceremonies. No more tuition hikes for him, and our UA daughter has less than two years until graduation.

say they must have to attract students. Evan Lisull (he of chalking controversy) and co-blogger Conor Mendenhall follow the money and break it down for all to see. (They are damn good reporters, and neither is a j. major.) They should pair up with Arizona Board of Regents’ President Ernest Calderón in his look-see at UA/ASU athletics spending (and maybe ask why can’t UA’s estimated $2 million bowl take go to fund, oh, a break in yet another tuition hike?)

So, thanks for reading, thanks for commenting, Happy New Year and Happy Epiphany! Talk w/ you tomorrow.

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