Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Burning Bridges

        As it says in the title, I may be burning some bridges today. The first possible bridge to be burned is with the JREF (and maybe other members of the skeptical community who are fans of it). Back in February, I responded to their call for open submissions with a post that I thought fit at least one of their criteria (either a topic that hasn't been covered much or a fresh take on a topic). It was about being a non-believer married to a believer and my thoughts on the "accommodation vs. confrontation" debate. I thought it provided a fresh viewpoint because I think it's safe to say that most non-believers married to believers (and probably all of the ones who read the JREF blog) are married to believers in more "mainstream" religions. I happen to be married to a Christian Scientist. The post was rejected.
        This is the reason I was given in the e-mail : "As for your piece,  it does a good job of explaining your position and it's one that a lot of people share. However we have to decline it because it's not really what we're looking for right now. The accommodationist/confrontationalist debate is an important one but we're looking for more fresh perspectives on the debate as a whole rather than posts that advocate for one side or the other."
        I thought I had provided a fresh perspective and as I said when I put the post up here ("Comfortable Accommodations", posted on 2/26), I don't quite see how you could post on the topic and be totally neutral about it. I just let it go at that, even though I had the thought that the reason I was given might not be the real one. Now, after some time and looking at what has been posted on the JREF blog since then, I feel like I have to express my real thoughts on the matter.
        I want to point out that the person who indicated that the post didn't work because it advocated for a certain side had recently put up a series of posts on her own blog where she and someone else had debated the topic and had asked for reader input. Granted, she did tell me that she had recently posted about the topic and directed me to her blog, so it's not as if she hid the fact. Still, I find it odd that it was ok for her to put up several blogs advocating for one side or the other on her blog, but not for mine to go up on the JREF blog. I'm not trying to throw this person under the bus. I'm sure it wasn't totally her decision not to accept the post, just saying that there seems to be some inconsistency there.
        Also, just a couple of weeks ago, the JREF blog had a post about ear candling. Ear candling ! Yeah, that's a topic that hasn't been written about much. Maybe they'll cover the barely trodden area of homeopathy next.
        So, if it wasn't rejected because I didn't provide a fresh perspective or cover a topic that hasn't been written about much, then why was it rejected ? Was it because the writing sucked ? I don't think so, based on the quote from above and the fact that I was encouraged to submit again. I was hoping by now to have another piece of evidence, but I don't. That's something that will be talked about when I get to burning another possible bridge later.
        Is it because they don't need that many guest posts ?  In March, I put up 5 posts. Yes, I know, I suck at updating regularly, we'll get to that shortly. There were 16 posts on the JREF blog in March. It looked like 8 of those posts were written by guest bloggers, which means that only 8 of the posts were written by people directly associated with the JREF, only 3 more then I posted in that month and as I've noted, so far, I've sucked at updating regularly. Seems to me that they definitely need as many guest posts as they can get.
        What is the real reason then ? I suspect that it's because of the specific religion of the woman I'm married to and the positive light I presented her and her family and friends in. I think it might have been ok if she were Catholic or Jewish or something like that. But a Christian Scientist ? I think in their eyes, I might have just as well said I was married to a "psychic". Think that it might have been just a little too much "woo" for them. To portray the people who are believers in that religion in any kind of positive way might have been more than they could stomach.
        Of course, I could be wrong about this. It would be nice if I could point to the responses I got when I put the rejected post up here. But, unfortunately, I don't have any responses for to that post. Which brings me to the other bridge I may be burning today, the one between me and you, the reader.
        You see, I can't point to the responses I got from this post on my own blog to show that it would have been worth putting up on the JREF blog, because I didn't get any responses. I almost never get any responses. Hell, I set it up so there are now Like/Dislike buttons at the end of each post. It's something that would take less then a second, just click on a button and you're done. You don't have to sign in and we're not talking about writing some well thought out response or criticism, just clicking a button. And yet nobody even does that. Either, the stuff I write is so boring or so poorly written that it inspires nothing but apathy or it's just too much to ask for people to even click a button.
        Either way, it means I will no longer get upset with myself if there's a long time between my posts. It used to really bother me. Yes, you can add this blog to your Google Reader (or something like it) and it will let you know when there's a new post, so you don't have come back to this site every day to check. Still, it bothered me. I kind of felt like I might be letting people down in some way. The more I've thought about it, though, the more I think, well, if people don't care enough about what I'm writing to even click on a button, then why am I going to care about how often I put something up ? Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying I'm not going to post any more or that I'm not going to make an effort to do it more regularly. I'm just saying I'm not going to beat myself up when there's a long time between posts, unless and until I'm given some reason to feel I should be more diligent in posting.

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