2011 in review: the liberal religious blogosphere

The most important trend in liberal religious blogging in 2011 was the continued growth of other forms of social media. Facebook and Twitter are obvious cases in point. Compared to blogging, it’s so much easier to post a quick status update to Facebook or Twitter, so much easier to let someone else manage the technical infrastructure, so much easier to stay in touch with your friends and family without juggling RSS feeds. At the same time, Facebook and Twitter (and Tumblr and Google Plus and LinkedIn and Pintrest and all the other multitudinous social media outlets) are different from blogs, they help to spread good blog posts to a wider readership, and they serve more to supplement blogs than to supplant them.

The second most important trend in liberal religious blogging: plenty of people are still writing and reading blogs. The main aggregator of Unitarian Universalist blogs, Uupdates.net, is now tracking over 500 blogs. This represents, I believe, a slight increase over last year, and on the order of a tenfold increase over five years ago. It’s impossible to keep track of that many Unitarian Universalist blogs, and I would say there is no longer a coherent UU blogosphere — there are just a lot of blogs, a lot of bloggers, and a lot of blog readers.

As an example of the ongoing strength of blogs, “Yet Another Unitarian Universalist” continues to rise slowly in readership; last time I checked, back in October, this site was approaching ten thousand unique visitors a month. (I’m not keeping track at the moment — my Web host got rid of their analytic tools, and I haven’t had time to install an alternative.) And there are plenty of other liberal religious blogs out there with bigger readerships.

And speaking only for myself, the third most important trend in liberal religious blogging has been my return to non-Unitarian Universalist blogs. In 2003 when I first started reading religious blogs regularly, there were only half a dozen Unitarian Universalist blogs; you were almost forced to read read non-UU blogs. Then for a while I tried read every UU blog at least a couple of times a year. I continue to look at uuworld.org’s UU blog round up, and I try to scan UUpdates.net periodically. But I I find myself going back to my 203 habits, and reading lots of non-UU blogs. I scan the blog of Steve Thorngate — he’s an associate editor at Christian Century — for religion news, and the intersection of religion and politics. I sometimes read Carol Merritt’s blog “Tribal Church,” mostly about young adults and religion, which is also on the Christian Century Web site. For leadership and growth issues, I regularly scan the weekly Alban Institute “Conversations” posts, which are linked to from their “Roundtable” blog. Recently, I rediscovered The Velveteen Rabbi, and am enjoying the personal take on spirituality there. So yes, I’m reading lots of non-UU blogs these days, and I’ve been enjoying the wider perspective that I’ve been getting.