2009 in review; 2010 in preview

The Beach Boys’ The Sounds of Summer: nice warm sounds for a cold winter, or a reminder of a blood-thirsty God?

2009 was a pretty big year for me personally and for this site. Here a few highlights, as well as an idea of the general direction I see this blog and my site going. More regular posts about the whacky world of religion and irreligion will start again tomorrow or Wednesday.

  • On January 5 last year, my Xanga post about God’s death toll (as tabulated by Steve Wells) in which I compared God’s ginormous death toll in the Bible to the Beach Boys’ song Kokomo, among other things, helped foster discussion on Dwindling in Unbelief as well as a mention on http://good.is. This helped inspire me to explore my online presence further and consider getting my own site, expanding my blog beyond just commenting on the Bible.
  • Over the next several months, I finally finished blogging Genesis and decided to finish reading the rest of the Bible before blogging more in-depth on it (still working on that!).
  • On June 28, I officially launched http://iamtheblog.com as its own site and blog.
  • On July 11, my email about orthodox Jews complaining about apartment lights switching on automatically on the Sabbath was featured on Dogma Free America. Rich Orrman, the host of Dogma Free America, mentioned my name as “I Am The Blog” since I told him that I’m not “out” as an atheist yet.
  • On July 13, my comment about author Robert Wright is read on the American Freethought podcast, hosted by John C. Snider and David Driscoll. Two of my favorite podcasts deciding to read my comments on the air in the span of a few days? When it rains, it pours!
  • At the beginning of August (I believe August 2), I came out to my wife as a non-believer. This was probably the scariest thing I have ever done, and it’s worked out a lot better than I expected. I still haven’t shown her this blog or other places I post or visit online, but she knows I don’t believe in the Bible and that I don’t know for sure, but don’t think there’s a God. (Since then, the word “atheist” has come up a few times for various reasons, so she knows I’m an atheist.)
  • On Aug 15, I attended my first freethought-related event…in a church. It was a talk by (in)famous anti-evolutionist Brian Harrub about creationism. It had been publicized on a few atheist/freethought sites, and my wife and I went.
  • I took an active interest in, and helped spread the word about, FFRF’s complaint letter over the illegal prayers given at the beginning of Memphis City Council sessions.
  • On Oct. 18, I attended my second freethought-related event…again in a church. Renowned author and scientist Victor Stenger gave a talk about (The) New Atheism. My wife and I went to this together as well.
  • On Dec. 3, I attended my third freethought-related event…this time NOT in a church! I saw a talk by Dan Barker, from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), of which I’m a member. He spoke on the importance of state-church separation, particularly as concerns the Memphis City Council invocations. I wrote in detail here and here about the talk and my personal reaction to it.
  • Just before the end of the year, my site went over the 100,000 hit mark and 14,000 unique visits mark. I don’t know how good or bad that is, but to a  newbie like me, it sounds good.

So that’s quite a whirlwind of activity this year! I feel a lot better about myself as an atheist, but feel like there’s more that I can and should do both with this site and with my atheism in general. Some goals for me for 2010 are

  • Posting more regularly to my blog and diversify my posts. I started my Xanga blog posting mostly about the Bible (with some humor or serious stuff here and there). I now post almost exclusively about news stories and my comments on these. I think putting together a wider variety of content, from humor to commentary to news, will make this site more useful and more attractive to visitors.
  • Encouraging more interaction on the site. Although I’ve had a slow increase overall month-to-month in my hit count, comments have not really picked up. I’ll have to brainstorm some ideas on how to make the site more friendly to people who’d like to comment, or other ways to interact with the material. I’ve had a number of comments on blogs I’ve reposted on Atheist Nexus, with some increase in traffic to my blog, but not a big increase in comments. I also have to integrate my main site (with links, resources, etc.) in with my blog better, so both parts are updated regularly with useful / interesting / etc. info.
  • Stepping up my participation in the atheist, humanist, and freethought communities. I currently am a member of FFRF, and participate sometimes on Atheist Nexus and Think Atheist, and more rarely on Dwindling in Unbelief and a few others sites. I think participating more both in official brick-and-mortar organizations (I’m considering several) as well as more often or on more sites online will increase the impact I can have in the atheist community. I want to go beyond just commenting on stories; I want to try to help improve the visibility and acceptability of atheism in the United States. How is the question…
  • I also plan on achieving world peace and time travel, but this may take a while. :-) I realize my goals are pretty ambitious, especially considering that my time will be stretched even thinner in 2010 than in 2009 for several reasons. But I’m enjoying learning more about atheism and freethought, and am looking forward to the challenge.

Thanks again to people who have been visiting my site, and I hope 2010 goes well for you!

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