Saturday morning, and I find myself in a rare spot for a Saturday: I’ve got the day to myself. I’m listening to Stuart McLean on CBC, and if you’ve not discovered it yet, find a time and stream to listen online. You’ll be glad you did. This post purports to be my weekly links post — and it is — but I’m going to mix in some personal update bits. It’s my blog, I don’t need to ask permission. ;^)

This far this morning, I’ve nearly finished the task of updating my online RSS reader. I previously had feeds in more than one place, keeping my emerging/missional church blogs separate from my lifehacking and productivity blogs separate from my business and marketing blogs separate from my tech blogs. As I mentioned last week, I’ve found that the software I was using for two of these blogrolls is overtaxed with what I’m asking it to do, and it just isn’t working for me. I’m using another package I really like for one of these which is working fine, but I think it’s going to max out at around 40 feeds… it freezes the browser for a full minute or two while updating. I might figure on a workaround to cache it, but otherwise I’m going to conclude it won’t scale either. Anyway, I settled on MonkeyChow which does most of what I want — I’ll want to redesign a CSS file for it, but that’s relatively minor. The issue at the moment of course is that it now reports the distressing summary, “267 feeds, 3501 new items”. I’ve got some additional feeds to track down and I haven’t added my tech feeds yet, so the final number will be over 300.

So it is that the hardest thing I’ve done in the last two days has been calling up the website for most of the feeds I read, knowing I’ve not read many of them for the past month, and then not read them, just add the feed to my reader and move on. I set aside a bunch of posts to read, and many of these will feature in the links section below as “unfinished reading.” In the process though, I discovered a number of bloggers who stopped blogging and their blogs have vanished (with or without a good-bye message, as Antony Hanson posted), or who just went silent (Susie Albert Miller), or who keep writing but don’t have an RSS feed I can find (Brian Orme) or who don’t seem to be blogging on the topics they used to (Eric Keck). MonkeyChow validates each feed before adding, which meant that Leighton Tebay‘s feed couldn’t be added to my reader (the way it’s broken cause problems for my old aggregator, but now I just can’t add it). As the old aggregator didn’t update everything properly either because it was straining or because I had wrong information, there are some blogs (John Stackhouse and several others) I hadn’t seen updated in quite some time but which have been publishing regularly — I’ll be getting reacquainted with their content over time. I’ve also added a few new ones (Tina Gasperson and others) to the reader as well. Some look broken via the site as well as RSS (Spencer Burke) and some just plain don’t have RSS feeds (Next Wave eZine, Allelon) and others didn’t properly support RSS autodiscovery, the worst of which were a chore of hacking as they don’t properly publish feeds by default (every blog at — not very clear after all until you figure out the schema to locate the feed). I’ve still got a few blogs open that I want to follow but need to either locate the feed or make a ruling on whether or not to drop it. If it’s a good blog, I’ll leave it for ages despite a lack of updates, just in case they resurface and people miss it… like Jen Lemen who’s been blogging again for quite a while, but many people don’t realize she’s returned. Dropping someone too soon would have meant missing Hamo’s sudden update after a 6-month silence. Don’t get too excited, it seems to be a one-off… but I’m keeping him in my reader.

We discussed RSS feeds and readers a while ago, when I realized I’d been accidentally publishing a partial feed and had to fix the issue. (Note: don’t publish summaries only! It’ll get you unsubscribed more than it’ll get you increased page views, and since most bloggers read feeds, it’ll also mean you get linked less and therefore publishing partial feeds will probably decrease page views.) In that discussion, I mentioned an upcoming template redesign — I got quite a bit done on it this week, and have a main page view mostly running with just a few kinks to work out in the CSS and in the PHP calls to WordPress. I don’t like the colour scheme yet, but I’m pressing ahead with functionality. By way of teaser, it’ll have three columns (probably reducing to two on the page views), integrated tags (yay!), much much much less scrolling to get to content, more ways to browse, search, and sort the archives, and much improved legibility… not to mention the overall goal of page load time, which should hopefully be down to less than a third of what it is now. I also hope to change around some of the advertising so there’s less of it or it’s less obtrusive — once I work out the how-to, visitors arriving from search engines will see more advertising than regular readers will; I’m also trying to keep SEO in mind as I go. Now that I read it back, all this is a lot to deliver… can’t wait to have it live! I’ll also be doing another WordPress upgrade soon and migration to a different host — that’ll be a bit more involved because I have to downgrade from MySQL 5.x to 4.x to accommodate the move.

Oy, that’s enough rambling. Linkage Ahoy!

  • The Simple Way church in Philadelphia had a fire, and is needing help… sounds like it was a bad one — HT, oh, everybody (check both links for more info and updates).
  • Christianity Today: Billy Graham Looks Forward to Joining Late Wife.
  • David Fitch, On Resisting Oligarchic Leadership in the Emerging/Missional Church following on a post by Mark VanSteenwyk, Beware the Subtle Shade of Oligarchy, who follows on a post by Len Hjalmarson, citing a 1999 article by Ginny Hunt on allelon (the Greek word, not the organization) as opposed to oligarchy. Don’t miss the comments, where it’ll be clear that Allelon (the org) is not oligarchical in any way, and nobody’s genuinely suggesting they are.
  • Sonja: Borderlands, our existence between chaos and order… which we were discussing here last week.
  • Hometown Baghdad: “One of Thousands” …part of a whole series which will disturb you even more deeply about the military presence in Iraq. The Internet is a powerful medium for disseminating first-hand experience of people in the midst of these situations… that’s all I’ll say about that.
  • Despite what I said above about Allelon not having RSS feeds (for the articles), the site has just added some blogs, including the Missional Journey blog. A few more will follow, along with some further updates to the site. I spoke with Bill Kinnon and Alan Roxburgh yesterday, and I will be getting further involved with Allelon, including on the website.
  • Someone linked me (and others) from the Wikipedia article on Third Place under a new heading, The Third Place between Home and “Church”. The concept of the “third place” is not originally a Christian or missiological idea, though it is highly relevant there as it relates to culture. We need to be cautious not to overrun the Wikipedia item, but it does seem that the missional types are talking most about the third place at the moment. Any others?
  • Barb Orlowski emailed me a couple of times and I’ve been remiss in not posting on her quest for ex-church types. I’ve you’ve got a painful CLB experience, she’s looking to hear from you as she researches her dissertation. Paul Fromont mentions it as well: Painful Church Experience Research Questionnaire, and includes a link to a PDF explaining who Barb is. She’s got a questionnaire to complete, email her for details or nab them from Paul’s post. She’s got a short version for any pastors who might be able to comment, and needs to hear from more Canadians at the moment.
  • Joe Manafo is working on a documentary about emerging church planting in Canada, and has posted a number of clips on YouTube (HT: Resonate)
  • Rick (Blind Beggar) Meigs writes, “Matt asked, ‘I struggle with what a missional church ‘looks like.’ Can you give a short list of practical ways a church can be missional from the beginning.'” Rick responds with A Missional Short List.
  • Yesterday Jian Ghomeshi had Emilie-Claire Barlow in the studio with him. Emilie not only used to sing the “Always Fresh” jingle for Tim Hortons, she also has several albums out, and her newest, “The Very Thought of You”, went straight to my wish list as soon as I heard her singing “O Pato”. Yes, think of Joao and Asturd Gilberto with Stan Getz (Getz/Gilberto #2). Emilie-Claire mixes some English in with her version so you know when the duck, the goose, and the swan are doing the samba. Sweet. I also discovered that the girl blogs credibly, by which I mean she tells you what she’s up to without her blog degenerating into a series of buy-my-album posts interspersed with I-promise-to-post-more entries like some authors and artists do.
  • Unfinished Reading

  • Brant Hansen writes, ” Since we quit the “going to church” thing, I get a lot of the same questions. Good questions, but the same questions. Here’s how the convo usually goes down:” [Home Church (TM)]
  • Eastern Orthodox Christian Evangelism is different — which I want to read over and think about in connection with Celtic evangelism and missional living as a type of evangelism.
  • Book reviews: Adam Walker Cleaveland, Leaving Church: A Review and “Pastor Phil” on John MacArhur’s The Truth War – My Last Few Thoughts (he doesn’t like it).
  • Matt Stone: Attractional vs Missional Services… still not read, but looks promising.
  • Scott Berkheimer: Who’s Driving the Bus: Narrative vs Systematic Theology… title caught my eye, I want to delve into this — expect I’ll agree.
  • Dave DeVries’ Glossary of Missional Terms seems to be connected to his dissertation on missional churches and leaders, for which he’s posted an abstract.
  • How to Hack Your Social Life reminds me of Missional 101, but without the context or motive of evangelism… which was the point of “Missional 101” anyway.
  • Had enough yet? Continue with Scot McKnight’s Weekly Meanderings.

I better quit. One more update… the birthday haul this week included a Guinness t-shirt plus another one from Half Pints Brewing which has the apt slogan on the back, “Together we can stop the evil spread of lite beer.” C’mon people, do your part! Also of note was the cake my wife baked. She eschews the cake mix, but what she pulled off this time around was outstanding, outdoing even her normal high standard.

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