I started this blog rather abruptly back on 8 February 2012. Here’s my very first entry:
For years now, people have asked me whether I had a blog. I’ve always answered No, but have felt that, really, I ought to.
So, finally, I’m taking the plunge. I probably won’t be posting long entries here — I have plenty of outlets as it is, and am already behind on more writing commitments and goals than I can count — but I think it will be useful to post news, announce public presentations (people often ask where or whether I’ll be speaking over the next weeks and months), call attention to new articles and books, shamelessly advertise tours I’ll be leading, and the like. I may even comment on politics — I’m really, really into political questions, and have been since I was an early teenager — though that may prove to be a bridge too far: I’m controversial with plenty of people without picking any more fights. (Which is, by the way, why I won’t be allowing comments here. I have no interest in spending several hours a day sparring with anonymous internet critics, and I can guarantee that they would show up here in droves to take a shot at me. But they have venues enough in which they can lament my wickedness and stupidity; I feel no obligation to supply them with yet another.)
I became a blogger because we had decided to launch a blog at a certain organization with which I was affiliated at the time. As requested when we resolved to do so, I (along with at least one other person) had almost immediately written several short pieces for it. But a year or so had passed since that decision, and there was still no blog. Instead, under the then-leader of the organization, we had held meetings to discuss writing a mission statement for it, someone had been appointed to draft a preliminary version of such a statement, we had then held meetings to discuss revisions for the mission statement, and . . . Well, you get the idea. So, on 8 February 2012, I came home, enlisted the help of my daughter-in-law (who was temporarily staying with her husband in our basement), and started Sic et Non.
I don’t regard my blog as a publication. I don’t count it as such on my resumé.
Initially, my blog was independent. But, not long into its existence (just a few months, if I’m not mistaken), I was contacted by someone at Patheos, wondering whether I would be willing to come over to their organization. I told them that I wouldn’t change the topics that I addressed or the manner in which I addressed them, and that, if they wanted me to do that, I wasn’t interested. They promised me free rein, however, so I accepted their invitation. (For one thing, frankly, they pay. Not much. Well below minimum wage, if it’s worked out on an hourly basis. Not even close. But something is better than nothing and, as an academic, I’m accustomed to working cheap.)
Incidentally, almost immediately after I launched Sic et Non, the folks at FairMormon had tried to get me to house my blog on their site, but I had declined. I think very highly of FairMormon and wish the organization well. (In fact, a line from Shakespeare’s Henry V comes to mind, but quoting it would reveal too much for now. More on that topic anon.). Heck, I’ve spoken at every annual FairMormon conference ever held, as well as at other FairMormon events, and I serve on their (very small) board of directors. But, since I intended to post on whatever interested me, including movie and restaurant reviews, travel experiences, interesting things that I’d read, and, yes, as it turned out, politics, and since I was unwilling to restrict myself purely to religious, scriptural, and historical topics, I did not feel that FairMormon would be a suitable home for my blog. I didn’t think it appropriate for FairMormon to be endorsing restaurants or films, let alone speaking out on political controversies. Not even indirectly.
One thing that changed fairly soon after coming over to Patheos was that I did, in fact, begin to accept comments. Patheos urged me to do so, since allowing comments evidently increases traffic and readership considerably. But I’ve been willing from the start to expel commenters who insulted me personally — I get enough of that sort of thing already on various sites and via frequent anonymous personal emails — or who were obscene, or who simply cost me a lot of moderating time and/or grossly irritated me and other participants in the discussions. I haven’t banned many people, but I’ve banned a few. I’m quite open to dissenting views in the comments to my blog, but I expect the comments to be civil and respectful and, on the whole, substantive, even when they disagree.